Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Ships By Age (2024)

Our comprehensive guide to Norwegian Cruise Line ships by age and class will help you decide which ship is best for your next vacation.

Norwegian Viva cruise ship

Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the mainstream family-friendly cruise lines offering a variety of vacations to destinations across the globe. NCL’s fleet currently includes 19 ships which vary in terms of age, size, and amenities.

If you are considering a cruise with the brand, we have put together this comprehensive guide to Norwegian Cruise Line ships by age to help you decide which ship is the right fit for your next family vacation.

Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Ships by Age (2024)

Norwegian Cruise Line is the innovator of the freestyle approach to cruising. This means that you can feel free do whatever you want, whenever you want. Cruisers can choose from a variety of complimentary and specialty restaurants that offer diverse menus.

Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Classes

They can also enjoy signature entertainment, several bars and lounges, and some of the newest onboard amenities. Of course, there are also other standard cruise amenities like a pool deck, gym, spa, onboard shopping, and a casino.

Norwegian Cruise Line also offers a standard level of service and predictable stateroom categories across all cruise ship classes. The brand also features its exclusive “ship within a ship” concept, The Haven, and the Studio for solo cruisers.

Related Post: What You Need to Know About NCL’s Free at Sea in 2024

For those looking for the ultimate flexibility, look no further than Norwegian Cruise Line.

Which is the newest Norwegian Cruise Line ship?

The newest ship in the NCL fleet at the time of publication is Norwegian Viva, which is the second ship in the Prima class. Viva debuted in August 2023. The first ship in the Prima class, Norwegian Prima, entered service in August 2022.

A third ship in the class, Norwegian Aqua, is scheduled to debut in 2025.

What is the oldest Norwegian Cruise Line ship?

When we’re looking at Norwegian Cruise Line ships by age, Norwegian Spirit is the oldest ship currently sailing in the NCL fleet. It first debuted in 1998 as SuperStar Leo for Star Cruises, and was transferred to Norwegian Cruise Line in 2004. The vessel is just under 76,000 gross tons and can hold just over 2,000 guests.

Norwegian Sky follows closely behind in age, having debuted in 1999.

Norwegian Spirit

What is the average age of a Norwegian Cruise Line ship?

Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships range in age from under a year old to 25 years old. The average age of an NCL ship is currently 14.4 years old. Five ships are over 20 years old, and eight are 10-19 years old. Six members of the fleet debuted in the past decade.

Despite many ships being a decade old or more, they do get refurbishments. For example, Norwegian Spirit underwent a major renovation in 2020 and Norwegian Sky got updates in 2019. Even one of the line’s newer ships, Norwegian Joy (2017), just underwent a large renovation earlier this year.

How many NCL ships are there?

There are currently 19 cruise ships in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet. There are also a number of upcoming ships currently on order, including the third Prima class vessel, Norwegian Aqua, which is slated for a 2025 debut.

Norwegian Cruise Line Ships By Age (Newest to Oldest)

  • Norwegian Aqua — 2025 (156,300 gross tons, 3,571 guests)
  • Norwegian Viva — 2023 (142,500 gross tons, 3,195 guests)
  • Norwegian Prima — 2022 (143,535 gross tons, 3,099 guests)
  • Norwegian Encore — 2019 (169,116 gross tons, 3,998 guests)
  • Norwegian Bliss — 2018 (168,028 gross tons, 4,004 guests)
  • Norwegian Joy — 2017 (167,725 gross tons, 3,804 guests)
  • Norwegian Escape — 2015 (164,998 gross tons, 4,266 guests)
  • Norwegian Getaway — 2014 (145,655 gross tons, 3,963 guests)
  • Norwegian Breakaway — 2013 (145,655 gross tons, 3,963 guests)
  • Norwegian Epic — 2010 (155,873 gross tons, 4,100 guests)
  • Norwegian Gem — 2007 (93,530 gross tons, 2,394 guests)
  • Norwegian Pearl — 2006 (93,530 gross tons, 2,394 guests)
  • Norwegian Jade — 2006 (93,558 gross tons, 2,402 guests)
  • Norwegian Jewel — 2005 (93,502 gross tons, 2,376 guests)
  • Pride of America — 2005 (80,439 gross tons, 2,186 guests)
  • Norwegian Dawn — 2002 (92,250 gross tons, 2,340 guests)
  • Norwegian Star — 2001 (91,740 gross tons, 2,348 guests)
  • Norwegian Sun — 2001 (78,309 gross tons, 1,936 guests)
  • Norwegian Sky — 1999 (77,104 gross tons, 2,004 guests)
  • Norwegian Spirit — 1998 (75,904 gross tons, 2,032 guests)

Understanding Cruise Ship Classes

Cruise lines are large companies that manage a fleet of ships. Some of the world’s largest cruise lines have dozens of ships. Each cruise line has its own “style”. However, even within a brand, there are different dining options, entertainment options, and onboard amenities between ships.

It would take you hours to research each ship individually. Not to mention, Norwegian Cruise Line is just one of many cruise lines.

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Hence, it’s important to note that each cruise line offers different groups of ships. These “classes” of cruise ships are of similar size and design. Further, they often feature similar amenities and venues.

While there might be slight differences between ships within a class, these sister ships are largely identical.

How many ship classes does Norwegian Cruise Line have?

Norwegian Cruise Line’s 19 ships are divided into a whopping nine classes. They are the Prima class, Breakaway class, Breakaway Plus class, Epic class, Jewel class, Dawn class, Sun class, Leo class, and the Pride of America class.

Prima Class

The Prima class is currently in progress, with multiple ships still on order and two that have already debuted — Norwegian Prima (2022) and Norwegian Viva (2023). A third vessel in the class, Norwegian Aqua, is set to begin sailing in 2025.

When Norwegian Cruise Line first announced the Prima class, many were surprised that — unlike most new mainstream cruise ships debuting — they would actually be smaller than the previous class of ships. Indeed, the two existing Prima class ships are around 143,000 gross tons each, which is over 20,000 gross tons smaller than the two ships before them, Norwegian Encore and Bliss. Norwegian Aqua will be a bit larger than her sisters though, coming in at 156,300 gross tons.

norwegian viva san juan puerto rico

The Prima class represents many new concepts for Norwegian Cruise Line. One of the most obvious before you even step onboard are the dry slides, which are affixed to the side of the ship. The Drop is a 10-story dry slide — the first dry drop slide in the world. The Rush is a set of dueling slides. Both offer a corkscrew-style slide experience that’s fun for all ages.

The Norwegian Speedway is continued on the Prima class following success on the Breakaway Plus ships. On the Prima ships, it’s the longest go-kart track on board to date and spans three decks. The Prima-class ships also include the Galaxy Pavilion, a space full of modern arcade-type games and virtual reality experiences. New to Prima class is a darts lounge and an interactive mini golf course.

The Prima class ships also feature a new dining venue called Indulge Food Hall. There, guests order from tablets at their table and can choose from a variety of cuisines that each have their own little station within the space. The ships also include a classic cruise ship buffet and main dining room, as well as specialty restaurants such as Cagney’s Steakhouse, Hasuki teppanyaki, Los Lobos, and the all-new Mediterranean restaurant Palomar.

indulge food hall norwegian viva

There’s also the cruise industry’s first sustainable cocktail bar, Metropolitan Bar. There, bartenders create unique cocktails with ingredients made from food scraps that would otherwise be discarded, such as day-old croissants, banana peels, and pineapple peels.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s classic Observation Lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows can also be found on the Prima ships, as is the adults-only Vibe Beach Club and The Haven, a ship-within-a-ship complex which allows Haven guests to enjoy their own restaurant, sundeck, and lounge.

The Mandara Spa includes a revamped thermal suite area, featuring a brand-new two-story waterfall wall alongside the vitality pool with jets and the thalassotherapy saltwater pool.

Breakaway Plus Class

The second-newest of the Norwegian Cruise Line ship classes is the Breakaway Plus Class. This sub-class of the previous Breakaway Class offers many of the same features of its predecessors. It also has some new additions all of her own.

