Our very first cruise was in 2011, it was a Mexican Riviera cruise on the Holland America Oosterdam. Then, we took advantage of living 45 minutes away from Port Canaveral and did the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas a few times, followed by the Liberty of the Seas. We sort of liked cruising. There were some things we weren’t so thrilled about, so we didn’t cruise as much as we do now. A few things we disliked about cruising in general:
We don’t like to be forced to dress up. If we want to dress up, we will. But forced Formal nights are the worst. Excuse me, the second worst. The judgmental jerks throwing eyes and making comments about your attire is the worst.
- Being told where and when to eat. At the time we were Vegas and theme park junkies and we did what we wanted when we wanted to. So this schedule of where and when to eat wasn’t our thing.
- We don’t like European dining. Don’t get me wrong. Love Europeans. Love European food. Don’t like forced seating with strangers, typically because we lose every time. It’s almost always a group ready to sit and get their complaints on. I work 100 hour weeks. The complaint dept. is closed, yo.
We heard talk of all the other cruise lines, but pretty much did the Enchantment and the Liberty for a couple of years because it all sounded the same. Then, in 2014, everything changed. Stef said that she wanted to try something called Freestyle Cruising with Norwegian. My birthday was coming up and I really didn’t want to go on a cruise. She swore that if she was reading things correctly, this cruise line was different. So we rolled the dice and booked our first NCL trip on the Norwegian Getaway.
We had no idea what to expect. What we found was a place where we could dress the way we wanted to. Eat when we wanted to. Pretty much do anything we wanted to and no forced group dining. Norwegian was just like every Vegas resort and theme park vacation we’d ever done. We get to do what we want, when we want. NOW IT’S TIME TO CRUISE!
Now we were hooked on NCL. And by hooked, I mean we were always looking to explore a new NCL ship. And we wouldn’t touch another cruise line for several years and it was to join friends on a last minute Thanksgiving trip aboard the Celebrity Reflection.
We’ve had super active vacations with excursion after excursion. We had one vacation where our room was so amazing, aft balcony Haven suite on the Escape… YES, that we literally chilled the whole time and IT ROCKED. We’ve done it all. But it’s not about the rooms or the excursions.
As of posting this article, we’ve been on the Norwegian Epic 4 times, the Norwegian Getaway 3 times and the Norwegian Escape 2 times. Our fourth trip on the Getaway, and our first Getaway Haven trip, is booked for the end of March. We’re doing our first Transatlantic trip for Stef’s bday on the Norwegian Epic (5 times, yo!) in April. To say that we’re fans of the way Norwegian Cruise Line does things is an understatement.
But why Norwegian? To quote the amazing Ben and David “We’re not foodies, but we love food.” It’s not the food, although most of the time the food on NCL is FANTASTIC. It’s not the drinks or the entertainment, either. I should mention that both are usually amazing, the very first time we sailed on the Epic the main show was Blue Man Group. I mean HELLO…
So Why Norwegian?
It’s The Crew.
Yep. Hands down, 100% it’s the beautiful people who keep the ship running 24/7. No joke. We’ve sailed with NCL so much now that we find crew that we met on a previous trip. Even more amazing is 9/10 times they recognize us first and run to give us big hugs.
I’ve said it a thousand times, Norwegian Crew makes you feel special.
Long before we found the Haven and never looked back, we were lured into the NCL cruise world by the crew. Every single time that we’ve sailed with NCL, 100% of all sailings, we’ve made great friends with the crew. They are the hardest working people on the planet. 12-16 hour days and it resets every 7 days like groundhog week. Can you imagine? The same schedule for weeks or months, the only thing changing is the cast of thousands of demanding, overbearing passengers? When a crew member goes out of their way to make your trip special is when we go book another cruise. Every single trip we’ve met the most incredible people on the planet. Every time. I’m getting excited to go on our March trip, just to see who we’ll know on the ship.
Every trip, no matter what kind of room we booked, there have been several NCL Crew members who went out of their way to make our vacations special. This is, without a doubt, the main reason that we sail with NCL.
Stef and I easily work 100 hour weeks. We work hard. We like to play hard. The last thing we want is a vacation where we are treated like garbage or have to stress about anything. Norwegian cruises, for us, are stress free. The crew on Norwegian always make us feel like we were important. It didn’t matter if we were in an inside stateroom or a Haven 2 bedroom suite, the NCL Crew always went over and above to make our days special.
Stefanie and I both worked for Disney in multiple capacities. She was in the Tapestry Parades at EPCOT along with Food Service at the Magic Kingdom and Attraction Host at Living with the Land in EPCOT. I was an Attraction Host at Playhouse Disney and Voyage of the Little Mermaid, I was also a Monorail Pilot and worked for many internal and external marketing divisions of Disney, including Disney Cruise Line, WDW Parks and Resorts, Disney College Program and more. Why do I mention all of this? We learned two things working for Disney, it’s all about Guest Service and the Guest Experience.
Norwegian Cruise Line has always exceeded our expectations on the service level. The NCL Crew is, by far, exceptional at Guest Service. As for Guest experience? Well, check out our Norwegian Epic Haven Thanksgiving Cruise Here or Our Norwegian Epic Valentines Haven Cruise here or our Norwegian Getaway Cruise here or Our Norwegian Escape Cruise here. The Guest Experience on Norwegian ships, for us, has been better than any other vacation on land or at sea. That’s why we continue to sail with NCL. We know if we book at trip on NCL, we’ll have a fantastic time and we’ll be treated like royalty.
There are more and more crew that we don’t have photos of but they did make each of our vacations amazing ones.
Like Bruno (Haven Concierge), Branko from Serbia (Haven Bartender), and Paolo from the Philippines (Haven Restaurant), Razvan from Romania (Haven Bartender), Veronica from Peru (Haven Bar Server), Catlin from Romania (Haven Server), Maria from the Philippines (Haven Restaurant), Jorge from the Philippines (Haven Butler) and Bogdanka from Macedonia (Haven Bar Server) just to name a few.
We’re pushing 10 cruises with Norwegian (with so many more booked) and EVERY single time we end up meeting some wonderful human being from a completely different part of the planet. Norwegian Crew are the best at sea!
As long as NCL continues to employ wonderful people like the crew mentioned above, we’ll continue to sail with Norwegian. Time to hit up NCL.com and see if there’s a sailing we can go on, all this talk about NCL Crew makes me want to go back on a trip!
We have several trips planned outside of Norwegian Cruise Line this year. Including exploring the MSC Seaside. Every time we sail outside of NCL, we end up comparing to Norwegian. We’ll see what the future holds!
Norwegian Crew is like family to us and sailing with them is like going home.
Sean Mullen is a Travel Filmmaker, Vlogger, VFX Artist, Brand Ambassador and the CEO & Lead Designer of Rampant Design, Inc. He is a 3 Time Emmy Award Winner and former Walt Disney World Monorail Pilot. Sean is married to the AMAZING Stef IRL. See Sean’s Portfolio here: http://seanmullen.media