Norwegian Cruise Line Review – Ships, Destinations, Dining, and More

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Norwegian Cruise Line has been around since 1966. Since that time, it’s grown to be one of the largest cruise lines in the world. It has been an innovator in the cruise industry by being the first cruise line to eliminate set dining times with their Freestyle Cruising program.

A Norwegian ship is easy to spot since each one’s hull is adorned with bright artwork, some of which have been done by world-famous artists like Peter Max, Guy Harvey, and David “Lebo” Le Batard.

Norwegian Breakaway Peter Max artwork
The Norwegian Breakaway features a mural by famed artist Peter Max. Image Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

With 17 ships sailing to over 450 destinations across the world, there’s a Norwegian cruise to suit every traveler’s dreams!

Basic Information

Name: Norwegian Cruise Line

Parent Company: Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (which also owns Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises)

Number of Ships: 17

Destinations: 450+

Loyalty Program: Latitudes Rewards

Credit Card: Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard®

Ships

Norwegian currently operates 17 cruise ships:

  • Norwegian Bliss
  • Norwegian Breakaway
  • Norwegian Dawn
  • Norwegian Encore
  • Norwegian Epic
  • Norwegian Escape
  • Norwegian Gem
  • Norwegian Getaway
  • Norwegian Jade
  • Norwegian Jewel
  • Norwegian Joy
  • Norwegian Pearl
  • Norwegian Sky
  • Norwegian Spirit
  • Norwegian Star
  • Norwegian Sun
  • Pride of America

Norwegian Encore, built in 2019, is the newest ship in the NCL fleet. In 2022, the new Leonardo class of ships will be introduced.

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Departure Ports

Norwegian sails to over 450 destinations from 17 departure ports across Europe and North America.

Departure Ports
North American and the CaribbeanBoston, MAHonolulu, HILos Angeles, CAMiami, FL
New Orleans, LANew York, NYOrlando, FL (Port Canaveral)Quebec, Canada
San Diego, CASan Juan, Puerto RicoSeattle, WATampa, FL
Vancouver, Canada
EuropeBarcelona, SpainCopenhagen, DenmarkRome (Civitavecchia), ItalyVenice, Italy

Private Ports/Islands

Norwegian Cruise Line has 1 private island in the Bahamas called Great Stirrup Cay. Activities offered on the island include snorkeling, kayaking, zip-lining, paddle boarding, and more!

Great Stirrup Cay
Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay. Image Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

If luxury is what you’re after, you can rent a private villa at Silver Cove. Each villa comes with a private bathroom, a TV with on-demand movies, air conditioning, a retractable glass wall, and access to the upscale Silver Cove buffet.

Silver Cove at Great Stirrup Cay
The Ocean Villa at Silver Cove on Great Stirrup Cay. Image Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

You won’t go hungry during your day at Great Stirrup Cay. You can make your own tacos at Abaco Taco, grab a quick bite at the food truck, Tropic Like It’s Hot, or enjoy lunch at the Jumbey Beach Grill. You’ll also find 3 bars on the island — Bacardi Bar, Bertram’s Bar, and Patron Bar.

Featured Shore Excursion

If you’d prefer to explore beyond Great Stirrup Cay, you can book the exclusive shore excursion at this port to visit the famous swimming pigs! Your excursion includes round-trip transportation to Treasure Island to interact with these playful piggies.

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Onboard Activities

There is so much to do on a Norwegian cruise! In addition to cruise ship staples like pools, a casino, art auctions, Broadway-style shows, and a spa, Norwegian also offers lots of unique and thrilling activities including:

  • Kids’ Aqua Park
  • Laser tag
  • The Plank
  • Race track
  • Ropes course
  • Spice H2O
  • Virtual reality
  • The Waterfront oceanfront promenade
  • Waterslides: Ocean Loops, Free Fall, The Epic Plunge, The Whip

Note that some of these activities may come with additional fees, and not every activity is available on every ship.

Norwegian cruise line waterslides
Free Fall and The Whip waterslides on Norwegian Cruise Line. mage Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

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Dining and Beverages

Norwegian Cruise Line was a pioneer with its Freestyle Dining program. There are no set dining times or assigned seats, as is customary with “traditional” dining on many cruise lines. You can dine whenever and where ever you wish. Plus, there is never a formal night requirement.

Complimentary Dining

  • Main dining rooms (up to 3 per ship)
  • Buffet
  • O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill
  • Asian Fusion
  • 24-hour room service
Norwegian Star Main Dining Room
One of the main dining rooms onboard Norwegian Star. Image Credit: Katie Seemann/ Zen Life and Travel

Specialty Dining

Norwegian offers a selection of specialty dining restaurants that come with an additional cost (some offer à la carte pricing while others come with a flat per person charge). Not all of these locations are available on every ship.

  • Bayamo by Ocean Blue
  • Cagney’s Steakhouse
  • Food Republic
  • La Cucina
  • Le Bistro
  • Los Lobos
  • Margaritaville
  • Moderno Churrascaria
  • Ocean Blue
  • Pincho Tapas Bar
  • Teppanyaki
  • Wasabi

Hot Tip: You can purchase specialty dining packages ahead of time so you can enjoy these restaurants without having to worry about payment. Packages start at 3 specialty meals for $99.

Bars and Beverages

A Norwegian ship can feature up to 22 different bars and lounges including:

  • 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar
  • Bliss Ultra Lounge
  • Great Outdoors
  • The Humidor Cigar Lounge
  • Magnum’s Champagne and Wine Bar
  • Maltings Beer and Whisky Bar
  • O’Sheehan’s Bar and Grill
  • Shaker’s Martini Bar
  • Skyy Vodka Ice Bar
  • Sugarcane Mojito Bar
  • Sunset Bar
  • Topsiders
  • Vibe Beach Club
  • Waves Pool Bar

As typical with many cruise lines, some beverages aren’t included in the cost. If you would prefer to pay for your drinks upfront, you can purchase a beverage package:

  • The Corks and Caps Wine and Beer Package includes soft drinks plus beers and wines by the glass. The cost is $65 per person per day.
  • The Premium Beverage Package includes soft drinks, select spirits, cocktails, wines by the glass, and bottled or draft beer up to and including $15 each. The cost is $99 per person per day. 
  • The Premium Plus Beverage Package includes soft drinks, beers, spirits, cocktails, wines by the glass and select bottles of wine with dinner, plus sparkling water, energy drinks, and specialty coffees. The cost is $128 per person per day.

For the 3 packages above, you must be 21 years old or older to purchase. If 1 person purchases a package, everyone (over 21 years old) residing in the same stateroom or additional staterooms that were under the same form of payment is required to purchase it. Anyone under 21 years of age on the same reservation will be required to purchase the Soda Program.

  • The Soda Program provides endless fountain soda throughout your cruise. The cost is $5.95 per person per day for ages 12 and under. For anyone over the age of 12, the cost is $7.95 per person per day.

Bottom Line: Beverage packages must be purchased for the entire length of the cruise. A 20% gratuity and beverage service charge will be added to all beverage package purchases.

Accommodations

Norwegian offers many different types of staterooms to accommodate all kinds of travelers. Whether you’re traveling solo or with the whole family, on a budget or looking to splurge, you’ll find a stateroom that will suit your needs.

Here are some of the highlights:

If you’re traveling by yourself, check out the Studios on Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Bliss, and Pride of America. These 1 person accommodations are designed for the solo traveler — and priced accordingly.

At approximately 100 sq. ft., these mini rooms have just the essentials, but you’ll also get access to the Studio Complex and Lounge, a shared space where you can relax, order room service, watch TV, and meet your neighbors.

Norwegian studio for solo travelers
Norwegian’s Studios are the perfect set up for solo cruisers. Image Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

A Family Balcony Stateroom comes with a location that’s near the kid-friendly action, including the youth program and pool deck, and it sleeps up to 4 passengers.

If a spa experience is what you’re after, consider booking a Spa Suite, Mini-Suite, or Balcony Stateroom. These relaxing rooms are located close to the Mandara Spa and include access to the Thermal Spa Suites, sauna, hydrotherapy pools, steam room, and heated loungers.

For the ultimate in luxury at sea, try out The Haven by Norwegian. The Haven collection features the most luxurious staterooms located at the top of the ship. You’ll have access to a concierge and 24-hour butler, plus the private sundeck (complete with pool and hot tub) reserved just for Haven guests. Select ships also offer a private Haven bar and restaurant.

Courtyard Penthouse With Balcony - Norwegian Haven
For a romantic getaway, why not book a Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony. This room, which is part of the Haven Collection, comes with a round queen-size bed. Image Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

Hot Tip: Make sure you don’t forget anything — check out our printable cruise vacation packing list!

Latitudes Rewards

Latitudes Rewards is Norwegian Cruise Line’s loyalty program. Each tier is determined by the number of points you have earned.

  • You’ll earn 1 point for each cruise night (for example, you would earn 7 points for a 7-night cruise)
  • Earn an additional 1 point per night when you book a Concierge, Suite, or Haven stateroom
  • Earn an additional 1 point per night if you book a Latitude Rewards Insider Offer
TierRewards Points Required
Bronze1-29
Silver30-54
Gold55-79
Platinum80-174
Platinum Plus175-699
Ambassador700+

Latitudes Rewards perks vary by tier — here are some of the highlights (each level of status includes all benefits offered by lower tiers):

  • Bronze: Priority check-in at the pier, a bottle of sparkling wine in your stateroom, free artwork for attending the art auctions
  • Silver: Exclusive onboard cocktail party, discounts on shore excursions, photos, and spa treatments while in port
  • Gold: Priority tender tickets, discounted laundry service, priority disembarkation
  • Platinum: Priority embarkation, dinner for 2 and a bottle of wine at Cagney’s or Le Bistro, free internet minutes
  • Platinum Plus: Dinner with ship officers, priority restaurant and entertainment seating.
  • Ambassador: Complimentary 7-day cruise

Final Thoughts

Norwegian Cruise Line has been a cruise industry leader since the 1960s. Whether you want to sail the Caribbean, explore Europe, or journey through exotic destinations in Asia, Norwegian has you covered.

It was the first cruise line to eliminate the traditional set dining times when it introduced Freestyle Dining, allowing guests to eat at any time at up to 28 different locations on each ship.

Plus, if you sail with Norwegian multiple times, you’ll be able to take advantage of their loyalty program, Latitude Rewards, which offers benefits like priority check-in, discounts on shore excursions, priority tender tickets, and even a free cruise!

Whether you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing room for 1, or are living it up with a big group, you’ll find lots of different staterooms to choose from on a Norwegian ship.

Norwegian is among the world’s largest cruise lines and offers everything from simple, budget-friendly vacations to all-out luxury sailing. The choice is yours!

Interested in other cruise lines? Check out of fact sheets of Carnival, and Princess Cruise Lines to see what other options are awaiting you.


Frequently asked questions

What is the best Norwegian cruise ship?

The idea of the “best” ship is subjective, but the biggest and newest ship is Norwegian Encore, which debuted in 2019. Norwegian will be introducing the new Leonardo class of ships in 2022.

Where does Norwegian Cruise Line cruise to?

Norwegian Cruise line sails to over 450 destinations across the world in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.

Is Norwegian Cruise Line all-inclusive?

Norwegian Cruise Line isn’t totally all-inclusive, but it’s close. Each ship will have numerous restaurants to eat at that are included in your fare. However, many beverages require an additional charge, and there are always restaurants available that come with either à la carte pricing or incur a per person charge. A majority of the activities on board are included, so you are definitely able to have a great vacation without paying anything extra on board.

Katie Seemann

About Katie Seemann

Katie is an Ohio native who caught the travel bug after spending a semester in college in Nottingham, England. In addition to exploring England, she visited Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands during that time and loved every minute of it (everything except the hostel in Scotland – that’s an experience she doesn’t intend on repeating!) In 2015, Katie discovered the world of points and miles, and since then she’s earned countless points and has an embarrassingly large number of credit cards in her wallet (which she needs a spreadsheet to keep track of!)

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