Norwegian Joy Cruise Ship: Overview and Things to Do

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The second Norwegian Cruise Line Breakaway Plus-class ship, Norwegian Joy, is packed with joy. Originally intended for the Chinese cruising market, this ship is high-end and packed to the gills with entertainment and activities.

No matter what kind of cruiser you are (family, luxury, foodie, etc.), you’re sure to find plenty to do during a Norwegian Joy cruise.

However, do you need to know more before you book that trip? We don’t blame you. Here’s what you can expect when you take a Norwegian Joy cruise, from your stateroom or suite to the restaurants to the kid’s programming.

Norwegian Joy Ship Stats

First, let’s take a look at some quick stats. Norwegian Joy is no small ship, measuring in at…

  • Gross tonnage: 167,725 GT
  • Guest capacity: 3,804 guests
  • Length: 1,094 feet
  • Crew: 1,821 members

Construction and History

Norwegian Joy was ordered in 2013 as the second Breakaway Plus-class ship (following Norwegian Escape). If you’ve sailed on Norwegian Escape, you’ll find similarities between the two. However, Norwegian Joy is slightly larger.

Norwegian Joy cost about €700 million to build, was built by Meyer Werft in Germany, and was originally designed for the Chinese cruising market. It was also originally intended to be named Norwegian Bliss (now, this name belongs to a sister ship).

Norwegian Joy
Photo By: Meyer Werft

After just two years sailing between Shanghai and Japan, Norwegian Cruise Line decided to transfer the ship to the United States, in 2019. There, the ship would serve cruisers along the West Coast. 

In order to ready the ship for this change, Norwegian spent a large amount on upgrades and enhancements that would make the ship more appealing to the American cruising market. These dry dock refurbishments cost about $50 million, making the ship a little more similar to the sister ship Norwegian Bliss


There are three stateroom options aboard Norwegian Joy:

  • Inside
  • Oceanview
  • Balcony

Inside staterooms offer small sleeping areas and an aesthetic that feels mildly reminiscent of a budget hotel brand. 

Oceanview staterooms are just a slight step above the inside staterooms, with that same budget hotel feel. The oceanview windows do make the cabins feel larger than they are, however.

Norwegian Joy Balcony Stateroom
Norwegian Joy Balcony Stateroom

The only downside? The windows are often placed behind the bed, so you can’t really enjoy the scenery along with your morning coffee or room-service breakfast. 

Balcony staterooms are your best bet for an enjoyable experience if you’re looking for a stateroom, not a suite. With extra sitting areas, lots of storage, and large floor-to-ceiling glass doors that look out over your balcony and the view, these cabins tick many boxes. 


If you are interested in upgrading your experience and staying in a suite, you can pick between several options, including:

  • Club balcony suite
  • Penthouse suite
  • Family suite 

The Club balcony suite is very similar to the balcony staterooms, but with a little extra room and extra amenities.

The Haven Deluxe Owner's Suite
The Haven Deluxe Owner’s Suite

The family suite can fit six people and it comes with a virtual balcony, two bedrooms and even a bathtub, in some cases. The penthouse suite is slightly smaller than the family suite, but does feature a real balcony, not a virtual one. 

The Haven

The Haven is like the VIP area of any Norwegian ship that offers it. There, the stateroom options include large suites and villas that are far more modern and upgraded than the other suite and stateroom options.

The Haven Sun Deck
The Haven Sun Deck

Plus, there’s a range of social and public areas that are only accessible to Haven guests, like a private pool, sun deck, restaurant, and observation area. Haven guests also enjoy extra-luxurious amenities, such as 24-hour butler service and skip-the-line privileges.

Free Dining

Norwegian Cruise Line ships reliably offer a nice range of restaurant options, even for those who don’t want to splurge at a ship’s specialty restaurants. Included in the price of your cruise fare, you’ll enjoy free dining at:

The Manhattan Room, Main Dining Room
The Manhattan Room, Main Dining Room
  • The Manhattan Room, a main dining room with a classic, luxury cruise feel
  • Savor, another main dining room, this one with a modern vibe
  • Taste, the final main dining room, with a daily changing wine list and menu
  • The Garden Cafe, an all-day buffet
  • The Local Bar & Grill, a 24-hour pub
  • The Haven Restaurant, open only to Haven guests and serving fine dining cuisine

You can also enjoy room service, 24 hours per day, for free (though there is a service fee in some instances).

Specialty Restaurants

If you decide that you do want to splurge a bit and enjoy the specialty dining options aboard Norwegian Joy, you’ll have a bevy of good options to choose from, including:

Q Texas Smokehouse
Q Texas Smokehouse
  • Ocean Blue, a seafood-focused white tablecloth restaurant 
  • Teppanyaki, for Japanese fare in a lively atmosphere
  • The American Diner, for diner favorites like burgers 
  • Cagney’s Steakhouse, for a classic steakhouse menu and a great view
  • Food Republic, where you can find a range of international eats
  • La Cucina, for hearty Italian favorites
  • Le Bistro, for French fine dining 
  • Q Texas Smokehouse, for live music and southern comfort staples
  • Starbucks, so you can get your coffee fix even while at sea 

Bars and Lounges

While you can get a drink at most, if not all, the restaurants listed above, if you’re specifically looking for a bar-style setting, you’ll not be left wanting options during your Norwegian Joy cruise. The ship’s bars and lounges include:

Maltings Whiskey Bar
Maltings Whiskey Bar
  • The Observation Lounge, for 180-degree views alongside your drink
  • The Humidor Cigar Lounge, for whiskey and cigar pairings
  • Skyline Bar for bar-top poker
  • Horizon Lounge, a VIP area only for Haven guests
  • The Haven Lounge, another lounge only open to Haven guests
  • Mixx Bar, for cocktails in a modern, sleek setting
  • Vibe Beach Club, where you can enjoy your poolside drinks in an adults-only setting
  • Spice H20, another adults-only, poolside space with a bar
  • Waves Pool Bar, for poolside drinks but without the age restriction
  • The District Brew House, for nearly 75 different beers
  • The Cellars Wine Bar, in case your preference is wine rather than beer or liquor
  • The Cavern Club, a retro, live music joint inspired by The Beatles
  • The A-List Bar, for signature cocktails, mixing and mingling
  • Sugarcane Mojito Bar, for Caribbean-inspired cocktails
  • Maltings Whiskey Bar, where the focus is on — what else? — whiskey 

Activities and Entertainment

But beyond enjoying some great meals and sipping cocktails by the pool, what else is there to do aboard Norwegian Joy? As mentioned, this cruise ship is packed with things to do. Here’s just a taste of how you can spend your days.

Norwegian Joy Open Deck
Norwegian Joy Open Deck

Race Around a Cruise Ship Race Track

If you go up to the ship’s Deck 19, you’ll find one of the only few race tracks on a cruise ship in the world. The Norwegian Joy Speedway is two levels and offers awesome ocean views while you zip around in your own high-speed go-kart.

Norwegian Joy Race Kart Track Speedway
Norwegian Joy Race Kart Track Speedway

Just watch out for those hairpin turns! The family can watch from the viewing platform as you race your fellow cruisers to the finish line. 

VR Experience at the Galaxy Pavilion

Whether you want to explore the ocean with the interactive video wall, or jump into your Star Wars cockpit for a thrilling ride or even jump from daring heights for some awesome hang-gliding, it’s all at your fingertips when you check out the various VR experiences available at the ship’s Galaxy Pavilion. The Galaxy Pavilion also offers the 7D Dark Ride, a racing simulation that’ll leave your heart pounding.

Galaxy Pavilion
Galaxy Pavilion

A Game of Laser Tag

On Deck 20, Norwegian Joy offers one of the best (if not the top) laser tag experiences at sea. Grab your gun and head aboard a sci-fi-worthy spaceship to face off against your family and fellow cruisers in a battle of epic proportions. 

The Promenade

Norwegian Joy boasts a walkable promenade dubbed The Waterfront. There, you get amazing views of the water and all the fresh air you could want as you walk around the side of the ship at a leisurely pace. Along the quarter-mile route are restaurants and bars, so you can stop for a bite or a drink if you so wish. 

Norwegian Joy Casino

The ship’s casino offers you loads of options to place your bets and try your luck. Whatever your favored game, you can find it. There are plenty of slot machines and table games, with budgets ranging from $5 to $5,000.

Visit the Aqua Park

Beyond the ship’s three pools, there are also plenty of other ways to play in the water while aboard Norwegian Joy.

Aqua Park on Deck 16
Aqua Park on Deck 16

The Aqua Park on Deck 16 offers a double-loop waterslide that goes out over the side of the ship, for a thrilling ride. The Aqua Racer is a fun way to challenge your family to see who’s the speediest. Then, there’s a kid-friendly section of the Aqua Park that just provides water features suitable for the tiniest travelers in your bunch.

Spa and Fitness Center

Norwegian Joy cruisers enjoy access to the ship’s Pulse Fitness Centre, where they can use state-of-the-art fitness equipment that overlooks the ocean, or take multiple professional instructor-led classes. 

One deck down, the Mandara Spa & Salon offers loads of spa treatments to choose from, including the signature hot stone massage. Treat yourself a little bit and then snuggle up in a fluffy robe with a soothing drink while you take in the spa’s ocean views. 

Evening Show

You’ll regularly find live entertainment at your fingertips while aboard Norwegian Joy. Whether you want to catch a Broadway-style musical, a comedy set, a cirque-style experience, or a live band, you can likely find it. 

Norwegian Joy Show
Norwegian Joy Show

Onboard Shopping

On Deck 8, there are tons of shopping options, so you can get your retail fix during a Norwegian Joy cruise. You’ll find all your favorite luxury products, including jewelry, fashion, liquor, toiletries, designer cosmetics, perfumes and colognes, leather goods, souvenirs, watches, and more.

Better yet, there are duty-free and tax-free shops, so you can shop knowing you’re getting a great deal. Expect all your favorite brands, from Estee Lauder to Chanel, Cartier to Dior. 

Kids Venues

For traveling families, the kid’s venues will provide fun, kids-only zones where the kiddos can enjoy programming tailored to their needs and ages, while mom and dad enjoy a little alone time.

Entourage Teen Lounge
Entourage Teen Lounge

The Splash Academy welcomes cruisers as young as 3 and up to 12 years old. Kids are further split into age groups to accommodate their needs and interests better. 

For older children, the Entourage Teen Club is a sleek, modern space where those ages 13 to 17 can simply hang out. 

Norwegian Joy Cruises

Is there really anything else left to say? Norwegian Joy offers something for every cruiser in your crew. Luxury travelers will love The Haven. Families will enjoy the wide array of kid-friendly activities.

Read Also: Norwegian Encore Cruise Ship – Overview and Things to Do

Couples and solo travelers will appreciate the adults-only spaces, and foodies will have fun hopping their way between restaurants. Whoever you are, Norwegian Joy is waiting.


How big is the Norwegian Joy?

Norwegian Joy measures in at a gross tonnage of 167,725 GT and a length of 1,094 feet. This makes the ship large enough to hold 3,804 guests at double capacity, alongside 1,821 crew members. 

How many swimming pools are on Norwegian Joy?

This ship has three swimming pools, alongside five waterslides and nine hot tubs.

What class cruise ship is Norwegian Joy?

Norwegian Joy is a member of the Breakaway Plus class, which debuted in 2015 with the launch of the very first Breakaway Plus ship, Norwegian Escape. Norwegian Joy was the second Breakaway Plus ship, followed by Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Encore.

Holly Riddle
Holly Riddle
Holly Riddle is a travel and food freelance writer whose work can be found in print and digital publications all around the world. She is additionally an entrepreneur specializing in content and marketing services. Beyond frequent travel, Riddle enjoys cooking, reading, camping and spending time with her husband and two dogs. Her favorite travel destinations include Chicago, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and just about anywhere in the Caribbean. Find out more about us here.


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