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 itineraries that are both popular and off-the-beaten track, providing guests with an unforgettable experience – and memories that will last a lifetime!

The fleet of Norwegian Cruise Line includes 17 cruise ships with number 18 coming very soon. There really is 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.  Whether you want an unforgettable vacation or a fun weekend getaway, it seems Norwegian offers it all.

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?

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

In addition, inclusions can vary depending on where in the world you live and what special campaigns Norwegian Cruise Line is offering 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 most are included in your cruise price

What is “Free at Sea” ?

“Free at Sea” is an optional upgrade you can choose at the time you book your cruise. You can choose to upgrade your cruise for a fee, depending on what’s important to you. You choose 2 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 that is on the forefront of innovation. The Norwegian Breakaway class ships are just another example of this, with their sleek design and endless amenities. These include 2 pools area, water parks, water slides and a dance club. You’ll also find miniature golf, 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 travelling with kids. The ships are big but not massive and are great fun.

In the Norwegian Cruise Line Breakaway class, you have 2 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 4 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 consist of only two vessels which are both older and smaller.

You will find the  standard cruise ship activities on board – sports courts, spa, casino, theatre, casino and pool. We would recommend these older ships only if you find a really 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, then go ahead and cruise on Norwegian Dawn or Norewegian Star.

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

In the Norwegian Cruise Line Dawn class, you have 2 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, and that is the Norwegian Epic from Norwegian Cruise Line. The Epic is a gorgeous, elegant ship, great fun for both 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 pretty much do as you want to,at any time of day.

This is a good all-round ship where you’ll find all you’d expect from a large luxurious cruising vessel. If you don’t mind the price tag, 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 of ships has the most cruise ships. What makes them so special? 

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

In the Norwegian Cruise Line jewel class, you have 4 magnificent ships to choose:

  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 one and 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 it’s smaller size means that we are expecting some exciting itineraries to be allotted to this ship. Starting in December 2021 with cruising the waters of Australia and New Zealand. The sailings in Australia and New Zealand have some beautiful itineraries. Here is our top pick of a package cruise in Australia and New Zealand on board Norwegian Epic!

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’s in need of 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 3 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 are looking for a more intimate cruise experience and you have a great itinerary.

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

In the Norwegian Cruise Line Sun class, you have 2 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 heals we can expect 5 more sister ships in this class. The second, NCL Viva, is to be 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-size ship with a capacity of 3215 guests and will offer an infinity pool, 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? They are starting with sailings from Amsterdam and Copenhagen cruising Northern Europe, the Norwegian Fjords and the Baltic regions.

In the Norwegian Cruise Line Prima class, you have 2 ships to choose from:

  1. Norwegian Prima
  2. Norwegian Viva

Need more tips on cruising? We’re here to help!

Cruise package – Australia & New Zealand with NCL

Essential Tips for a First Time Cruise

Best Cruise Deals and How To Get Them

The Best Way to Use Your Onboard Cruise Credit

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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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