There is, of course, no such thing as a free lunch. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some exceptionally good deals out there. Last year I cruised on the Norwegian Sky. I did not particularly enjoy my time in their casino. My perception changed when Norwegian sent me an offer for a free casino cruise. Your experience will certainly be different based on your situation. However, I thought it might be useful to let you know precisely what my offer was.
On my July 2018 cruise, I lost money. However, I didn’t lose very much. It was a 4 night cruise, and my bankroll was only a few hundred dollars. I don’t think I lost all of it. I had a nice time, but I wasn’t really expecting to receive anything from NCL. They sent me something shortly after the cruise, and the offers kept coming. When they sent me a card a couple of weeks ago, I decided to find out the details.
When I say I called, I don’t mean that I called once and quickly got an answer. I called on a Sunday afternoon and was on hold for an hour and 15 minutes before giving up. I called later that afternoon and waited 4 minutes. On Monday I waited 21 minutes. Tuesday was better. I waited on hold for 27 minutes and 57 seconds. When a human voice came on, I almost didn’t know how to respond. Fortunately, the agent with whom I spoke was helpful and thoroughly professional. There was no hard-sell attempt to make me buy additional things.
What exactly was the free casino cruise offer?
The first question I asked was whether the dates listed on the card were the only possibilities. Unfortunately, those were the only choices I had. That was very likely a function of my limited gambling. That also presented me with a problem. I usually cannot be gone for a week without a few months advance notice. However, I decided to investigate further. I asked about the March 10, 2019 sailing on the Norwegian Pearl. This is a 7 night sailing from Tampa to Belize, Costa Maya, Roatan, and Grand Cayman.
An inside guarantee stateroom– one without an assigned room– would cost $335.50. An assigned inside stateroom would cost $435.50. That is an excellent price for a week at sea. It is not, however, free. The agent explained that the money was for admin fees, travel protection, and taxes. It seems particularly odd to me that NCL would charge an “administrative fee” on something free. However, booking the same cruise for one person with an assigned stateroom would cost $2162.50 that week. That is one heck of a discount. It also came with one “Free at Sea” offer, which means my drinks would have been free.
There was no pressure to buy more, but I asked about an outside cabin. It would be $853.50, and the regular price was $2202.50 for one passenger. That would also have come with three free offers rather than one. That means I would have received free drinks, free wifi, and a specialty dining credit. Score. A balcony would cost $1469.50 against a regular price of $2962.50. That would also have allowed for three free offers.
My final decision
Ultimately, I had to decline this cruise. I really wanted to make it work, but my schedule is not flexible enough. However, the Norwegian Casinos at Sea program appears to offer an exceptional value. While the free casino cruise wasn’t free, is was a great opportunity. I am sure better offers are available for bigger gamblers. Never gamble just to get free offers. However, if you do elect to spend money on gambling make sure the pit boss tracks your play. NCL has some nice casino offers to get you back on board.