The Best Norwegian Cruise Ships For 2018

best norwegian ships for 2018
Which Norwegian ship is your perfect match? - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line has a smaller fleet than competitors Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but that doesn’t mean choosing one of their fourteen ships is an easy task. To make it a little simpler, we crunched the numbers from every Norwegian review we received last year to put together a list of the best Norwegian ships for your 2018 cruise.

 

Ship Quality

norwegian breakaway 2018
Norwegian Breakaway - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

1. Norwegian Escape - 4.39
2. Norwegian Pearl - 4.30
3. Norwegian Gem - 4.30
4. Norwegian Jade - 4.26
5. Pride of America - 4.24
6. Norwegian Getaway - 4.22
7. Norwegian Breakaway - 4.22
8. Norwegian Jewel - 4.22
9. Norwegian Dawn - 4.22
10. Norwegian Spirit - 4.20
11. Norwegian Sun - 4.14
12. Norwegian Star - 4.14
13. Norwegian Sky - 4.13
14. Norwegian Epic - 4.00

What We Expected: We’ve seen positive reviews for Norwegian Escape flood in over the past year, so we weren’t surprised it won the category with room to spare. Norwegian Epic finished dead last by a pretty large margin, likely due to the overwhelmingly negative response to the New Wave balcony cabins.

What Surprised Us: Newer ships usually have an understandable advantage when it comes to ship quality, so we were caught off guard when three out of the four Jewel-class ships (Pearl, Gem, and Jade) and the refurbished Pride of America beat out the much newer breakaway-class ships, Getaway and Breakaway. We chalk this up the to the recent round of “Norwegian Edge” ship enhancements, which brought new venues and extensive refurbishments to Jade, Pearl, Dawn, Sun, Pride of America, and Gem.

 

Cabins

norwegian getaway best cabins
Balcony cabin on Norwegian Getaway - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

1. Norwegian Escape - 4.41
2. Norwegian Pearl - 4.40
3. Norwegian Gem - 4.32
4. Norwegian Jade - 4.31
5. Norwegian Getaway - 4.30
6. Norwegian Sun - 4.30
7. Pride of America - 4.29
8. Norwegian Star - 4.25
9. Norwegian Dawn - 4.25
10. Norwegian Jewel - 4.25
11. Norwegian Spirit - 4.25
12. Norwegian Breakaway - 4.25
13. Norwegian Sky - 4.11
14. Norwegian Epic - 4.03

What We Expected: Cruisers spend more time in their cabin than anywhere else on the ship, so it made sense that the top four finishers here were the same as the Ship Quality category.

What Surprised Us: Epic once again fell short of the mark, and we're starting to see a pattern.

 

Food & Dining

norwegian breakaway dining venue
Moderno on Norwegian Breakaway - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

1. Norwegian Escape - 4.22
2. Norwegian Pearl - 4.18
3. Norwegian Getaway - 4.10
4. Norwegian Spirit - 4.09
5. Norwegian Jade - 4.09
6. Norwegian Gem - 4.08
7. Norwegian Sky - 4.05
8. Norwegian Sun - 4.05
9. Norwegian Dawn - 4.04
10. Norwegian Epic - 4.02
11. Norwegian Breakaway - 3.99
12. Norwegian Star - 3.97
13. Norwegian Jewel - 3.97
14. Pride of America - 3.93

What We Expected: We've seen a lot of complaints about dining service on Pride of America, so we pretty much saw the last-place finish coming.

What Surprised Us: The Norwegian Edge refurbishments added new venues like O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill, Sugarcane Mojito Bar, The Pit Stop, and Bliss Ultra Lounge to some of Norwegian's older vessels. The high scores from Jade, Pearl, and Gem makes us think they were worth the money.

 

Norwegian Cruises From  /Night

 

Service & Staff

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

1. Norwegian Spirit - 4.52
2. Norwegian Pearl - 4.50
3. Norwegian Jade - 4.47
4. Norwegian Escape - 4.45
5. Norwegian Dawn - 4.45
6. Norwegian Sun - 4.44
7. Norwegian Jewel - 4.44
8. Norwegian Gem - 4.44
9. Norwegian Star - 4.40
10. Norwegian Sky - 4.37
11. Norwegian Getaway - 4.35
12. Pride of America - 4.32
13. Norwegian Breakaway - 4.31
14. Norwegian Epic - 4.22

What We Expected: Three of Norwegian’s newest ships occupied three of the four lowest spots on this list. Service on a ship typically improves the longer a ship stays in service, so this wasn’t a huge surprise.

