What to expect on a cruise from Galveston

Editor’s note: Lori A. May was a guest of Norwegian Cruise Line which paid for the trip. All opinions expressed below are entirely hers and were not subject to review by Norwegian Cruise Line.

Norwegian Prima, the first of six new vessels in the cruise line’s Prima class of ships, has officially arrived on the Texas coastline. Prima and the fan-favorite Norwegian Escape are the first Norwegian Cruise Line ships ever to offer cruises out of Galveston. Grammy winner and Fort Worth native Kelly Clarkson performed at the Prima’s introductory event on Oct. 31, 2022.

“Norwegian Prima’s debut in Galveston was extra special,” said Harry Sommer, president and chief executive officer at Norwegian, during the ship’s unveiling at the island port about 50 miles southeast of Houston. “We really did it big, and what better place to do it big than in Texas?”

Solid question. And with room for 3,100 guests, Norwegian Prima matches the state’s love for all things large, boasting numerous outdoor lounge spaces that aim to bring cruisers closer to the ocean with thoughtful design features. One example of this is with Ocean Boulevard, an open-air deck that wraps entirely around the ship and offers more than two miles of exterior strolling space. The boulevard also offers alfresco dining, along with two infinity pools close to the water level.

“With the debut of the Prima Class, we wanted our guests to be amazed from the moment they stepped on board, instantly creating everlasting memories with family and friends,” said Sommer.

Ocean Boulevard also features what Norwegian says is the first outdoor sculpture displayed at sea, with six installations created by metal artist Alexander Krivosheiw and an art wall designed by British sculptor David Harber. When strolling the boulevard deck, guests will also notice the Oceanwalk, two glass bridges that offer the illusion of walking on thin air above the ocean.

All that stuff sounds amazing but what is it really like to sail on the Norwegian Prima? And is it worth the money? Here are just a few fun things to know about one of the most anticipated cruises from Galveston you can board.

Scouting out Norwegian Prima’s new outdoor spaces

Cruise fans are accustomed to finding pools along the upper decks, yet Norwegian Prima introduces additional infinity pools along Ocean Boulevard. These unobstructed ocean views are found on deck 8, while the main pool is located on deck 17, near a new kids aqua park and The Wave, a tidal wave waterslide.

Two additional private outdoor spaces are offered at a premium. Vibe Beach Club, exclusive to guests 18 and over, is priced at $229 pre-cruise or $299 once you’re on board. The optional add-on gives you unlimited access to a private aft-view retreat that boasts infinity hot tubs and a full-service bar. Meanwhile, the Haven Sundeck, available only to Haven suite guests, offers additional private hot tubs and its own infinity pool with an aft view.

On deck 17, all guests will also notice increased outdoor dining split between the buffet at Surfside Cafe and the new restaurant Palomar, which offers both alfresco dining and interior seating surrounded by floor to ceiling windows. Indulge Food Hall and other restaurants have increased outdoor space as well.

Seafood night at the Surfside Cafe buffet on the Norwegian Prima cruise ship.

Seafood night at the Surfside Cafe buffet on the Norwegian Prima cruise ship.

Lori A. May

Norwegian Prima dining options

Fan-favorite NCL dining, like the buffet at Surfside Cafe and a 24-hour menu at The Local Bar & Grill, make a return onboard the Prima, yet the main dining rooms offer a new experience for guests on these cruises out of Galveston.

Complimentary menus are offered in two main dining venues, Hudson’s and The Commodore Room. Hudson’s offers 270-degree ocean views with floor-to-ceiling windows, but what’s perhaps most striking for Prima guests is the introduction of a static menu. Rather than switching menu offerings daily, as is custom on many cruise lines, Prima is introducing a set menu of what has proven to be guests’ favorite dishes and focusing exclusively on those during each sailing.

If predictability like that turns you off, you can find eight specialty restaurants on the ship with a la carte pricing or available as part of a dining package. Premium cuts at Cagney’s Steakhouse make a return on Prima, along with French cuisine at Le Bistro and Italian dishes at Onda by Scarpetta. New eateries aboard Prima include Japanese food at Hasuki’s, Mediterranean dishes at Palomar and contemporary sushi at Nama Sushi & Sashimi.

The addition of Indulge Food Hall, a gorgeous contemporary venue boasting several individual eateries, has also proven to be a hit with travelers. Here, guest can order complimentary selections from any number of menus, ranging from Latin American to Indian favorites, alongside quick-serve classics like tacos and pasta.

"Noise Boys!", an original show from producer by Nic Doodson, being presented onboard Norwegian Prima

“Noise Boys!”, an original show from producer by Nic Doodson, being presented onboard Norwegian Prima

courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line/Chris Cann Photography

Norwegian Prima’s live entertainment lineup

Norwegian has a reputation for staging stellar productions at sea, thanks to the cruise line’s eclectic offering of Broadway shows. Norwegian Prima brings two new shows to its main stage. Tony Award-nominated “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” shares the story of the Queen of Disco’s rise to fame, showing Summer at three pivotal stages in her career. Kimberly Locke, a former “American Idol” finalist, plays the role of Diva Donna, when the singer was at the height of her career. After the show’s conclusion, the venue transforms into a disco nightclub.

NCL Galveston cruise guests may also take in another main stage show included with their ticket, “Noise Boys!” This original, award-winning beat-boxing experience is produced by Nic Doodson, creator of “Choir of Man,” Norwegian’s beloved production that’s currently running on the Norwegian Encore and Norwegian Escape.

Additional live entertainment aboard Norwegian Prima can be found at the music venue Syd Norman’s Pour House, at the comedy hub of Improv At Sea and back on the main stage with engaging family game shows like “The Price is Right Live,” where guests can really win major prizes.

Activities aboard Norwegian Prima include The Drop and The Rush, the first freefall dry slides at sea.

Activities aboard Norwegian Prima include The Drop and The Rush, the first freefall dry slides at sea.

Lori A. May

Norwegian Prima’s onboard attractions

Norwegian Prima introduces what are billed as several industry firsts for thrill-seeking cruisers. Two of the most anticipated attractions are The Drop and The Rush, the world’s first free fall dry slides at sea. These 10-story plunges along the ship’s exterior offers ocean views — if the rider can catch a glimpse while zipping through at more G-force than an accelerating Formula One race car.

Prima Speedway, onboard the Norwegian Prima cruise ship, is billed as the first three-level racetrack at sea.

Prima Speedway, onboard the Norwegian Prima cruise ship, is billed as the first three-level racetrack at sea.

Lori A. May

Speaking of racing, while Norwegian has offered double-decker go-kart speedways on other recent ships, Prima Speedway is the first three-level racetrack at sea. Every level offers seaside views and adrenaline-filled fun for the whole family, provided they’re under the weight limit of 265 pounds. For family fun that’s a little less intense, Tee Time is a high-tech mini golf course that’s available day and night, but is particularly exciting when the course’s neon lights come to life in the evening.

More things to do on Prima include complimentary shuffleboard, pickleball and mini soccer. Indoors, guests will find virtual reality games inside Galaxy Pavilion. For the younger set, an aqua park is available near the main pool, along with dedicated group play at Splash Academy and age-specific kid hangout zones.

Norwegian Prima cruises out of Galveston

Guests can look forward to seven- or 11- night Caribbean cruises from Galveston on Norwegian Prima. Itineraries include daylong visits to Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico, Harvest Caye in Belize, and Roatan in the Bay Islands of Honduras. In addition to Galveston, the Prima also sails out of Miami, Orlando, New York, Barcelona and London, among a few other international ports.

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