Norwegian Cruise Line recently launched its newest ship, Norwegian Prima, which is the first of six in its Prima Class. Christened this past August in Reykjavík, Iceland, by godmother Katy Perry, the 965-ft.-long vessel can accommodate 3,100 guests at double occupancy. It has 20 decks, nearly 1,600 staterooms, 18 dining venues and 17 bars and lounges.
Norwegian invited travel agents and media aboard for the inaugural cruise, which sailed roundtrip from New York to Halifax, Nova Scotia, for a first-hand look at the newly launched ship. Here’s what we learned about Prima.
Fresh food and drink options
In addition to some of Norwegian’s signature eateries, such as Cagney’s Steakhouse, French restaurant Le Bistro, and Asian-fusion specialty Food Republic, Prima introduces a few new food concepts. For example, Palomar specializes in high-end Mediterranean cuisine, while Hasuki offers an elevated take on the traditional hibachi service. The contemporary sushi house Nama has master chefs creating upscale sushi and sashimi offerings.
Indulge, Norwegian’s first-ever food hall, features 11 different eateries and offers guests diverse menu items from a variety of culinary venues as well as a mix of indoor and outdoor seating. Indulge concepts include Q Texas Smokehouse for American Southern comfort food and barbecue; Nudls, serving noodle dishes from around the world; Tamara, preparing classic Indian dishes and multiple vegetarian options; The Latin Quarter, offering Latin food with a twist; and Tapas Food Truck, cooking elevated Spanish-inspired street food.
Wes Cort, vice president, food & beverage operations for Norwegian Cruise Line, noted in a panel discussion on “Norwegian Prima Experiences” that Indulge was Prima’s most expensive and most difficult dining project to execute. A food hall “is not a cruise concept,” he said, and Indulge has 120 menu items to choose from. “You could dine there every night on a cruise and not have the same thing — that’s why it’s been so popular” so far with guests, he added.
Indulge also includes the Luna bar and the outdoor Soleil Bar. Several of the Prima bars offer cocktails on tap from Liquid Kitchen by Kathy Casey.
The Belvedere Bar, a contemporary cocktail lounge, features crafted cocktails with a modern, fresh take on classic drinks. A number of drinks are bottled, such as the Bourbon Myth, with bourbon, fresh lemon juice, rosemary honey syrup and ginger, and All About Basil, with gin, Chambord, fresh lime juice and basil syrup.
The Metropolitan Bar on Prima, the brand’s first sustainable cocktail bar, follows the brand’s Sail and Sustain program. It features responsibly crafted zero-waste cocktails prepared with surplus ingredients, a fully sustainable spirits menu and biodynamic wines.
It’s not “a green-washing situation,” Cort said during a Sustainable Happy Hour event at the bar. “Everything has a commitment in one way or another toward sustainability.”
Luis Ortega, Norwegian’s director of beverage development and operations, noted that the cruise line worked with consultancy Bar-Lab on sustainable cocktails for its Encore ship. With Prima, Norwegian took the sustainable bar concept even further.
Bar-Lab went through the ship’s galley to find items that might have gone into the garbage — from overripe bananas and watermelon rinds to misshaped almond croissants and first-press coffee — and repurposed them for cocktail ingredients such as syrups.
Norwegian also partnered with Flor De Caña, a Fair Trade certified and sustainably sourced rum from Nicaragua that’s produced with 100% renewable energy to carry the product on the fleet. Metropolitan Bar’s signature sustainably made cocktail the “Primadonna,” is a riff on an Old Fashioned crafted using a banana-peel syrup, Flor De Caña and walnut bitters.
The cruise line collaborated with Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana to produce a responsibly sourced botanical gin specifically for the fleet, using 100% recyclable glass and wood for the bottle’s design. The organic gin’s name, 66, refers to 1966 — the year Norwegian was founded, Cort said. Terrapin Beer Co., a sustainable brewery in Athens, GA, came up with a special brew under the 66 brand, he added.
The beverage team also worked with French winemaker Gerard Bertrand on a selection of sustainable wines. Metropolitan Bar showcases more than 20 biodynamic wines produced using organic farming methods such as employing compost as fertilizer and avoiding most pesticides.
Prima offers more wide-open spaces, including Ocean Boulevard, a 44,000-sq. ft. outdoor walk way that wraps around the entire ship; The Concourse, which has a multi-million dollar outdoor sculpture garden; and expansive pool decks and infinity-style pools. It boasts the largest variety of suite categories available at sea, as well as a redefined The Haven by Norwegian, the cruise line’s ultra-premium, keycard-only access ship-within-a-ship concept.
Multiple first-at-sea innovations aboard Prima include a three-story transformational theater-nightclub, at which “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” made its debut with an 85-minute immersive production. Other entertainment highlights at the Prima theatre include “The Price is Right LIVE” and “Noise Boys,” an award-winning beat boxing experience.
Recreational activities include the fastest slides at sea, The Rush and The Drop, and the Prima Speedway, the world’s only and largest three-level racetrack at sea. The Prima Speedway Bar, Cort said, offers some of the best views on the ship.