The fourth largest cruise line, fast-growing Norwegian has plans for a new ship annually currently in the pipeline. Norwegian’s tagline is “Freestyle Cruising,” and perhaps more than any other, the line has relaxed some of the hidebound traditions of the industry in favor of creating a more flexible cruise experience. Instead of two set seating times for the main dining room, come when you want. Don’t like traveling with formal wear? “Formal Night” is merely a suggestion, so wear what you want. These innovations have widely impacted the industry, despite the fact that other lines have been slower to embrace change. Not everyone prefers this more casual approach, though: someone dressed in a suit or gown might not enjoy being seated next to someone in T-shirt and shorts.
Restaurant options are broad, with most of the venues requiring a surcharge. Alas, we find the actual quality of dining to be lacking. Entertainment, however, is extensive and polished. Norwegian also offers small cabins for singles on its newest ships, which is unusual in the industry. Beyond the usual Caribbean, Alaskan, Bermudan, and Mediterranean routes, Norwegian is unique in offering seven-day Hawaii cruises year-round aboard Pride of America. Last-minute bargains are common, and booking incentives are very attainable.
Built in 2002 and recently refurbished in dry dock, the Norwegian Dawn was one of the first cruise ships designed to accommodate Norwegian's flexible eat-when-you-want, where-you-want "freestyle" concept of ship dining and features an unusually large number of restaurants. It's a good cruise ship to bring your whole family, have a reunion, or just hang out with friends, as long as you're not looking for a formal environment. Read full 10-part review
Our cruise on Norwegian Jade was a mixed success, but definitely not without its attributes. We snagged a fairly inexpensive cabin visiting several very appealing Mediterranean ports, and looked forward to a sunny experience. Read full 10-part review