The Breakaway Plus Class debuted with Norwegian Escape in 2015. Additional ships in this class include Norwegian Joy (2017), Norwegian Bliss (2018), and Norwegian Encore (2019).

Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Classes

The Breakaway Plus is the largest class of ships for Norwegian Cruise Line weighing in at 165,000 to 169,000 gross tons and carrying between 3,800 and 4,200 passengers.

Norwegian Escape bears many similarities to the Breakaway Class, while the remaining three ships are all very similar. Of note, Norwegian Joy was originally designed for the Chinese market but refurbished and transferred to the American market in 2019. The ship was renovated again in early 2024.

One of our favorite features of this class of ship is The Waterfront. This mid-level promenade deck features a variety of restaurants, bars and lounges, and other shopping and entertainment venues.

Some of our favorite bars include the District Brewhouse and the Sugarcane Mojito Bar. Newer specialty restaurant offerings on these ships include Q Texas Smokehouse, Food Republic, and the Italian Onda by Scarpetta on Norwegian Encore.

The Breakaway-Plus class of ships also has some of the most thrilling attractions at sea. Among them are go-kart courses, a state-of-the-art laser tag arena (on Bliss and Encore), and some of the fastest waterslides at sea.

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Norwegian Encore features the Galaxy Pavilion too. This digitally enhanced area is home to interactive attractions, ride simulators, and games that everyone in the family will enjoy.

Some of these ships also feature Spice H2O, an adults-only area with water features, a bar, and private space for those that are 18+. Similarly, some ships feature the relaxing Observation Lounge. This forward facing venue offers stunning views with wall to wall glass, making it the perfect place to watch the ship sail into port.

There’s also the Cavern Club with a resident Beatles tribute band.

Breakaway Class

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Class ushered in a new era of cruising when its first ship, Norwegian Breakaway, debuted in 2013. The Breakaway Class includes only two ships, Norwegian Breakaway (2013) and Norwegian Getaway (2014).

Though, as mentioned previously, Norwegian Escape closely resembles these sister ships. These ships are 145,655 gross tons and carry around 4,000 passengers.

Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Classes

Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway appeal to families as they actually have more outdoor activities that are included in the cruise fare. These complimentary amenities include a waterpark featuring drop slides and an aqua park for the little ones. Both ships also have a full-fledged ropes course complete with zip lines and a plank that extends off the side of the ship, as well as mini-golf courses.

Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Classes

In addition to a main theater, this class has some unique entertainment venues of its own as well such as the lively dueling pianos bar Howl at the Moon. Guests can also participate in game shows Deal or No Deal and Wheel of Fortune.

Cruisers will find the Waterfront and many of the same restaurants and bars as the Breakaway Plus Class; however, there are some differences. The Breakaway Class is home to Shanghai’s Noodle Bar, Moderno Churrascaria specialty restaurant, an Ice Bar, and Syd Norman’s Pour House.

Norwegian Epic

In a Norwegian Cruise Line ship class of her own, Norwegian Epic debuted in 2010. Norwegian Epic is undoubtedly one of a kind. With a unique design that blends elements of some of NCL’s smaller ships as well as forward-looking features that would become part of the more recent Breakaway Class, NCL Epic was an experimental ship.

With so many new dining and entertainment options, the ship truly ushered in the brand’s Freestyle approach. While some concepts were hits, others were misses. Thus, there were no further ships in this class ever built. Instead, Norwegian Cruise Line evolved its next generation ships into the Breakaway Class.

Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Classes

Norwegian Epic is a 155,873 gross ton ship able to carry 4,100 passengers, weighing in at larger than the Breakaway Class.

Norwegian Epic includes the line’s first Spice H2O sundeck, the Haven, and several signature entertainment options including Howl at the Moon, Headliners Comedy Club, and an exclusive Beatles cover band.

The ship also features the Burn the Floor show as well as Deal or No Deal and Wheel of Fortune. Not to mention, there is bowling, an Ice Bar, and the first bowl slide at sea.

From the complimentary O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill and Shanghai Chinese Restaurant to the plethora of specialty dining, you can sample cuisine from around the world on Norwegian Epic.

