The Norwegian Prima is the first ship in it’s class and is taking Norwegian Cruise Line to a whole new level of cruising. I recently set sail on a pre-inaugural adventure from Iceland to Ireland and was able to enjoy many of the exciting new enhancements offered by NCL. There is tons of information out about the Prima, so I will just focus on sharing my own thoughts and opinions based on 35 years of cruising experience.
First, the facts. Norwegian Prima is enjoying a few introductory sailings around Europe before crossing over to the states to explore the Caribbean this winter. She is 142,500 tons and holds 3099 guests based on double occupancy plus 1506 crew. She is similar in size to the Breakaway class of ships, which are 145,655 gross tons. As a comparison, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships are 226,963 gross tons and carry 5479 passengers. Norwegian Prima’s sister ship, Norwegian Viva, will begin sailing next spring.
Who should sail Norwegian Prima?
Prima is taking NCL into the premium cruise market. From the moment we walked onboard, she felt beautiful, contemporary, and elegant…with a whole lot of fun on top. She is an excellent choice for multigenerational families, offering elegant dining and Broadway shows for the grandparents, Instagramable small plate options with classic rock bars and comedy clubs for the parents and fun fast food with go karts, wet or dry slides and virtual reality for the kids. This would also be a great option for higher end spring break groups looking for an alternative to all inclusive resorts. She is truly trying to be all things to all people and offer something for everyone.
Norwegian Prima Cabins
Our cabin was a standard balcony and it seemed much more spacious than other lines. For example, the standard balcony cabin on Norwegian Prima is 231 square feet, on Celebrity Apex it is 202 square feet and on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas it is 182 square feet. You can really feel that extra space, especially in the bathroom. We were not able to tour the other cabin types onboard. They do offer the Haven for a luxurious ship within a ship option similar to Celebrities Retreat. We were not able to tour the Haven because it was full of NCL Executives, Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom (and their entourage).
Norwegian Prima Onboard Fun
There are so many activities onboard you may never want to get off in port. This is one of the areas that really sets Prima apart from their competition.
First, Prima offers many sun and hot tub areas around the ship, not just one main pool area. This should help spread the crowd out and hopefully eliminate the chair hogs fighting to find space on sea days. There are multiple dry and wet slides to enjoy.
They have a super cool interactive putt putt course called Tee Time. An entire area, called the Galaxy Pavilion, is filled with virtual reality rides and games. The Bull’s Eye is pub style electronic darts with cozy little sitting areas. The Stadium houses a variety of activities to try, including ping pong on round tables, pickle ball, foosball, under table soccer courts and more. The kids have their own aqua waterpark. There will be charges onboard to participate in many of the activities. When I asked the crew members what the fees would be, they simply answered “free for now”. They also have a casino, of course.
The Viva Speedway go kart track is the icing on the cake, offering three levels of racing fun. The executive panel explained that when designing the go kart area, they did it with the whole family in mind.
There is a viewing area for non racers to watch all the action. They have a laser gun area where kids can shoot at the karts as they go by to give them a power boost. Both single and double karts are available to race during different times so that everyone can participate. When you leave the track, there is a photo spot with 1st, 2nd and 3rd place podiums where you can commemorate your victory. Lap times are displayed on monitors throughout the area.
And finally, you can meet up at the Viva Speedway Bar to celebrate the thrill of victory or drown your sorrows after the agony of defeat.
The fee for go karts is rumored to be around $20 per ride.
The main showroom is a state-of-the-art theater that features tiered seating that can retract (like bleachers) to transform the space into a Vegas style nightclub for dancing the night away. While we were onboard, one of the evenings they hosted “The Price is Right” gameshow which was a ton of fun. They also had a full Broadway production of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. We saw a comedian in the comedy club and enjoyed an awesome classic rock cover band in “Syd Norman’s Pour House”.
There are so many dining options, I am sure I will forget to mention a few!
The main dining rooms are located aft and named Hudson’s and The Commodore. Both will offer a fixed menu at a set dining time.
The casual buffet is called the Surfside Cafe and Grill and is located on deck 17.
Alternate dining options available for an additional fee include several of their signature eateries, like Cagney’s Steakhouse, Le Bistro French and Food Republic Asian-fusion. New choices are the Mediterranean seafood restaurant Palomar, Hibachi- style at Hasuki, and Nama sushi. The Local Bar and Grill serves classic bar food. The Indulge Food Hall features 11 different eatery options. Orders can be placed from tabletop tablets and delivered to you within minutes.
You will not go hungry on the Norwegian Prima!
Norwegian Prima Pros/Cons
Norwegian Prima is an amazing option in the premium cruise market, particularly for families. There are lots of positives about the ship. Having said that, there are a few kinks they need to work out. The main buffet, Surfside Café, is much too small for this size of ship. We were sailing at about half capacity and there was no place to sit. They had to open the alternate restaurant next door, Food Republic, for additional seating at both breakfast and lunch.
There also did not seem to be a good traffic flow throughout the ship. The layout was confusing, with dead ends and narrow walkways, that caused some areas to become congested with people. Many of the alternate restaurants appeared to be too small to handle the number of passengers the ship was built to accommodate. The Improv Comedy Club and Syd Normans were way too small. Syd Normans was packed skin to skin when we were there, with people lined up in the hallway trying to get in.
Since this was a cold weather sailing, I hope that the crowds will be better dispersed when they can be outside and on deck.
Norwegian Prima Pricing
I just did a quick pricing comparison. I picked each lines newest ship, double occupancy in a balcony cabin sailing for 7 nights to the Caribbean departing January 14 or 15 of 2023 including port charges and taxes. Here’s how they compared:
Norwegian Prima $2647.90 per cabin including Free at Sea (open bar, specialty dining credit, wifi and $50 excursion credit)
Celebrity Beyond $3708.40 per cabin including Always Included (wifi, drinks and tips)
Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas $3886.78 per cabin Cruise only
That’s a lot of fun for a pretty bargain price. Norwegian Prima is a great option for families looking to have a great cruise experience together on the high seas. Contact our NCL cruise specialists at 248-203-0022 to book your Norwegian Prima cruise today!