Miami, FL (August 25, 2022) – The world’s oceans will never be the same now that Norwegian Cruise Line has delivered its trailblazing new ship, Norwegian Prima, its first newbuild since 2019. On August 27, the ship will be christened in Reykjavík, Iceland, with a special ceremony and live performance by Prima’s godmother, Katy Perry. The celebration will be followed by an 8-day cruise to Amsterdam carrying NCL’s top executives, partners, VIPs, media, travel agents, and a few other surprise dignitaries.
Prima is the first vessel in a new class for NCL, poised to contain the most experiential ships ever to set sail. Smaller than the Breakaway and Breakaway-Plus class ships, Prima represents an opportunity for the brand’s most discerning and design-forward clientele to encounter an array of premium experiences never before seen at sea.
“NCL challenged us to raise the design bar,” says Yohandel Ruiz, one of the four founding partners of Studio DADO. “And we love to hear that from a client. Our response was to focus on every detail and to really elevate and enrich the guest experience.”
The 142,000-gross-ton, 965-foot-long ship pushes the conventional boundaries of naval architecture and offers an unsurpassed design story that can only truly be appreciated on board. DADO was one of five design firms on the ship and concentrated on a number of key public spaces, like the Penrose Atrium, the staterooms and suites, and six of the fine dining venues. In fact, Studio DADO was responsible for the largest number of spaces, encompassing the highest percentage of the total public area.
“[Studio DADO] is the primary reason we are in awe, that our jaws are dropping,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings Ltd.
Studio DADO is no stranger to Norwegian Cruise Line, having led several refurbishments and newbuild collaborations with the brand over the last few years, including spaces aboard the award-winning Norwegian Encore. On Prima, DADO was involved from the initial planning stages, helping set the design tone for Prima and seeing the project through to completion.
“When a cruise line embarks on a journey to develop its next class of vessels, to be invited to participate in the conceptual design phase is quite an accolade,” said Ruiz. “Our team was honored to be considered such a strong voice in Norwegian’s most luxurious vessel yet.”
From the start, NCL challenged Studio DADO to redefine the cruise experience by elevating the
environment and creating spaces that would feel entirely new and fresh but also familiar, comfortable, and inspiring. As a result, Studio DADO ensured all areas shared a cohesive design ethos and translated the brand’s story into seamless appointments and unsurpassed experiences at every turn.
For inspiration, Studio DADO surveyed some of the world’s most successful public spaces, most memorable restaurants, and prestigious land-based hotels—from the Burj al Arab in Dubai to Piazza San Marco in Venice to the latest starred restaurants, deconstructing the most sought-after elements. By recreating these once-in-a-lifetime experiences at sea, the firm redefines guests’ expectations of what is truly possible on a cruise ship.
“Our team thoughtfully designed each venue, restaurant, and suite class to have its own language, its own story, and its own feel,” said Greg Walton, DADO’s founding partner. “A distinct architectural language has been carried throughout—from the retail experiences, into the Grand Atrium, and beyond into the dining spaces.”
“Prima guests are among the most discerning and intrepid in the industry, preferring to travel to undiscovered places and engaging with the culture and cuisine,” added Greg Walton. “We set out to design spaces that not only elevated and enriched the guest experience but redefined the idea of what a cruise could be.”
The timing seems perfect, as the restrictions, cancellations and hassles of the pandemic begin to fade and so-called “revenge travel” is helping to define 2022 as one of the biggest travel years ever.
“What we are seeing across the hospitality industry is that today’s travelers are looking for bigger and better experiences,” says Walton. “Beyond service, design has the power to turn a standard vacation into a transformative experience.”
Here are some details about the unique design story behind this extraordinary vessel.
By far, one of the most stunning areas aboard Prima (and NCL President and CEO Harry Sommer’s proclaimed favorite space on the ship) is the signature Penrose Atrium, a technological marvel that marries world-class design, innovative engineering, and futuristic architecture with the sense of wonder of the ocean’s earliest explorers. From every vantage point, guests will perceive bold, straight lines, minimal structure, and a light and airy atmosphere. The design gives guests the freedom and flexibility to explore and enjoy each space as they wish, at any time of the day.
To create the Atrium, Studio DADO did exhaustive research into some of the world’s most popular gathering places and plazas (think: St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican and St. Mark’s Square in Venice) to help define what makes great places great. Issues of scale and enclosure, sight lines and perspective, and places to see and be seen were all elements that came into play. The team pushed the architectural bounds of the grand space and manipulated geometry to create a unique and memorable feel.
“We obsessed over the details,” said Ruiz. “We took every measurement or design gesture down to the millimeter. We knew we wouldn’t get the big things right unless we mastered the small things first. Guests notice the difference.”
In fact, an atrium of this complexity had never before been attempted at the center of a ship. Removing decks and pillars, dealing with the incessant vibration and motion, not to mention integrating a grand sculptural stair right where the vessel needs the greatest structural integrity made this space an intriguing challenge for the design team. Engineers Fincantieri and Studio DADO worked together to blend technical prowess and design strength, resulting in a space that combines innovation, aesthetics and technology.
The Atrium’s pièce de résistance is on the ceiling: a large-scale chandelier created by renowned Czech lighting design firm Lasvit. The piece was inspired by the various points of light visible in a star formation, creating the feeling of the sun rising over the horizon.
Beneath the chandelier, the Atrium’s custom-cast, high-gloss wood grand staircase acts as a futuristic linear masterpiece that offers an impressive procession down three levels. Following the stairs, guests step into the impeccably appointed reception, which displays a collection of finely crafted, refined antiques along with a number of more contemporary elements. It’s a study of contrasts that reveals layers of styles, surfaces and textures. The focal point of the reception area is a custom lighting element that resembles a topographic map of the ocean.
Shopping is sprinkled throughout the Atrium’s three levels. On Deck 6, the beauty and fragrance section features clean-line display fixtures with warm woods and elegant detailing. The color exudes breeziness and ease, evoking European apothecaries. Without leaving the store, guests may walk over to the liquor and tobacco section, differentiated by a more masculine, deeper palette.
On Deck 7, the Studio DADO team found inspiration in the quote, “The man who works with his hands, his brain, and his heart is an artist.” The result precisely integrates the upscale shopping brands for a fresh yet intimate experience amid high-end materials such as rich stones and leather as well as unexpected touches like the private viewing space in the fine watch area, where soft lines, ornate detailing, and curvilinear fixtures predominate.
Facing the Atrium, the Deck 8 shops will pique the interest of passersby, integrating a relaxed environment with nautical motifs. The Pandora lounge features a neutral and breezy palette that complements the luxury feel of the jewelry brand, and a branded souvenir alcove elevates the traditional bold stores found in other ships. Meanwhile, Tech at Sea engages guests with quality enhancements to their tech-integrated lifestyle. Deck 8 also features the whiskey decanter-inspired Whiskey Bar, which offers a curated selection of drinks in a crystal-cut glass-like atmosphere. Ease of flow is evident in the spatial designs throughout this level.
Prima Staterooms and Suites
Today’s travelers have incredibly high expectations and see their staterooms as a place of escape and respite. Studio DADO designed the accommodations for this next generation of cruisers, providing fluidity between the day’s excitement and the evening’s relaxation. The design celebrates clean, simple lines and a highly sophisticated order, but the spaces are comfortable and welcoming.
Shifting from the bold color palettes aboard Norwegian’s other ships, the Studio DADO design team curated a more muted, elevated, and tailored palette for Prima with a mix of textures and furniture pieces to showcase form and function. They selected lighter wood to create an airy and spacious experience, along with luxurious stone finishes, custom millwork, and curated artwork featuring nature and butterflies.
“The level of design guests encounter aboard Prima is an unparalleled and modern experience for all the senses,” said Ruiz. “Our desire was for guests to enter their suites, whether after lounging poolside or enjoying a multi-course meal in one of the dining venues, and exhale into their luxurious surroundings. We appointed the suites with the familiar, integrated tech solutions of home while giving full detailed attention to the line, superior craftsmanship, and elegant palettes of the custom-built furniture pieces and commissioned artwork.”
Three distinct areas open the suite’s floor plan: the dressing gallery, the living room, and the bedroom. Unlike staterooms on other ships, the bed, which features a striking sleigh design, was moved close to the window to create a sense of grandeur and roominess. The European dressing gallery design allows for elements to be manufactured in an efficient, modular format. Connectivity features such as USB ports are seamlessly integrated into fixtures at arm’s reach, while digital thermostats ensure guests can sleep at their desired temperature, even at sea. In the spa-like bathrooms, the shower extends the length of the room, offering the feel of a high-end residence or hotel. Lighting was strategically placed to avoid shadows and facilitate makeup application.
