Skip to main content

I have been on 4 Norwegian Cruise Line classes and 5 ships: Here’s what I like and dislike about each


I have had the privilege of sailing on four of Norwegian Cruise Line’s classes of ships, and from these experiences, I have gained some insight into each of these ship categories and their class. 

Over the last year and a half, I have sailed on Norwegian Cruise Line ships from the Breakaway Class, Breakaway Plus Class, Dawn Class, and Star Class. All of these ships have provided excellent cruising experiences and vacations; however, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. 

Here are some of the top differences between these four classes of ships, and what I personally think you should know before sailing onboard any of these ships. 

Read: Norwegian Cruise Line ships by size

Breakaway Class


From Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Class, I have sailed on the Norwegian Getaway. This was the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship I ever sailed on, and this ship definitely set the bar fairly high for future sailings with the cruise line!

Norwegian Getaway has many classic touches to highlight that make it feel like a Norwegian Cruise Line vessel, such as the Waterfront and itinerary visits to Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island Great Stirrup Cay. There are two ships in the Breakaway Class: Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway. 

Liked: Waterfront and ocean views

NCL Getaway

Norwegian Getaway was my first sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line, and it was also the first time I was able to really appreciate the uniqueness of cruise travel due to Norwegian’s commitment to bringing guests closer to the sea. 

Norwegian Getaway features a venue onboard called The Waterfront. This area is comprised of a wrap-around deck on the outside of the ship that features an outdoor bar, restaurant, and multiple lounge areas. 

The Waterfront quickly became one of my absolute favorite areas onboard, and I made sure to visit this part of the ship every day during my cruise. It's such a great place to go during sunrise or sunset to take in the views!

Disliked: Nickel and dimming 


Because Norwegian Getaway was my first experience with Norwegian Cruise Line, it was the first time I was able to see what sailing with this cruise line is like. I quickly discovered that although Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the best names in the industry, they do tend to try to make money off their guests whenever they can. 

If you are someone new to cruising, this can come as a bit of a surprise. After all, one of the appeals of cruising is the ability to pay ahead of time and enjoy all the amenities without worrying about budgeting once onboard. However, there are some things onboard that guests need to consider when planning their cruise budget. 


For example, almost everything deemed extra is an extra cost onboard Norwegian Cruise Line. Whether it be a Wi-Fi package, messaging your friends who are staying in another cabin onboard, or getting a specialty morning latte. All these things cost extra and should be considered when booking a cruise. 

Of course, every vacation is exactly what you make it! These paid-for or extra items may not seem like too much of an extra cost to some guests, but it might make others frustrated. Everything is up to the individual. For this reason, I always recommend thoroughly researching Norwegian and each of its ships in order to find the best fit for you and your travel companions. 

Read: 13 things you will love about Norwegian Getaway

Liked: Lively Spice H2O


One of Norwegian Cruise Line’s classic activities is their themed parties. These events often take place in the adults-only venue onboard called "Spice H2O."

Spice H2O onboard Norwegian Getaway is the largest I have seen so far in my experiences with Norwegian Cruise Line! This venue has plenty of space for adult guests to dance the night away at themed parties each night. 

One of the must-see themed events is the Glow Night, so make sure to check the Freestyle Daily for when and where this event will take place on your cruise. Additionally, make sure to pack some white clothes to glow in the dark!

Disliked: Matching main restaurants 


Something that I thought was very interesting onboard Norwegian Breakaway Class ships is that two of the three main restaurants, Taste and Savor, are almost identical, minus some subtle color scheming. These two restaurants offer the same atmosphere and dining experience in every way. 

The third main restaurant onboard is more similar to that of a large-scale dining room, while Taste and Savor resemble more intimate and quiet restaurants. In my personal opinion, I tend to favor the more quiet and intimate restaurants, as these venues make it easier to have conversations with your travel companions. 

Regardless of the atmosphere, the food we ate and the overall dining experience onboard Norwegian Getaway were both great! 

Liked: Great entertainment and variety acts


At the time of my sailing, Norwegian Getaway had several main theater shows such as "Burn The Floor," as well as some great variety acts for guests to enjoy. 

