Welcome to a modern marvel
Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest super-ship will tick the boxes of even the most hesitant cruisers, writes JENNY ROWLAND.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE Line took the brave decision to continue building the groundbreaking Norwegian Prima when the pandemic hit – a gamble at the time perhaps but one which has proven serendipitous.
Traveltalk was invited onboard Prima’s maiden sailing from Galveston in Texas, bound for Mexico on a four-night adventure and for a ship of its size, four nights is nowhere near enough.
Prima is a marvel of modern oceangoing engineering. From its generously proportioned staterooms, expansive outdoor deck space and $6m curated art collection, it’s the kind of “spaceship” every cruiser desires.
The sheer size of this vessel is off the charts but happily style hasn’t become a victim of scale.
There are so many things to do, see, eat and experience onboard, leaving you with the recurring daily question of ‘where to start’?
For all its grandeur, Prima is not trying to compete to be among the world’s largest cruise ships.
With a comfortable 1,646 staterooms onboard, the ship is largely uncrowded in most places and we certainly felt like we had our space.
Inside, Oceanview and Balcony cabins make up the majority of course, with 18 suites for those looking to splurge.
Where to sleep
My balcony stateroom felt incredibly new and well appointed, with a queen bed that converts to two singles as desired, a sitting area with a sofa and floor-to-ceiling glass windows opening onto the balcony.
Norwegian Prima boasts the largest variety of suites available at sea and for the ultimate holiday base camp, consider the ultra-premium The Haven.
It’s a ‘ship within a ship’ concept offering more spacious staterooms and suites, accessed only to guests staying within it.
Perks include a personal escort onboard at the start of your voyage and priority access to virtually everything on the ship requiring reservations, such as specialty restaurants during the busiest dinner times or the best seats at the theatre. It’s like the ship is yours.
Guests enjoy a personal concierge and 24-hour butler along with an exclusive restaurant, sun deck and lounge bar: it’s the perfect escape when you need your own space. Some might say I’d ‘died and gone to haven!’
Where to eat
Eighteen different restaurants might sound like par for the course for a modern-day cruise ship, but then you throw in the enormous Indulge Food Hall (a.k.a. the aptly named buffet) which throws at you a further 11 different cuisines and what appears to be another 100 or so dishes.
Consider Indian, Spanish tapas, Oriental-inspired noodles, hearty American spit roast, plus fresh salads and of course, Mexican.
Should the evening call for a more structured and refined approach there are several restaurants more in line with a fine-dining epicurean experience.
Savour some classy French gastronomy at Le Bistro, stylish Italian at Onda by Scarpetta, the Hasuki Japanese grill, hearty Cagney’s Steakhouse, Mexican at Los Lobos or fusion style at Food Republic, there’s a five-star meal to get your night going.
Where to party
When it’s time to let your hair down, Prima offers phenomenal activities for all ages, beginning with ‘The Rush’ and ‘The Drop’ – the fastest slides at sea.
But things get even faster at the Prima Speedway, an evolution of the go-karting attraction first unveiled in 2017 on Norwegian Joy.
What began across two decks has now expanded to three on Prima and wow, these karts are a white-knuckle thrill ride that gets the adrenalin pumping.
On a more serene level, the Ocean Boulevard is a 4,000-square-metre outdoor walkway which wraps around the entire ship. Wander among the multi-million-dollar outdoor sculpture garden at The Concourse for one of those more reflective moments that we all need from time to time, especially when cruising.
Undoubtedly my absolute favourite thing onboard was the spellbinding live entertainment, found across numerous venues.
World class acts and shows – each of which holding their own against the best Broadway-style productions anywhere in the world – take to the stage each night to captivated audiences and all included in the ticket price.
Now while we were treated to an irrepressible performance by Prima’s own Godmother – the wonder that is Grammy Award winner Kelly Clarkson –unfortunately she doesn’t live onboard, so don’t expect her to be part of your entertainment line-up.
Clarkson’s performance was in fact a special feature of the ship’s launch and also part of Norwegian’s ‘Giving Joy’ campaign, which recognises teachers for the meaningful work they do every day.
Clarkson was an appropriate choice as she is herself a Texan whose mum is a schoolteacher.
What you will find, however, is an equally enthralling musical production set to the tunes of the incomparable Donna Summer, which trumped every other show I’ve seen this year (and I’m a bit of a theatre buff).
You also can’t miss the Fleetwood Mac tribute band, which performs in the Syd Norman Pour House. You could have fooled me if you’d told me Stevie Nicks herself was onstage. There were rumours…if you catch my drift.
Where to relax
If your body is a temple (and even if it needs some renovations), the Mandara Spa will awaken senses you didn’t even know you had.
With a Thermal Suite Pass you’ll marvel at the two-storey indoor waterfall and the first ever charcoal sauna at sea.
Couple that with a session in the salt and steam room and the innovative ice room for use post-sauna or steam bath and you’ll wander out in a daze which will last for days.
Where to cruise
Spells in Florida for the well-trodden Western Caribbean path await Prima, as does New York in early 2023 for a short series of cruises to Bermuda.
In May 2023, she will chart a course back across the Atlantic to spend next summer in Europe, offering one-way sailings between Southampton and the place where it all began, the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik.
A thought on disembarking
If you want a world class holiday with Norwegian’s largest accommodations, immersive entertainment, indulgent relaxation and incredible culinary experiences, Prima will make a ‘Cruiseaholic’ out of even the most rusted-on landlubber.