Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
Traded as
Industry Tourism
Founded 1966
Headquarters Bermuda (domicile)
Miami, Florida, United States
Key people
  • Frank del Rio
    (CEO NCLH)
  • Andrew Stewart (CEO NCL)
Products Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line is a subsidiary of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, an American-Bermudian[1] company operating cruise ships, headquartered in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida.[2] NCL began operations in 1966 under the name Norwegian Caribbean Line. Norwegian is a publicly traded company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, with major shareholders including Apollo Global Management (15.8%), Genting Group (11.1%), and TPG Capital (2.3%)[3] as of 20 March 2017.[1] Sister companies are Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Norwegian Cruise Line controls approximately 8% of the total worldwide share of the cruise market.[4] The company is known for its Freestyle Cruising concept, which means that there are no set times or seating arrangements for meals, nor is formal attire required.


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,[5] 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.

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 $100 million USD. 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[6] and later beached at Alang, Gujarat, India in August 2006 with claims that she had not been cleaned of toxic materials.[7] 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.[8][9]

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.

Its subsidiary Orient Lines, founded in 1991 to run the Marco Polo, was acquired in 1998. Norwegian itself was acquired by Star Cruises, a subsidiary of the Malaysia-based Genting Group, in 2000. In 2007 Star Cruises sold the Marco Polo to Transocean Tours. Orient Lines ceased trading when the ship was delivered to its new owners in early 2008.

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.[10][11] 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.[12] 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 (owners of Oceania Cruises) in order to strengthen Norwegian's financial position.[13] 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,[14] but it was later announced that she would return to the Norwegian international fleet as the Norwegian Sky,[15] while the Norwegian Majesty and Norwegian Dream would be sold to Louis Cruise Lines.[16] The sale of the Norwegian Dream was subsequently canceled.[17] 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.[18]

In January 2013, Norwegian Cruise Lines filed for an IPO.[19] As of 30 June 2014, Apollo Management only has a 20% stake and the Genting-Group-owned Star Cruises only had a 28% stake in the cruise line.[1][20] In [21]September 2014, Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it had purchased Prestige Cruise Holdings, the parent company of both Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises in cash and stock for a total transaction consideration of $3.025 billion, including the assumption of debt.[22]

On 11 March 2014, Norwegian announced that it was canceling all future port calls at Tunisia following an incident where the country forbade Israeli nationals from disembarking.[23]

On 9 January 2015, it was announced that Kevin Sheehan, President and CEO, had been succeeded by Frank Del Rio, co-founder of Oceania Cruises.[24]

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" and it is expected for the vessels to be 163,000 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.[25] 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.[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]

In 2018, the Norwegian Bliss built by Meyer Werft will be sailing for Alaska while in 2019, the fourth ship in the class, Norwegian Encore will sail the Caribbean from her original homeport of Miami. [31]

In June 2018, Miami Beach developer Russell Galbut was named chairman of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, replacing previous Chairman Walter Revell.[32]

Between 2022 and 2025 Fincantieri will deliver four ships.[33]

In July 2018, the company announced an order for two more ships of Leonardo Class. They are expected to enter service in 2026 and 2027.[34]

Norwegian Cruise Line ships

Current ships

Sun Class

ShipBuiltEntered service
for Norwegian
Norwegian Sky19991999-2004/2008201377,104 tons BahamasMiami, FloridaSailed as NCL America Pride of Aloha from 2004 to 2008, originally constructed as Costa Olympia, but sold to NCL during construction. Sister to the Costa Victoria and the Norwegian Sun
Norwegian Sun200120012018[35]78,309 tons BahamasSeward, Alaska; Vancouver, British Columbia; San Francisco, California; Miami, Florida; Los Angeles, California; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; Seattle, Washington; Port Canaveral, Florida

Spirit Class

ShipBuiltEntered service
for Norwegian
Norwegian Spirit199820042014[35]75,338 tons BahamasPreviously SuperStar Leo (Leo Class)
Sister to the SuperStar Virgo

Dawn Class (Libra Class)

ShipBuiltEntered service
for Norwegian
Norwegian Star20012001201891,740 tons BahamasOriginally ordered as Superstar Libra (Libra Class)
Norwegian Dawn20022002June 2016[36]92,250 tons BahamasOriginally ordered as SuperStar Scorpio (Libra Class)

Jewel Class

ShipBuiltEntered service
for Norwegian
Norwegian Jewel20052005May 2014[37]93,502 tons BahamasWill sail from Sydney, Australia in 2017.[38]
Norwegian Jade20062006March 2017[35]93,558 tons Bahamasex Pride Of Hawaii, reconstructed in 2008 as the Norwegian Jade
Norwegian Pearl20062006February 2017[39]93,530 tons Bahamas
Norwegian Gem20072007November 201593,530 tons Bahamas

