What we love about Norwegian Cruise Line

We’re back from our four night cruise aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Sun. We departed my home port of Port Canaveral and headed down to Key West and Cuba. It was our second time aboard Norwegian Cruise Line and we’d gladly book again once our budget and schedule allow. Here’s a few quick reasons why we love NCL.

Freestyle Dining

Norwegian Cruise Line is famous for their freestyle dining. Unlike other cruise lines, you aren’t assigned a table with table mates and a dining time. On Norwegian you can eat nearly anytime you wish, and at your own table. Peak times due usually incur a wait, or you can make a reservation in advance. We usually dined around 8:30 PM and had no waits.

There’s buffets, of course, and full service dining included in your cruise. You can also dine at upgraded signature dining, most require a reservation and range around $20 per person plus service charge. Other signature dining options, like sushi bars or raw bars, are a la carte. We’ve found Norwegian’s signature dining to be worth the additional cost, at least for a one night indulgence.

The included dining is delicious! We didn’t have any disappointments in our included dining experience, with the exception of the breakfast buffets.

Unlimited Open Bar

Not all Norwegian ships offer Unlimited Open Bar included in the cruise for everyone the way ours did. But most Norwegian cruises offer an open bar beverage package as a reasonable add on. This is the way to go, in my opinion.

It’s so freeing not having to budget beverage costs separately from the rest of the cruise. And let’s face it, it sure is fun to walk up to any bar on board and be able to indulge in a beverage without having to fuss with a form of payment.

The included liquor brands, wineries, and beers are mid to upper middle shelf. None of that cheap stuff no one’s ever heard of, or settled for in their college days. We only had one poor quality drink and that was one that was supposed to be made with pineapple juice but instead was made with sour mix. And all we had to do was get it remade at another bar that had pineapple juice.

Since we were sailing to Cuba (which is worthy of its own blog post – for now check out some of my posts in Instagram) there were some Cuban themed cocktails, and they were fabulous! My favorite was the Floridita, made with white rum, grapefruit juice, maraschino liqueur, simple syrup and lime juice. The Havana Old Fashioned – made with aged rum – was a close second.

We didn’t experience any rowdy, drunken behavior which you might expect when everyone has Open Bar. We did hear stories that shorter, weekend cruises can have a stronger party atmosphere. Overall, everyone enjoyed themselves without becoming a burden to others.

Service aka Vacation Heroes

Having worked in hospitality for most of my working years, I’m a stickler for good service. Everyone I’ve encountered at Norwegian Cruise Line – from the call center to our stateroom host – has been warm and friendly.

I’ve noticed that Norwegian has a great service recognition program called “vacation hero”. Guests are encouraged to fill out comment cards at the end of their cruise to share which crew members are their vacation heroes. You’ll also notice certain crew members proudly wearing a vacation hero pin. It’s easy to see why so many have earned this special designation.

Adult AND Family Friendly

Sure, if you have kids your go-to cruise line is Disney Cruise Line. But, Disney is not easy on the budget and sometimes parents want more options than what Disney offers. We’re new parents and I would have no problem sailing aboard Norwegian Cruise Line with our son when the time is right. (He didn’t sail with us this time since this was our pseudo honeymoon). They offer kids programming and there are family friendly dining and entertainment options. That said, such options are limited aboard NCL in comparison to Disney.

Not as many families are attracted to Norwegian Cruise Line so adults do not have to worry about being outnumbered by kids. Adult entertainment abounds. Some of the bigger Norwegian ships have better entertainment compared to the relatively smaller ships like the Sun. Still, there’s lots of options.

Multiple lounges, nightclubs, and a casino make it easy for adults to have fun late into the evening. It’s also possible to find quiet space too.

Aboard Norwegian Sun we found quiet, relaxing spaces like the library, Mandara Spa, deck 6 with its wrap around walking / jogging track and deck chairs (my absolutely favorite spot to read my books), and deck 12 forward – the very front of the ship. This spot was never occupied by anyone else both times we ventured up there. Our last night we stood under the stars on this deck as thunderstorms rumbled in the distance and the coast of Florida barely in view.

We returned from our cruise exhausted but in a good way. We made countless memories. We experienced lots of important time together as a couple. Something we needed as new parents. It would have been difficult to have such a good time on any other cruise line. Hopefully we can book again soon!

Arriving in Havana

It is worth noting that our first cruise aboard Norwegian was last year and was a sponsored experience. This time we booked and paid for our cruise.

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