Studio DADO designed six upscale dining experiences on board Norwegian Prima, each of which tells a story that, like an unforgettable meal, touches the soul as much as it stimulates the senses. The venues are true reflections of the places the ship visits: authentic to local culture, craft, and cuisine.
At Hasuki, Prima’s teppanyaki restaurant, guests may momentarily wonder if they have mistakenly entered an Asian art gallery instead of a dinner venue. Studio DADO paid notable homage to Japan’s rich history of craftsmanship with features that stay true to its clean-lined design. For example, the restaurant’s exterior walls are arranged in a way that creates artistically curated moments, while the interior walls are lined with tatami mats instead of traditional wallpaper. The teppanyaki hoods are concealed with Japanese blue-and-white patterned shrouds, while the atmospheric light fixtures, which disappear into the ceiling, are reminiscent of Japanese lantern festivals. Blue bamboo-patterned glass tiles carry the theme of subtle to vibrant blues throughout, and handcrafted pottery and artwork by contemporary Japanese artists are exquisitely displayed on minimalist floating shelves.
Prima’s sushi restaurant Nama transports guests to Japan to not only savor sushi but to live it. As guests enter the space, they will note the influence of various sushi ingredients on the design. The color palette and suspended light fixtures were subtly inspired by masago (fish eggs), a whimsical Japanese touch that sets the tone for an ambiance of total enjoyment. The reception desk recalls the marbling pattern found on fish and, at the main bar, guests can watch as sushi chefs prepare their creations. For a truly authentic experience, guests can reserve one of the elevated platforms, where they can tuck their shoes underneath before being seated on floor cushions. Should they need additional legroom, the table is fitted with hydraulics and can be raised to diners’ preferences.
Capturing the romance and intrigue of a rendezvous in Paris, Studio DADO designed Prima’s French restaurant, Le Bistro, to elegantly replicate a meal between lovers in a French apartment. The entrance features traditional glass paneling with a two-dimensional shadowbox effect that includes a chandelier etched on a mirror. Inside, coffered ceilings and plaster moldings interact with modern furniture and parquet flooring to enhance a cultured experience similar to the Hall of Mirrors in the grand Palace of Versailles. The restaurant’s focal point is the series of three floor-to-ceiling chandeliers that feature crystals designed to stay static even with the sway of the ship; the engineering of the chandeliers ensures exquisite reflections across the restaurant without risking breakage.
Architecture enthusiasts and design mavens alike will recognize the mix of form, vibrant colors, and repetition at Prima’s Mexican restaurant Los Lobos. Inspired by the square forms and unexpected solid color selections of renowned Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, Studio DADO adapted the space outline to push the exterior walls out of the cube layout, creating a better flow between the interior and exterior. Natural textures and authentic forms like barro negro (black clay) and celosías (latticework) were used to convey the familiar feeling of a lingering late lunch. Columns were crafted into artisanal pieces using colorful woven wraps. Hand-painted porcelain tiles cover the floor, while traditionally patterned screens create private dining experiences. A large-scale mural, developed from the careful study of traditional Mexican garment patterns, incorporates a key color throughout the space: rosa Mexicano, a pink hue between fuchsia and magenta. As an added visual feast, glass vitrines house hundreds of handmade, hand-selected alebrijes (Mexican folk-art sculptures) from Oaxaca.
Onda by Scarpetta
Norwegian guests who might recall this high-end Italian culinary experience on board Norwegian Encore can now enjoy it in its new, elevated form. For Onda’s updated design, Studio DADO drew from the powerful shape of the arches found in ancient Rome and the simplicity of rich and elegant materials often used in midcentury Italian architecture. The color palette is synergistic with the culinary creations, from the wheat color of pasta to the rich reds of homemade tomato sauce. A nod to the restaurant’s name (Onda means “wave” in Italian), arches and ripples articulate the waves that flow down the walls from the ceiling, while the flooring features graceful mosaic wave designs.