What Surprised Us: We’ve seen plenty of ships struggle to cater to American cruisers on European sailings, which is why we were to delighted to see Norwegian Spirit, a ship that sails exclusively in the Mediterranean, on the top of this list.

 

Onboard Activities

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Norwegian Breakaway's ropes course - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

1. Norwegian Escape - 4.11
2. Norwegian Pearl - 3.99
3. Norwegian Jewel - 3.94
4. Norwegian Sky - 3.93
5. Norwegian Getaway - 3.93
6. Norwegian Spirit - 3.91
7. Norwegian Sun - 3.91
8. Norwegian Gem - 3.89
9. Norwegian Dawn - 3.88
10. Norwegian Star - 3.88
11. Pride of America - 3.87
12. Norwegian Breakaway - 3.86
13. Norwegian Jade - 3.86
14. Norwegian Epic - 3.79

What We Expected: Like other modern megaships, Norwegian Escape boats an extensive list of onboard activities, from the massive aqua park with four multi-story water slides, to a three-story ropes course with five sky rails and two planks that reach out over the side of the ship. It’s first place win was almost a given.

What Surprised Us: Newer ships generally have more onboard activities than their older counterparts, which is why Breakaway (2013) and Epic (2010) finishing so far down left us scratching our heads.

 

Entertainment

norwegian cruise line entertainment
After Midnight on Norwegian Escape - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

1. Norwegian Jade - 4.13
2. Norwegian Dawn - 4.11
3. Norwegian Pearl - 4.10
4. Norwegian Gem - 4.10
5. Norwegian Jewel - 4.09
6. Norwegian Getaway - 4.08
7. Norwegian Spirit - 4.07
8. Norwegian Star - 4.07
9. Norwegian Escape - 4.07
10. Pride of America - 4.06
11. Norwegian Sun - 4.05
12. Norwegian Breakaway - 4.03
13. Norwegian Epic - 4.00
14. Norwegian Sky - 3.98

What We Expected: In our similar roundup for The Best Royal Caribbean Ships For 2018, nearly all of the top finishers were the newest ships in the fleet. This simply wasn’t the case here, and there wasn’t much about these results that we expected.

What Surprised Us: Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Dawn were launched back in 2006 and 2002, but they didn’t just keep up with the rapid pace of innovation in cruise ship entertainment. In a surprising upset, they managed to upset plenty of newer ships that were built from the ground up to handle the Broadway-caliber performances that Norwegian ushered in. 

Children’s Programs

kids center norwegian epic
Kids Center on Norwegian Spirit - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

1. Norwegian Escape - 4.00
2. Norwegian Pearl - 3.96
3. Norwegian Spirit - 3.89
4. Norwegian Sun - 3.85
5. Norwegian Getaway - 3.84
6. Norwegian Jewel - 3.84
7. Norwegian Breakaway - 3.82
8. Norwegian Dawn - 3.82
9. Norwegian Jade - 3.81
10. Norwegian Gem - 3.77
11. Norwegian Star - 3.75
12. Pride of America - 3.73
13. Norwegian Sky - 3.72
14. Norwegian Epic - 3.66

What We Expected: Escape and Pearl have dominated the competition, so their one-two finish in the final category was not a shocker.

What Surprised Us: Norwegian Spirit again delivered a surprising performance. Despite being a twenty year-old ship sailing the Mediterranean (which is not as kid-friendly as Caribbean itineraries), it still has some of the best children’s programs in the fleet.

 

Norwegian Cruises From  /Night

 

What We Learned

- Norwegian has hit their stride with Escape, and we’re very excited to see what the upcoming Norwegian Bliss has in store.

- Jewel-class ships (Pearl, Jewel, Jade and Gem) are an excellent value, especially considering you can often book an inside cabin on these ships for less than $60/night. Pearl in particular was the runner-up in nearly every category, regularly finishing behind Norwegian Escape, and even outscoring it in the Service and Entertainment categories.

- Epic struggles across the board, and sounds like it is in desperate need of some changes.

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