What’s New on Norwegian Prima

by  Donna Heiderstadt | Sep 30, 2022
Courtesy of the cruise line

What’s New on Norwegian Prima

Norwegian Cruise Line’s first-in-class ship, Norwegian Prima, promised to elevate the cruise line’s profile in the contemporary cruise market — and after sailing on her christening cruise from Reykjavik to Amsterdam in late August, we can report that Prima delivers. Carrying 3,099 passengers (900-1,100 fewer than her six Breakaway and Breakaway Plus-class sister ships), Prima offers an array of well-designed interior spaces, generous and chicly decorated outdoor lounges, and a sparkling three-level atrium with two elegant bars and a very popular Starbucks. 

Prima’s outdoor pools are spread around the ship on various decks. The ship’s overall layout is well-thought-out and ideal for multi-generation cruisers seeking adult relaxation (there are more than a dozen bars and lounges designed to quench all thirsts) with kid-friendly activities (race track, virtual-reality arcade, mini-golf, kids aqua park, and four spiraling slides). The fact that all the family-friendly amenities are on decks 17-20 means that, unless you’re seeking thrills, you might not even realize they’re there — except when viewing the ship from port. Better still, there’s an excellent flow to Prima’s spaces, and the ship never feels crowded. 

Courtesy of the cruise line

Pop star Katy Perry is Prima’s godmother. After the christening in Reykjavik on Aug. 27, she performed for more than an hour in the three-level Prima Theater, kicking off the ship’s inaugural season with her own unique mix of girl power and whimsy.

Here’s what’s new on Prima — it’s a lot! — and how to enjoy it.

Complimentary Dining

Courtesy of the cruise line

Norwegian introduced several new dining concepts on Prima — and one of the most exciting, Indulge Food Hall, is complimentary and doesn’t require reservations. Indulge is an inviting deck 8 eatery featuring 11 open-concept kitchens that include superb Indian cuisine (such as chicken tika and urad dal) at Tamara, Mexican bites (crab, tuna, and mushroom tostadas) at Latin Quarter, Asian and Italian noodle dishes (pad Thai and tagliatelle Bolognese) at Nudls, and BBQ favorites (pulled pork and crispy fried okra) at Q. The space is a maze of tables and booths with tablet menus for ordering lunch or dinner from any of the kitchens — and service is surprisingly expedient. Guests can also dine at counters facing the individual cooking and prep areas, but can only order from that kitchen. 

Three other no-extra-charge eateries have new names and a novel twist. Prima’s two main dining rooms are Hudson’s, an elegant and airy deck 7 space with floor-to-ceiling windows, and The Commodore Room, a deck 6 option with portholes and a more traditional feel. Both offer the same menu — and the twist is that it remains the same throughout the cruise on the premise that this allows the kitchen team to better execute the dishes. The jury is still out on this new approach, designed to mimic a neighborhood eatery with an array of popular appetizers and entrees. While the menu does offer something for everyone, vegetarians, pescatarians, or those who don’t want to pay extra for specialty dining venues (which are now priced a la carte and can range from $45 to $90-plus per person, not including wine) may find they’re bored after several dinners or lunches. 

Luckily, Indulge has several dozen menu options, and Surfside Café & Grill on deck-17 does change up some buffet offerings. And there’s always The Local. On Breakaway and Breakaway Plus-class ships, this pub-like eatery is in the atrium overlooking a massive big-screen TV, but here it’s more tucked away on deck 8 and divided into two adjacent spaces: a surprisingly generic dining area and the lively and colorful The Local Bar, where burgers, fish ‘n chips, and more can also be ordered.

Specialty Dining

Prima’s eight specialty restaurants and their sophisticated menus create reservation envy, so be sure to book tables before you board if you’re set on trying a favorite. Among the specialty dining options, three are new concepts. Palomar, a contemporary and light-filled space, serves Mediterranean and Greek seafood dishes, including grilled octopus and roasted monkfish. A new sushi bar, Nama Sushi & Sashimi, features sushi rolls (crispy salmon, yellow tail, and more), sashimi, and creative hot and cold dishes (rock shrimp tempura and tuna wanton volcano) in a small but atmospheric space. Around the corner, Hasuki is another Asian option that’s a stylized spin on classic Japanese teppanyaki.

Courtesy of the cruise line

While not new, Onda by Scarpetta (the popular Italian eatery that debuted on Norwegian Encore back in 2019) and Los Lobos (featuring an upscale Mexican menu with highlights that include excellent enchiladas mole and cochinita pibil) have also upped the ante with their immersive design. As they enjoy Onda’s Italian specialties — such as burrata, a variety of pastas, and veal Milanese — guests are enveloped by a sophisticated swirl of sculptural wood and cream tones, while Los Lobos diners feel as if they’re a guest in a colorful hacienda. Prima also features NCL’s popular steakhouse, Cagney’s, and a romantic French fine-dining restaurant, Le Bistro (featuring dazzling pale blue decor with dramatic floor-level crystal chandeliers). Food Republic, with its extensive menu of shareable Asian-Latin small plates, rounds out the offerings but has lost a bit of its Breakaway-era cachet with a rather bland setting that serves as overflow seating for Surfside Café at breakfast and lunch.

Bars & Lounges

Indoors and outdoors, lively and subdued, beer or whiskey-centric, and even a bar focused on sustainable cocktails — Prima’s bars and lounges (16 in all, 13 open to all guests) range from casual to elegant. Almost all are new concepts, so here’s a quick rundown:

Located on decks 6 and 8 in the glittering Penrose Atrium, the Penrose Bar and the Whiskey Bar are both popular gathering spots before and after performances in the nearby Prima Theater. The Whisky Bar, with its panoramic views and access to deck 8’s outdoor Ocean Boulevard, is especially appealing.

The Belvedere Bar, located on deck 6 near the Commodore Room, is a sophisticated, dimly lit craft-cocktail oasis. More unique but less cozy is the Metropolitan Bar on deck 7 near Hudson’s, Nama, and Hasuki, where bartenders mix 11 unique cocktails made with sustainable spirits and ingredients sourced from onboard food that would otherwise go to waste. These include banana peels that have been made into a sweet syrup (used in the delicious rum-based Primadonna and two other cocktails) and day-old croissants (also converted to a syrup) used in the Croissant Mai-Tai cocktail. Biodynamic wines are also served.

During warm-weather sailings, Prima offers a choice of outdoor bars, including the Soleil Bar on deck 8 within the chicly-designed Indulge Outdoor Lounge (the Luna Bar is its indoor companion), the Waves Pool Bar on deck 14 for sipping while sunning, and the sky-high deck 18 Prima Speedway Bar where you can check your race time after a spin on the Prima Speedway.

Syd Norman’s Pour House is a casual gathering spot featuring bohemian décor and a live cover band. Meanwhile, the reinvented The Local Bar mixes trendy tropical-meets-urban décor (swinging rattan chairs and colorful tilework) with big-screen TVs playing sports. Both are popular — and loud — especially later in the evening.

Prima, like its Breakaway Plus-class sisters, also features an Observation Lounge, but this deck 17 incarnation is smaller and less panoramic, configured in a narrow horseshoe shape around the Galaxy Pavilion gaming area. It’s a quiet spot to unwind with a martini while your kids and teens game their way through virtual reality simulations.

Courtesy of the cruise line

Guests who pay extra to access the chic Vibe Beach Club loungers and hot tubs on deck 17 can also sip cocktails at the round, open-air bar at its center. Solo travelers who book one of the compact Studio staterooms on deck 12 can access the Studio Lounge, and those who book Haven Suites have exclusive access to the Haven Lounge on deck 16. 

Pools & Activities

Prima also offers plenty of options when it comes to pools and hot tubs. In addition to the deck 17 main pool and two ocean-facing hot tubs, guests can relax on deck 8’s Infinity Beach featuring several heated infinity-edge pools surrounded by comfy daybeds and loungers. Guests with access to Vibe Beach Club can soak in two infinity hot tubs (also on deck 17), while The Haven guests have access to an aft infinity pool on deck 16 and two hot tubs on deck 17.

Prima, the first ship built for Norwegian by Italian shipyard Fincantieri (which also builds sister brands Regent and Oceania’s vessels), may have a more elegant, adult-oriented ambiance than its Breakaway Plus-class siblings, but Norwegian hasn’t forgotten its younger guests. The popular onboard racetrack, Prima Speedway, is the cruise line’s longest yet, curving over three levels around the ship’s smokestack and challenging electric go-kart racers to complete as many laps as they can in eight minutes. Cruisers who aren’t tall enough to drive themselves can enjoy the thrill with mom or dad at the wheel during special sessions featuring two-seat go-karts.

Norwegian is also known for its corkscrew-style slides, and Prima has three of them — The Drop and The Rush, the latter featuring side-by-side tubes — all 10-story dry slides spiraling down the ship's sides. Despite the screams as the floor drops out beneath riders in the aptly named The Drop, the downward ride itself is more exhilarating than terrifying. The Rush, on the other hand, brings out guests’ competitive spirit as they race in sync down identical tubes. For passengers who don’t mind making a splash, there’s The Wave, a short but thrilling tidal wave waterslide. It’s adjacent to the Kids’ Aqua Park, which features splash fountains and water cascades.

Courtesy of the cruise line

Other outdoor activities on deck 18 are Tee Time, nine holes of interactive, tech-assisted mini golf; The Bull’s Eye, a modern take on classic pub-style darts; and The Stadium for ping pong (and beer pong), foosball, and shuffleboard. One deck below, the indoor Galaxy Pavilion is filled with virtual-reality gaming experiences and an escape room.

Nighttime Entertainment

The ship’s primary entertainment venue, the revolutionary Prima Theater & Club, features three levels of seating and is convertible from a theater to a nightclub. It’s the setting for Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, a 90-minute version of the Tony-nominated Broadway production that tells the story of the ‘70s Disco Queen via three leads — Diva Donna, Disco Donna, and Duckling Donna — and features most of Summer’s top hits. American Idol alum Kimberley Locke plays Diva Donna through late February 2023.

The Prima Theater is also home to The Price is Right Live, an authentic version of the long-running TV game show with contestants pulled from the audience and given a chance to win real prizes. 

Passengers can also reserve seats at Improv at Sea for comedy sets geared to both families and adults, while the aforementioned Syd Norman’s Pour House features excellent live rock — including an entire show dedicated to Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album, Rumours.

Spa & Fitness

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If cocooning is a favorite sea day activity, Prima’s Mandara Spa & Salon is a dusky retreat that can be accessed by booking a spa treatment or a daily thermal pass. As a soothing two-story waterfall trickles down a luminescent wall, guests soak in heated thermal pools and warm themselves in a Finnish sauna, a charcoal sauna, an infrared sauna, and several steam rooms before relaxing on the Thermal Suite’s heated tile loungers with panoramic ocean views. The adjacent Pulse Fitness Center also offers 270-degree views from cardio machines and the weight area. 

Stateroom, Suites, Studios & The Haven

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Aside from The Haven (Norwegian’s exclusive ship-within-a-ship with its own restaurant, lounge, and pool/sundeck), accommodations on Prima span six main categories — Suites, Club Balcony Suites, Balcony Staterooms, Oceanview Staterooms, Inside Staterooms, and Studios — each with multiple subcategories. Most plentiful by far are light-filled Balcony Staterooms, measuring between 230 and 358 square feet with a sleek neutral design highlighted by a contemporary wall mural in blue and gold tones featuring butterflies and crystals. 

On deck 12, the 94-square-foot Studios are a compact, budget-friendly option for solo travelers while cruisers able to splurge on exclusivity can book one of eight suite categories in The Haven, which range from the 368- to 418-square-foot The Haven Penthouse with Balcony to the 2,100-square-foot The Haven Premier Owner’s Suite with Large Balcony.  

The Bottom Line

Norwegian Prima is a beautifully designed, easy-to-navigate megaship that offers both sophistication and fun for travelers looking to cruise Europe or the Caribbean. 

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