Ultimate guide to dining on the Norwegian cruise ship Prima

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new ship in town and it’s called the Prima.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has unveiled its newest Prima Class ships, and the departure from the usual linear interior design is evident the moment you step off the elevator.

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You’ll walk down curving corridors through the dining, shopping and entertainment levels, in smaller, more intimate spaces than you remember.

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NCL has also taken a creative approach to dining on this ship. New and attractive complimentary options, as well as additional specialty dining options, are located on multiple levels with indoor and outdoor seating. Familiar names like Cagney’s, Food Republic and Le Bistro are still available with updated architectural designs.

The biggest change is the free dinner approach. The buffet area has been halved in size, now called Surfside Café & Grill. Casual multicultural options are available, as well as freshly grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza, with outdoor seating.

If the buffet isn’t for you, head to Deck 8 and visit the Indulge Food Hall. Filled with eleven stations of international dishes, this space combines a food truck atmosphere with street food, catering to many tastes. Take a seat, indoors or outdoors, and view your selections on the tablet provided at each table.

Indulge Food Hall Tablet Menu, Norwegian Prima Cruise Ship, NCL, Norwegian Cruise Line, Dining Room
Indulge Food Hall tablet menu on Norwegian cruise ship Prima (photo via Susan Young)

Try one item from each restaurant if you like, or zone in on a particular flavor and, within minutes, the dishes will be delivered to you. Whether it’s tapas, Asian noodles, or barbecue, among others, the options are many.

The free main dining rooms have been renamed and refurbished. The full-service experience is the same at Hudson’s on Deck 7, with 270-degree views, and, on a smaller scale, in the Commodore Room on Deck 6. Extensive menus include elegant options as Hudson’s offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, while The Commodore it is only available for dinner.

Another complimentary restaurant, The Local Bar & Grill, is open all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You’ll notice an updated style and location on Prima, compared to other ships, but it continues to offer its pub-style menu and relaxed atmosphere. This is also the place to watch a weekend football game on the big screen.

If you want to get away from it all, head to the Observation Lounge for a complimentary light breakfast or lunch while enjoying incredible views and comfortable seating. There is also a full-service bar in this space, complete with privacy alcoves and lounge sofas.

As with most ships, Prima offers special dining options at an additional cost. A new take on Mediterranean seafood can be found at Palomar on Deck 17. The menu includes wild Mediterranean sea bass, grilled monkfish, as well as a whole fish for two baked in sea salt with herbs. Steaks, beef ribs and roast Australian lamb chops are also available. Seating includes indoor and outdoor options.

Norwegian Prima Palomar, cruise ship, NCL,
Palomar in the new Norwegian Prima (photo via Susan Young)

For an upscale Mexican experience, head to Los Lobos. Order the Guacamole prepared at your table for the freshest ingredients chopped to perfection. This restaurant includes a full-service bar with local offerings such as the Smoked Peach Margarita, which pairs perfectly with the Chiles Relleno.

Perhaps, you are in the mood for modern yet old Italian. Onda by Scarpetta not only offers a variety of menu options, but the space is an architectural masterpiece. Onda is Italian for wave, which is the feeling you get as you admire and lose yourself in the undulating lines of your surroundings. This is a special place for a special occasion. Greeting!

Next on your world food tour might be Hasuki. This upscale Japanese grill uses communal seating as you enjoy watching the chef’s creations being prepared at your table. The grill sizzles as beef, chicken, shrimp and scallops are flipped, vegetables are chopped and rice is fried. This Teppanyaki place is right across from Nama, a Sushi & Sashimi restaurant that has all your favorites and more. Step up to the stylish sushi bar and watch an Itamae create Shojin, California rolls and Hiramasa.

If your itinerary brings you to NCL’s exclusive island, Great Stirrup Cay, you’ll enjoy an island buffet at the open-air Jumbo Beach Grill. This free-standing restaurant features burgers, dogs, corn, as well as barbecue and seafood items. A liquor bar, adjacent to the buffet, offers soft drinks, beer, wine and a dessert bar. You won’t go hungry on this island.

Food obviously plays a big part in the new Prima, but there’s a lot more to the overall experience. Bars and lounges are located throughout the ship. If you want to get your heart pumping, check out The Drop, the world’s first free-fall slide, which drops 10 decks over the side of the ship. The 3-level Prima Speedway is a must-see as well as the Galaxy Pavillion, an interactive virtual reality experience.

Entertainment includes the Tony Award-nominated show Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, which delves into the world of disco, including various stages of Donna Summer’s rise to stardom. As the musical ends, the stage magically transforms into a Studio 54-style dance floor as seats disappear and disco balls sparkle. The dance party continues into the night with the music that defined the 70s.

Prima is definitely different, and that’s all good. Once you get used to your new environment, just settle in and enjoy the change.

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