1. Freestyle dining – no table sharing.
On NCL there are no set meal times and no dress code (hooray!) I love this about NCL. I love the flexibility of freestyle dining which means that you can eat whenever you are hungry. You also never have to share a table which is brilliant. On NCL you just show up whenever you want and get seated, much like a normal restaurant on land. You usually have the option of 2 or 3 main dining rooms which are large and offer the more traditional cruise dining experience (minus the dress code).You then also have the buffet and a pub type restaurant, usually called O’Sheehans or the blue lagoon. O’Sheehans has the best buffalo wings in the world, on my last 7 night NCL cruise I had them 6 times. I have always found the food on NCL to be brilliant, it is not as ‘posh’ as on some other cruise lines but I much prefer this as it means you get larger portions. Freestyle dining is a definite perk for me, there are however some specialty restaurants which require you to book at busy times, I will be talking more about this in point 7.
2. The shows are brilliant but you must book them early.
They have some brilliant shows on NCL. They have a variety of performances in the theater and have something on every night. They always have dancers and singers, usually have a magician or comedian too. Each cruise they have a broadway style theater production and they’re normally really good. It blows my mind how they can perform and dance as they do on a rocking ship! The best show that I have seen by a mile was Priscilla Queen of the Desert, I loved it so much that I went back the next night. However, you must pre-book the shows. In the past, I have arrived onboard to find that some of the best shows are already sold out! Ideally, book the shows before you cruise, you can do this on the NCL website. If not try to book them on your first day onboard, you can book them on your TV or through the phone app. You can always not go if you change your mind, they just give away your space to somebody else. If you pre-booked then your room keycard is scanned and you can go into the theater around 30 minutes prior to show time, if you haven’t booked you are made to wait outside until ten minutes before the show when they give away the remaining seats.
NOTE: You only have to book shows on the newer ships, of Epic class or higher. (Epic, Getaway, Breakaway, Escape, Bliss, Escape)
3. You will not be bored!
NCL are one of these cruise lines that fills every inch of the ship with stuff to do. If you like waterslides/rock climbing/ropes courses/bowling etc then NCL is ideal for you. I have been on some other cruise ships/lines where I honestly have been bored, coming from mainly cruising with NCL I thought that other cruise lines would have equally busy itineraries, however, this isn’t the case. Everynight a ‘freestyle daily’ will be placed your bed letting you know what is happening the following day. There are events going on from way before I get up until way after I go to bed. One of the things which I particularly enjoy about NCL is that you can just go for a wander and you are sure to find something going on somewhere, there is constantly musicians playing around the ship and there are a number of game shows/talks on every day.
4. There is a corkage charge
On some other cruise lines you are able to bring on alcohol without a corkage charge providing that you don’t take it into the restaurants. However, this isn’t the case on NCL. You can bring onboard corked wine but that is subject to a corkage fee which is $15.00 for a 750ml bottle. This has never seemed worth it to me so I haven’t ever brought wine onboard. You cannot bring on any non-alcoholic drinks, beers or liquors. (They do make brilliant drinks onboard though, I’d whole heartedly recommend the ultimate beverage package).
5. No free room service or laundry
I have been on other cruise lines which provide free room service. However this isn’t free on NCL ($7.95 per order at the time of this post). There also is no free room where you can do laundry.
6. Fun for teenagers and kids
I have been cruising on NCL since I was 11. I attended the kids clubs when I was a child and spent time in the teen lounges when I was a teenager. I would say that NCL are one of the better cruise lines when it comes to kids, they have a lot of events going on for them every day and most ships have a teen lounge where teenagers can hang out away from parents. When I would go to the teen lounge with my friends we would play the PlayStation or pool. I met many nice people in the kids/teen clubs onboard, many of whom I still are friends with to this day! (Well facebook friends.. that counts right?). If you have kids or teenagers I would definitely recommend NCL as a cruise line to consider.
7. A lot of things cost extra onboard.
There are a lot of hidden extras. After paying your cruise fare you must factor in gratuities (although this is true for some cruise lines). There are then a number of things which cost extra…
8. Younger passengers
It seems, to me anyway, that NCL has a younger audience than other cruise lines which I have been on (similar to Carnival and Royal Caribbean). It tends to attract many young adults in their 20s and 30s as well as young families which may not like the more traditional cruising experience offered by other cruise lines. The unlimited drinks packages and water slides may have something to do with this. There are of course a lot of more traditional cruisers onboard too.
Have you ever cruised on NCL? Got anything we should add to the list? Please let us know in the comments.
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