A Three-Story Racetrack, Food Hall, and Infinity Pools: Inside the Norwegian Prima

Spoiler alert: the Prima lives up to the hype

Norwegian Prima Aerial

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

When Norwegian Cruise Line invited me on an eight-night, inaugural voyage on board the Norwegian Prima, the cruise line's first in a new class of six ships, it took me all of five minutes to respond with a resounding "yes."

Brimming with firsts, the Prima Class takes cruising to a whole other level: A three-level go-kart race track? Check. An open-air food hall? Check. A pickleball court? Check. With the Prima setting sail from Reykjavik on Aug. 26 and landing in Amsterdam on Sept. 3, I had plenty of time to take advantage of all the cool things the ship had to offer and see if it lived up to expectations (spoiler alert: it did).

From where to eat and drink to the top things to do, here's everything you need to know about cruising on Norwegian Prima.

Balcony Stateroom - Norwegian Prima

Courtesy of Norwegian Prima

The Room

The Prima's inside, oceanview, and balcony staterooms are larger than those in the cruise line's previous ship classes, and, while I admittedly haven't been on many cruises, mine was the nicest I've ever stayed in. We were placed in a "Family Balcony" stateroom, a 231-square-foot space that can sleep up to four guests with its double sofa bed and couch that can be converted into two lower beds.

There was more storage in our room than in any other hotels we stayed at before and after the cruise—particularly in the bathroom, which featured five shelves, a drawer, and a cabinet underneath the sink. Plus, the room had several outlets where we could charge our phones, laptops, and iPads, with the two bedside lamps offering additional slots for USB C and USB cords.

The balcony, which comes with two chairs, offers lovely views of the ocean and port destinations (I was sailing through the Netherlands' waterways as I wrote this), and can be a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of a busy ship. Since we were on the 15th floor, it was possible to hear the buzzing of the go-karts racing two levels above us; however, we were able to shut out the sounds by closing the door to our balcony.

For solo travelers, the Prima also offers studio rooms with full-size beds, a separate bathroom, and exclusive access to a Studio Lounge where you can meet other people. The best part? They're priced for those cruising by themselves, so no single supplement is required.

Norwegian Prima Vibe Beach Club

Elizabeth Preske

Lounges and Decks

As previously reported by TripSavvy, the Prima's pool deck boasts more space than any earlier NCL ships. On the main pool deck, passengers can swim in the pool, ride a tidal wave waterslide, or relax in one of two infinity hot tubs. The sun deck, too, offers plenty of chaise lounges. For a more secluded retreat, passengers 18 and up can purchase a pass to the Vibe Beach Club (seven-day passes start at $229), which comes with its own bar, two other infinity hot tubs, and private cabanas.

While cool temps and strong winds kept most of us from adequately enjoying the upper decks—located on the 17th to 19th levels—they do line up next to some of the other onboard attractions, including The Wave, Kids' Aqua Park, and Prima Speedway, and could be potentially noisy on a hot day. If you're keeping a close eye on your kids, these are great spots to hang out and catch some rays; however, I preferred La Terraza on the 8th level, where there are equally comfy chairs in a much more intimate setting, as well as binoculars for wildlife spotting.

Also on the 8th level are two infinity pools at the twin Infinity Beaches, situated on the port and starboard sides of the ship and offering stunning ocean views. Because they're both adjacent to The Drop and The Rush landing areas, though, these areas can also be busy.

When the weather is less than ideal, there are a few indoor spaces where you can post up in. There's the Observation Lounge, which affords scenic views from the ship's bow, and the Internet Café, located next to Starbucks and a popular place for those WFC.


The three-level Prima Theater & Club is where you'll find the biggest events of the cruise, including concerts, musicals, and game shows. During the inaugural cruise, the theater put on "The Price Is Right Live" and "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical," both fun and incredibly engaging.

At "The Price Is Right," a live version of TV's longest-running game show, passengers are invited to "come on down" to the stage and compete for a chance at spinning the big wheel. The show I was at was staged (all the winnings went to charity, and the showcase showdown saw global pop star Katy Perry, the Prima's godmother, up against Marcia Del Rio, wife of Norwegian Holdings Ltd. President and CEO Frank J. Del Rio), but during a regular cruise, anyone in the theater could be called down to place bids and win prizes.

