Cruising the Norwegian Joy Review

Cruising the Norwegian Joy Review

Will you be cruising the Norwegian Joy soon? We took a 7-day cruise to Bermuda on this great ship. Read our Norwegian Joy Review.

We finally got to cruise on the Norwegian Joy. We had this same cruise to Bermuda itinerary booked for 2021 to celebrate a milestone birthday. Due to the pandemic, we canceled, and then it was ultimately canceled by Norwegian Cruise Line anyways.

Bermuda has been a travel destination we’ve wanted to visit for a while now. The idea of sailing out of New York City (our former home) with that skyline in view and the Statue of Liberty convinced us. How we never took a cruise out of our hometown of New York when we lived there (moons ago) is beyond us. Better late than never.

The Norwegian Joy ship is one of the most recent ships that made its debut in 2017. It was primarily going to sail in Asia. However, in 2018, a year later, the ship was deployed back to the US. Undergoing a refurbishment to add other amenities to the ship for the Western market, like a pool.

The ship resembles its sister ship, the Norwegian Bliss, with some differences. The Norwegian Joy was meant to take Alaskan voyages with its sister ship during the summer. But presently, it’s sailing to Bermuda and the Caribbean.

All that said, unlike our experience with our last disappointing NCL cruise, Norwegian Epic, we enjoyed the Norwegian Joy cruise ship. And we fell in love with Bermuda. Needless to say, we did skip getting off in Norfolk, VA.

It was also nice to be back on a Norwegian cruise ship. We have mostly sailed with the Norwegian Cruise Line, but we had taken a small break. Our last cruise was on the Celebrity Equinox right before the pandemic. While we love the Celebrity brand, the entertainment is lacking, and Norwegian has some of the best entertainment.

We were happy to be cruising again and taking a break from real life. It’s always fun planning and preparing for an upcoming cruise for us.

This Norwegian Joy review was written and taken in June 2022.

In this Norwegian Joy review, we’ll go over our cruise ship experience and share Norwegian Joy pictures. From embarkation at Manhattan cruise terminal, sail away, restaurants, entertainment on board, and more. This is all based on our experience and opinions. We also give some helpful tips along the way and what you can expect. We also included menus from some restaurants and freestyle dailies below.

7-Night Norwegian Joy Bermuda Itinerary

Day 1 – New York, NY
Day 2- Norfolk, VA
Day 3 – Sea Day
Day 4 – Bermuda (9:00 am arrival)
Day 5 – Bermuda
Day 6 – Bermuda (3:00 pm departure)
Day 7 – Sea Day
DAY 8 – New York, New York

Norwegian Joy Review

norwegian joy cruise ship docked in bermuda
Norwegian Joy cruise ship docked at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda. View from the grounds of the National Bermuda Museum.

Embarkation at the New York Cruise Terminal

A few key things you need and should have done before embarkation day for this Norwegian Joy cruise to Bermuda:

  • Bermuda Travel Authorization
  • Negative Covid Test (up to 2 days before embarkation day)
  • E-Documents (you can check-in online 21 days before cruise day)
  • Download the NCL app
crowded security and check in at manhattan cruise terminal

We were at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal at 9 am in the morning. Our check-in was at 9:30 am. We should have been there earlier but chose to leave at 9 am. We took an Uber from our hotel nearby, handed a porter our luggage, and then took an elevator up to the second floor to start the check-in process.

check-in norwegian joy at manhttan cruise terminal

Be prepared because you may be standing in line for 1-2 hours to get through security and check-in. Since we were going to Bermuda, there were 3 lines to get through.

  1. Security. You’ll need your passports out so they can verify your identification before getting through actual security.
  2. Document verification (here, you’ll get a group number). Have your Bermuda Travel Authorization, negative Covid test, and vaccination documents ready for them to verify. Once they see you have all your paperwork, they will place a green dot on your passport and send you off to the check-in line.
  3. Check-in. Have your e-documents ready to go. There is a check-in line and then a line for e-documents. We did online check-in, so we went on the line for e-documents. If you have Lattitudes priority, you may want to get in on that line. Honestly, they all looked as long. Here you’ll get your stateroom keys/cruise cards.

