Norwegian Cruise Line

Travel

Top 10 Cruise Deals With Norwegian Cruise Line

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From the Med to Mexico, Croatia to the Cayman Islands, I’ve got 10 great cruise deals with Norwegian Cruise Line to tempt you. Almost all deals include flights and a choice of any two packages from premium drinks, speciality dining, Wifi package or shore excursion credit! 

 

 
I was lucky to be invited on Norwegian Encore’s inaugural cruise from Germany to Southhampton recently. It was only a two-night cruise but I managed to fit a lot in! I raced a go-kart around the largest race-track at sea, got chased by dinosaurs in the massive virtual reality room, watched Kinky Boots and A Choir of Man in the theatre, and enjoyed a wonderful array of food in various dining outlets. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Norwegian’s ‘free style cruising’ means you can leave your dinner jackets and cocktail dresses at home. Everything on board is relaxed and you can dine whenever and wherever you like. If you want to dress up and enjoy a four-course meal in the main dining room – you can. If you fancy casual dress with pizza and beer, that’s cool too. You don’t have to sit with strangers or dine at 8pm, there are dining options available 24/7.
 

 

 
We ate in the complimentary restaurants the whole time, and I was really impressed with the quality of the food and variety available – I can only imagine how good the speciality restaurants are! With the choice to opt for the premium drinks package and three speciality dining restaurants for just €99, Norwegian Cruise Line offer some of the best value cruise deals from Ireland.

top cruise deals

Norwegian’s Free at Sea promotion allows you to choose any two of the following packages, over a seven-night cruise, for just €99 per adult:

  • Premium drinks
  • WiFi
  • 3 speciality dining meals
  • Shore excursion credit 

I will be writing a full review of Norwegian Encore in due course, but I had some many requests for prices that I thought I would publish my top 10 cruise deals with Norwegian Cruise Line first.
 

 

 

1. Los Angeles Stay & Mexico Cruise: Norwegian Joy, 10th January, 7 Nights €1275!

This amazing cruise deal is perfect for anyone who wants to try a cruise for the first time, or wants to incorporate this into a holiday to California. Like Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Joy is a Breakaway Plus class ship, so the facilities and size are similar in both. If you want to add on extra nights in California, talk to Sunway’s dedicated cruise team and they will arrange this for you.

top cruise deals

Price includes flights, a two-night stay in Los Angeles and a five-night cruise to Cabo San Lucas & Ensenada in Mexico, with two options from the Free at Sea promotion. 

View offer here

 

 

 

 

2. Northern Europe Cruise: Norwegian Escape, 5th September, 9 Nights, €1735!

Not only to you get to overnight in the magical city of St. Petersburg, but this wonderful nine-night cruise also brings you to Berlin, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm. You will be cruising on Norwegian Escape, which has similar facilities to Norwegian Encore – without the race track or laser tag.

st petersburg cruise deal

Price includes flights to Copenhagen and nine-night cruise, with two options from the Free at Sea promotion

View offer here
 

 

 

3. Seattle Stay & Alaska Cruise: Norwegian Bliss, 8th May, 9 Nights, €1780!

An Alaska cruise has been on my bucket list for years, but with prices like this I might just get there! This amazing deal on Norwegian Bliss, another Breakaway Plus class ship, includes a two-night stay in Seattle before your seven-night Alaska cruise. Visit the famous Glacier Bay, Skagway and the city of Victoria, and marvel at the sights from Bliss’s stunning Observation Lounge. This ship was custom built for Alaska cruises so must be one of the best ships to see The Last Frontier.

norwegian bliss cruise deals

Price includes return flights from Dublin, 2 night stay in Seattle, plus 7 night cruise, with two options from the Free at Sea promotion.
 
View offer here
 

 

 

4. Eastern Caribbean Cruise: Norwegian Encore, 14th March, 8 Nights, €1795!

I loved Norwegian Encore, even though I cruised from Bremerhaven to Southampton in November! I admired all the outdoor dining areas and imaged how wonderful it would be to cruise on Encore in the Caribbean. This Caribbean cruise visits San Juan, St. Thomas and the Virgin Islands. Enjoy unlimited complimentary cocktails as you watch the sun go down over the Caribbean Sea. You will also enjoy a pre-cruise stay in Miami too.

caribbean cruise on norwegian encore

Price includes flights, Miami hotel and seven-night Caribbean cruise with two options from the Free at Sea promotion.  

View offer here
 

 

 

5.  New York & Bermuda Cruise: Norwegian Encore, 5th July, 8 Nights €2345!

Bermuda is one of those places that is perfect to visit on a cruise, and you will have plenty of time to explore this beautiful island as you will be docked there for two nights! This cruise deal includes an overnight stay in New York and and a seven night cruise on the brand new Norwegian Encore. 

norwegian encore cruise deals

Price includes flights, New York hotel and seven-night Bermuda cruise with two options from the Free at Sea promotion.  

View offer here
 

 

 

6. Med Cruise to Spain, Italy & France: Norwegian Epic, 31st May, 7 Nights, €1165!

Norwegian Epic has been a firm favourite with Irish cruisers for many years.  You will be visiting Europe’s top cities including Barcelona, Rome and Palma and enjoy two packages from the Free at Sea promotion for an amazing price of €1165!

mediterranean cruise deals

Price includes flights and seven-night cruise with two options Free at Sea promotion. 

View offer here

 

 

 

 

Family Cruise deals:   

 

7. Spain, Italy & France Cruise: Norwegian Epic, 7 Nights, 10th May, 2 adults & 2 children, €3280; 14th June €4550

Norwegian Epic has recently won Best Cruise Ship for Families and Best Cruise Ship for Entertainment from Cruise Critic, (the cruise industry’s TripAdvisor), so it a great choice for a family cruise. With non stop activities including a waterpark, mini-golf and a host of kids clubs – you can rest assured the kids will love it. You can even choose to leave the kids onboard when you are in port, and Norwegian also allow for ‘Date Nights’, with late night supervision available until 1am (extra charge).

family cruise deals from ireland

Price includes return flights from Dublin, Family Plus with baggage and priority seating, 7 night cruise based on 2 Adults and 2 Children under 12, with two options from the Free At Sea promotion for adults.

View offer here
 

 

 

8. New York Stay & Canada: Norwegian Encore, 5th September, 10 Nights, 2 adults & 2 children, €4865

Enjoy an overnight stay in New York, before setting off on a nine-night cruise through Maine and Canada on the brand new Norwegian Encore. Teens will love the go-kart race track, the outdoor laser tag and the amazing virtual reality room, Galaxy Pavillion. Don’t worry if they kids don’t want to see all the sights in Canada, you can leave them supervised on board while you take a shore excursion! 

family cruise deals on norwegian encore

Price includes return flights from Dublin, airline baggage, 1 night pre cruise stay in New York , plus 9 night cruise based on 2 Adults and 2 Children under 12, with two options from the Free at Sea promotion for adults.

View offer here
 

 

 

9. Venice, Greece & Croatia Cruise: Norwegian Dawn, 7 Nights, 14th May, 2 adults & 2 children, €4550; 20th Sept €3725

Although  Dawn is one of Norwegian’s older ships, you can still enjoy great food, terrific entertainment and a variety of kids clubs. It’s smaller size may suit some families too, especially first time cruisers. You will also have the pleasure of visiting some of Europe’s best ports. Leaving from Venice ( is there anywhere better? ), you will be visiting the medieval cities of Kotor and Dubrovnik, as well as the Greek islands of  Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu and Kefalonia.

santorini cruise deals from ireland

Price includes return flights from Dublin, airline baggage, 7 night cruise based on 2 adults & 2 children under 12, with two options from the Free at Sea promotion for adults.

View offer here
 

 

 

10. Cayman Islands & Bahamas Cruise: Norwegian Escape, 7 nights, 2nd January 2021, Cruise Only, 2 adults & 2 children, €2296!

Plan ahead and spend New Year in Florida next year. Add on this amazing cruise and you have a trip of a lifetime. This is the only one of my cruise deals that doesn’t include flights, but the price is so good, I had to include it in this post! Flights and accommodation can be added on a later stage if you wish. You will sail from Port Canaveral and visit Mexico, Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Bahamas over seven nights. Norwegian Escape is a Breakaway Class cruise ship and has superb facilities for children, including an aqua park, mini golf and ropes course. I’m very tempted to book this one myself!

family cruises in the caribbean

 

Price is based on 2 Adults & 2 Children under 12 sharing, with two options from the Free at Sea promotion for adults.

View offer here

 

 

Like cruise holidays? See more cruise reviews and cruise deals here. 

 

 

 
Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

 

 

Travel

Does Norwegian Cruise Line Offer The Best All Inclusive At Sea?

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From Barcelona to the Bahamas, with premium drinks, tips and gratuities included, Norwegian Cruise Line offers some of the best all inclusive cruises on the market.

 

I am a big fan of cruises and I have been fortunate to be on board many cruise ships. The question I am asked the most is ‘what is the best cruise ship? A question that is impossible to answer! Some cruises are more suited to adults, others for families, and with itineraries varying greatly from Alaska to South East Asia, it is important to match the right cruise with each person. However, when it comes to all-inclusive cruises, there is one that springs to mind above all others, Norwegian Cruise Line.

all inclusive cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line have been cruising for over 50 years, have 16 ships and have been voted Europe’s leading cruise line eleven years in a row! They have also won North America’s Leading Cruise Line and Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Line for the third and sixth consecutive year respectively, making them the most awarded cruise line at the 2018 World Travel Awards. When they decided to change to all inclusive cruises, it was a real game changer in the cruise industry.

I have teamed up with Travelnet.ie who are agents for Norwegian Cruise Line and who have been selling holidays and cruises for over 150 years in Ireland. Suffice to say they know their stuff and will know how to choose the right cruise for you. Find out below why I think Norwegian Cruise Line offer some of the best all inclusive cruises on the market.

all inclusive cruises

ALL of Norwegian’s cruises are premium all-inclusive.

No matter which cruise ship or itinerary you choose, all meals and premium drinks are included in the price of your cruise. Imagine not having to think about money at all. Ordering branded spirits, cocktails, even speciality coffees without having to pay anything extra – even tips are included! So you can order drinks as many times as you like, any time of day, in all bars, all lounges and dining areas! You don’t have to wear a wrist band showing what drinks package you have paid for. The bar staff don’t have to check if you have the basic or premium drinks package – all cruises are sold on a premium all-inclusive basis. They even throw in 60 minutes of free WiFi per person, so you can instagram your pina colada to your hearts content!

all inclusive cruises

Norwegian offers ‘Free Style’ cruising:

It is not only the premium drinks that separate Norwegian Cruise Line from it’s competitors. Norwegian’s ‘free style cruising’ means you can leave your dinner jackets and cocktail dresses at home! Everything on board is relaxed and you can dine whenever and wherever you like. If you want to dress up and enjoy a four-course meal in the main dining room – you can. If you fancy casual dress with pizza and beer, that’s cool too! You don’t have to sit with strangers or dine at 8pm, there are dining options available 24/7. Norwegian Cruise Line also offer speciality restaurants including steakhouses, Italian restaurants and Asian offerings, featuring Teppanyaki and sushi cuisine. Note à la carte pricing applies.

all inclusive cruises

The facilities on board are superb.

Norwegian Cruises are famous for their superb facilities on board including thrilling aquaparks and Mandara spas. However their new innovative experiences are unprecedented. Norwegian Bliss has a multi-level go-kart track and open-air laser tag arena on board. Its 200,000-square-foot observation lounge offers the most expansive views at sea – perfect for seaviews and cocktails🍸. Complete with a full-service bar, (and remember all drinks are included in the price of your cruise), you may not want to leave! As well as a host of children’s clubs and activities available, parents will be happy to hear they can have a a ‘Date Night’ where kids are supervised and dropped back to their cabin before 1am.

all inclusive cruises

Enjoy award winning entertainment

From Broadway musicals to acrobatic shows, live music to comedy shows – Norwegian Cruise line know how to entertain. Favourites such as the acrobatic Cirque Dreams and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, as well as five-time Tony® Award-nominated musical, Rock of Ages, ensure memorable nights on board. Music lovers will enjoy ‘Legends in Concert’, the longest-running tribute show in entertainment history, with performances from tribute artists such as Adele, Tina Turner and Michael Jackson. If you don’t fancy taking in a show there are plenty of other bars to choose from. Enjoy a cocktail at the Ice Bar or play a game of pool at the pub – the choice is yours!

all inclusive cruises

Travelnet.ie have lots of special offers on all inclusive cruises with Norwegian which you can see here. If the dates on their website don’t suit, or you have particular requirements, call their dedicated sales team on 01 5310402 or 021 4851700. Alternatively fill out the enquiry form online and they will get back with the best options to suit you.

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Note not all facilities and activities mentioned are on all 16 ships. Ask your Travelnet cruise consultant for more details on specific offerings. This post was sponsored by Travelnet.ie but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Sarah

 

 

 

Travel

Save €700 Per Person – Flights & Premium All Inclusive Med Cruise, 23rd September, €1435!

Norwegian Star

With flights, meals, drinks and gratuities included, as well as a whopping saving of €700 per person, this All Inclusive Med cruise is unbeatable!

 

Did you know that Norwegian Cruise Line have been cruising for over 50 years? They now have 17 cruise ships and have been voted Europe’s leading cruise line for the tenth year in a row! The big game changer is that all of Norwegian’s cruises are all-inclusive. And I don’t just mean local beers and cheap spirits. I mean branded drinks, as many as you like, any time of day, in all bars, lounges and dining areas – with tips included! Norwegian’s ‘free style cruising’ means everything on board is relaxed, with flexible dining and casual dress – you can leave your cocktail dresses and dinner jackets at home! The award-winning entertainment on board includes Broadway musicals, live music and comedy, as well as plenty of leisure facilities including aqua parks, kids clubs and a selection of sports activities. Have I convinced you yet?

I have teamed up with Sunway Holidays who are agents for Norwegian Cruise Line and have many exclusive offers, unavailable elsewhere. Their cruise experts have experienced Norwegian cruise ships first hand. They will be able to answer any queries you have, and recommend the right ship and cabin choice, to suit your requirements. Whether you seek a family cruise in the Mediterranean, a romantic cruise around the Caribbean, or a cruise and stay holiday in Alaska, Sunway have a cruise to suit everyone.  I have chosen this All Inclusive Med cruise because, not only will you will be stopping at some of the Mediterranean’s most stunning locations, but Sunway have an exclusive saving of €700 per person!

all inclusive med cruise

You will set sail from Venice and cruise to the medieval city of Dubrovnik. Climb the city walls and take in the views, meander through the cobbled-stone streets or chill out in one of the cool cliff-top bars. Your next stop is the bay of Kotor in Montenegro, where the southernmost fjords meet soaring mountain peaks. I visited Kotor a few years ago and feel in love with it. From there you will visit Katakolon in Greece, famous for it’s proximity to the ancient city of Olympia. You will also have the pleasure of stopping in Athens where you will marvel at the Acropolis and the modern city below. The final stop is the Croatian city of Split. Renowned for its beautiful old town, stunning beaches and crystal clear waters, you can choose to stay in Split or venture further afield to Plitvice Lakes or one of the nearby islands. After this seven day Eastern Mediterranean cruise you will sail back to Venice for your return flight home.

all inclusive med cruise

The Norwegian Star is one of Norwegian’s older ships but it has been fully refurbished and now offers fifteen different dining options and eleven bars!  You can sip champagne in Gatsby’s Champagne bar or drink a wide selection of international beers in the outdoor Bier Garten. There are two main dining rooms (menus are changed daily) as well as a variety of cafés and fast food outlets, all included in the price of your cruise. They also have a selection of speciality dining options, which incur a separate charge. I had lunch in the Teppanyaki restaurant when the Norwegian Star was docked in Dublin port – it was superb.

all inclusive med cruise

The pool deck has two waterslides and six hot tubs, although if you fancy a quiet place to swim, you can visit the indoor lap pool in the Spa. There is also a fitness centre with a jogging track, a golf driving net and a volleyball/basketball court. The Norwegian Star has a massive theatre showing the latest West-End style shows and there are plenty of bars with live music, if you fancy a more casual night.

Fly from Dublin to Venice on the 23rd of September and enjoy a seven-night Mediterranean cruise for only €1435. This includes a massive saving of €700 per person, which is exclusive to Sunway. Remember the price includes flights, all meals, drinks and gratuities!

 

Click here for more details:

 

Note this is just one of the many cruises that Sunway offer with all cruise lines. If the above date or itinerary doesn’t suit you, contact one of their expert cruise staff and they will find a suitable cruise for you. This post was sponsored by Sunway, but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Interested in cruising, for cruise news, reviews and the best cruise deals, click here.

 

Sarah

 

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Travel

Premium All Inclusive Fly Cruises to the Med & Caribbean, With Prices from €1340!

cruise drinks

From Barcelona to the Bahamas, Venice to the Virgin Islands,  All Inclusive cruise holidays with Norwegian Cruise Line offer some of the best value cruises on the market. The only decision is which one will you choose?

