Along with Allure of the Seas, Norwegian Epic was
one of the major newsmakers of 2010.
Photo courtesy of NCL
When it came time to pick a line for inclusion in this 2011 feature that would be accessible to everyone, from families to singles to seniors, Norwegian Cruise Line seemed a perfect fit.  Why not Royal Caribbean, you ask?  While Royal Caribbean offers a fun, active product, they have received more than their fair share of press this year and last thanks to the launch of their gargantuan duo, Oasis and Allure of the Seas.
Frankly, they don’t need the extra press.
While NCL did receive a large press run-up in the days before and during Norwegian Epic‘s launch this year, many news organizations didn’t bother to report on the line’s ten other ships or their itineraries.  Which is why we’re here: to fill you in on what the major papers and magazines may have missed.
For the past ten years, NCL has made “Freestyle Cruising” their chief hallmark.  What is Freestyle, you ask?  Taking a nod from the open-dining policies of more upscale cruise lines, Freestyle allows passengers to eat where they want, when they want, and with whomever they want.  It also eliminated dress codes, which means passengers on any Norwegian ship could dress for dinner in a tux or blue jeans – it’s up to you.
 The innovative (and inviting) Bar Central concept,
as seen aboard Norwegian Pearl.
Photo © Aaron Saunders
The line has also made significant inroads in improving their onboard product over the past decade.  Gone is the older mish-mash of ships with varying amenities and tight cabin quarters; instead, the ships of the “new” NCL feature spacious cabins, some drop-dead amazing suites, and a distinctive personality all their own.  We’d call them somewhere between Carnival and Princess: fun, to be sure, but with little hints of class spaced throughout.  After all, have you ever bowled aboard a ship?  We did when we sailed on Norwegian Pearl, and we have to admit: it’s pretty fun. 
The line is even taking the bold move of repositioning Norwegian Epic from the Caribbean to the warm waters of the Mediterranean this coming summer, and were one of the first lines to base a ship, Norwegian Jade, in Europe year-round.  The line hopes that Norwegian Epic‘s “cool” factor, coupled with a booming European cruise market, will be a win-win for the company and passengers alike.  The line has even partnered with Nickelodeon, producers of the acclaimed Spongebob Squarepants animated cartoon, to offer one-of-a-kind theme cruises certain to appeal to families with small children.
 One of the new spacious Family Suites aboard
Norwegian Star.
Photo © 2010 Aaron Saunders
We haven’t sailed on Norwegian Epic yet, but we have sailed aboard several other NCL ships.  If you’re looking for a good, enjoyable cruise vacation with plenty of activities, spacious staterooms, and an affordable price, it’s tough to beat some of NCL’s itineraries.  Their onboard entertainment was (and still is) top-notch, and the spas on the line’s more recent ships rival those on Holland America and Princess. 
The 2001-built Norwegian Sun, shown here in Vancouver,
now spends her summers cruising the Baltics.
Photo © Aaron Saunders
So where should you sail in 2011 if you’re looking for a NCL cruise vacation?  Here’s two of our favorite itineraries offered by the line:
Norwegian Sun9 Day Baltic Capitals – July 10, 2011
July 10 – Copenhagen, Denmark – Depart 5:00pm
July 11 – Berlin (Warnemuende), Germany – 7:30am to 10:00pm
July 12 – At Sea
July 13 – Helsinki, Finland – 8:00am to 5:30pm
July 14 – St. Petersburg, Russia – 8:00am to Overnight
July 15 – St. Petersburg, Russia – Overnight to 7:00pm
July 16 – Tallinn, Estonia – 9:00am to 5:30pm
July 17 – Stockholm, Sweden – 7:00am to 6:00pm
July 18 – At Sea
July 19 – Copenhagen, Denmark – Arrive 7:00am
Pricing for this Baltic voyage begins at $1149 per person for an inside stateroom.
Norwegian Dawn – 11 Day Southern Caribbean – November 2, 23 and Dec 14, 2011
Day 0 – Miami, Florida – Depart at 4:00pm
Day 1 – At Sea
Day 2 – Samana, Dominican Republic – 10:00am to 5:00pm
Day 3 – Tortola, BVI – 9:00am to 6:00pm
Day 4 – Philipsburg, St. Maarten – 8:00am to 6:00pm
Day 5 – Antigua – 8:00am to 5:00pm
Day 6 – Dominica – 8:00am to 6:00pm
Day 7 – Bridgetown, Barbados – 7:00am to 5:00pm
Day 8 – St. Kitts, 12:00pm to 7:00pm
Day 9 – At Sea
Day 10 – At Sea
Day 11 – Miami, Florida – Arrive 8:00am
Pricing for this series of unique eleven-day voyages starts at just $729 per person for an inside stateroom.
For more information on this and other itineraries offered, be sure to visit the Norwegian Cruise Line website.

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