Review: Norwegian Prima, first in NCL's new class of ships
By Sara Macefield | 20 Dec 2022
Get your first taste of Norwegian Prima, the first in NCL’s new Prima class of ships, packed with daring activities and top-notch dining
I am enveloped in what feels like an all-consuming cocoon and as the door of the launch pod slowly slides shut, I feel a rising tide of tense anticipation.
Suddenly, a disembodied voice counts down a few excruciating seconds: three, two, one. The floor gives way and I feel myself plummeting like a stone into the inky blackness of one of Norwegian Prima’s headline attractions.
This is The Drop, billed as the world’s first freefall dry slide, spiralling 10 decks on the side of Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, and I am shrieking like a banshee all the way down.
As I tumble out at the bottom and wrestle my way from the body bag-like sleeve (it’s to stop friction burns, apparently), I’m aware of a chorus of clapping from nearby diners in tribute to my screeching descent – which I acknowledge with a sweeping bow before bashfully retreating.
What attractions does Norwegian Prima have on board?
For cruisers who like their thrills, there are plenty on Norwegian Prima, NCL’s first new class of ship in nearly a decade and one of six such vessels to launch between now and 2027.
Adrenaline junkies can race each other on the dual Rush slides that corkscrew down 10 decks or the exhilarating Wave waterslide (my favourite) where riders are swept along on inner-tubes for a rip-roaring few seconds.
Meanwhile, budding racers can vroom their way along the popular Speedway go-kart track which, curling around three decks, makes it the longest one so far and easily the best.
What is The Haven like on Norwegian Prima?
One of the most distinctive features of this debutante, which at 3,100 passengers is smaller than NCL’s most recent ships, is the refined air that sets it apart from the rest of the fleet.
NCL’s bright and sometimes brash feel has been replaced by a more sophisticated ambience with an understated palate of colours and a multimillion-dollar collection of artworks. There’s even an outdoor sculpture park, another sea-going first, that’s perfect for posturing selfies.
The Haven, an exclusive ‘ship within a ship’ suite-only area, has been remodelled, offering the largest range of suites in the fleet and an uber-stylish infinity pool, the centrepiece of the private deck now placed at the ship’s aft – a massive improvement on the enclosed pool area of previous Haven complexes.
Norwegian Prima’s Ocean Boulevard
Norwegian Prima feels more spacious inside and out with the Ocean Boulevard, which wraps around the ship like a promenade deck and where you can walk over water on two Oceanwalk glass bridges, complete with somewhat stomach-churning views below.
Along its route are tempting lounging areas where I can’t resist stretching out on Balinese daybeds and gently rocking in hanging birdcage-style chairs, before a dip in one of the two infinity pools.
There’s a larger main pool too, but my pick of the chill spots is the Vibe Beach Club, which sits in a sheltered location towards the ship’s aft with dual infinity hot tubs, plush sunbeds and a dedicated bar – though this comes at a price, with week-long passes costing from $229.
What can families do on board Norwegian Prima?
Youngsters can get wet and wild in the water play area or fight zombies and werewolves in the Galaxy Pavilion virtual gaming complex, and there’s family fun in the deck games area with Tee Time mini golf and a new video darts game called The Bull’s Eye.
Norwegian Prima’s new multi-purpose theatre is put to good use during the ship’s naming ceremony in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik where godmother, American pop princess Katy Perry, blasts out hits that get everyone on their feet during a special concert.
But it comes into its own with Prima’s launch production, The Donna Summer Musical, where the disco queen vibe continues once the show ends as the seating area is transformed into a dance floor in tribute to iconic New York nightspot Studio 54.
All-action gameshows including The Price is Right also debut on board, while other venues, including pub-like Syd Norman’s Pour House and Improv at Sea, host live bands and comedy acts.
Dining on board Norwegian Prima
As the cruise line that pioneered flexible dining, NCL always serves up a liberal choice of eateries, and among Norwegian Prima’s 14 dining spots, new names include seafood speciality Palomar and sushi house Nama. But the most innovative is the Indulge Food Hall, with its street-style stands serving a rich collection of cuisines from tapas and curries to grilled meats and salads.
Old favourites such as Cagney’s Steakhouse, Mexican Los Lobos and French Le Bistro also return, albeit in more upmarket surroundings, and that also goes for its popular teppanyaki restaurant, now called Hasuki.
Yet it’s the main restaurants, The Commodore Room and particularly Hudson’s, that are a revelation with their chic, upmarket flair giving the feel of a speciality venue.
However, following an afternoon in the showpiece Mandara Spa with its Experiential Journey – a luxurious line-up of hedonistic thermal suites that includes an infrared sauna, salt room and the first charcoal sauna at sea – two deliciously soothing pools and an airy relaxation lounge filled with dreamy heated beds, I think I’ve found my favourite place.
Book a cruise on Norwegian Prima
Norwegian Prima will spend its maiden season in the Caribbean this winter, sailing from Port Canaveral before returning to northern Europe next summer for cruises to Iceland from Southampton.
An 11-night Iceland & Norway sailing from Southampton to Reykjavik, including calls at Amsterdam, Bergen and Alesund, departs on August 16, 2023, and costs from £2,365 per person. Return flights cost extra. Book with Norwegian Cruise Line.