Norwegian Joy is packed with engaging activities and spaces, and while there's no doubt it has quiet areas -- such as the gorgeous and serene Observation Lounge -- the ship's character is driven more by all there is to do than anything else.
Maybe it's the ship's name that gets everyone in the mood for fun, but so many of the activities onboard are sure to put a smile on your face -- from go-kart racing and virtual reality gaming all day long to comedy, live music and the Broadway musical "Footloose" at night. Deck 8, which is lined from front to end with busy restaurants and bars is another spot where the energy level is high and everyone is having fun. Plus, the crew are among the friendliest we've encountered at sea -- you can't go 2 feet without being greeted or asked how your day is going -- and it's infectious.
But all the fun does come at a premium, and anyone sailing on Norwegian Joy should be prepared for a variety of extra costs onboard, including most of the outdoor fun (water slides are free, but that's about it), the virtual reality playroom Galaxy Pavilion and all of the specialty dining.
Longtime cruisers used to a more all-inclusive cruise experience may balk at all the extra charges, but for most people onboard, the pay-for-what-you-want system is appreciated. And all the "big kids" onboard have no problem shelling out for a few laps around the go-kart or 90 minutes shooting zombies, racing "Star Wars" pod racers or "Jeeping" it away from "Jurassic Park" dinosaurs in Galaxy.
A few notable missteps on this ship should be noted, as they certainly could color your enjoyment on the ship: Other than the suites-only pool, there are just two small pools to serve everyone onboard, plus the pool deck is one of the oddest we've seen. The two small pools are located diagonally across the deck from each other, leaving a massive open space in between. It's covered with deck chairs in warm weather, but it's a lot of wasted space and just looks weird. Additionally, there is no spa thermal suite or relaxation room. Adults can hit the Spice H2O sun deck to get away from the under-18s, but you won't get the same relaxed vibe you would in a spa thermal suite.
Three main dining rooms, the buffet and The Local Bar & Grill
All mainstage theater shows and comedy in the Social
Use of the pool, hot tubs and water slides
Daily activities, unless noted below
Use of the gym, but not most classes
Gratuities ($14.99 per person, per day, or $17.99 per person, per day, for those staying in suites)
Automatic beverage and spa tips (20 percent for both)
All drinks beyond water, tea (including iced tea), coffee and select juices in the buffet
Activities including, but not limited to, the Galaxy Pavilion, go-karts, laser tag, tastings (wine, whiskey, beer)
Vibe Beach Club sun deck
Photos and artwork
Daytime: Casual, with jeans, shorts and tees most common inside the ship and bathing suits and cover-ups on the pool deck.
Evening: The dress code at night is the same as during the day: casual. Norwegian Cruise Line doesn't have any official formal nights, but passengers are encouraged to dress up for the line's Norwegian's Night Out. Long pants (including dark jeans) and collared shirts for men, and dresses for women are the norm that night. If you want to be prepared for any theme nights, bring along a few glow party, cowboy and 60s/70s/80s regalia along with you; that way you've got your bases covered.
Not permitted: Bathing suits are not permitted in any of the dining venues, but beyond that pretty much anything goes. Le Bistro, Cagney's and Ocean Blue do maintain a dress code, however; you'll need long pants and a collared shirt for the guys, and nice pants or a skirt with blouse, or dress for the ladies.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Norwegian Cruise Line.
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Review Ship Norwegian Joy & Call out a couple vacation heros