Norwegian’s “Free at Sea” offer is one of the most popular in cruising. However, a new wrinkle in the sale provides even more value to cruise passengers.
If you aren’t familiar, the “Free at Sea” sale provides several freebies if you book the deal. This includes:
- Free open bar
- Free specialty dining
- Free shore excursions
- Free wifi
- Free third and fourth guests
Normally, the number of free items you get depends on the level of stateroom you book. Inside cabins usually receive one free perk. Oceanview and balcony cabins get their choice of three, while suites and above get all the perks.
With this new tweak on the sale, which the cruise line is calling its “Free for All” deal, all passengers — regardless of the cabin — can select from all the offers. So even if you book an inside cabin, you can get all five offers instead of just one.
This is the first time we’ve seen this offer available.
In addition, the cruise line is offering free onboard credit to each stateroom, ranging from $50 for booking an inside cabin, all the way up to $1,000 for some cabins aboard certain ships.
The amount you get depends on the type of cabin you book and the length of your cruise. As an example, booking a balcony cabin on a 7-day cruise will give you $200 in onboard credit.
Finally, the cruise line is also offering free or reduced airfare if sailing Europe, Hawaii, or Alaska.
The Fine Print
As with any deal, there is some fine print and restrictions you should be aware of before you book.
First, this deal is only for a limited time. While there is no deadline set on the “Free for All” portion of the deal, the onboard credit offer is scheduled to end at the end of March 6, 2020. The free/reduced air offer is scheduled to end April 10, 2020. It is possible the offer will be extended, but we can’t say for sure.
As for the “Free for All” offers, keep in mind that they require you to book a cabin with the offer included. This is usually more expensive than the cheapest cabin in a category.
For example, a recent search for an inside stateroom found a “Sail Away” price without the deal for $300 per person. The cheapest inside cabin on the same cruise, but with the free offers and onboard credit included was $447 per person. (Note that the less expensive “Sail Away” cabins aren’t eligible for the onboard credit offer either.) Prices will vary based on your specific cruise.
Also, there are some caveats with the free offers.
Free Drink Package: The free drink package doesn’t include the 20% gratuity charge on the value of the package. With the drink package normally priced at $99 per day, that means you have to pay $19.80 per person, per day for the free drink package.
Free Specialty Dining: A similar caveat applies to specialty dining. On a 7-night cruise, for instance, you are given three specialty dining meals and you must pay 20% gratuity on the value.
Free Internet: Internet is a limited number of minutes per stateroom, not unlimited. On cruises from 3-6 days, it is 100 minutes. Cruises 7-13 days in length get 250 minutes and 14+ day cruises get 500 minutes.
Free Shore Excursions: Touted as free excursions, the offer is actually $50 off per tour for the first guest. So a $40 excursion would be free, but a $120 tour would actually be $70 out of pocket.
Do the Math Before You Buy
While the “Free for All” and the onboard credit can be a huge savings for some people, it’s important to do the math before you buy.
Since the “Sail Away” cabin is less expensive, and you have to pay some gratuities on the drink packages and specialty restaurants, you’ll want to run the numbers. It could be that booking the cheaper cabin without the free offers and onboard credit may actually be a better deal for you.
For others — especially those who plan to purchase drink packages, Internet, or have third or fourth guests — then the new deal from Norwegian may save you a lot of money.