Norwegian Prima review: one curvy, glamorous beast

By Linsey McNeill
06/09/2022
Home » Norwegian Prima review: one curvy, glamorous beast

When they built Norwegian Prima, the first of six new Prima class ships, Norwegian Cruise Line President Harry Sommer said the aim was to create a ship that ‘doesn’t feel like a ship’.

So, did they succeed? Travel Gossip Co-Editor Linsey McNeill joined agents on its inaugural cruise from Reykjavik to find out.

“Prima, is definitely a huge step up from existing NCL ships.

It’s stylish and elegant, inside it’s all smooth curves, blonde wood and brushed chrome with a classy colour-scheme of soft blues and beiges, while outside there is a seemingly endless choice of chic seating or lounging areas.

Despite its size (Prima can sleep up to 3,100 passengers), it has managed to achieve a sense of glamour, which is no mean feat on such a large ship, thanks to a number of what NCL described as ‘visionary architects’, including London-based SMC Design.

Of the $1 billion that was spent creating Prima, $6m was shelled out on the artwork alone, but no expense has been spared either on the entertainment, which includes a three-deck go-cart track, an amusement arcade with some fantastic virtual reality games, the ‘fastest slides at sea’, darts pods, crazy golf, a vast, Vegas-style casino, and West End-style shows in the theatre.

The result is a glamorous but fun cruise ship for the middle market.

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The cabins

NCL boasts that Prima has the most spacious cabins for a new cruise ship and my balcony cabin was certainly much bigger than I’d expected. Even with a king-size bed (well, two singles pushed together), two-seater sofa, a decent size wardrobe and storage area plus a dressing table, I still had plenty of floor space.

The elegant shower room with power shower, including multiple jets and an overhead nozzle, large sink and a decent amount of additional storage was roomy enough to change in. All in all, I’d say it felt more like a hotel room in size and facilities, so that’s one tick for Harry.

The food & drink

Even though I tried really, really hard, I didn’t manage to eat at all of Prima’s restaurants on my four-day cruise, but I did manage breakfast in the main dining room, Hudson’s, lunch in NCL’s first food hall, Indulge, and The Local Bar & Grill, dinner at Cagney’s Steakhouse, The Commodore Room and the ‘hibachi-style’ restaurant Hasuki. I also sampled the buffet-style Surfside Café (I know, tough job and all that).

Hudson’s

To sum up, all the food was tasty and fresh, from the nachos in The Local to the Icelandic cod in Cagney’s, but it was especially good at Hasuki, one of Prima’s speciality restaurants (it costs extra), where the entertainment is also excellent.

The Indulge Food Hall is an interesting concept, where you can either sit on a stool at one of multiple food outlets or sit in the middle and order from a selection of different ones from a tablet, so you can say choose a tapas starter from The Latin Quarter, Thai noodles from Nudl another and pud from the ice cream cart. I ate possibly the world’s best-ever salad (lettuce, kale and goat’s cheese with seared tuna, since you asked) from the Salad Garden.

The service in all the restaurants was so swift as to leave you wondering how on earth they manage to rustle up such good food so fast, my only complaint was that it was all a little on the cold side for some reason and American’s don’t seem capable of serving soft omlettes and scrambled eggs.

Rather than create vast restaurants and bars, Harry said the aim was to offer more intimate spaces on Prima, hence you’ll find numerous bars and cocktail lounges dotted throughout the ship, including the Belvedere Bar, the Studio Lounge and The Metropolitan. I heard the comedy night in The Improv at Sea was excellent and agents onboard the inaugural sailing said they enjoyed the live music in Syd Norman’s Pour House.

The outside space

NCL says it has more outdoor decks than any other new cruise ship, and they have made good use of them, with many of the restaurants, including the Indulge Food Hall, offering outside dining, plus there are lots of places to chill on day beds, swinging baskets and sun loungers. The vibe in some areas is very much Ibiza-meets-Miami while in others it’s more like a classy hotel on the French Riviera. Another tick for Harry.

A good option for couples is the adult-only, exclusive access Vibe Beach, where they can hire a cabana.

There are also so many outdoor bars your clients will be spoilt for choice, and the sculpture garden, Ocean Boulevard (created by London-based SMC Designs) is a classy touch and a relaxing place to sit.

The Pool

Hats off to the person who thought of putting additional pools at the side of the ship, I always find the pool areas on cruises a bit crowded and chaotic, but Prima’s ‘Infinity Beach’ looked more relaxing, although it was hard to tell on the inaugural cruise since the cold kept most people indoors!

The gym

Ahead of the inaugural sailing, Miami-based rockstar-like Rabbi said something like ‘bless this ship where people come to eat their bodyweight in carbohydrates’, which is probably true, but they can easily work them off in the gym, which is huge. Set in the ship’s bow it has a zillion treadmills, exercise bikes, a free weights area, mat zone and all sort of things you push and pull that I don’t know the name of. In short, gym bunnies will love it, and the rest of us now have no excuse to put on unwanted pounds on a cruise.

The spa

This is seriously stylish with two therapy pools, umpteen treatment rooms and a corridor filled with different types of sauna, including the first charcoal sauna at sea, plus a steam room and an ice room, so you can get really, really hot then really, really cold. Afterwards, you can recover in the blissful relaxation lounge in the bow of the ship. Make sure you lie on one of the curvy sunloungers that warms up when you lie down, I could have slept there for hours. If you want treatments, which range from a quick manicure to face fillers, you’d best book early.

The entertainment

Families won’t be short of things to do on Prima. Harry was probably exaggerating when he said during a press conference on the inaugural cruise that even FI drivers would love the three-deck Speedway, but it is really good fun, as are the virtual reality games in the Galaxy amusement arcade. Full disclosure: I screamed multiple times on Dark Rider.

There are also two dry slides, The Rush and The Drop, on the outside of the ship, crazy golf and several covered outdoor darts pods.

In the evening on our inaugural cruise, The Price is Right was a fast-paced, interactive, fun show for the whole family. I overheard someone saying ‘it wasn’t their thing’ but the mainly American audience on my cruise threw themselves into the show and made it one of the highlights of the cruise. I heard the Summer: The Donna Summer Musical was also good, but musicals definitely aren’t my thing.

After the shows, the theatre turns into a small nightclub.

The shopping

There are lots of opportunities to offload your cash on Prima with numerous mid to high-end shops, including jewellery from Pandora and New York brand Effy, Ray Ban sunglasses, Kate Spade leather bags and Apple gadgets. All prices are VAT free but as with duty free shopping at airports, the prices aren’t necessarily lower than at home so best to check.

A few niggles

As you’d expect, there were some teething problems on the inaugural cruise. My cabin was too cold because I couldn’t turn the air con-off and my wardrobe light wouldn’t turn off either. I spoke to others who had the same problem.

The wifi was poor and I’m not sure what the point of the app is since we weren’t able to book anything onboard, but I think the plan is for passengers to be able to make restaurant and theatre reservations once they arrive on the ship.

As with other cruises, everything seems to book up fast so clients should make reservations as soon as they board.

On the whole though, I was impressed with Prima. In all honesty it still feels like a cruise ship, but a much classier one than its NCL predecessors.

*This review doesn’t include The Haven, an exclusive area within the ship with its own restaurant and outside space since access was prohibited during the inaugural cruise when Prima’s godmother Katy Perry was in residence.

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