By Bernadette Chua, on board Prima in America.

On her inaugural American sailing, the Norwegian Prima, the first in her class has impressed with a grown-up sophistication.

While she still boasts some cool and innovative rides like the signature Norwegian Cruise Line Speedway go-kart racetrack found on other vessels (albeit with some major improvements), the interactive Galaxy Pavilion as well dry and water slides, it seems she is hitting a different stride, attracting younger and more affluent guests.

And it can be first seen on her itinerary offerings.

Until June 2023, she’ll be sailing on a number of seven to nine-day itineraries around the Caribbean before she heads back to her christening location of Reykjavik in Iceland.

From there, she’ll be traversing around Northern Europe on 10-to-14-day sailings before spending a few weeks in October and November 2023 in the Mediterranean.

Perhaps the most obvious in the way NCL is touting the new Prima class towards a more upper premium market is in the design of the ship. This is NCL’s first ship built at the Italian shipyard, Fincantieri. And while previous vessels that have been built at the Germany Meyer Werft have been fantastic in design, the Prima exudes a new type of confidence with seven specialty dining venues, 15 bars and lounges, a huge new Mandara Spa area and the biggest Haven (NCL’s ship-within-a-ship concept) in the entire fleet.

The Prima is more opulent and luxurious in her fittings with the line assembling some of the best interior designers in the world – a conglomerate of award-winning firms like Piero Lissoni, Rockwell Group, SMC Design and Studio Dado, all of which play different roles for different parts of the ship.

The ship has USD$8 million worth of artwork hanging on the walls and on the new Ocean Boulevard, a sculpture garden worth USD$2 million – all a nod to NCLH’s President and CEO Frank Del Rio’s love of art.

“We use a lot of different architects to design the space, and they all have different visions, and then you try to do your best to make sure that when you’re leaving one room that an architect designed, and then go into the next room that a different architect designed that there’s some continuity that doesn’t feel like you’re in two different places,” said Harry Sommer, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line at a media briefing in New York.

“So I think there’s there’s a couple of rooms where we do a better job with those transitions.”

Studio Dado was at the forefront of designing public spaces like the Penrose Atrium and specialty dining restaurants like Hasuki, a teppanyaki restaurant, adorned with blue and white decor to mimic the subtle and classic artistry of Japanese pottery.

Inside, The Haven, the brainchild of Piero Lissoni, accommodates 6% of the ship’s guest and looks more like an upscale boutique hotel with its clean lines, expansive Italian white sofas and rich velvet cerulean and bottle green armchairs.

Not only is there the elusive Owner’s Suite in the Haven, but guests of the area have access to a private dining room, and bar as well as an outdoor area on the ship with a sumptuous infinity pool and dreamy cabanas.

But there is still an air of fun on the ship. On deck 18, this is where you’ll find the two-storey go-kart track which has become a major talking point of NCL’s features. Guests can race each other in dual or single karts and even get a boost of speed if family or friends shoot lasers from the Galaxy Pavilion onto their kart.

Inside in the Prima Theatre, the NCL has brought to life Summer: The Donna Summer Musical with former American Idol winner Kimberley Locke playing the diva herself, comedy shows at the Improv Bar and much more.

So while she may look grown up and sophisticated, the Norwegian Prima is still definitely young at heart.

Read the full review in the next edition of Cruise&Travel next month. Subscribe here