The 5 best destinations you can visit on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship
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Thinking of booking a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line? When it comes to itineraries, you have a lot of choices.
The Miami-based line operates vessels in almost every corner of the world, with a wide range of itineraries in many destinations.
You’ll find Norwegian ships everywhere from the Caribbean and Bahamas to Europe, Asia and Australia. The line also is a big player in Hawaii.
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In addition, Norwegian is particularly known for cruises to Bermuda out of Boston and New York City, and it offers Canada and New England cruises regularly. It also operates some Panama Canal sailings and trips from the West Coast of the U.S. to the Mexican Riviera.
In North America, Norwegian ships sail from a relatively wide range of home ports including Boston; New York City; Miami and Tampa in Florida; San Juan, Puerto Rico; New Orleans; San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco in California; Seattle; Honolulu; Vancouver, British Columbia; Quebec City, Quebec; and Seward, Alaska.
Some of Norwegian’s most exciting itineraries are in Europe, where the line is a significant player. It offers a wide range of itineraries in both the Mediterranean as well as across Northern Europe.
Norwegian typically will deploy around half of its 17 ships to the continent from spring to fall, making Europe its biggest focus for more than half the year. Norwegian also sometimes offers Europe cruises in the winter, too — albeit typically with just one ship.
Norwegian’s Mediterranean sailings offer the chance to see such iconic destinations as Barcelona, Spain; and Florence, Rome and Naples in Italy in a single cruise. Or, you can sign up for a Mediterranean cruise that focuses on the Greek Islands.
In Northern Europe, Norwegian will take you to such famed Baltic cities as Stockholm, Sweden; Tallinn, Estonia; Helsinki, Finland; and St. Petersburg, Russia in a single sailing. Itineraries that zero in on Iceland, Ireland and the United Kingdom also are available.
Norwegian’s Europe voyages range widely in length from just three to a whopping 19 nights.
Among the longest sailings that Norwegian offers that include calls in Europe are one-way trips between Piraeus, Greece (the port for Athens), and Dubai. Typically lasting 18 or 19 nights, these often will include stops in Israel and sometimes Greece as well as visits to Egypt, Jordan, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
In Northern Europe, Norwegian ships mostly sail out of Amsterdam; Stockholm; Copenhagen; Southampton, United Kingdom; and Reykjavík, Iceland.
In the Mediterranean, the line’s hubs are Barcelona; Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) and Venice, Italy; Piraeus (the port for Athens); and Istanbul, Turkey.
The Caribbean and Bahamas
The Caribbean and Bahamas always have been a big area of operations for Norwegian. In fact, for a long time, the regions were so much the focus that the line included the word Caribbean in its name. Up until 1987, Norwegian was known as Norwegian Caribbean Line.
These days, Norwegian usually keeps just two of its 17 vessels in the Caribbean and Bahamas year-round. But it really ramps thing up in the region in the winter, when it sends a large portion of its ships here.
Norwegian currently has 11 of its 17 ships scheduled to sail to the Caribbean and Bahamas for at least part of the coming year — including its newest and biggest ship, the 3,998-passenger Norwegian Encore.
Norwegian offers a broad range of Caribbean and Bahamas itineraries from more than half a dozen home ports. If you’re looking for something short, the line has you covered in the form of lots of quick, three- and four-night trips from Miami to the Bahamas. But it also offers an abundance of seven-night sailings to Caribbean and Bahamian ports as well as a handful of longer trips in the region that range from nine to 14 nights.
At the core of the line’s Caribbean and Bahamas program are its seven-night sailings, which break down into three broad categories:
- Eastern Caribbean voyages
- Western Caribbean voyages
- Southern Caribbean voyages
A typical seven-night Norwegian sailing to the Eastern Caribbean includes stops in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas.
Norwegian’s seven Western Caribbean voyages typically will include a visit to Roatán, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico.
The line’s Southern Caribbean itineraries often will bring visits to Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Lucia and St. Kitts. They typically begin and end in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
When sailing to the Caribbean, Norwegian ships generally sail out of Miami, Port Canaveral and Tampa in Florida; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. But the line also offers Caribbean sailings out New Orleans, New York City and, occasionally, Panama City, Panama.