The Tony-nominated "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical" Broadway show—which tells the story of the Disco Queen's rise to fame and the inspiration behind her biggest hits like "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls," and "She Works Hard for the Money"—was the Prima's headlining show. The trio of actresses playing Summer in three critical stages of her life—with D'Nasya Jordan as Duckling Donna, Valerie Curlingford as Disco Donna, and "American Idol" season two finalist Kimberley Locke as Diva Donna—are all remarkably talented, making the musical an utter sensation.

After the last show, crew members usher everyone out to fully retract the seats, transforming (in 15 minutes, no less) the theater into a full-on nightclub, complete with two bars and booth-style seating. Most nights of the inaugural cruise, it was Studio 54-themed—a perfect way to end the day after bopping our heads to disco beats at "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical."

In addition to the Prima Theater & Club, the ship features other venues where you can catch a show. The pub-style Syd Norman's Pour House is a popular place to grab a beer and listen to live music, with the house band's performance of Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors" album from start to finish a major highlight of the week. At The Improv at Sea, passengers can watch stand-up comedy in an intimate space reminiscent of a New York City improv theater.

Norwegian Prima Nudls

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Where to Eat and Drink

Norwegian Cruise Line's food and beverage offerings set the cruise brand apart. With 18 dining venues on the ship, the Prima's culinary options are just as much a part of the cruise experience as its big-time attractions.

Indulge Food Hall

Food Hall has 11 different eateries that you can sample—including The Latin Quarter, which serves up totopos and crab tostada, and Tamara, where you can try Indian-inspired dishes such as chicken korma and urad dal. Unlike your average food hall, you can sit (almost) anywhere and order as many things as you want from a table-top kiosk with just a few simple taps. (If you sit at an eatery's bar seating, you can only order food from that particular vendor.)

The plates were small, which was great for sharing and meant we could try five or six dishes without feeling too stuffed. (I highly recommend Nudls' spaetzle, available at lunch, and its pesto gnocchi, which you can have for dinner.) Most of the dishes are included in the cost of the cruise, too, except for sweets shop Coco's—where I ordered dulce de leche crêpes and a fudgy s'mores sundae the size of my head in celebration of my mom's birthday—and drinks at Luna Bar.

We ran into technical difficulties with the kiosks when we placed an order, and it didn't go through, but crew members quickly sorted out the issue.

Main Dining Rooms

The Prima has two complimentary main dining rooms—Hudson's and The Commodore Room—open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Both offer the same menu, which is the same every day but is more expansive than what you would find in a traditional cruise dining hall. Here, you can order everything from small bites, soups, and salads to make-your-own pasta, pork chops, and rotisserie chicken.

Because I ate at Hudson's more than any other eatery onboard, I got to sample a good portion of the menu. While you can't go wrong with the "knife and fork" short rib (slow-braised beef, Guinness dark beer sauce, grilled asparagus), it was the seafood dishes that completely stole the show: mini crab cakes, California roll, and seafood paella (bomba rice, shrimp, sea bass, mussels, clams, and sofrito).

Although the menus stay the same daily, there is a rotating "signature taste"—a popular dish borrowed from one of the specialty restaurants—that you can purchase should you want to try something new.

Specialty Dining

If you're eager to mix things up, the Prima offers eight specialty restaurants you can dine at, including Cagney's Steakhouse, Nama Sushi & Sashimi, and Palomar, NCL's first Mediterranean seafood restaurant. The specialty restaurants were, unfortunately, not open for reservations on my cruise. However, I did get a chance to have dinner at Food Republic. Like Indulge Food Hall, it's a casual, fusion eatery where you can order a smattering of bites from a table-side kiosk. However, unlike Indulge Food Hall, the portions are much more substantial. I tried a bunch of different Asian dishes—including pork belly bao, a volcano roll, and ramen with BBQ pork belly—but they also offer Peruvian beef skewers, Mexican street corn, and Belgian waffles if you want to go on a culinary tour of the world. My personal favorite? The green tea jar, made with chocolate brownie, green tea mousse, chocolate crumble, and ganache—you won't regret it!

Surfside Café & Grill

Surfside Café & Grill is your classic cruise buffet. For speed and convenience, it became my go-to for pre-shore excursion meals and disembarkment day. It had everything you could want for breakfast: make-your-own omelets, French toast, eggs Benedict, muesli, oatmeal with all the fixings, bacon, pastries, fresh fruit, fresh juice, and tea and coffee.

I went here a couple of times for lunch, too, with one of those times falling on "Seafood Extravaganza" day. What looked like literal tons of shellfish were being unloaded by the pound and claw, and we could gorge on shrimp cocktail, lobster, and crab to our hearts' content. Being from the Midwest, where seafood can be found in the frozen section of the local grocery store, I found the whole experience slightly intimidating (how do I crack a lobster claw?), but it was all in good fun.

The Local Bar & Grill

The Local isn't open just for live music and drinks. It also offers pub fare and other comfort foods—think beer-battered cod sandwiches, Coney Island-style hot dogs, fettuccine carbonara, and blue cheese burgers. It was the only restaurant open in the interim between lunch and dinner, so it made for a great post-shore excursion meal.


You'll never want for a cocktail or glass of wine on the Prima. While you can grab a drink at any of the ship's theaters, clubs, restaurants, and decks, a handful of dedicated bars onboard offer something unique, from the fine selection of whiskeys at the aptly named Whiskey Bar to the crafted bottled cocktails at Belvedere Bar.

I quickly fell in love with Metropolitan, where bartenders serve up sustainable cocktails using ingredients sourced straight from Prima's kitchen. Like the Watermelon Twist, a spicy margarita concocted with watermelon rind cordial, and the Croissant Mai-Tai, whose day-old croissants were the star ingredient. But you don't have to go to Metropolitan to try one of these specialty cocktails; some of the other restaurants, including Indulge Food Hall and Hudson's, offer a rotating "day of the week" cocktail, giving passengers a chance to sample Metropolitan from anywhere on the ship.

NCL Prima Speedway

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Recreational Attractions

From a three-level go-kart race track to free-fall slides and pickleball at sea, Norwegian Prima's exciting new attractions will keep you entertained all cruise long.

Galaxy Pavilion

Pegged as the first flying theater simulator at sea, Galaxy Pavilion is available on other Norwegian ships. Still, this newest iteration is better than all the rest, with 14 VR games, including two Escape Rooms and a Topgolf Swing Suite exclusive to Norwegian. As someone who gets quickly motion-sick, there were a few games, like the roller coaster simulation, that rocked and jolted a little too much for my liking—but others were safe alternatives and super fun. I loved the VR spin on DDR, where, with the help of on-screen prompts, I moved my arms to the beat of "Shake It Off" (the crew member who taught me how to play said it's for kids, but I disagree), as well as a zombie shooter game, hidden inside a 7D "Dark Room" (admittedly scary, though entertaining).

To play, it's $8 à la carte and $29 for a one-hour unlimited package. Ultimate Galaxy packages, the weeklong, all-you-can-play pass, are available for $199. The Escape Rooms are an additional $15 per person.

Prima Speedway

The race track ended up being one of my favorite attractions on the ship. While go-kart race tracks aren't new to NCL, this particular track is the first-ever three-level race track at sea, and it's 22 percent larger than the one on NCL's Encore. With a 1,400-foot track and 14 turns, the electric-powered go-karts travel can travel up to 27 miles per hour on the competitive, shared-rider experience ($15 per ride) and up to 40 mph on the "You And The Track" single-rider experience ($20 per ride).

I opted for the former, repeatedly pressing the green "turbo boost" button to try and overtake the others, and completed seven laps. Not bad for a first go-around. For those eager to take multiple turns around the track—and try to win first-place bragging rights—Norwegian will also offer an all-you-can-ride pass valid throughout your cruise ($199; does not include "You And The Track").

Tee Time & The Bull's Eye

Tee Time, the Prima's nine-hole mini-golf course, takes regular mini-golf up a notch by introducing interactive technology—think a pre-tee selfie at the 8th hole—and a chance to win the ultimate grand prize: a free cruise. Plus, there's tech that tracks the ball and automatically keeps score for you (re: no cheating allowed). It costs $10 to play.

Adjacent to Tee Time is The Bull's Eye, where you can play a round or two of darts with up to six people. Tickets are $40 for 50 minutes of play.

The Stadium

The Stadium is essentially the Prima's outdoor game room, where you can play several games— including subsoccer, beer pong, foosball, and tabletop shuffleboard—for free. There's also what I liked to call "wacky ping pong," which was like a tabletop version of racquetball, with a circular (as opposed to flat) table causing the ping ball to ricochet every which way.

