Honest Review of a Norwegian Cruise: Pros and Cons Revealed

If you’re considering going on a Norwegian Cruise, you’ll definitely want to check out this honest review by Ilana from Life Well Cruised. She recently took a cruise on the Norwegian Joy and shares her thoughts on both the positive and negative aspects of the experience. In the video, Ilana discusses various topics including Norwegian’s Free at Sea promotion, dining options, and entertainment. She also provides tips and insights for those planning a Norwegian cruise or considering cruising with a different cruise line. With comparisons to Carnival and Royal Caribbean, and important considerations for family cruises or first-time cruisers, this review is a must-watch before booking your next cruise.

It’s important to note that Ilana, the content creator, shares her own opinions, experiences, and information for entertainment purposes only. She advises viewers to consult a travel agent or the cruise line directly for specific booking advice and information. So whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or a first-timer, this comprehensive and balanced review will give you a clear picture of what to expect on a Norwegian cruise, helping you make informed decisions for your upcoming vacation.

The Beverage Package

When it comes to the beverage package on the Norwegian cruise, there are both positive and negative aspects. While the package does include alcohol and soda, it does not include specialty coffee or water bottles. This can be disappointing for those who enjoy their specialty coffee drinks or prefer to have water bottles readily available. It is important to note that compared to other cruise lines, this exclusion is not typical and may come as a surprise to some passengers. However, despite this drawback, the beverage package still offers a wide selection of alcoholic beverages and sodas, which many guests may find enjoyable.

Pool Areas and Layout

One aspect of the Norwegian cruise experience that sets it apart from other cruise lines is the layout of the pool areas. The pool areas are not typical compared to what one might expect on a cruise ship. On traditional cruise ships, the pools are often located in the middle of the pool deck, creating a central gathering place for guests. However, on the Norwegian cruise, the pools are situated at different locations on the pool deck. This unique layout provides guests with more open space and a greater number of deck chairs, which can be advantageous for those looking to find a quiet spot to relax by the pool. Additionally, there is a designated adult-only area called Spice H2O, which provides a serene atmosphere for adult passengers.

Main Dining Room Food

While the Norwegian cruise offers a variety of dining options, the main dining room food may leave something to be desired. The overall quality of the meals, especially the meat dishes, is often considered mediocre by passengers. The taste and tenderness of the meat have been known to be lacking, leading to less-than-satisfying dining experiences. This can be disappointing for guests who have high expectations for their onboard dining experiences. However, it is important to note that taste preferences can vary, and what one person may consider mediocre, another may find perfectly acceptable.

Honest Review of a Norwegian Cruise: Pros and Cons Revealed

Extra Activities

For families with teenagers or kids, the Norwegian cruise experience can become costly due to the extra activities available. There are various activities that come with an additional cost, and these costs can add up quickly. This is particularly relevant for parents who have a hard time saying no to their children while on vacation. Activities such as the race track or the Galaxy Pavilion virtual reality games require additional fees. For families with multiple children, the cumulative cost of these activities can become quite significant. It is important for families to consider these extra expenses when planning their budget for the cruise.


Those who enjoy indulging in a bit of retail therapy while on a cruise may be disappointed with the shopping options onboard the Norwegian cruise. The duty-free liquor store, souvenir shops, and jewelry stores often lack variety and enticing deals. The selection of merchandise available may not be satisfying for avid shoppers, and the prices may not be as competitive as one would hope. It is advisable for passengers who enjoy shopping to manage their expectations and consider exploring alternative shopping options at the various ports of call during the cruise.

Nighttime Entertainment

While the Norwegian cruise offers a variety of entertainment options, the nighttime entertainment may not always meet guests’ expectations. One notable disappointment is the cancellation of the Footloose show, which was originally scheduled to be performed onboard. Although cancellations can occur due to unforeseen circumstances, it can be disappointing for passengers who were looking forward to experiencing a popular show. While elements and other smaller shows still provide enjoyable entertainment, the absence of a replacement for the canceled show may leave some guests wanting more. It is important to remember that entertainment experiences can differ from cruise to cruise, and future guests may have different experiences.


One aspect of the Norwegian cruise that has received criticism is the Wi-Fi service. Guests often find the Wi-Fi to be expensive and unreliable. The costs associated with accessing Wi-Fi onboard can quickly add up, especially for guests who rely heavily on internet connectivity. Furthermore, the reliability of the Wi-Fi signal can be inconsistent, causing frustration for guests who rely on a stable internet connection. It is advisable for passengers to plan ahead and factor in the potential limitations of the Wi-Fi service when deciding on their internet usage during the cruise.

Free at Sea Promotion

One aspect of the Norwegian cruise experience that is generally well-received is the Free at Sea promotion. This promotion includes a beverage package, a dining package, and various discounts. The beverage package, excluding specialty coffee and water bottles, allows guests to enjoy a wide selection of alcoholic beverages and sodas without incurring additional costs. The dining package provides guests with the opportunity to dine at specialty restaurants without paying extra fees. The discounts offered through the Free at Sea promotion can help guests save money on various onboard purchases. This promotion generally receives positive feedback from guests as it enhances the overall value of the cruise experience.

Casual Food Options

In contrast to the main dining room food, the casual food options are often impressive and well-liked by guests. The buffet and pub-style food offerings provide guests with a wide range of choices and high-quality meals. The buffet offers a diverse selection of cuisines and dishes to cater to different tastes and dietary preferences. The pub-style food, available at various onboard venues, provides a casual and enjoyable dining experience. Guests often appreciate the variety and quality of the casual food options, making it a highlight of the Norwegian cruise experience.


The Norwegian cruise experience can evoke mixed feelings due to the variety of positive and negative aspects. While some elements, such as the beverage package and main dining room food, may be disappointing, other aspects, like the casual food options, pool areas, and Free at Sea promotion, can enhance the overall cruise experience. The extra activities and shopping options may require additional financial consideration, especially for families with teenagers or kids. Similarly, the nighttime entertainment and Wi-Fi service may not always meet guests’ expectations. It is important for potential passengers to weigh these positive and negative aspects against their own preferences and priorities when considering a Norwegian cruise.

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