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Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), also known in short as Norwegian, is a cruise line founded in 1966 and based in the United States. It is the third-largest cruise line in the world by passengers, controlling approximately 8.7% of the total worldwide share of the cruise market by passengers as of 2018.[1] It is wholly owned by parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

Norwegian Cruise Line
Founded1966; 53 years ago (1966)
HeadquartersMiami, Florida, United States
Area served
Key people
Andrew Stuart (CEO)
ParentNorwegian Cruise Line Holdings


The cruise line was founded as Norwegian Caribbean Line in 1966 by Knut Kloster and Ted Arison, with the 8,666-ton, 140m cruise ship/car ferry, Sunward,[2] which in 1966 operated as a car-ferry between Southampton UK and Gibraltar, for that one, short season only. Arison soon left to form Carnival Cruise Lines, while Kloster acquired additional ships for Caribbean service. Norwegian pioneered many firsts in the cruise industry like: the first Out Island Cruise, the first combined air-sea program (marketed as "Cloud 9 Cruises") which combined low-cost air fares with the cruise, first shipline to develop new ports in the Caribbean, like Ocho Rios in Jamaica. Like the original Sunward of 1966, Norwegians's second ship, the Starward had the capability to carry automobiles through a well-concealed stern door. Later, this area was turned into cabins and a two-deck movie theater, which is now a casino. Norwegian was responsible for many of the cruise innovations that have now become standard throughout the industry.

SS Norway arriving at Southampton

Norwegian made headlines with the acquisition of the France in 1979, rebuilding the liner as a cruise ship and renaming her Norway. The conversion cost more than US$100 million. The Norway was at the time significantly larger than any existing cruise ship, and exploited the extra space available by adding a greater than usual variety of onboard entertainment. Her success paved the way for a new era of giant cruise ships. A boiler explosion in May 2003 forced Norwegian to withdraw the Norway from service, later being laid up in Bremerhaven, Germany until 2005 when she was towed to Port Klang Malaysia with the claimed intent to use her as an anchored casino or slow overnight casino cruises on her remaining boilers. Instead, she was sold for scrap and renamed the SS Blue Lady[3] and later beached at Alang, Gujarat, India in August 2006 with claims that she had not been cleaned of toxic materials.[4] On September 11, 2007, the India Supreme Court issued an order permitting her to be broken-up at Alang, despite the presence of large amounts of hazardous asbestos remaining on board.[5][6]

Norwegian has expanded to other parts of the world, including Alaska, Europe, Bermuda, and Hawaii. Between 1997 and 2001 the company also operated cruises out of Australia under the name Norwegian Capricorn Line.

Norwegian acquired Orient Lines in 1998.[7] After talks,[8] Norwegian itself was acquired in 2000 by Star Cruises, a subsidiary of Genting Hong Kong, part of the Malaysia-based Genting Group.[9] In 2007, Star Cruises sold Orient Line's Marco Polo to Transocean Tours,[10] and Orient Lines ceased operations in early 2008.[11]

In 2002, Norwegian purchased the half-complete hull of the first Project America ship, at the time under construction at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, US, which was towed to Germany to be completed at the Lloyd Werft shipyard. Subsequently, Norwegian acquired the rights to move two ships built entirely outside the United States under the US flag, making it possible to start a US-flagged operation under the brand name NCL America.[12][13] In 2003 the company announced the purchase of the American-flagged liners SS United States and SS Independence. In their July 2007 fiscal report, Norwegian noted the sale of the Independence, renamed SS Oceanic some time before. On July 1, 2010, the SS United States Conservancy struck a deal to buy the SS United States for $3 million.[14] On February 1, 2011, the ownership was officially transferred to the SS United States Conservancy.

In August 2007, Star Cruises sold 50% of Norwegian for $1 billion to US-based Apollo Management in order to strengthen Norwegian's financial position.[15]

Subsequently, Norwegian reported in February 2008 that the Pride of Aloha, one of the two remaining NCL America ships, would be withdrawn from service in May of the same year. Initial reports suggested she would be transferred to the fleet of Star Cruises,[16] but it was later announced that she would return to the Norwegian international fleet as the Norwegian Sky,[17] while the Norwegian Majesty and Norwegian Dream would be sold to Louis Cruise Lines.[18] The sale of the Norwegian Dream was subsequently canceled.[19] It was announced in September 2012 that the Norwegian Dream would become the Superstar Gemini for Star Cruises, from January 2013.