Among the specialty dining options are the line’s signature steakhouse Cagney’s, the Italian restaurant La Cucina, the Brazilian Churrascaria Moderno, the French inspired Le Bistro, the hibachi experience at Teppanyaki, and the Wasabi sushi bar.

Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Classes

One of the biggest design elements that was unpopular among cruisers on Norwegian Epic is the stateroom design. Thus, no subsequent ships feature this unique layout.

Jewel Class

NCL’s Jewel Class debuted in 2006. At just over 93,000 gross tons, these ships carry around 2,400 passengers. Ships in this Norwegian Cruise Line ship class include Norwegian Jewel (2005), Norwegian Jade (2006), Norwegian Pearl (2006), and Norwegian Gem (2007).

The Jewel Class is quite similar to the previous Dawn Class, just larger in size.

In terms of entertainment, you will still find nightly entertainment in the main theater. Yet, cruisers shouldn’t expect the Broadway hits found on newer mega-ships in the fleet. Still, there is plenty of fun to be had on the large pool deck and sports court by day, as well as the bars, lounges, and dance parties at night.

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You will still find plenty of Norwegian Cruise Line’s staple specialty dining venues too, like Cagney’s Steakhouse, the French Le Bistro, the Italian La Cucina, and the hibachi style Teppanyaki.

Of course, there is also the complimentary main dining rooms, the popular O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill, and the Garden Cafe buffet. The Jewel Class also offers a complimentary Asian restaurant.

Related Post: Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages

If you don’t need all the bells and whistles of the larger mega-ships, the Jewel Class might be perfect for you. These ships still offer a classic NCL experience but with less crowds and fewer up-charges. They also visit various parts of the world and more unique ports of call.

Dawn Class

The Dawn class contains a pair of ships: Norwegian Star (2001) and Norwegian Dawn (2002).

As mentioned above, the Dawn Class is similar in size and design to the Jewel Class. These ships carry around 2,300 passengers and weigh in at around 92,000 gross tons. Norwegian Dawn and Star were both last refurbished in 2021.

Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Classes

Given their smaller size, these ships can visit less frequented ports of call, all while offering typical cruise amenities and NCL signature features. They even offer the Garden Villa, a suite category that has three bedrooms and can hold up to seven guests.

These ships have plenty of typical offerings including a casino, a main theater with nightly entertainment, and the Bliss Ultra Lounge. Additionally, there is a good-sized pool deck with whirlpools, a golf driving range, a sports court, and even Splash Academy for the little ones. Norwegian Star even has the Spice H2O adults-only area.

For dining, the Dawn Class has the typical main dining rooms, as well as NCL signature specialty restaurants Le Bistro, La Cucina, Teppanyaki, and Cagney’s Steakhouse. The ships also offer a complimentary Asian restaurant, O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill, and a traditional cruise buffet. Norwegian Dawn features The Cellars Wine Bar and Los Lobos Cantina sprucing up the already enjoyable restaurant and bar line-up.

Sun Class

Among the smallest of the Norwegian Cruise Line ship classes is the Sun Class. At 77,000 to 78,000 gross tons, Norwegian Sky (1999) and Norwegian Sun (2001) carry 1,900 to 2,000 passengers each. Both ships were refurbished just a few years ago.

The ships’ renovations included updates to the staterooms, dining venues, and bars and lounges. Among the new additions to Norwegian Sky were the Pinnacle Lounge and Sushi Bar, the Bliss Ultra Lounge, the Local Bar and Grill, and a Starbucks. Norwegian Sun received the Bliss Ultra Lounge, Los Lobos Cantina, and more.

The specialty restaurant offerings do differ slightly by ship. Norwegian Sky is home to Le Bistro, La Cucina, and Cagney’s Steakhouse. While Norwegian Sun has Teppanyaki, Moderno, and Los Lobos Cantina in addition.

Both ships offer plenty of typical cruise ship amenities including pools, hot tubs, a gym, a spa, a sports court, and golf driving nets. They also feature your typical main theater for nightly entertainment and the Spinnaker Lounge.

Norwegian Spirit (Leo Class)

Norwegian Spirit launched in 1998 but recently underwent an extensive refurbishment in early 2020. This 75,904 gross ton ship received a $100 million revitalization as part of the Norwegian Edge program. It was the most extensive bow to stern makeover in the company’s history.

