Norwegian Cruise Line

History, Review, Itineraries, Ships, Deck Plans, News

Norwegian Cruise Line cruise line logo
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Norwegian Cruise Line fleet

Review of Norwegian Cruise Line

The American-Bermudian passenger shipping corporation Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH) was founded in 1966. NCLH is headquartered in Miami (Florida USA) and publicly traded (NASDAQ) company listed on NYSE (NYC). NCLH's major shareholders are the corporations Apollo Global Management (American), Genting Group (Malaysian) and TPG Capital (American). In 2017, NCLH (shipowner) had worldwide cruise market share 9,5% (passengers) and 12,8% (revenue), combining the fleets of its three subsidiary cruise companies (sister-brands) Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Oceania and RSSC (Regent).

Company history

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) was founded in 1966 (under the name “Norwegian Caribbean Line”) by two shipping magnates - Knut Kloster (Norwegian, 1929-alive) and Ted Arison (Israeli, 1924-1999). Passenger shipping operations started with one vessel (cruise ferry/combined cruise ship and car ferry) operating on short and cheap Caribbean cruises. When Ted Arison left NCL in 1972 (to establish Carnival Cruise Lines), Knut Kloster acquired more ships for NCL’s Caribbean operations.

NCL Norwegian Cruise Line logo - CruiseMapper

The following table shows statistical data about NCL-Norwegian Cruise Line's market share (as fleet and passenger capacity / ship-berth numbers) in comparison to other major cruise companies.

Parent CompanySubsidiariesFleets (vessels per brand)Passenger Capacity (berths per brand)
Carnival CorporationCarnival2671300
Carnival CorpPrincess1742000
Carnival CorpAIDA1329300
Carnival CorpCosta1229200
Carnival CorpHolland America1525900
Carnival CorpP&O UK818600
Carnival CorpP&O Australia58200
Carnival CorpCunard36700
Carnival CorpSeabourn42000
Carnival CorpTOTAL103 ships233,200 berths
RCCL (Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd)RCI (Royal Caribbean International)2684,700
RCCLCelebrity1325500
RCCLTUI614900
RCCLPullmantur47600
RCCLMarella34000
RCCLAzamara32100
RCCLSilversea92600
RCCLTOTAL64 ships141400 berths
NCLH (Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd)NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines)1646600
NCLHOceania65200
NCLHRSSC (Regent)42600
NCLHTOTAL26 ships54400 berths
(other large brands)

1- MSC

2- Disney

3- Star Cruises (GHK)

4- Dream Cruises (GHK)

5- Hurtigruten

6- Viking Ocean

1- 15

2- 4

3- 5

4- 2

5- 15

6- 5

1- 44600

2- 8500

3- 8500

4- 6800

5- 6700

6- 4700

NCLH's ownership is equally shared by Star Cruises (subsidiary of Genting Hong Kong / GHK multinational corporation specializing in resorts, leisure, and gambling) and Apollo Global Management (among world's largest alternative asset management companies).

  • In 2011, NCL had around 8% global market share. As of 2018, NCL's global market share is around 20%, ranking it world's 3rd largest passenger shipping company (after Carnival and RCCL).
  • In January 2013 NCL went public. In 2013 the company had revenues USD 2,57 billion (13% increase over 2012).
  • On August 31, 2014, was announced that NCLH is in “advanced talks” to buy the Miami-based company Prestige Cruise Holdings Inc (owner of RSSC Regent and Oceania - a combined fleet of 8 top-luxury ships with total berths around 6500) for USD 3,025 billion (including debt's assumption). Prestige's owner (Apollo Global Management) also owns 20% of NCLH. On September 2 was announced the acquisition agreement. On November 19 the acquisition of Prestige Cruises International was completed.
  • In mid-August 2017, Apollo, GHK and TPG Global affiliated funds started selling 15 million NCLH shares to a group of underwriters (Barclays Capital, Citigroup Global Markets. Goldman Sachs). The negotiated fixed price per share was USD 54.57, or total value USD 0,8185 billion.
  • Until 2015, GHK was NCLH's principal shareholder, when the corporation started selling down its stake in order to buy Crystal Cruises, expand Star Cruises in Asia and create (in 2016) the premium brand Dream Cruises (Asia).
  • In 2018, NCLH had 8 cruise ships on order (7 for NCL and 1 for RSSC Regent) to be delivered 2019 through 2027. Company's newest class (Leonardo) has GT tonnage 140,000 tons and passenger capacity 3300.
  • On July 30, 2018, following industry's "eco trend", NCL announced banning fleetwide single-use plastic straws. The policy also includes the private islands Great Stirrup Cay (Bahamas) and Harvest Caye (Belize). As result, annually will be eliminated over 50 million plastic straws.

NCL’s list of “cruise industry firsts starts with the first-ever fly-cruise deals (under the name “Cloud 9 Cruises”), the first cruise ships capable to ferry cars, the ever first cruise company with a private island (Great Stirrup Cay in Bahamas), the first company to develop new Caribbean seaports of call (Jamaica’s Ocho Rios). Both NCL’s first cruise ships - Sunward (1966) and Starward (1968) - were car-ferries, but later their car decks were refitted into cabin decks (housing staterooms) and a 2-deck high theatre lounge.

NCL cruise ship design (Breakaway-class) Breakaway, Getaway

A new history page for NCL Norwegian was the year 1979 when was purchased the Transatlantic ocean liner SS France - thoroughly refitted and renamed SS Norway. Cruise ship's drydock conversion cost over USD 100 million, but it was money well spent. Bigger than any other cruise liner, SS Norway in its time offered extra space for a great variety of onboard entertainment, thus starting the new era of “ship cruise for fun” and creating the time of mega-liners.

new NCL cruise ship design (Project Leonardo)

Norwegian Cruise Line (better known by the NCL abbreviation) as a brand represents one of world's top 3 major cruise line companies (following only Carnival and Royal Caribbean). It is best known for its revolutionary “Freestyle Cruising” (trademarked) concept signifying no fixed dining times or seatings, and no formal dress-code required fleetwide.

The list of NCL’s destinations includes all the world’s most popular ship travel regions - Alaska and Hawaii, Europe (including UK itineraries), Bahamas-Caribbean and Bermuda, Asia and Australia New Zealand. Under the brand name “Norwegian Capricorn Line” (1997-2001), NCL operated exclusively Australia and New Zealand. A whole new era for the company started in 2002 when it purchased the first Project America vessel (under construction at the time). The future Pride of America was towed (as hull) from its initial building yard at Pascagoula (MS, USA) to be completed in Germany by Lloyd Werft.

new NCL cruise ship design (Project Leonardo)

Pride of America is the largest US-flagged passenger ship, homeported in Honolulu for year-round Hawaiian Islands cruises with roundtrip itineraries. Due to financial considerations, the other NCL America ships in Hawaii - Pride of Aloha (now Norwegian Sky) and Pride of Hawaii (now Norwegian Jade) were later transferred to company’s international fleet.

NCL’s Caribbean itineraries always visit company's Bahamian private island Great Stirrup Cay (purchased in 1977). A port of call exclusively for NCL ships, Great Stirrup's vacation experience starts and ends with the “Bahama Rama Mama” tender boat (capacity of 300 passengers).

NCL cruise ship design (Breakaway-class) Breakaway, Getaway

On October 17, 2012, NCL Norwegian and Meyer Werft reached an agreement for the construction of two new Breakaway-Plus class vessels with scheduled delivery in 2015 and 2017. The order for the 2nd ship was placed in July 2013. In September 2013, the two new cruise ships were named Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Bliss, through an online campaign. The "Breakaway-Plus" project's contract value was estimated to be EUR 1.4 billion (USD 1.92 billion). Two more ships were ordered on July 14, 2014, to enter service in 2018 and 2019.

NCL cruise ship design (Breakaway-Plus class) Bliss, Escape, Joy

For FY2017 (fiscal year) NCLH reported the following data:

  • GAAP ("Generally Accepted Accounting Principle") net income was USD 760 million (USD 633,1 million FY2016).
  • The adjusted GAAP was USD 907,7 million (USD 776,3 million in 2016).
  • EPS ("Earnings Per Share") was USD 3,31 (USD 2,78 in 2016).
  • The adjusted EPS was USD 3,96 (USD 3,41 in 2016).
  • NCLH's Net Revenue was USD 4,2 billion (11,2% increase over 2016 / USD 3,8).
  • The adjusted ROIC (Return On Invested Capital") for 2017 was 16,26%.
  • NCLH's total revenue reached USD 5,4 billion (10,7% increase over 2016 / USD 4,9 billion).
  • Gross Yield (yield on investments before deduction of taxes and expenses) increased 4,4%.
  • Adjusted Net Yield increased by 5% (Constant Currency basis).
  • Marine fuel expenses in 2017 were USD 361 million.

NCL ship refurbishments

Ship refurbishments were the biggest part of "The Norwegian Edge" - fleet upgrade program. Drydock refurbishments started in October 2015 with Norwegian Epic, Followed Norwegian Gem in November 2015. Next scheduled drydocks were in 2016 (Pride of America, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Sun). These dry docks were longer than usual for NCL ships (some up to 3 weeks).

NCL cruise ship design (Breakaway-class) Breakaway, Getaway

All NCL ships (except Norwegian Jewel) were scheduled for upgrade by the end of 2017. Jewel was scheduled for 2018. The Norwegian Edge project covers 11 vessels, which are the company's all older ships launched before Norwegian Breakaway (2013). On all these ships NCL added new venues, did extensive restaurant makeovers (La Cucina Italian, Cagney’s Steakhouse, Le Bistro French, Moderno Churrascaria Brazilia). Decors were changed in main dining rooms and buffet restaurants. Most public spaces (including all lounges, bars, complimentary food outlets) received new furniture and flooring, and some were completely re-designed.

NCL cruise ship design (Breakaway-Plus class) Bliss, Escape, Joy

Another major upgrade was the ship-wide Wi-Fi, installing interactive digital signage boards and way finders, new teak flooring of open decks, new carpeting in hallways and corridors, adding more shaded seating areas, private cabanas and lounge chairs on sundecks.

NCL's new drydock refurbishment program (2016-2018) was budgeted over USD 400 million. Along with the fleet upgrades, it also included updated onboard culinary and enrichment programs, private island upgrades, and enhanced cruise tour/destination amenities and services. Detailed dry-dock refurbishment reviews by ship you will find at their CruiseMapper's deckplan pages.

As part of the program was enhanced Great Stirrup Cay (NCL's private island in The Bahamas), This project resulted in building new facilities, newly added bars, and lounges, redesigned and renovated venues, enhanced The Haven Suite passenger experience. Details on all these changes are available at the above island link.

NCL Great Stirrup Cay Island (Lagoon Retreat adult area)

In November 2017, the company MAN PrimeServ (a division of the marine engines manufacturer "MAN Diesel and Turbo") confirmed an order from NCLH for SOLAS insulation upgrades for all 9 liners (44 diesel engines) from the NCL fleet. MAN provided the necessary equipment for all engines with power output 375+ KW, which included heat insulation, spray protection, resistance to flammability and fluid density. Upgrades received all NCL ships with MAN marine diesel engines models 48/60B, 48/60A and 58/64. The project was scheduled for completion in 2018.

NCL cruise ship dining packages

On each of its ships, NCL offers up to 28 dining options. In 2016 on all ships were introduced upgraded main dining room menus (complimentary) with added new (a la carte priced) menu items. The upgraded complimentary food menus offer more variety of appetizers, soups, and salads, signature entrees, desserts. New are the seafood offerings (fresh grouper, shrimp ceviche, seared scallops).

  • Since January 31, 2016, NCL expanded brand's specialty dining menus on Norwegian Escape and introduced them fleetwide. These new menus are for at-fee restaurants - Cagney’s Steakhouse, Le Bistro (French cuisine), La Cucina (Italian cuisine), Moderno Churrascaria (Brazilian Steakhouse) and Teppanyaki (sushi). Among the new menu choices are Bouillabaisse, pan-seared scallops, and sea bass filet, veal medallions, antipasti, risotto, Osso Buco Alla Milanese.
  • NCL has partnered with the ACF (American Culinary Federation) for training and certification of fleet's dining and culinary teams.
  • Since August 2015, NCL offers specialty dining packages available fleetwide. The new packages prices start at USD 59 per person (3-day package purchased prior departure). These deals help save on the cover charges of all onboard specialty restaurants (including Teppanyaki, Cagney's Steakhouse, Moderno Churrascaria, La Cucina, Le Bistro).
  • Specialty dining packages allow NCL passengers to dine at a la carte priced and cover charge restaurants at an additional cost raging USD 7-15. Follows the list of restaurants and the cover charge / fixed fee in USD (shown in brackets): sushi bar ($7), Raw Bar ($7), Pincho Tapas Bar ($7), Bayamo ($10), Illusionarium ($10 general- and $15 premium seating), Cirque Dreams ($10 general-, $15 premium- and $35 VIP seating), Ocean Blue ($15), Dear John Hughes ($15).
  • Packages can be purchased at discounted pricing online (prior to departure) or onboard (but only during the itinerary's first 2 days). On 3-day cruises, NCL dining packages are available for purchasing only on the 1st / embarkation day. Specialty dining reservations can be made online (within 90 days prior departure) or onboard.

NCL is noted for its high-quality shipboard foods, restaurants, unique dining concepts, well-trained certified chefs-waiters-sommeliers.

  • Almost all the shipboard food (98%) is made on the ship and from scratch - including all sauces, bread, pastries, and desserts.
  • All ships have full-service butcheries.
  • All fish is bought whole and cut and trimmed on the ship.
  • Cruise Itinerary-based regional dishes and local beers and wines are always available,
  • On NCL Bliss were introduced the restaurants Q (Texas BBQ smokehouse serving smoked meats, brisket, beef-pork ribs, pulled pork, various sides) and Los Lobos (Mexican, also serving tequilas and mezcals).

Private cruise island enhancements

NCL Norwegian expanded the company's plans for its Bahamian privately-owned island Great Stirrup Cay and the exclusive luxury resort destination Harvest Caye (Belize). Harvest Caye port features a large-sized swimming pool, private beach, shallow lagoon (watersport activities), private cabanas available for rent, as well as a huge flora and fauna diversity.

Great Stirrup Cay was last enhanced in 2014 and by 2017 spring will feature several new offerings and amenities (for details see the island's review above).

All-inclusive NCL cruise package

Since 2017, NCL offers all-inclusive cruise itineraries in some markets. The company's new program was named “Premium All Inclusive” and is included in NCL's cruise fares. The new program is only available to travelers living in select countries and as destinations - on cruises to Alaska, Hawaii, Asia, Bermuda, Caribbean, Europe, Panama Canal, South America.

  • The list of "select countries" includes Scandinavia, Belgium, Holland, Liechtenstein, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Russia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Turkey, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Angola, and Algeria.
  • passengers 21+ yo enjoy drinks-inclusive cruises with included unlimited spirits, bottled and draft beers, wines (by the glass), cocktails (priced up to USD 15), light beers, soft drinks, juices. Even the NCL's 18% gratuity is included. A 20% discount is given on onboard purchased bottles of wine, champagne, sparkling wines.
  • Passengers aged 2–20 yo enjoy unlimited soft drinks, water and juices (excluding freshly squeezed) in all onboard bars, lounges, and restaurants during the entire cruise. here also the 18% gratuity is included.
  • The new NCL package also includes bottled water (1 L) per person per day (in the stateroom) and specialty coffees (in all restaurants at meal times).
  • All gratuities and service charge related to the new all-inclusive cruise services are cruise ticket price inclusive.
  • Passengers in The Haven staterooms and those in Suites receive 250 minutes of free WiFi, USD 100 in onboard credit and complimentary specialty restaurants reservations (3 dinners on itineraries 3-9 nights, and 4 dinners on 10+ nights itineraries).

NCL's "Premium All Inclusive" deals were introduced on April 3, 2017. These bookings include all cabin categories. As of September 2017, the cruise line pampers guests with Premium All Inclusive Plus. The new offer includes 5 additional benefits for passengers who have chosen to sail on a selection of port-intensive longer voyages of 9 nights or more in all worldwide destinations from Baltic Sea to longer Canary Islands and Mediterranean sailings, South America, Panama Canal, and Asia-Pacific.

The additional extras include the following:

  • 250-minute internet package
  • 120-minute phone package
  • US$50 shore excursion credit per port of call
  • Up to GBP 75 hotel credit in select ports of call
  • Up to GBP 150 air credit.

NCL cruise ship weddings

Since 2016, Norwegian Cruise Line offers weddings at sea, including same-gender ceremonies. The weddings are performed by the ship's Captain.

  • For now, these offers are only for the company's newest (largest) vessels of the Breakaway- and Breakaway-plus classes.
  • Formerly, couples were not allowed to marry at sea, but only ashore (in ports of call along the cruise itinerary). They also had to produce a marriage certificate before participating in an onboard ceremony. By the NCL's new policy, cruise ship captains can perform the wedding ceremonies on board the ship, with a Bahamas-issued marriage license.
  • NCL also offers absolutely legal same-gender ceremonies. However, these offers are only available in cruise port destinations where such marriages are recognized by local law. The list of such destinations in the USA includes Hawaii, Boston MA, NYC New York, Los Angeles CA, Seattle WA, Florida (Miami, Port Canaveral, Tampa), also Vancouver BC (Canada).
  • NCL's new package "Wedding at Sea” includes a bridal bouquet, 1 matching boutonniere, 1 wedding cake for 2, champagne toast. The company also provides an experienced wedding coordinator.
  • In addition to the "Wedding at Sea" program, Norwegian Cruise Line also offers harborside ceremonies (when the ship is docked in ports of call along the itinerary), also destination weddings (beach and resort) and vow renewals.

NCL cruise ship lifeguards

In April 2017, NCL Norwegian Cruise Line announced the company will employ certified lifeguards on some of its vessels (in summer 2017) and fleetwide (by the year 2018). The news made NCL, the 3rd major cruise company with lifeguards onboard its ships - following Disney and Royal Caribbean.

  • The onboard lifeguards are stationed only at the family pools during scheduled swimming pool hours. This staff will be "American Red Cross" trained and certified.
  • NCL will also offer complimentary swim vests for both adults and kids. Parents can obtain safety vests at the Lido Deck's towel station during daytime hours.
  • The first NCL ships with lifeguards will be Norwegian Epic (homeported in Port Canaveral), Norwegian Escape (Miami), Norwegian Getaway (Miami) and Norwegian Breakaway (NYC New York).
  • NCL started testing monitoring through CCTV cameras at family pools (on fleet's largest ships only) since 2015. So adding full-time lifeguards was a decision for more safety on pool decks. However, it should be known that lifeguards don't replace parental supervision and that parents (legal guardians) remain the best form for preventing onboard accidents.
  • Disney Cruise Line employs certified lifeguards since 2013. RCI Royal Caribbean employs cruise ship lifeguards since February 2017 (by the line's "water safety program"). RCI's onboard lifeguards are dressed in special uniforms (bright red and white) and stationed at every onboard swimming pool, including the Solarium (adults-only retreat) during the complex' opening hours.

NCL cruise cabin upgrades

In February 2017, NCL started a new (industry's first) cruise cabin upgrade program that allows already booked passengers to bid for upgrades to higher-category staterooms.

  • The new "Norwegian Upgrade Advantage" program was tested and approved by a group of top travel agencies. The entire system is automated and don't require travel agent intervention and pays commissions on the enhanced fare.
  • NCL's senior sales VP Camille Olivere commented: "After final payment guests can bid on an upgrade and there’s a little dial that will show them in red, yellow or green the likelihood their bid is going to be accepted. When NCL offers the cabin upgrade to the guest we email the travel agency of record, so they see the guest has been offered the ability to upgrade, and if the bid is accepted we notify the agency. The agency has to do absolutely nothing".
  • Once the passengers' bids are accepted, they are assigned to an available higher-level stateroom - interior to oceanview, oceanview to balcony, balcony to a suite or to The Haven accommodation. However, they can't choose the exact stateroom (number) to which they are assigned.

(new) NCL cruise gratuities (2019-2020 cruises)

Daily gratuities are per person (pp):

  • USD 14,50 pp (interior, oceanview, balcony staterooms, both adults and kids) - increased from USD 13,99 pp (effective since April 1, 2018)
  • USD 17,50 (suites receiving concierge / butler services) - increased from USD 16,99 pp (effective since April 1, 2018)
  • Gratuities increases apply to all NCL cruise vessels, excepting Norwegian Sky (which is drinks-inclusive). On NCL Skyship, standard cabin and mini-suite passengers pay per person USD 18,99 per day, while suite passengers pay USD 21,99 pp per day.
  • Daily gratuity is an automatic service charge added to the passenger's onboard account each day.
  • Passengers can prepay gratuities.
  • The amount of gratuities is split between the ship's staff (dining, housekeeping, cabin stewards, butlers, concierges, support).
  • Ship's specialty restaurants (a la carte priced or cover charge venues) add an 18% gratuity service charge.

NEWS: Since April 1, 2019, NCL increased fleetwide (except Sun and Sky ships) the daily tips to USD 15 pp (all cabin categories through Mini-Suite) and USD 18 pp (for Suites and The Haven staterooms).

(new) NCL Cruise Cancellation Policy

Since January 2016, NCL adjusted the company's final payment and cancellation policies. Under the new cruise cancellation policy, booked NCL customers will incur penalties further from departure date when canceling.

  • Before 2016, NCL cruise itineraries 6 days or longer, canceled 56 to 75 days prior to embarkation date guaranteed full deposits back. Under the new cancellation policy, final payment for itineraries 6 or more days is due 90 days prior to departure date (vs the old policy's 75 days). Cancellation penalties start 89 days prior to departure date.
  • NCL's cruise deposit schedule also shifted. Previously, for itineraries 6 to 9 nights long, booked customers had to put down a USD 250 pp (per person) deposit. After January 2016, that was changed to USD 250 pp for itineraries 7 to 9 days, and USD 100 pp for itineraries 2 to 6 nights long.
  • Final payments for holiday cruises (Christmas and New Year) are now due 120 days prior to departure dates, only excluding cruises on the ship Norwegian Sky.

Itinerary of Norwegian Cruise Line

All NCL cruise ships are either new or recently refurbished. As you can see from their list below, the oldest one (NCL Sky) is just 14 years old. NCL's fleet is one of the world's biggest and most innovative ones. NCL ships are big (to really large), well-equipped, offering feature amenities and onboard activities, and sailing worldwide.

NCL cruises to Cuba

In December 2016, NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings) received permission to operate cruises to Cuba - beginning March 2017. The first-ever NCL ship visiting Cuba was Norwegian Sky.

  • NCL Sky's itinerary program offers 4-night cruises from Miami that include Havana overnights. The itinerary also visits the NCL private island Great Stirrup Cay (Bahamas).
  • In 2018, NCL expands its Cuba cruise program to a total of 63 itineraries, most of which offer Havana overnight.
  • Norwegian Sun completed her first season of voyages to Cuba from Port Canaveral FL with her last trip on September 3, 2018, before she moved to Miami FL for select itineraries then repositioning to South America for the fall/winter cruise season. The first and only homeported vessel to sail to Cuba from Port Canaveral, the NCL Norwegian Sun welcomed more than 30,000 guests on 15 trips on her 4-day Cuba itinerary during her summer season, with a port of call in Key West and Havana overnight.
  • Following the successful first season, NCL Sun returns to Port Canaveral in April 2019 with more Cuba itineraries.

