Skip to main content

I have been on Norwegian Cruise Line’s oldest and newest ships: Here are my top 10 tips


Over the last two years, I have had the privilege of sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line onboard some of their oldest and newest ships. These ships have all been quite different, highlighting the wide expanse of offerings from Norwegian. 

Some of my favorite ships and experiences have surprisingly been onboard their oldest vessels, while some of the most unique and exciting cruise experiences I have ever had have been onboard the newest ships in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet. 

ncl star

(This tender ride from the Norwegian Star is one of my all-time favorite cruise memories!)

Throughout these sailings, I have been able to gain some insight and knowledge about Norwegian Cruise Line as a whole, but specifically onboard their newer and older ships. Come along with me as I detail some of the tips and tricks that I have learned along the way while cruising with Norwegian! 

Read: My favorite onboard activities with Norwegian Cruise Line

#1 - Plan Out Your Day 

NCL encore

Something I learned quickly about sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line is there is usually a lot to do onboard. Guests will never be bored when sailing with Norwegian!

Older vessels tend to be quieter and more calm than newer ships. Newer vessels tend to have more innovation and exciting things onboard to explore, while older ships can make for the perfect home base during a port-intensive cruise. 

Whether it is the newest ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, Norwegian Viva, or it is the oldest ship in the fleet, Norwegian Spirit, every sailing features the Freestyle Daily. 

NCL viva

(Guests will often find the Freestyle Daily on the desk or bed inside their stateroom) 

The Freestyle Daily is the Norwegian Cruise Line onboard ship schedule. This ship schedule includes important information such as activities that occur onboard each day, as well as a brief weather report, the time the ship will arrive in port, the all-aboard time, and much more. It will be an important resource for all guests when sailing with Norwegian.

The Freestyle Daily comes in two forms, a physical printed copy that is delivered to each guest’s stateroom each night of a cruise, as well as a digital form that can be found inside the NCL app. 

NCL Star

I highly recommend perusing the Freestyle Daily each night when it is delivered to your stateroom. I usually use a pen to circle events and activities onboard that I am interested in. This will ensure that you do not miss out on any important information or fun onboard the following day.

Read: Norwegian Star vs Norwegian Sun, which of these old ships is better?

#2 - Book Shore Excursions Early 

NCL star

Something that I have discovered onboard both new and old Norwegian Cruise Line ships is the importance of booking shore excursions early. 

There is a possibility that popular shore excursions will sell out. For this reason, booking shore excursions early can be an important step to ensuring a great cruise vacation and experience.

Guests are able to access the list of available shore excursions in the NCL app once a cruise is booked. Sometimes when a cruise is booked far in advance, not all the available shore excursions will be shown right away. 


Often times, there will be popular shore excursions onboard both Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest and oldest ships. This is because Norwegian uses ships of all ages to conduct some awesome itineraries. No matter the ship you’re planning on sailing with, I recommend checking the excursions on offer frequently leading up to embarkation day. 

There is also a possibility that the price of shore excursions could increase in price once onboard your cruise. To ensure that guests are able to book for the cheapest price, booking any shore excursions ahead of time is the best way to plan for your upcoming voyage. 

#3 - Familiarize Yourself With The NCL App 

NCL app

Speaking of the NCL app, this digital resource can be quite important during and prior to a Norwegian Cruise Line sailing. 

For this reason, I recommend downloading the Norwegian Cruise Line app onto your smartphone as soon as a cruise is booked. The NCL app features important resources such as ship deck plans, a list of restaurants and activities onboard, shore excursions, a digital form of the Freestyle Daily, and more. 

NCL star

(The NCL app is also where guests can purchase the onboard messaging feature) 

The Norwegian Cruise Line app is also one of the best ways to check in for a cruise vacation. Starting 21 days before a sailing, guests can use the NCL app to check in for their cruise and manage everything about their cruise vacation. 

Inside the NCL App is also where guests can find a list of charges that guests have accumulated during their sailing, monitor activities they have saved, make restaurant reservations, see what excursions they have booked, and more. 

Read: 15 things I loved and hated about the Norwegian Viva

#4 - Set A Budget For Onboard Expenses 

NCL viva

A cruise vacation can feel all-inclusive at first, but it most often is not. Guests will quickly discover that onboard Norwegian Cruise Line, there can be several onboard expenses that will accumulate over the course of a vacation. 

These expenses can include things like alcoholic beverages, certain onboard activities such as the Norwegian Speedway or the virtual reality experience, Galaxy Pavilion; specialty dining; and gratuities. 

These onboard expenses can start to add up, and for this reason, I recommend guests start saving prior to their cruise and designating some funds for these costs onboard during their cruise. 

