NCL Joy Reviews: Aboard the Inaugural Norwegian Cruise

by Sofia Hedman


Accent on Travel Vacation Expert and Family Travel specialist Sofia Hedman took a very special trip aboard the inaugural cruise of Norwegian Cruise Lines’ NCL Joy. Here’s what she had to say about Norwegian’s eye-popping new amenities. 


Tell us a little bit about the trip.


I went on the inaugural trip of the Norwegian Joy in late April, on a short route from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles.  


They just redid the ship!  They put a racetrack on the top deck and they also had laser tag, two big slides, and tons of other amenities. I would call this a very family-friendly ship.


I’m sorry, a racetrack? 


It was awesome! I’ve never really been go-carting before. I felt like a race car driver. Not to mention, the view was incredible.


They also had a space onboard called Galaxy Pavilion which was a virtual world on the ship with tons of different virtual reality experiences. 


They had race car simulators as well as one of those big cars where you had a VR headset and it was like you were on a rollercoaster. 


They also had laser tag on the top deck – which I’ve also never done and didn’t have high hopes for but it was so much fun. I’ve never done a cruise ship that has those kinds of activities. 

Sounds like the ideal cruise for families. 


Definitely recommended for families. A lot of ships that go to Alaska are older. Not NCL Joy! You also have all of the amenities that you’re looking for as a family.


Other than all those cool new attractions they spent a lot of time re-vamping their nighttime entertainment. My favorite was their production of Footloose! We were told NCL got one of the guys who was originally involved in producing Footloose to help the ship rewrite it to a 90-minute cruise friendly version.  


But beyond families, I also young professionals/ couples, and even active adults would have a lot of fun on a ship like this. There were tons of activities geared towards adults such as dancing every evening, 


Any food highlights? 


I ate at one of the specialty dining restaurants – that was called Food Republic – it’s an Asian cuisine tapas type restaurant.  Norwegian describes the theme as, “specially crafted menus that reflect the cultural and culinary diversity of the world around us.” We ordered around eight dishes between two people. I HIGHLY recommend it! 

Sound like a great time. Any other special amenities travelers should know about? 

Lucy, our Norwegian Cruise line sales representative was on board, and she invited me to have dinner with her one night in The Haven. 


For those who don’t know, Norwegian has an all-suites section of the ship accessible by keycard holders only. It’s pretty much a ship-within-a-ship. You have your own restaurant in there, your own pool, and your own observation lounge and sun deck. This means you can enjoy all of the ships amazing amenities, and then still retreat to your own private haven, where most of the ship does not have access! 


One cool feature was the specialty cocktails served in the Haven that you can’t get anywhere else in the ship. I had a smoked margarita where they used a real smoker to achieve the smokey flavor. 


Plus, all the suites are butler service. It’s a smart idea for travelers wanting to cruise NCL and their routes but wants a little bit more of an upscale experience. I can recommend it! 


Interesting in booking your next cruise on Norwegian? 

Contact Sofia today at or by calling (800) 848-3273