Norwegian Cruise Line and their colorful fleet of ships

Norwegian Cruise Line is the third largest cruise line in the world, with 19 ships sailing to over 450 destinations around the globe. 

Norwegian’s award-winning fleet offers a variety of popular and off-the-beaten itineraries, providing guests with an unforgettable experience – and memories that will last a lifetime!

The fleet of Norwegian Cruise Line has a ship for every type of traveler out there, from the smaller intimate ships to the mega-cruise ships that are the ultimate floating resorts.

And that means one to ideally suit you, your family, your kids, your budget, and, as a result, your cruising dream. Norwegian offers it all, whether you want an unforgettable vacation or a fun weekend getaway.

With so many different cruise destinations and price points it can be difficult to know where best to start looking for your perfect vacation. Thankfully Norwegian Cruise Line delivers a top class combination - fantastic and unusual itineraries and great ships with everything you want on board!

What’s included in your basic cruise fare?

Knowing what is included in your price and what is not can be very confusing when booking a cruise.

In addition, inclusions can vary depending on where you live and what unique campaigns Norwegian Cruise Line offers at the time of booking. To keep it simple, here is a summary of what to expect:

  • Dining experience: buffet restaurant, casual eateries, and up to three Main Dining options with daily menu changes are included in your cruise price
  • Entertainment including dance shows, comedy, musicals and live music
  • Junior and youth programs & Kid clubs cost you nothing extra. The young ones will be entertained from morning to evening.
  • Aqua parks, sports facilities, and more depending on which cruise ship you choose, are included in your cruise price.

What is “Free at Sea”?

“Free at Sea” is an optional upgrade you can choose when you book your cruise. You can choose to upgrade your cruise for a fee, depending on what’s important to you. You choose two packages in your upgrade, and choices include:

  • Beverage packages
  • Internet packages
  • Specialty dining packages (dine at restaurants that are not included in your cruise fare)
  • Shore excursion packages

“Free at Sea” upgrades are a fixed price per person, and the price depends on the length of your cruise. In our experience, most customers chose to upgrade, choosing the beverage package and the internet package.

Cruise Tip! Look out for special Norwegian Cruise Line campaigns where you can get a great deal on "Free at Sea" cruise packages! Also check out the price to upgrade to a larger cabin category, as sometimes "Free at Sea" packages will be included already in the price of a higher category cabin.

Which class of ship is right for you?

Let’s look at the different classes of ship to help you decide the best one to suit you:

The Breakaway Class

  • Built 2013 – 2014
  • Refurbished 2018 – 2019
  • 3963 passengers
  • Destinations: Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Greek Isles, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Transatlantic crossings, Canada & New England, Panama Canal

The Breakaway class ships in NCL’s fleet were built in 2013-14. Norwegian Cruise Lines has always been a company at the forefront of innovation. The Norwegian Breakaway class ships are just another example of this, with their sleek design and endless amenities.

These include two pools area, water parks, water slides, and a dance club. You’ll also find miniature golf, a basketball court, and a thrilling ropes course – an obstacle balancing course over 10 meters high in the air on the top deck. We love the breakaway class, especially traveling with kids. The ships are big but not massive and are great fun.

In the Norwegian Cruise Line Breakaway class, you have two ships to choose from:

  1. Norwegian Getaway
  2. Norwegian Breakaway

The Breakaway Plus Class

  • Built 2018
  • 4200 passengers
  • Destinations: Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Pacific Coastal, Transatlantic crossings, Panama Canal, Canada & New England, Greek Isles, Mediterranean

What is it about this Breakaway Class that makes it a Plus? Well, a virtual world of wonder, a double-decker race track, and an open-air laser tag course to start with.

Then there’s a whole extra deck. Although similar in design, these ships are about 10% larger than their sisters in Breakaway Class.

Expect a fantastic choice of restaurants, endless activities, and modern and innovative cabins on board. They are nothing short of luxurious modern resorts at sea. You’ll have great fun. In our opinion, these are the best ships in the Norwegian fleet.

 In the Norwegian Cruise Line Breakaway Plus class, you have four ships to choose from:

  1. Norwegian Encore
  2. Norwegian Bliss
  3. Norwegian Escape
  4. Norwegian Joy

The Dawn Class

  • Built 2001- 2002
  • Refurbished 2016 – 2018
  • 2340 passengers
  • Destinations: Bahamas, Caribbean, Transatlantic crossings, Greek Isles, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, South America

The Dawn class of cruise ships from Norwegian Cruise Line consists of only two older and smaller vessels.

You will find the standard cruise ship activities on board – sports courts, spa, casino, theatre, casino, and pool. We recommend these older ships only if you find an exciting itinerary.

Often the fact the ship is older is also reflected in the better price. So if you find your dream itinerary for the right price, cruise on Norwegian Dawn or Norwegian Star.

Just know that if you are travelers with older kids, the number of activities is not close to those available on the larger ships.

