The Best Norwegian Ships For 2020

best norwegian cruise ships for 2020
Which Norwegian ship is your perfect match? - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian has a smaller fleet than Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but that doesn’t mean choosing one of their seventeen ships is an easy task. To simplify the process, we crunched the ratings from every Norwegian review we received last year to help you choose the perfect ship for your 2020 cruise. Here are the top Norwegian ships for dining, cabins, service, and more!

Cabins

norwegian encore best cabins 2020
Balcony cabin on Norwegian Encore - Photo by Sarah Bretz

1. Norwegian Encore - 4.47
2. Norwegian Joy - 4.43
3. Norwegian Bliss - 4.38
4. Norwegian Jewel - 4.37
5. Norwegian Gem - 4.34
6. Norwegian Escape - 4.34
7. Norwegian Jade - 4.34
8. Norwegian Breakaway - 4.30
9. Norwegian Sun - 4.29
10. Norwegian Spirit - 4.28
11. Norwegian Star - 4.27
12. Norwegian Getaway - 4.26
13. Norwegian Pearl - 4.23
14. Pride of America - 4.22
15. Norwegian Dawn - 4.18
16. Norwegian Sky - 4.12
17. Norwegian Epic - 4.06

What We Expected: Newer ships generally receive better cabin ratings, and that was exactly the case here as Norwegian’s three newest ships topped the list. Encore’s cabins had a lot of buzz so we weren’t surprised when it vaulted to #1, nor were we shocked when Epic finished last yet again, thanks to its odd layouts with the shower and sink in the main part of the cabin.

What Surprised Us: Even though Norwegian Escape is the newer ship, two of the older Jewel-class ships edged it out, taking fourth and fifth place while Escape came in sixth.

What Changed From Last Year: Breakaway went up from 4.17 to 4.29, likely because of a dry dock in mid-2018 that updated cabin fixtures and furnishings, marking the first of many improvements for a ship that struggled last year.

 

Food & Dining

norwegian encore the local food dining best ships
The Local on Norwegian Encore - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

1. Norwegian Encore - 4.26
2. Norwegian Joy - 4.21
3. Norwegian Bliss - 4.17
4. Norwegian Jewel - 4.13
5. Norwegian Gem - 4.10
6. Norwegian Jade - 4.10
7. Norwegian Spirit - 4.09
8. Norwegian Epic - 4.09
9. Norwegian Escape - 4.08
10. Norwegian Breakaway - 4.06
11. Norwegian Sky - 4.05
12. Norwegian Pearl - 4.05
13. Norwegian Sun - 4.04
14. Norwegian Getaway - 3.99
15. Norwegian Star - 3.97
16. Pride of America - 3.96
17. Norwegian Dawn - 3.92

What We Expected:  Norewgian Joy vaulted to the top of the pack along with Bliss, showing that these newer ships are doing something right in the culinary arena.

What Surprised Us: Sometimes it takes a little while for new ships to gain their footing and operate smoothly, and dining is no exception. However, the brand-new Encore dominated the dining category and it’s only been in service for about two months. In less positive news,  Norwegian Escape, Norwegian’s #1 ship for dining last year, fell to 9th.

What Changed From Last Year: Just like with cabins, Norwegian Breakaway showed major improvements, jumping from dead last to 10th place.

 

Norwegian Cruises From  /Night

 

Service & Staff

the haven on norwegian cruise line
The Haven - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

1. Norwegian Encore - 4.62
2. Norwegian Spirit - 4.57
3. Norwegian Joy - 4.53
4. Norwegian Jewel - 4.52
5. Norwegian Gem - 4.51
6. Norwegian Jade - 4.47
7. Norwegian Escape - 4.46
8. Norwegian Pearl - 4.43
9. Norwegian Sky - 4.41
10. Norwegian Sun - 4.39
11. Pride of America - 4.35
12. Norwegian Star - 4.34
13. Norwegian Bliss - 4.33
14. Norwegian Getaway - 4.33
15. Norwegian Epic - 4.31
16. Norwegian Dawn - 4.31
17. Norwegian Breakaway - 4.30

What We Expected: Norwegian Breakaway and Epic have historically performed poorly in this category and not much has changed this year. 