 

Did you know that Norwegian Cruise Line have been cruising for over 50 years? They now have a whopping 17 ships and they been voted Europe’s leading cruise line for the tenth year in a row! The big game changer is that all of Norwegian’s cruises are all-inclusive. And I don’t just mean local beers and cheap spirits. I mean branded drinks, as many as you like, any time of day, in all bars, lounges and dining areas – with tips included! Norwegian’s ‘free style cruising’ means everything on board is relaxed, with flexible dining and casual dress – you can leave your cocktail dresses and dinner jackets at home! The award-winning entertainment on board includes Broadway musicals, live music and comedy, as well as plenty of leisure facilities including aqua parks, kids clubs and a selection of sports activities. Have I convinced you yet?

I have teamed up with Sunway Holidays who are agents for Norwegian Cruise Line and have many exclusive offers, unavailable elsewhere. Their cruise experts have experienced Norwegian cruise ships first hand. They will be able to answer any queries you have, and recommend the right ship and cabin choice, to suit your requirements. Whether you seek a family cruise in the Mediterranean, a romantic cruise around the Caribbean, or a cruise and stay holiday in Alaska, Sunway have a cruise to suit everyone.  I have hand picked some of my favourite all inclusive cruise holidays from Norwegian Cruise Line to tempt you.

All prices include flights, and remember with Norwegian Cruise Line, all meals, drinks and gratuities are included too!

 

Norwegian Epic: 28th October, 7 Night Cruise,  Spain, Italy & France, €1340!

This amazing offer is available over the October bank holiday weekend! Take advantage of less time off work or avail of the kids mid term break. This classic Western Mediterranean itinerary cruises from Barcelona and visits Naples, Rome, Pisa, Cannes and Palma. See many of the Italian highlights by touring the Amalfi Coast, visiting the ancient city of Rome and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Chill out on one of the stylish beach resorts on the Cotes d’Azur and shop till you drop in Palma.

all inclusive cruises

Norwegian Epic is one of Norwegian’s largest cruise ships and carries over 4,000 passengers. This innovative cruise ship has twenty-four different dining options, mind-blowing entertainment and one of the largest spas at sea. The top deck spans the entire length of the ship and has lots of bars, restaurants and swimming pools, as well as water park with huge water slides.  There are numerous clubs for kids as well as a dedicated kid’s centre and a teen disco. Sports enthusiasts will love the climbing walls, bowling alleys and state of the art fitness centre on board. If you fancy a quieter place, the adults-only bar and pool area has two hot tubs and a bar serving drinks, to cool you down! At night time movies are shown here too.

all inclusive cruises

There are lots of delicious dining options included in the cost of your cruise but if you fancy trying something special, the Cirque Dreams & Dinner should not be missed. This unique theatrical dining experience presents world class acrobatics with mouthwatering food. Cagney’s Steakhouse is another favourite, offering choice cuts of Black Angus steak, as well as their, made-from-scratch jumbo crab cakes and truffle fries!

Click here for more details:

 

Brand New Norwegian Bliss: 18th January 2019, Miami, Bahamas & Virgin Islands, €1898!

Be one of the first to cruise Norwegian’s newest and most incredible ship, Norwegian Bliss. This ship has been custom-built to give jaw-dropping views from it’s revolutionary Observation Lounge. Located at the front of the ship, this offers the same views seen from the bridge and has the most expansive views at sea. Complete with a full service bar, you may not want to leave! This state-of-the-art cruise ship features the same freestyle dining and premium all-inclusive drinks available on all Norwegian cruises. There are eighteen different dining options including exclusive speciality dining restaurants. The Waterfront is the place to go with thirteen restaurants and bars to choose from, many offering alfresco seating. Texas Smokehouse – Q is new to Bliss and the first full-service Starbucks at sea, is here too.


Bliss has the largest competitive race track at sea where you can ride up to 30 miles per hour! There is also an open-air laser tag course and an aqua park with multi-story slides (one of which extends over the edge of the ship). The Tony Award®-winning Broadway musical, Jersey Boys is shown nightly and at The Cavern Club, guests can enjoy their favourite songs from The Beatles. The talented cover band will play Beatles tunes in a setting inspired by the Liverpool Club where The Beatles famously performed countless times.

all inclusive cruises

This amazing offer includes direct flights with Aer Lingus to Miami, an over-night stay in a four star hotel in Miami and a seven night Caribbean cruise, visiting the Bahamas and the Caribbean islands of St Thomas and Tortola.

