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Last week I had the honor of being invited on one of the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Prima inaugural sailings. This was a pre-revenue sailing, for travel trade and press only. We spent four nights on the NCL Prima, and sailed from New York City, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, (and back) and I got to explore every nook and cranny of this incredible ship! Keep reading for my full NCL Prima review!
I was invited to sail on this industry inaugural sailing. As always, all opinions are my own.
NCL PRIMA REVIEW: Norwegian Cruise Line’s Newest Ship
What is the NCL Prima?
The PR1MA is Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship (set sail late summer 2022) and the first new ship to debut post return to sailing. The last time I sailed on Norwegian was on the Norwegian Getaway in 2019, so I was excited to return to NCL and see what their new ship had to offer.
NCL Prima Deck Plan
I always think the best way to get to know a ship is to look at its deck plan. You all know I love cruising and have sailed many times since the restart in 2021. I was on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam in November 2021, Virgin Voyages’s Scarlet Lady in January 2022, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas in February 2022, on the brand new Disney Wish in September 2022, and the Celebrity Beyond in October 2022.
Cruising is back and I am here for it!
But back to the NCL Prima deck plan –
Our cabin was on deck 12, mid-ship. There are 17 full decks (that go forward to aft) and then up front on decks 18/19 you will find the kids splash pad, entrance to the waterslide and some additional sun loungers.
At the aft, decks 18, 19, and 20 are part of the Prima speedway.
Moving down, deck 5 (along with decks 9 – 15) are all staterooms.
Deck 6 is where you will find the Prima Theater (which spans decks 6, 7, and 8), the casino, a beautiful bar called the Penrose, the Cruise Next Desk, some shops, the Belvedere Bar, the Commodore Room (one of the main dining venues) and Cagney’s Steakhouse.
Deck 7 is where you will find Starbucks, the Shore Excursions desk, shopping, guest services, the Improv at Sea comedy club, Syd Norman’s Pour House, Le Bistro, Metropolitan Bar, Nama Sushi, Hasuki Hibachi, and the Hudson, the second main dining venue.
Deck 8 was my favorite! This is where you can find the Whiskey Bar, some more shops, Onda by Scarpetta, the photo gallery, Los Lobos Mexican, The Local, and the Indulge food hall. Outdoors, on deck 8 you will find Oceanwalk, and infinity pools with seating. This is also the landing area for the mega slides the Rush and the Drop.
Lastly, Deck 17 has the observation lounge, the Galaxy Pavilion, the main pool, some hot tubs, Surfside Café (Buffet), Palomar, Food Republic and the Vibe Beach Club.
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NCL Prima Cabins
I think the real stand out here is the cabins – they are so modern, beautiful and well appointed. We stayed in a balcony room on Deck 12. We had a king bed that can be separated to two twins, a desk, couch, closet area and large bathroom with a stand up shower.
Well, a large bathroom for a cruise cabin!
As I was on a travel industry inaugural sailing, I got to tour some of the other cabins. I loved the Forward Facing suite with Master Bedroom at the front of deck 11. This room would be perfect for my family of four – a king primary bedroom with a separate living room (and pull out for the kids), and a larger balcony.
I also toured the studio suites for singles. I love that NCL offers this for solo travelers. These interior rooms are designed for one guest (and priced for one guest), but are connected to the studio lounge.
The NCL Prima also offers Oceanview rooms, and interior staterooms.
NCL Prima Haven
If you are interested in the ultimate cruise indulgence, book a room in the Haven. On my sailing we got to tour a balcony suite in this “ship within a ship” concept.
Haven rooms have the best amenities and this is also where you will find the larger suites that can accommodate up to eight guests.
Haven guests enjoy butler and concierge service, priority boarding and disembarkation, a welcome bottle of sparkling wine on embarkation day, complimentary in-suite dining, and a dedicated pool and restaurant.
I haven’t sailed in the Haven – yet, but someday!
NCL Prima Itineraries
Where is the NCL Prima sailing? In the late fall of 2022, NCL Prima will be sailing out of Miami, 7-nights to Mexico and Roatan.
NCL Prima Cruises 2023
In January 2023, she moves up to Port Canaveral and will be sailing a beautiful Bahamas/Jamaica/Grand Cayman itinerary. This would be a great add-on to a Universal Orlando or Walt Disney World vacation!
In March of 2023, she is coming back to New York City and will be sailing 5-7 night itineraries to Bermuda! If you are looking for a great spring break cruise of out of the New York area, this would be a top choice.
The NCL Prima is all over the place – she will also be porting out of Galveston, Texas at various points during the year.
Lastly, in the summers of 2023 and 2024, the Prima is sailing Europe – London to Iceland via Norway and Amsterdam. I already have one lucky couple booked on this itinerary.
Norwegian Prima Cruise Ship Amenities
This is where the Norwegian Prima really shines. The activities are insane -vast and awesome! Where do I even start!?!!?
For kids and kids at heart, head to the upper decks – up here you will find:
- The Prima Speedway (go-karts)
- The crazy slides that go from deck 18 to deck 8 (one is a drop slide and two of them are easy slides)
- The Stadium – ping pong, beer pong, foosball, pickle ball, sitting soccer, stuff like that!
- Mini-golf – 9 holes of high tech fun
- Bulls eye Lane – high tech darts
- The Wave water slide
- The kids splash park
- Galaxy Pavilion – all virtual reality experiences
Some other great on-board things to do:
- Try your luck in the casino
- See a comedy show in the Improv Comedy Theatre
- Speaking of shows, make sure to check out the signature shows in the Prima Theatre – which turns into the nightclub for late night dancing!
- If relaxing is more your thing, head to the Observation Lounge for a beautiful indoor place to relax, or consider buying a cruise-long pass to Vibe, at the back of the ship. This is an adults only outdoor area with a bar, seating and hot tubs.
NCL Prima Restaurants
Having sailed on Norwegian before, (NCL Getaway in 2019!) I wasn’t surprised at how amazing the food on the NCL Prima was! We ate so well over four days, and the food was great quality and amazing variety. Let’s see what there is to eat on board – also you might be wondering, does NCL Prima have a buffet?
Yes, NCL Prima does have a buffet! It’s called the Surfside Buffet and is located up on Deck 17. The buffet is great, with a salad bar, pizza station, dessert station, self-serve ice cream, and a rotating choice of entrees. However, until most cruise line buffets where there are two identical sides, this buffet is only featured along one side of the ship – so it’s a bit smaller than you might expect, especially for a ship this size.
But with so many other eateries on board, I guess NCL figured that guests would have other options to dine.
NCL PRIMA TIP – at the back of the buffet there is a smaller section that served hamburgers/hot dogs, fries, stuff like that, that seemed to be open all day. Also, there is great outdoor seating at the front of the buffet (closest to the pool).
I think the best addition to cruise ships is the food hall concept called Indulge. Here you will find eleven different cuisines including Indian, Mexican, Noodles, Salad… I can’t even remember all the options!
Indulge is open for lunch and dinner. You seat yourself and order whatever you want off i-pads. The food is then brought to you it, it’s fantastic! There is outdoor seating, but the indoor space was a little small (One of the few complaints I had about the ship).
For dinner, Norwegian has two main dining rooms – the Hudson and the Commodore. The menus are the same, and with freestyle dining, you can go wherever you choose, but we did prefer the vibe in the Hudson better.
For specialty dining, you will find some of Norwegian’s staples, along with new specialty restaurants. Onda by Scarpetta for Italian, Los Lobos for Mexican, Palomar for Seafood, Le Bistro for French, Cagney’s for steak and Hasuki for Hibachi.
On our sailing we had our choice of one night of specialty dining, so we did Hibachi – it was so fun and of course delicious.
Oh and don’t forget, the Local is available for all-day dining, and is included with your cruise fare.
Tips for Sailing on the Norwegian Prima
When you book your cruise with me as your travel advisor, I help you maximize your time on board with lots of great cruising tips and of course help with cruise packing and preparation. When you sail on the NCL Prima, here are some things to look out for and keep in mind:
- Make reservations for the Speedway. You can do this in person on embarkation day. If you really have that need for speed, check out “You and the Track.” You get to do three laps solo, with unlimited speed! They will weigh your car to 200 lbs and a cash prize and trophy are awarded for the top time of the sailing.
- Be sure to check out the Prima Speedway bar – amazing views. Just do so AFTER you race.
- Be sure to check out the Price is Right – the most fun show I’ve seen. You will feel like you are ON the Price is Right!
- Try out mini-golf for a chance to win prizes, including a seven night cruise.
- The rooms on the NCL Prima were really fantastic, but there is one deck I’d advise not booking if you want privacy. Message me to book if you want to ensure you have the best cabin on board!
- If you have trouble finding your way around the ship, remember, the triangles face forward.
- For Hudson’s and Commodores, join the virtual queue to ensure your spot. Easy to do in the app.
- At Indulge if you sit at the bar-style counters, you can only order from THAT concept restaurant. If you sit at a table, you can order from any concept.
Metropolitan bar deck 7- try out the sustainable cocktails – The Metropolitan bar on the NCL Prima introduces nearly a dozen cocktails inside at the Metropolitan Bar that swirl sustainably made alcohols with syrups made from watermelon rinds, used coffee grounds, day-old croissants and other foods otherwise destined for the garbage disposal. While those drinks might suit someone particularly mindful about the planet, the line has also introduced a menu for the health-conscious cruiser.
- If you are a single cruiser, consider booking a solo studio. These rooms are perfect for one guest and are attached to the studio lounge where you can hang out, grab a drink or snack and meet other solo guests.
- Check out Summer, the Donna Summer show, it did not disappoint!
- There are so many great spaces on the NCL Prima, but lastly, don’t forget to hang in the observation lounge up on deck 17, and to check out Syd Norman’s for the Rumor’s show.
- Work with a travel professional to book your cruise! I don’t charge any fees and I give great service to my cruisers. You can easily get started here.
My kids love cruising and I think they will love the new NCL Prima, which is also the first of six new ships in this class. I can’t wait to sail on the Prima with my family and to book all of you on this incredible new ship!
Do you love cruising? Have you been on the NCL Prima?