NCL Free at Sea Shore Excursions. Really Free?

Written by Joel
Posted in: Cruise

Everyone has the same question: are NCL Free at Sea shore excursions really free? It’s not difficult to figure out why there are so many questions about the Free at Sea promotion and in particular about the shore excursion credit perk. If it seems like the entire promotion should be written in fine print, you’re not alone. The bullet points may be exaggerated and the fine print voluminous, but with a clear understanding of what is included, Free at Sea is a great bonus for booking a Norwegian cruise. The first huge fine print find: Free at Sea is not available for guarantee or sail away categories. 

Related: Free At Sea NCL WiFi Packages
Related: Norwegian Drink Package Part of Free At Sea?
Related: NCL Bogo Air Details You Need To Know
Related: Free Norwegian Specialty Dining

When you think shore excursions, what comes to mind? I enjoy three types of excursions: activities that allow me to see the location and interact with people who live there, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and observing how local products are made. You may enjoy beach excursions, swimming with dolphins, or extreme activities like zip-lining or parasailing. Whatever your ideal excursions are, they add to the over all cost of the vacation. No wonder, then, ads and other promotional materials with the words NCL Free at Sea shore excursions is an intriguing offer. 

People who haven’t been on a Norwegian cruise read that and may think all their off-ship activities are going to be included especially if they’ve seen ads for river cruises which often include the excursions. If this is what you’re thinking I’m sorry to say you’re about to be disappointed.

Instead of free shore excursions in every port you’ll get a $50 credit toward shore excursions in every port. To be fair, if you choose an excursion for less than $50 it will be free (and if you schedule it right you could use the balance toward another excursion). But a lot of the popular excursions cost more than $50. I said I’m still a fan of this Free at Sea promotion because $50 off in every port is still a great way to save money on an activity you were going to do anyway. Think about it, how many people do you know who clip coupons and drive to multiple stores for a $.50 savings on a bag of chips? This is saving up to $50 per port!

Still, it’s easy to see how someone could be frustrated. The hits keep coming, too. It’s a shore excursion credit in every port for guest number one in each stateroom. You’re still saving up to $50 per port, but unless there is a sale on the day you book excursions, guests two (and beyond if you’re sailing with more than two people in your stateroom) get no additional discount.

NCL Free at Sea Shore Excursion details
Save money with NCL Free at Sea shore excursions

If you’re hoping to outsmart the NCL Free at Sea shore excursion promotion, all the ideas that might come to mind have been written into the terms and conditions. For example, if the excursion is canceled by NCL or the vendor for any reason or you decide to cancel yourself you will get a refund in the amount you actually paid, not including the $50 shore excursion credit. Loophole closed.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t want to do any excursions in one of the port cities, I’ll just apply the shore excursion credit to my cabin mate or sell it.” Or “I’ll divide the credit by the number of people in the room so we all save a few dollars.” Those great ideas are not allowed either. Denied.

Of course, you’re not trying to pull one over on NCL, but maybe you’d like to rent snorkel gear or other equipment when the ship stops at Great Stirrup Cay or Harvest Cay and want to use the shore excursion credit to pay for those items. You can’t do that, either. Sorry.

But wait! How about using the $50 on a pre- or post-cruise tour? That must be allowed, right? You’d think so, but no.

Here’s the thing. Even with all the fine print and limitations, this is one of my favorite Free at Sea offers because it offers real savings. Your initial expectations may not be met, but shifting those expectations should make you feel better about saving money in each port.

You May Also Like…

MSC Meraviglia: What You Should Know

MSC Meraviglia: What You Should Know

My first cruise with MSC was on MSC Meravigila out of Brooklyn, NY in December 2023 and since I’m familiar with the brand and it’s ships, and you very likely aren't, there are some things you should know about MSC Meraviglia before you get onboard. Jump...

Cruise Line Drink Package: Worth the Money?

Cruise Line Drink Package: Worth the Money?

Cruising is a fantastic way to see the world. What other type of vacation allows you to unpack once, visit multiple destinations, and provide entertainment options for every interest? None that I'm aware of. I love cruising for all those reasons and because of the...

It’s Time To Plan Your Next Getaway

Limited Time Offer:

Download A Free Copy

Prices so low even the cruise lines can't match them!

Our roster of exclusive cruise savings has over 1,700 cruises sailing in 2024.

Grab your copy today and save on your next cruise!

Check Your E-mail For Your Download Link