• Nov 10,2022
  • Projects

From Vision to Reality: Studio DADO’s Experience Aboard NCL’s Norwegian Prima

After more than five years in the making, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Prima has finally set sail. And guess who was on her maiden voyage? That’s right—your favorite team of designers. Five members of Studio DADO were among the first to experience the ship and the many spaces we designed. We spent a week enjoying beautiful rooms and venues, amazing food, and even a performance from Prima’s “godmother,” Katy Perry. Now, we have all the details of our first impressions and what we really thought of the design after seeing it in person.

What was your initial reaction to seeing Prima in person for the first time?

Yohandel Ruiz: From a design perspective, the ship felt different from anything I’ve seen on the market. It’s a new kind of ship with a different, design-focused philosophy.

Jovanny Lopez: Wonder and curiosity! I was very excited to see my first project on the water after working on it for five years and to see all the other architects’ spaces.

Jorge Mesa: My ‘wow’ moment was when we walked into the atrium. Seeing the space completed and in use was very rewarding.

What was the atmosphere like before boarding and once Prima set sail?

Jorge: The energy was palpable. Usually, pre-boarding for a cruise can be a little stressful, but this time, we could feel the excitement in the air. The people around us were saying they couldn’t wait to get a first look at Prima.

Yohandel: The atmosphere was very positive and full of energy. Everyone seemed so excited not just to cruise after a pandemic but to see a new class of ship that I believe is going to really shake up the market.

Jonathan: “We couldn’t walk the ship without hearing guests rave about it. Multiple people said it was the most beautiful ship they had ever seen. Once people found out we were part of the design team, they would stop and ask us questions about the different spaces and our work.

What was your favorite space on board?

Zack Niphatkosalsilp: The atrium was just incredible to finally see in person.

Jovanny: Cagney’s Steakhouse. To me, it’s an architectural beauty. Nothing like it has ever been done on a cruise ship before.

Jorge: It was so gratifying to finally see the staterooms. It was a design challenge to make these rooms feel spacious and functional while elevating the guest experience. We paid so much attention to the details of layout, texture, and color to make it happen. Seeing it all come together was the culmination of years of work.

Yohandel: I loved all the spaces, but the atrium was really something special. We went through so much research, design, and engineering. It truly felt impossible when we started. We created something completely new out of thin air, and seeing that become a reality was unbelievably satisfying.

What space do you think was the “crowd favorite”?

Jonathan: The sushi restaurant, Nama, was very successful. I also personally admired all the details we put into it. We created a lot of beauty in the space, and people reacted very positively to it.

Zack: People couldn’t stop talking about the atrium, and it comes as no surprise. It pushed the boundaries of design and engineering, and the guests really noticed.

Yohandel: I heard a lot of great things about our spaces, but I think guests were most impressed with the atrium, Cagney’s Steakhouse, and Le Bistro.

Did anything on Prima’s inaugural voyage surprise you?

Jovanny: I was surprised at the ship’s sense of scale. It’s very different to look at drawings on a computer and paper compared to the real-life experience. I’ve cruised with my family on the larger Breakaway class of ships from NCL, so seeing the size of this ship was new, different, and refreshing.

Jorge: Usually on a ship, you hear guests talk about the destinations, food, and activities. This time, I was surprised to hear so much overwhelming feedback about the design of Prima as a whole. I was so proud to be a part of it.

Jonathan: It was a wonderful surprise to see how each space felt completely unique, but the ship overall felt cohesive. The ship flowed from one space to the next. The experience felt effortless and seamless even though several architects worked on the vessel.

Yohandel: I was surprised by how much people talked about the design and how much the design was able to elevate the guest experience.

What was the most memorable part of the trip?

Jorge: Sharing this experience with the team that worked so hard on the design of the ship for more than five years is something I will never forget. Seeing their faces light up when they walked into the spaces we created together reminded me why we took the leap of faith to start Studio DADO six years ago. It has all been more than worth it.

Yohandel: Seeing guests interact with the spaces we designed and receiving all their positive feedback invigorated me as a designer. I like to see people in our spaces. I like to see how they feel, how they interact, and, ultimately, see if our spaces elevate their experiences.

Jovanny: The entire ship was memorable, as was going to Iceland for the first time. All the events produced for the inaugural were absolutely stunning.

After seeing Prima in person, what future trends can we expect on other ships and hospitality environments?

Jorge: Connectivity is huge. Anywhere a guest can hook up their laptop or charge their phone is a big deal.

Jovanny: Prima is going to set a benchmark for Studio DADO’s design work and for cruising in general. We need to keep innovating and pushing boundaries so we can continue to elevate the guest experience.

Yohandel: It’s not a trend, but a philosophy—good design is timeless. This ship will age very well.

What were your final impressions and thoughts as you disembarked Prima?

Jorge: I was proud and happy to be able to share the experience with my partner, sister, and brother-in-law. This was the first time in my career that my family got to see my work, and it was unforgettable.

Jovanny: My last thought was one of pride and happiness. It is almost indescribable to see more than five years of work come together and be so well-received by so many people.