Beginning in 1966 with the M/S Sunward, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) began Caribbean tours from the Port of Miami. NCL has since been recognized for innovations which have become cruise industry standards. Her purchase and renovation of the France in 1979 was a catalyst in the continuing trend toward gargantuan luxury liners. However, NCL is probably best known for the creation of the concept of Freestyle Cruising -- an approach to the cruise business which focuses totally upon passenger preferences and ultimate guest comfort. Freestyle Cruising is characterized by:
Freestyle Dining: Two main dining rooms offer passengers the traditional dining experience as well as freestyle dining which is reservation free. In addition to the usual, NCL cruises also provide you a variety of specialty restaurants to include French bistros, Italian cuisine, Steak Houses, and Asian restaurants.
Ports of Call: NCL leads in 7 day round trip cruises, and is the only cruise line offering year round trips to Hawaii. Her itineraries also include the East, West, and South Caribbean, the Bahamas, the Panama Canal, South America, the Pacific US Coast, Canada, Europe, the Mediterranean, and Transatlantic cruises.
Freestyle Activities: On ship, there's yoga, the bungee trampoline, karaoke, kick boxing, swimming, jogging, and spinning. Of course there's always shopping, the luxury of Mandara Spa treatments, or getting an Evian water spritz by the pool. NCL provides Nickelodeon at Sea for youngsters, with characters such as Sponge Bob and Dora the Explorer leading activities such as the “Slime Time Game Show.” Kids Crews, grouped by age ranges, are supervised by well trained youth activities leaders, and provide children activities and craft classes while parents play elsewhere.
Superb Entertainment: Le Cirque Dreams and Dinner, the 'Big Top' at Sea, is quite popular with guests. NCL has also revived the “Legends in Concert” live tribute show and has a solid reputation for Broadway style shows. Guests may also look forward to “Second City” improvisational comedy!
Floating Villas: In addition to interconnecting cabins, standard cabins, and staterooms, NCL also offers both Garden and Courtyard Villas. These exclusive accommodations feature butler service, and private decks, pools, and exercise areas.
NCL has launched 8 new ships specifically designed for Freestyle dining, activities, service, and accommodations. In July of 2010, NCL launches the Norwegian Epic (pictured right), a ship which will offer the first single occupancy staterooms in cruise history. NCL carries on her legacy to provide the best cruise vacation for solo guests, couples, and families in this very competitive market.
The cruise lines that are most commonly considered competitors to NCL are Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean.
Norwegian Cruise Line Resources: