With nine different Norwegian ship classes to select from, it can be a little daunting to figure out which one is best for you. Are you planning a family vacation with lots of at-sea adventures and excitement for the kids? Or are you a solo traveler wanting to explore the most exotic locales that you can? Different ship classes can provide very different experiences, so it is important to know what sets each class apart. To get you up to speed, we’ve got the skinny on each of the classes of Norwegian cruise ships and what they bring to the table.
The Prima Class of Norwegian cruise ships currently consists of the Norwegian Prima, which debuted in 2022, and the Norwegian Viva, which will launch later this year in August of 2023. This is NCL’s first new class of ships in over a decade, and they are notable for being smaller in size and more luxurious than previous Norwegian ship classes. The smaller size is an advantage that allows them access to more ports, while still providing ample entertainment and attractions on board. Prominent features include a three-deck theater that doubles as a Las Vegas nightclub, a go-kart track that spans three decks, and a 10-story dry slide called The Drop.
Breakaway Plus Class
Next we have the Breakaway Plus Class, which includes Norwegian Encore, Bliss, Joy, and Escape, most of which have been refurbished in the last few years. These ships stand out from other Norwegian ship classes by having more restaurants, bars, entertainment, and thrilling attractions than other NCL ships. Exciting family-friendly activities available include go-karts, laser tag, pools & waterslides, gaming & virtual reality zones called the Galaxy Pavilion, and state-of-the-art theaters for spectacular shows, making these very popular ships for families with small kids all the way up to teenagers.
The Breakaway Class of Norwegian cruise ships are similar to the Breakaway Plus Class, only a bit smaller. You will find many of the same restaurants, bars, and venues as on the Plus ships, just a few less options. That is not to say that there is not still plenty to do. Instead of a go-kart track and laser tag, you will find an adult-only pool and a ropes course on the top deck. In addition to a Broadway style theater, they also have a circus-style venue called Cirque Dreams and the Howl at the Moon dueling piano show. Ships in this class include Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Breakaway.
The Norwegian Epic is a uniquely designed ship in a class of its own. Similar in size to the Breakaway classes, it offers several attractions that you won’t typically find on other Norwegian ship classes. These include a tube-and-bowl water slide, a rappelling wall, a three-lane bowling alley, and an ice bar. If you book a voyage on this vessel, consider their unique balcony rooms, which utilize curved walls and rounded beds to create a trendy aesthetic that you won’t find anywhere else.
The Norwegian Gem, Jade, Pearl, and Jewel make up the Jewel Class of Norwegian cruise ships, which are about half the size of the previously mentioned Breakaway ship classes. Despite their smaller size, you will still find dozens of food venues, multiple pools, a theater, a spa, a casino, and multiple bars and lounges. While these ships were originally launched more than 15 years ago, they have all been refurbished in the last couple of years and are fully equipped with the latest attractions and amenities.
Pride of America Class
Another single-ship class, the Pride of America brandishes a distinctly patriotic USA theme (as you probably guessed from the name). This ship was specifically created to travel year-round in the Hawaiian islands and operates with a mostly U.S. crew. Here you’ll find restaurants such as the classic American car-themed Cadillac Diner, the signature Cagney’s steakhouse, and the authentic Italian eatery La Cucina. Onboard attractions include a showroom, several lounges & bars, and an extensive open-air pool & sun lounging areas on the top deck.
The two ships in the Dawn Class of Norwegian cruise ships are the Norwegian Dawn and the Norwegian Star, both of which were launched in the early 2000s and refurbished in 2021. Similar in size to the Jewel Class, they offer many of the same venues with a few differences. They too have about a dozen eateries, with the main restaurants being a casual buffet, a Brazilian barbecue, a French restaurant, and a teppanyaki joint. Each ship also has multiple pools, basketball courts, golf driving nets, a theater, a spa, a casino, and several bars and lounges.
The Sun Class is among the smallest of all Norwegian ship classes, beaten only by the Spirit Class. These two ships, called Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Sky, are over 20 years old with recent refurbishments in the last couple of years. These ships are best for cruisers looking for a more intimate and destination-focused cruising experience. With a half-dozen restaurants, one or two pools, a basketball/volleyball court, golf driving nets, a jogging track, a casino, and a theater, there is still plenty to do on board. But they also maintain the advantage of having more ports at their disposal thanks to their smaller size.
Last on the list of Norwegian ship classes, we have the smallest and oldest of all NCL ships, the Norwegian Spirit. While it originally set sail in 1998, it was refurbished in 2022 and you wouldn’t even know it isn’t a brand new ship. Despite its size, there are still 13 food venues, including two main restaurants, a casual buffet eatery, and NCL’s signature Cagney’s steakhouse and French restaurant Le Bistro. Standard amenities and attractions like pools, waterslides, a basketball court, and a jogging track are also present, as well as a casino, a spa, a nightclub, and a theater.
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