On June 1, 2012, Norwegian announced the signing of a memorandum of agreement to exercise its option to purchase Norwegian Sky. The purchase price was approximately $260 million, financing being provided by the seller.[20]

On October 17, 2012, Meyer Werft and Norwegian reached a second agreement for the construction of two new vessels. Slated for delivery in October 2015 and 2017, respectively. The project was under the code name "Breakaway Plus Class", with the vessels expected to be 163,000 gross tons and hold 4,200 passengers. The Norwegian Escape entered service in November 2015 and weighs 164,600 tons. Norwegian is expected to confirm its option for the 2017 vessel soon.[21] Two more vessels were ordered on July 14, 2014, they will enter service in 2018 and 2019 and will be slightly bigger at 164,000 GT.[22]

Initial public offering and reorganisationEdit

Following an initial public offering and corporate reorganisation in 2013, Norwegian was made a wholly owned subsidiary of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH),[23][24] while Norwegian's previous owners Genting Hong Kong, Apollo Management and TPG Capital exchanged their stakes in Norwegian for shares in the newly listed NCLH.[25]

On 11 March 2014, Norwegian announced that it was canceling all future port calls in Tunisia following an incident where the country forbade Israeli nationals from disembarking.[26]

In December 2016, it was announced that Norwegian Cruise Line has reached an agreement with the Cuban government.[27] In May 2017, the Norwegian Sky was the first Norwegian vessel to ever visit Cuba. The Norwegian Sky makes weekly trips from Miami to Havana, Cuba, making Norwegian the only line sailing that route weekly.[28]

On May 2, 2017, Norwegian Cruise Line announced a new PortMiami Terminal.[29] The construction began on May 1, 2018, and is scheduled for completion by fall 2019.[30] Between 2022 and 2025, Fincantieri will deliver four ships[31] and in July 2018, the company announced an order for two more Project Leonardo ships. They are expected to enter service in 2026 and 2027.[32] In December 2018, Norwegian revealed plans to build a new pier in Alaska's Icy Strait Point.[33]


As of January 2018, Norwegian Cruise Line operates 16 cruise ships, with seven on order. It has also previously owned or operated 19 other ships. All its ships are flagged to The Bahamas, except for the sole exception of Pride of America, which operates cruises within the United States and is flagged and registered in the US, as well as being owned by a US-registered subsidiary, NCL America.

Current shipsEdit

Ship Built In service for NCL Last
Flag Notes Image
Spirit class
Norwegian Spirit 1998 2004-present 2014[34] 75,904   Bahamas Previously SuperStar Leo
Sun class
Norwegian Sky 1999 1999-2004,


2019 77,104   Bahamas Originally constructed as Costa Olympia but sold to NCL during construction, sailed under NCL America as Pride of Aloha from 2004 to 2008
Norwegian Sun 2001 2001-present 2018[34] 78,309   Bahamas
Dawn class
Norwegian Star 2001 2001-present 2018 91,740   Bahamas Originally ordered as Superstar Libra
Norwegian Dawn 2002 2002-present June 2016[35] 92,250   Bahamas Originally ordered as SuperStar Scorpio
Pride of America class
Pride of America 2005 2005-present March 2016 80,439   United States The only US-flagged ship in Norwegian's fleet
Jewel class
Norwegian Jewel 2005 2005-present November 2018[36] 93,502   Bahamas
Norwegian Jade 2006 2006-present March 2017[34] 93,558   Bahamas Formerly Pride Of Hawaii, reconstructed in 2008 as the Norwegian Jade
Norwegian Pearl 2006 2006-present February 2017[37] 93,530   Bahamas
Norwegian Gem 2007 2007-present November 2015 93,530   Bahamas
Epic class[38]
Norwegian Epic 2010 2010-present October 2015[35] 155,873   Bahamas The only ship in her class
Breakaway class
Norwegian Breakaway 2013 2013-present April 2018 145,655[39]   Bahamas
Norwegian Getaway 2014 2014-present June 2019 145,655[40]   Bahamas
Breakaway Plus class
Norwegian Escape 2015 2015-present None 164,600   Bahamas
Norwegian Joy 2017 2017-present February 2019 167,725   Bahamas
Norwegian Bliss 2018 2018-present None 168,028   Bahamas 9th largest cruise ship in the world after Royal Caribbean International's Quantum Class and Oasis Class

