Norwegian Cruise Line boasts an array of ships within its fleet, including some of the most innovative and family-friendly cruise ships on the oceans today.
While the cruise line is not necessarily historically known for its mega-ships, like Royal Caribbean might be these days, several Norwegian cruise ships are still ranked among the 30 largest in the world.
So what do you need to know if you’re planning an NCL cruise, but you’re just not sure which NCL cruise ship to take? Here are the line’s cruise ships, from newest to oldest, as well as what you need to know about each ship class.
In This Article…
- Different NCL Ship Classes
- NCL Cruise Ships Newest to Oldest
- Norwegian Cruise Ships By Size
- Norwegian Cruise Ships: What to Expect
- NCL Ships: FAQ
Different NCL Ship Classes
There are 17 existing ships within the NCL fleet, and 15 of those ships are separated into five classes (a few outliers are considered part of their own, single-ship individual classes). The fleet will increase to 19 once the two new Prima-class vessels have joined.
The classes include Prima Class, Breakaway Plus Class, Breakaway Class, Jewel Class, Dawn Class and Sun Class. The ships that are on their own include Norwegian Epic, Pride of America and Norwegian Spirit.
The Prima Class is NCL’s newest class of ships, intended to debut between 2022 and 2027. The class will include six ships and start with the namesake ship, Norwegian Prima. While the Prima-class vessels aren’t aiming to be the biggest on the ocean today, they do offer a range of innovative special features that frequent cruisers will like.
Industry-first amenities include a three-deck go-kart track, the largest three-bedroom suites on the ocean today and the largest number of suite categories available on a cruise ship. The ships will also offer the most outdoor deck space of any modern cruise ship.
The Breakaway Plus Class ships were introduced between 2015 and 2019, and the class includes four ships: Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Escape. These large ships debuted with tons of entertainment options and more than 20 dining venues on each vessel.
The Breakaway Class is smaller in terms of both size and quantity. There are only two ships in this class: Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Breakaway.
The Jewel Class premiered in 2005 and includes four ships that are likewise smaller in size: Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Gem. This class does a nice job of mixing a large number of amenities with a relatively smaller ship size. They are also still popular with passengers.
The Dawn Class includes two ships, Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Star, and debuted in 2001. These two ships are very similar to ships in the Jewel Class.
Lastly, the oldest class for NCL is the Sun Class, which debuted in 1999 and includes Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Sun.
NCL Cruise Ships Newest to Oldest
NCL’s cruise ships vary heavily in age. With Prima-class vessels debuting this year and on into the upcoming years, you can find the latest and greatest in cruising with Norwegian Cruise Line.
You can also find some old-school cruising style on the eldest ship in the fleet, which debuted in 1999. Here are the NCL cruise ships by age, so you can pick the right fit for your upcoming cruise.
|Norwegian Encore||2019||Breakaway Plus|
|Norwegian Bliss||2018||Breakaway Plus|
|Norwegian Joy||2017||Breakaway Plus|
|Norwegian Escape||2015||Breakaway Plus|
|Pride of America||2005||No Class|
|Norwegian Spirit||1998||No Class|
It’s worth noting that many of these ships have received substantial and even multiple refurbishments since their original builds. So, even if you took a cruise on Norwegian Spirit, for example, you’d still be able to take advantage of refurbishments that occurred as recently as 2020.
Even ships that were built as recently as 2017, such as Norwegian Joy, have already been refurbished, to keep Norwegian’s cruise ships looking and feeling fresh.
Norwegian Cruise Ships By Size
But what if you care more about size than age? If you’re looking for the biggest ships with the most staterooms, entertainment spaces and dining, then you might not necessarily want to go for one of Norwegian’s brand-new ships.
Here are Norwegian’s cruise ships ranked by size.
|Ship||Gross Tonnage||Guest Capacity|
|Pride of America||80,439||2,186|
Norwegian Cruise Ships: What to Expect
So now you know which of Norwegian’s cruise ships are bigger than the rest and which are newer and which are older — but what else do you need to know before you book that cruise? Here are the need-to-know details on each ship, as well as a few fun facts.
Scheduled to debut in 2023, Norwegian Viva is being built at Italian shipyard Fincantieri. The ship will feature some of the same amenities and world-first offerings that can currently be seen on Norwegian Prima, Viva’s Prima-class sister.
The ship will feature more than 43,000 square feet of outdoor space, more than one infinity pool and a cool dining concept called the Indulge Food Hall, which encompasses nearly a dozen restaurants all in one dining experience.
- Gross Tonnage: 142,500
- Guest Capacity: 3,215
- Shipyard: Marghera, Fincantieri
Debuting in 2022 and kicking off the Prima class, Norwegian Prima was also built at the Italian shipyard Fincantieri. Guessed to cost the cruise line approximately $850 million to build, the ship features world-class accommodations, a wealth of suite options, and a bigger and better go-karting track unlike anything cruisers have ever seen before.
Built by Meyer Werft in Germany, Norwegian Encore was the last Breakaway Plus ship. With nearly 30 different dining and drinking venues aboard the massive ship, as well as tons of family-friendly entertainment, cruisers certainly won’t be wanting for things to do, no matter where they sail.
Designed with improved energy efficiency in mind, so as to better meet Alaskan environmental regulations during Alaskan cruises, Norwegian Bliss was built by Meyer Werft in Germany. The ship offers 20 decks and more than 2,200 cabins. Like other Breakaway Plus ships, Norwegian Bliss offers a wealth of dining options and entertainment spaces.
Another mammoth Breakaway Plus-class ship, Norwegian Joy was likewise built by Meyer Werft in Germany. Delivered in 2017, the ship has sailed around both Asia and North America.
Despite being in the same class, Norwegian Joy does stand apart in a few ways, from sister ship and predecessor Norwegian Escape. Norwegian Joy, for example, has a lower guest capacity, but also more restaurants, a larger casino and more shopping options.
The first of the Breakaway Plus-class ships, Norwegian Escape was likewise built by Meyer Werft in Germany. When Norwegian Escape debuted, it featured the largest water park in the entire NCL fleet.
One of two Breakaway-class ships, Norwegian Getaway was built by Meyer Werft in Germany and, at the time of its debut, was the ninth-largest cruise ship in the world. It featured a range of new amenities specific to its class, such as restaurants helmed by celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian and Grammy and magic-themed entertainment areas.
The first Breakaway-class ship, Norwegian Breakaway was actually named by the public, via a contest that NCL hosted in 2011. Built by Meyer Werft in Germany, Norwegian Breakaway shares many amenities with sister ship Norwegian Getaway, such as a Geoffrey Zakarian-designed restaurant.
One of NCL’s stand-alone ships without a class, Norwegian Epic debuted in 2010 after being built at the STX France Cruise SA, Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard. When built, the ship was the third-largest in the world.
Originally, the cruise ship was intended to have some sister ships, but a dispute with the builder caused the other two ships to be canceled, leaving Norwegian Epic alone.
The last Jewel-class ship, Norwegian Gem was built in 2007 by Meyer Werft in Germany. Built at a cost of $700 million, the ship shares exterior features with Norwegian’s Dawn Class, though its interior and amenities are all Jewel-class.
Originally built by Meyer Werft in Germany as Pride of Hawaii, Norwegian Jade received a rebranding in 2008 when Pride of Hawaii was removed from the Hawaiian market and redeployed.
Along with the name change, the ship also received new livery and extra features at that time, including the addition of a casino.
Launched in 2006, Norwegian Pearl was built by Meyer Werft in Germany. The ship has made appearances on a variety of television shows and documentaries and frequently hosts themed or special interest cruises.
The first Jewel-class ship, Norwegian Jewel premiered in 2005 after being built by Meyer Werft in Germany. Similar to sister ship Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Jewel has connections to several pop culture figures; the ship’s godmother is former First Lady Melania Trump and the ship appeared on an episode of The Apprentice.
Pride of America
Built partially in Mississippi and partially in Germany, Pride of America was part of a NCL effort to build and flag several cruise ships within the United States.
When inaugurated in 2005, the ship was the first new U.S. flagged deep water cruise ship in multiple decades. Because of its U.S. registration, the ship has no casino, a mostly U.S. crew and only sails around the United States.
Built by Meyer Werft in Germany (and originally built for Star Cruises), Norwegian Dawn was the first NCL cruise ship to feature hull art. Now, the cruise line is known for its colorful exteriors.
The first Dawn-class ship, Norwegian Star, like Norwegian Dawn, was built for Star Cruises before being transferred over to NCL. Norwegian Star was built by Meyer Werft in Germany.
Built by Lloyd Werft in Germany, Norwegian Sun was the last Sun-class ship. She was launched in 2001 in a dual christening ceremony with sister ship Norwegian Star.
Originally ordered by Costa Cruises, Norwegian Sky was built by Lloyd Werft in Germany. For a short time, Norwegian Sky, now a Sun-class ship, sailed as Pride of Aloha.
Built in 1998 for Star Cruises by Meyer Werft, Norwegian Spirit officially became a NCL vessel in 2004. Norwegian Spirit is one of the few NCL ships that do not fit into any particular Norwegian ship class.
NCL Ships: FAQ
NCL boasts 17 ships within its fleet, not including the 2022 and 2023 Prima-class vessels.
The oldest NCL ship is Norwegian Spirit, built in 1998 by Star Cruises and only becoming an official NCL ship in 2004.
The first NCL ship that was built specifically for NCLs (versus being built for another cruise line before being transferred over to NCL) was Norwegian Jewel.