Norwegian Cruise Line new ship Prima on tap, Viva up next

Norwegian Cruise Line has six planned sister ships in its new Prima class, the first of which will begin sailing with passengers in just a couple of weeks and is headed to Florida later this year.

The cruise line took delivery of Norwegian Prima at a ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyards in Marghera, Italy on July 28, and it’s set for a series of European sailings before a mini-tour of New York, Galveston and Miami before it calls Port Canaveral home for the winter sailing season.

But as line gears up for a christening event with godmother Katy Perry sailing from Iceland on Aug. 27, the line also has reached a milestone with Prima’s first sister ship Norwegian Viva, which was floated out at the same shipyard on Aug. 2.

NCL President and CEO Harry Sommer was on hand for both events presiding over the first new ships since he took over the job in 2020 from Andy Stewart, who handed over the reins after the launch of the line’s last ship Norwegian Encore in 2019.

“As our nineteenth ship and the second in our innovative Prima Class, Norwegian Viva continues to represent our ongoing commitment to giving guests the best holiday experience imaginable,” Sommer said at a ceremony that included the welding into Viva’s hull of a commemorative coin for good luck. “With Norwegian Viva’s name meaning ‘to be alive’, and her motto being ‘Live it Up’, we simply cannot wait to put this into practice and welcome guests on board soon for the vacation of a lifetime.”

The new Prima class are smaller than the last seven ships launched by NCL coming in at 142,500 gross tons and a 3,250-passenger capacity based on double occupancy.

“This is our first new ship class in 10 years, so we’re like tremendously excited,” Sommer said in an interview with the Sentinel in 2021. “It’s a complete redesign. It’s not an extension of the Breakaway, Breakaway-Plus ships. We started with a clean sheet of paper.”

In comparison, Norwegian Encore, Bliss, Joy and Escape all come in at more than 165,000 gross tons and range from 3,804 to 4,266 passengers.

“She is a true testament to our guest first philosophy,” Sommer said at the signing ceremony for the handover. Sommer previously said Prima will have the highest guest-to-space ratio and guest-to-service ratio for similarly sized vessels in the premium and contemporary cruise market.

Part of that is a new design that Sommer said he thinks will attract the passengers to a wide-open lower deck space just as much as they tend to congregate on the upper decks.

“I think what sort of unlocked this for us is moving the engines from the back of the ship to the center of the ship really allowed us to free up a tremendous amount of space,” he said.

The end result is the Ocean Boulevard concept of 44,000 square feet of deck space on Deck 8 primarily in the back of the ship, although passengers can walk around the entirety of the deck that will also include a sculpture garden with $2 million worth of art and the Indulge Food Hall concept.

“So an upscale food hall with 11 different dining options both with indoor and outdoor seating,” Sommer said. “We’re going to have everything, you know, Italian, barbecue, Latin, tapas, healthy desserts, Starbucks, you know anything that you can possibly imagine, plus three full specialty restaurants … so 14 dining options just on half of one deck of a ship.”

Across the entire ship will be 35 venues for eating and drinking, nine of which are brand-new to the line.

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Prima will begin sailing to the Caribbean from New York and Galveston from October before three seven-night trips from PortMiami on Nov. 19, 26 and Dec. 3. It then will migrate to Port Canaveral with voyages from Dec. 11, 2022 through March 19, 2023. It marks the first time the cruise line has home ported a new ship at Port Canaveral during its first year in service, and will sail alongside Norwegian Escape, the first time the line has based two ships at the port for an extended run.

Norwegian Viva, which has been assigned European duties as well Caribbean sailings from Puerto Rico, is due in 2023 and the rest of the six ships in the class are due once a year through 2027.

“We’re glad to work with Norwegian Cruise Line to create a world-class series of ships, and it’s a proud day seeing the first of the six Prima Class vessels delivered today,” said Luigi Matarazzo, a general manager at Fincantieri. “Norwegian Prima is packed with world-firsts, never-before-seen features, and extraordinary attractions you would never expect at sea.”

That includes their own take on a go-kart track, a three-deck version that is the largest in the fleet. And for more thrills, both ships will feature a 10-deck dry slide called The Drop, which will be a free-fall slide unlike the twisting slides found on Oasis-class ships of Royal Caribbean, that the line promises to mimic G forces similar to racing in a Formula 1 car.

And as far as entertainment, the big name show on board will be a Broadway-style production called “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.”

For staterooms, passengers will be able to choose from among 13 suite categories. For higher-end customers, the ship will have the line’s largest version of The Haven located across eight decks at the aft of the vessel for the first time.

“It’s about space. It’s about beautiful design. It’s about lots of outdoor areas and we think this is a real game changer for the brand, and hopefully for the industry in terms of what a contemporary brand can deliver,” Sommer said.