Future shipsEdit

Ship Inaugural Voyage Gross tonnage Flag Notes Image
Breakaway Plus Class
Norwegian Encore 2019 169,145[41]   Bahamas
Project Leonardo
Unnamed 2022 140,000
Unnamed 2023 140,000
Unnamed 2024 140,000
Unnamed 2025 140,000
Unnamed 2026 140,000
Unnamed 2027 140,000

Previous shipsEdit

Ship Built In service
for NCL
Status as of 2019 Image
Sunward 1966 1966–1976 10,558 Scrapped in 2004 at Chittagong, Bangladesh.
Starward 1968 1968–1995 15,781 Scrapped in 2018 at Alang, India.
Skyward 1969 1969–1991 15,653 Since 2000 Leisure World for New Century Cruise Lines.
Southward 1971 1971–1994 16,710 Scrapped in 2013 at Aliaga, Turkey.
Sunward II 1971 1977–1991 14,194 Scrapped in 2014 at Aliaga, Turkey.
Norway 1961 1979–2003 76,049 Scrapped in 2008 at Alang, India.
Seaward / Norwegian Sea 1988 1988–2005 42,285 Previously SuperStar Libra. Now used as hotel ship for workers at MV Werften.[42]
Westward 1972 1991–1993 28,613 Since 1996 Black Watch for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
Sunward 1973 1991–1992,


28,551 Since 2005 Boudicca for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
Dreamward / Norwegian Dream 1992 1992–2008 50,764 Since 2012 SuperStar Gemini for Star Cruises.
Windward / Norwegian Wind 1993 1993–2007 51,309 Since 2007 SuperStar Aquarius for Star Cruises.
Leeward 1980 1995–1999 25,611 Since 2007 Cristal for Louis Cruise Lines.
Norwegian Crown 1988 1996–2000,


43,537 Since 2008 Balmoral for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
Norwegian Star 1973 1997–1998 28,518 Since 2004 MS Albatros for Phoenix Reisen.
Norwegian Dynasty 1993 1997–1999 24,344 Since 2001 Braemar for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
Norwegian Majesty 1992 1997–2009 41,662 Since 2018 Crown Iris for Mano Maritime.
Independence 1951 Never entered service 26,658 Wrecked and scrapped in 2010 off Alang, India.
SS United States 1952 Never entered service 38,216 Laid up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Seaward 1972 Never entered service 17,042 Sank in 2016 near the port of Laem Chabang, Thailand.

Private islandsEdit

Norwegian owns two private islands in the Caribbean: Harvest Caye in Belize and Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas.[43]