We were a little disappointed that online check-in didn’t make things faster. At least not in this port. Also, with the travel authorization needed from Bermuda, there was that extra line.

Once we were done, our group number was called to board the ship. A total of two hours from when we arrived. However, it was a long wait to embark, but it was a smooth process.

Read more cruise tips on what to do before and after embarkation day.

The NCL App

Download the NCL app before embarkation day or as you’re waiting online at security. Sign in. You can start booking dinner reservations, check out the freestyle daily, and more on the app.

Muster Drill

As soon as you embark, they will have you go straight to your muster station to sign in. You will be asked if you watched the muster drill video they emailed you several times before cruise day. Sign in, and you can go about your day.

Going back to your muster station later in the afternoon is no longer necessary. They will announce with instructions before sailing away.

You also won’t be able to escape the muster drill video because as soon as you turn on the TV in your stateroom, the video will be playing. There is no changing it until it is done playing.

Reservations

What to do after you check in with your muster station?

You should be able to make dining reservations for most specialty restaurants 90 days before cruise day. However, if you have not made reservations or need to make changes, do this as soon as you check-in at muster. At this time, you should also book all your shows, like Footloose and Elements.

After signing in at muster, head on to deck 6.

At Teppanyaki, you make dinner reservations.

At Social Club, you make show reservations.

We miss the days we could just show up early to the theater and get a seat for a show. We were able to do exactly this with the comedy shows and had no issues.

Norwegian Joy Review Stateroom Cabin # 9900 Review

norwegian joy cruise ship cabin 9900 | sofa bed, double bed, balcony
Stateroom Cabin #9900 on the Norwegian Joy.

The sleek modern cabins are what we enjoy about the Breakaway class ships of Norwegian. We booked a mid-ship balcony, stateroom cabin # 9900, on the Norwegian Joy. The cabin exceeded our expectations.

It was roomy, with enough space for two. Clean and comfortable. It had 2 USB ports and 3 US electrical ports – so you can leave your power strip at home on this particular trip.

The only downside was the bed, it was hard as a rock. However, hubby had no issues with the bed, he slept great.

angled cruise ship balcony with two chairs and a table
Angeled balcony for cabin #9900 on the Norwegian Joy.

Now, the balcony was angled. We’ve never stayed in a cabin with an angled balcony. I’ll say it was pretty big and roomy compared to other balconies on other NCL ships. We had no issues with the balcony.

In this cabin, you’ll find:

  • 2 USB ports on each side of the bed by the lighting
  • 3 electrical ports (US)
  • a hair dryer
  • a safe
  • plenty of closet and shelving for two for a week
  • a sofa
  • an angled but roomy balcony
  • a corner glass-enclosed shower (not a shower curtain, thankfully)
  • one sink
  • of course, a toilet 😉

The cabin was located more forward, not far from the elevators and stairs. Usually, we like to stay away from elevators if it’s noisy, but we never hear noise from them. There are several cabins between cabin #9900 and the lobby entrance.

Being on the 9th floor, it was quick to take the stairs on floors 9, 7, and 6, where most restaurants, bars, theaters, casinos, and atrium are.

We would book this cabin again and recommend the location. If an angled balcony plan bothers you, then skip it.

We always used to book mini-suites on NCL ship; since then, the name has changed to Club Balcony suites. They are not actually “suites” but more of a Deluxe Balcony. We enjoyed the double sinks and full shower. This time around, the balcony cabin was just fine for our needs. It was a very comfortable and clean space.

Sail Away from New York City

new york city skyline from cruise ship sail away
Watch the sail away from the Norwegian Joy aft on deck 8, the Waterfront.

Sail away from New York City is one of our favorites to date. It’s a memorable cruise experience we hope to repeat in the future. We highly recommend cruising from New York City.

Seeing the New York City skyline come into full view on a beautiful clear day is such a cool and magical experience. Followed by the sight of the Statue of Liberty and sailing under the Verazzano bridge. It’s a sail away that you won’t soon forget.

The fantastic views you get from a cruise ship are one of the many reasons to take a cruise.

Best spot for sail away?

