Smart business leaders and savvy meeting planners know that innovation is the key to success. And when it comes to innovation at sea, Norwegian Cruise Line leads the way. This cruise line has been breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising since they introduced the very first Caribbean cruise in 1966.
Today, planners are discovering that cruise ships are great venues for memorable and cost-efficient meetings, incentives, or group events. So say goodbye to stale, stagnant meetings. When you join forces with Norwegian Cruise Line, the results are nothing short of remarkable.
Here are Norwegian Cruise Line’s seven top innovations that ensure your breakthrough event:
1. Freestyle Cruising: Freedom, Flexibility and Choice
It has been more than a decade since Norwegian Cruise Line’s innovative “Freestyle Cruising” revolutionized the cruise industry and transformed the onboard experience from stuffy and regimented to relaxed and casual. This groundbreaking concept challenged traditional cruising standards like dress codes, set meal times and limited entertainment and replaced them with open seating, a choice of dining venues, and greater variety of world-class entertainment.
Planners: The possibilities are endless! Give your attendees the freedom to dine on their own, or buy out specialty restaurants for group dining. Your attendees will love exploring the multitude of complimentary entertainment options. Do your attendees span the generational divide? You can’t miss with a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. The variety of complementary dining options, entertainment, sports facilities and onboard activities (including the first bowling alleys and rappelling wall at sea) will appeal to everyone in your group.
Another Freestyle advantage: relaxed disembarkation. Your attendees will enjoy every last moment of their cruise experience. They can have breakfast and enjoy their final morning on board without having to rush.
2. More Dining Choices
With the introduction of Freestyle Cruising, Norwegian revolutionized cruise ship dining. With unprecedented choices – up to 20 dining venues on board Norwegian Epic – your attendees can dine around the world with options ranging from Italian, French, Asian and classic American to sushi, Teppanyaki and Brazilian churrasco. Open seating and extended hours in the restaurants mean your attendees can linger over dinner or dessert without feeling rushed. Up to nine dining venues are included in your cruise fare (including complimentary room service), and specialty restaurants are available at a minimal per person fee.
Planners: You can plan group dining one night or every night of your cruise -it’s up to you. Assign seating in the dining room a few evenings and let your attendees “Freestyle” on their own the other nights, or plan a global dine-around without leaving the ship. Buy-outs of specialty restaurants are also available. You’ll love the time and cost savings – there are no menus to plan!
3. A New Wave of Entertainment
Norwegian Cruise Line was one of the first to offer big-name entertainers and full Broadway productions, and they continue to raise the bar on entertainment at sea. The whole fleet offers world-class live entertainment including great stand-up and improv by the comics from Second City, and talented musicians and entertainers who perform around the clock. Multiple, specially-designed entertainment venues offer a plethora of complimentary choices. Norwegian Cruise Line’s industry firsts include:
Blue Man Group - This popular troupe mixes music, comedy and multi-media theatrics for a unique experience on Norwegian Epic
The first “Big Top at Sea” - Cirque Dreams and Dinner on Norwegian Epic, an interactive theatrical dining experience presented in an intimate theater-in-the-round. Your attendees will marvel in amazement at the acrobatics and become part of the celebration -this is an experience unlike anything else at sea.
Hottest nightclubs at Sea - Inspired by nightlife capitals of the world, Norwegian Cruise Line introduced the hippest parties at sea. From Riviera chic and Ibiza style to Miami trendy and Vegas flair, the nightclubs on Norwegian ships create never-before-seen experiences at sea and feature multiple uses for day or night, along with exclusive, adult-only venues. A highlight of every cruise is the White Hot Party, Norwegian’s signature dance party.
Planners: Say goodbye to transfer costs, pricey entertainers, costly decor, and outrageous ticket prices for splashy shows. Not to mention all the planning headaches. Your attendees will be talking about these amazing group events long after their program ends. Two of the customizable evening events available on Norwegian Epic: a special performance of the Blue Man Group, or group buyout of the Spiegel Tent for a private Cirque dinner show.
4. First accommodations designed and priced for singles
Another revolutionary concept introduced on Norwegian Epic are the first staterooms designed for solo travelers and have no single supplement surcharge. Each of the 128 contemporary Studio staterooms are located in a private key-card area of the ship. (Another industry first: Norwegian wins Travel & Leisure’s prestigious Design Award for “Best Transportation” for Norwegian Epic’s Studios.) The Studios occupy two decks and have exclusive key-card access to a two-story private lounge that features a concierge, bar, room service, two large TV screens, and comfy seating.
Planners: No more worries about additional single occupancy charges. Your solo attendees will appreciate having their own private accommodations and lounge where they can socialize with colleagues over coffee, unwind between meetings, or enjoy a cocktail before dinner.
5. First “Ship Within a Ship” Experience
Norwegian Cruise Line introduced another innovative accommodations concept: The Courtyard and Villa Complex, available on Jewel-class ships and Norwegian Epic. This unique suite complex provides an intimate and exclusive ship within a ship experience.
Your attendees staying in the Villas and other select suites will have exclusive access to the Courtyard. Unlike anything available at sea before, this private area at the top of the ship is a hidden sanctuary of comfort accessible only by keycard. Balinese-style daybeds surround the private pool; and two whirlpools, a gym and sauna, sundeck, and concierge lounge are reserved exclusively for their use (on Norwegian Epic, they’ll also enjoy their own private restaurant and nightclub).
Planners: Why not book the private-access Villas with courtyard and butler service exclusively for your group? Your attendees will experience high-end amenities of a private charter with a private area that can be easily customizable to the group. At the same time, they’ll also enjoy a diverse choice of up to 20 dining venues, amazing onboard facilities and ground-breaking entertainment options offered throughout the ship.
6. Close to Home Ports and Innovative Itineraries
Norwegian Cruise Line introduced another innovative concept when they launched Homeland Cruising ten years ago, offering guests more cruises from more ports in the United States and Canada than any other cruise line. Other cruise lines followed Norwegian’s lead, and now there are more convenient drive-to ports than ever before.
Were you surprised to learn that Norwegian Cruise Line was the first to offer seven-night Caribbean cruises? Other innovative itineraries include:
- Only cruise line offering year-round Caribbean cruises from New York City
- More year-round three and four-night cruises to the Bahamas from Miami
- The only seven-night inter-island itineraries in Hawaii, with overnights in Maui and Kauai as well as visits to Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii. Norwegian Cruise Line is the only major cruise line to operate a U.S.-flagged ship, which means your meeting at sea may be tax deductible.
Planners: More close-to-home ports mean greater savings and convenience for you and your program attendees. With plenty of three to seven-night cruises and voyages throughout the world, there’s a ship and itinerary that will work for you.
7. First Cruise Line “Private Island” Experience
Norwegian Cruise Line was the first to introduce a tropical private island experience exclusively for their guests when it developed Great Stirrup Cay in 1977. The cruise line’s private island is now one of the most popular port days on Caribbean and Bahamas itineraries.
Norwegian just completed the first phase of a $20 million enhancement project at their 250-acre island in the Bahamas, featuring a new marina and 8,500 square foot dining facility. The second phase of enhancements will include an arrival/departure pavilion, additional bar facilities, band stand, cruise program activity area, private beachfront cabanas, a kid’s play area, straw market, and beach volleyball courts.
Planners: Cruise attendees across the board agree that the private island experience is one of the highlights of their program. What’s not to love? Pristine beaches, water sports, beach barbecue and tropical rhythms, and of course -fun-filled Beach Olympics teambuilding events.
One more way Norwegian Cruise Line inspires breakthrough meetings:
Innovative Function Space: Schedule the perfect venue for your group’s activities at no extra cost. Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet of ships feature a variety of spaces for meetings and group events, including dedicated conference rooms, unique lounges and the main showroom. These adaptable venues feature state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment and Wi-Fi capabilities. Why pay extra for your audio and visual needs? Podiums, state-of-the-art equipment, afternoon snacks and coffee breaks are all included free of charge on Norwegian Cruise Line ships. Even gratuities can be built into the cost.
Today, Norwegian has 11 purpose-built Freestyle Cruising ships traveling to enticing destinations such as Alaska, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Bahamas and Florida, Canada/New England, and Europe.
What’s Next? Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced that it will build two new 143,000-gross ton vessels for delivery in 2013 and 2014. Stay tuned as more innovative surprises are yet to be announced!