Cruise Ship Review: Norwegian Viva

Norwegian Viva, the extravagant new addition to Norwegian Cruise Line, is a striking riot of colour on the outside and stylishly subtle on the inside with an outrageous fun park on the top including twisting tube slides pouring over the edge.

With a contemporary snub-nose appearance, this is a cutting-edge giant for 3,200 guests, combining family adventure with a world of smart bars and restaurants.

Viva is the sister ship of an equally flamboyant Norwegian Prima, which joined the fleet in August 2022. Not quite a twin, subtle changes include the exterior paintwork which made her a star attraction as she sat docked alongside the historic seafront of the Italian town of Trieste waiting for her August 10 departure.

Who is Norwegian Viva for?

Norwegian Viva suits just about everyone. For families it’s a great experience, with youngsters of all ages (including mums and dads) loving the slides, the water slide, the three-level go-cart track and computer gaming. But, amazingly, these things don’t take over the ship with its sculpture garden walkway, sophisticated restaurants (both the inclusive ones and the extra-cost selection), quiet seating areas, lively bars (live TV football, both the women’s World Cup and the opening weekend of the Premier League season) and quiet ones.

Your stateroom or suite on Norwegian Viva

The cool, calming surrounds of a balcony room

There are 946 balcony rooms, the bulk of the ship, all cool and calm, a soothing backdrop of pale greys and browns. The wardrobe doors – like many areas throughout the ship – are subtle wood-effect while abstract art fills the space behind the large bed. There’s a sofa, fridge and small desk but no tea or coffee maker. The bathroom has a sizeable walk-in shower. The balcony has chairs and coffee table.

There are also balcony suites, non-balcony rooms, 252 inside rooms, and 73 studio rooms for single travellers.

A world within a world is The Haven, hidden at the top of the ship, with the smartest suites, 24-hour butler service, private restaurant, sundeck and infinity pool.

Eating

Hudson’s restaurant curves around the front of  Norwegian Viva giving huge views

The main restaurant is the glorious Hudson’s, which sweeps around the front of the ship with an uninterrupted horseshoe window that angles out offering splendid panoramas – one evening we dined as we sailed the Straits of Messina between the heel of Italy and Sicily, the next as we slipped into the setting sun between the coast and the isle of Capri.

To one side of the ship is the Commodore Room, a smaller main restaurant outpost. Both share a menu of three-course dinners with daily changing main courses plus six everyday regulars (New York strip steak, fish, chicken, shrimp pasta, etc).

Both also offer extra-cost selections from Cagney’s Steakhouse. The dark, comforting Cagney’s has a menu including a New York strip (slightly bigger than the one in Hudson’s), $39 (about £31), plus $9 for fries and other sides, and the speciality restaurant service charge of 20 per cent – a total of about $58 (£45) for steak and chips.

The other included eating spots are Surfside, the smartly-casual buffet, and Indulge Food Hall. The latter is a novel spot, a collection of individual food offerings, part-buffet, part-made to order (to cut food waste). There are small portion Texan barbeque, Mexican and other cuisines, plus desserts and ice-cream with indoor and outdoor seating

Cagney’s is one of eight extra-charge restaurants alongside Le Bistro (elegantly glittering French, everything from snails to boeuf bourguignon), Los Lobos (Mexican), Onda by Scarpetta (Italian), Palomar (Mediterranean), Food Republic (Asian fusion), Nama (sushi) and Hasuki (teppanyaki).

Bars on board Norwegian Viva

The Atrium has bars and is the heart of the ship

Plenty of them., around almost every corner, whether Penrose in the light, airy atrium, Vibe Beach Club on deck by the infinity hot tubs, the Local Bar and Grill with (included) pub food such as fish and chips alongside the drinks, the bourbon-filled Whiskey Bar and the Observation Lounge with near-ship-wide views.

Relaxing

The decks are lined with neat grey-brown sun loungers. There is a selection of pools, one of them an infinity pool with a glass front giving curious views of swimmers, plus the mini infinity pool, appears to pour over the edge of a lofty deck.

The Ocean Boulevard promenade deck features the Concourse sculpture garden, including the playful rock-paper-scissors, and several works in metal including gleaming chrome. Sofas, loungers, armchairs and tables and chairs meander around the ship, particularly at the rear, outside the Indulge Food Hall where there’s also a deck bar.

The Mandera Spa features a couple of pools, one fairly hot, the other less so, in a high-ceilinged, industrial-tinged setting part of the Thermal Suite with its selection of saunas (charges vary depending on voyage length).

Activities

The Rush – 10 floors of excitement on NorwegianViva

The Norwegian Viva Speedway go-kart track sits at the centre of the top deck with ramps and tunnels across three levels ($15 a go). From this tucked away spot the helter-skelter-like tubes – The Rush with twin spots and The Drop – spiral down 10 decks. There’s also the Wave water slide, another tube. Children get Splash Academy with play, activities and sport, teenagers have Entourage, a play to hang out, while the youngest have Guppies playroom (although parents have to supervise), all free.

Viva Speedway lets 15 cars race on three levels through 14 tight turns for eight laps

This high-level complex also houses chargeable extras mini-golf, Bull’s Eye electronic darts and Galaxy Pavilion, a virtual reality playground with two escape rooms and golf simulator. There’s a free top-deck water park for young children.

Entertainment

The highlight is the American musical Beetlejuice, based on the Hollywood movie, although not quite ready for the ship launch. It’s a big departure as it will be 90 minutes long, unlike pretty much every ship version of major shows which rarely are longer than 45 minutes.

On our trip, the Viva theatre featured a Frankie Valli show, Brit xxx singing Four Seasons songs and telling tales of his own showbiz career, as well Icons, a song and dance event covers of songs by the likes of Dolly Parton and Lady Ga Ga???;. A pair of comedians took turns in Improv at Sea and around the ship on smaller stages were varied duos and musicians.

Always packed was Syd Norman’s Pour House, an American club-like bar with casually choreographed rock music (including a Fleetwood Mac Rumours night), a band with a troupe of singers dressed like bar staff, sometimes on stage, sometimes off.

Special times on Norwegian Viva

Sunset in the Concourse sculpture garden

Sitting on a sofa with a gin and tonic in the uncrowded outdoor space at the back of the ship in the evening, the Americans all having headed off for early dinner. Strolling along Ocean Boulevard, more a cultured hotel courtyard than a ship’s deck. And watching the world go by from a sunny table at Hudson’s – not a speciality restaurant but it has 270-degree views, especially magnificent if you’re amongst islands or are close to land.

How Much

Norwegian Viva is in Europe until late in the year, then again from spring. A 10-day Mediterranean: Italy, France and Gibraltar cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Lisbon with calls in Italy, France, Spain and Gibraltar, departing November 6, 2023, starts at £1,443 for an inside room, cruise only; £2,176 with flights. Ncl.com


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