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EXCLUSIVE: First look inside the Norwegian Prima

It was the first glimpse of Norwegian Cruise Lines’ epic new ship Prima the first of NCL’s new class of vessels in a decade. She is currently nearing the end of its 27-month build in the Fincantieri shipyard just outside of Venice, where 2300 skilled craftspeople have been working daily on the ship to get it ready for its maiden voyage in August.

Though it’s very much still a building site, it was not hard to see that this ship is going to set a new bar for cruise liners.

Prima is a trailblazer in the cruise industry for so many different reasons,” said NCL president and CEO Harry Sommer. “We definitely are looking to make our ships more premium”.

Indeed, the 3219-passenger Norwegian Prima is all about luxury, design and attention to detail and it’s an engineering masterpiece with infinity pools cascading off the sides, a three-level atrium at its heart, a glass bridge to make you feel like you’re walking on water and an outdoor sculpture garden featuring some of the world’s hottest artists.

Design is paramount and they’ve worked with several top-level design firms including Milan’s Lissoni & Partners, who were tasked with elevating the look and feel of The Haven, the ship’s restricted area of 107 private suites.

“We have beautiful cabins and amenities throughout the ship but in The Haven we elevate it to the next level,” said Sommer. “It’s for the guest who wants the best and here you’ll get a personalised experience that’s unparalleled in the industry.”

Think 24-hour butler service plus exclusive access to The Haven Restaurant, The Haven Lounge & Bar, plus a private top-of-the-ship sundeck featuring an infinity pool and an outdoor spa with a glass-walled sauna and cold room. We wandered through the spaces that will become the restaurant and lounge and experienced the way this area will have incredible outward facing ocean views and a significant feeling of openness.

But you don’t need to splash out on a suite in The Haven to have a memorable experience on Prima. Walking around several of the 18 unfinished decks of the ship it was clear that comfort and space have been as important as aesthetics when it came to designing Prima.

The almost 300m long vessel has 35 dining and lounge options so you could eat in a different venue for every meal during your time onboard and Sommer is promising “sophisticated design, masterful mixology and cuisine that delivers full-throttle flavour.”

One of the star attractions is the all-inclusive Indulge Food Court, which has 11 stalls covering a range of cuisines offering everything from Thai noodles to Caesar salad, and the option of ordering your food from a tablet at your table.

But there are also plenty of restaurants as well, from the more casual options like the lively Mexican cantina Los Lobos or the Surfside Café, through to more formal venues including the Mediterranean seafood temple Palomar, an upscale sushi restaurant called Nama and the highly anticipated Onda by Scarpetta, a sister restaurant to Manhattan’s famed Scarpetta eatery.

There will also be a fixed menu in the main dining room Hudson’s featuring dishes like paella and mushroom risotto, rather than the traditional rotating menu, which will allow them to maintain a higher quality in the dishes, with variety coming from the range of venues across the ship.

Whether you’re strolling along the 4000 sqm Ocean Boulevard, sipping wine at the sustainable wine bar, swimming in one of the infinity pools or catching a show in the Broadway-style theatre that transforms into a nightclub after hours. Racing on the three-level go-karting track, taking part in one of the daily live game shows, relaxing in The Haven or whooshing down the 10-story free fall dry slide.

One thing was clear from my tour around this incredible ship in progress: the team behind Norwegian Prima have thought of every possible way to pamper guests and provide a next level cruising experience. The only difficulty will be figuring out how to fit it all in.