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Norwegian Cruise Line Celebrates New Prima Class Ships and its Return to the Seas

A preview of the Norwegian Prima, which debuts in August.
A preview of the Norwegian Prima, which debuts in August.

More ports than ever and an expansive Alaska lineup are just the tip of the iceberg.

Anchors aweigh! Across the high seas, cruising is back. Norwegian Cruise Line is celebrating its safe return with a global deployment to 35 ports over the next three years, a new ship class designed to maximize outdoor activities, expanded time in ports, a mandatory vaccination policy for all crew and passengers, and a five-ship fleet earmarked for Alaska for the next three summers.

A fireside lounge in Norwegian’s first food hall.
A fireside lounge in Norwegian’s first food hall.

First in Class

Next August, Norwegian Cruise Line will launch the first of six new Prima Class ships hallmarked by a generous use of space. The inaugural launch, the 3,215-passenger Norwegian Prima, will have the most outdoor deck space and the most expansive cabin choices of any ship in the line.

Norwegian Prima is being called the most in-demand cruise ship ever,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Jennifer Hecker. “The line has been mindful of developing more wide-open spaces for travelers in a post-Covid world, so they feel comfortable navigating the ship with other passengers.”

Designers flipped the focal point of the ship from inside out toward the ocean on Ocean Boulevard, wrapping an entire deck with seaside promenades – including two glass bridges that allow guests to walk out over the water – alfresco dining, and two infinity pools.

Among other amenities, Prima will have Norwegian’s first food hall, featuring 11 vendors; a three-story theater that transforms into a high-energy nightclub; dry slides that begin with a ten-story free-fall drop; a virtual gaming complex with 14 attractions, including a Topgolf Swing Suite; the largest and first three-level racetrack at sea; and an adults-only beach club.

For prime accommodations reserve a suite in The Haven, with eight decks of suites accessed by private elevators, plus residents-only public areas, including an infinity pool and an outdoor spa with a glass-walled sauna and cold room.

“You can access great amenities in the larger ship but enjoy an added level of personalization and intimacy with private elevators, personal concierges, exclusive dining places, and sunning decks,” Hecker says. “You have the luxury of staying in the enclave or venturing out.”

See the World from 35 Ports

Once it launches, Norwegian Prima will sail around northern Europe, starting in Copenhagen and exploring the dramatic Norwegian fjords, as well as visiting seven Baltic Sea ports, including Saint Petersburg, Helsinki, and Stockholm. The ship will winter in Galveston, Texas, for weeklong western Caribbean trips, with calls at Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico; Harvest Caye, an exclusive-to-NCL island in Belize; and Roatán Island, offering prime access to the pristine Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Galveston are among the 35 departure ports for the line’s worldwide itineraries through summer 2024. Next November, the 4,100-passenger Norwegian Epic makes Haifa, Israel, its homeport for 11- and 12-day Mediterranean sailings between Haifa and Rome via Tel Aviv, Greece, and Turkey. In the Dominican Republic, La Romana is the future home of the 2,004-guest Norwegian Sky’s seven-day, port-packed southern Caribbean cruises – the only itinerary in the region without a full day at sea.

This season in the Caribbean, three NCL ships will make maiden calls on Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos, offering opportunities to snorkel with stingrays or ride scooters to the coral chain’s only lighthouse.

Alaskan voyages are filled with family friendly active excursions.
Alaskan voyages are filled with family friendly active excursions.

Big in the Last Frontier

Due to the demand for cruising to return to Alaska, NCL will dedicate five ships to Inside Passage voyages, including the 3,998-passenger Norwegian Encore and the 4,004-passenger Norwegian Bliss, which were custom-built for the Last Frontier.

Highlights of seven-day round-trip cruises from Seattle aboard Bliss include a call at Icy Strait Point, where Norwegian recently debuted its new cruise pier, complete with a gondola system that will whisk guests from the pier to the Historic Cannery district and, with a transfer to a second gondola that ascends Hoonah Mountain for panoramic views of the surrounding Inside Passage.

Additional itineraries will spend the entire week charting a course north from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Seward, Alaska, to witness tidewater glaciers calving into the sea at Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier.

It’s not all wildlife and wilderness, though: Virtuoso travel advisor Toni Lanfrank says her clients turn to NCL for the ships’ wide variety of restaurants and entertainment. “They have many fun things to entertain children, including go-carts and laser tag. Even adults like it,” she says.

Next June, the 2,018-passenger Norwegian Spirit will make an inaugural 16-day Fire & Ice voyage from Hawaii’s lush islands to Alaska’s snowcapped peaks. The cruise will take in Oahu, Kauai, Hawaii, and Maui, then strike out across the Pacific for five days en route to Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Skagway, and Ketchikan before disembarking in Vancouver. The reverse trip will start on October 3. Plan ahead: The itinerary’s popularity has led the line to plan two repeat voyages in 2024.

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