Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
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Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
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Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
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Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
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Norwegian Prima

Our Ship Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

After launching six 4,000-passenger megaships in its Breakaway and Breakaway Plus classes, Norwegian Cruise Line introduced a next-generation ship in August 2022 that’s slightly smaller but actually feels more spacious — and more elevated. Norwegian Prima, which carries 3,099 guests at double occupancy, is more sophisticated than her predecessors, with eye-catching contemporary décor, new dining venues (including a great complimentary option for lunch and dinner), and onboard activities designed to entertain and thrill passengers of all ages.

As the pioneer of “Freestyle Cruising,” which emphasizes what it calls “freedom and flexibility” (but others tag as “nickel and diming”), NCL offers low fares and frequent “Free at Sea” promos that can be a good value, especially when third and fourth passengers in a cabin sail free. But guests will still need to pay extra to enjoy many popular onboard experiences, from specialty dining (which, with its à la carte pricing, can get quite expensive) to activities such as go-karts, virtual-reality gaming, and access to the Vibe Beach Club adults-only pool and bar area.

Still, Norwegian Prima delivers a lot of pluses if you’re a fan of megaships. Its spacious staterooms feel fresh and modern. Its bars are plentiful (there are 17, including a new Metropolitan Bar that serves inventive cocktails sustainably crafted with syrups created from leftover foods such as croissants and banana peels). Its eight specialty restaurants are visually enticing and serve well-executed food (especially Onda by Scarpetta for upscale Italian, Le Bistro for classic French, Los Lobos for contemporary Mexican, and Nama for creative sushi). And Prima’s entertainment lineup is music-centric and fun. 

Solo travelers can also book one of Prima’s interior Studio staterooms at lower fares, while guests who prefer a more exclusive space can opt for a suite in The Haven, NCL’s signature ship-within-a-ship enclave featuring private elevators, a private lounge and restaurant, and a secluded sundeck and pool. On Prima, The Haven’s décor is understated and moody, created by Italian interior designer Piero Lissoni to reflect a more refined space within a big, exuberant ship.

What We Love

Ocean Boulevard: Prima’s deck 8 Ocean Boulevard allows guests to take a 360-degree stroll around the entire ship. When the weather is balmy, many passengers hang out at the aft Indulge Outdoor Lounge with its colorful daybeds and Soleil Bar, or in one of the side-facing pools on Infinity Beach. In the evening, The Concourse, with its interactive modernist sculptures by Alexander Krivosheiw, is a lovely spot for photos and fresh air.

Indulge Food Hall: This new complimentary dining venue for lunch and dinner features an eclectic mix of food stations offering fresh and delicious small-plate items — from Mexican tostadas and pad thai to tandoori chicken and smoky BBQ ribs. Guests take a seat and order as many dishes and beverages (which do cost extra) as they want from a tablet, and they’ll be delivered to the table. it’s a fresh alternative to the other complimentary eateries: The Local, Hudson’s, Commodore Room, and the buffet-style Surfside Café.

The Penrose Atrium: The multilevel atriums on Breakaway and Breakaway Plus class ships were centered around a gigantic TV screen and the casual, often rowdy O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill or The Local Bar & Grill — but Prima’s Penrose Atrium has done a 180-degree turn toward sophistication. The three-level space (on decks 6, 7, and 8) is understated, almost futuristic, and is home to upscale shops, a popular Starbucks, and two bars, including the excellent Whiskey Bar.

Sleek Stateroom Design: At 231 square feet, standard Balcony Staterooms on Norwegian Prima feel airy and spacious thanks to a light and whimsical palette (specially commissioned collages of crystals, butterflies, and serene female faces decorate the wall above the bed) and sleek, modern furniture. The bathroom also features a spacious glass-walled shower and ample storage.

Best Known For

Family-Friendly Fun: Prima’s elevated interior design and culinary offerings doesn’t mean NCL has forgotten about guests who just want to have fun. This megaship has plenty of thrills, including the three-level Prima Speedway, the longest go-kart track at sea, and three slides: The Drop and The Rush (two 10-story dry slides) and The Wave (a tidal-wave water slide). Guests can also play darts at the Bull’s Eye, tech-enhanced mini-golf at Tee Time, and virtual-reality games at Galaxy Pavilion. Best of all, these scream-and-laughter-inducing activities are all located on decks 17-20, so if they’re not your thing you might not even realize they’re there.

Nighttime Entertainment: Norwegian’s ships feature productions of hit Broadway shows; on Prima it’s Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, which showcases the life of one of disco’s brightest stars. The Prima Theater is also the setting for “The Price is Right Live” game show, with a chance to win actual prizes. Guests can also head to Syd Norman’s Pour House, a popular bar space with interactive performances rooted in ‘70s and ‘80s music culture (Fleetwood Mac, Bon Jovi, and more) and The Improv at Sea for live stand-up comedy.

Who It's Best For

Multi-Generational Families and Groups of Friends: Prima offers something for everyone, including extended families, couples with school-age kids and teens, groups of friends, and even solo travelers. Just be prepared to pay extra for most activities, besides the nightly entertainment.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Beverage Packages are Pricey: Without a “Free at Sea” beverage package, you’ll pay $109 per person per day for an “unlimited” open bar (valid for beverages priced $15 and under). And even with the “Free at Sea” promo, you’ll need to pay a 20% service fee based on the entire value of the package at the time of booking rather than onboard on the individual beverages you order. That’s $21.80 per day or $152.60 for a seven-night cruise. 

The Main Pool is an Afterthought: If you like a large and lively main pool deck, Prima will disappoint. Its Pool Deck is tucked between water slides and one level of the Prima Speedway on deck 17. Yes, the Infinity Beach pools are an alternative — or you can pay extra to access the hot tubs at the adults-only Vibe Beach Club.

The Spa is Dramatic But Dark: While the visual effect of cascading ribbons of light-enhanced water on the wall of the thermal pool in the Spa Thermal Suite is undeniably cool, the rest of the suite — an assortment of steam rooms, saunas, and showers accessed via a very dark hallway — is unnervingly claustrophobic.

Donna Heiderstadt
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger
Cruise Expert