best norwegian cruise ship
Last Updated: July 20, 2021

Best Norwegian Cruise Ship

Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the largest cruise companies in the world, and they remain a favorite among people who enjoy going on cruises. Their ships sail to all parts of the planet, and they’re known for amazing service and a great amount of freedom for passengers.

NCL has some 16 ships in their fleet currently, and we’ve decided to rank them! Below is a list of the best Norwegian cruise ships, with some of the best (and worst) things about each of the magnificent ships in their fleet!

The Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

The Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the best and most popular cruise lines in the world. It was founded in Miami, Florida, and the company offers cruises to pretty much every destination on the planet. They will take you to Asia, Europe, the Caribbean – you name it, they have a cruise for you.

The company also has 16 different cruise ships that sail all over the planet. We’ll rank those ships from best to worst, to help you figure out which ship is the best fit for you. It’s worth noting that even the “worst” ships from NCL are better than what some other companies offer, so don’t dismiss a ship just because it ranks low on the list. In some cases, the rating is low because it only offers cruises to few destinations, which could be exactly what you’re interested in!

Norwegian Joy

Norwegian Joy

It’s widely agreed that the Norwegian Joy is the NCL’s best cruise ship. With modern and spacious suites, eight specialty restaurants, and full-scale Broadway productions, it’s easy to see why this ship gets so much love from travelers.

The Norwegian Joy also offers The Haven cabins as their most luxe experience. Their priciest option includes a 24-hour butler and a private sundeck, which is just about enough to make you forget that there are about 5,000 other people on the ship with you.

You’ll also have plenty of things to do while you sail around the world on the Norwegian Joy, thanks to the wide variety of entertainment options for travelers. In addition to stand-up comedy shows and full-scale Broadway productions, the ship also has duty-free shops, a spa, a racetrack, a casino, two aqua parks, a fitness center, and a laser tag arena, among other things. There’s also a 24-hour pub, in case your idea of entertainment is a bit more hedonistic.

The Norwegian Joy sails from the Americas to ports across the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Alaska, the Pacific Coast, and the Mexican Riviera. It’s also worth noting that NCL’S best cruiser is also one of their most affordable ones, with cruises that start at a little over 500 Euros!

Norwegian Escape

Norwegian Escape

The Norwegian Escape is a magnificent cruise ship that made its debut in 2015. She can carry 4,266 passengers and 1,733 crew members, and she’s a cruiser that appeals to multiple generations with entertainment options that range from an aqua park to a proper casino.  

The ship has 18 different dining venues onboard, 11 of which are specialty restaurants. It’s absolutely perfect if you enjoy trying out different things every day, but it does mean that it’s never going to be easy to decide where you want to eat. Other highlights of the Norwegian Escape include the company’s first-ever wine bar (The Cellars) and the District Brew House.

Accommodation options are diverse ranging from small studio cabins to the luxe The Haven suites that give you access to a private sundeck and a 24-hour butler service. There’s also a variety of things to do on-board, whether you’re into shopping, spa treatments, live theatre, gambling, or stand-up comedy.

The Norwegian Escape sets sail from New York City, Miami, Orlando, Copenhagen, Rome, and London, taking thousands of passengers on cruises to the Caribbean, Bermuda, and select destinations in Europe.

Norwegian Bliss

Norwegian Bliss

The Norwegian Bliss is one of NCL’s most popular cruisers capable of carrying a little over 4,000 passengers and some 1,700 crew members. Accommodation options include everything from a single bed to a private villa with butler service, so there’s something for everyone’s budget.

If you decide to book The Haven suite, you will also get access to a private restaurant and sun-deck, which is pretty amazing. Regular people can choose between three main dining rooms, a buffet restaurant, and 13 coffee shops and a la carte eateries for a quick bite, whenever they’re not in the mood for room service. The ship also has 16 lounges, bars, and nightclubs to choose from, making the Norwegian Bliss one of the best cruisers for those who like to party.

The assortment of nightclubs and bars mostly appeals to young adults, but the ship offers a wide variety of entertainment options for guests of all ages. There are aqua parks and clubs for kids, a casino, miniature golf, laser tag, and a race track, among other amenities.

