When Norwegian Star sails into Australian waters in late January next year, the world’s third largest cruise line will return to a market it last sailed over 15 years ago. It would be fair to say though that the modern Norwegian Cruise Line isn’t even a shadow of its former self. The “new” Norwegian or NCL for short is introducing one of the most contemporary vessels in the world to the Australian market, so we have taken a look at things you need to know about Australia’s newest cruise line.

Pride of America is back delivering its seven-day Hawaii rotations.
Norwegian’s Honolulu based vessel Pride of America is extremely popular with Australian passengers.

You may be more familiar with Pride of America than NCL overall

If sailing around the Hawaiian Islands is on your agenda, you probably will have heard of a ship called Pride of America. The ship, which sails seven-night round trips from Honolulu, often carries large contingents of Australian guests on its port intensive itineraries. It is a sister ship to Norwegian Star, the two ships sharing similar design DNA. If you have sailed aboard Pride of America make sure you mention this to whoever is booking your cruise to maximise your loyalty perks.

More than 100 diners at a time can enjoy La Cucina on Pride of America.
Serving up the flavours of rural Tuscany, La Cucina caters to over 100 diners at a time.

“Freestyle” cruising is at the heart of what NCL does

Norwegian’s signature difference is the fact the entire ship operates around a concept known as “Freestyle cruising”. This means all dining options operate on a open seating basis – no need to choose a stuffy set seating on this line, while the entertainment schedule is also designed to provide ultimate flexibility to anyone who wishes to make what they wish of their time onboard. Guests who also like the choice of multiple speciality dining options will also be fans of the “Freestyle” cruising experience with Norwegian Star offering no less than ten dining options.

NCL operates in U.S. dollars onboard

Being an American cruise line it’s no surprise that the line operates in American dollars, however the lines’ sales and promotions generally see inclusions such as free beverage packages and onboard credit offers, meaning you will need to spend less compared to other American ships sailing in Australia. The cruise line also offers better than cash foreign exchange rates for pre-purchasing onboard credit.

You can speak with their reservations team in Australia!

We all know the frustrations of phoning a call centre overseas where the line might be poor, they can’t understand you and you can’t understand them. Norwegian was well aware of the frustrations people can have when this happens so they opened their own call centre in Sydney! No more long drawn out calls abroad spent asking the operator to repeat things – Cruisers Rejoice!

Bedazzling at night, Singapore is very pleasing on the eye.
Singapore is acting as a home port during Norwegian Star’s initial local deployment.

NCL’s initial local season is short but they are coming back for more

While Norwegian Star will only sail two cruises in Australian waters during its debut season, the line is planning to become a regular fixture here with more voyages planned for the 2017/2018 summer season. Norwegian Star will also spend additional time on either side of its Australian deployment sailing around the delights of Asia between Singapore and Hong Kong. The line also expects the repositioning voyages to and from Europe to be very popular with Australian cruisers, with segments including voyages from Venice to Dubai and Dubai to Singapore already seeing great interest locally.

Norwegian Cruise Line prides itself on a range of different options for a range of budgets and styles.
Norwegian Cruise Line prides itself on a range of different options for a range of budgets and styles.

The line caters to families with a range of family suites and staterooms

No matter which ship in the fleet you are on, Norwegian Cruise Line offers a variety of suite and staterooms options which can accommodate families and groups of any size and configuration. Norwegian Star features staterooms for up to seven guests in a three bedroom garden villa. Couples and smaller families can select from a wider variety of standard interior, ocean view and balcony staterooms and a range of some of the largest suites at sea.

NCL is one of the largest cruise lines in Europe and the Caribbean

With ships based year round in Europe and the Caribbean, NCL offers more options than many of its competitors and some of the only cruises in the European winter. This can prove a great time to discover ports that can be overrun with multiple ships at once during the peak summer period, such as Christmas markets in villages across Italy’s coast or to enjoy the Caribbean heat during the Australian winter without 25,000 other cruisers.

Have you sailed with Norwegian Cruise Line? Tell us about your experience.