Updated: Apr 5, 2021
Nothing in this article is advice. For better context including why it was written in the first place, please visit our COVID Travel Hub > LINK HERE
You call and ask, "I'm thinking of cruising with Norwegian" and we hear, "I think I'd like fun during my next vacation." They're almost synonyms at this point! Their ships and itineraries are geared for simple pleasures, with a few particular routes renown for a party atmosphere.
I'm looking at you, Miami party people!
As we look to a future beyond COVID and our own pledge to help Build a Better Normal in Cruise & Travel, Norwegian remains one of only a few suppliers we continue to trust with your vacation plans in 2021 and for the near future.
Here's why we book Norwegian Cruise Line for our clients
Generally, we've recommended their ships and itineraries because of their focus on enjoying a vacation. You're looking forward to relaxing with your loved ones and just having a simple, fun time together.
Norwegian's onboard entertainment offering has been a leading industry innovator, this is especially true during the last few years as their ships become bolder and the level of fun onboard really outshines even the livery.
Plenty of cruise ships catering to families have wacky activities to enjoy these days, but Norwegian was the first to put go-karting on deck and they have other fun activities such as laser tag to get your blood pumping between ports of call.
Reconnect with the family
Basically, when you’re traveling with your kids you may find the arts and games offerings elsewhere just aren’t cutting it anymore.
Many of our clients come to us for travel suggestions when they feel their kids are growing more independent and they're not sure how many more vacations they'll all enjoy together.
The chaos of everyday life means it's hard for you to plan that time off, their independence makes it harder than ever to engage with them.
It’s a nice option to be able to play together, with activities that are fun for all ages and no one has to feel bad about overlooking the cultural aspects of your time away from home.
It helps for sea days, too!
Why do we trust Norwegian even more after COVID
As we look to the future of cruise and the end of COVID, the first priority you may have today in planning a new trip is to feel safe in making those plans.
Cruise has had some of the highest hygiene standards across the travel industry for a number of years. That bar is even higher now thanks to COVID.
Norwegian actually partnered with their biggest rival, Royal Caribbean, to develop new practices which would see a more cohesive and less confusing industry standard for you as a passenger on one of their ships.
Together, the partnership represents 7 cruise lines, including several luxury brands including Regent Seven Seas, Oceania, Silversea, and for the time being, Azamara Club.
The partnership findings are transparent and well considered, with findings published in a 66-page Healthy Sail Panel document led by a team of doctors and relying heavily on CDC guidance and best practices.
How cool is that? Can you think of any other billion-dollar competitors which started working together to help the general consumer? I can't.
Not simply safety, but getting value from your vacation time
The next of three main priorities we've identified for your trip's success following COVID is that your trip plans have to be a good use of your time.
Norwegian's fleet features one itinerary in particular which stands head and shoulders above the competition.
We have a certified Regent Seven Seas specialist on our team, meet Aija. She sails Regent regularly and other luxury lines from time to time, but when it came to Hawaii Aija took her group with Norwegian because of the Pride of America's unbeatable itinerary.
Imagine spending two days of your weeklong Hawaiian cruise at sea, because that's what all other cruise lines have to offer for their regular Hawaii sailings.
Whereas the Pride spends the whole 7-night journey sailing from one popular island destination to the next. There are two overnights during the round-trip itinerary from Honolulu, which is itself a very accessible gateway onto the islands.
Aija actually would have been among the last dozen sailings prior to the pandemic, you should certainly ask her about the experience!
What about excursion bubbles during COVID
If you weren't aware, cruise lines presently sailing or which are set to sail during these months leading out of global pandemic must extend their hygiene and security practices off ship during excursions and calls to port.
I'm not a huge fan of the idea, it seems to cut out local businesses and reduces the freedom and spontaneity you might enjoy during your cruise - but it is absolutely a necessity as the world tries to safely escape the grip of COVID.
I'd give serious consideration to planning that first cruise of 2022 as a Hawaii or Alaska itinerary, putting the Pride of America or any of Norwegian's recently built ships sailing Alaska where you can find availability. Check out the Norwegian Bliss or the Norwegian Encore.
As a US citizen you should, theoretically, be able to enjoy more unfettered options for your call to port as Hawaii and Alaska are domestic destinations and will hopefully be more freely explored during your cruise in late 2021 or throughout 2022.
How is Norwegian protecting your trip investment and why we like it
Our third priority for your trip success post-COVID is the preservation of your trip investment. This is where the cruise industry has really been leading the way through pandemic, with Norwegian neck and neck at the head of the pack.
Many guest itineraries were affected right away during March of 2020 and throughout the first few confusing months of pandemic disruption. As with several other major cruise lines, Norwegian was quick to protect customer funds with a Future Cruise Credit offer which saw a bonus booking value amount for those who didn’t request a refund.
In my experience they were equally accommodating for those who simply wanted a refund without any stress.
I myself was set to lead a group sailing of Hawaii during Christmas of 2020 and the cancellation didn’t just represent a loss of business, but an opportunity to sail with family & clients who’ve become friends during the last few years of business.
It should have been Christmas Day on a beach in Kauai with my wife and newborn son, his proud new grandparents, and a host of others celebrating with our client family!
Instead, perhaps just like you, we felt there was little choice but to cancel our bookings as it just wasn't feasible to plan so many flights from across the country and Hawaii's quarantine process was a tough one to navigate at that time. It didn't help that the CDC was unable to provide clear guidance either.
Unanimously, refunds were requested.
In years past, such requests should have been fulfilled and funds arrived back on available balances within a handful of business days.
In 2020 this was a little trickier, however the group was understanding when waiting closer to 60-90 days for the return. But everyone got every penny back, even their initial deposits.
The point being, despite catastrophic disruption to their business and many lesser competitors dithering with their process, Norwegian pulled through as quickly as was practicable given the volume of disrupted itineraries.
Now, Norwegian’s parent company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings did take a beating on the stock market during those first few months but they remain one of the largest cruise companies on the planet.
And where they didn’t access taxpayer funds to stay afloat, they did all the necessary things to protect those passenger plans or to preserve guest funds. I’m not a sophisticated investor but the outlook for the company surviving well into the future is pretty darned good, can airlines say the same despite taking billions of your tax dollars in 2020?
Today, Norwegian is leading the way to preservation of passenger funds. In 2021, where your trip is affected by ongoing COVID-related pauses to sailings they’ll offer a refund right away for most bookings. No messing around with credits or making you jump through hoops to get your own money back for a cancelled sailing. The default setting is refund.
You may still be offered a Future Cruise Credit arrangement, but instead of enticing you to a bonus amount to decline any refund they'll just give you your money back. You'll then be offered a sort of bonus code which gives you a preferred rate on your cruise fare when you do decide to book a new sailing in the next 12 months.
This process preserves your trip value and allows for nearly identical benefits when compared to a cruise credit but without holding onto your money for the next year (or longer in some cases!).
Here at Odyssean Travel, our mission is pretty simple. We want you to make better vacation memories with the people who matter most in your life.
Because we’re a small, family owned business, we need your help to spread the word so we can aid more travelers in this mission! Simply by sharing this post or even just leaving a comment will help us help others enjoy a better, more memorable trip.
You can find answers to your cruise & travel questions in our friendly online community, our Travel Society and online forum (click here).
If you enjoy a superior level of service and want an unforgettable vacation experience of your own, contact us now to arrange a complimentary One-on-One Discovery Session with a qualified, professional travel advisor (click here).