Editor’s word: TPG’s Andrea Rotondo accepted a free three-night voyage from Norwegian Cruise Line to attend a particular crusing of Norwegian Prima out of Miami. The opinions expressed beneath are totally hers and weren’t topic to overview by the road.
2022 has seen the debut of some fairly spectacular cruise ships, together with Royal Caribbean’s Marvel of the Seas, Disney Want, Seabourn Enterprise and Ritz-Carlton Yacht Assortment’s Evrima.
Nonetheless, when the three,215-passenger Norwegian Prima first set sail in July, my Instagram feed blew up with photographs that I could not get out of my thoughts.
I gawked on the Penrose Atrium with its hovering ceiling spiked with sculptures and puzzled in the event that they have been geometric shapes, birds or starfish. I took in Le Bistro’s signature eye-level chandeliers that regarded as tall as I used to be and located myself intrigued.
Whereas I usually gravitate to small ships and luxurious traces like Silversea and Seabourn, I could not assist however assume, “May Norwegian Prima be proper for me?”
Traditionally, in relation to mainstream cruise traces, I have been a fan of Celeb Cruises for its lovely ships, terrific crews, a bevy of additional perks for suite passengers and nice eating choices.
It isn’t that I do not like what Norwegian has to supply. It is simply that it wasn’t an ideal match for me, based mostly on two earlier sailings: one on Norwegian Gem and the opposite on Satisfaction of America (a wonderful strategy to see Hawaii, by the best way).
These earlier experiences made me consider Norwegian Cruise Line as being a stable selection among the many mainstream cruise traces. Nonetheless, NCL is doing loads lately to evolve towards a extra premium product, and Norwegian Prima is the primary of six ships within the line’s new “Prima Class.”
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After I noticed my colleague Gene Sloan’s Norwegian Prima pictures from the ship’s inaugural crusing in July — mixed with every little thing I used to be seeing in my social feeds — it acquired me pondering that I wanted to revisit this line.
Fortunately, a chance to board Prima knocked on my door, and I used to be thrilled to expertise three nights on board. Would this fast journey change my opinion of the road and big-ship cruising? Here is how Norwegian Prima stacked up in all of the areas vital to this small-ship, luxurious cruise fan.
Associated: TPG’s information to Norwegian Prima
Norwegian Prima is gorgeous with out being over-the-top or garish. The muted colours — plenty of sea greens, blues and lotions — are soothing. The atrium was a vibrant assembly place, one which I regarded ahead to spending time in slightly than simply passing by way of.
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ANDREA ROTONDO/THE POINTS GUY
Every of the 18 lounges on the ship has its personal persona, and the furnishings throughout the ship was universally snug.
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ANDREA ROTONDO/THE POINTS GUY
My favourite spots included the Commentary Lounge on Deck 17 ahead and the outside seating peppered alongside Deck 8’s Indulge Out of doors Lounge. My husband and I have been capable of finding a comfortable daybed for 2, in addition to a quiet nook the place we may speak with mates who have been additionally on board.
Greater teams may simply collect within the residing room-like setting that fronts the Soleil outside bar.
The one spot on the ship we averted was the Metropolitan bar on Deck 7. It was adjoining to The Humidor Cigar Lounge and even with a double door, the odor of smoke was an excessive amount of for us. That was a disappointment because the Metropolitan bar expertise was a spotlight for Gene when he sailed aboard Prima.
Whereas many ships pack every little thing onto one most important pool deck, Norwegian Prima breaks up its seating areas so you’ll find what speaks to you: solar, shade or a mixture, plus a buzzy bar or area for quiet contemplation. Music was piped in across the ship but it surely was by no means overbearing. On the most important pool, the music was livelier however by no means loud and obnoxious.
You may additionally discover sizzling tubs and infinity swimming pools on the solar decks which can be good for small teams. Infinity Seashore is the spot on Deck 8 the place you may discover small infinity swimming pools which can be good for taking a dip and watching the ocean’s waves. For a extra conventional pool deck expertise, head to Deck 17 with a bigger swim area and loads of loungers in each the solar and shade.
Whereas I’m not a spa individual, I can attest that the Mandara Spa & Salon aboard Norwegian Prima is drop-dead beautiful. It even has a two-story indoor waterfall. The thermal suite was very fashionable on my cruise as have been remedies such because the aroma stone and Swedish massages.
