Editor’s note: TPG’s Gene Sloan accepted a free trip from Norwegian Cruise Line to attend the unveiling of Norwegian Prima. The opinions expressed below are entirely his and weren’t subject to review by the line.
Norwegian Cruise Line is just hours away from unveiling an all-new class of ships — its first in nearly a decade.
The world’s fourth-largest cruise brand will officially christen its new 3,215-passenger Norwegian Prima this evening at a gala ceremony along the waterfront of Reykjavik, Iceland. The vessel then will set off from Reykjavik on Sunday on its first sailing with passengers, an eight-night trip to Amsterdam that includes stops in Ireland, England and France.
Under development since 2017, Norwegian Prima is the first of six sister vessels scheduled to debut between 2022 and 2027 that collectively will be known as the Prima class.
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The series is destined to massively expand Norwegian’s footprint in the cruise business and, if all goes according to plan, significantly transform the brand. The line currently operates 17 vessels around the world. Assuming it doesn’t retire any of its older ships over the next few years, it will grow to 23 ships by 2027 with the addition of the six Prima class vessels.
That’s a 35% increase in its fleet size in just five years.
Norwegian is notably pulling out all the stops today to celebrate the arrival of the new class with a christening party in Reykjavik featuring a performance by pop star Katy Perry. Perry also will serve as the godmother of the vessel, presiding over an official bottle breaking against its hull.
It’ll be the first time a major cruise ship has been christened in Iceland but not the first time Norwegian has signed on a well-known musician to name a ship. Other performers asked to serve as godparents for Norwegian Cruise Line ships in recent years have included Kelly Clarkson (Norwegian Encore), Pitbull (Norwegian Escape) and Reba McIntire (Norwegian Epic).
At 142,500 tons, Norwegian Prima is notably smaller than the vessels Norwegian has been adding to its fleet in recent years. The line’s last new ship, the 2018-built Norwegian Encore, was about 19% bigger than Norwegian Prima at 169,116 tons.
Norwegian executives have said the smaller size of the ship and its future sister vessels would give the line more options in designing itineraries, as the vessels would be able to access smaller ports around the world than some of the bigger Norwegian ships can.
Despite its smaller size, Norwegian Prima still packs a lot of over-the-top amenities onto its top decks and interior spaces, including a go-kart track that spreads over three decks (a cruise industry first). Norwegian first put a go-kart track on a ship in 2017 and now has them on four vessels. Dismissed as gimmicky at first by some cruise writers, Norwegian’s go-kart tracks have proven to be huge hits with families, a big market for the line.
Norwegian Prima also boasts The Rush and The Drop, 10-story dry slides that are aimed at families. The line says the slides will provide more G-force than an accelerating F1 racecar.
Additionally, the vessel is home to an innovative, three-deck theater with movable seats that allow it to convert into a Las Vegas-style nightclub. The versatile space also can be reconfigured to become a venue for interactive, real-life game shows, including at-sea versions of “The Price Is Right,” “Supermarket Sweep,” “Press Your Luck” and “Beat the Clock.”
Still, Norwegian Prima is about more than flashy entertainment and activities. It also marks a more upscale turn for the line. Norwegian Prima offers the largest variety of suite categories (13) for a large ocean ship, as well as the largest three-bedroom suites of any new cruise vessel. It also has the brand’s largest-ever inside, oceanview and balcony cabins.
Among other standout features, Norwegian Prima also is billed as having the most outdoor deck space of any new cruise ship including more total pool deck space than any other ship in the Norwegian fleet.
Norwegian Prima initially will sail in Northern Europe before repositioning to North America in the fall. Fares start at $885 per person, not including taxes and fees, for seven-night Caribbean cruises.
TPG’s Gene Sloan will be reporting live from Norwegian Prima over the coming days as it sails from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Amsterdam on a non-revenue preview voyage for media and travel agents. You can find all of his dispatches on his author’s page.
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FEATURED IMAGE BY GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY