Norwegian Cruise Line CEO on Its Epic New Ship Class, Getting Back to Cruising Safely
Norwegian Cruise Line is taking travel on the high seas to the next level with its latest class of ships, featuring a pair of 8-story-high glass bridges over the water and stunning ocean-facing infinity pools.
The focus on outdoor living is apparent throughout the Norwegian Prima, the first of the cruise line's six new ships in the Prima Class and set to debut in the summer of 2022, Norwegian shared with Travel + Leisure on Wednesday.
"A combination of the space and the beauty of the design together really are apparent... it just hits you," Norwegian Cruise Line's President and CEO Harry Sommer told T+L. "It's not trying to cram as many things as possible into a small space with many flashing lights. It's a much more refined look."
The ship, which will be able to carry 3,215 guests, will offer more space per passenger with the company's largest-ever inside, oceanview, and balcony staterooms — and the biggest bathrooms in standard staterooms — as well as the largest variety of suite categories. Outside of the room, the ship will feature a full wrap-around deck complete with an open-air marketplace and food hall (think Thai noodles, Spanish tapas, and indulgent pies) and an outdoor sculpture garden.
"We think this is going to be a game changer in the contemporary premium space of the industry," he added.
Those looking to indulge can book The Haven by Norwegian, which includes suites and public spaces over eight decks, including private elevators, an outdoor spa with a glass-walled sauna, and an infinity pool looking out over the ship's wake.
When the Prima sets sail, it will first head to Northern Europe in August 2022, exploring destinations like Amsterdam and the Norwegian Fjords, before settling in the Caribbean in the fall. Following Prima, Norwegian plans to add five more ships in the Prima Class, about one each year, Sommer told T+L.
While Norwegian makes plans for next year, the cruise line has already begun to plan for the future of sailing this summer with trips scheduled in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Greece (which Sommer said has been the most popular of all its summer itineraries).
"It talks to the pent-up demand that people are looking to do more exotic locations," he said about Greece.
To get off the ground this summer, Norwegian will require all passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated before boarding, implementing one of the strictest vaccine requirements of all the cruise lines. That mandate will be in place though at least October 31.
"Sometimes it's just so simple — you can overstudy things and make them really complicated, but the simplest message to say is 'everyone's vaccinated, it's safe to go,'" Sommer said. "I imagine there will be some point in time [in] the future that we will no longer require it. I don't know when that is."
And while Sommer said he hopes to get back to cruising in the U.S. by August or September, Florida may be off the table. In fact, Frank Del Rio, the CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (the parent company for Norwegian Cruise Line), has said it's possible ships will have to skip the Sunshine State after Florida banned businesses from requiring customers to show they are vaccinated in order to receive service.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.