Norwegian Cruise Line

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Norwegian Cruise Line
Founded1966; 55 years ago (1966)
In Norway
HeadquartersMiami, Florida, United States
Area served
Key people
Harry Sommer (CEO)
Revenue$6.06 billion (2018)[1]
ParentNorwegian Cruise Line Holdings

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), also known in short as Norwegian, is an American cruise line founded in 1966, incorporated in Bermuda and headquartered in Miami.[2] It is the third-largest cruise line in the world by passengers, controlling about 8.7% of the total worldwide share of the cruise market by passengers as of 2018.[3] It is wholly owned by parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.


Norwegian Caribbean Line's first ship Sunward

The cruise line was founded as Norwegian Caribbean Line in 1966 by Norwegian Knut Kloster and Israeli Ted Arison, with the 8,666-ton, 140-m cruise ship/car ferry, Sunward,[4] 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, such as the first Out Island Cruise,[further explanation needed] the first combined air-sea program (marketed as "Cloud 9 Cruises"), which combined low-cost air fares with the cruise, and first shipline to develop new ports in the Caribbean, such as Ocho Rios in Jamaica.

Starward and sister Skyward were the first purpose built ships for NCL

Norwegians's second and third ship, the Starward and Skyward, were the first newly built ships designed for the cruise line.[5] Like the original Sunward of 1966, they 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, later to be used as 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.[6] 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 Blue Lady[7] and later beached at Alang, Gujarat, India, in August 2006 with claims that she had not been cleaned of toxic materials.[8] 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.[9][10]

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.[11] After talks,[12] Norwegian itself was acquired in 2000 by Star Cruises, a subsidiary of Genting Hong Kong, part of the Malaysia-based Genting Group.[13] In 2007, Star Cruises sold Orient Line's Marco Polo to Transocean Tours,[14] and Orient Lines ceased operations in early 2008.[15]

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.[16][17] In 2003, the company announced the purchase of the American-flagged liners United States and 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.[18] On February 1, 2011, the ownership was officially transferred to the SS United States Conservancy.[19]

In August 2007, Star Cruises sold 50% of Norwegian for $1 billion to US-based Apollo Management to strengthen Norwegian's financial position.[20]

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,[21] but it was later announced that she would return to the Norwegian international fleet as the Norwegian Sky,[22] while the Norwegian Majesty and Norwegian Dream would be sold to Louis Cruise Lines.[23] The sale of the Norwegian Dream was subsequently cancelled.[24] The Norwegian Dream became the Superstar Gemini for Star Cruises, from January 2013.[25]

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 roughly $260 million, financing being provided by the seller.[26]

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.[27] Two more vessels were ordered on July 14, 2014, and they will enter service in 2018 and 2019 and will be slightly bigger at 164,000 GT.[28]

Initial public offering and reorganisation[edit]

Following an initial public offering and corporate reorganisation in 2013, Norwegian was made a wholly owned subsidiary of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH),[29][30] 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.[31]

On 11 March 2014, Norwegian announced that it was cancelling all future port calls in Tunisia following an incident wherein the country forbade Israeli nationals from disembarking.[32]

In December 2016, Norwegian Cruise Line announced it had reached an agreement with the Cuban government.[33] In May 2017, the Norwegian Sky was the first Norwegian Cruise Line vessel to ever visit Cuba. The Norwegian Sky makes weekly trips from Miami to Havana, making Norwegian the only line sailing that route weekly.[34]

On May 2, 2017, Norwegian Cruise Line announced a new PortMiami Terminal.[35] The construction began on May 1, 2018, and is scheduled for completion by fall 2019.[36] Between 2022 and 2025, Fincantieri intends to deliver four ships[37] 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.[38] In December 2018, Norwegian revealed plans to build a new pier in Alaska's Icy Strait Point.[39]

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

In March 2020, the Miami New Times reported that managers at Norwegian had prepared a set of responses intended to convince customers wary of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to book cruises, including "blatantly false" claims that the coronavirus "can only survive in cold temperatures, so the Caribbean is a fantastic choice for your next cruise", that "[s]cientists and medical professionals have confirmed that the warm weather of the spring will be the end of the [c]oronavirus", and that the virus "cannot live in the amazingly warm and tropical temperatures that your cruise will be sailing to."[40][41][42][43][44]

On March 14, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a No Sail Order for cruise ships. Concurrently Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings implemented a suspension of all cruise voyages across its three brands (Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises), with all 28 ships in port or at anchor and all passengers disembarked by March 28, 2020. This suspension has subsequently been extended through June 30, 2020.[45]: S-1 

On May 5, 2020, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) said there is “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue as a “going concern” as it faces a liquidity crisis over the next twelve months.[45]: S-6 

By the next day, NCLH was able to secure over $2.2 billion of additional liquidity in oversubscribed capital markets transactions, but at a price: (1) $400 million in common stock at $11 per share; (2) $675 million in senior secured notes due 2024 at a 12.25% interest rate; (3) $750 million in exchangeable notes due 2024 at 6% interest rate, and exchangeable at any time into common shares at $13.75; and (4) $400 million private investment from a global private equity firm.[46][47] On May 7, 2020, NCLH CEO declared that the company has secured enough liquidity to get through potentially 18 months of zero revenues and may resume cruising later in 2020.[48][49]

In anticipation of sailing again, Norwegian is implementing new health and safety measures, including installing H13 HEPA air filters.[50] The company is also working with the CDC and the new color-coding system to indicate each ship's COVID-19 status, and to repatriate Norwegian crews still stuck aboard their vessel.[51]

Even though the company lost $4 billion and furloughed 20 percent of its staff, it doubled the salary of its chief executive, Frank Del Rio, to $36.4 million.[52]


As of December 2020, Norwegian Cruise Line operates 17 cruise ships, with six on order. It has also previously owned or operated 19 other ships. All its ships are flagged to the Bahamas, except for the 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 ships[edit]

Ship Built In service for NCL Last
Flag Notes Image
Leo class
Norwegian Spirit 1998 2004–present January 2020[53] 75,904  Bahamas Previously SuperStar Leo
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Spirit 07 IMO 9141065 @chesi.JPG
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 Sky Great Stirrup Cay 75.jpg
Norwegian Sun 2001 2001–present 2018[53] 78,309  Bahamas
Norwegian Sun departing Port of Tallinn 25 May 2012 (cropped).JPG
Dawn class
Norwegian Star 2001 2001–present 2018 91,740  Bahamas Originally ordered as Superstar Libra
Norwegian Star arriving Tallinn 12 July 2013.JPG
Norwegian Dawn 2002 2002–present June 2016[54] 92,250  Bahamas Originally ordered as SuperStar Scorpio
Norwegian Dawn - Great Stirrup Cay.jpg
Pride of America class
Pride of America 2005 2005–present March 2016 80,439  United States The only US flagged cruise ship in the world
Pride of America seen from Aloha Tower (4677840953).jpg
Jewel class
Norwegian Jewel 2005 2005–present November 2018[55] 93,502  Bahamas
Norwegian Jewel Newport September 2010.jpg
Norwegian Jade 2006 2006–present March 2017[53] 93,558  Bahamas Formerly Pride Of Hawaii, renamed in 2008 as the Norwegian Jade
Norwegian jade in Venice.JPG
Norwegian Pearl 2006 2006–present February 2017[56] 93,530  Bahamas
Norwegian Pearl.jpg
Norwegian Gem 2007 2007–present November 2015 93,530  Bahamas
Norwegian gem in Sicily 2008.jpg
Epic class[57]
Norwegian Epic 2010 2010–present October 2015[54] 155,873  Bahamas The only ship in her class
Rotterdam cruiseschip Norwegian Epic.jpg
Breakaway class
Norwegian Breakaway 2013 2013–present April 2018 145,655[58]  Bahamas
Norwegian Breakaway 10.JPG
Norwegian Getaway 2014 2014–present June 2019 145,655[59]  Bahamas
Norwegian Getaway 18.JPG
Breakaway Plus class
Norwegian Escape 2015 2015–present None 164,600  Bahamas
Norwegian escape.jpg
Norwegian Joy 2017 2017–present February 2019 167,725  Bahamas Originally designed for China in 2017, but refurbished and transferred to the American Market in 2019.
Norwegian Joy nach dem Ausdocken.jpg
Norwegian Bliss 2018 2018–present None 168,028  Bahamas
Norwegian Bliss.jpg
Norwegian Encore 2019 2019–present None 169,145[60]  Bahamas 9th largest cruise ship in the world after Royal Caribbean International's Spectrum of the Seas.
Norwegian Encore Feb 1 2020.jpg

Future ships[edit]

Ship Inaugural Voyage Gross tonnage Flag Notes Image
Prima class
Norwegian Prima[61] 2022 142,500[62] [63]
Unnamed 2023 142,500[64] [63]
Unnamed 2024 142,500[65] [63]
Unnamed 2025 142,500[66] [63]
Unnamed 2026 142,500[67] [68]
Unnamed 2027 142,500[69] [68]

Previous Ships[edit]

Ship Built In service
for NCL
Status as of 2021 Image
Sunward 1966 1966–1976 10,558 Scrapped in 2004 at Chittagong, Bangladesh.
Sunward at Pier A (7562495404) (cropped).jpg
Starward 1968 1968–1995 15,781 Scrapped in 2018 at Alang, India.
MV Orient Queen in Beirut.jpg
Skyward 1969 1969–1991 15,653 Scrapped in 2021 at Alang, India.
"Skyward" - Miami, 1980.JPG
Southward 1971 1971–1994 16,710 Scrapped in 2013 at Aliaga, Turkey.
"Southward" - Miami, 1986.JPG
Sunward II 1971 1977–1991 14,194 Scrapped in 2014 at Aliaga, Turkey.
"Sunward II" - Miami, 1980.JPG
Norway 1961 1979–2003 76,049 Scrapped in 2008 at Alang, India.
SS Norway.jpg
Seaward / Norwegian Sea 1988 1988–2005 42,285 Now used as accommodation ship in Germany.[70]
NorwegianSea3-23-04 (cropped).jpg
Westward 1972 1991–1993 28,613 Now used as an accommodation ship in Turkey.
Black Watch cruise ship, Liverpool Cruise Terminal (geograph 4545674).jpg
Sunward 1973 1991–1992,


28,551 Scrapped in 2021 at Aliaga, Turkey.
Boudicca departing Tallinn 7th September 2013.JPG
Dreamward / Norwegian Dream 1992 1992–2008 50,764 Since 2012 SuperStar Gemini for Star Cruises.
Norwegian Dream1.jpg
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.
MS Leeward NCL (4172632324) (cropped).jpg
Norwegian Crown 1988 1996–2000,


43,537 Since 2008 Balmoral for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
Norwegian Crown (876515432) (cropped).jpg
Norwegian Star 1973 1997–1998 28,518 Scrapped in 2021 in Alang, India
MS Norwegian Star (4163364643) (cropped).jpg
Norwegian Dynasty 1993 1997–1999 24,344 Since 2001 Braemar for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
Norweigiandynasty cordovaalaska (4305472551) (cropped).jpg
Norwegian Majesty 1992 1997–2009 41,662 Since 2018 Crown Iris for Mano Maritime.
Norwegian Majesty-5.jpg

Ships which never entered service for NCL[edit]

Ships which NCL had options on using but never took up for various reasons.

Ship Built Gross
Status as of 2021 Image
Independence 1951 26,658 Wrecked and scrapped in 2010 off Alang, India.
Oceanic Leaving SF (cropped).jpg
SS United States 1952 38,216 Laid up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
SS United States Philly 2012-2.JPG
Seaward 1972 17,042 Sank in 2016 near the port of Laem Chabang, Thailand.
"Southern Cross" - Copenhagen, 1995.jpg

Private islands[edit]

Norwegian owns two private islands in the Caribbean: Harvest Caye in Belize and Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas.[71]


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External links[edit]