For this unapologetically bold space, Studio DADO was inspired by some of the great masters of 20th- century architecture – Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe – to merge a series of materials that speak to a sense of permanence and stature. Concrete, wood, and precious marbles are elevated to an art form in both their articulation and combinations. Melding boldness with elements of rawness and purity of form, the space sets an expectation of excellence in menu, service, and experience with large comfortable dining chairs and architectural light elements.
Syd Norman’s Pour House
Studio DADO designed Syd Norman’s Pour House, Prima’s live music venue, to feel like an underground London pub. The entryway features an open garage door, setting the tone for a rock basement venue experience, complete with an aged salvage-yard-style bar. The calculated chaotic and grungy design is lined with cinder blocks and illuminated by industrial lighting, while leather sofas and reclaimed chairs look like they were found in a thrift store. To deepen the vintage feel, Studio DADO engaged an art consultant to source antique posters and collectibles and partnered with artists from the recognized Londubh Studio in Los Angeles to hand-paint rug replicas on the floor.
The Improv at Sea
Is comedy art or science? It’s up to guests to decide inside this venue! Studio DADO’s concept for The Improv at Sea, Prima’s comedy club, originated from the notion of a mad scientist seeking to create a recipe for laughter. The entrance features a periodic table wall, setting the expectation that an innovative and curious experience awaits. As the doors open, guests will immediately make their way to rich leather seats facing a stage with a chalkboard-like background. Seating comes in the form of a long-benched booth on one side of the stage and natural-finished chairs arranged in theater style, flanked by stone side tables. The “laboratory of laughter” theme is notable in the ceiling lights that resemble the glass bottoms of mixing cylinders. No design detail was overlooked, including remarkable millwork elements like the custom bookshelves showcasing collected scientific oddities.
Additional areas designed by Studio DADO
Sitting atop the ship, the Observation Lounge is a multi-use refuge with different zones for lounging, reading, playing games, or grabbing a small, delicious bite. Studio DADO selected the color palette of ambers, soft neutrals, and other rich and warm hues so as to not compete with the expansive views. By allowing the exterior colors to bleed into the space, nature becomes both an indoor and outdoor experience. The carpet design was inspired by the wings of a monarch butterfly, known to travel long distances, similar to Prima guests. Fanciful telescopes encourage guests to view ports of call or observe the calming effect of the distant seas. Guests who prefer a quiet moment of reading and learning can make use of the library that lines one of the walls. The lounge also features a bar and mini buffet with comfortable leather bar stools.
When designing Prima’s Promenade, Studio DADO carefully considered how guests could experience an often-overlooked space. Taking cues from ambling European streets, the designers envisioned a thoroughfare combining high traffic and high design with custom artwork and resting benches that offer an invitation to linger. Every few steps, there is retail, resting, or a visual pause to enjoy even the in- between moments and experiences on board. Elevated finishes include detailed millwork and carpet-to- stone or carpet-to-wood floor transitions.
For the Photo Gallery, situated along the Promenade, Studio DADO based its design concept on elements used in historical photography and vintage cameras. The framed private viewing areas feature suspended dividers inspired by leather vintage camera straps. Movable seats surround sculptural tables with large- screen viewing of professional photographs. Guests can select frames from gallery wall groupings or built-in shelves to display their once-in-a-lifetime memories.
Exclusivity is the essence of Prima’s Monte Carlo-like VIP Casino, which features subdued, custom decorative lighting and a warm color palette to envelop guests in an ambiance of elevated relaxation while gaming. Luxurious leather chairs sit at each private gaming table and machine.
Inspired by space travel and the future, Studio DADO designed the Galaxy Pavilion to awaken guests’ sense of exploration as they journey through a gateway of adventure in a uniquely immersive gaming experience, complete with video walls, holograms, simulators, and the latest technology. With the look and feel of stepping onto a space station, guests will forget they are on board a cruise ship and feel like they have been transported to another world.
About Studio DADO
Studio DADO is an award-winning, Miami-based boutique hospitality design studio delivering striking, clever design solutions and thinking outside the box to remain at the forefront of industry innovation. By synthesizing functionality and elegance, DADO breathes vibrance and utility into every space its designers take on. Both passionate and purposeful, DADO designers have transformed some of the most impressive spaces onboard ships for Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean. Since its inception in 2016, memorable aesthetics, appreciation of culture, and a firm understanding of both client and patron needs have established Studio DADO as a world-class hospitality design studio.
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