Looking for a reason to get excited about sailing again? How about the introduction of a major new cruise ship from one of the biggest lines in the world… that’s wholly different than anything else in its fleet? That’s what we’re getting with Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship — Norwegian Prima.
While cruise lines often roll out new ships that are essentially carbon copies of past ships, with entirely new classes of vessels the lines get the chance to completely redefine what’s possible at sea.
That’s exactly what NCL is doing with Prima. From changing the entire design of the ship from anything else in the fleet, to the amenities offered onboard (infinity pools?!), Prima promises to be a dramatic departure from anything else.
Here’s what to know about this brand-new cruise ship.
Prima Is The First of SIX New Ships in its Class
Norwegian Prima is the first ship of the brand-new Prima class — the cruise line’s first new class of ships in nearly a decade. In total, the cruise line plans for five more Prima-class vessels, meaning that relatively soon there will likely be one of these ships sailing from your favorite cruise port.
With six ships, that would make the Prima class the largest group of ships within Norwegian’s fleet — overtaking the four ships in the Breakaway-Plus class. The current schedule is for one new ship to roll out yearly from 2022-2027, built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.
Prima Is the Line’s First New Ship Since Encore
Norwegian Encore made massive headlines and saw lots of fanfare when it first sailed in 2019. Then, the health crisis hit. The steady stream of new ships that the industry had seen for years dried up. By the time Prima is launched in 2022, it will be the first ship added to Norwegian’s fleet since Encore — a span of three years.
From 2013 through 2019, Norwegian Cruise Line had introduced a new ship each year and plans to return to that schedule again starting in 2022 for the foreseeable future, helping to make up for lost time.
Prima Will Be Smaller Than Previous Ships
It’s rare — though not unheard of — for cruise lines to downsize their ships. Over the past 10-15 years, the trend has definitely been that new ships continue to increase in size. For instance, Carnival’s new Mardi Gras is by far the largest ship in that cruise line’s fleet.
That makes it interesting that after years of increasing ship size, NCL is going smaller with Prima. The ship will be “just” 965 feet long, carry 3,215 passengers, and weigh 142,500 gross tons.
By comparison, Norwegian Encore is nearly 1,100 feet, holds 4,000 passengers and weighs 169,000 gross tons. In other words, Encore is about 20% larger (based on tonnage) compared to Prima.
There are some concerns with ever-increasing ship size and the ability to dock in certain ports. However, the smaller size also seems to fit in with a new focus on luxury in the Prima class.
Prima Puts Luxury at the Top of the List
In general the mass-market cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian have a goal to appeal to everyone. There are tons of things for families and adults to do (several NCL ships even have go-kart tracks), and the feel is nice without being stuffy.
With Norwegian Prima, it appears that the cruise line is putting new emphasis on luxury. In fact, the first images of the ship are much more in line with luxury brands like Celebrity than the mass-market brands like Carnival and Royal Caribbean.
For one, the ship will have 13 different suite categories, along with the largest-ever standard cabins from the line. There also is a renewed focus on The Haven, which is the “resort within a resort” that offers exclusive access to certain areas for passengers paying up for these rooms.
Then there is simply the design. Renderings show high-end design with modern style. Go-karts and waterslides don’t appear, although it’s not clear if these or other kid-friendly features are axed completely. The result is a ship that looks much more luxurious and focused on adults than rivals in the mass-market space.
An Even Greater Emphasis on the Outdoors
One of the features of newer Norwegian ships has been the emphasis on the outdoors. Every ship you’ll ever sail has a pool deck where people can get out and soak up the sun. But for many ships, that’s the extent of the outdoor area.
For many ships in the fleet, NCL has put a renewed emphasis on being outside. This includes outdoor dining and promenades set out from the body of the ship to give both nice views and sunshine.
Prima looks to do even more. First is Ocean Boulevard. Wrapping around deck 8, this outdoor area measures 44,000 square feet. It allows passengers to walk around the entire ship while still being close to the sea. There is also Infinity Beach, which puts infinity pools on lower decks on each side of the ship, two glass bridges, an outdoor sculpture garden (with $2 million worth of sculptures) and an outdoor open-air lounge at the front of the ship called La Terraza.
A New Concept With The Indulge Food Hall
It’s normal for a ship to have a number of restaurants all around the ship. What’s unusual is that Prima will introduce a new dining option known as the Indulge Food Hall. Here, the ship has 11 different places to eat (ranging from BBQ to rotisserie to salads and desserts), along with a mix of both indoor and outdoor seating.
This hall now serves as a hub for grabbing a bite to eat, but is far from the only place to dine. A number of other options are also available including The Local, Onda by Scarpetta, and Los Lobos.
On previous ships NCL did a great job in managing outdoor dining and the challenges such as the sun and wind. Prima looks to take that one step further with the new food hall, while also offering lots of options.
Infinity Pools Come to Prima
Frankly, most pools on cruise ships aren’t that memorable. Given the weight of water high-up on the ship, pools are relatively small and shallow, plopped in the middle of the deck.
Norwegian Prima is changing that. It will feature several infinity pools around the ship with clear edges offering a spot to take a dip that’s unlike anything else at sea. True, the pools still will be modest in size, but they will offer an unforgettable experience, especially with the pools being on lower decks, closer to the ocean.
Perhaps the most interesting location to take a swim is in The Haven. The exclusive pool for guests in these rooms is at the top of the ship at the very back, giving you an uninterrupted view as the ship is in port or at sea.
Prima Starts Sailing in Summer 2022
The current plan is for Prima to make her debut in the summer, with cruises beginning in Europe and the United Kingdom. The first public cruise sails from Amsterdam, on August 17, 2022. It will take passengers around Northern Europe, including stops in Belgium, Norway, and Iceland. The 8-day trip currently starts at $1,539 per person for an interior cabin.
As mentioned earlier, this will mark the first new ship from NCL in approximately three years, putting a premium on the chance to sail.
Prima Will Sail From a Number of Ports Before Settling Home in Port Canaveral
If you want a chance to sail on Prima, then you just might find a departure nearby. That’s because the ship has an odd schedule starting out, departing from several different ports around the world.
As mentioned earlier, it will sail from Amsterdam, but also depart from England to New York. From there, it will sail a trip to Galveston. Departing Galveston, Prima sails to Miami before sailing a handful of cruises and then homeporting in Port Canaveral until 2023.
Even then, Prima will be on the move in 2023. She will leave Port Canaveral, offering several trips from New York before moving back across the Atlantic.
Bottom Line About Prima
Put simply, Prima is not just another Norwegian Cruise Line ship. The ship and the entire class take a turn from the rest of the fleet, with an experience that definitely seems more upscale and adult-oriented. Instead of putting NCL in competition with Royal Caribbean and Carnival, it seems more in line with what you’d see from Celebrity or Princess.
Furthermore, the ship offers more in the way of outdoor experiences, with a number of new design features not seen in the Norwegian fleet or industry as a whole. When she sets sail, there’s going to be a lot for cruise fans to be excited about.