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Norwegian Cruising Guide & Tips - Norwegian Cruise Line - Cruising Earth

Norwegian Cruise Line - Cruising Earth

Norwegian Cruise Line - Cruising Guide & Tips

Norwegian Cruise Line
Cruising Guide & Tips Contents

The information below is specific to cruising with Norwegian Cruise Lines.

For additional general cruise planning information, not specific to a cruise line, use: Cruising Earth's - Cruise Planning Guide.

Before Cruising

  • Identification required to cruise on Norwegian:
    • Minimum for US citizens:
      • An original or certified copy of your birth certificate (not hospital issued), or an original certificate of naturalization or a certificate of U.S. citizenship for all passengers. A state issued picture ID for passengers 16 years of age and older is also required. This is for all US citizens embarking on a cruise that both originates & terminates at the same US port.
      • If a cruise begins and ends in different US ports, or begins and ends in a foreign port a valid US Passport is required for all US citizens.
    • Recommended for US citizens:
      • State issued picture ID and US Passport
      • US Passport Information: For US Passport information including current processing times.
    • All non US citizens:
      • A passport is required for all non US citizens on all Norwegian cruises.
      • United States Green Card Holders: You are required to have a valid green card in your possession at all times. For ships sailing from US Ports, Green Card holders not in possession of their Green Card may be denied boarding or reentry into the United States.
  • Parent / Guardian Release Forms: Minors (under the age of 18) cruising without both birth parents SHOULD have a travel release form signed.
  • Deck Plans: View and/or download the deck plans for your cruise ship. Becoming familiar with the ship's layout before you cruise can make your time onboard more enjoyable. It's always nice to be able to find what you want, when you want it!
  • Casual attire on the ship is the typical wear. Suggested clothing: Ladies - shorts, sundresses, tank tops, etc.; Men - shorts, polo shirts, T-shirts, etc. Depending on where you cruise and the time of year you cruise you will need to take into account there could be some cooler weather especially at night, be prepared. Also suggest you wear rubber-soled, low heeled or flat shoes for extra traction while onboard.
  • Make sure that your bank and credit card companies are aware that you will be going out of the country. They will ask you what days and will note it on your account so it won't be flagged for fraudulent activity.
  • Travel Insurance: Buying travel insurance is always recommended. It is typically based off of the total price of your cruise, the destination(s), and the age of the traveler(s). Norwegian does offer travel insurance (BookSafe), but it is usually more expensive with less coverage than many third party insurance companies. We recommend you price out travel insurance at www.insuremytrip.com. You will find many options for insurance companies there with reviews. Norwegian's insurance coverage and pricing can be found at BookSafe Travel Insurance
  • Cruising Earth - Pre-Cruise Checklist: A checklist to help you in preparing and organizing for your cruise.

Tipping / Gratuities / Service Charges

  • There is a "Service Charge" applied per day for all guests 3 years or older. Effective August 1, 2015 rates for all sailings are as follows: $16:00 per person / day for guests staying in studio, inside, oceanview, balcony and mini-suite categories; $20.00 per person / day for guests staying in suites and The Haven categories
  • In Norwegian's words "The reason there's a fixed service charge is an important one: Our Crew (as are the crew from other lines) is encouraged to work together as a team. Staff members including complimentary restaurant staff, stateroom stewards and behind-the-scenes support staff are compensated by a combination of salary and incentive programs that your service charge supports."
  • In Norwegian's words "Unlike most other ships in the cruise industry, there is no required or recommended tipping on our ships for service that is generally rendered to all Guests. While you should not feel obligated to offer a gratuity, all of our staff are encouraged to “go the extra mile,” so they are permitted to accept cash gratuities for exceptional or outstanding service if you care to offer them.
  • Bartenders receive an 18% automatic gratuity from all beverage service charges. Those purchasing beverages packages will be charged the 18% gratuity and service charge when purchasing the package.
  • Spa/Salon Services incur an 18% automatic gratuity charge.
  • Many cruisers will also tip these people: Bartenders (in addition to the 18% automatic gratuities), Waiters, Room Steward, Porters (for carrying your bags), Spa/Salon Service (in addition to the 18% automatic gratuities), Youth Program Staff, and Shore Tour Guides.
  • How you tip is a personal choice you need to make. These are just the facts to help you make a more informed decision.


  • Guests who HAVE NOT completed their Online Check-In should arrive at the cruise terminal no later than two (2) hours prior to the scheduled emabarkation time printed on your cruise documents.
  • Guests who HAVE completed their Online Check-In should arrive at the cruise terminal no later than one (1) hour prior to the scheduled emabarkation time printed on your cruise documents.
  • Guests are urged to complete the Online Check-In at least one day prior to embarkation
  • Guests are allowed to bring water and soda on board in their original sealed containers. There is no set limit to this amount. We strongly recommend that you carry on the beverages. No coolers of any kind are allowed onboard the ships.
  • All guests are prohibited from bringing alcohol on board our ships - the ONLY exception being: Guests may bring bottles of wine and champagne on board. When bottles are brought on board and served or consumed in any restaurant, public room area or in their stateroom, a corkage fee will be charged according to bottle sizes noted below. 750 ml Bottle: $15.00; 1,500 ml Magnum: $30.00. Wine or champagne sent directly to the ship by travel agents, friends, family, etc. or from another retail source, are subject to the same fees. Box wines are not allowed on board.
  • On embarkation day, you may bring snacks on board with you. There is no specified limit as to how much you can bring, but keep in mind it is not hard to find food at any time of the day while onboard the ship.
  • Bring your bathing suit and a change of clothes in your carry on. Sometimes it takes a while for you to get the rest of your luggage. Some people just wear their bathing suit under their clothes so they can enjoy the pool and hot tubs as soon as they get on the ship.
  • Make sure your cellular phone and/or mobile devices are in "Airplane Mode" or off as soon as you set sail. You definitely don't want at sea roaming charges. Just receiving junk mail on your phone or device over the length of the cruise can end up costing you hundreds of dollars in data roaming charges, be careful! Check with your specific cellular carrier for their at sea roaming rates.
  • In all ports of call, it is also the guest's responsibility to be back onboard the ship no later than one (1) hour prior to the ship's scheduled departure time. Please be aware that shipboard time may differ from the port of call and it is the guest's responsibility to follow the shipboard time. In the event a guest misses the ship, it will be the guest's responsibility to pay all expenses incurred to rejoin the ship.
  • If you purchase any alcohol at one of our ports-of-call or in our onboard shops, Norwegian will safely store your purchase(s) and either on the final night of the cruise or the morning of debarkation it will be available for pick up in a designated area.