Conditional Sail Order

Norwegian Spirit emerged from the 43-day dry dock with renovations to all dining venues, staterooms, and public areas, as well as new hull art.

Some of Norwegian Spirit’s enhancements include a larger Mandara Spa, complete with a new thermal suite and relaxation area. The ship also features the second Onda by Scarpetta restaurant. This restaurant which debuted on Norwegian Encore gets two thumbs up from us!

New complimentary dining venues on Norwegian Spirit include an extra main dining room and the 24-hour The Local Bar & Grill. In addition, the ship offers the buffet-style Garden Café, the Great Outdoors Bar, and Waves Pool Bar.

Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Classes

Making their debut on Norwegian Spirit are also the popular Bliss Ultra Lounge and the adults-only retreat Spice H2O.

Norwegian Spirit will continue to offer NCL’s signature Freestyle approach to dining; it will also offer familiar favorites when it comes to specialty dining, like Cagney’s Steakhouse and Le Bistro. Additionally, guests can enjoy nightly entertainment in the Stardust Theater or drinks in one of the many bars and lounges after a long day ashore exploring the ports of call.

Pride of America

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America is the only U.S. flagged cruise ship in the world. Built in 2005, Pride of America exclusively sails year-round in Hawaii. This 80,439 gross ton ship carries approximately 2,200 passengers.

Pride of America last underwent major renovations in 2015, and was most recently refurbished in 2022.

Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Classes

This Americana-themed ship sails a 7-night round-trip itinerary from Honolulu offering a comprehensive Polynesian experience. The ship visits four Hawaiian Islands and five ports of call in seven days.

Featuring some familiar favorites like Cagney’s Steakhouse, La Cucina, and Teppanyaki, in addition to some unique Hawaiian themed venues, Pride of America serves as a great backdrop to long island days ashore.

Pride of America does offer other cruise amenities like a main theater spotlighting Polynesian culture, a pool deck, a spa, a fitness center, and Splash Academy for the kids. There is also a cabaret lounge and nightclub and plenty of American-themed bars; however, you will not find a casino on this ship as it never leaves U.S. waters.


Which Norwegian Cruise Line ship is your favorite? On how many of these vessels have you sailed? Drop us an anchor below to share your favorite NCL ships.

Heidi is a physical therapist by profession, cruise enthusiast at heart, and Princess all the time! She is a self-confessed thrill seeker, obsessive planner, and over-packer. She is always looking for the latest and greatest adventures onboard and ashore, enjoys researching top things to do in ports of call, and loves dressing up for formal nights.
Heidi Bucolo
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  1. Our family of five sailed on NCL Breakaway from Rome to Greece in July 2023. First stop was at the island of Santorini where there is no cruise port; it’s all tenders to get ashore.
    The day we were there last July, there were 4 large ships, disgorging a total of 16,000 tourists assaulting Santorini at once. This is something they do not warn you about…and a great reason to try river cruises instead 🙂

    Now if you’ve never been there, you need to know that there are three ways to get up to the top of the island from the waterfront, a few hundred feet below. One is a bus which snakes up the cliffside around hairpin turns, beeping as it goes to avoid collisions. Two is a cable car. Three is by riding a DONKEY up 800 marble steps. I guess that there actually are four ways if you want to dodge the donkey dung and climb the 800 slippery stone steps in the summer heat, something a few cruisers did actually try.

    We enjoyed our tour of Santorini as much as we could, given the crowded conditions in mid-July. But when it was time to go back to the ship is when the “fun” began, waiting in crazy long lines in 100+ degree heat for over 2 hours to get on the cable car back down to the waterfront.

    Once down to the waterfront, we had to get into another long line for over an hour to catch the tender to shuttle us back to the ship…still at 100 degrees.
    The planning on the part of NCL was sorely lacking, to say the least.

    We have done over two dozen cruises, but this was far and away the worst experience we have had. We are NCL Gold members but will never set foot on one of their ships again.

    Dave and Elaine Doolittle
    Sandwich MA
    Cape Cod

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