NCL was founded in 1966 by Norwegian Knut Kloster
Third biggest corporate in the industry.
NCL the Cruise Line
3/4/5 star - 18 ships
10@2500 1@3000 7@4000 pax.
Big and bold like Vegas.
Their hull art will tell you pretty much what to expect. (Photos). I am not a fan, well not to this point at least. This view is primarily based on the ship that they home port in Hawaii year round. They are the only ones to do so due to the restrictions of the Jones Act of 1920 — This requires that shipping to U.S. ports can only be done by ships that were constructed in the United States, carry an American crew, and bear U.S. flags / registered in the United States.
Being the sole ship able to cruise the Hawaiian islands, not transiting to or from elsewhere, should be a huge plus. The problem is that the ship and product is very dated and the demographic it attracts ... I'm trying to be nice here ... is a low-end vegas type crowd and vibe which is very 3-star. Reports from past guests who have sailed with them in Hawaii say never again. Which is a shame and hence my hesitation about recommending the brand in general.
This means that like P&O and Princess, NCL has wildly different products marketed under one brand with no clearly defined marketing to explain this contradiction. . This means that if you go in blind having experienced their new ships, you would expect the same brand to offer the same type of experience in the Hawaiian market - and this simply isn't the case. Which is a shame as their new ships look sensational and have many innovations
Again to be this dilutes the brand. In some cases, this can be explained by older ships remaining in the fleet until they are phased out. But it serves as a warning to cruise virgins to not consider all ships in the one cruise line to be of the same standard. It is much more complicated than that and as we drill down into the different lines in future posts this will all become clear.
So getting back to their sparkly new ships that have lots of exciting bells and whistles ... while I wouldn't do the Med with them, you want small ships for that, I am certainly keen to try them where they would work best, out of Florida and to the Caribbean.
FAB Avoid NCL Hawaii. The new NCL ships are untested but worth considering
4@700 pax 2@1250 pax
Oceania gets lost in the crowd. Currently with only 6 ships in their fleet. Their claim to fame in their marketing is the best food at sea. That is a huge boast and to be honest, considering the elevated dining experience that 6-star lines like Silversea and Seabourn offer, is a boast that is hard to sustain. They do have O Life packages that have inclusions of drinks and speciality dining. But I find these packages overly complicated, which is none too different to other brands, and in general, their fares seem to be more expensive than most. But as with airlines, each brand has loyal fans that once they find an experience that they enjoy, they get rusted on and won’t consider any others. To me, they do at their peril, as they miss out on exceptional deals that are not just cheaper than their favourite brand, but in many cases, they never get to experience a product offered by other lines that is far superior.
But like most in the industry, they evolving and going upmarket. Their new ship Vista, due to hit the water next year is beyond stunning and they have obviously decided to relaunch the brand and chase the high end that Seabourn and Silversea have done so well in. I will have a post here about all the exciting new builds across the industry in the coming weeks.
FAB: Solid product and high-level food and service. Their new ship will be a game changer and is one you should consider.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
6 star - all-suite - The only truly all-inclusive line
6 ships @ 700 pax
NCLs six-star option. The one big advantage Regent has at the very top of the market is that they are the only truly ALL-inclusive 6-star line. Unlike Seabourn which includes drinks and tips in their fares, and Silversea which goes further and also includes taxes and port fees, Regent include unlimited shore excursions.
These can easily run at $100-150 per person per day. So even though they will initially look more expensive than others at this level, don't be put off. They will, potentially, at the end of the day, work out cheaper than the other 6-star lines. We can do the math for you.
Their existing fleet of ships has a more traditional décor that is not adventurous, however, like Oceania their new builds, one of which is Splendour, will bring a more contemporary feel, elevate the brand and increase the competition at the very top end of the market.
FAB: If you want to get on board and not think about anything, and walk off not a cent poorer Regent should be top of your list.
Read the next post in this series.
FAB - Step by step guide to find your perfect cruise
FAB Last Minute and Interline Cruises