The current list of passenger shipping lines offering cruises to Cuba includes:

  • Carnival Paradise leaving from Tampa Florida - cheapest prices (from USD 480 pp)
  • Royal Caribbean (ship Empress of the Seas, leaving from Miami Florida)
  • Holland America (ship Veendam) leaving from Fort Lauderdale since December 2017
  • NCL (ship Norwegian Sky, 4-day itineraries with Havana overnights - starting May 2017
  • MSC Cruises (ship MSC Opera, leaving from Havana)
  • Oceania Cruises (ships Marina and Regatta) starting in 2017, Cuba circumnavigation, stops in Cienfuegos and Havana, also part of some Panama Canal transition itineraries.
  • Azamara Cruises (ship on Azamara Quest from Miami)
  • Thomson UK / Marella Cruises (ship Marella Dream) 7-day, leaving roundtrip from Jamaica (Montego Bay) to Havana
  • Compagnie du Ponant (yacht ship Le Ponant, leaving from Miami Florida)
  • Pearl Seas Cruises (ship Pearl Mist, leaving from Fort Lauderdale Florida)
  • Lindblad Expeditions (chartered sailing ship MS Panorama II, leaving from Havana)
  • Celestyal Cruises (ship Celestyal Crystal, leaving from Havana and Montego Bay Jamaica)
  • Grand Circle Cruise Line (ship MV Clio / ex Tere Moana) one-way from Miami to Havana, or the reverse from Havana to Miami (embarkation/disembarkation in port Cienfuegos).
  • International Expeditions (leaving from Havana, charter flights out of Miami)
  • Victory Cruise Lines - MS Victory I (former MS Saint Laurent) - fly-cruises from Miami to Havana (home-port Cienfuegos /departures)
  • Note: According to the current Cuban law, US citizens of Cuban origin (born in Cuba) are not allowed to visit the island country (including on cruise ships). Regardless of their US citizenship status, Cuban-born Americans were denied booking on cruise itineraries visiting ports in Cuba. However, the situation changed in April 2016, after Carnival Corporation negotiated with the Cuban government for allowing ships with Cuban-born passengers, as such US citizens are allowed to visit the country on USA-Cuba charter flights. The Carnival-fathom line started Miami to Cuba cruises in May 2016.
  • Alaska Airlines offers regular nonstop flights to Havana from Los Angeles (California USA). An 80-min ling JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale (Florida) to Havana costs less than USD 100. Previously, air travel from the USA to Cuba was thought charter flights only.

NCL ships itineraries overview

Ship NameHomeportsItineraries Changes

NCL Bliss

Seattle WA

Miami Florida

  • In summer 2019, Bliss offers new 7-day Glacier Bay cruises departing each Sunday from Seattle between May 5-September 22, 2019.
  • Starting November 2019, Norwegian Bliss operates from New York for several months.
  • The ship sails to the Bahamas from New York during winter 2019-2020. It is the largest homeporting in New York and sets out on a total of 18 different 7- and 8-day sailings to the Bahamas and Florida; as well as 12- and 14-day cruises to Southern and Western Caribbean.
  • Bliss returns to Alaska with 7-day cruises from Seattle WA beginning May 2020 and visits Juneau, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria BC.
  • 2020-2021: Beginning October 18, Norwegian Bliss returns to Los Angeles to sail on an array of itineraries including 5- to 7-day Mexican Riviera cruises with visits to Cabo San Lucas, Ensenada, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta. She is due to embark on select 16-day Panama Canal trips from Los Angeles to Miami FL and back, featuring visits to Santa Marta, Cartagena, Willemstad, Oranjestad, Puerto Caldera, Puerto Quetzal, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas. While in Miami FL, she offers 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruises with stops in Puerto Plata, St. Thomas, Tortola, and Great Stirrup Cay.
  • 2021: Bliss offers 7-day Alaska itineraries, visiting Juneau, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, and Victoria BC beginning on April 24, 2021.

NCL Breakaway

NYC New York

Port Canaveral Florida

  • In 2019-2020, NCL Breakaway cruise program is based on Florida departures from homeports Miami and Port Canaveral. Starting November 23, 2019, the ship offers 7-day Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries leaving weekly (on Saturdays) and stopping at Falmouth, George Town, Cozumel, StThomas, Tortola BVI, Great Stirrup Cay.
  • Beginning April 23, 2020, Breakaway returns to Miami for 5-7-day itineraries to Western Caribbean (Roatan, Cozumel, Costa Maya, Harvest Caye), also 3-4-day Bahamas (Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay).
  • 2020-2021: Following a summer season in Miami FL, Norwegian Breakaway returns to New Orleans on November 22, with 7-day Western Caribbean voyages featuring calls to Roatan Island, Harvest Caye, Costa Maya, and Cozumel.
  • As of April 13, 2021, NCL Norwegian Breakaway sails on a mix of 5-, 7- and 9-day Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean itineraries from Miami FL. Her Eastern Caribbean cruises include visits to Puerto Plata, St. Thomas, Tortola, and Norwegian’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay. Her Western Caribbean itineraries feature calls to Roatan Island, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and the Caribbean’s resort-style destination Harvest Caye. Norwegian Breakaway’s Southern Caribbean voyages visit Oranjestad, Willemstad, Kralendijk, and Puerto Plata.
  • Following her Caribbean itineraries from Miami FL on August 24, 2021, Breakaway offers 7-day Canada & New England voyages from New York that include calls to Bar Harbor, Portland, Halifax, and Saint John.

NCL Dawn

NOLA New Orleans

Boston MA

Quebec City

USA departures (New Orleans and Boston) and Canada (Quebec City)

  • 7-day Boston to Bermuda
  • 14-day Boston to New England
  • 7-day Western Caribbean – New Orleans to Mexico
  • 14-day relocation Boston to New Orleans visiting Jamaica
  • winter 2019: homeported in Puerto Rico
  • summer 2019: Norwegian Dawn returns to her first homeport of New York with 7-day cruises to Bahamas and Florida. The ship also offers May and June departures from NYC to Canada & New England.
  • winter 2019-2020: Norwegian Dawn starts the season by sailing a 15-day, New York-Tampa-Panama Canal itinerary on November 9, 2019. The cruise includes visits to Willemstad, Cartagena, Puerto Limon and a daytime transit of the Panama Canal. It also offers a 14-day Panama Canal roundtrip from Tampa on December 1, 2019, and then sails a 5-day Bahamas and Florida itinerary from Tampa on January 16.
  • Beginning May 15, 2020, Dawn cruises from Europe offering 7-to-11-day itineraries to the Greek Isles from Venice. 
  • Beginning on May 2, 2021, Norwegian Dawn once again cruises the Greek Isles from Venice with 7-day itineraries that include calls to Kotor, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, and Argostoli. 

NCL Epic

Port Canaveral Florida

Civitavecchia-Rome

Barcelona

  • Miami, Barcelona, Venice, Rome, Southampton (the UK, repositioning) departures
  • 7-day Western Caribbean Miami to Jamaica
  • 3-, 4-, 7-day Bahamas/Caribbean from Port Canaveral
  • 7-day Mediterranean Barcelona, Rome
  • 14-day Mediterranean departing from Venice
  • On all the Canaveral cruises is featured Great Stirrup Cay, which adds island-wide enhancements, new features, and amenities over the next 16 months. Norwegian Epic also sails alternating 7-day eastern and western Caribbean voyages. The eastern route includes St. Thomas, Great Stirrup Cay, and Tortola, while the western itinerary has Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios, Great Stirrup Cay, and Cozumel. 
  • 7-day Western Mediterranean cruises from Rome and Barcelona
  • summer 2019: Norwegian Epic returns to Europe to sail 7-day Western Mediterranean voyages, with embarkation available in either Rome (Civitavecchia) or Barcelona.
  • 2020-2021: Beginning December 20, Norwegian Epic sails back to San Juan to offer 7-day voyages to the crystal blue waters of Southern Caribbean with calls to Willemstad, Oranjestad, Castries, Basseterre, and Kralendijk.
  • On April 25, 2021, Norwegian Epic returns to Europe to sail her popular 7-day itineraries from Barcelona and Rome with visits to Naples, Florence/Pisa, Cannes, and Palma de Mallorca.

NCL Encore

Miami Florida

The new liner Encore enters service on November 17, 2019. From homeport Miami, the ship operates roundtrips (Sunday departures) on 7-day Eastern Caribbean itineraries with call ports San Juan Puerto Rico, St Thomas USVI, and Tortola BVI.

  • Following her inaugural season in the Caribbean, Norwegian Encore repositions from Miami, Florida to New York City offering seven-day cruises to Bermuda beginning April 22. Ship's seven-day itineraries overnight in port offering guests three days in Bermuda.
  • 2020-2021: After her first summer season in NY, Norwegian Encore returns to Miami FL to offer 7-day itineraries to the Western Caribbean with visits to Roatan Island, Harvest Caye, Costa Maya, and Cozumel. She also sails 12- to 13-day voyages through Panama Canal, with visits to Puerto Plata, Kralendijk, Willemstad, Oranjestad, Santa Marta, Cartagena, Colon, and Puerto Limon.
  • 2021: Norwegian Encore starts her Alaska season on May 2, 2021, visiting Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria BC. All of the Alaska itineraries of Norwegian Encore feature Glacier Bay.

NCL Escape

Miami Florida

Southampton England

  • Miami and Southampton (Transatlantic) departures
  • 10-day Southampton to Miami Inaugural cruise
  • 7-day Eastern Caribbean departing from Miami
  • winter 2019: Bahamas and Florida from New York
  • summer 2019: Norwegian Escape sails from New York.
  • winter 2019-2020: Norwegian Escape sails out of New York throughout September 2019, and offers 4 roundtrip 7-day Canada and New England cruises with visits to Bar Harbor, Portland, Bay of Fundy, Halifax. The ship then heads south where it sails on a number of 7-day Western Caribbean itineraries, between November 2019-April 2020, from Miami.
  • Norwegian Escape makes her debut in Europe on May 29, 2020, with 9-day cruises to the Baltic from Copenhagen with calls to Warnemunde, Tallinn, Helsinki, Stockholm and an overnight in St Petersburg. The ship is due to become one of the newest and biggest Norwegian ships to be homeported in Europe. 
  • 2020-2021: Beginning November 21, Norwegian Escape homeports in Port Canaveral for the first time, sailing 5- and 7-day Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises with calls to Puerto Plata, St. Thomas, Tortola, Great Stirrup Cay, Cozumel, George Town, and Ocho Rios. The ship also sails a couple of 4-day Bahamas voyages with calls to Nassau, Freeport, and Great Stirrup Cay.
  • Returning to Europe on May 28, 2021, NCL Escape offers 9-day itineraries to the Baltic region from Copenhagen with calls to Warnemunde, Tallinn, Helsinki, Stockholm (Nynashamn), and overnight in Saint Petersburg.