There was a sail away party on the pool deck, which we skipped to enjoy a quieter sail away from the Waterfront.

From the port side of the Waterfront, you can get an amazing view of the New York City skyline, including the World Trade Center.

Then you can quickly cross over to the starboard side of the Waterfront to see the Statue of Liberty.

You can also just go to the aft of deck 8 (same as the Waterfront) and get a full view of it.

If you don’t want to be outside, the Observation Area on deck 15 is another great spot. You’ll want to get there to snag a spot.

Norwegian Joy Restaurants and Dining

What restaurants are free on Norwegian Joy?

On the Norwegian Joy, there are a plethora of dining options. You have 3 main dining rooms, a pub, and a buffet, all included with your cruise fare.

Then they have 8 specialty dining restaurants for which you either have to pay a cover charge or a la carte.

Unlike the poor quality food we experienced on the Epic, we were delightfully impressed by the food in the restaurants on the Joy. We enjoyed trying everything throughout our cruise.

Except for the pizza.

Norwegian, if you’re reading this, what happened to the pizza? It used to be decent. It used to be our go-to snack when we felt like nothing else. But this pizza served on the Joy during our cruise was disgusting. We cringed after the first bite. WE thought I had grabbed a slice of vegan pizza (no offense to vegan cheese, we’ve had some delicious vegan cheese). However, the mozzarella on this pizza was pasty and disgusting… fake cheese.

Then later in the week, we mistakenly ordered the eggplant parmigiana in the main dining room. We had to send it back. It was the same cheese used for the pizza, and we couldn’t eat it. It was unfortunate because the eggplant itself was tender and tasty.

sunset by window by aft of cruise ship
Sunset dinner in the Manhattan Room.

Tip: If you would like to sit by the window for dinner, arrive early or make early reservations to dine.

However, if the sun bothers you as it starts to set, sit far away from the windows. Those sitting by the window look to admire the view and not have the shades brought down on them because of others complaining about the sun.

The Buffet

buffet station on the norwegian joy

The buffet on the Norwegian Joy is hit and miss. We only went there for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes late-night snacks. While we couldn’t rely on pizza, we could rely on Indian food for lunch. Some of the best Indian food is served in the buffet.

seating on the norwegian joy
Plenty of seating in the buffet was constantly cleaned and disinfected.

Sometimes there was a carving station, and the meat served here was always worth adding a serving to your plate.

The best lunch was the Caribbean-themed food served for lunch on the last day in Bermuda.

Breakfast was breakfast. You’ll find the same old at breakfast served as you do throughout the Norwegian ships. Always popular and long lines for the fresh-made omelets.

The fruit served at the buffest was always so sweet and delicious. We always had some every morning.

You’ll find soft-serve ice cream, hand-scooped ice cream, cakes, cookies, and other pastries for dessert. Standouts were the chocolate praline cake, coconut cheesecake, and rocky road ice cream.

Starbucks machines are also available in the buffet.

The Local

the local on norwegian joy
The Local has barstools where you can sit and look down into the atrium where trivia takes place or bands play. There are plenty of booths, tables, and chairs as well.

The Local is the 24-hour pub. The menu consisted of salads, wings, burgers, hot dogs, Reubens, nachos, pretzel balls, spinach dip, and other pub-like food items.

The food here is good. Not exceptionally good, but it hits the spot when you’re hungry. All these items go great with some beer.

We enjoyed the pretzel balls, nachos, and wings the most. The Ceasar salad is good when they don’t smother it with dressing or forget the parmesan cheese. The carrot cake isn’t bad.

A small arcade (separate from the Galaxy pavilion) is located in the corner of the Local.

Manhattan | Taste | Savor

There are three main dining rooms on the Norwegian Joy, the Manhattan on deck 8 being the biggest. We also thought the Manhattan dining room had the best service of all.

All 3 dining rooms share the same galley and kitchen. The food we ordered, 98% of it, was very good. We couldn’t believe the difference in quality and taste of the dishes compared to our last Norwegian cruise.

We hope that Norwegian continues on this track. Cause the food is important to us. What about you?

While some menu items were always available for dinner, some appetizers and the featured entrees of the day changed daily.