As a former tennis player, the highlight of The Stadium was the pickleball court, enclosed in a cage to prevent cruisers from accidentally thwacking the polymer ball off the side of the ship. I heard it was one of the ship's more popular attractions and got rather busy, so I was fortunate to play a few rounds without waiting. (My advice? Make a beeline for the court on the first day, when people are still boarding and exploring the ship.) It was really fun, and I can now understand the big pickleball hype.

The Drop, The Rush, and The Wave

Look at an exterior shot of the Norwegian Prima, and you're bound to notice The Drop and The Rush, a series of 10-story-tall slides that spiral down the ship's sides. The Drop is what Norwegian says is the world's first free-fall slide, in which riders are comfortably set up in a capsule before the floor drops beneath them. On the opposite side of the Prima is The Rush, which comprises dueling slides perfectly set up for a race down to the 8th level. On a hot, sunny day, riders can also check out The Wave, NCL's first tidal wave water slide.

While it was too cold to test out The Wave, I gave both dry slides a whirl—and had a total blast. If you're afraid of heights, rest assured that the slides are much less intimidating than they appear, particularly The Drop: After that initial rush, the clear plastic tubing slows you considerably. All slides are free to ride.

Mandara Spa

If you want to treat yourself, you can choose from several wellness and beauty treatments at Mandara Spa, which offers everything from seaweed massages, stone therapy, and salt scrubs to mani-pedis and nutritional consultations.

I got a day pass to the Thermal Suite, which features salt and freshwater pools and a mix of saunas, ice rooms, and steam rooms you can bounce between. After sweating and shivering for an hour and a half, I wound up in the Thermal Lounge, with heated ceramic loungers that accumulate heat the longer you sit in them. I never wanted to leave.

Oceanwalk and The Concourse

Located on the 8th level is the glass-floored Oceanwalk, where you can look straight down and see the waves crashing underneath your feet. On the ship's starboard side, the Oceanwalk gives way to The Concourse, an outdoor sculpture garden filled with six works of art by West Palm Beach-based artist Alexander Krivosheiw. Be sure to swing by at night when Krivosheiw's "Sacred Trinity" sculpture, made of mirror-polished stainless steel and integrated with NeonFlex L.E.D. lighting, glows in alternating colors of purples, pinks, and blues.

Norwegian Prima - The Haven - Haven Sundeck

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

The Haven

The Haven is Norwegian Prima's ship-within-a-ship concept, an exclusive section open only to guests who've booked one of 107 ultra-luxurious Haven suites. Guests with the means (rooms start at $3,749 per person) will get the five-star treatment, with access to a private sundeck featuring an infinity pool, sauna, and cold room; The Haven Restaurant, an additional main dining room that serves gourmet dishes like lobster bisque and beef burgers with triple crème brie; and The Haven Lounge & Bar. To top it all off, Haven guests will be extra-pampered by a 24-hour butler, concierge service, private elevators, and VIP seating at the Prima Theater & Club.

The Verdict

With several industry firsts—a three-level race track at sea, a food hall boasting 11 different vendors, and an onboard sculpture garden—the Norwegian Prima promises an action-packed experience that will have you oohing and ahhing from the moment you step foot on board. The staterooms are comfortable and chic, with enough storage to stow your clothes, toiletries, and other travel items for a week. And, thanks to a wide variety of culinary options on board, you'll never grow tired of sampling all of the Prima's different flavors.

However, if you plan to stick to only the activities and restaurants included in the cruise cost, Norwegian Prima may not be for you. You'll not get the whole experience by skipping most, if not all, of the Prima's big-name attractions, and you may grow tired of seeing the same menu offerings at the complimentary eateries every day of the cruise. But, if you're open to spending extra—whether it's an hourly pass at Galaxy Pavilion or a weeklong "all-you-can-ride" package at Prima Speedway—you'll find that the Norwegian Prima is well worth it.

Although the inaugural cruise set sail from Northern Europe, Norwegian Prima will be cruising to the Caribbean from New York; Galveston, Texas; and Miami in October before settling in for the 2023 and 2024 cruise season in Port Canaveral, Florida, and Galveston.

Cruises onboard the Prima start at $829 a person.

Article Sources
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  1. Norwegian Cruise Line. "Activities." Accessed Sept. 22, 2022.