Our favorite entertainment onboard was the Howl At The Moon dueling pianos show located inside the ship’s comedy club. I loved this dueling piano show, and on this trip, I ended up stopping by nearly every night of the 7-night sailing. 

While the dueling piano show is available on other Norwegian Cruise Line ships, it is a more rare form of entertainment amongst the fleet and can not be found onboard every ship. 

Disliked: Limited lounge space around the pool

NCL getaway

Something I quickly discovered when cruising with Norwegian Cruise Line is the importance of picking out a lounge spot on a sea day. Onboard many of Norwegian Cruise Line’s newer ships, there are limited chairs and lounge space on the outdoor decks. 

Because of this, it can be important to pick out a chair or spot to lounge earlier in the day in order to avoid the crowds. Of course, chair hogging can be a problem onboard many cruise ships, especially newer vessels. 

Read more: How to beat the chair hogs on your cruise ship

Liked: Unique bar scene

NCL ice

The most unique cruise ship bar and lounge that I have ever seen was onboard the Norwegian Getaway. The Skyy Vodka Ice Bar is a truly cool (literally) bar that has to be seen with your own eyes to comprehend. 

This real ice bar at sea will have guests coming back for more, if they can withstand the chilly temperatures. For a door charge of $24, guests are given two Skyy Vodka cocktails and a large coat to wear during their time inside the Ice Bar. 

Beware though, this bar is filled with real ice. The bar itself is made of ice, as well as most of the decor and several chairs and couches. This means this venue is very cold. I highly recommend wearing some warm layers when planning on visiting this space in order to enjoy as much time as possible!

Breakaway Plus Class

NCL encore

I have been able to sail on two of Norwegian’s Breakaway Plus Class ships this year: Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Encore. Both these ships are very modern and excellent in terms of the cruise experience they offer guests. 

Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Encore are identical in many ways except for some minor design and aesthetic details. After being on one of these ships passengers, will immediately feel right at home once they sail on another Breakaway Plus Class ship. 

There are four vessels in the Norwegian Breakaway Plus Class: Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Escape, and Norwegian Joy. The newest of these ships is the Norwegian Encore, which was built in 2019, while the oldest in the class, Norwegian Escape, was constructed in 2015. 

Read: 10 things I loved and hated about the Norwegian Encore ship

Liked: Norwegian Speedway 

NCL speedway

I sailed on the Norwegian Bliss this year in February and was very excited to try out one activity in particular: the Speedway. 

Norwegian Cruise Line is the first-ever cruise line to introduce a real-life race track with cars at sea. The Speedway onboard Norwegian Bliss was one of the very first, quickly followed by an expanded version onboard the Norwegian Encore. 

NCL speedway

The Speedway ended up exceeding my expectations. I thought this activity was a lot of fun, and for $15, guests are able to satisfy their need for speed in one of the most unique ways. I recommend trying this activity with your friends or family should you choose a Norwegian Cruise Line Breakaway Plus Class ship. 

Read: Our in-depth review of the Speedway onboard the Norwegian Bliss

Disliked: No posted waterslide schedule

NCL pool deck

Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Encore have some great waterslides onboard. However, something that can be frustrating to guests is the lack of a posted waterslide schedule. 

Occasionally throughout our cruise onboard Norwegian Bliss, the waterslides would be closed for what seemed no reason. While likely due to weather or safety concerns that can not be controlled, it would have been helpful for a posted schedule with estimated times to be put in place for guests to reference. 

Liked: Onboard bars and lounges


While there's no Ice Bar onboard Breakaway Plus Class ships, there are some other really neat lounges and bars for guests to explore, such as The District Brew House, which features many different beers on tap as well as a cozy environment, or the Sugarcane Mojito Bar, where guests can sample many different unique mojitos both in an indoor or outdoor venue. 

Of course, the classic 24-hour bar O'Sheehan's can also be found onboard this class of ship as well. 

The bars and lounges onboard Norwegian Encore and Norwegian Bliss give a bit more of a modern feel and atmosphere than that of their counterparts onboard the Breakaway Class ships. 

For adult guests, I recommend stopping by a new bar and lounge each night of your cruise. This can be a fun way to see a lot of the ship during your sailing without ever getting bored!

Disliked: Disembarkation process


Unfortunately, the worst cruise disembarkation process I have experienced was when I was getting off Norwegian Bliss this year. After our 7-night Caribbean itinerary, we had ended in Miami, and the morning of disembarkation did not go as smoothly as I had experienced onboard other Norwegian Cruise Line ships. 

Luckily, we left our room and jumped in line rather early, but it still took us three hours to exit the ship. For this reason, I would recommend getting up early on disembarkation day and beginning the disembarkation process in the morning in order to avoid any travel delays or disruptions. 

Read more: 10 reasons to get off your ship as early as possible on disembarkation day

Liked: Thrilling waterslides 

NCL encore pool

One of the most thrilling waterslides that I have ever been on was onboard Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Encore.

Guests can push themselves to their thrill limits on the Ocean Loops waterslide. This slide is a drop floor slide featuring two inversion loops that guests fly over as they zoom through this waterslide that dangles over the side of the ship. 

The Ocean Loop waterslide is only for those looking for a good adrenaline rush! It can be quite common for guests to get stuck halfway through the slide due to the inversions. Because of this, guests are told to keep their arms and legs crossed for the duration of the ride.

Disliked: Canceled ports of call required us to remain flexible


While onboard Norwegian Bliss, we encountered some adverse weather that caused our Caribbean itinerary to be changed at the last minute. 

We were sailing in the month of February, and due to high winds, we were unable to dock at our scheduled port of Costa Maya, Mexico. Instead, our day was turned into a sea day. 

A canceled port is always a disappointment. However, in my experience, Norwegian Cruise Line always does their best to make the most of the day for passengers onboard. I always recommend being flexible when it comes to cruise travel, this means you will never be disappointed! 

Read: What is it like cruising with Norwegian Cruise Line as a first time cruiser? 

Liked: Awesome entertainment 


Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Encore have some of the very best entertainment that I have seen so far onboard Norwegian Cruise Line ships. I was thoroughly impressed with the quality and talent of the entertainment onboard both these Breakaway Plus Class vessels. 

At the time of my sailings, I was able to see the shows "Six," "The Choir of Man," and "Jersey Boys." All three of these large-scale production shows are Broadway quality, without the high price tag! If you have the opportunity to see any of these theater shows, make sure to not miss them! 

In addition to excellent stage and theater shows, I also thought the live music performers onboard the Norwegian Breakaway Plus class were great. Some of my favorite live music performances were held inside the Observation Lounge in the evenings. 

Read: 10 Things Norwegian Cruise Line’s largest ship got right

Bonus: I liked my studio stateroom

NCL Studio

Norwegian Breakaway Plus Class ships were some of the first in Norwegian Cruise Line's fleet to offer Studio Solo Staterooms. 

These special staterooms are designed for one cruise traveler and are the perfect accommodation for those traveling alone. I was able to experience one of these studio staterooms for myself earlier in 2023 and was very impressed with the accommodations. 

NCL Studio

In addition to the cozy and comfortable stateroom, studio guests are also treated to some additional benefits just for them. Amenities such as the Studio Lounge are available only to those passengers booked in a Studio Stateroom. 

Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced that they will be leading the industry when it comes to solo cruising in 2024, as they will be adding studio staterooms to all of their ships beginning in January 2024. This means there is a world of cruise possibilities for those guests looking for a solo adventure!

Read: An in-depth review and look inside a solo Studio Stateroom onboard the Norwegian Encore 

Sun Class


Prior to sailing onboard Norwegian Sun, I had only been on Norwegian ships from the Breakaway and Breakaway Plus Class, and therefore was surprised just how different this 20+-year-old ship was when compared to some of these newer vessels. 

There are two ships in the Sun Class: Norwegian Sky and the Norwegian Sun. This class is one of the oldest classes of ships in the fleet, with the Norwegian Sky being built in 1999. 

Liked: Unique and exciting itineraries


Earlier this year, I was able to take a 2-night cruise onboard Norwegian Sun from Malaga, Spain. 

Many of Norwegian Cruise Line’s older vessels have some of the most unique and exciting itineraries. Because of this, I always recommend that prospective guests look into sailing onboard an older ship. 

Older ships, such as Norwegian Sun, can provide some of the most unique cruise itineraries at an affordable price. 

Read: What is it like to fly standby to a cruise? Check out our thrilling adventure here!

Disliked: Not a lot to do onboard


The industry standard for many new cruise ships is lots of entertainment and onboard activities. This can be quite different onboard older cruise ships, such as Norwegian Sun. 

We quickly discovered that there was not much to do onboard, as Norwegian Sun is definitely designed for port-intensive itineraries; this was reflected in the lack of onboard activities. 

We had long days exploring the ports in Spain and therefore were not disappointed; however, if you are someone who desires lots of onboard activities, I would potentially look into a newer Norwegian Cruise Line class of ship. 

Liked: Affordable sailings 


Another perk of sailing on older Norwegian ships is the affordable cruise fares. 

For example, cruisers can often find much cheaper European sailings onboard older vessels than on newer ships. This is how I have been able to cruise to Europe twice this year! 

Cruising with an older ship can mean either a longer cruise or an itinerary you’ve always dreamed of on a more affordable budget. 

Disliked: Lack of food options


Something that surprised me about Norwegian Sun was the lack of food options compared to some of Norwegian’s other ships.

From my other experiences, I thought this ship had the smallest buffet I have seen yet onboard a Norwegian ship. Due to the smaller size, this meant that there were fewer options when it came to breakfast and lunch selections at the buffet. 

Read more: Why you should eat dinner in the buffet

Liked: Plenty of lounge space


There seemed to be plenty of open lounge space near the main pool deck onboard Norwegian Sun. 

Sometimes on newer cruise ships, it can be quite the struggle to find an empty lounge chair. This was not a problem onboard Norwegian Sun. There were plenty of lounge chairs and spots for guests to relax and enjoy the afternoon sunshine after a long day of exploring. 

Read: I went on Norwegian Cruise Line's oldest class of ship and here's how it went

Disliked: Limited entertainment 

NCL Sun Entertainment

When it comes to entertainment, Norwegian Sun's offerings were quite basic.

There was one theater stage show onboard. This show was cute and fun but was not a large-scale, Broadway-style performance. Additionally, there were no variety acts and limited live music onboard. 

Oftentimes, there is less entertainment onboard port-intensive cruises, and this seemed to be true onboard Norwegian Sun. 

Liked: Great ocean view venue

NCL sun

One of our favorite venues onboard Norwegian Sun was the Great Outdoors Cafe. This outdoor venue allows guests to eat some snacks while enjoying beautiful ocean views. 

This venue is quite unique amongst the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet and therefore was fun to explore and see while onboard Norwegian Sun. 

I thought this spot was a great location to grab a drink and watch sailaway from. It was also the perfect location to enjoy a coffee while relaxing during a sea day. 

Dawn Class

NCL star

My cruise onboard Norwegian Star quickly became one of my favorites for many reasons. 

Norwegian Star is another one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s older vessels, being built in 2001; however, I was pleasantly surprised by just how much this ship had onboard for guests. Some Norwegian Cruise Line classics can be found onboard this vessel, as well as more unique amenities and venues. 

There are two ships in the Dawn Class: Norwegian Star and the Norwegian Dawn. Both of these ships were built close together, with the Norwegian Star being built in 2001 and Norwegian Dawn constructed in 2002. 

Liked: Great refurbishment

NCL Star

The Norwegian Star was very recently refurbished in 2021, bringing this older ship up to speed so it can continue providing great cruise vacations for many guests years into the future. 

During my cruise onboard Norwegian Star, I noticed that the ship’s refurbishment was especially evident in the staterooms. We stayed in a standard interior stateroom on this cruise and felt that the room was very modern and up-to-date, with updates such as the USB outlets next to the bedside lamps. 

NCL Star inside cabin

In addition to the staterooms, all the public areas felt modern and clean. We appreciated the attention to detail that the Norwegian Star provided, and I would absolutely sail on this ship again given the chance. 

Read: An in-depth review of the cheapest stateroom onboard the Norwegian Star

Disliked: Not many indoor relaxation spots 


Our cruise with Norwegian Star was a cold-weather itinerary that sailed around the British Isles during the month of October. This meant it was rather chilly, and we were looking for inside areas to relax and hang out. 

We noticed that Norwegian Star does not have very many spaces or venues for guests to relax while inside. This ship is smaller and cannot accommodate a venue such as the Observation Lounge, which can be found onboard some of Norwegian’s newer ships. 

Liked: Cheap fares for great itineraries 

NCL star

What initially drew us to Norwegian Star was its awesome itineraries! A cruise around the United Kingdom is quite rare in the fall and winter months.

We were sold on this cruise when we realized it was also a very affordable price for a 10-night European cruise. Norwegian Cruise Line was running a promotional deal at the time that we booked our cruise that allowed guests who chose to purchase airfare through Norwegian Cruise Line to buy one get one free. 

In total, it cost around $3,700 for two people to sail on a 10-night European cruise, including the cruise fare, airfare, taxes, and port fees. 

Read: How much does it really cost to cruise to Europe?

Disliked: Semi-warm hot tubs

NCL star

Because our sailing onboard the Norwegian Star was a cold weather itinerary, we were not too interested in the pool this cruise, but we did want to try out the hot tubs. 

Norwegian Star has an impressive six hot tubs onboard, more than most cruise ships. However, we quickly discovered that the hot tubs were all fairly lukewarm. None of them actually felt hot, and due to the air outside being rather chilly, this made staying in the hot tub for very long uncomfortable. 

Liked: Exciting itineraries 

NCL star

Norwegian Dawn Class has some of the most unique itinerary offerings of the entire Norwegian Cruise Line fleet. 

These older ships offer adventurous itineraries at affordable prices, meaning that guests can book dream vacations for much cheaper than they would be able to onboard other newer ships. 

The Dawn Class ships sail to exciting destinations such as Northern Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. For those looking for something different when it comes to their next cruise vacation, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Dawn Class may have what you are looking for.

Read: 19 things I loved and hated about a 20 year old cruise ship, NCL Star 

Disliked: Feeling the motion in the ocean

NCL star

Because Norwegian Star is a smaller ship, guests may feel the motion in the ocean more during storms that on newer vessels. 

During our British Isles itinerary, we sailed through a large storm on our way to Edinburgh, Scotland. This storm was comprised of 18-foot wave swells and hurricane-force winds! This meant that Norwegian Star was put through an ordeal—and so were all her passengers!

Of course, this storm can not be controlled by Norwegian Cruise Line. Rocky sailings are to be expected depending on the itinerary, destinations, and time of year when a cruise is booked. 

Read: 25 Tips to deal with bad weather on a cruise

Liked: 6 complimentary food venues 

NCL star

Perhaps one of my favorite things about Norwegian Star was its impressive amount of complimentary dining locations onboard, totaling six!

This is more than most Norwegian Cruise Line ships, even some of the newest vessels! 

In addition to an impressive amount of dining venues, I was also surprised to see the restaurant Ginza onboard. This is an Asian-themed restaurant and is completely complimentary to all guests. 

NCL star

I also appreciated the presence of the O’Sheehans Bar & Grill. O’Sheehan’s is a 24-hour Irish-themed pub that is a classic onboard some of Norwegian Cruise Line’s newer ships, such as the Breakaway and Breakaway Plus Class vessels. 

As one of the biggest names in the cruise line industry, this means Norwegian Cruise Line has a ship and itinerary for everyone

NCL star

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the cruises I have been on with Norwegian Cruise Line, and this cruise line has quickly become my overall favorite! 

I appreciate their ability to provide great cruise vacations at affordable prices while offering some of the most unique and exciting itineraries. 

Loading Comments