Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Norwegian Cruise Line is Coming to Singapore!

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is one of my favourite cruise lines. It offers many youth-friendly features like the largest Sports Zones at sea, excellent comedy clubs and game shows and even Single Studios for people who want to travel solo! Therefore, I am totally excited when I heard that Norwegian Cruise Line is coming to Singapore!

©Telegraph. Massive Slide Towers on Norwegian's Breakaway Class ships

What is great about Norwegian?

Norwegian Cruise Line is a family oriented cruise line, with particular emphasis on families with older kids. As such, there is more emphasis on action and adventure compared to similar cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Disney and Princess. The ships are among the largest in the industry. Their latest, Norwegian Bliss is over 160,000tons (equivalent to 4 Superstar Geminis) and packs some uniquely Norwegian Entertainment features.

1) The largest sports and water complexes at sea (at the moment)

In most Cruise Ships, the most you can expect is a couple of pools with a tiny slide, a sports court and maybe a rock climbing wall. Not Norwegian. Norwegian's Aquapark features multiple full sized water slides that are just as intense as those on land! In addition, Norwegian is one of only 2 cruise lines to offer full height-elements courses (ropes obstacle course). The other is Carnival.

©NCL. You can find this on a cruise ship!!???

2) Intimate and personal entertainment options

When I was at Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas earlier this year, one thing I felt lacking was the more intimate kind of entertainment (Street Magic, Stand up Comedy) where we can really interact with the entertainers.  This is one thing that Norwegian does better. Most ships have in house comedy or other street entertainment groups which you can get up close and personal.

©NCL. The Second City is one hell of a comedy club! Sure to keep you laughing for more!

3) Dynamic Dining

Okay, this is one thing you can love or hate. Dynamic Dining means that instead of a main dining hall, you can opt to eat at one of several "main dining" restaurants that each serve a different cuisine. This is also practiced on Star Cruises and Disney Cruise Line, but the youth crowd will prefer Norwegian's system because it is more flexible. 

Disney's system requires you to go to a specific restaurant every day so you get the same waiter, and Star Cruises uses a coupon system which results in long queues.

©NCL. Norwegian offers dynamic dining that allows to eat what you want when you want!

So, what's the deal for Singaporeans?

The ship that is coming to Singapore is Norwegian Star. It is an older ship of about 90,000 tons so it does not have as many gimmicks as the newer, bigger ships. Here are some good things you can expect from Norwegian Star

  • 2 Main Dining Halls, Versailles and Aqua each with its own menu and atmosphere
  • The Second City Comedy Club and other shows specific to NCL
  • Rooms can accommodate 4 (can save you cost as no need book a second room)
  • Standard cruise stuff like pools, bars, nightclub, sports court and spa
©NCL. This is the 90,000t Norwegian Star!

Here is what you cannot find:
  • Studio single rooms
  • The Haven (an atas area with private facilities and super big suites)
  • Large sports and water slide complex
However, one thing to note is that the Norwegian Itinenaries in Singapore are all very long and don't end in Singapore. In fact, the 2 main offerings are an 11 day cruise to Hong Kong and 18 day cruise to Dubai, stopping at various Asian port cities. I am not sure if its a good choice because I know Singaporeans generally prefer shorter cruise holidays (at most 1 week). 

You can book your next Norwegian Cruise here. Alternatively, check out local travel agencies like Citystate Cruises and WTS Travel. They sometimes offer good discount packages. Cruises start from December 2016 and there are only a couple of departures a year 

Ever since the opening of the Marina Bay Cruise Terminal, more cruise lines are coming to Singapore. Shown here is Sapphire Princess from Princess Cruises.

The verdict...

I hope that I will be going on another cruise next year, and Norwegian does offer a promising ship-board experience. However, there is a lot more competition next year because of the new ships Genting World of Star Cruises and Ovation of the Seas by Royal Caribbean.

Personally, I really, really love Norwegian, but I was really disappointed that they did not send a newer, better ship to Singapore and Asia. Also, I seriously doubt I have the time or money for an 11 day cruise vacation, so oh wells...

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