NCL Makes History With First Seasonal Sailing From Galveston, Texas

Norwegian Cruise Line made history yesterday with one of its newest ships — Norwegian Prima — making its first ever seasonal debut sailing from Galveston, Texas. The ship will sail 7-day cruises through April 2024 to the western Caribbean.

Exterior of Norwegian Prima
Norwegian Prima departed Galveston on its first seasonal sailing from the port. The ship will sail through April 2024 from Texas. Sister ship Norwegian Viva will sail from the port in 2025.

Constructed in 2022, Prima is noteworthy as it is the first ship in cruise line’s Prima class of vessels. This group of ships marks a very different direction than others in the fleet and something entirely new for the Texas market.

Coming in at 965 feet and 142,500 gross tons, the ship has a capacity for 3,100 passengers. That’s actually smaller than previous vessels like Norwegian Encore, which was the last ship built before Prima. Instead of continually going bigger, Norwegian Prima is focused more on the passenger experience and luxury — especially compared to Texas-based rivals Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

The ship features Ocean Boulevard, a wraparound deck with 44,000 square feet of space opening up to the sea. There are also infinity pools (located at Infinity Beach) close to the water level to further connect passengers to the ocean. Other high-end features include The Concourse (an outdoor sculpture garden) and an open-air food hall.

There are still plenty of opportunities for family fun as the ship also has the cruise line’s signature race track (covering three levels) and The Drop, a freefall slide that takes you down 10 stories.

Still, Prima is definitely focused on a higher-end experience than most large cruise ships. That makes it ideal for those looking for a more refined vacation than what might be found on rival cruise lines. (See our full review of Prima here.)

Having toured the ship, we think it’s not a stretch to say that instead of designing a cruise ship, NCL instead designed a high-end hotel. That definitely makes it stand apart from other cruise options in Galveston.

NCL’s Major Push Into Galveston Cruises

Atrium on NCL Prima
NCL is making a push into the Texas market with ships like Prima that offer a higher-end experience compared to rivals. Shown above is the ship’s main atrium.

This sailing of Prima also marks the first time that Norwegian has homeported a ship in Galveston. Prima did visit Galveston back in October 2022 for a special one-time sailing, and the cruise line did previously sail a ship from the former Bayport Cruise Terminal years ago.

Until now, however, Galveston couldn’t claim NCL as one of the many cruise lines that called the Texas port home. That’s changing quickly.

“We’re extremely excited to have Norwegian Prima officially sail out of Galveston, Texas this season as we are committed to listening to our guests’ feedback and providing them with more opportunities to cruise from popular, easily accessible ports,” said David J. Herrera, president of Norwegian Cruise Line.

In fact, NCL has already started to add those other opportunities. Just days ago the cruise line announced that its current newest ship in the fleet — Norwegian Viva — will now sail from the island starting in December 2025.

Meanwhile, a search of the NCL website also shows a handful of sailings aboard Norwegian Escape from Galveston in December 2024.

With the arrival of Prima and plans for Viva, it’s clear that NCL has set its sights on expanding into the Galveston market. And with tentative plans for the port to open a fourth cruise terminal in the coming years, could it only be a matter of time before a Norwegian ship sails year-round from the island?

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