This NCL cruiser departs from ports in LA, NYC, Miami, Seattle, and Vancouver, taking thousands of guests to explore destinations like the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, Panama, and the Pacific Coast.

Norwegian Pearl

Norwegian Pearl

The Norwegian Pearl is most popular for affordable weekend cruises to the Bahamas. The round trip from Miami starts at some $370, which is one of the most popular cruises for the ship.

She can hold up to 2,394 passengers and 1,072 crew members, so she’s one of the company’s smaller ships. The ship sets sail from NYC, Miami, and Quebec to various destinations in the Panama Canal, Caribbean, Canada, and New England. The length and type of cruises mostly attract families, so it’s no surprise that the ship offers a wide variety of entertainment options for both adults and children.

One of the guest-favorites is the LifeStyle Room – an entertainment venue where families can go bowling, play basketball, or just spend time playing cards. The ship also has a youth club for children of various ages, so that parents can have some grown-up time without the little ones.

Other amenities of the Norwegian Pearl include a casino, a spa, seven eateries, and seven specialty restaurants, the most popular of which is Cagney’s Steakhouse.

Norwegian Gem

Norwegian Gem

The Norwegian Gem is one of NCL’s oldest cruise ships and the last one they ever made in the Jewel class. She’s a relatively small cruise ship capable of carrying 2,394 passengers and 1,070 crew members.

This is one of NCL’s best family cruisers, with youth clubs for kids between the ages of 3 and 17, family-friendly entertainment, and quite a few family cabins. The Norwegian Gem also offers The Haven suites, which come with their own restaurant, private sun decks, and 24-hour butler service.

The ship has 15 different dining venues, seven of which are specialty restaurants that are available to guests for an extra fee. There are also multiple sports courts, a spa, and several pools for lots of fun during the day. Fun in the evenings usually includes live musical performances with country music concerts being the most frequent option.

The Norwegian Gem sets sail from ports in New York City, Boston, San Francisco, and Quebec. The cruises take the guests to destinations in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Canada, Panama Canal, and New England.

Norwegian Jewel

Norwegian Jewel

The Norwegian Jewel is a cruise ship in the namesake Jewell class cruise line. She’s capable of transporting 2,376 passengers and a little over a thousand crew members, so she remains of NCL’s smaller cruisers. She’s also one of the oldest ships the company still has in operation, as she’s been around since 2005. The ship was renovated in 2018, so all the onboard amenities are pretty much brand new.

Just like most other ships in the Jewel Class, this cruiser is best suited for families thanks to a wide variety of family-friendly activities. There are age-appropriate clubs for the youngest passengers, as well as waterslides and a video arcade. While the kids are enjoying themselves, parents can relax at the spa, try their luck at the casino, or have fun at the various sports facilities.

Alternatively, adults can just relax at one of the 15 different eateries and 13 lounges and bars. Some of those are specialty restaurants with extra fees, but with service so good they’re worth every penny.

Norwegian Sun

Norwegian Sun

The Norwegian Sun is a small cruise ship with a total capacity of 1,936 passengers and 906 crew members. Despite being one of the smallest cruisers in the fleet, she boasts very spacious cabins and staterooms that occupy between 145 and 191 square feet. They’re actually larger than cabins on NCL’s newer and bigger ships, making the Norwegian Sun a great option for travelers who like having some extra space.

The cruiser was renovated in 2018 when it received quite a few updated venues like the Bliss Ultra Lounge and the Los Lobos Cantina. The renovation was part of the Norwegian Edge program, which included $400 million worth of upgrades over two years on NCL’s fleet.

As for the Norwegian Sun, the cruiser remains a favorite among both families and solo travelers. She boasts 14 dining venues, eight of which are specialty restaurants, a spa, a golf driving net, and an art gallery, among others. There are also quite a few bars and lounges, a casino, entertainment venues with live shows, and even age-appropriate clubs for kids.

The ship sails to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska, and Panama Canal among other destinations, and it’s a great option for travelers from Seattle, Orlando, and Vancouver.

Norwegian Dawn

Norwegian Dawn

The Norwegian Dawn is another mid-size cruiser that was renovated entirely in the last few years. Although she’s been around for a while, updated amenities include fan-favorites from other cruisers, like The Cellars wine bar and the Los Lobos Mexican restaurant.