NCL Gem

NYC New York

New York City departures

  • 7-day Florida and the Bahamas
  • 7-day Canada New England
  • 9-10-day to Puerto Rico (Eastern Caribbean)
  • 1-2-day “Cruise to Nowhere-NYC”
  • winter 2019: 7-, 10- and 11-day Western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans
  • summer 2019: Norwegian Gem sails out of Boston
  • winter 2019-2020: winter 2019 season starts with the 8-day Bahamas and Florida voyage from New York on December 13. It then sails on a number of 10- and 11-day Southern Caribbean itineraries, as well as one 14-day cruise that includes visits to St.Kitts, St.John’s, St.Thomas, St.Lucia.
  • Norwegian Gem offers 7-day voyages from Boston to Bermuda beginning May 1, 2020. Ship's 7-day itineraries overnight in port offering guests three days in Bermuda.
  • 2020-2021: As of November 30, Norwegian Gem returns to New York City cruising a variety of 10-,11-,12- and 14-day Southern Caribbean cruises with visits to Puerto Plata, St. Thomas, St. John’s, Tortola, Bridgetown, Castries, Basseterre, St. Maarten, and San Juan.
  • From April 18, 2021, Norwegian Gem sails on a mix of 7-day Bermuda itineraries from Boston as well as 7-day Canada & New England voyages from Boston and Quebec City. Ports of call include Bar Harbor, Portland, Halifax, Sydney, Saguenay, and Charlottetown.

NCL Getaway

Miami Florida

Copenhagen Denmark

  • 7-day Bahamas and Eastern Caribbean departing from Miami
  • winter 2019: week-long alternating itineraries from Miami. 
  • summer 2019: sailing in Europe; Norwegian Getaway also returns to the Baltic with 9-day cruises featuring ports of call like Berlin (Warnemunde), Tallinn, Helsinki, Stockholm, overnight in St. Petersburg, and a day cruising past Stockholm Archipelago.
  • From May 8, 2020, Getaway offers 10-and-11-day voyages to the Greek Isles and Italy from Rome. 
  • 2020-2021: Also beginning December, Norwegian Getaway sails select 7- and 8-day voyages to the Bahamas and Florida out of New York that include calls to Port Canaveral, Nassau, and Great Stirrup Cay. The ship also offers 5-day Eastern Caribbean cruises from Miami FL, with stops in Puerto Plata and Great Stirrup Cay, as well as 7-day Western Caribbean journeys with visits to Roatan Island, Harvest Caye, Costa Maya, and Cozumel.
  • As of April 29, 2021, NCL Norwegian Getaway offers 10 and 11-day voyages to the Greek Isles and Italy from Rome with stops in Kotor, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, Athens (Piraeus), Naples, and Florence/Pisa.

NCL Jade

Barcelona

Hamburg

Miami Florida

Tampa Florida

Europe cruises (MEDITERRANEAN)

  • Barcelona (on repositioning), Venice and Houston TX departures
  • 14-day Venice to Turkey and Greece (Mediterranean)
  • 7-day Houston to Mexico (Western Caribbean)
  • In 2019, the ship offers Southern Caribbean itineraries from homeport Miami (Florida USA) - 11-day and 14-day roundtrip Panama Canal cruises from Tampa and Miami.
  • summer 2019: Norwegian Jade offers Greek Isles and Italy cruises between May 12-October 24, 2019.
  • 2019-2020 winter: Norwegian Jade offers a season of cruises throughout Southeast Asia departing from Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • 2020-2021: Norwegian Jade calls Tampa FL home beginning November 22 and sails a variety of Western and Southern Caribbean voyages through April 11. 7-day Western Caribbean cruises include visits to Roatan Island, Harvest Caye, Costa Maya, and Cozumel, while Southern Caribbean itineraries visit George Town, Oranjestad, Willemstad, Kralendijk, Castries, Basseterre, St. John’s, St. Thomas, and Puerto Plata.

NCL Jewel

Sydney NSW

Auckland NZ

Vancouver BC

Seward AK

  • In 2019, NCL Jewel has a winter-spring program with 7- to 19-day Australia-New Zealand itineraries. In summer 2019, the ship joins NCL Joy and NCL Bliss in Alaska, operating on 7-day one-way between Vancouver and Seward AK.
  • In 2019-2020, NCL Jewel returns to Australia - for the 3rd season from Sydney, plus new itineraries from Auckland NZ. Beginning May 11, 2020, the ship is again in Alaska (homeported in Vancouver and Seward) for the 7-day Glacier Bay and Inside Passage itineraries.
  • 2020-2021: Norwegian Jewel embarks on Australia and New Zealand itineraries beginning October 9. Her popular Australia & New Zealand journeys visit some of the most beautiful destinations in New Zealand, including Milford Sound, Dusky Fjord, Doubtful Fjord, Dunedin, Wellington, Picton, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland, Bay of Islands.
  • Norwegian Jewel sails various French Polynesia, Hawaii, and South Pacific itineraries in spring 2020 and spring 2021. These 11 to 21-day cruises sail from Sydney, Papeete, Honolulu, and Vancouver BC featuring calls to incredible destinations like Bora Bora, Moorea, Raiatea, Nuku Hiva, Lautoka, Dravuni, Noumea, Ille des Pins, Mystery Island, Port Vila, the Big Island (Hilo and Kailua-Kona), Maui (Kahului), Kauai (Nawiliwili), Oahu (Honolulu).
  • 2021: Beginning on May 10, 2021, Norwegian Jewel sails back to Vancouver BC and Seward to sail her popular 7-day Glacier Bay Northbound and Inside Passage voyages.

NCL Joy

Shanghai (China)

Tianjin (China)

Seattle (USA)

Los Angeles (USA)

 

  • 2019-2020: Norwegian Joy seasonally cruises in Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Panama Canal. In April 2019, the ship repositions from Shanghai to Seattle WA to offer 7-day Alaskan cruises, replacing there NCL Pearl and joining NCL Bliss and NCL Jewel. From homeport Los Angeles, NCL Joy cruises to Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera ports.
  • Joy returns to Alaska with 7-day cruises from Seattle WA beginning May 2020. In Alaska, Norwegian Joy visits Icy Strait Point, Holkham Bay, Ketchikan, and Juneau, and in British Columbia, the ship calls in Victoria (from April 2020 through October 2020). 
  • 2020-2021: Norwegian Joy sets sail from Miami FL for the first time and sails a mix of 5- to 7-day Western and Eastern Caribbean cruises. Beginning October 24, the Western Caribbean cruises of the ship include visits to Roatan Island, Harvest Caye, Costa Maya, and Cozumel, while the Eastern Caribbean sailings include Puerto Plata, St. Thomas, Tortola, and the private island of the company, Great Stirrup Cay.
  • Beginning on April 14, 2021, Norwegian Joy homeports in New York for the first time, offering a mix of Bermuda, Canada and New England itineraries. Her 7-day Bermuda trips offer guests 3 full days to explore the island, while the 5-day Canada & New England sailings feature visits to Maine, Halifax, and Portland.

