Norwegian Cruise Lines - NCL
Norwegian Cruise Lines, or NCL, is one of the more relaxed of the cruise lines out there. With their freestyling cruise options, they aim for the casual family cruiser.
NCL first sailed in December 1966 and many feel this was the birth of real, modern cruising. Until this point cruising was for the ultra-rich or for immigrants who had no other way to reach their destination.
In current times, NCL has about 14 different ships. They carry between about 1,000 and 2,000 passengers. The ships have 24/7 fitness rooms, although some of the older ones have of course smaller fitness areas. They were built pre-fitness-craze :)
The key to NCL is the "freestyling" dining. Most cruise ships force you to choose one mealtime for the entire cruise, in one room, with one set of waiters. You are trapped at that table for the entire cruise. With NCL, it's more like you have a number of restaurants to choose from. You can go any time during dinner time, to any restaurant, and sit with whoever you want.
Some people love that freedom and flexibility, and meeting new people. However, others really like the rigid, formal system where they become very well acquainted with their constant tablemates. So it's up to you, if you prefer the freestyling system.
NCL is also very casual in the grand scheme of cruising. Many cruise ships insist on formal wear, such as tuxes and jackets for men. On NCL, while you can't wear jeans or shorts into the formal dining rooms, you can wear say Dockers and polo shirts. So for many people, that is a huge change in dining atmosphere.
Because of the casual, flexible environment, NCL is often chosen by families and people more into the fun, active lifestyle vs dressing up every day. Again, it's important to remember that this is still a cruise / resort atmosphere. While swimsuits are OK in the pool, they expect a reasonable level of nice clothes in their high end fancy restaurants. Of course, you can always have a burger or pizza by the pool if you want to stay in shorts the entire time :)
NCL Official Website
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