In the Norwegian Cruise Line Dawn class, you have two ships to choose from:

  1. Norwegian Dawn
  2. Norwegian Star

The Epic Class

  • Built 2010
  • Refurbished 2020
  • 4100 passengers
  • Destinations: Bermuda, Caribbean, Transatlantic crossings, Greek Isles, Mediterranean, Northern Europe

There is just one ship in this class: the Norwegian Epic from Norwegian Cruise Line. The Epic is a gorgeous, elegant ship, great fun for adults and kids.

With the launch of Epic came Norwegian Cruise Line’s “freestyle cruising” concept. From great restaurants, pubs, and live shows to spas, pools, and cabin configurations for the whole family, including single occupancy cabins, you can do as you want to at any time of day.

This is an excellent all-round ship where you’ll find all you’d expect from a large luxurious cruising vessel. If you don’t mind the price, upgrade to a haven suite. During the renovation of 2020, the Haven area underwent a massive upgrade and is a real luxury for adults.

The Jewel Class

  • Built 2005 – 2007
  • Refurbished 2014 – 2018
  • 2400 passengers
  • Destinations: Africa, Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Transatlantic crossings, Panama Canal, Greek Isles, Mediterranean, Mexican Riviera, Pacific Coastal, Canada & New England

The Jewel Class in Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet has the most cruise ships. What makes them so unique? 

The Jewel class ships are mid-sized cruise ships with classic amenities such as pools, sports courts, a spa, a large sundeck, and a casino. Entertainment is good but not Broadway-style. These ships are very similar to one another. They are not as high-tech as the newer built ships are, but they are mainly suited to couples looking for an easy-going freestyle experience, good dining options, and a relaxed atmosphere. Many cruise itineraries on board these ships are very well-priced compared to cruising on larger ships with all the bells and whistles. 

In the Norwegian Cruise Line jewel class, you have four magnificent ships to choose from:

  1. Norwegian Gem
  2. Norwegian Jade
  3. Norwegian Jewel
  4. Norwegian Pearl

Norwegian Spirit Class

  • Built 1998
  • Refurbished 2020
  • 2000 passengers
  • Destinations: Africa, Bahamas, Caribbean, Transatlantic crossings, Mediterranean, Australia, and New Zealand

Norwegian Spirit is the only ship in this class and is newly refurbished to a fantastic standard. It’s a smaller cruise ship, ideally suited to adults.

Sleek and elegant, it gives you all the amenities you want on a laid-back cruise, plus some great restaurant options.

And its smaller size means we expect some exciting itineraries to be allotted to this ship. For example, the sailings in Australia and New Zealand have some fantastic itineraries. Here is our top pick for a package cruise on board Norwegian Epic in Australia and New Zealand!

Pride of America

  • Built 2005
  • Refurbished 2016
  • 2186 passengers
  • Destination: Hawaii

One of a kind, Pride of America is known for sailing the islands of Hawaii year-round. This ship may be old, but we love it. Some say it needs refurbishment again (the last one was in 2016), but there is no doubt that the cruise itinerary in Hawaii is unbeatable, with fantastic ship excursions to match.

We recommend booking a cruise package, where you stay in a hotel for one week in Oahu, followed by a 7-night inter-island cruise on board Pride of America to visit the other three islands of Maui, Big Island, and Kaua’i. An unforgettable 2-week vacation!

The Sun Class

  • Built 1999 – 2001
  • Refurbished 2018 – 2019
  • 2004 passengers
  • Destinations: Asia, Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean, Panama Canal

The Sun class ships in NCL’s fleet were built between 1999 and 2001. They are two of Norwegian Cruise Line’s smallest ships and around half the size of the largest ships in the fleet. Restaurants and the classic amenities on board are good, but only choose these small ships if you want a more intimate cruise experience and have a great itinerary.

They are most suited to couples as no solo or Haven suite cabins are on board.

In the Norwegian Cruise Line Sun class, you have two ships to choose from:

  1. Norwegian Sun
  2. Norwegian Sky

The Prima Class

  • Built: 2022
  • Passengers: 3215
  • Destinations: Starting in Northern Europe with many more planned to be announced

NCL Prima is the latest ship from Norwegian Cruise Line. And close on its heels, we can expect five more sister ships in this class. The second is NCL Viva, launched in 2023.

Built in Italy, it is the first in a new class of ship for a few years from Norwegian Cruise Line.

The Prima is a medium-sized ship with a capacity of 3215 guests and will offer an infinity pool, a glass walkout platform over the ocean, and a 350 degrees wrap-around ocean boulevard. The main dining rooms offer fantastic 270 degrees panoramic views. Head here as an alternative to visiting the busier buffet restaurant; the menu choice is excellent.

So where can you climb on board? Look at a cruise from Amsterdam or Copenhagen, cruising Northern Europe, the Norwegian Fjords, and the Baltic regions.

In the Norwegian Cruise Line Prima class, you have two ships to choose from:

  1. Norwegian Prima
  2. Norwegian Viva
Start your search for the perfect cruise for you and your family with Norwegian Cruise Line here!

Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.

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