A new cruise ship always creates buzz, but when it’s a first-in-class vessel such as the 3,099-passenger Norwegian Prima, which was christened by godmother Katy Perry in Reykjavik, Iceland, in late August, anticipation tends to shift into overdrive. And Prima, featuring an elevated design concept intended to appeal to couples while still offering the onboard thrills that families with kids love, lives up to its pre-inaugural hype. Norwegian Cruise Line has created a megaship that’s contemporary in size but in many ways emulates the look and feel of premium-category vessels.
First, Prima carries about 1,000 fewer guests than Norwegian’s Breakaway and Breakaway Plus class megaships and has the highest space ratio of any contemporary cruise ship. A key element is Prima’s layout, which features a glittering three-story Penrose Atrium on decks 6 to 8 with two sophisticated bars (the Whiskey Bar on deck 8 is especially appealing and popular) rather than the boisterous 24-hour pub that dominates the atriums of its six Breakaway and Breakaway Plus class ships.
There is also plenty of outdoor space for dining and relaxing, including deck 8’s Ocean Boulevard, home to a wraparound promenade that features heated Infinity Beach pools with daybeds and loungers on both the port and starboard sides, an al fresco gallery of contemporary sculptures, and the chicly designed Indulge Outdoor Lounge.
Prima also innovates when it comes to dining. The ship, the first of six planned in its class (the second, Viva, will debut in summer 2023), offers a number of new restaurant concepts, the most exciting of which is the deck 8 Indulge Food Hall. This contemporary space features 11 open-concept kitchens serving up mostly small-plate international cuisines—fragrantly spiced Indian dishes from Tamara, satisfying Asian and Italian pasta favorites from Nudls and Mexican taste treats from Latin Quarter, among others—all ordered via an on-table tablet and expeditiously delivered. The best part? Complimentary dining that incurs no extra charge.
The Local Bar & Grill, Surfside Café & Grill and two main dining rooms, Hudson’s and the Commodore Room, are also complimentary. But Norwegian has changed the concept in its main dining rooms and the menus in both are now identical—and remain the same throughout the entire cruise. Although there’s a pretty good selection of options, much like a favorite neighborhood eatery, passengers with limited palates or those who don’t want to pay extra for specialty dining may get tired of the menu selections after a few dinners and lunches.
That’s where Prima’s specialty dining comes into play. There are eight options onboard, including three new concepts: Palomar, for Mediterranean and Greek-inspired seafood; the atmospheric but compact Nama Sushi & Sashimi; and Hasuki, a stylized teppanyaki grill. Returning in newly reimagined spaces are Italian restaurant Onda by Scarpetta, French fine-dining spot Le Bistro, Mexican eatery Los Lobos, Cagney’s Steakhouse and Asian-Latin small-plate restaurant Food Republic.
What can passengers expect to pay to dine at one of Prima’s specialty restaurants? With all pricing now a la carte, dinner costs are likely to range from $40 to more than $75 per person (not including alcohol), depending on the venue.
Another culinary-related innovation is the Metropolitan Bar, which takes a sustainable approach to cocktails by using food items that would otherwise go to waste, such as banana peels and leftover croissants, to make sweet syrups that its cheerful bartenders mix with sustainable spirits to create cocktails with names like Primadonna, Bananaruma and Croissant Mai-Tai. The Metropolitan also serves biodynamic wines.
Craft cocktails are also available at the cozy and atmospheric Belvedere Bar, while passengers who prefer a sports-bar ambience can head to The Local, reimagined with tropical touches such as colorful tile mosaics and swinging rattan chairs to complement the big-screen TVs. In total there are 16 bars and lounges onboard, 13 open to all passengers.
Onboard activities and entertainment appeal to a wide range of ages and interests. Norwegian has expanded the go-kart race track it introduced on its three Breakaway Plus class ships with a new three-level Prima Speedway, relocated to decks 17-20 so it wraps around the ship’s funnel. There’s also now a Prima Speedway Bar with monitors for checking your race times.
Cleverly, all of Prima’s family-friendly thrills—which also include four twisting slides (three of them dry slides that corkscrew down both sides of the ship and one a shorter tidal wave-style waterslide); a nine-hole, tech-assisted mini-golf experience called Tee Time; pub-style dart competitions called Bullseye; a Kids Aqua Park with splash fountains; and the indoor Galaxy Pavilion virtual-reality arcade—are all located on decks 17-20.
This creates a distinct zone for rowdy antics away from the adult-oriented areas, which include the aforementioned deck 8 Infinity Beach and the adults-only Vibe Beach Club (which requires an added charge for access). Prima’s family-friendly pool is on deck 17, where there’s also two infinity hot tubs and a Waves Pool Bar.
At night, the high-caliber entertainment takes place in the three-level Prima Theater & Club, which morphs from a Broadway-style theater into a nightclub/disco—especially with performances of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical”—and also hosts a shipboard version of “The Price is Right Live” with contestants chosen from the audience and chances to win real prizes.
Another popular nighttime venue is Syd Norman’s Pour House, a bohemian-style rock venue inspired by Hollywood’s Sunset Strip in its ‘60s and ‘70s heyday and featuring excellent live cover bands. Laughter is also on tap as comedians take the stage at Improv at Sea.
Passengers seeking to relax and rejuvenate can visit the Mandara Spa & Salon, where subdued lighting and a thermal area featuring a contemporary two-story waterfall and a range of saunas and steam rooms offers a respite for those who book a spa treatment or pay for a thermal pass.
The staterooms on Prima have a sleek, contemporary look in neutral hues with an eye-catching mural/headboard featuring butterflies and crystals. The largest number of staterooms are in the balcony category and measure 230-to-358 square feet. There are also Inside, Oceanview and Club Balcony Suites as well as compactly designed Studio cabins designed for solo travelers.
Like other Norwegian ships, Prima features The Haven, a ship-within-a-ship enclave that offers its guests an exclusive restaurant, lounge, pool and other perks while also allowing them to enjoy the entire ship when they want. Here, The Haven’s design is subdued, with luxe décor in a darker neutral palette created by Italian designer Piero Lissoni.
Over the next two years, Prima’s itineraries will take it to more than 18 island destinations in the Caribbean and Europe, along with appealing coastal ports in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.
Here’s a look at where you can sail on Norwegian Prima.
Caribbean & Bermuda Sailings
During its inaugural season in the Caribbean, Prima will welcome in 2023 with a 9-day Caribbean: Cozumel, Jamaica & Grand Cayman cruise departing Dec. 30, 2022 from Port Canaveral, Florida. From January to March 2023, the ship will sail similar 7-night Caribbean: Great Stirrup Cay & Cozumel itineraries (also visiting Grand Cayman and Jamaica) from Port Canaveral.
Cruisers looking to sail from New York in December 2023 can enjoy a 14-day Caribbean itinerary that visits the Dominican Republic, British Virgin Islands, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel before disembarking in Galveston, Texas, where Prima will homeport in winter 2024 and sail 7-day Caribbean: Harvest Caye, Cozumel & Roatan itineraries visiting islands in Mexico, Belize and Honduras.
Biannual transatlantic crossings offer a chance to visit several scenic island destinations while experiencing a legendary journey across the Atlantic. In May 2023, the 11-day Transatlantic: Halifax & Akureyri sailing from New York visits Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island and Iceland, while the 11-day November 2023 crossing from Barcelona to New York calls on Pontadelgado, Azores and Bermuda.
The 14-day Iceland: Reykjavik & Belfast itinerary in September 2023 visits ports in England, Ireland and Iceland, as well as the Norwegian fiords, while the 10-day Northern Europe: Iceland & Norway to London sailings from May to September in both 2023 and 2024 call on three ports in Iceland, the Norwegian fiords, canal-laced Amsterdam and Bruges and Southampton, England.
Mediterranean itineraries for Prima in October and November 2023 include a 10-day sailings from Barcelona to Rome that call on the Spanish islands of Ibiza and Mallorca along with the coastal cities of Valencia, Marseille and Cannes in France, and Genoa, Livorno and Naples in Italy.