Associated: The 8 lessons of Norwegian Cruise Line ships, defined
Meals and drinks
I envy individuals who aren’t meals motivated. It could make life a lot simpler if that have been the case for me, too. However I am Italian and, culturally, we use meals to speak each info and feelings. I’ll put an excessive amount of emphasis on the eating and consuming features of a cruise, however they’re essential to me.
I additionally really feel that well-prepared meals and atmospheric lounges on a ship point out that related care and a spotlight have been positioned on different features of the cruise expertise, such because the spa choices, shore excursions and shipboard leisure.
The eating choices aboard Prima exceeded my expectations. If I have been to cruise that ship once more, I might buy a specialty eating package deal to entry the premium eating places every night. (Be aware that pay as you go eating packages often do not embrace the gratuity, so you may nonetheless get a invoice on the finish of the meal for a 20% tip plus any premium drinks you’ve got ordered.)
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Le Bistro. ANDREA ROTONDO/THE POINTS GUY
This was a brief three-night voyage, so I could not strive all of the eating venues that I needed, however what I sampled exceeded my expectations in all however one occasion.
In reality, I discovered the eating choices aboard Norwegian Prima to be far superior to earlier experiences I’ve had on Norwegian Gem and Satisfaction of America. The restaurant choice was vast (Mediterranean, French, Mexican, gastro-pub, Asian and extra). The menus have been attention-grabbing, and the standard of the provisions was typically excellent as effectively.
Listed below are my ideas concerning the eating places I used to be in a position to pattern board Norwegian Prima:
- Ambiance: Common; tables have been too shut collectively.
- Service: Rushed; no chit-chat with the waitress.
- Meals: Menu regarded good, however not one of the objects we ordered spoke to us; salads have been ho-hum, and the meat Wellington lacked taste.
Indulge Meals Corridor
- Ambiance: Above common; all types of seating indoors and out, together with enjoyable tables with a Biergarten vibe.
- Service: Order through tablets on every desk and the waitstaff carry meals; everybody was pleasant, however twice we ordered objects that did not arrive till we requested for them.
- Menu: Above common to wonderful; the Indian meals was distinctive.
- Ambiance: Intimate eating room with shiny white woodwork, sparkly chandeliers and loads of room between tables.
- Service: Pleasant waiter, however I counsel slowing the tempo a bit since this can be a specialty eating expertise.
- Menu: Excellent; among the best meals we have had on any cruise ship previously 20 years.
Onda by Scarpetta
- Ambiance: Buzzy environment that made me really feel as if I have been eating in a really upscale restaurant.
- Service: Wonderful. Pleasant and attentive, with wonderful recommendations concerning the menu and wine record.
- Meals: Superb throughout the board … our desk of 4 shared appetizers and entrees, and every little thing was scrumptious.
The Native Bar & Grill
- Ambiance: Small eating room; empty after we arrived round 9:30 p.m.
- Service: Good, although we wished they might have allow us to do a to-go order so we may have eaten out on deck.
- Meals: Superb; should you love a superb Reuben sandwich, order it right here. (This spot acquired reward for its breakfast from my fellow passengers, too.)
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Le Bistro. ANDREA ROTONDO/THE POINTS GUY
It is vital to notice that Norwegian Cruise Line essentially modified the definition of a cruise ship most important eating room with Prima.
NCL has killed the custom of a banquet corridor with a menu that adjustments each day. As a substitute, it is taking extra of a specialty eating strategy on its latest ship and Hudson’s, the principle eating room on board, includes a set menu that does not change.
In actuality, this does not a lot matter on a ship with as many eating places as Prima. I’ve discovered on many latest cruises that I hardly ever opted for the principle eating room and as an alternative relied on specialty eating places, the buffet and room service. The flexibleness of the opposite choices was an excessive amount of of a draw for me. I did have dinner at Hudson’s on this voyage, and whereas it was nice, I would not make an effort to return.
Associated: All the things it’s essential to learn about Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Indulge Meals Corridor
I usually sail ships the place all eating places are included or, on bigger mainstream ships, I guide a collection to have entry to the VIP choice reserved for passengers booked in that class. On this ship, passengers within the VIP Haven a part of the ship have their very own non-public restaurant.
For everybody else, Norwegian Prima has six eating places included within the fare, eight extra-free eating places and room service. I really like the added flexibility of extra decisions at mealtime, but it surely’s unhappy to assume some cruisers will miss out on these spots because of the further payment.
If meals is not a motivating issue for some folks, although, why ought to they pay a premium for the kind of meals that is not what they really need? I get the enchantment of a ship that has many free eating choices, in addition to upgraded for-fee eating places.
On small ships and luxurious vessels, onboard actions pattern extra towards lectures from a visiting anthropologist, wine tastings and cooking demonstrations. I really like these types of intimate gatherings the place you’re feeling such as you’re in a buddy’s lounge and never on an enormous cruise ship.
Norwegian Prima has far more energetic choices. I am going to admit that I would not essentially hunt down a number of of the pastimes aboard Prima, however just a few of the ship’s choices — such because the multi-deck go-kart monitor and digital actuality gaming middle — intrigued me. I am not a gambler, so I do not miss the dearth of a on line casino aboard smaller luxurious ships. However for a lot of, the on line casino aboard Prima is a go-to spot.
On smaller ships, leisure is usually restricted to a DJ, four-piece band or duo. Norwegian Prima provided a comedy membership and a beautiful theater with Broadway-style exhibits. That is compelling for individuals who desire a extra strong slate of night leisure choices.
A look at Norwegian Prima reveals the 2 10-story slides on this ship: The Drop free-fall model and The Rush (Deck 18). The Wave, the primary tidal wave waterslide in line with NCL, is on Deck 19. That is an excessive amount of adrenaline for me however our mates took the plunge and had a blast.
Then, there’s the multideck Prima Speedway on your go-kart repair. It is a paid expertise at $15 a pop.
Galaxy Pavilion, with its vary of digital actuality “rides” and experiences, was extra our pace. (Extra charges apply.)
We had enjoyable tackling the ship’s mini-golf course, Tee Time, on Deck 18. Teams have been having enjoyable close by at The Bull’s Eye as they performed a spherical of darts.
In the event you’re touring with youngsters, Deck 18’s Children’ Aqua Park regarded like oodles of enjoyable — particularly on a sizzling, sunny day. Alternatively, youngsters may spend time on the Splash Academy youngsters membership.
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ANDREA ROTONDO/THE POINTS GUY
The health middle was well-equipped however appeared a bit cosy for a ship this measurement.
Associated: Norwegian Prima’s onboard facilities
We sailed in a class B4 balcony stateroom. It was a bit cosy. I might have beloved a barely bigger area that might have accommodated a espresso desk and an prolonged balcony that might match loungers as an alternative of two upright chairs and a cocktail desk.
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ANDREA ROTONDO/THE POINTS GUY
In my view, the mattress wanted a pillow-top mattress cowl. It was too agency for me. I might have preferred totally different pillows as effectively — one wasn’t puffy sufficient however two have been too cumbersome.
In the event you guide a collection in The Haven, there’s a pillow menu, feather duvets and Bliss Assortment by Norwegian pillow-top mattresses.
The toilet was the cabin’s spotlight. It was shiny, well-designed and roomy. Lastly, a bathe the place you will not bang your elbows on the partitions as you wash your hair! And, should you’re plus measurement, you will not really feel squished as you prepare for the day.
One caveat: The ship gives physique wash and a mixed shampoo/conditioner in dispensers affixed to the wall. I might have preferred separate shampoo and conditioner merchandise and never one factor that was a mixture of each, so in case you have the identical desire, remember to carry yours from house.
I might need rolled my eyes the primary time I heard the time period “frictionless journey.” All it means is that your expertise getting from A to Z — and every little thing that occurs in between — is easy and stress-free. Who would not need that?
By way of frictionless cruising, I search for:
- Seamless airport- or hotel-to-ship transfers.
- A easy screening course of on the port (one which will get me on the ship within the shortest period of time).
- The flexibility to do the issues I need, after I need (eating at particular eating places, going ashore on the time of my selecting or experiencing an onboard amenity, like Norwegian Prima’s go-kart monitor).
- Having my questions answered in a well timed style and to the fullest extent so I can profit from my trip.
- A straightforward strategy to disembark with out ready without end for a porter, my baggage and onward transportation.
On earlier luxurious and small-ship cruises, embarkation has been a breeze. On many events, I’ve gotten out of a taxi at a port, handed by way of the port’s safety screening, walked up the gangway and was escorted to my suite in lower than half-hour … no traces, no ready for a boarding group to be referred to as, no ready for my cabin to be prepared for me.
In fact, Norwegian Prima is far bigger than the typical luxurious cruise ship. So how a lot friction must you anticipate in your Prima crusing? That is laborious for me to say categorically since I used to be on an industry-only three-night crusing.
I can inform you that check-in at PortMiami was environment friendly. We arrived at Norwegian’s new Terminal B at 10:45 a.m. After a couple of minutes in line, we had our pictures taken, secured our room keys and have been positioned in boarding group 12. We have been onboard by 11:15 a.m. (VIPs, like friends booked within the suite part of the ship referred to as The Haven, get precedence boarding. In order for you the very best embarkation and debarkation expertise, guide in The Haven.)
We went straight to guide our specialty eating reservations. We needed to strive Palomar, but it surely was already fully booked. We opted for Le Bistro however needed to dine sooner than we might have most well-liked. On a daily crusing, you’d have the chance to guide your specialty eating reservations earlier than embarkation.
Additionally, you will need to guide your leisure actions as early as you possibly can, too … whether or not that is a spa therapy, just a few laps round Prima Speedway, digital actuality experiences at The Galaxy Pavilion, or the night musical or comedy present. In the event you’re the kind who likes to do issues on the fly, you could be upset. Planning out these actions upfront is your greatest guess on Prima.
In fact, mainstream cruise traces aren’t the one ones which have capability points in relation to eating, leisure and shore tour reservations. Elites on many cruise traces get first crack at these reservations, so typically you may be shut out whether or not you are making an attempt to guide the comedy present aboard Norwegian Prima or a selected eating expertise on Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer.
Disembarkment wasn’t frictionless however, once more, this was a singular crusing. Nonetheless, my expertise satisfied me that The Haven — with its precedence disembarkation — could be well worth the value if I have been to carry my household on a voyage with me.
Wonderful service means various things to totally different folks. I need attentive service that feels heat, pleasant and genuine (i.e., the crew needs to be on the ship and luxuriate in working with passengers). A contented crew equals glad passengers. I do not need something that is too formal, snooty or uptight.
I need my preferences remembered — whether or not that is on the pool bar (the place I’ll request enjoyable frozen drinks with none alcohol), in the principle eating room (the place I admire suggestions that fall inside my beforehand communicated dietary restrictions) or in my stateroom (the place I need the minibar stocked with eating regimen Coke and bitter lemon).
If there’s a service situation, I need the flexibility to talk with somebody who could make it proper — and have that dialog as quickly as realistically potential.
How did the ship do on all of these counts? Very effectively, really.
Norwegian Prima’s crew consists of real individuals who really care about your trip. It was simple to strike up conversations with crewmembers throughout the ship and everybody needed to please — even when there was nonetheless a bit of coaching to be executed. A brand new ship at all times has just a few kinks to work out however I used to be more than happy with the crew who I consider will develop into an unimaginable crew.
I might say that service within the specialty eating places must decelerate a bit. It was fast and environment friendly however for a eating expertise that’s so good, it could be good for somewhat extra time in-built for chitchat with the waitstaff. At Hudson’s, Norwegian Prima’s equal of a most important eating room, service was pleasant and quick however the buzz within the room did not lend itself to lingering over dessert and occasional.
The ship may use extra signage and, upon embarkation and disembarkation, extra path from the crew could be welcome.
Norwegian Prima exceeded my expectations in some ways — most particularly within the sheer great thing about the general public areas and the standard of the specialty eating experiences. I appreciated the innovation of Indulge Meals Corridor.
I loved all of the bells and whistles that you could be not discover on luxurious ships, such because the go-kart monitor, mini-golf course, dart video games, infinity swimming pools and stay leisure like “The Donna Summer time Musical.” The crew was sort and environment friendly, and that goes a great distance towards making a cruise nice.
If I have been to sail with my household, I would guide a collection in The Haven, which provides, amongst different issues:
- Non-public, VIP-only areas on the ship: non-public pool, sizzling tubs, sundeck, sizzling tub and health space.
- Finnish sauna and chilly room.
- 24/7 butler service.
- Assist from a concierge to guide eating, exercise reservations and shore excursions.
- Precedence when reserving eating and leisure preferences.
- Complimentary room service.
- Particular Haven eating room and lounge.
- Skip-the-line at embarkation, at ports and at disembarkation with the help of a ship escort.
In the long run, I do assume that luxurious cruisers can love Norwegian Prima — or a minimum of come darn shut — particularly in the event that they choose the ship for a multigeneration trip or a mates’ getaway the place journey companions will need differing types of actions all through the day and night.
Simply guide in The Haven to get an unique expertise extra akin to what you are accustomed to on smaller, extra upscale ships.
In the event you’re contemplating Norwegian Prima on your subsequent voyage, you might also need to learn: