Before we left for our 7 day Norwegian cruise, there was a little planning that needed to be done. Norwegian Cruise Lines is known for its freestyle cruising. Think of it as throwing all the formal cruising rules you've known out the window (or thrown overboard). Passengers can leave their jacket and slacks at home if they wish. (Although each restaurant has its own dress code.) There are no pre-assigned dinner times. No sitting at tables with strangers. No assigned restaurants to eat at each day. The idea is that you are "free" to eat when you want, where you want.
We opted to add the Ultimate Dining Plan to our reservation. In addition to the five “included” restaurant choices, Norwegian offers speciality restaurants where passengers can pay a flat fee to eat at these. Therefore, even though the theme is “freestyle,” we wanted reservations at specialty restaurants on certain days. We can't travel well with a 6- and 9-year old who are hungry and waiting until 9pm to eat. The first thing I did in preparing was lined up our dining reservations. This was simple to do through the NCL.com site.
As a side note, we also opted for the Ultimate Beverage Package. This package includes all beverages that cost $11 or less. This includes spirits, cocktails, draft and bottled beers, glasses of wine up to $11, and unlimited fountain soda. Norwegian was offering this as a gift at time of booking. Both packages were smooth to use. We enjoyed having them.
Next, we decided on our excursions. Well, we tried to decide. We never could come to a full agreement ahead of time, so we actually ended up booking our one excursion while on board the ship on the first day.
Then, I completed our online check in through the NCL.com site.
Lastly, I downloaded the Cruise Packing Spreadsheet found on this blog and began to pack our bags.
The preparation ahead of time was minimal. Yet, it made for a smooth transition from land to sea for us.