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Cruise Review

Norwegian Prima: A new era begins for Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Prima

Norwegian Prima, Norwegian Cruise Line’s new ship, ups the ante when it comes to big-hitting, headline-grabbing concepts, as Gary Peters discovers.

The term global superstar is often overused, but no such accusation can be levelled at the pop powerhouse that is Katy Perry, and the hit maker can now proudly proclaim to have a very special place in the cruise industry.

Perry, who was announced as Norwegian Prima’s godmother to much acclaim earlier this year, is leading the ship’s christening ceremony in Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital’s first such event for a major cruise ship.

As I and other assembled guests wait patiently for the show to begin, there is an undeniable sense of anticipation in the air.

In the weeks leading up to the ship’s debut, there was plenty of talk about the racetrack, slides and other innovative concepts on board (more on those later), but an equal amount of attention dedicated to what NCL has called a Very Perry Christening Ceremony.

And, the reality more than matches up to the hopes, as Perry puts on a show full of power and charisma, using her unrivalled stage presence to deliver one of the most eye-catching ceremonies I’ve witnessed.

Norwegian Prima christening
The celebrations begin on Norwegian Prima

Entertainment on Norwegian Prima

Speaking of eye-catching, the thing that draws my attention as I approach the 3,100-guest Norwegian Prima – the first in a new class – is not purely that, as a completely fresh, never-before-used ship, she is gleaming in the Reykjavík sunshine.

It is, rather, a glimpse of the new slides. The Drop, classed as the industry’s first free-fall slide, is a pure adrenaline rush, and no doubt a huge selling point for those who like to live on their wild sides.

Then there’s The Rush, duelling slides perfect for racing a companion to see who can reach the bottom first. Not content with two slides, Norwegian Prima also has Wave, for those who prefer a splash of water.

Another place in which to blow the cobwebs away is the Prima Speedway. The “longer, larger and zoomier” racetrack is hugely impressive, not least from a design and build perspective.

It is, without doubt, the most talked about area on board, absolutely brilliant fun and leaves guests wanting more. Post race, it’s to the Speedway Bar to bask in the glory of victory, or commiserate and accept that those Formula One dreams perhaps didn’t come true for a reason.

The Galaxy Pavilion, described as a “virtual world”, has the first flying theatre simulator at sea, as well as escape rooms and high-tech racing simulators, and really does transport guests into a new world.

The elevation of the guest experience is also demonstrated with the on-board entertainment. Norwegian Prima’s headlining act is the Tony Award-nominated Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.

Showcasing the story of Donna Summer’s rise to fame, the Broadway sensation shows the star at three of the most pivotal stages of her career: Diva Donna, Disco Donna and Duckling Donna.

This barnstorming musical is performed at the Prima Theatre & Club – the first venue in the world that transforms from three-storey theatre to Vegas-style nightclub, allowing guests to become part of the show and dance along to the hits.

Norwegian Prima dining, Norwegian Cruise Line
Hudson’s, the redesigned main dining room

A dining extravaganza

After all that excitement, I’m in need of some suitable refuelling. Norwegian Prima has nine new culinary and bar venues. There is the Mediterranean seafood specialty restaurant Palomar, and Hasuki, the line’s take on the traditional “hibachi-style” of dining.

One of the most interesting places to eat is the Indulge Food Hall, full of variety and atmosphere, with different areas dotted around, but cleverly separated with different styles of seating to ensure it doesn’t feel like a mass, run-of-the-mill buffet-style eatery.

Hudson’s, the redesigned main dining room, is also a delight, with 270-degree views through floor to ceiling windows providing the perfect backdrop to meal times. Another of the main dining areas is the Commodore Room, with an extensive menu in a fine dining, yet comfortable atmosphere.

The Local Bar & Grill, meanwhile, offers classic pub dishes and comfort food, such as fish and chips. A personal standout, however, is the line’s signature steakhouse, Cagney’s – full of flavour and pizzaz, with a refreshed design.

As for beverages, a key highlight is the Metropolitan Bar. This is part of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Sail and Sustain programme, and includes zero-waste cocktails prepared with surplus ingredients, as well as a sustainable spirits menu and biodynamic wines.

Elsewhere there is the Belvedere Bar, a new cocktail lounge with crafted cocktails and a modern take on classic drinks, and Soleil Bar, located at the aft end of Indulge Outdoor Lounge on Ocean Boulevard, NCL’s expansive oceanfront promenade.

I find that most of my drink-in-hand relaxation time comes in Syd Norman’s Pour House, enjoying speciality cocktails as the house band charms the room with rock classics.

Norwegian Cruise Line second Prima ship, Norwegian Viva
The second Prima-class ship, Norwegian Viva

The next chapter for NCL

During the christening celebrations, NCL president and CEO Harry Sommer said: “We have been eagerly anticipating and preparing for this special event for several years, so we are delighted to embark on NCL’s next chapter with Norwegian Prima.

“It’s been a joy to see our vision come to life with this landmark christening ceremony, which sets the tone for the unparalleled holidays guests will enjoy for years to come.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings president and CEO Frank Del Rio added: “Norwegian Prima is in a league of her own. As the industry’s most spacious new cruise ship featuring only-available-on-Prima-experiences, she is continuing NCL’s legacy of industry firsts.”

Those industry firsts will keep coming, as the Prima class expands with the launch of Norwegian Viva in 2023, with four more ships scheduled to join after that.

If – and there’s no reason to think otherwise – Norwegian Viva and its fellow Prima-class ships follow in the footsteps of Norwegian Prima, NCL is all set for a long and successful next chapter.

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