NCL Pearl

Seattle WA

Miami Florida

San Francisco CA

Los Angeles CA

Vancouver BC

  • 7-day Alaska cruises from Seattle WA
  • 14-day repositioning LA to Miami, Panama Canal
  • 10-day from Miami to Eastern Caribbean
  • 11-day from Miami to Southern Caribbean
  • 10-11-day roundtrip Panama Canal and the Caribbean from Miami
  • 2019-2020: Norwegian Pearl redeploys to Europe offering itineraries throughout Northern Europe out of Amsterdam.
  • As of May 23, 2020, Norwegian Pearl homeports in New York for the first time, offering select 7, 10 and 11-day trips to Canada & New England with visits to Halifax, Saint John, Bar Harbor, Portland, Newport. She also offers 7-day trips to Bahamas and Florida with calls at Port Canaveral, Nassau, and Great Stirrup Cay.
  • 2020-2021: Norwegian Pearl also sails a mix of Western and Southern Caribbean voyages as well as Bahamas and Panama Canal itineraries from Miami FL beginning November 4. Her 5-day Western Caribbean itineraries include visits to Harvest Caye and Costa Maya. Ship’s 11-day Panama Canal sailings cruise to Cartagena, Colon, Puerto Limon, Roatan Island, Harvest Caye, and Costa Maya. Norwegian Pearl's 14-day Southern Caribbean itinerary calls in Oranjestad, Willemstad, Kralendijk, Castries, Bridgetown, St. John’s, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Puerto Plata. The 4-day Bahamas cruise includes visits to Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay, and Freeport.

NCL Sky

Miami Florida

  • 3- and 4-day Bahamas cruises from Miami

NCL Spirit

Tampa Florida

Malaga

Barcelona

Venice

Southampton England

EUROPE cruise (Mediterranean, Canaries)

  • repositioning Transatlantic
  • winter 2019: 10- and 11-day cruises to the Canary Islands and Morocco from Barcelona; Tampa cruises.
  • summer 2019: Norwegian Spirit is homeported in Southampton for summer 2019 and sails 10-day/longer itineraries to the British Isles, Norwegian Fjords, Iceland, Baltics, and the Arctic Circle.
  • 2020: Norwegian Spirit is seasonally redeployed to China beginning summer 2020.
  • Beginning on May 9, 2020, Norwegian Spirit sails a variety of itineraries from Tokyo and Hong Kong. These 11- to 15-day itineraries feature calls to Shanghai, Beijing, Osaka, Okinawa, Mount Fuji, Sapporo, and Taipei (Keelung).

NCL Star

Sydney NSW

Venice

  • repositioning Transatlantic
  • summer 2019: Greek Isles and Eastern Mediterranean cruises, of which primarily 7-day trips with a small selection of 9-, 10-, 11-, and 12-day cruises departing from Venice between May 12-November 10, 2019.
  • winter 2019-2020: Norwegian Star offers South American itineraries, thus replacing Norwegian Sun and kicking off in December 2019. From San Antonio (Santiago) and Bueno Aires, the ship embarks on 14-day cruises to both eastbound and westbound ports including the Falkland Islands, Punta Arenas, and Ushuaia.
  • 2020-2021: Beginning December 19, Norwegian Star sails 14-day South American voyages with visits to Montevideo, Punta Del Este, Puerto Madryn, Stanley, Ushuaia, Punta Arenas, Cape Horn, Puerto Chacabuco, Puerto Montt.

NCL Sun

Port Canaveral Florida

Valparaiso-Santiago Chile

Buenos Aires Argentina

  • Alaska, South America
  • 14-day Alaska cruises roundtrip from Vancouver
  • 14-day from Buenos Aires and Santiago to South America
  • 2019: westbound and eastbound 14-day winter cruises between Valparaiso Chile and Buenos Aires Argentina

NCL America

Pride of America

Honolulu Hawaii

  • 7-day Hawaii cruises from Honolulu HI (round-trip).
  • 2019: 7-day Hawaii itinerary from Honolulu through May 2019.
  • In summer 2019 Pride of America is back in Hawaii on 7-day itineraries through April 2021.
  • The ship continues cruising her 7-day inter-island itinerary which offers about 100 hours of port time in the main islands of Hawaii, including visits to Hilo, Kona, and overnights in Kahului, Maui, and Nawiliwili, with an afternoon cruising past Napali Coast. Pride of America departs from Honolulu every Saturday between May 2021-April 2022.

NCL cruise cancellation policy changes

In 2016, Norwegian Cruise Line adjusted its final payment and cancellation policies. Under the new policy, vacationers incur penalties further from departure date when canceling, effective for bookings since January 2016. Before, itineraries 6 days or longer canceled 56 to 75 days in advance of embarkation guaranteed passengers full deposit back. Under the new policy, final payment for sailings 6 or more days is already due 90 days prior to cruise versus the old policy of 75 days. Cancellation penalties will start 89 days prior to sailing.

The deposit schedule of NCL has also shifted. Previously, for cruises of 6 to 9 nights, cruisers would need to put down a deposit of US$250 per person. On/after January 1, 2016, that shifts to US$250 per person for cruises 7 to 9 days; cruises 2 to 6 nights only require a US$100 deposit per person. Final payments for holiday cruises during Christmas and New Year are due 120 days (about 4 months) prior from sailing dates, excluding voyages on Norwegian Sky.

Norwegian Cruise Line related cruise news