Every month we’ll take a cruise line and look at the history, the fleet and its people to find out what really makes its cruises worthwhile. This month, we’re talking Norwegian Cruise Lines, a company which has made its name by breaking the cruising mould with a flexible style, innovative entertainment and bespoke service.

Norwegian Cruise Line was founded in 1966 with the aim of bringing cruising to holidaymakers of all budgets and backgrounds. Nearly half a century later, the renamed Norwegian Cruise Line has built on this ethos, providing a new kind of ‘Freestyle Cruising’, defined by greater choice of dining and entertainment options, as well as a relaxed approach to dress code and disembarkation. Based in Miami, Florida, Norwegian Cruise Line sail from several US ports to destinations all over the world. Having launched 2 new ‘Breakaway class’ vessels in the last year, their 13-strong fleet remains at the cutting edge of contemporary cruising.

A brief history of Norwegian Cruise Lines

Some 47 years ago, a small company consisting of one cruising ferry was launched as Norwegian Caribbean Lines by Ted Arison and Knut Kloster of Norway. It was formed as a single-class passenger service, steering away from traditional formalities and concentrating on guest experience.

By 1971, the line had acquired four more ships and reinvented itself as Norwegian Cruise Line in 1987. 2000 saw Star Cruises take ownership of the company, and the following decade was to see some of the biggest innovations in terms of brand new vessels from the Norwegian Sun (2001) to the latest Norwegian Getaway (2014), the largest ship to home-port in Miami, as well as the launch of what has become Norwegian Cruise Line’s signature selling point, ‘Freestyle Cruising’.

Cruising the Freestyle way

What makes Norwegian Cruise Line stand out from other cruise lines is its twist on the traditional cruise experience, particularly where refreshments are concerned. Aiming for an informal, resort-style atmosphere on-board, guests can pick and choose whether they want to dine in sophistication or kick back in a more casual setting with up to 20 dining options, open seating, longer eating hours and a straightforward tipping process.

There’s no evening dress code on board, but entertainment is laid on with enthusiasm, featuring world-class acts from the Blue Man Group to Broadway show Legally Blonde. Norwegian Cruise Line caters for all ages with children’s programmes like ‘Splash Academy’ for under 12s and family activities such as ten-pin bowling to rock climbing.

The Norwegian Cruise Line vessels themselves all have their own individual appeal. With their mural-adorned hulls and Haven spa suite, ships like the Norwegian Jewel are more design-led, while the magnificent Norwegian Epic sits at 155,873 tons and introduced focal features like curved staterooms and a bar made entirely of ice!

Where can you go with Norwegian Cruise Line?

Norwegian Cruise Line literally cover the whole world with today’s cruise programme. From its early years, the company has been touring the Caribbean and North America, but later itineraries have included everywhere from the Adriatic Coast of Eastern Europe to the historic waterways of Egypt and the chill beauty of Baltic countries like Sweden and Russia.

Since 1977, Norwegian Cruise Line has also been the proud proprietor of the first private beach for cruise passengers, Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. So whether you want to take in a ballet at St Peterburg, tour the sun-blanched streets of Dubrovnik or simply sink your toes into warm white sands, Norwegian Cruise Line has it sorted.

What’s more, Norwegian Cruise Line are already planning the launches of two 4200-capacity ships by 2017, so it looks like the future holds many more innovations for the Norwegian cruise giant. So, watch this space!

Fancy sampling some Freestyle Cruising for yourself? Check out CruiseDeals’ latest packages from Norwegian Cruise Line and see if the company’s unique approach to cruise travel works for you…

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