I have created these 11 essential tips to help you get the most out of a cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic . They are based on my experiences of travelling with them – and drawing on my other cruising experiences:
(1) Check if “Cruising like a Norwegian” is going to be suited to your travel style and taste. Do this by reviewing my “4 “things you need know before cruising with Norwegian Cruise Line“.
(2) Book the right type if cabin for your travel interests. Norwegian Epic has a wide range of cabins including dedicated areas on board for Solo Travellers and for people seeking a premium suite experience. They also have a wide choice of balcony, inside cabins and cabins with inter-connecting doors. Take time to select a style of cabin that best suits who you are travelling with and how you like to travel. If travelling in a warm climate or one with a lot of scenery, like Alaska or Northern Europe, I recommend that you should consider a balcony cabin to enjoy the constant scenery. It is worth the investment over an inside cabin.
(3) Take into account of your cruise party configuration and explore the options available to you. Norwegian Epic sails in the peak months during school holidays at over 100% capacity! The capacity of the ship is quoted based on double occupancy of cabins and so on the Norwegian Epic that is just over 4,000 passengers. However, many cabins can hold 3 or 4 people. So in the Mediterranean in July and August and peak holiday season in the Caribbean, the ship may be carrying over 5,000 passengers as families or groups of friends have an additional passengers in their cabin. I recommend that you consider are:
- As the incremental cost per person for additional passengers sharing your cabin is lower than the charge for double occupancy, consider this option as a way of making your trip more cost effective than booking an additional cabin.
- If there are three or four of you, consider booking a premium suite that has more space. You can split the cost and have a fare per person that is lower than double occupancy of a smaller cabin.
(4) Before your cruise carefully research and review the entertainment, dining and drinking options and decide your “must do” short list. You can do this on the official Norwegian Cruise Line website and closer to your trip they send emails with links to detailed advice on the options and how to book. If you prefer to book on board do it as soon as you get on the ship to avoid disappointment.
(5) Set a budget for your cruise, and a strategy for staying within it. The “Freestyle Cruising” approach on Norwegian Epic means you will have a lot of choice and can personalise your on board experience. Not all of the choices are free, although many are. When budgeting take into account costs like:
- Transfers to and from the ship, whether using Norwegian offerings or self arranged options.
- Gratuities of around $12 per person that will be added per day.
- Speciality dining surcharges. These vary based on the restaurant you chose to eat it, but assume around $20 per person. There are a number of dining options included in your fare, including room service, buffet and two full service restaurants.
- Drinks. Compare costs of the alcohol and soft drinks packages with what you are likely to drink to see if they will be more cost effective. You are not allowed to bring your own drink on board and the cruise line will do a search each time you board and hold it until the end of your cruise. Duty free alcohol bought on board is also only available to collect once the cruise has ended.
- Excursions, including any costs of self exploring if you decide not to use the cruise line tours. Even if you decide to not do the cruise line excursions build in an allowance for train, taxi and bus rides to get around the destinations and for entry fees to get you into any museums, attractions and sights you may visit.
- Internet and mobile phone usage. On board internet can cost 75c/ minute.
- Official photographs taken of you by the ship photographers that you may want to buy.
- Spa treatments and fitness classes. Entry to the fitness centre is included in your fare.
(6) Bring at least one set of smart clothes and make a night of it as a treat or special event, taking in one of the big shows and dining in one of the smarter restaurants like the French Le Bistro.
(7) Try as many of the speciality restaurants as your budget will allow – and take your taste buds on a journey around the world. There is a vast array of choices of places to eat (over 20) and they provide settings, decor and menus appropriate to the region they are focused on. There is everything from Japanese, New York Steakhouse, Irish Pub Grill, Chinese and South American.
(8) Try something unusual that you would not normally do at home, and see if you find something new you really do like! Try the entertaining Teppanyaki where the chef performs while cooking your meal in front of you, the Ice Bar, Cirque Dreams and Dinner, water slides, bowling or go and see one of the production shows like the “Blue Man Group” or “Legends in Concert” if you do not normally go to the theatre.
(9) Plan to spend all or most of one day on the ship instead of going on a tour. Not only will it make the cruise less frantic you will also have the ship and facilities almost to yourself including the restaurants, pools, slides and spa. The vast majority of passengers will leave the ship when it is on port and you will find the ship quiet and calm.
(10) If travelling with your kids negotiate with them to have a late night in the kid’s club and party like you used to! You can have the kid’s club entertain and look after your children up to 1.30am most days.
(11) Based on the cruise chose an embarkation point that is either closest to you or will be less busy. If you are flying to join a cruise in the Mediterranean, Norwegian allows embarkation and disembarkation at a number of ports and so you may find joining a cruise in Rome may be easier and less busy that getting on board at the more normal and busier Barcelona. In the Caribbean this is not usually an option as the 7-night cruises to various islands are less likely to have alternative ports to embark in.
Have you travelled with Norwegian Cruise Line? What other advice and tips do you have?
Declaration: I travellers as a guest of Norwegian Cruise Line UK on the Norwegian Epic. The opinions expressed are my own. Read, watch and listen to all of my all of content on Tips for Travellers Norwegian Cruise Line