Click here for more details:

 

Note all of the above cruises are just a sample of the many cruises that Sunway offer with Norwegian Cruise Line and other cruise lines. If the above dates or itineraries don’t suit you, contact one of their expert cruise staff and they will find a suitable cruise for you. This post was sponsored by Sunway, but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Interested in cruising, for cruise news, reviews and the best cruise deals, click here.

 

Sarah

 

travel deals

 

 

CruisesFeatured

My Review Of Norwegian Star

Norwegian Star

I had the pleasure of stepping on board the Norwegian Star while it was docked in Dublin recently. This was my first time to see a Norwegian cruise ship, check out my review 🙂

 

The first thing that needs to be said is that despite the name, Norwegian Cruise Line is actually American! It also cruises all over the world and not just to Norway and the Baltics… Avid cruisers may well know both of these important facts but it is amazing how many people are mislead by their name! They have been cruising for 50 years, have 14 ships and they have received the World Travel Award as Europe’s leading cruise line for the ninth year in a row! Norwegian’s slogan is free style cruising and they provide just that. Everything on board is relaxed, with flexible dining and casual dress – you can leave your cocktail dresses and dinner jackets at home!

Norwegian Star

The Star is one of Norwegian’s older ships. Built in 2001, it was refurbished in 2015 as part of Norwegian’s ongoing $400 million extensive upgrade of it’s fleet. (They claim that their ships will look better than the day they were launched!) Although relatively small in today’s cruising terms ( carries 2348 passengers), it still has 15 dining options and 11 bars! You can sip Champagne in Gatsby’s Champagne bar or drink a wide selection of international beers in the outdoor Bier Garten. There are two main dining rooms (menus are changed daily) as well as a variety of cafés and fast food outlets, all included in the price of your cruise. They also have many speciality dining options, which incur a separate charge. We had lunch in the Teppanyaki restaurant and it was excellent. We had wasabi cocktails with mouthwatering prawns and fillet steak, all cooked in front of us. The chefs even showed us their tricks and got the whole group involved. It was a fantastic experience and one I would highly recommend. This room only seats 12 at a time so make sure you make a reservation at the start of your cruise, or even before hand.

We had great fun dining #teppanyaki style on #norwegianstar @norwegiancruiseline #cruise #foodie #freestylecruising

A video posted by The Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on

The pool deck comes complete with two waterslides and six hot tubs. This is great for families although if you fancy a quiet place to swim, you should visit the indoor lap pool in the Spa. There is a charge to use the indoor pool, jacuzzi and hydropool however, I was a little surprised at this. There is also a fitness centre with a jogging track, a golf driving net and a volleyball/basketball court – so plenty of ways to expend some energy on board.

Norwegian Star

The kids facilities on board are excellent. There are slides in the main pool but also in the kids pool. This is equipped with two rocket-shaped slides and a kid’s hot tub. Their kids clubs offer activities for kids from 3 -12 including a cinema and a jungle gym. They also have crèche facilities for babies from 6 months old. For teenagers the ‘Entourage’ program offers activities from age 13-17. They have their own exclusive teen-only area, with a jukebox, dance floor and a communal area to ‘hang out’. This area comes equipped with computers, an air hockey table and a video gaming zone. And this is where is gets really interesting….. Parents can have a ‘Date Night’ where kids are supervised and dropped back to your cabin before 1am!

Norwegian Star

Speaking of  ‘date night’, Norwegian has a massive theatre showing the latest West-End style shows. The theatre holds 1000 people so you don’t need to make a reservation. If shows are not your thing, there are plenty of bars with live music as well as their own in house entertainment shows. Norwegian are renowned for their top class entertainment both in their theatres and throughout their ships.

Norwegian Star

Norwegian’s newer and larger ships, Breakaway, Escape, Getaway and Epic have even more features. You will find that ten pin bowling, rock climbing and state of the art aqua parks are the norm (see image below). They are also famous for their rope courses which have zip lines and planks that hang over the side of the ship – definitely not for the faint hearted! Sadly they are too big to fit into Dublin Port so I’ll have to actually go on one of their cruise holidays to see them properly 😉 Fortunately, Epic will be cruising from Barcelona for Summer 2017 and there are some excellent early booking offers, including free drinks packages, free speciality dining packages, free wifi and even free spending money – so watch this space!