Norwegian Joy Dining Room Menus

Here are the dining room menus on the ship for the week. We missed a couple, but we hope it gives you an idea of what to expect.

Menu 1
Menu 2
Menu 3
Menu 4
Menu 5

Cagney’s Steakhouse

cagneys steakhouse on norwegian joy

When we booked our cruise, we got the dining promo that included 2 specialty restaurants.

Cagney’s is one of the popular specialty restaurants on Norwegian ships. It is primarily a steakhouse. We had a reservation for the first night of the cruise.

The food at Cagney’s was good. However, if we were to compare it to the first time we ate at Cagney’s on Norwegian Getaway years ago, it’s not as amazing as it was then.

We did enjoy our main entrees, a rib eye, lamb chops, and the 7-layer chocolate cake for dessert should not be missed. The sides could be better. The truffle mash potatoes are great.

Fun fact: Cagney’s and Le Bistro are next to each other. We confirmed they do not share the same galley.

Cagney’s Steakhouse Menu – Norwegian Joy

Le Bistro

le bistro norwegian joy

Undoubtedly, Le Bistro has to be one of the best restaurants on Norwegian Joy. This French restaurant impressed us and left us reminiscing for the next few days. We’d pay out of pocket to eat here, even if we didn’t have the promo to use.

We enjoyed it just as much when we first tried Le Bistro on the Norwegian Pearl. This is our favorite restaurant on the Norwegian ships.

From start to finish, we loved every bite. Since we recently had escargot back home, we ordered the amazing scallops. Then we had the french onion soup, one of the best we have ever had; cheesy and flavorful, it tasted like they poured bottles of wine or sherry into the pot.

The filet mignon with foie gras was tender, and hubby truly enjoyed his veal chop.

Do not forget dessert as it was outstanding. Too excited for dessert, we forgot to take photos of the menu, but it has changed. There was no creme brulee and tart tartine on the menu. The desserts offered were fantastic.

We ordered the two recommended by the waiter: Marquise au Chocolate and île Flottante. They both blew me away. If you love chocolate mousse, you’ll love the chocolate dessert mentioned. If you normally love creme brulee, order the île Flottante.

The cost of this dinner would have been $147 if we didn’t have a specialty dining package given to us as a perk. But I have to say, I would have paid outright for this scrumptious meal. It is a deal compared to eating out at our favorite French bistro at home.

Le Bistro Menu – Norwegian Joy (1)
Le Bistro Menu – Norwegian Joy (2)

Other specialty restaurants on Norwegian Joy we did not try on this trip:

  • Ocean Blue
  • Food Republic
  • Q Smokehouse
  • American Diner
  • La Cucina
  • Teppanyaki

Service on Norwegian Joy

The service on the Norwegian Joy ship was fantastic. The staff was so kind, helpful, and attentive everywhere we went. The managers would come by our table every night at the restaurants to ensure we were enjoying everything.

Our room steward was fantastic. So attentive and kind. We tipped him well at the end of our stay.

Now, the ship was only at 50% capacity, which may explain why the service was as good as it was. We felt a bit of personalized service on this cruise in particular.

We would love to hear from you and your experience with the service on the Norwegian Joy. Was the ship at full capacity for your sailing?

Norwegian Joy Activities and Entertainment

There are plenty of things to do on the Norwegian Joy. From sunbathing, water slides, trivia, games, and go-karts. Norwegian keeps a busy itinerary on their ships, and you can do as much or as little as you desire.

While we did not participate in things like rock wall climbing, laser tag, and the game pavilion, they are available on the ship for your enjoyment.

You have to make reservations for a few of the shows. If you don’t, you can always go 15 minutes before the show starts and get on the standby line.

Shout out to the band Azucar and the DJ onboard for playing some great music.

Pool Deck

pool deck on norwegian joy
Pool deck on Norwegian Joy cruise ship

How many pools does the Norwegian Joy have? Technically, 3 pools. One adult pool and a kiddie pool are open for everyone to use. Then there is a pool in the Haven Courtyard that you can enjoy if you’re lucky to be staying there.

Sea day on Norwegian Joy was fully packed. The upper deck was just as busy with sunbathers.

While we may have been at 50% capacity on this sailing, the pool area was packed on sea days. We can’t even imagine what it would be like at full capacity.

We love the Norwegian ships but is not enough pool space for the number of people on board.

Which Norwegian ship has an indoor pool? No. An indoor pool is one thing we miss when sailing Norwegian. We love the indoor pool area on Celebrity ships.

The pool deck on Norwegian Joy also had a pool area for kids. Many kids were running around. From what we witnessed, the kids monopolized the hot tubs more than the pool. You’ll want to hit Spice H20 to get in your hot tub time.

The pool area is lively and always has music or something going on. If you’re looking for a quiet spot, you may want to head to the Waterfront or Observation Deck.

Aqua Park

water slides on cruise ship

There are two big water slides on Norwegian Joy: the Aqua Racer and the Ocean Loops. Then there is a small one in the kid’s aqua park.

This is a fun thing to do, the Ocean Loops is the scarier one as the tube hangs over the ocean. If you like a rush of adrenaline, definitely give it a try.

The lines were always short for both slides when they were open.

Go-Karts

Cost: $15 pp | Reservations Required

There are Go-Karts on the Norwegian Joy cruise ship. It’s an additional cost. A fun experience at least once during your cruise adventures.

Hubby rode the Go-Karts on the afternoon we left Bermuda. He said it was fun but not as fast as the go-karts on land because they are controlled for safety. You get nine laps.

Casino

casino area on cruise ship

Does Norwegian Joy have a casino? Yes, there is a casino on deck 7 of Norwegian Joy.

One of the most noticeable things about the casino on the Norwegian Joy was the separate enclosed smoking area, which made such a difference to our lungs in the casino. Hopefully, this becomes a standard on all NCL ships.

This was a pretty big casino with plenty of slots and several tables. There was even a high rollers room – not that we went there.

We spent quite a bit of time in the casino after shows at night. However, we did not win anything big.

Tip: Head to the casino for late-night snacks starting at 10:30 pm, located near the bar. We always thought the snacks here were better than the buffet.

The Beatles Story

Cost: Free

The best show on the ship is the Beatles Story. You must attend this show if you love the Beatles and their music. They do a few different shows between the Joy Theater and the Cavern Club.

We first enjoyed this band on the Norwegian Pearl. We were excited to see that they were featured on Norwegian Joy, and we couldn’t wait to see them again.

Catch one of their shows at the theater as there is plenty of room. If you decide to go to the Cavern Club to see them, go early. The Cavern Club is snug. One night we tried to see them there, but there was no seating available, and if you were standing, you most likely were blocking someone else’s view.

Footloose

The word footloose glowing on the stage

Cost: Free | Reservations Needed

One of the things I love about Norwegian’s Breakaway-Plus ships is the Broadway shows. We’ve seen a few amazing shows on the ships. So loving the movie Footloose, we were looking forward to seeing it on stage.

Well, it did not live up to the hype. The show was okay. We weren’t wowed by the performances. And the show was longer than it needed to be… almost 2 hours. You get to the end, thinking you’re going to get this amazing dance scene to compensate for the wait, but nope.

We were disappointed.

Elements

elements on norwegian joy

Cost: Free | Reservations Needed

Thankfully, Elements was not as long as Footloose, but it was overdone with all the dancing. This is just our opinion, but if they had cut out the dancing and given us the magic show with the acrobatic scenes, we would have enjoyed it more.

Without a doubt, Elements was a more entertaining show than Footloose.

We watched a late showing of Elements, but on the last night of the cruise, Elements was canceled the next night. Someone was sick, and the show could not go on. So we got another special showing of the Beatles: Abbey Road, which was fun.

Levity Comedy Group

Cost: Free | Reservations Sometimes Needed

There were two comedians on the ship: Andy Beningo and Larry Omaha. You can see them at the social club and theater throughout the week.

We enjoyed Andy Beningo’s set the most. There was something more family-friendly about his set without having to be mean for the sake of laughs. He truly had us laughing. We saw him at the social club and then at the 18+ show at the theater later in the week.

Fun Things to do on a Cruise

What are the things to do on a cruise? A cruise ship vacation is a destination in itself. You can spend the entirety of your cruise ship vacation just enjoying all a cruise ship has to offer, from free cruise activities to paid ones.

Spa on Norwegian Joy

On this cruise, we did not treat ourselves to any spa services. However, it is worth mentioning in this Norwegian Joy review because the spa on the Norwegian Joy is small. Inside the spa was a waiting area, a barber shop, a hair styling area, and a few pedicure chairs.

This ship does not have a thermal spa. If you like to cruise to enjoy the thermal spa on the ships, then the Norwegian Joy is not for you.

Observations on Norwegian Joy:

This chandelier on the Norwegian Joy is our favorite of the ships we’ve sailed on NCL.
  • The Norwegian Joy is a beautiful, sleek, and modern ship. We were so happy we finally were able to sail her. The staff were wonderful and worked hard at maintaining the ship.
  • This NCL brand and the ship were built for all ages. You don’t feel like you have to give up on modern amenities and style for everyone to enjoy themselves. There is something for everyone.
  • The Waterfront (deck 8) and the Observation Area (deck 15) are two of the best decks on Norwegian Joy and spaces on the ship for quiet time and great views.
  • You’ll find afternoon snacks at the Observation Area served daily.
  • No more towel animals. Which is quite disappointing as it was one of those small things that brought on an extra smile during our cruise vacation,
  • There are hand washing stations outside the buffets. Purell stands can be found all around the ship and outside the dining restaurants.
starbucks cafe on cruise ship
Starbucks on deck 6 of Norwegian Joy.
  • Starbucks is on board! It is an additional cost not included as part of the promo premium beverage package but in the premium plus package. You can find them at the buffet, the observation area, and the atrium. You can collect rewards but can not pay with your Starbucks app; you must use your stateroom card to pay.

    We had lattes one day, which added up to $17… however, we must say, the lattes were 10 times better than Starbucks on land.

  • Pool towels were not provided in the staterooms as in the past. You sign them out on your way off the ship to explore for the day at port.
  • On day 4, they have the $29 special laundry bag. You have until day 5 to leave it for your cabin steward.
  • The washy-washy staff at the buffet are always happy and singing at the buffet entrance reminding you to wash and disinfect your hands.
  • There is a themed party every night at Spice H20.
  • Spice H20 is the adult area of the ship, and it was always packed on sea days with sunbathers.
  • We celebrated my birthday on the cruise. If you let them know when you book, they will leave a card in your stateroom that you can take to a restaurant of your choice. Hand it to the Maître d’ and the waiter will bring a cake and sing happy birthday at dessert. The cake was surprisingly delicious.

– Don’t Miss: Cruise vs All-Inclusive Resort: What’s the Difference? –

Norwegian Joy Freestyle Dailies

Below are the freestyle dailies for Norwegian Joy during our trip. Note that the newsletters were created for the week we cruised and any times, shows, activiites and information listed can and will change at any time.

We share them to get an idea of what to expect and plan your reservations.

Freestyle Daily – Day 1
Freestyle Daily – Day 2
Freestyle Daily – Day 3
Freestyle Daily – Day 4
Freestyle Daily – Day 5
Freestyle Daily – Day 6
Freestyle Daily – Day 7

FAQ on Norwegian Joy

Is the Norwegian Joy a new ship?

The Norwegian Joy debuted in 2017 and then refurbished in 2018. It is one of the newer NCL ships.

Why was Norwegian Joy refurbished?

The Norwegian Joy was at first built for the Asian market. After a year, the ship was redeployed and refurbished for the Western Market. A pool was one of the many things that were added to the Norwegian joy.

What class ship is Norwegian Joy?

The Norwegian Joy is a Breakaway Plus-class cruise ship.

Is bottled water free on Norwegian cruise ships?

No, bottled water is not free on the Norwegian Cruise Line. However, it is included as part of the Premium Plus Beverage Package.

Do you have a Norwegian Joy cruise booked?

We hope this Norwegian Joy review helps you plan your future cruise vacation. We loved sailing on the Joy and would book another trip on this cruise ship.

Have you sailed on the Norwegian Joy? What was your favorite thing about the cruise? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Antoinette G. Tucker

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