Did I have time for a cruise—even a short one? I did not. My to-do lists for work and home were both long, and even a four-night cruise on Norwegian Prima, NCL’s newest and grandest ship, seemed like an extravagance I couldn’t indulge in.
I went to sea with Norwegian anyway. The company’s NTA representative, Mo Adams, was kind enough to invite Dawn Pettus (NTA Events VP) and me—plus our respective spouses, Bill and Mary Beth—so we boarded Prima on Oct. 6 in New York City, bound for Halifax, with two days at sea.
And you know what I discovered? The best cure for life’s stressors is to simply sail away from them. The laptop I packed never got opened, but the book I brought did. The article for work didn’t get written, but a new poem did. And the diet I targeted for October? It was set aside.
If you want to learn all the details about the new ship, go to the Norwegian webpage that describes it. If you want to learn how to enjoy it, though, stick with me.
Even during our brief promotional cruise, I got a good feel for the sparkling new ship. We dined in five restaurants, enjoyed drinks from six bars, and took in a fantastic Broadway show, “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.” Disco on the Atlantic? You betcha.
I know it’s cliché, but I must talk about the food, and I’ll start with Indulge Food Hall. This most-aptly named restaurant is the best of all worlds in onboard dining. It offers the extensive, elaborate choices of a buffet but with a team of servers who quickly deliver each selection to your private table. You use a tablet to order items from seven food stations; your dishes appear within minutes—and then you order a few more. I woke up early the next morning determined to walk off my superlative dinner.
The ship has two “main” dining rooms serving complimentary evening meals. Commodore has an appealing air of a busy, vibrant eatery (although I did not spot Lionel Richie). Hudson’s, too, is humming, with servers going in every direction—but they sure do take care of you. It’s white tablecloth dining with a varied menu. We also dined in Onda, one of several specialty restaurants that carry an upcharge. It was a fantastic, elegant Italian delight.
I had breakfast each morning in Surfside Café & Grill, a bustling buffet with a shipload of options. If you need some alone time, it won’t be in this restaurant. But after eggs, I could always find a place on a deck devoid of people, where I spent quiet moments watching the ocean, sipping coffee, checking football scores, and writing bad poetry.
On this Prima familiarization trip, we visited only one port, and the day in Halifax was wonderful. Our NTA foursome toured the town on a hop-on/hop-off bus (always my favorite way to get a good overview of a city), and we hopped off for lunch at an Irish pub. It was a good choice even in Nova Scotia—New Scotland—because they have clam pizza. After lunch, Mary Beth and I shopped along the waterfront, and Dawn and Bill hopped back on the bus to visit the Halifax Citadel, an awesome old fort.
Back onboard the Prima, I had a mission, one I undertake every place I go, land or sea: Where the bourbon at? My quest was over when I found Whiskey Bar on Deck 8. (Note: All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.) Craig the bartender and I had a discussion about his ample selection of spirits, including one fine bourbon in particular.
“Of the eight or nine bottles of Blanton’s on board, I have six,” Craig said with pride. “I collect the little horse stoppers.”
There were many missions I did not accomplish on this ship full of activities, some of which are new to Norwegian.
“There are lots of firsts on this ship, which makes Prima a good name,” Mo told me. “It’s got the first free-fall slide, the first dual-racing slides, the first three-level race track, and of course, Indulge.”
Indulge I did, not only at the ship’s eateries, but also in its relaxing refuges. And when I got home, I tackled those to-do lists with new energy. Do I have time for a cruise? Yes I do. And my next voyage on Prima will be a long one.
Photos by Bob Rouse