ALEXANDRIA, La July 4, 2011—If you like to sail away your stress via a fabulous cruise ship, then you might want to put Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruise program in the number one spot on your vacation options list. Freestyle cruising is absolutely wonderful in that it provides passengers a multitude of choices. With Norwegian, you decided where, when, what kind of food and who your meal companions are—for every single meal!
Freestyle Cruising gives passengers a variety of restaurants from which to choose, a wide selection of menu styles to sample, plus the great option of choosing not only the time you want to eat, but also with whom! Friend, non-friend, dressed up or dressed down in shorts, flip flops and a tee shirt—the choice is completely yours.
Take for instance, the Norwegian Spirit, which currently sails out of New Orleans, Louisiana for a seven-day cruise. The ship leaves on a Sunday afternoon, makes four port stops (weather permitting) and returns to New Orleans the following Sunday morning.
Norwegian Spirit Pool Area
This ship offers traditional cruise options of on-board activities, an unbelievably fabulous Grecian temple-style pool area, complete with requisite hot tubs, outdoor bbqs and flowing drinks of every shape, flavor and variety, plus live music.
Additionally, for sun worshippers, the pool area features multiple lounging areas, a great bar and loads of fun.
For those passengers traveling with small children, there’s a day-care center and a children’s pool located at the rear of the ship, just past the Raffles Buffet. The children’s pool is fabulous, and features a really cool pirate ship decor. Here, children of all ages spent many hours swimming, splashing and sliding down the giant water slide.
If you prefer to eat anywhere other than the pool area or buffet, fear not, because the Norwegian Spirit has multiple restaurant choices. The only drawback, however, to Freestyle Dining is that some of the restaurants have a cover charge not included in the cost of the cruise. Cover charges range from five dollars to twenty-five dollars, and passengers should be aware that some restaurants also have a dress code that does not include flip-flops and shorts.
Restaurants covered in cruise cost:
Windows Main Dining Room: Good food, served restaurant style, with individual tables. Fabulous architecture and great chandeliers!
Raffles Court Buffet: Typical buffet style fare. Some main courses could have used a little more seasoning, but the fruit, cheese, dessert, and ice cream selections are to die for!
Bier Garten Grill: Very popular with pool crowd and sunbathers!
Sailaway BBQ: Food was good, but be aware that this particular restaurant is subject to weather conditions! (Our cruise had TONS of rain and bad weather).
Blue Lagoon Café: Popular with the “under 25” crowd. Burgers, chicken fingers, etc. were great. Good fast-food menu.
Specialty restaurants with a cover charge:
Teppanyaki: Cover charge: $25.00 Food is good, worth the cover charge.
Sushi: Cover charge:$10.00 Japanese selections were above-average.
Le Bistro: Cover charge: $15.00 Food here is so good it will make your eyes roll back up into your head! Be sure to order the appetizer served petite ice cream cone style.
Cagney’s: Cover charge: $20.00. What can I say? Fabulous food, fabulous décor, fabulous wait staff. Plan on eating here more than once.
La Trattoria: Cover charge $5.00. If you like Italian food, this is the place to eat!
The spa services on the Norwegian Spirit are definitely worth the money. And, surprisingly enough, nearly as many men as women scheduled “pampering” massages, facials, pedicures and manicures. One great spa option was the “Pick 3 for $89” special. The spa décor is great, the technicians super-talented and the result is relaxation beyond one’s wildest dreams!
While Mother Nature wasn’t fully cooperative during our cruise, the crew and cruise line more than made up for any inconvenience caused by bad/inclement weather.
On those days where port visits got cancelled because of bad weather (gale-force winds and waves that crashed over the tenders waiting to ferry passengers to land), the crew intensified efforts to fill the passengers’ day with fun-filled activities. It was very obvious that passenger safety was of utmost concern to both the captain and the crew.
Although disappointed by the port visit cancellation, most passengers appreciated the crew’s concern for their welfare and accepted the cancellations with good grace.
Like many cruise ships, the Norwegian Spirit offers a variety of lounges, bars and pubs. One of the most fun activities was the Pub Crawl (cost was additional), and toward the end, many of the participants literally crawled their way from one pub to another, but still had an absolute blast. The Pub Crawl occurred twice during the cruise, so passengers who wanted to check it out had two chances to participate.
Another fun event was the Presumed Murdered Luncheon (cost was additional). The crew did a great job with this event, and every passenger who attended had a great time figuring out “who done it.”
One of the most popular activities enjoyed by everyone was the Chocoholic Buffet. Chocolate sculptures in every shape, form and variety adorned a long line of buffet tables, and huge ice sculptures added an “over-the-top” feel to what was easily the most popular onboard event. Overindulgence was pretty much the rule, rather than the exception, and the only problem with the buffet was making the very difficult choice of which ultra-rich, decadent chocolate offering to select next.
The chocolate buffet was definitely a “not-to-be-missed” event for every single passenger on the ship, including those who required sugar-free options, of which there were many.
Other daily events included nightly musicals performed by various mega-talented crew members, a variety of “parties” which could be attended by both adults and the “under 18” crowd, photos with/without the captain, game show contests, Country Western Night, Retro night, Karaoke (more fun than I thought it would be), sing-alongs, shuffleboard, salsa dancing, and various lectures on art, gemstones, lifestyle changes, and prize raffles/drawings in which passengers won prizes.
Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruising is definitely worth considering for your next vacation.While this type of program can cost more than a “traditional” cruise, depending on how often you eat at a specialty restaurant and which onboard activity you attend, this author can testify to the fact that freestyle cruising is definitely a lot more fun and Norwegian Cruises provide an extra layer of enjoyment that many traditional cruise lines don’t offer.
Bottom line: Been there, done it, would definitely do it again (and again)!
Carla is the author of four published suspense novels, and her latest book, Artful Misdirection, is currently available in Kindle format on Amazon.com. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Blogspot and LinkedIn. Read more of Carla’s work at Out and About Louisiana in the Communities at the Washington Times.
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