  1. ^ "2018 Worldwide Cruise Line Market Share". Cruise Market Watch. 2018. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  2. ^ "Norwegian Cruise Line Celebrates Fifty Years". The Maritime Executive. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  3. ^ SS Norway ex France Archived September 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on October 17, 2011.
  4. ^ "'Toxic ship' cleared for breaking". BBC. August 2, 2006.
  5. ^ Maritime Matters: France, Norway Archived July 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Indian court says 'Blue Lady' can be broken up". Khaleej Times Online. September 11, 2007. Archived from the original on September 1, 2009.
  7. ^ Ward, Douglas (2006). Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships 2006. Berlitz. p. 384. ISBN 981-246-739-4.
  8. ^ "NCL in talks on possible partnership with Star Cruises". Business Times. December 8, 1999. p. 33.
  9. ^ Asklander, Micke. "Kloster Cruise / Norwegian Cruise Line". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2007.
  10. ^ "NCL Announces Farwell Season of Marco Polo". Orient Lines press release. Archived from the original on March 18, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2007.
  11. ^ Newman, Doug (March 31, 2008). "The End of Orient Lines". At Sea with Doug Newman. Retrieved April 1, 2008.
  12. ^ "Star buys Project America". Bnet. November–December 2002. Archived from the original on May 19, 2005. Retrieved April 14, 2008.
  13. ^ "Project America rides again". January 18, 2003. Retrieved April 14, 2008.
  14. ^ "SOS to save the SS United States". Mail Online. Daily Mail. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  15. ^ "Apollo invests $1billion in NCL Corp to take 50% stake". Cruise Business Review. August 17, 2007. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved August 17, 2007.
  16. ^ "NCL Corporation Announces Adjustments to Hawai'i Fleet". NCL press release. Norwegian Cruise Line. February 11, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2008.
  17. ^ "It's official: Pride of Aloha re-joins NCL international fleet as Norwegian Sky". Cruise Business Review. Cruise Media Oy Ltd. May 6, 2008. Retrieved May 7, 2008.[dead link]
  18. ^ Joshi, Rajesh; Lowry, Nigel (April 14, 2008). "NCL close to offloading cruiseship trio". Lloyd's List. Archived from the original on April 26, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2008.
  19. ^ "No Dream for Louis Cruises". Cruise Business Review. Cruise Media Oy Ltd. September 30, 2008. Retrieved September 30, 2008.[dead link]
  20. ^ "Norwegian Signs Memorandum of Agreement for Purchase of Norwegian Sky". Cruise Industry News. June 1, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  21. ^ "Norwegian Cruise Line to Build Third New Ship". October 17, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  22. ^ "Norwegian Cruise Line Orders Two New Ships". Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  23. ^ "Company History". Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  24. ^ "Norwegian Cruise Line IPO soars 31%". USA Today. January 17, 2013. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  25. ^ FORM 10-K (Annual Report) (PDF) (Report). Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. February 20, 2013. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  26. ^ Sampson, Hannah (March 12, 2014). "After Israeli passengers rebuffed, Norwegian Cruise Line cancels Tunisia calls - Tourism & Cruises -". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on March 12, 2014.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  27. ^ "Sailing soon from the U.S. to Cuba: ships from Norwegian and Royal Caribbean". Miami Herald. December 7, 2016.
  28. ^ "Norwegian Cruise Line kicks off voyages to Cuba". USA Today. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  29. ^ Staff, CIN (May 4, 2017). "PortMiami Set to Develop New Terminal for Norwegian".
  30. ^ Staff, CIN (March 7, 2018). "Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Announces New Terminal at PortMiami". Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  31. ^ "Fincantieri: A New Class of Ships for Norwegian Cruise Line". February 6, 2017. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  32. ^ "Norwegian Cruise Line to Build More Leonardo-Class Cruise Ships - Norwegian Cruise Line". Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  33. ^ Staff, C. I. N. (December 6, 2018). "Norwegian to Build Pier at Icy Strait Point in Alaska". Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  34. ^ a b c "". Cruise Critic. Retrieved May 11, 2017. External link in |title= (help)
  35. ^ a b "Norwegian Edge | Norwegian Cruise Line". Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  36. ^ Staff, C. I. N. (November 9, 2018). "Norwegian Jewel Set for Sydney Debut After Refit". Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  37. ^ "Norwegian Pearl Emerges From Dry Dock With Upgraded Cabins and Restaurants - Norwegian Cruise Line".
  38. ^ "Norwegian Cruise Ships | Cruise Ship Deck Plans | Norwegian Cruise Line". Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  39. ^ "Norwegian Breakaway". Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  40. ^ "Norwegian Getaway". Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  41. ^ "Keel laying ceremony for the Norwegian Encore". Meyer Werft. November 28, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  42. ^ "SuperStar Libra to Become Hotel Ship at MV Werften". July 24, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  43. ^ "Norwegian Cruise Line unveils Harvest Caye to first visitors". The San Pedro Sun. November 23, 2016. Retrieved June 10, 2017.

External linksEdit