  • Free shampoo, and body wash (liquid soap) in the shower. It is not the best quality but if you forget yours, or aren't picky about brands it'll definitely work.
  • There is a hairdryer in every cabin. It typically can be found in either the bathroom or in the desk/vanity drawer.
  • There is a safe in every room that is free to use. It is located in either the closet or a cabinet, it is free to use.
  • There is a mini fridge in every cabin. It originally comes stocked with beverage items including alcohol that are for sale. You can ask your room steward to remove those items so you can stock your own, or just let him know that you are going to do it yourself so you do not get charged by accident for the items you are just temporarily moving.
  • Room Service is currently free on all but the Norwegian Getaway & Breakaway. On those two ships you will find an upgraded room service menu and a $7.95 flat charge per order. Most people tip the person who delivers the food to your cabin.
  • You can set automated wake-up calls for yourself on your cabin phone.
  • The couch in many cabins has drawers built in underneath.
  • There is lots of room under the bed to store all your suitcases so you don't have to have them out taking up room.
  • Bring a bungee cord so you can keep your balcony door open, or you can use a supplied door stop wedge in the door frame. Some balcony doors will also stay open on there own.
  • On some ships the balcony door frame has a magnetic contact on the door frame. The ships with this feature will shut off the air conditioner when you leave your balcony door open. Simply put a small refrigerator magnet over the contact and your air conditioner will continue to run while the door is open.

On Deck

  • Don't be a chair hog on deck! Don't try to save chairs for your friends that are "on the way" or are "coming right back" when they truly aren't and/or you really don't know when they may be coming.
  • Put down a towel on your balcony chair if you're wearing white. There may be a light layer of soot and it shows on white clothing.

Food / Beverage

  • You can buy buckets of beer (6 in a bucket for the price of 5). Beer can be mixed.
  • For $5 you can order up a piping hot pie, with your choice of toppings, anywhere on the ship. The service is available 24/7.
  • Coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate, unsweetened iced tea, lemonade, orange juice, milk and water (fountain, not bottled) are free throughout the cruise.

Ports / Excursions

  • You do not have to book shore excursions through the cruise line. Do a little homework before you go and you can book your excursions directly. Booking directly typically will save you 20%+.
  • First time cruisers may want to book through Norwegian to avoid the chance of picking a disreputable company.
  • Weather, medical emergencies, mechanical issues, etc. can cause ports to be missed. If you miss a port and you booked the excursion through Norwegian you will get your money back. However, if you are booking an excursion independently (not through Norwegian) make sure to ask whether or not you get your deposit back if the ship misses that port. Almost all reputable companies will give you a full refund of any money you prepaid.
  • When the ship is in port you can always come back on the ship to drop off packages, get changed, etc. and leave the ship again. Just remember to be back an hour before the ship is scheduled to leave port.
  • Missing the ship is a good way to ruin your vacation and put a dent in your savings account.
  • Look for specials in the Spa on port days.
  • There is also happy hour at the bars onboard on port days.
  • Need more non-alcoholic beverages? Pick them up on shore and bring them back onboard.

Wi-Fi / Internet Access

  • All ships now have wireless internet (Wi-Fi) onboard accessible from bow to stern. It is expensive and typically very slow.
  • Norwegian offers per minute plans and unlimited plans. The unlimited plans MUST be purchased for the entire length of the cruise a a cost off $24.95/day for cruises 12 days or less, 19.99/day for cruises 13 days or more. Remeber on mpst ships the speeds are similar to old school dial-up.
  • The best speeds will typically be late at night, or early in the morning and during the day on port days when there are less passengers onboard to share the limited bandwidth with.
  • All Wi-Fi internet access charges will be billed directly to your onboard account.
  • All cellular access charges will be billed by your own cellular carrier.


  • The day before disembarkation you can pick up colored luggage tags in the reception area that correspond with the time you would like to leave the ship. Please remember that times are approximate. Fix the luggage tags to the pieces of luggage that you would like us to take off the ship for you and place those outside your stateroom door no later than midnight. Don’t forget an overnight bag for prescriptions and need-to-have items. Keep documents (passport, proof of ID, airline tickets, etc.) in your carry-on luggage. In the course of the morning, announcements will be made indicating when each “color” can leave the ship. Please do not disembark until your color luggage tag has been called. After leaving the vessel, you may claim your luggage at the pier. Lost or damaged luggage must be reported to a Norwegian Cruise Line representative prior to leaving the customs area.
  • In some ports you can take advantage of our “Easy Walk-Off”. This means you can leave the ship as soon as it is cleared by local authorities, carrying all your own luggage off the vessel.
  • Have a passport, lines for passenger's with birth certificates at Customs can be quite long. Some ports are worse than others.
Page last updated: Sat Jan 27, 2024
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