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Port Canaveral Cruisers Guide to Norwegian Cruise Lines

norwegian cruise lines logo on top of ship

Norwegian Cruise Lines started as an accidental cruise line. Originally, founder Knute Kloster was looking to break into the European ferry market with a new type of long-distance passenger/car ferry service, from the United Kingdom to destinations like Lisbon and Gibraltar, called Sunward Ferries. The business didn’t take off for reasons unknown. For equally mysterious reasons the car ferry/passenger vessel Sunward ended up in Miami at around the same time that cruising was starting to become popular, and later, Carnival Cruise Line founder Ted Arison was looking to break into the business. In partnership with Arison, both Kloster and the Sunward would find success as Norwegian Cruise Lines. Although Arison would split in 1972 to compete with Carnival.
SS Norway on the water
The line was a pioneering line. It created the first private island resort with its purchase of Great Stirrup Cay in 1977. Two years later, in 1979, it created a new type of cruising when it bought the ocean liner S.S. France and converted it into the S.S. Norway. The S.S. Norway would be the world’s largest cruise ship until Royal Caribbean took the title with the Sovereign of the Seas, built for that purpose. Norwegian even launched the first kid’s club on a cruise ship in 1999.

Today, Norwegian Cruise Lines is the youngest cruise line both in the age of its ships and in its target demographic. It makes a great effort to appeal to cruisers from their mid-twenties the to early thirties. The oldest ship in Norwegian’s fleet, the Spirit, was launched in 1998 making Norwegian’s fleet nearly a decade younger than Carnival whose Ecstasy was launched in 1991. Also, Royal Caribbean whose Sovereign of the Seas was launched in 1991 as well.

After booking a Norwegian Cruise from Port Canaveral, book a cruise port hotel package with Go Port. All in one packages like fly snooze cruise in include airport shuttle to selected hotel, a hotel stay, transportation to the cruise terminal, and transportation back to the airport after the cruise vacation!

Port Canaveral Park Snooze Cruise Packages

Norwegian Cruise Lines Freestyle Cruising

Norwegian Freestyle Cruising Banner

Today, Norwegian’s defining trait—and marketing slogan—is freestyle cruising. Now, what exactly is that?

In order to understand the slogan, you have to understand how dining on a cruise ship has traditionally worked. Originally, cruisers would pick either an early or late dining time and their seating was assigned. This would then be their dining time and seat for the rest of the cruise. If they missed their dining time, then they had no other choice but to eat at the buffet or order room service.

Some cruisers relished the chance to meet new people and make friends. Others weren’t pleased to be eating with strangers. Even those that enjoyed the experience ended up with table mates they couldn’t stand at least once. This would lead to a buffet only cruise as cruisers avoided the main dining room.

Norwegian Cruise Lines did away with all that in 2000. Guests were allowed to dine whenever the mood struck them. All they had to do was show up when the dining venues were open. The move proved to be such a success that Norwegian revamped their business model around the concept. Likely one of the reasons that Norwegian’s fleet is younger than its competition is that it needs its ships to support the Freestyle Cruising concept. Multiple places to eat is as much a part of freestyle cruising as flexible timing, and each ship offers not just a fee-free main dining room (sort of), but an Asian restaurant and pub-style food as well without a fee. There are also “priced” restaurants like Cagney’s steakhouse, but in another break with the rest of the industry, these are priced on an à la carte basis.

What’s really meant by Freestyle Cruising is that this flexibility is stretched to every part of your cruise. In practice, this is still a limited definition of “free”. If you want to avoid waiting in line at dinner you have to call ahead, and if you want to be able to guarantee a seat at all in the most popular restaurants at peak times, you’re better off reserving well in advance. A similar effect goes with shows and entertainment where if you don’t get there early you’ll have to wait or miss out.

One of the places it does make a difference is when it’s time to disembark. Instead of having their disembarkation times assigned on the basis of where their rooms are, cruisers instead can pick a luggage tag (i.e. time) that suits them. They can even stay in their cabins until it’s time to get off the ship. The normal procedure is to herd everyone into the common areas to wait for their numbers on disembarkation day, so the staff can start cleaning staterooms early. Letting those with early flights choose to get off early, and letting those with later flights stay in their cabin, is a convenience it took the cruise industry too long to implement. Norwegian is owed credit for being the first to make it happen.

Norwegian Ships Out of Port Canaveral

Norwegian Cruise Lines Spirit and Epic at sea

Norwegian’s long time ship in Port Canaveral is the Norwegian Spirit. It’s a midsized ship with startlingly oversized bathrooms. It’s the oldest ship in Norwegian’s fleet. It has been alternating between 7-night Western and Eastern Caribbean cruises. It is also the only ship sailing out of Port Canaveral that regularly does transatlantic cruises. In spite of its age, the Spirit is a well-regarded ship. It will be missed when it departs for Barcelona in April. This voyage is your last chance to take a grand crossing out of Port Canaveral in 2016.

In November, the Norwegian Epic arrives and begins cruising out Port Canaveral. The Epic is a much bigger ship than the Spirit. At present, it’s the seventh largest cruise ship in the world. It is also a controversial ship, with some unique choices in design that didn’t work out as hoped. It hasn’t even arrived yet, and the Epic has already been scheduled to stay homeported in Port Canaveral through 2017. However, with its great size, solo studios, and youth appeal the Epic may change the atmosphere of Port Canaveral cruising significantly.

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