Norwegian Cruise Line has 20 ships, ranging from new mega-ships that accommodate over 4,000 guests to ships that were built in the 1990s and are less than half the size.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience both the oldest and newest and the biggest and smallest NCL ships and honestly, they’re worlds apart in many ways.
So, to help you decide which of Norwegian’s cruise ships to choose for your next cruise, read on for a guide to NCL ships by age, size and class along with photos of each.
NCL Ships By Age
The following table lists all of the ships in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, ordered from newest to oldest.
|Norwegian Aqua||2025*||–||Prima Plus Class|
|Norwegian Viva||2023||–||Prima Class|
|Norwegian Prima||2022||–||Prima Class|
|Norwegian Encore||2019||–||Breakaway Plus Class|
|Norwegian Bliss||2018||–||Breakaway Plus Class|
|Norwegian Joy||2017||2019||Breakaway Plus Class|
|Norwegian Escape||2015||–||Breakaway Plus Class|
|Norwegian Getaway||2014||2019||Breakaway Class|
|Norwegian Breakaway||2013||2018||Breakaway Class|
|Norwegian Epic||2010||2020||Epic Class|
|Norwegian Gem||2007||2015||Jewel Class|
|Norwegian Jade||2006||2017||Jewel Class|
|Norwegian Pearl||2006||2017||Jewel Class|
|Norwegian Jewel||2005||2018||Jewel Class|
|Pride of America||2005||2016||Unclassed|
|Norwegian Dawn||2002||2016||Dawn Class|
|Norwegian Star||2001||2018||Dawn Class|
|Norwegian Sun||2001||2018||Sun Class|
|Norwegian Sky||1999||2019||Sun Class|
The newest Norwegian ship currently sailing is Norwegian Viva, but we do know that Norwegian Aqua will be joining the fleet in 2025, with three more ships also being built.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Newest Ships
Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship currently sailing is Norwegian Viva. This new ship is the second of the Prima-class cruise ships to be built for NCL, having launched in August 2023. However, future ships may be part of the new Prima Plus class instead.
Norwegian Viva is one of the most spacious new cruise ships at sea, with expansive outdoor deck spaces, an infinity pool designed to blend into the ocean, outdoor firepits and a glass bridge walkway.
Prior to the launch of Norwegian Viva and her sister ship Norwegian Prima in 2022, the most recent addition to the fleet had been Norwegian Encore. Launched in November 2019, this Breakaway Plus-class ship is also the largest in the NCL fleet, with an internal volume of 169,116 GRT and the capacity for almost 4,000 guests at double occupancy.
Norwegian Encore boasts a selection of family-friendly facilities including a virtual reality arcade, open-air laser tag arena, thrilling waterslides and a go-kart track.
Suggested read: My Norwegian Encore Review
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Oldest Ships
Norwegian Cruise Line’s oldest ship is Norwegian Spirit. Launched 25 years ago in 1998, this ship was the most recently refurbished with a $100 million refit that saw the addition of 14 new venues including an additional main dining room and an expanded Spa.
I visited Norwegian Spirit just before the makeover. Take a look at what she looked like previously in this Tour of Norwegian Spirit.
The other older ships in the NCL fleet include the Sun-class and Dawn-class ships which were all built before 2012.
As you can see in this photo of the Sun-class Norwegian Sky that I took in Nassau, these older ships are relatively small and do not have many balcony staterooms compared to more modern cruise ships.
NCL Ships By Size
The following table lists the Norwegian cruise ships by size from largest to smallest.
|Ship||Size (GRT)||Guest Capacity||Class|
|Norwegian Encore||169,116||3,998||Breakaway Plus Class|
|Norwegian Bliss||168,028||4,004||Breakaway Plus Class|
|Norwegian Joy||167,725||3,804||Breakaway Plus Class|
|Norwegian Escape||164,998||4,266||Breakaway Plus Class|
|Norwegian Aqua||156,300||3,571||Prima Plus Class|
|Norwegian Epic||155,873||4,100||Epic Class|
|Norwegian Getaway||145,655||3,963||Breakaway Class|
|Norwegian Breakaway||145,655||3,963||Breakaway Class|
|Norwegian Viva||142,500||3,215||Prima Class|
|Norwegian Prima||142,500||3,215||Prima Class|
|Norwegian Jade||93,558||2,402||Jewel Class|
|Norwegian Gem||93,530||2,394||Jewel Class|
|Norwegian Pearl||93,530||2,394||Jewel Class|
|Norwegian Jewel||93,508||2,376||Jewel Class|
|Norwegian Dawn||92,250||2,340||Dawn Class|
|Norwegian Star||91,740||2,348||Dawn Class|
|Pride of America||80,439||1,936||Unclassed|
|Norwegian Sun||78,309||1,936||Sun Class|
|Norwegian Sky||77,104||2,004||Sun Class|
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Norwegian Cruise Line’s Biggest Ships
Norwegian Cruise Line’s biggest ship is Norwegian Encore with a gross tonnage of 169,116 GT and the capacity for 3,998 guests at double occupancy. This Breakaway Plus-class ship has 20 decks, of which 16 are accessible to guests and a length of 1,094 feet.
The NCL ship that can accommodate the most guests is Norwegian Escape with a capacity for 4,266 guests when each room has two people in. This ship is slightly smaller than Norwegian Encore but has space for more staterooms as it doesn’t have the laser tag arena, the race track or the splash park.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s biggest ships aren’t that big when compared to the biggest ships from other cruise lines. In fact, NCL’s Breakaway Plus-class ships are around 25% smaller than Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class and 7% smaller than MSC Cruises’ Meraviglia Plus-class ships.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Smallest Ships
Norwegian Cruise Line’s smallest ship is Norwegian Spirit. The oldest ship in the fleet, this mid-sized cruise ship has the capacity for 2,018 guests at double occupancy and an internal volume of 75,904 gross tonnes.
Around half of the NCL fleet consists of medium-sized cruise ships that accommodate fewer than 2,500 guests. These ships were all built before 2008 when the fashion for bigger cruise ships took off.
NCL Ship Classes
Norwegian Cruise Line has grouped its ships into eight classes. Interestingly, the two ships remain unclassed as they are different from all others in the fleet.
Prima Plus Class
The Prima-class ships are:
- Norwegian Aqua
- Unnamed ship (coming 2026)
- Unnamed ship (coming 2027)
- Unnamed ship (coming 2028)
Size: Approximately 156,300 GT
It hasn’t been confirmed that the future ships will be part of the Prima Plus class or that they’ll remain the same size. Some news reports state that Norwegian Aqua and the 2026 ship will be 156,300 GT while the 2027/28 ships will be larger, so they could be a new class entirely.
The Prima-class ships are:
- Norwegian Prima
- Norwegian Viva (coming 2023)
Size: Approximately 142,500 GT
Breakaway Plus Class
The Breakaway Plus-class ships are:
- Norwegian Encore
- Norwegian Bliss
- Norwegian Joy
- Norwegian Escape
Size: 164,600 to 169,145 GT
The Breakaway-class ships are:
- Norwegian Getaway
- Norwegian Breakaway
Size: 145,655 GT
The only Epic-class ship is Norwegian Epic
Size: 155,873 GT
The Jewel-class ships are:
- Norwegian Gem
- Norwegian Jade
- Norwegian Pearl
- Norwegian Jewel
Size: 93,500 GT
The Dawn-class ships are:
- Norwegian Dawn
- Norwegian Star
Size: 91,740 to 92,250 GT
The Sun-class ships are:
- Norwegian Sun
- Norwegian Sky
Size: 77,104 to 78,309 GT
These ships are unique and do not belong to any class:
- Norwegian Spirit
- Pride of America
Norwegian Spirit was originally built for the Asia-based cruise company Star Cruises under the name SuperStar Leo.
Pride of America is the only US-flagged cruise ship in the world and was specifically designed to sail around Hawaii all year round.
What Are The Best NCL Ships?
So, which are the best NCL cruise ships? Are the bigger, newer ships actually better than the smaller older ships? Having experienced both, I must say that the answer depends on what you want from a cruise.
The newest NCL ship Norwegian Viva and her sister Norwegian Prima are great for teenagers. You’ll probably never see them all week as they’ll be so excited to visit the virtual reality arcade, laser tag and race track.
However, all of these activities aren’t included in the price of your cruise, so you could easily rack up a large bill. Plus, they take up a lot of space, meaning that there isn’t that much room left on the open decks for sunbathing.
Even the oldest ships in the NCL fleet have been refurbished recently, so these ships no longer feel like they’re 20+ years old. Ticket prices are much cheaper than the newer ships, and they have better itineraries, making them a good choice for couples without kids and those on a budget.
However, my favourite NCL ship has to be Norwegian Breakaway. I loved the amazing waterslides on this ship and had a lot of fun on the high ropes course and watching the amazing entertainment – all of which were complimentary.
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Norwegian Cruise Line Ships FAQs
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Haven is a VIP area with the most luxurious accommodation, butler service and an exclusive sundeck. It’s available on all cruise ships except for Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Sky, Norwegian Spirit and Pride of America.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway-class ships have the best water slides with five multi-storey slides to enjoy. The Breakaway Plus-class ships also have some good slides, as does Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva.
The older NCL cruise ships in the Jewel-class, Sun-class and Dawn-class did have kids’ waterslides but these were removed when the ships were refurbished.
Norwegian Cruise Line is owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. The parent company also operates the luxury brands Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises with a total of 28 ships across the fleet.
NCL is not owned by Carnival. The Carnival Corporation owns a number of cruise brands including Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn, Cunard, AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises.