Norwegian Cruise Line introduced its new groundbreaking Prima Class in 2022 with the debut of Norwegian Prima. Since then, Norwegian has expanded and introduced its second Prima Class ship: Norwegian Viva.
Prior to the Prima Class, the newest and most innovative ship class in NCL's fleet was the Breakaway Plus Class. I've had the opportunity to sail on ships from both these classes this past year, and I was interested in comparing and contrasting what they offer.
In this article, I'll explore the differences and similarities of these two great Norwegian Cruise Line ship classes!
(Norwegian Viva is a beautiful and impressive ship!)
With four different ships, Norwegian's Breakaway Plus Class is one the biggest classes of ships within the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet: Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Bliss, and Norwegian Encore ships.
Norwegian Escape was the first to be built in the fleet and entered service in 2015. She received a minor refurbishment in 2022.
Additionally, Norwegian Escape is also capable of accommodating the most passengers in the Breakaway Plus Class, totaling 4,266 guests.
Norwegian Joy entered service in 2017 and received a refurbishment in 2020. She was originally built for the Chinese market; however, she has since redeployed to the Americas.
Norwegian Bliss is the second newest ship in the Breakaway Plus Class, making its debut in 2018 and receiving a refurbishment in 2021.
Entering service in 2019 with a gross registered tonnage of 169,116 the newest and biggest ship in the Breakaway Plus class in terms of size is Norwegian Encore.
The brand-new Prima Class currently has two ships at sea, with another scheduled to make its debut in 2025.
The first ship in the Prima Class was Norwegian Prima (2022). Norwegian Viva is the newest ship in the Prima Class, as well as the entire Norwegian Cruise Line fleet. This ship launched in August of 2023.
In 2025, Norwegian Aqua will join the fleet and will be substantially different from other Prima Class ships.
(Standard Inside stateroom onboard Norwegian Viva)
When it comes to cruise ship cabins, the Norwegian Breakaway Plus and Norwegian Prima Classes have some of the latest and greatest in the NCL fleet.
Many of the Norwegian Breakaway Plus Class ships have six different categories of staterooms, while Norwegian's Prima Class ships have seven various categories of cabins.
(Standard Inside stateroom onboard Norwegian Bliss ship)
Norwegian Breakaway Plus Class ships feature Studio, Inside, Oceanview, Balcony, Club Balcony Suite, and The Haven categories of staterooms onboard.
Additionally, within each of these categories, prospective guests will be able to browse various subcategories of rooms. For example, within The Haven, there are nine different types of rooms for guests to choose from.
(Bathroom of the Studio Stateroom onboard Norwegian Encore)
Every stateroom is equipped with everything guests will need for a great cruise vacation, but some rooms have more luxuries, amenities, or simply space that guests will need or enjoy.
Therefore, it's important to do your research before settling for any stateroom, especially if it's the cheapest onboard.
(Bathroom of an Inside Stateroom onboard Norwegian Viva)
The Prima Class features seven categories of staterooms onboard: Studio, Inside, Oceanview, Balcony, Club Balcony Suite, Suite, and The Haven.
Similar to the Breakaway Plus Class, there are subcategories to give guests more options. For example, The Haven onboard Prima Class ships have eight different staterooms, while the Suite category has five different cabins.
(Studio cabin onboard Norwegian Encore)
I appreciate that both these ship classes have something for everyone onboard when it comes to stateroom options. One of the categories that I think is unique within the cruise line industry is the Studio Staterooms onboard Norwegian ships.
These small yet cozy stateroom cabins are designed with just one traveler in mind and are meant to offer a great solo traveler adventure to interested guests. Plus, you don't have to worry about having to pay the single supplement fee, which means more money in your pocket to spend on cruise add-ons!
(Cry slides onboard Norwegian's newest ship, Norwegian Viva)
When it comes to onboard activities, the Norwegian Breakaway Plus Class and Prima Class are the best in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet.
Both these classes of ships feature the latest and greatest onboard for guests to experience and enjoy during their cruise. There is so much to do and see that passengers will quickly find that these ships are destinations in and of themselves.
(Infinity Beach Club areas onboard Norwegian Prima Class ships)
One of the most notable onboard activities that was added to the fleet with the introduction of the Breakaway Plus Class was the Norwegian Speedway. This groundbreaking onboard activity can only be experienced onboard Norwegian Cruise Line, and it is definitely a must-try onboard.
For those with a need for speed, the Norwegian Speedway is an exciting activity. These speedways are real-life racetracks complete with go-karts and thrilling turns and speedy straightways. To experience this activity it currently costs guests an extra $15 USD per person.
The Norwegian Speedway can be found onboard Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Prima, and Norwegian Viva.
This means that there are a few of the Norwegian Breakaway Plus Class ships that have this amenity. Currently, every ship in the Prima Class has the Speedway, but the newest ship, Norwegian Aqua, is said to replace this feature with a new roller coaster, waterslide-type attraction.
(Entrance to The Drop dry slide onboard the Norwegian Viva)
Every ship in the Norwegian Breakaway Plus Class and Prima Class features waterslides onboard. No matter the destination, guests will be able to experience the fun and thrill of waterslides onboard all the ships in these two classes.
In addition to these waterslides, Norwegian Viva and Norwegian Prima also feature dry slides.
(Galaxy Pavilion onboard the Norwegian Encore ship)
Some, but not all, of these ships feature exciting technological onboard activities such as Laser Tag and a venue called the Galaxy Pavilion, which is an immersive arcade where you can play virtual reality games.
Currently, the Galaxy Pavilion can be found onboard the Norwegian Joy (no longer available in Feb. 2024), Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Prima, and Norwegian Viva.
(Laser tag course onboard Norwegian Bliss)
In addition to these exciting activities, guests will also find activities such as video arcades and mini-golf courses onboard the Breakaway Plus and Prima Class ships.
While not an activity in and of itself, one of the best areas onboard Norwegian Breakaway Plus Class ships is The Waterfront. These outdoor areas wrap around the entire exterior of the ship and feature many comfortable spots to lounge and take in a sunset, as well as dine outdoors at one of the many specialty dining restaurants onboard, or enjoy a drink from one of the outdoor bars.
Onboard Prima Class ships, this outdoor area is called Ocean Boulevard. Make sure to check out the unique glass see-through walkway!
For those traveling with children and little ones, there are amenities and activities for even the smallest cruisers!
Every Norwegian Breakaway Plus Class and Prima Class ship have youth clubs onboard. These kids' clubs are divided by age for guests to meet, interact with, and play with other children their age.
The categories of these kids' clubs start at the very youngest cruisers up to older teenagers:
Guppies is for children ages 6 months to 3 years and is an open-play kids club, not a drop-off program.
Splash Academy is for guests 3 to 12 years of age and is a drop-off program.
Entourage is a teen program for passengers 13 to 17 years of age onboard.
(Kid's Aqua Park onboard the Norwegian Viva)
In addition to the kid's clubs onboard, there is also a Kid’s Aqua Park onboard each Breakaway Plus Class and Prima Class ship. Note that all children must be potty trained and accompanied by an adult.
The Breakaway Plus and Prima Class ships have a lot for the littlest cruisers to explore, which means that cruising onboard these ships can be a great option for families with children or even multi-generational family cruise vacations.
Read more: 10 Best Cruise Lines for Families
(Main pool deck onboard Norwegian Encore)
The pools onboard the Norwegian Breakaway Plus Class ships and the Norwegian Prima Class ships differ from each other quite drastically.
In order to make more room for the expanding Norwegian Speedway onboard Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva, the main pool areas on these two ships are quite small when compared with the main pools onboard Breakaway Plus Class ships.
(Main pool deck onboard Norwegian Viva)
We noticed the differences in size immediately upon boarding Norwegian Viva. Because of this, I have to say that my personal favorite pool areas from these two classes are found onboard Norwegian's Breakaway Plus Class ships.
However, the Norwegian Prima Class ships have additional pool areas in the Infinity Beach venues that make up for the smaller size of the main pool area.
Whether it is onboard a Norwegian Breakaway Plus Class or Prima Class ship, all guests are sure to have a fun and relaxing pool day.
Read more: What is the lido deck on a cruise ship?
Main Dining and Restaurant Experience
Each Breakaway Plus Class ship features the same main dining venues onboard. There are three main restaurants that guests can try during their cruise sailing: The Manhattan Room, Taste, and Savor.
The Manhattan Room is similar to the classic cruise dining room. It is one large room with larger tables, while both Taste and Savor resemble more of an intimate restaurant with smaller, quieter tables.
Onboard Prima Class ships guests can find the main dining venues Hudson’s and The Commodore Room. These two restaurants feature some great complimentary food options, as well as ocean views for guests to enjoy during their meal.
In addition to the main dining restaurants, guests will also be able to find a buffet venue onboard every NCL ship. These buffets often have great selections, particularly onboard Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Encore.
Onboard Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva, Norwegian Cruise Line has introduced a new venue called the Indulge Food Hall. This was one of our favorite places onboard when we cruised on Viva, as it has foods from across the world, ranging from delicious Italian to hearty Indian cuisine.
We thought the Indulge Food Hall was awesome and an absolute must-do onboard the Norwegian Prima Class ships!
For those guests looking for a late-night bite, they do not have to look far; O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill onboard Norwegian Breakaway Plus Class ships is a 24-hour eatery featuring pub-style fare.
Onboard Prima Class ships, guests can check out a similar venue called the Local Bar & Grill.
For hours for all dining and restaurant locations, guests can reference the Freestyle Daily. This onboard ship schedule is delivered each night to all passengers' staterooms and can also be found digitally inside the Norwegian Cruise Line app.
Bars and Lounges
When it comes to bars and lounges onboard the Breakaway Plus Class and Prima Class ships, there is so much for guests to peruse.
Guests can find 14 bars and lounges onboard many of the Breakaway Plus Class ships and up to 19 bars and lounges onboard Prima Class vessels.
One of my favorite lounges that can be found onboard many Breakaway Plus Class and Prima Class ships is the Observation Lounge. This indoor lounge features huge floor-to-ceiling windows, a small area for snacks, and plenty of comfortable lounge chairs. This venue is particularly cozy during a cold weather cruise, such as a sailing to Alaska.
Another one of my favorite bars onboard Breakaway Plus Class ships is the Sugarcane Mojito Bar. For those guests who enjoy a mojito cocktail, this bar is a must-visit. If you are someone who wants to sample several unique mojito drinks, I recommend trying the mojito flight.
For those looking for a warm drink or a pick-me-up, guests can find Starbucks onboard all Breakaway Plus Class and Prima Class ships. These drinks do cost extra.
The Starbucks often features a comfortable lounge area. For those guests who collect the Starbucks You-Are-Here mugs, make sure to check out the Starbucks onboard, as Norwegian Cruise Line now has exclusive mugs sold at these locations.
Because there are so many bars and lounges onboard both of these classes of ships, I recommend checking out a new bar and lounge each night of a cruise.
This way, guests will get to see as much of the ship and these venues as possible during their cruise.
When it comes to entertainment, there is a lot to see onboard these two classes of ships. In fact, guests will find their evenings packed with things to do!
Each of Norwegian Breakaway Plus and Prima Class ships features at least one Broadway-style show. Additionally, each ship features venues for comedians, live music, and game shows.
Some of the Broadway-style shows that can be seen onboard these two classes of ships are Choir of Man; Summer: The Donna Summer Musical; Beetlejuice: The Musical; Jersey Boys; SIX (no longer offered starting Feb. 2024); and Elements.
All of these shows are awesome, and I highly recommend seeing at least one main theater show during a cruise.
In addition to stage shows, guests can get some good laughs at the Social Comedy & Night Club and Improve Club venues. For those who enjoy standup comedy, the Norwegian Breakaway Plus and Prima Class ships have comedy shows nearly every night of a cruise sailing.
(Do not forget to check out the themed dance parties that are held throughout a cruise onboard)
If you are someone who appreciates live music, there is plenty to enjoy onboard. Some of the best venues for live music onboard these classes of ship are The Cavern Club and Syd Norman’s Pour House.
For those guests looking for live music throughout a cruise, I recommend referencing the Freestyle Daily. This onboard ship schedule will have the times and locations for all of the entertainment onboard.
When it comes to traveling the world, guests looking at the Breakaway Plus Class and Prima Class ships will have plenty of destinations and cruise journeys to choose from.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Plus Class ships visit locations and destinations such as Alaska, the Caribbean, Northern Europe, the Panama Canal, Mexico, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Greek Isles, Canada, New England, and Transatlantic sailings.
Norwegian’s Prima Class ships currently visit locations around the world such as the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Bermuda, Northern Europe, the Greek Isles, and Transatlantic sailings.
Guests can find a wide range of itineraries to choose from on both the Breakaway Plus Class and Prima Class ships. I recommend browsing the various itineraries on offer and then choosing the ship you would like to sail on, rather than limiting yourself by selecting the ship first.
If you are someone looking for the latest and greatest from the Norwegian Cruise Line brand, you will enjoy Norweigan's Breakaway Plus and Prima Classes
Some of my very favorite Norwegian sailings have been on these two classes of ship, notably onboard the Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Encore, and Norwegian Viva.
I can confidently recommend all three of these ships. No matter which of these ships you choose, you are sure to have a great cruise vacation!