Cruising Aboard the Norwegian Prima

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Cruising Aboard the Norwegian Prima

My wife and I boarded the Norwegian Prima, Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship—and the first in its class—with no expectations. Life had been hectic for both of us leading up to our departure from Galveston, Texas, and neither of us had much time to even get excited about getting away.

“I’ll be happy with an interior cabin,” she said as we made our way through the terminal, looking forward to a short escape together. Instead, we were assigned one of the ship’s 107 Haven suites, an unexpected treat and another argument in favor of getting that journalism degree all those years ago.

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Norwegian calls its Haven section, “a ship within a ship” and we often found it hard to want to leave the well-named retreat. We’ve stayed in hotel rooms smaller than our lovely cabin, where a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Rosé awaited us on arrival, and our spacious balcony offered a private place to enjoy the sun and sea. Every meal at the Haven Restaurant was a delight—we were outnumbered by the friendly staff and every bite was delicious (don’t sleep on the OMG cheesecake). And while the music and crowds at the ship’s main deck promised a party, the infinity pool atop the Haven offered the relaxation we craved. We’ve rarely felt so wonderfully spoiled.

Fortunately, though, Prima does offer plenty of reasons to explore the rest of the ship, and we took advantage of many of them during our four-night getaway—there was no time to do it all.

It had been a decade since I last cruised, and unlike the centralized restaurants with rotating menus I remembered, Prima features five complimentary dining choices outside the Haven, including the Indulge Food Hall, where you can find everything from Indian to tapas; The Local, where we enjoyed the comfort of good pub fare; and the more familiar buffet at Surfside Cafe & Grill, perfect when we just wanted a quick bite.

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There are also eight premium restaurants on board for a special night out, and we were able to try two—a tasty sushi dinner at Nama and a wonderful Italian experience at Onda by Scarpetta, pictured above (I highly recommend both the yellowtail crudo and the lobster tagliatelle).

The cocktails were solid all over the ship, but I especially enjoyed the sustainable cocktail program at the Metropolitan, where bartenders turn what would otherwise be waste—like banana peels or misshapen almond croissants—into delicious concoctions. My favorite was the spicy Watermelon Twist, featuring a cordial made from the kitchen’s watermelon rinds, along with lime juice, homemade chili liqueur and tequila.

As this was one of Prima’s inaugural cruises, Kelly Clarkston kicked everything off with a concert in honor of the 100 teachers on board—winners of Norwegian’s Giving Joy contest. Other shows include a slightly abridged version of the Broadway musical Summer, starring American Idol runner-up and recording artist Kimberley Locke as Donna Summer in her diva years, and Noise Boys!, a kind-of-goofy but incredibly impressive show featuring tap dancing, beat boxing and music.

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The activities on the Prima continue to stretch the bounds of what should be possible when you’re floating out in the deep blue sea, like the Prima Speedway, a three-story go-cart track, or The Drop and The Rush, the ship’s 10-story tall slides. The Stadium features a suite of games like pickleball, ping-pong and foosball, and Tee Time is a next-gen putt-putt course. The Galaxy Pavilion replaces the traditional arcade with a range of VR experiences, where you can shoot zombies, race through the countryside or test your swing with Top Golf. And, of course, there’s also a waterslide, a gym and a casino.

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And you don’t have to purchase a Haven suite in order to find your oasis at sea. There are countless nooks and crannies on the ship to relax, from the gorgeous Observation Lounge to the adults-only Viva Beach Club to the quiet views from The Concourse. There are also a pair of infinity pools on either side of Deck 8, and if you really want to treat yourself, the spa features a full thermal suite with heat therapy.

Our cruise was a short jaunt from Galveston to Progresso, Mexico, but the Prima will spend the next few months sailing out of Miami and Port Canaveral, Florida, down through the Caribbean, before traveling out of New York down to Bermuda and Virginia Beach next spring. In the summer, it will leave from Southhampton, England, up to Iceland and Norway, and then visit the Mediterranean in the fall. And next winter it will return to Galveston. By that time, the Prima’s sister ship, the Norwegian Viva, will have joined the fleet, hitting the Greek Isles and going on Transatlantic journeys. And the longer seven- to 11-day cruises might just give you enough time to fully enjoy everything these newest class of ships have to offer.