What Surprised Us: Newer ships tend to struggle with service and logistics (as we can see in the case of Bliss), which is why were floored when Encore (launched in 2019) performed as well as it did. 

What Changed From Last Year: Norwegian’s average service score rose from 4.36 to 4.42. It may seem like a small increase, but considering that most scores only range from 4.0 to 4.6, that kind of improvement in just one year is nothing to scoff at. 

 

READ MORE: The Best Carnival Cruise Line Ships for 2020

 

Onboard Activities

norwegian encore speedway go karts activities best ships 2020
Norwegian Encore Speedway - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

1. Norwegian Encore - 4.09
2. Norwegian Jewel - 4.04
3. Norwegian Joy - 4.01
4. Norwegian Gem - 3.96
5. Norwegian Jade - 3.92
6. Norwegian Bliss - 3.92
7. Norwegian Pearl - 3.89
8. Norwegian Escape - 3.88
9. Norwegian Spirit - 3.87
10. Norwegian Breakaway - 3.87
11. Norwegian Star - 3.86
12. Norwegian Sun - 3.86
13. Norwegian Sky - 3.84
14. Norwegian Epic - 3.84
15. Pride of America - 3.82
16. Norwegian Getaway - 3.81
17. Norwegian Dawn - 3.73

What We Expected: Cruise ships launched within the last few years have more activities than most travelers can experience in a single sailing, so newer ships usually have a big advantage in this category. Norwegian Encore (2019) and Joy (2017) have the best lineup of activities in the fleet, leading both of them to a top 3 finish.

What Surprised Us: Norwegian Jewel turns 15 years old this year, so we didn’t expect it to finish second in the activities category, especially when many other newer Norwegian ships have so much more to do onboard.

What Changed From Last Year: Breakaway showed yet more improvements, rising from dead last to 10th (3.69 to 3.87). Meanwhile, Escape fell from first to 8th and dropped .12 points.

 

Entertainment

prohibition musical happy hour entertainment norwegian best ships 2020
Happy Hour Prohibition - The Musical - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

1. Norwegian Encore - 4.31
2. Norwegian Joy - 4.26
3. Norwegian Jewel - 4.24
4. Norwegian Gem - 4.22
5. Norwegian Bliss - 4.22
6. Norwegian Getaway - 4.17
7. Norwegian Star - 4.15
8. Norwegian Spirit - 4.14
9. Norwegian Epic - 4.13
10. Norwegian Jade - 4.13
11. Norwegian Breakaway - 4.12
12. Norwegian Dawn - 4.09
13. Norwegian Escape - 4.09
14. Pride of America - 4.08
15. Norwegian Pearl - 4.03
16. Norwegian Sun - 4.01
17. Norwegian Sky - 4.01

What We Expected: Cutting-edge venues can help the entertainment score, but at the end of the day, it’s the performers that make or break a ship’s entertainment. Norwegian Encore and Joy appear to have nailed both sides of the entertainment coin, finishing head and shoulders above the rest of the fleet.

What Surprised Us: Breakaway improved in yet another category, climbing from dead last with 3.91 to the middle of the pack with 4.12. This could partially be due to the 2018 dry dock which replaced the jazz bar and lounge with a much more popular rock ‘n’ roll-themed one.

What Changed From Last Year: Norwegian Bliss made significant progress, improving 0.21 points to move into the top 5.