Norwegian is the undisputed leader in Hawaii cruises. Most cruise lines that offer sailings to Hawaii only offer a limited number of such trips during a few months each year. Norwegian, by contrast, offers sailings around the Hawaiian Islands out of Honolulu every week of the year — the only cruise line in the world to do so.
In addition to occurring more frequently, Norwegian’s Hawaii voyages also are more intensely focused on Hawaii than the Hawaii trips offered by most other lines. This is because Norwegian offers its Hawaii cruises on one of the only cruise ships in the world that meets the regulatory requirements to spend all its time in the destination.
Norwegian’s Hawaii trips take place on Norwegian’s 2,186-passenger Pride of America, which has the rare distinction of being both U.S.-flagged and U.S.-crewed. By law, only these vessels can cruise full-time in Hawaii without regularly traveling long distances to foreign ports.
An iconic presence in Hawaii, Pride of America has been permanently dedicated to the archipelago since its debut in 2005. It offers a repeating seven-night itinerary that begins each Saturday in Honolulu and brings the chance to visit four different Hawaiian islands on a single seven-night trip.
Beginning and ending on the island of Oahu, the itinerary includes two days each on the islands of Maui, Kauai and Hawaii. The two-day visit to Maui involves an overnight stay at the port of Kahului. The two-day visit to Kauai involves an overnight stay at the port of Nawiliwili. The two-day visit to Hawaii is split between a call at Hilo and a call at Kona.
Still, Norwegian typically sends three to five vessels to Alaska every summer, and its big, activity-filled ships are a popular pick with families looking to visit the destination.
The Alaska cruise season is a short one, lasting roughly from May to September. And this year, the Alaska cruise season is entirely in doubt, due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions. But as of now, Norwegian still has two vessels, the 4,002-passenger Norwegian Bliss and 1,932-passenger Norwegian Sun, scheduled to sail seven-night voyages to Alaska out of Seattle from July onward.
For 2022, Norwegian plans to deploy five ships to the Alaska market:
- Norwegian Encore: Norwegian’s biggest vessel will operate seven-night voyages to Alaska round-trip out of Seattle. It’ll call at the Alaska towns of Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan; and Victoria, British Columbia. It’ll also visit Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park for glacier viewing.
- Norwegian Spirit: The 2,018-passenger vessel will operate a mix of five- to 10-night sailings to Alaska out of Seattle. The list of port calls vary based on the length of the trips.
- Norwegian Sun: Sun will operate a mix of five- to nine-night sailings to Alaska out of Seattle. The list of port calls vary based on the length of the trips.
- Norwegian Bliss: The 4,002-passenger vessel will operate seven-night voyages to Alaska round-trip out of Seattle. It’ll call at Juneau, Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point in Alaska; and Victoria, British Columbia. It’ll also visit Alaska’s Endicott Arm for glacier viewing.
- Norwegian Jewel. The 2,376-passenger ship will operate one-way voyages to Alaska between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seward, Alaska.
The appeal of the one-way sailings on Norwegian Jewel is that they can be combined with Norwegian-organized land tours of Alaska lasting from three to six days to create 10- to 13-night “cruisetours.”
The land tour portion of such trips brings visits to such well-known interior Alaska locations as Denali National Park and the town of Fairbanks.
Norwegian usually deploys two ships on Bermuda runs every year — one out of New York City and one out of Boston.
In both cases, the sailings on offer are mostly seven nights in length and bring a two-night stay in Bermuda.
Most cruises to Bermuda for 2021 have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But for 2022, Norwegian plans to devote one of its biggest and newest ships, the 3,802-passenger Norwegian Joy, to Bermuda runs out of New York. The line’s 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl will sail to Bermuda out of Boston.
While most of Norwegian’s Bermuda sailings are seven nights in length, the line also occasionally offers a few shorter four- and five-night Bermuda sailings and, occasionally, a longer nine-night Bermuda sailing.
Note that the shorter Bermuda sailings can offer very little time in the country, sometimes as few as nine hours.
Norwegian offers a wide range of itineraries in destinations around the world, from the Caribbean to Asia. But you’ll find the most choices among Norwegian itineraries in the Caribbean and Europe. The line also is well-known for voyages around Hawaii and to Bermuda. Its Hawaii sailings, in particular, are something of a rarity in the industry.
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Featured image of courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line.
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