Epic Class[40]

ShipBuiltEntered service
for Norwegian
Norwegian Epic20102010October 2015[36]155,873 tons BahamasPort Canaveral, Florida; Rome, Italy; Barcelona, Spain;11th largest cruise ship in the world after Royal Caribbean International's Liberty of the Seas.[41]

Breakaway Class

ShipBuiltEntered service
for Norwegian
Norwegian Breakaway20132013April 2018146,600
 BahamasNew York City, New York; Copenhagen, Denmark; Berlin GermanyThis ship was delivered on April 25, 2013.
Norwegian Getaway[43]20142014N/A145,655
 BahamasMiami, Florida; Copenhagen, Denmark; New York City, New York; New Orleans, LouisianaThis ship was delivered on January 10, 2014.

Breakaway Plus Class

ShipBuiltEntered service
for Norwegian
Norwegian Escape20152015N/A164,600 tons BahamasMiami, Florida until April 20, 2018
New York City, New York Beginning April 22, 2018
Norwegian Joy20172017N/A167,725 tons BahamasShanghai & Tianjin (Beijing)
Norwegian Bliss20182018N/A167,800 tons BahamasSeattle, Washington, Miami, Florida & New York City, New York9th largest cruise ship in the world after Royal Caribbean International's Quantum Class

Norwegian America Line

ShipBuiltEntered service
for NCL America
Pride of America20052005March 201680,439 GRT United StatesFirst large, newly built US-flagged cruise ship in nearly 50 years; the only ship in her class.

Future ships

ShipClassInaugural VoyageTonnageFlagHome PortNotes
Norwegian EncoreBreakaway Plus Class2019167,800 GT BahamasMiami, Florida
Project Leonardo2022140,000 GT Bahamas
Project Leonardo2023140,000 GT Bahamas
Project Leonardo2024140,000 GT Bahamas
Project Leonardo2025140,000 GT Bahamas
Project Leonardo2026140,000 GT Bahamas
Project Leonardo2027140,000 GT Bahamas

Previous ships

ShipBuiltIn service for NCLTonnageStatus as of 2018.Image
Sunward19661966–19768,666 GRTScrapped in 2004 at Chittagong, Bangladesh.
Starward19681968–199512,948 GRTLouis Aura for Louis Cruise Lines.
Skyward19691969–199116,254 GRTSince 2000 Leisure World for New Century Cruise Lines.
Seaward1970Never entered service
owned 1970 – 1972
17,042 GTHull sold to P&O Cruises in 1972. Capsized and partially sunk on February 27, 2016 near the port of Laem Chabang,Sri Racha, Thailand.
Southward19711971–199416,607 GRTSince 2008 Aegean Pearl for Golden Star Cruises. Scrapped in 2013 at Aliaga, Turkey.
Sunward II19711977–199114,151 GRTSince 2005 Coral for Louis Cruise Lines. Scrapped in 2014 at Aliaga, Turkey.
Norway19611979–200370,702 GRT
76,049 GRT
Ex France Sold after 2003 boiler explosion, scrapped in 2008 at Alang, India.
Norwegian Sea
42,276 GRTSince 2005 SuperStar Libra for Star Cruises.
Westward19721991–199328,221 GRTSince 1996 Black Watch for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
Sunward19731991–1992, 1992–199328,078 GRTSince 2005 Boudicca for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
Norwegian Star19731997–199828,518 GRTSince 2004 MS Albatros for Phoenix Reisen.
Norwegian Dream
39,172 GT
50,764 GT
Since 28 Dec 2012 SuperStar Gemini for Star Cruises.
Norwegian Wind
39,127 GT
50,760 GT
Since 2007 SuperStar Aquarius for Star Cruises.
Leeward19801995–199925,611 GTSince 2007 Cristal for Louis Cruise Lines.
Norwegian Crown19881996–2000, 2003–200734,242 GRTSince 2008 Balmoral for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
Norwegian Dynasty19931997–199919,089 GRTSince 2001 Braemar for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
Norwegian Majesty19921997–200940,876 GTOriginally 32,396 GT, lengthened 1999. Is now known as the Thompson Majesty and owned by Louis Cruise Lines.[45]
Independence1951Never entered service
owned 2003–2006
20,221 GRTWrecked while being towed to Alang for scrapping.
SS United States1952Never entered service
owned 2003–2011
53,330 GTSold to SS United States Conservancy on 7/1/10, Ownership transferred on 2/1/11

Private islands

Norwegian owns two private islands in the Caribbean: Harvest Caye in Belize and Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas.[46]


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