The Ultimate Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line has a long history of offering cruises. They were set up in 1966 and Norwegian Caribbean Line. They offer American-style cruising and have 17 ships ranging from medium to large ships.

Norwegian are a modern and fun cruise line that offers a freestyle cruising concept. This means there is no set dining times, no set tables and no dress code.


With such as big fleet Norwegian Cruise Line offer a wide range of destinations. You can find NCL’s ships sailing in the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, Asia, the Pacific, Australia/New Zealand and South America.

See Also: Top 10 Norwegian Cruise Line Tips and Tricks


There is a huge choice for dining on Norwegian Cruise Line both included and extra charge.

Included Dining

The buffet is included in the cost of your cruise and offers a wide selection for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus soft-serve ice cream all day. It also features themed buffet evenings such as Italian, British and Mexican evenings.

The main dining rooms are also included and offer breakfast, lunch on sea days and evening dinner. The dinings rooms have no set dining time so you dine whenever you like or make a reservation while onboard.

In addition, the onboard pub (called O’Sheehan’s or The Local) offers complimentary food 24-hours a day. The menu is typical pub fayre such as Nachos, burgers, chicken wings and British pub classics. A breakfast menu is available during the morning.

Extra Charge Dining

Norwegian Cruise Line has a wide range of speciality restaurants available for an extra charge. These range from 2 or three on the smaller ships to up to 10 on the larger ships.

You can book all of the speciality dinings before you sail on the Norwegian Cruise Line website, on the app or while you are on the ship.

If you are planning to visit at least two of the speciality restaurants we recommend buying a dining package. These can save you loads of money compared to paying for each restaurant individually.

In addition to speciality dining, the onboard Starbucks, chocolate shop, gelato shop and dinner shows are an extra cost. Room service is also an extra cost with a one-off delivery fee of around $8.


Norwegian Cruise Line offers a huge amount of entertainment and facilities that will appeal to all age groups.

During the day you can enjoy all the ships facilities including the onboard pools, slides, ropes courses and mini-golf. The newest ships also include a laser-tag arena, go-carts and VR theme parks.

The kids will also enjoy the children’s and teen clubs available for children aged 3+ and the arcade.

On an evening there are plenty of bars and lounges to have a drink and all ships feature a large casino.

The main theatre is home to full-length west-end and Broadway productions such as Legally Blonde, Kinky Boots and The Jersey Boys. Beyond the main theatre, you will find live music around the ship, DJs and parties on an evening and organised activities such as quizzes and game shows.


Norwegian Cruise Line offers a huge range of cabins to suit every price point and style of holiday. There are three types of cabins onboard offering a different experience. These are;

The Haven

The Haven is a suite-only area on Norwegian Ships and includes a private lounge, pool and restaurant. All haven suites receive concierge service and a 24-hour butler.

Standard Cabins

The standard cabins are the most common type of cabin on Norwegian ships and range from small inside cabins to oceanview cabins, balcony cabins, mini-suites and spa suites.

Solo Cabins

The newer ships feature solo cabins. These are designed for solo travellers and don’t feature a single occupancy fee. Guests in the solo cabins also have access to the solo lounge which features refreshments and organized activities.

What’s Included

Included Dining & Drinks

  • The Buffet
  • The Main Dining Room
  • Dining in the onboard Pub (The Local or O’Sheehan’s)
  • Poolside grill
  • Room service menu items (Delivery fee applies)
  • Tea, filtered coffee, juices and water

Included Entertainment & Facilities

  • Shows in the Main Theatre including full broadway productions
  • Daytime activities
  • Evening entertainment
  • The Gym
  • Children’s Clubs
  • Pools, Hot Tubs & Slides*
  • Ropes Course*
  • Rock Climbing Wall*
  • Mini-Golf Course*

Extra Charge Dining & Drinks

  • Speciality Restaurants
  • Room Service Delivery Fee (Except Suite Guests)
  • Dinner Shows*
  • Gelato, Cakes and Chocolate from the onboard shops or Starbucks
  • Soda, Premium Tea, Premium Coffee and Fresh Juices
  • Alcoholic Drinks (See also drinks packages below)
  • Wine Tasting

Extra Charge Entertainment & Facilities

  • Excursions
  • Spa Treatments
  • Thermal Suite
  • Fitness Classes
  • Transfers
  • Photography
  • Babysitting Services *
  • Vibe Beach Club*
  • Arcade
  • Go Kart Racing*
  • Laser Tag*
  • VR Games*
  • Ice Bar*
  • Casino & Bingo

Other Charges

  • Government taxes, port expenses, and fees(1)
  • The Medical Centre
  • Wifi/Internet Packages
  • Phone calls to land on the ship’s phones.
  • Service Charges/Gratuities (2)

(1) If booking from the USA
(2) Unless booked from the EU or Australia
*where available


Gratuities on Norwegian Cruise Line cost $14.99 USD per person per night for standard cabins and mini-suites, $17.99 USD for guests in The Haven and other suites.

Guests booking from an EU country, the UK, Australia or New Zealand – gratuities are automatically included in the cost of your cruise.

A 15% gratuity is added to bar charges, dining room wine accounts and Lotus Spa services.

Drinks Packages

The Norwegian Cruise Line drinks packages allow you to pay price to cover most of your non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks onboard.

Norwegian currently offers three drink packages. They range from just unlimited alcohol drinks packages to children’s soda packages.

Find out about how much the drinks package costs and what’s included in our Norwegian Cruise Line Drinks Packages Guide.

Who goes on Norwegian Cruise Line?

Who is onboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship varies depending on the ship and itinerary?

On Alaska, Caribbean and Hawaii sailings you will find most passengers are from North America with a sprinkling of other English speaking countries. On European sailings, you will see an even mix of passengers from Europe, North America and a small number of Asian cruisers too. Cruises from Asia you will find passengers from Asian countries, particularly China, dominate.

Sailings to the Caribbean, particularly short sailings, you will find caters to a younger demographic with a large number of groups and a party atmosphere.

On the larger ships, you will see more families, particularly in the school holidays. While the smaller ships tend to cater more towards couples and groups.

Longer itineraries and more exotic itineraries such as Alaska and Hawaii attract mostly a middle-aged crowd.

Norwegian Cruise Line Dress Code

There is no dress code on any Norwegian Cruise Line ships. However, a top and shoes must be worn at all times in the buffet and main dining rooms.

Some of the speciality extra-fee restaurants do require long trousers, collared shirts and closed-toe shoes.

There is also no formal evenings but there are themed evenings such as 80s night or white night so you may wish to bring something for this.


  • No dress code or formal evenings
  • No set-time dining or set tables
  • Fun cruise line with lots of bars and lounges
  • Good range of entertainment
  • Large range of cabins available including solo cabins
  • Large choice of Speciality Dining restaurants


  • Larger ships you have to make reservations for the main theatre
  • Lots of on-board extras such as speciality dining & activities
  • Can be crowded at times

David McDonald
As one half of Cruise with Ben & David I am a huge cruise enthusiast and have sailed on over 30 cruises. On dry land, I am a Head of Design at a digital media company based in London. I have had the opportunity to work with brands such as the Financial Times and The Telegraph.