The ship is very popular with families thanks to the age-appropriate clubs for kids and teens, a dinosaur-themed pool, and a spacious video arcade. There are also many amenities for adults, including six hot tubs, a spa center, a casino, and 14 different dining venues. Eight of those are specialty restaurants that are available to guests at an extra fee, and they also include fan-favorites from other cruisers like the Brazilian Steakhouse and the 24-hour O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill.

The ship’s accommodation options also underwent extensive renovations, and they now include staterooms, cabins, and villa suites. The villas can sleep up to seven passengers each, and they remain a favorite among families.

The Norwegian Dawn sets sail from New York, Tampa, Venice, Rome, and Barcelona, transporting passengers throughout Europe, or to the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Panama Canal.

Norwegian Epic

Norwegian Epic

The Norwegian Epic is one of NCL’s largest cruisers, capable of transporting around 4,100 passengers and 1,724 crew members. She also offers some very affordable cruises, with 7-night Barcelona round trips going for as little as $500.

The massive cruiser appeals to passengers of all ages thanks to a wide variety of entertainment options for everyone. The youngest guests can join age-appropriate youth clubs, while adults enjoy themselves however they want. Passengers can have fun at the bowling alley or the vast sports complex during the day and relax in the ice club or one of the 16 different eateries in the evenings. The cruiser also boasts bars, lounges, a comedy club, and a venue with live theatrical performances in the evenings.

Such a vast ship also comes with many different accommodation options, ranging from tiny staterooms for singles to The Haven villas. The Norwegian Epic offers a luxurious experience for everyone who books their most expensive villas, with access to a concierge lounge, courtyard, a private bar, and a private restaurant.

The ship sets sail from Rome and Barcelona for trips in Europe, and Puerto Rico, and Miami for cruises in the Caribbean.

Norwegian Getaway

Norwegian Getaway

The Norwegian Getaway was renovated in 2019, which brought a variety of interesting new features to the cruiser. There’s a waterfront area lined with shops and restaurants, a brand new venue for live music, and a full-service Starbucks on board.

The cruiser can transport up to 3,963 passengers and 1,646 crew members, so she’s one of the company’s larger ships in the fleet. She appeals to a wide variety of travelers thanks to the diverse amenities on board. There are age-appropriate clubs for the youngest guests, excellent bars and lounges for singles looking to have fun, and a plethora of fun and romantic things to do for couples.

Accommodation options are diverse as well, ranging from small studio cabins to The Haven luxury suites that offer guests 24-hour butler service and access to a private sun deck. The Norwegian Getaway sails in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Europe.

Norwegian Sky

Norwegian Sky

The Norwegian Sky is a relatively small cruiser most popular for weekend trips to the Bahamas. She is one of the oldest cruisers in NCL’s fleet, but the 2019 renovations brought some much-needed upgrades.

The cruiser now boasts fully renovated staterooms, a full-service Starbucks, new lounges, bars, restaurants, and more. The Norwegian Sky now offers 10 different restaurants passengers can choose from, as well as sports courts, a fitness center, and a spa. There are also age-appropriate clubs for the youngest passengers, a video arcade, and a special pool for kids.

The cruiser ship is one of NCL’s smallest, capable of transporting 2,004 passengers and 899 crew members. Guests can choose between four different room types, ranging from small cabins to suites that are up to 835 square feet.

The Norwegian Sky currently sails only to the Bahamas on weekends. Rates for a three-night Miami round trip start at just a little over $300.

Norwegian Star

Norwegian Star

The Norwegian Star is another ship that underwent extensive renovations as part of the Norwegian Edge program. The updates brought quite a variety of new adult-only venues, including the guest-favorite O’Sheehan’s Bar And Grill and NCL’s first 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar.

In addition to the adult-only spaces, the cruise ship also offers a variety of entertainment options for the youngest passengers. There are kids’ clubs, teen lounges, and several pools for the youngsters. Adults can also spend time at the casino, spa, and they can enjoy live entertainment at several venues.