NCL star

For example, most onboard extra expense activities tend to cost between $10-$15, this includes the Norwegian Speedway and Laser Tag. While most alcoholic drinks tend to range between $10-$20 onboard with Norwegian Cruise Line. Specialty dining restaurants also tend to range in price, from a set cost to a la carte prices. 

Setting a budget will help ensure that guests will not spend more than they anticipate during their cruise vacation. This can be important onboard both new and old Norwegian Cruise Line vessels. 

#5 - Research Your Chosen Cruise Ship

NCL viva

Putting in some time to research your chosen cruise ship will help guests maximize their time during their cruise vacation, which means more time for fun!

Looking over the different onboard amenities, activities, bars and lounges, and restaurants will help guests be aware of everything onboard so that they do not miss out on anything. 

Looking at the ship layout ahead of time will also help eliminate any frustrations on embarkation day, so passengers can get right to the fun and forget getting lost onboard the first day. 

Read: Norwegian Cruise Line Pros and Cons

#6 - Pick An Itinerary First And Then A Cruise Ship

NCL star

When it comes to cruising, one of the most important parts is the itinerary and destinations visited. 

Cruising is one of the most unique forms of travel, and often allows passengers to visit more than one great destination at a time during a single vacation. It is my personal opinion that the itinerary will make or break the cruise. 

Some of my favorite cruise experiences with Norwegian have been on dream European itineraries while sailing onboard some of their oldest ships. For this reason, I always recommend not ruling out an older vessel. When it comes to Norwegian Cruise Line, you should prioritize the itinerary and destinations visited before selecting a ship. This will help ensure a great cruise experience. 

#7 - Decide Which Stateroom Is Right For You

Standard Interior cabin

Norwegian Cruise Line has some great choices when it comes to stateroom variety. This helps guests find the perfect stateroom for them, no matter their vacation needs or budget. 

Across the fleet, guests will be able to find the following stateroom categories: Studio, Inside, Oceanview, Balcony, Club Balcony Suite, Suite, and The Haven. 

Not every ship will have all of these stateroom categories, but many of the newer ships will have all these choices for guests to find the perfect stateroom. 


(Most affordable stateroom onboard NCL's newest ship, Norwegian Viva) 

So far in all of my Norwegian Cruise Line sailings, I have been able to test out the Studio Staterooms and Inside Staterooms. These two categories are often the most affordable onboard Norwegian Cruise Line ships. I've had great experiences in many of these rooms. 

Read: An in-depth look inside the Studio Staterooms onboard NCL ships designed for one person

#8 - Certain Itineraries Mean Certain Ships

NCL viva

Often times, Norwegian Cruise Line will designate certain ships for specific itineraries. 

For this reason, not every ship will visit every destination. Many of of their newest ships visit regions such as the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Northern Europe or the Mediterranean. Some of Norwegian’s oldest ships sail to regions of the world such as Alaska, Northern Europe, and South America. 


The destination and itineraries of each Norwegian Cruise Line ship are always subject to change at any time. When looking at the Norwegian Cruise Line website, guests will be able to filter and select ships by their itineraries or visa versa. 

Read: This old NCL ship is one of my favorites, here’s why

#9 - Sales And Promotions 


(Some of the things included in NCL's. Military Package and Promotion) 

Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the best cruise lines at offering great sales and promotions to their guests and passengers. 

Recently, Norwegian Cruise Line has started a special discount for United States military members and their families. This promotion includes 10% off every sailing and a special souvenir packet that includes a collectable patch and pin, as well as an invitation to an exclusive cocktail party for military members. 

Additionally, Norwegian also offers promotions such as sales on beverage packages, buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) airfare, specialty dining packages, and more. I recommend checking out the Norwegian Cruise Line website for the best list of current promotions. 

#10 - Make A Must-See List Before Your Cruise

NCL viva

Not only should all guests research their cruise ship, but also their itinerary. Making a list of must-see and do things and activities both onboard the ship and onshore will help guests maximize their time during their vacation. 

Especially onboard the newest ships in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, there is often so much to do and see onboard that it can take more than one cruise vacation to experience everything. 

This can be the same while onshore. You do not want to get off the ship and have no idea of what to do or where to go. For this reason, a little research can go a long way in creating the best cruise vacation possible! 

Read: Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line

Overall, many of the tips and tricks that I have learned over the course of my sailings with Norwegian Cruise Line can be applied to both the newest and oldest ships in the Norwegian fleet

NCL Viva

I hope that these tips will help set you on the right path for planning the best vacation possible with Norwegian Cruise Line! We are looking forward to testing out some new classes of Norwegian Cruise Line ships this year and sharing what we learn. 

Read: Top 60 tips for cruising with Norwegian Cruise Line

Loading Comments