Alongside Carnival and Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line is, traditionally, thought of as one of the big three mass-market lines. The company came to prominence in 1979 when they refurbished the mothballed ocean liner S.S. France into the cruise ship S.S. Norway which, for many years, was one of the largest vessels in service.
However, while both Carnival and Royal Caribbean spent the 1980’s and 1990’s rebuilding and expanding their fleets around large builds of standard ship classes, the Norwegian fleet has, until more recently, been something of a mixed bag, including oddities, such as Pride of America, the only “American built” ship able to cruise between the Hawaiian Islands and the massive, uniquely ugly, Norwegian Epic.
The current owners have, however, started to simplify matters with six ships in the Breakaway and Breakaway-plus class entering service up to 2019, followed by at least four, slightly smaller, “Project Leonardo” vessels.
Where Norwegian has led is in the complete abandonment of long-standing cruising traditions, such as formal nights and fixed dining. Building on the experience of Star Cruises, an Asia-focused line with the same parent group, Norwegian pioneered the concept of multiple dining venues and specialty restaurants with flexible dining times.
As well as a large operation in the Caribbean, Norwegian also offers sailings in Europe, Alaska and Asia. Furthermore, if you want to tour Hawaii by ship, thanks to the Jones Act, Norwegian’s Pride of America is your only choice.