Review: Norwegian’s cutting-edge Prima cruise ship takes innovation to new heights

Updated on 07 September 2022 | 0 Comments

A triple deck racetrack, infinity pools and incredible design allow the recently launched Norwegian Prima to set new standards for the cruise line. loveEXPLORING’s Editor-in-Chief and cruise expert Dom Eames gives his verdict.

Emerging from the chill winds of the pandemic are exciting new cruise ships and the 3,100-passenger Norwegian Prima, which set sail for the first time from Reykjavík, Iceland in August, is one of the smartest at sea.

Prima is packed with seriously cool vibes, intimate spaces, stunning cocktails, plentiful food options and smart technology to make your trip truly memorable with groundbreaking experiences throughout.

What is there to do on board?

Helmet on? Tick. Buckled up? Tick. Engine started? Tick. Get ready for the race of your life on the Prima Speedway – the first three-level racetrack at sea – a huge 1,400-foot-long (427m) go-kart track where you can zoom around the top decks at speeds of nearly 30 miles per hour (48km/h). You can drive solo or race against others in an electric kart before you retire to review your heroic performance at the built-in bar. Thrill-seekers of all ages will enjoy the adrenaline rush it brings.

Norwegian Prima Speedway track (Courtesy of NCL)Courtesy of NCL

There’s also the Galaxy Pavilion, a hi-tech virtual reality playground where you can channel your inner teen to blast 3D zombies, pit your wits against the Escape Rooms or, more relaxingly, test your virtual swing at TopGolf. The Wave water slide hurls you spinning into a gigantic bowl or if you are feeling braver, take The Drop – a heart-stopping dry slide where the floor falls from beneath your feet to launch you screaming down the 10-floor descent in a shiny sack. Taking the lift is also an option.

What really stands out among the incredible attractions is the overwhelming sense of sophisticated style and well thought-out design. Unlike many cruise ships, you won't feel overcrowded as there are so many cosy places to explore and enjoy with a more intimate ambience. With around one crew member for every two guests, you’ll definitely be well looked after too.

For those seeking serenity on sea days, there’s the fabulously soothing Mandara Spa complete with a salt cave, a multitude of saunas – including the first charcoal sauna at sea – steam rooms, an ice cave and treatments to ease every ailment. It’s all beautifully put together with a central two-storey waterfall cascading beside stunning salt flotation pools. You can also enjoy the thermal suite, complete with stunning sea views. To burn off any extra pounds, there's a fully-equipped fitness centre and many classes on offer. 

Mandara Spa (Image: Courtesy of NCL)Courtesy of NCL

There’s also plenty of live music and entertainment on board. The Improv at Sea comedy club will raise a smile, while a night at hip rock bar Syd Norman’s Pour House shouldn't be missed. For bigger acts, the Prima Theatre and Club is the place to be. It's the first theatre at sea where rows of seats fold magically away in minutes to leave a massive dance floor, ready for you to boogie the night away after a show. Prima also features a Donna Summer Broadway-style musical where three singers represent the disco icon at different stages of her life. Evening entertainment also includes impressive interactive game shows like The Price Is Right, where contestants could win big prizes. 

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What are the staterooms like?

As soon as you step foot in your cabin, there’s a very pleasant ambiance that greets you. Great care has been made to make cabins comfortable and more ergonomically efficient. Every stateroom comes complete with a stunning one-piece wall mural and discreet LED lighting. There’s plenty of storage, smart TVs with a wide variety of movies and enough USB and power sockets to keep your devices nicely topped up. Fabrics and furniture all look and feel premium.

Bathrooms are equally stylish and walk-in showers are big enough for people to actually fit in easily, something not always true on cruise ships. Balconies are comfortable places to spend time, thanks to soft padded chairs to relax in with a cocktail while savouring sunsets.

Staterooms onboard Norwegian Prima (Dominic Eames)Dominic Eames

For those with larger budgets seeking ultra luxury, The Haven provides a class of its own offering a private dining room and butler, secluded lounges, sun decks, hot tubs, sauna and concierge services 24/7. The Haven’s private deck infinity pool at the back of the ship is a stunning place to hang out.

But even if you don’t have funds for The Haven, you will still feel you are experiencing a premium ship experience that competes well with any other comparable ship in its class.

For solo travellers, Prima offers an equally well-appointed Studio package complete with smaller staterooms and its own lounge to meet other singletons. 

READ MORE: Solo travel – how to do it safely

What’s to eat?

Prima provides a wealth of variety and a freestyle dining approach that is refreshingly simple, allowing cruisers to choose when and where to eat. The main dining hall Hudson’s seats almost 500, but using a clever 270-degree, U-shaped layout means that every diner has a fabulous view from its floor to ceiling windows. 

Hudson's restaurant (Image: Courtesy of NCL)Courtesy of NCL

Indulge Food Hall is a street food market that offers dishes from a whole range of international cuisines, booked through an iPad device and delivered to your table with waiter service. On deck 17, Surfside is smaller than many cruise buffets but still has plenty of tasty options, while Deck 8 offers alfresco dining on its boardwalk-style promenade.

For foodies willing to pay a supplement there’s also eight fabulous specialty restaurants serving Italian, Mexican and French, plus a steakhouse. Definitely try Hasuki – a teppanyaki style restaurant where Japanese chefs cook in theatrical style at your table. The entertainment is just as good as the food.

READ MORE: The coolest features onboard cruise ships

What’s the best bit?

It's the sheer brilliance of the design that stands out. It’s pretty amazing that a ship measuring 965 feet (294m) manages to fit so much onboard while never leaving you feeling like you are sharing the space with over 3,000 passengers and 1,500 crew. Aside from the adrenaline-fuelled attractions, clever touches like the creation of deck 8’s cantilever ocean boulevard, infinity pools and beach, add extra space to enjoy and make the ship feel smarter than the usual lines of uncomfortable deckchairs that feature on some cruise ships. It’s a premium and relaxed place to spend time wherever you are cruising in the world.

Ocean Boulevard on Norwegian Prima (Image: Courtesy of NCL)Courtesy of NCL

Who is Norwegian Prima for?

If you are looking for a more upmarket cruise in a beautifully designed ship, and have a penchant for fine food, disco dancing, kart-racing or simply relaxing, Prima should certainly be on your shortlist.

It’s a great choice for families with teenagers too – there’s plenty for them to do while you’re chilling out. There’s also a kids club for younger ones. Millennials will love the Insta-worthy spa, infinity pools, the rock and comedy clubs. The Haven offers stunning suites and private spaces for those with blow-out budgets. 

If you’re keen for big ship thrills without the crowds, but want the feel of a boutique hotel, then Prima ticks all the right boxes. Prima is the first in a class of five more near identical ships NCL plans to launch by 2027, so there are plenty for you to step onboard and enjoy.

For more information on Prima’s itineraries visit NCL’s website.

READ MORE: What it's like to sail on the world's largest cruise ship

Lead image: Courtesy of NCL


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