Norwegian Star

Norwegian’s freestyle cruising brings more than just flexible dining. Their action packed cruises will ensure you have a fun filled holiday with top class entertainment and activities on board. So leave the cocktail dresses at home, pre book the all-inclusive drinks package and simply enjoy 🍹

For more details visit their website or see your local ITAA travel agent.

 

Interested in cruising, for cruise news, reviews and the best cruise deals, click here.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

CruisesDestinationsFeatured

Cruising – How to choose the right cruise for you.

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From surf simulators to spa treatments, designer shopping to sky diving, cruise companies are frantically trying to out do each other. Larger ships with ever more innovation are being launched each year. So for those of you who haven’t tried it yet, how do you know which cruise to choose?

 

Cruising is now one of the fastest growing markets in the travel industry with over 30,000 people cruising from Ireland last year. I have seen many ships and I can honestly say there is a cruise for everyone out there. Cruise ships are often referred to as floating hotels and in some cases they are more like floating cities. You can choose the massive ships like Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas which can carry almost 8000 passengers and crew, or a smaller intimate river cruise like Uniworld’s SS Catherine, which carries 159 passengers.

I decided for this post I needed some help from a cruise ‘expert’ so I spoke to one of Ireland’s top cruise specialists Niki Stanford, from Clickandgo.com. Nikki has been on 28 cruise ships and has been selling cruises for 16 years. Niki constantly keeps up to date with online training. The cruise industry is always changing and she likes to  ‘keep up to speed on it all”.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on which cruise to choose
A cruise ship docked in Venice.

Best cruise for first timers:

A seven night Mediterranean Cruise is always a firm favourite. Usually sailing from Barcelona or Rome and taking in the best the Western Mediterranean has to offer. For many people it is price driven and these tend to offer the best value. People don’t want to spend too much on their first outing in case they don’t like cruising. This rarely happens though because over 90% of cruisers will cruise again.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert reviews cruising
Barcelona.

Best cruise for young couples:

Mediterranean and Caribbean cruises are the most popular with young people. Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line or MSC Cruises are ideal and have excellent facilities on board. Facilities are key as many want good entertainment at night time as well as sports activities on board. Royal Caribbean’s latest ships offer sky diving, zip lines, surf simulators and even an ice rink! With robots serving you drinks from the bar, they are a great choice for a young couple looking for some adventure, modern style! Norwegian are also very popular with young couples as they offer free style dining, with no formal nights and a more relaxed atmosphere on board.
Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert reviews cruising
Norwegian Epic.

Best cruise for older couples:

The Baltic states are always a firm favourite sailing with older couples. Sailings from Copenhagen or Amsterdam are very popular, particularly itineraries taking in the Norwegian Fjords and Russia. Some cruise lines include overnights in popular cities too.
This year has seen an increase in the transatlantic voyage on the Queen Mary 2. With excellent prices on offer and it is probably on most cruisers  ‘bucket list’. It is a very different feel and experience on board to other cruise ships. The Queen Mary 2 is Cunard’s flagship and is “the most magnificent ocean liner ever built and probably the most famous cruise ship in the world”.
River cruising is also very popular. A more intimate cruise on smaller ships and the ability to dock in the heart of cities, has made river cruising one of the fastest growing sectors within the cruise industry.
Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert reviews cruising
Uniworld’s River cruise ship – SS River Royale

Best cruise for families :

Cruises are ideal for families and excellent value for money. Niki doesn’t understand why more families do not cruise. A fear of the unknown perhaps?  The food and service excellent – you would need to go to a 5 star hotel to find similar service, says Niki. The entertainment is superb from west end style shows to Cirque du Soleil, it truly is endless! You will never hear the children say ‘I’m Bored!’
MSC Cruises are fantastic value for families as child prices are heavily discounted in comparison to other companies. Kids aged 11 and under just pay port charges so technically they ‘cruise free’. Above 11 and under 18 they pay a little more, but still gives amazing value considering the food, entertainment and kids clubs are all included! Some of their ships have water slides on board, others have a lego club and even a Formula 1 simulator!
Royal Caribbean offer a more active holiday for families. With everything from rock climbing walls, surf simulators, zip lines and even sky diving simulators. These ships are a teenagers dream.

Best cruise for adventure:

Hurtigruten will let you search for the Northern Lights or Polar Bears!  They may not offer the same facilities on board  but they are truly made for adventurers. The stunning scenery and the true local experiences have made them extremely popular in recent years. Celebrity Cruises Xpedition ship is the luxury ship for adventurers but you will need to plan way in advance, this ship is booked up as soon as it goes on sale!
Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on which cruise to choose
The Northern Lights, Iceland

Best cruise for food:

It is difficult to choose one cruise line over another as the quality of food on board most cruise ships is excellent. However, some of the cruise companies are offering unique experiences, beyond the typical main dining restaurants and buffets. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises offer many speciality restaurants on board, some are included in the price of your cruise and some incur a supplement. “Qsine” on Celebrity Cruises is the ultimate in modern dining. From the iPad menu to the different tastes and experiences on offer it’s is more of a dining experience than a dinner date!  Wonderland restaurant on the Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas offer a bizarre take on the Alice in Wonderland movie, with unusual statues and odd chairs, you almost feel you are in the movie.  They call it imaginative cuisine! You are given a blank menu and a paintbrush, the waiter will then instruct you to dip the paintbrush in the water and paint the canvas and as if my magic your menu appears!

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on which cruise to choose
The Tuscan Grille, one of Celebrity Silhouette’s speciality restaurants.

Best cruise for entertainment:

Generally speaking entertainment is of a very high standard on most cruise ships. Niki loved the Two70 venue on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. “It takes advanced robotic and human artistry to a level, I have never seen on board a ship! It has to be seen to believed and experienced. That along with a Candy Floss martini, they offer in the bar!” It is a very personal choice however, some want west end style theatre shows and others want non stop daily entertainment. By speaking to a cruise expert, they will advise which cruise ship suits your needs and tastes.
Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on which cruise to choose
Theatre on board Celebrity Silhouette.

Best value for money cruise:

MSC Cruises are the leaders here. But Niki is keen to point out that just because they are cheap it doesn’t mean that they are not good! She has sailed many times with MSC and thinks the food and service is brilliant but they just don’t have the added extras that some of the companies offer these days, this is why they will not be higher priced. They offer modern service with a Mediterranean / Italian flare without breaking the bank. If you don’t need a huge choice of eating venues or rock climbing walls then they are ideal. Their staterooms and furnishings are beautiful. Sophia Loren is the godmother to their ships, so the sense of style and class flows through!
Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert reviews cruising
MSC Preziosa.

Best cruise for luxury:

Silversea and Crystal cruises are luxury at its best.  If you seek the luxury yacht feel then the smaller Silversea ships with butler service and luxury surroundings are one of the best in luxury cruising. Alternatively if you want to try something different, Uniworld is the ultimate in river cruising. Like a floating boutique hotel, Uniworld offer a 5* all inclusive cruise, with fine dining and outstanding service. Celebrity Cruises offer luxury with a modern style and are not as expensive as Silversea or Uniworld. Their food and service is excellent and the overall feeling is quite relaxed.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on which cruise to choose
A suite on board Celebrity Reflection.

Best Cruise if you don’t want to fly:

Fred Olsen’s MS Boudicca will operate six sailings from Ireland in 2016 including a nine night spectacular trip to the Norwegian Fjords in July and a 14 night Rugged & Rural Canada cruise in September.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on which cruise to choose
Norwegian Fjords

 

Any other advice?

Select your stateroom wisely.

Look at the deck plans before you choose your cabin / stateroom. You may wish to be close to the swimming pool or away from the nightclub. If you don’t want to be awoken at 7 am with the sound of people going to breakfast, don’t select a stateroom beside the lift or stairs. Some ocean-view staterooms may have a view of life boats, they are usually called obstructed view rooms. Perhaps it is better to select a full seaview room or even a balcony cabin and watch the sunset beneath the horizon.

 

Check the dress code.

Some cruises have one formal night, others have two or three. If you don’t want to dress up, you can avoid these in most cases, by going to the buffet restaurant for dinner. Norwegian Cruise Line offer a freestyle cruise concept where it is casual and relaxed throughout. There are no set times for dinner and no dress code, so for clients that do not want to dress up this is ideal! Cunard and P&O Cruises are more strict on their formal nights and really encourage it for their guests. Cunard even offer masquerade balls, and the Royal Ascot Ball!
You can see from the list above how varied cruise ships are. Some offer dress codes, speciality dining options, some have non stop entertainment, others are quieter and more low key. This for me is why speaking to a dedicated specialist is so important before booking your cruise.

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Sarah  

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