The Norwegian Star is a mid-size cruiser capable of carrying 2,348 passengers and 1,031 crew members. Accommodation options onboard include everything from small cabins to spacious suites, but without the most luxurious suites that have their own butlers.

It’s worth noting that the Norwegian Star is a cruiser you choose because of the destination, not because of amenities onboard. She’s one of a few ships that take passengers to unique destinations like Greenland, Iceland, and Antarctica, among others.

Pride Of America

Pride Of America

Pride Of America is a ship meant to stand out in every single way. For one, she’s the only ship in the fleet that doesn’t have the word “Norwegian” in the name. Two, the ship only sails to Hawaii, and she’s NCL’s only ship that offers Hawaii cruises year-round. If you’re hyped about Hawaii, Pride Of America is the best NCL cruise ship for you.

However, the ship is not named Pride Of America just because it sails to Hawaii so often. She is home to a few other distinctly American sights, including themed venues like the South Beach Pool and the SoHo Art Gallery. The ship also has several NCL classics like the Mandara Spa, Cagney’s Steakhouse, youth clubs for kids and teens, and Rock-a-Hula – the only luau-inspired show in the entire fleet.

The Pride Of America ship can transport up to 2,186 passengers and 927 crew members. That’s nearly a 2:1 ratio of passengers to crew members, so you get a rather hands-on experience on this ship.

Accommodation options are diverse, ranging from Studio staterooms to large suites for families. It’s worth noting that the Studio staterooms are for singles, and passengers staying in those rooms get exclusive access to the Studio lounge. Pride Of America has 13 different restaurants on board, seven of which are specialty restaurants with additional fees.   

Norwegian Jade

Norwegian Jade

The Norwegian Jade is one of the older ships in the fleet, but she got fully renovated in 2017. The ship is capable of transporting 2,402 passengers and 1,037 crew members to destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.

This cruiser appeals to travelers of all ages thanks to the diverse entertainment options. Children can spend time at age-appropriate clubs or the pool, while adults explore the many different bars, lounges, and restaurants aboard the Norwegian Jade. There are 13 restaurants to choose from, seven of which are specialty eateries that cost a little extra.

Accommodation options are also varied, ranging from 138 square feet cabins to luxe villas of 4,700 square feet. The luxurious villas (The Haven suites) include balconies, living and dining areas, and even access to a private courtyard.

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway

The Norwegian Breakaway is a large cruiser with a capacity for 3,963 passengers and 1,657 crew members. She’s a popular ship for family cruises, thanks to a wide variety of entertainment options for kids and teens. There are the standard age-appropriate clubs that most ships in the fleet offer, but the Norwegian Breakaway also has a special aqua park for children and a three-level sports complex.

There’s also an aqua park just for adults, as well as a variety of entertainment shows ranging from rock’n’roll concerts to stand-up comedy. The ship also boasts about 25 different dining options that include fan favorites from other cruisers like Cagney’s Steakhouse.

In terms of accommodation options, the Norwegian Breakaway boasts a nice variety of rooms. There’s everything from studios for singles to The Haven villas that are the most luxurious type of accommodation in the fleet. Even some of the smaller suites come with extra perks, but private balconies, dining, and lounge areas are reserved for guests staying in The Haven suites.

The Norwegian Breakaway sails to destinations in Canada, New England, the Bahamas, Bermuda, and the Caribbean.  

Norwegian Spirit

Norwegian Spirit

The Norwegian Spirit is last on the list, so she should be the worst cruiser in NCL’s fleet. Although she’s not quite as nice as some of the other options, it’s still a great cruise ship with all the amenities you could possibly need for a comfortable trip. There’s a water park, a basketball court, a casino, and youth clubs for the youngest passengers.

The cruiser also boasts 14 different dining venues that were all updated in the 2017 renovations of the ship. Half of those are specialty restaurants and some of the guest favorites include Le Bistro and Bier Garten.

Accommodation options are a bit lacking, at least when compared to some of the other ships in the fleet. There are four types of cabins to choose from, ranging from rooms for singles to suites for families. The Norwegian Spirit doesn’t offer any luxurious suites with butler service, but it’s worth noting that all rooms have room service.

This cruiser sails to a variety of destinations in Europe, South Africa, Australia, Asia, and North America.

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

Leave a Comment: