I sailed on Norwegian Cruise Line’s new $1.1 billion Prima ship as a cruise hater — see why it was the first time I’ve ever enjoyed a cruise

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The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
  • I was invited to attend the inaugural sailing of Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest Prima cruise ship.
  • I’m a cruise travel cynic, but I’m shocked to say I genuinely enjoyed my time aboard the Norwegian Prima.
  • The great food, family friendly activities, and impressive live entertainment kept me amused all four nights.
Norwegian Cruise Line invited me to sail on its newest cruise ship — the Norwegian Prima — during its roundtrip four-night inaugural sailing from New York City to Halifax, Nova Scotia in early October.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
And despite being an cruise cynic, I’m humbly shocked to say I actually enjoyed sailing on the Norwegian Prima.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
I make a living out of writing about travel, which includes taking cruise ships. But ironically, I’ve never been a fan of cruises.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
I understand why some travelers gravitate toward the slow, relaxing form of vacationing.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
But as someone who prefers more thrilling forms of travel, the idea of being seasick, bored, and stuck on a cruise ship for several days is far from appealing. And I’ve been fairly public about this.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
In December 2021, I announced the cruise lifestyle was not for me after I was invited to attend the two-night naming ceremony of Celebrity Cruises’ then-new Celebrity Apex, which was built to target an older demographic.

the Celebrity Apex cruise ship at sea as photographed through the window of a tender
The Celebrity Apex.

Source: Insider

Five months later, I said I probably wouldn’t sail on Margaritaville at Sea’s Paradise cruise ship again after attending its one-night inaugural sailing.

The Margaritaville Paradise sailing at sea
The Margaritaville Paradise.

Source: Insider

Now, I’m shocked to report I actually found myself enjoying my extended weekend aboard the Norwegian Prima.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
And this came despite the unsteady internet that kept me away from what could have been my main source of entertainment: my phone and laptop.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships are designed to appeal to multi-generational travelers and families.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
To do this, many of the Norwegian Prima’s onboard activities were age-inclusive.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
There were still sections of the cruise ship dedicated to travelers of specific ages …

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
… like the children’s water park and adults only outdoor lounge.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
But for the most part, I believe Norwegian did a great job of creating spaces for families to enjoy together.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Activities like the waterslide, freefall dry slides, and go-karts stereotypically appeal to children.

Norwegian Prima
But as I walked around the cruise ship, I found plenty of adults leisurely enjoying these activities …

Prima mini golf
… although it should be noted most of the passengers on the inaugural sailing were already adults. (I attended as a member of the press at no cost, as the cruise was not available to the public.)

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Tech evolves quickly: The “Galaxy Pavilion” indoor virtual reality arcade felt more advanced than the first VR arcade I visited in New York City just three years ago.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Wearing a VR headset turned an otherwise simple shooter game into a fully immersive heart-pounding fight for my life …

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
… while a virtual walk through a haunted mansion quickly became a frightening experience that left me nauseous.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Some games, like the multiplayer racing game, didn’t require a headset. In retrospect, these options are best for people who are easily nauseated (me).

Norwegian Prima
Back outside, several holes at the flashy mini-golf course weren’t working as promised.

Norwegian Prima
But that didn’t stop me from having a fun time attempting to navigate each round.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Despite the heavy wind, I was still able to get a few rounds of darts in. If anyone was wondering, I did manage to pull off one shocking bulls-eye.

Norwegian Prima
I played alone, but the stylized darts “court” made the experience — bolstered by dart-tracking technology — almost as fun as playing with someone else.

darts
Of all the activities, I was most looking forward to trying the go-kart course.

go kart
But when I attempted to sign up on our third day at sea, the ride operators told me the only times that were still available would overlap with my dinner reservation.

go kart
And the following day, the go-kart track would only be operating dual-passenger vehicles. I was out of luck.

go kart
I left defeated. But at least I could stand on the viewing deck and watch all the other drivers joyously taking their rounds on the track.

go kart
And at least I also was able to try the “Drop,” a freefall dry slide that plummeted me down ten decks in just a few seconds.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
The flip in my stomach and urge to scream made the slide feel like an exhilarating seconds-long rollercoaster.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Was it the best idea to go on this after lunch? No.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Did I want to go again? Yes.

norwegian prima
Because I traveled alone I couldn’t take advantage of the “Stadium,” a large outdoor space with activities like shuffleboard, pickle ball, and ping pong.

ping pong
But for revenue cruise goers, this area is one of the only complimentary entertainment sections aboard the cruise ship. Activities like mini golf and the VR arcade come at an additional cost.

Reel Vegas
I expected all of these onboard activities to be fun.

Prima
I mean, who wouldn’t want to throw darts in a high-wind environment just for most of them to land on the ground instead of sticking to the board?

shuffleboard
But what I didn’t expect was for the onboard shows to be just as robust and well-planned.

Norwegian Prima
For many cruise goers, attending the live shows are a must-do.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
But as a resident cruise ship cynic, I had yet to be entertained by any cruise ship show.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Yet somehow, once again, Norwegian Prima’s nighttime entertainment was shockingly spectacular.

The Prima Theater
The Prima’s rendition of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” — which ended its stint on Broadway in 2018 — performed like a true high-production musical with nostalgic throwbacks that had audience members singing along. Unfortunately, photos weren’t allowed.

The theater

Source: Playbill

And “Noise Boys” was a surprisingly cohesive contemporary tap dancing and beat boxing mashup unlike any show I’ve seen before.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Even the familiar “The Price Is Right Live” game show was well-executed.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
And unlike the previous two shows, “The Price Is Right” was as much a show as it was an interactive audience experience with a splash of comedy.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
According to Peter Grant, Norwegian’s director of entertainment operations, the set pieces in this live game show are the same as the ones on television.

Norwegian Prima
I’m not used to being wowed by the often kitschy live shows aboard cruise ships.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
But these three high-caliber productions were so entertaining, I only found myself checking the time once or twice during “Donna” and “Noise Boys.”

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
I know I’ll sound like a stereotypical cruise goer when I say this, but the live shows were the perfect way to end my long days at sea.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
And what would be a cruise review without mentioning the Prima’s food and beverage offerings?

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Like any cruise ship, there was a wide variety of bars and lounges.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
I skipped out on the cover band bar, cigar lounge, whiskey bar, and comedy club …

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
… although the bartender at the whiskey bar did get a good jab at me for ordering a very exciting water. Let’s not forget I was on this cruise for work.

drink
In my opinion, the Metropolitan bar was the ship’s most interesting concept.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Here, the cocktail and wine bar used some of the ship’s food scraps — like banana peels and imperfect croissants — to make liqueurs and syrups.

drink
The bar prides itself on having zero-waste cocktails.

drink menu
But let’s be honest with ourselves: Cruise ships aren’t known for being sustainable and low-waste.

cruise ship

Source: Insider

And Wesley Cort — Norwegian’s vice president of food and beverage operations — was unable to tell me just how much food waste was saved by implementing the Metropolitan bar, although he did say it was “not a large percentage.”

drink
Having one bar that uses a small quantity of food waste doesn’t mask just how wasteful cruise ships can be.

menu
But at least the bartenders made solid drinks.

bartenders
Alcohol aside, Norwegian Prima also had several new-to-brand dining options like the Indulge Food Hall, a Mediterranean restaurant, and a teppanyaki concept. The latter two come at an additional cost.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Of all the dining options, I found the indoor-outdoor food hall with 11 restaurants and a touchpad ordering system the most impressive concept.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
I was able to try several small dishes from multiple “restaurants” by ordering on the touchpad …

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
… allowing me to eat iberico and pad thai at the same time. Unfortunately, the pad thai wasn’t great.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
The multiple kitchens and two food trucks made Indulge Food Hall Prima’s most expensive and difficult dining concept to pull off, Cort told Insider during a media panel.

indulge
But in my opinion, it was worth the effort. The food hall was so popular during peak hours, I had a hard time finding a seat. It put the ship’s all-day buffet to shame.

indulge starbucks
Indulge Food Hall’s chicken korma was better than any meal I had at Prima’s specialty restaurants …

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
… but who am I to disparage the rich pappardelle bolognese I ordered at Onda by Scarpetta?

pasta
After consistently nose diving into back-to-back food comas, I tried to revive myself in the ship’s small gym.

gym
The Prima’s gym had great views of the water and I never struggled to find an open treadmill, even when the fitness center was busy.

gym
Prima’s large spa was located just down the hall from the gym.

spa
Here, there were a variety of saunas, two types of pools, an ice room, and heated chairs. It was the perfect retreat from the crowded cruise ship.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
There were also plenty of outdoor relaxation spaces, including four hot tubs, the primary outdoor pool, and a 0.33-mile strip of pools, lounge chairs, and daybeds.

Norwegian Prima
But our chilly cruise to Canada meant it was too cold to take advantage of these outdoor lounges.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
I’ll keep my complaints about the weather to a minimum. At least I could relax with views of the ocean on my own balcony.

Inside the family balcony stateroom on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima
I stayed in the ship’s family balcony stateroom during my time aboard the inaugural sailing.

Inside the family balcony stateroom on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima
Like I noted in my review of the stateroom, I was pleasantly surprised by the well-designed 230-square-foot stateroom.

Inside the family balcony stateroom on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima

Source: Insider

From the touchscreen that replaced the “do not disturb” door hanger …

Inside the family balcony stateroom on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima
… to the conveniently designed storage spaces that kept me clutter-free…

Inside the family balcony stateroom on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima
… to the clothes line in the shower that helped dry off my bathing suit …

Inside the family balcony stateroom on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima
… my family balcony stateroom was the perfect retreat from the activity-packed cruise ship.

Inside the family balcony stateroom on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima
However, this hotel room at sea comes at a steep price.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
In 2023, the Norwegian Prima will at $780 per person for seven-day roundtrip sailings from Orlando, Florida to the Caribbean.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Compared to Norwegian’s cheaper 2023 itineraries sailing for under $80 daily, a nearly $800 cruise trip may seem like an unreasonable investment.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.

Source: Cruise Sheet

But in a massive turn of events, I’m going to argue that sailing on the Norwegian Prima is worth this price …

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
… so long as you have the budget to pay for the speciality dining and additional onboard activities like the virtual reality arcade and go-kart track.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Unfortunately, the onboard Starbucks isn’t complimentary either.

matcha
But the exceptional food, fun activities, and plethora of outdoor lounges could make this cruise worth the price, especially if you plan on traveling to a warm weathered destination.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
And while I won’t jump at the opportunity to go on a cruise, if my cruise-loving mother decided to plan a family trip on the Norwegian Prima, I won’t say no.

The amenities inside Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
And that would be a first.

The pool on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima cruise ship.
Read the original article on Business Insider
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