Have you ever wondered what exactly happened to Nickelodeon cruises onboard Norwegian Cruise Line?
Cruise lines are constantly evolving to offer the absolute best onboard experiences possible. While some onboard offerings are smash-hits, others don’t always stand the test of time.
Norwegian Cruise Line partnered with Nickelodeon from 2010 to 2015 to bring to life some of the network's biggest characters onboard its cruise ships. What could make a cruise better than getting to meet Patrick Star and Dora the Explorer in real life?!
As someone who stayed at the Nickelodeon Hotel back in 2009, I have fond memories of seeing my favorite TV cartoons (i.e. Spongebob) come to life while staying at this themed hotel in Orlando, Florida. My sister and I could only dream of what an entire cruise themed with Nickelodeon would be like!
Partnerships are common with cruise lines to enhance their onboard experience with unparalleled experiences, especially youth programs.
For example, Royal Caribbean had a partnership with Dreamworks that gave kids the opportunity to meet Shrek and other characters. Similarly, Carnival Cruise Line joined efforts with Dr. Seuss to offer a Green Eggs and Ham themed breakfast for kids that included character meet and greets.
However, most cruise lines can’t compete with Disney Cruise Line when it comes to character meet and greets and its slew of Disney-themed-everything onboard. There's a touch of Disney magic in every aspect of a Disney cruise that you can't find on competing cruise lines.
There's no denying that cruising is an excellent vacation choice for many families. In fact, cruise lines are very intentional about how they can cater to kids by offering family-friendly experiences that simply can’t be replicated on land.
For families wanting to have an action-packed onboard experience, the Nickelodeon cruises truly offered an unforgettable cruise vacation for families and kids alike.
Nickelodeon's Partnership with NCL
Back in 2010, it was announced that Norwegian Cruise Line would partner with Nickelodeon to offer themed programming and activities onboard select cruise ships year-round. These Nickelodeon-themed experiences would include character greetings, themed breakfasts called Pajama Jam Breakfast, poolside parties, and Nickelodeon-themed arts and crafts.
The first ship in Norwegian’s fleet to feature the new Nickelodeon-themed experiences was Norwegian Breakaway. As the newest ship in Norwegian's fleet at the time, it was the perfect opportunity for the partnership to make its debut.
In addition to interactive games and character meet and greets, kids could splash around with Spongebob and Sandy while enjoying Norwegian's Kid Aqua Park onboard. Families could also enjoy Dancing with Dora and themed-programming throughout their cruise. Families could also attend special themed breakfasts, in which Spongebob and his entourage would sing and dance in the dining room throughout the meal.
One fan favorite on the Nickelodeon cruises was having the opportunity to get ‘slimed’ on stage during Slime Time Live. During this interactive game show, the famous Nickelodeon green slime was dumped on participants during high-paced races that took place onboard.
In 2014, Norwegian Cruise Line announced that its newest ship, Norwegian Getaway, would also debut with the Nickelodeon partnership experiences. Norwegian Getaway would include new interactive Nickelodeon experiences and family-friendly shows that would star Spongebob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer, Diego and more.
At this time, Norwegian Getaway was the fifth ship in the cruise line’s fleet to offer Nickelodeon experiences year-round on its sailings.
Nickelodeon All-Access Cruises
Each year, Norwegian Cruise Line also offered all-access Nickelodeon themed cruises that included non-stop, daily activities with all of Nickelodeon’s most popular characters. Cruisers could be immersed in all-things Nickelodeon everyday of their cruise vacation. For Nickelodeon lovers, these cruises were the ultimate family vacation!
The first all-access cruises departed in 2011 onboard Norwegian Jewel from New York City and Norwegian Epic, which departed from Barcelona.
These cruises also featured meet and greets with some of Nickelodeon’s biggest stars at the time, including appearances of cast members from shows like iCarly and True Jackson VP. This Nickelodeon-packed cruise also featured the real voice of Spongebob Squarepants and special viewings of never-before-seen episodes of iCarly, Victorious and True Jackson VP.
End of an Era
While we all wish we could cruise with Dora the Explorer and Spongebob Squarepants, Norwegian Cruise Line unfortunately discontinued its partnership with Nickelodeon back in 2015.
To the dismay of cruising families everywhere, the cruise line’s partnership with Nickelodeon's parent company, Viacom, expired in 2015 and has yet to return to the high seas.
With the launch of Norwegian Escape in November 2015, the cruise line announced at the time that the Nickelodeon experience wouldn’t be included on its newest ship. In addition, Nickelodeon entertainment would be phased out on the remaining five ships in Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet that were still offering the themed experiences.
Although Norwegian Cruise Line has never commented on the reason for the partnership ending, the Nickelodeon brand as a whole was definitely undergoing changes at this time.
In 2016, it was announced that the Nickelodeon Hotel in Orlando, Florida would also be closing. The network would begin a new venture by partnering with a new company, Karisma Hotel and Resorts, to build more modern resorts in the Caribbean.
Just a few weeks before the announcement was made by Norwegian about the end of its partnership, Nickelodeon had started construction on a new all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. Norwegian stated the partnership was successful and improved overall guest satisfaction by 20% for its youth programming.
Although it was the end of an era for Nickelodeon cruises, there's no doubt that future partnerships will be formed to continue offering incredible youth programming for families.