Children’s Programs

kids pool norwegian jade best norwegian ships 2020
A kids pool on Norwegian Jade - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

1. Norwegian Jade - 4.05
2. Norwegian Encore - 4.04
3. Norwegian Joy - 4.00
4. Norwegian Escape - 3.98
5. Pride of America - 3.90
6. Norwegian Jewel - 3.87
7. Norwegian Epic - 3.85
8. Norwegian Star - 3.83
9. Norwegian Getaway - 3.81
10. Norwegian Breakaway - 3.81
11. Norwegian Pearl - 3.80
12. Norwegian Bliss - 3.80
13. Norwegian Sky - 3.80
14. Norwegian Spirit - 3.78
15. Norwegian Dawn - 3.69
16. Norwegian Gem - 3.61
17. Norwegian Sun - 3.60

What We Expected: Newer ships almost always have better children’s amenities, so it made sense that Encore, Joy, and Escape finished 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. New isn’t everything though, and a good staff that has a great rapport with the kids can make older ships competitive, which is what we saw with Norwegian Jade winning for the second year in a row, and the even older Pride of America finishing 5th.

What Surprised Us: Norwegian Epic actually ranked fairly high considering its low marks in other categories. We were also a bit disappointed to see Bliss ranking at #12, considering it’s the fleet’s third newest ship with very modern children’s programs.

What Changed From Last Year: Breakaway improved in yet another category, jumping from the poor score of 3.56 to a respectable 3.81.

 

Ship Quality

norwegian encore best ships 2020 aerial
Norwegian Encore - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

1. Norwegian Encore - 4.46
2. Norwegian Joy - 4.45
3. Norwegian Bliss - 4.43
4. Norwegian Jewel - 4.41
5. Norwegian Gem - 4.34
6. Norwegian Jade - 4.34
7. Norwegian Escape - 4.33
8. Norwegian Sun - 4.29
9. Norwegian Pearl - 4.27
10. Norwegian Breakaway - 4.27
11. Norwegian Star - 4.26
12. Norwegian Sky - 4.26
13. Norwegian Spirit - 4.25
14. Pride of America - 4.21

15. Norwegian Getaway - 4.20
16. Norwegian Dawn - 4.16
17. Norwegian Epic - 4.05
 

What We Expected: Ship quality measures things like design and cleanliness, so it was no surprise when Norwegian’s newest ships (Encore, Joy, and Bliss) easily cleaned up the top 3 spots. Epic, universally maligned for a number of poor design choices, came in last for the third year in a row. 

What Surprised Us: Getaway dropped from 9th to 15th place, which is surprising because the ship underwent a dry dock in mid-2019.

What Changed From Last Year: Escape fell slightly like it did in other categories, scoring lower than several older ships.

 

Norwegian Cruises From  /Night

 

What We Learned

- Encore and Joy are now the ships to beat in the Norwegian fleet. Even though Bliss didn’t perform quite as strongly, Norwegian couldn’t have hoped for a better performance from its newest offerings.

- Bliss may not have performed as well as Encore and Joy, but despite poor scores for service and children’s programs it’s still a solid option overall.

- After dominating 2019 with several first place finishes, Norwegian Escape struggled and saw performance drops across the board.

- Even though it’s a newer ship, Norwegian Getaway had difficulty breaking into the top 50th percentile, often finishing towards the bottom. 

- Epic continued its struggles from last year, but Breakaway wowed us with notable improvements in multiple categories. It still finished last for service, but someone is definitely turning that ship around. (Although it did still finish last for service).

2019 Winners

Ship Quality: Norwegian Bliss
Cabins: Norwegian Escape
Food & Dining: Norwegian Escape
Service & Staff: Norwegian Jewel
Onboard Activities: Norwegian Escape
Entertainment: Norwegian Getaway
Children’s Programs: Norwegian Jade

 

Join the discussion

What's your favorite Norwegian ship?

1 Comment

Posted by MJBDRB1

We traveled in February 2020 on the Pride of America and it was terrible. The Mardi Gras Lounge smelled like sewerage. The food at the specialty restaurants was definately not special. The attitude of the Cruise Director and the staff was horrible. Not friendly. That trip cost us alot of money and we were traveling with a Group of 10 friends. We were very disappointed an traveling on Norwegian again and from what we overheard alot of people were very disappointed in the condition of this ship.

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