REYKJAVIK — During a cab ride through the Icelandic capital of Reykjavík, my driver stops for a passing motorcade, which is supposedly quite a rarity in this country of 350,000 people. “Someone important must be here,” my cab driver comments.
“It might be Katy Perry,” I respond, matter of fact. As we keep chatting, I explain that I’m in town for the inaugural voyage of NCL’s Norwegian Prima, setting sail from Reykjavík to Amsterdam—and that the famous popstar is the ship’s godmother.
“Katy Perry is actually here? I thought you were just joking,” my cab driver responds. I then proceed to explain why cruise ships have godmothers and how it all works.
Onboard, there was a palpable energy in the air, in part because—after two years of wearing sweatpants at home—people were all dressed up with somewhere to go.
And, during the ceremony to christen the new vessel, a discernable swoon could be heard from women in the audience upon hearing that actor Orlando Bloom is accompanying his wife, Katy Perry, on the maiden voyage.
Along with the celebrity couple are 2,500 travel agents, travel trade media, business partners, investors and NCL execs onboard for the eight-day sailing from Reykjavík to Amsterdam.
“It’s a wonderful and almost surreal feeling for me to see so many familiar faces, and also some new ones. It’s been over two years—two very, very long years—since we’ve been able to bring together the entire Norwegian family,” said Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., during the inauguration ceremonies.
“I’ll admit to you that I’m both very excited, and a bit emotional, to be up here.”
Norwegian Prima is the first of six ships (in as many years) to be introduced in NCL’s Prima Class. As reported yesterday, it’s the brand’s first launch of a new class of ship in nearly a decade and its most spacious to date.
Notably, it offers expansive outdoor deck space and a wide selection of room categories, including The Haven, NCL’s ultra-premium ship-within-a-ship concept (and yes, that’s where Katy and Orlando are staying).
“Today we are at the onset of what can be, will be, the restart to a bright future. One where a return to normalcy, and satisfying the public’s pent-up demand for travel, coincides with our steadily growing premium fleet,” said Del Rio.
Then he borrowed a line from the ship’s soon-to-be godmother, before introducing her to the stage: “Because we’re all champions, and we’re gonna hear you roar, roar, roar.”
Perry then officially named and christened the vessel with a ceremonial champagne bottle break across the ship’s hull. As Perry put it, she was there to “sprinkle some fairy godmother dust on Norwegian Prima” before setting sail on the high seas.
She also thrilled guests with an hour-long set of her hits (including the aforementioned ‘Roar’) while wearing an unforgettable hat designed to look like a giant red mushroom with white polka-dots.
Norwegian Prima is the most luxurious offering in the brand’s 18-strong fleet. She’s 20 decks tall and 965 feet long, with 1,600 staterooms that can accommodate up to 3,100 guests in a variety of suite categories. The Haven, designed by renowned Italian architect Piero Lissoni, includes a two-bedroom family villa, multiple penthouses and 24-hour butler service.
But what stands out is the variety of intimate venues, along with expansive outdoor spaces—based on consumer feedback that showed cruisers want a more intimate experience along with greater flexibility when it comes to dining and entertainment.
Three of the specialty restaurants, along with complimentary The Local (serving up pub-style food) and the Surfside Café buffet restaurant offer both indoor and covered al fresco seating with built-in heat lamps.
Overall, there are 18 dining venues (some complimentary, some for an extra charge) and 17 bars and lounges. A first for Norwegian is Indulge Food Hall, which offers 11 food concepts, from Italian to Indian to Latin American, in a stylish food hall setting (also with indoor and outdoor seating).
The new ship offers a number of firsts: a three-storey Prima Speedway electric go-kart track; Ocean Boulevard, a 44,000-square-foot outdoor walkway that wraps around the entire promenade deck on Level 8; the Concourse, which winds past an open-air sculpture garden; and Infinity Beach, with expansive pool decks and twin infinity pools on opposite sides of the ship.
And there’s no shortage of activities onboard, from the adrenaline-pumping slides, The Drop and The Rush, which plunge 10 storeys, and the Galaxy Pavilion VR gaming space, to the serene Mandara Spa with a two-storey waterfall, ice room, salt pool and industry-first charcoal sauna.
Norwegian Prima’s three-storey theatre, which offers Broadway-calibre shows, debuted with Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. With the press of a button, the theatre transforms into a production set and nightclub—where guests can participate in live game show experiences (such as The Price is Right LIVE) and Vegas-style nightclub parties. More intimate venues include the Improv @ Sea Comedy Club and classic rock club Syd Norman’s Pour House.
“She’s a ship that empowers guests with more choices, more flexibility and more experiences than any other cruise ship in the world,” said Harry Sommer, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line.
“This new class, our premium class, is designed for those who matter most to us—our guests—with the highest staffing ratio and the most space of any cruise ship in the contemporary cruise industry,” he said.
After reaching Amsterdam on her inaugural cruise, Norwegian Prima will set sail on a series of eight-day cruises out of Amsterdam and Copenhagen before repositioning to the U.S. to operate on Caribbean itineraries.