Adding NCL’s Priority Access to Your Cruise Reservation: Is it Worth It?

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We added Priority Access to our most recent Norwegian Cruise Line sailing. What is NCL’s Priority Access, and is it worth the extra cost?

Norwegian (and other cruise lines) is known for nickel-and-diming, offering plenty of extras to add to your cruise reservation—just stating the facts! This includes the option of paying for fast-tracking your embarkation and disembarkation with some additional perks.

NCL’s Priority Access add-on promises priority check-in and boarding on embarkation day and perks like complimentary standard breakfast room service, priority tender service at ports, and a discount at the spa on port days. Let’s unpack whether this package is worth the additional expense. We share our recent experience and thoughts and who we think Priority Access is worth it for.

Featured blog image displays the "Norwegian's Priority Access" check-in area at a cruise terminal. Staff are assisting travelers, including one in a wheelchair, in a brightly lit space with large windows at the Miami Cruise Port Terminal.Pin

What’s included in Norwegian Cruise Lines Priority Access?

  • Priority Embarkation: Skip the lines with priority access for security, check-in, and boarding.
  • Priority Tendering: Access the ports of call quicker with priority tendering, allowing more time to explore.
  • Priority Debarkation: Speed through the debarkation process at the end of your cruise.
  • Standard Breakfast Room Service Fee Included: Start daily with complimentary breakfast items from room service.
  • Spa Credit on a Port Day: You can use a $50 spa credit for any 50-minute massage or facial.
  • Complimentary Treats: Treat yourself to tasty canapés delivered to your room on the second day of your cruise.
The image shows a person holding a letter detailing the benefits of Norwegian Cruise Line's Priority Access. The letter lists perks such as daily complimentary standard room service breakfast, canapés, a $50 spa credit per person, tender priority, and priority debarkation, all intended to enhance the cruise experience for guests with Priority Access.Pin
Welcome letter on cruise

What is the cost of Norwegian’s Priority Access?

The cost of adding Priority Access to your cruise fare is based on per cabin, not per person, and on the length of your cruise.

  • 3 to 5-Day Cruise: $129 per cabin
  • 6 to 9-Day Cruise: $199 per cabin
  • 10 to 15-Day Cruise: $279 per cabin
  • 16+ Days: $329 per cabin

Our Experience Using Priority Access on Norwegian Cruise Line

Priority Security, Check-in and Embarkation

Boarding an NCL cruise can often feel chaotic and frustrating, especially when not staying in The Haven. From our experience, the lines are typically long and slow-moving, no matter how early you arrive.

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After experiencing the hectic embarkation at Seattle Cruise Port for the NCL Encore and reminiscing about the chaos boarding Norwegian Joy, we added Priority Access for our Norwegian Breakaway cruise departing from Miami Cruise Port, one of the busiest domestic ports. We were traveling with family and wanted a smoother start to our cruise vacation. Everyone agreed that getting on board earlier would kickstart our cruise vacation.

This was our first time using Priority Access, and it proved to be a wise decision. Our cruise documents were marked with “Priority Access,” reminiscent of having TSA Pre-check on airplane boarding passes.

A crowded scene at a cruise terminal with many passengers waiting in line at check-in to board their norwegian cruise.Pin
Regular check-in line

As soon as we entered the terminal, we were guided to the Priority Access line for security, which quickly led us to an even shorter line for check-in. Only one person stood before us in the Priority Access line. In contrast, the regular line stretched with at least 30-40 people waiting—far from the worst we’ve encountered, but still a noticeable difference.

A view of the Priority Access check-in area at a cruise terminal, showing blue banners and a few passengers, highlighting an exclusive service area.Pin

Check-in was swift and effortless. Moments after completing the process, we were called to board. With Priority Access, there are no group numbers; your group is called “Priority Access.” By 11 am, we were already on the ship and heading to our muster station.

Kathy taking a selfish walking the gangway that modern leads to the Norwegian Breakwaway with other passengers visible in the background.Pin

Did we take advantage of the other perks?

Priority Tender

Kathy on a tender boat, looking towards a brightly decorated cruise ship, the Norwegian Breakaway, anchored near Great Stirrup Cay. The ship’s hull is vividly painted with colorful artwork featuring tropical motifs. The picture combines a clear blue sky and turquoise watersPin

Priority tendering was crucial for us, particularly because one of our ports required tendering to reach shore. Without priority access, you could spend half the day just trying to disembark at tender ports unless you have a cruise-sponsored excursion booked.

We did not need to use our Priority Access for tendering for this trip because we booked a Silver Cove Villa at Great Stirrup Cay, which included priority tendering. However, we did receive official confirmation that a Priority Tender was available to us through our Priority Access at this port.

Letter detailing priority tendering instructions for Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas on the Norwegian Breakaway cruise, specifying meeting location, time, and requirements for shore excursions.Pin

Priority Disembarkation

Priority Disembarkation was wasted on us. We prefer to do self-assist first thing in the morning. You get special priority luggage tags delivered to your cabin two days before disembarkation and are the first group to be called after Self Assist and The Haven can disembark.

Standard Breakfast Room Service Delivery Fee

Standard breakfast room service food is included in your fare, but there’s a $4.95 delivery charge each time you order. This is one of those fees that can really start to add up. We enjoy the convenience of having breakfast in our cabin, especially on mornings when we’re planning to head out early to explore a port.

Unfortunately, we only ordered room service once, and the food was terrible. It’s worth noting that the quality of room service can vary from ship to ship. On our last cruise, we ordered room service for breakfast four times, paying the $4.95 delivery fee plus gratuities for each delivery.

Do the math. If you like to order room service for breakfast, these charges could significantly impact the overall cost-effectiveness of your Priority Access Package.

Complimentary Treat

white plate of elegant sweet treats, including a chocolate-covered strawberry, several pieces of chocolate, and two round, sugar-dusted cookies, artistically presented with chocolate drizzle.Pin

On the second day of our cruise, we were delighted to find a beautiful plate of sweet treats in our cabin. It included a chocolate-covered strawberry, a piece of chocolate, and sugar-coated butter cookies—all delicious! Does it significantly enhance the value of the package? Probably not. But it was certainly a pleasant surprise and added a touch to our day.

Note: The canapes/treats will vary.

Spa Credit

We didn’t use it because, on port days, we usually explore or enjoy our day off the ship.

Is NCL’s Priority Access worth it?

The cost of NCL’s Priority Acces is worth it for shorter lines, swift embarkation on the first day, and priority access to tender boats at ports that require them. For us, it’s a worthwhile add-on to avoid the frustration of long lines, and we plan to include it in our reservations for future Norwegian cruises when it makes sense.

It’s important to note that Priority Access might not be for everyone. Some cruisers prefer arriving later to sidestep the initial rush, while others don’t mind showing up early to secure an early boarding group. It depends on your expectations, travel style, and budget.

Looking ahead, we’re just a few points shy of reaching Platinum status with NCL, which includes Priority Check-in and Embarkation. Once we achieve that, we might no longer need to pay extra for Priority Access—assuming the benefits match what’s promised.

For those considering it, we recommend adding Priority Access if you value faster check-in and want to maximize your time on the ship on day one, assuming the extra cost fits within your budget. Always consider the specific cruise port and itinerary when making your decision.

Who is Priority Access for?

NCL’s Priority Access is ideal for cruisers without priority status who value time and convenience. It’s perfect for those willing to pay extra to avoid long lines and enjoy a smoother, quicker start to their cruise, along with additional perks.


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Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

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