What You Should Know Before Taking a Norwegian Viva Cruise

To help with your cruise planning, we have a list of ten cruise tips and things you should know before taking a Norwegian Viva cruise.

What You Should Know Before Taking a Norwegian Viva Cruise

I recently had the opportunity to take a cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest Prima-class ship, Norwegian Viva. During my time on board, I got the lay of the land (ship) and enjoyed a lot of what Viva has to offer in terms of food, entertainment, and activities. To help with your cruise planning, I’ve put together a list of ten cruise tips and things you should know before taking a Norwegian Viva cruise.

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10 Things to Know Before Taking a Norwegian Viva Cruise

1. Indulge at Indulge Food Hall.

Many guests cruising on Norwegian Viva may be brand-new to the concept of Indulge Food Hall, as the venue only recently debuted aboard Viva’s sister ship Norwegian Prima in 2022.

This complimentary indoor/outdoor dining space is like a hybrid of a buffet, a series of food trucks, and a traditional sit-down restaurant. There are various food stations throughout the venue, each with its own theme and cuisine. These include barbecue favorites at Q Texas Smokehouse, salads at The Garden, noodle dishes from around the world at Nudls, and small-plate tapas at Tapas (among others). Some are more of a traditional counter, while others actually look like a food truck (Tapas is even located in an airstream trailer!).

To dine at Indulge Food Hall, you sit at any of the tables located indoors or outdoors at the restaurant. On a tablet, you order the dishes you want from as many of the eateries as you want. Once you place the order, a server will deliver the dishes as they are ready. Alcoholic drinks are available to order (for an extra charge) from the tablet as well.

Dessert and non-alcoholic beverages are the only things you’ll have to get on your own. A desserts station has plated treats ready to grab, and the drinks station is similar to the ones you see in a cruise ship buffet. Speaking of the buffet, Indulge Food Hall is not a replacement for the buffet — Norwegian Viva has a traditional buffet as well.

2. Beetlejuice: The Musical is a must-see.

Norwegian Viva’s headlining theater production is the Broadway show Beetlejuice, and it’s well worth seeing. Seriously, even if you don’t think you’ll have time to see it or aren’t sure if you want to see it, make the time and go.

It’s a full-on production and one of the best musicals I’ve seen on any cruise ship. If you aren’t familiar with the premise, here’s how NCL describes it: “The 90-minute Broadway adaptation of Tim Burton’s iconic 1988 film narrates the story of the Deetz family as they attempt to remodel an uproariously haunted house.”

I knew nothing about the storyline at all going into the show, so everything about it was new to me. And let’s just say I walked out really satisfied and happy I made the time see it!

3. Consider getting a day pass to the spa’s thermal suite.

Norwegian Viva (and her sister ship Norwegian Prima) both feature a brand-new thermal suite design in the spa, which includes a two-story waterfall wall. The main space manages to be large but cozy, featuring a warm jetted pool, a saltwater float pool, and heated tile loungers along with the waterfall.

Other features of the thermal suite include an aromatic steam room, a charcoal sauna, an infrared sauna, a salt room, an ice room, and experiential showers.

Step into the light in the relaxation area, which features lots of plush loungers and daybeds in front of floor-to-ceiling windows. On many cruise ships, the spa is located on a lower deck and the thermal suite often doesn’t have any windows. However, the spa is on decks 15 and 16 on Norwegian Viva, allowing for wide expansive views in the relaxation space — a nice juxtaposition to the dark rooms in the rest of the thermal area.

If you plan to enjoy as many activities and amenities on Norwegian Viva as you can but you still want to experience the spa, I recommend getting a day pass vs. a pass for the entire cruise. It’ll give you a chance to experience all that the thermal suite has to offer, but not make you feel like you’re paying for an area you’re not using enough.

4. Fish are out, triangles are in.

Norwegian Cruise Line is known for pointing guests in the right direction (literally!) when it comes to figuring out where you are on the ship in the stateroom hallways. On its older ships, the hallway carpeting features a fish design where the fish are swimming towards the front of the ship. That way, if you know where your cabin is relative to the aft and forward parts of the vessel, the fish will remind you of the direction you need to go.

What You Should Know Before Taking a Norwegian Viva Cruise

On NCL’s newer ships, the line has replaced the fish with a more modern, abstract triangle design. So instead of looking for which way the fish are swimming, forward is the direction the triangles are pointing.

Though the fish are great, it’s a nice update to the design while still retaining the subtle usefulness in what can be confusing, repetitive stateroom hallways.

5. The “recycled” cocktails are really good — trust me!

As part of its sustainability efforts, Norwegian Cruise Line created a brand-new bar for its Prima-class ships called the Metropolitan Bar. It features a line of “zero-waste” cocktails, made with food scraps from kitchens around the ship that would otherwise be discarded.

What You Should Know Before Taking a Norwegian Viva Cruise

This means you’ll find things on the menu like the Croissant Mai-Tai made with day-old croissants, the Cucumber Cool made with cucumber pulp cordial, and the Bananarum-ble made with banana peel syrup.

I had the chance to try several of these cocktails and let me tell you, you wouldn’t know they’re made with food scraps — they were delicious. The Metropolitan Bar’s menu is amazing — both in concept and execution.

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6. You can grab a bite to eat in the Observation Lounge.

Guests looking for a quick bite to eat alongside sweeping ocean views should head up to the Observation Lounge on deck 17. Not only is there a full-service bar, but there’s also a mini buffet serving a small number of dishes at breakfast and throughout the afternoon. A complimentary self-serve drink station is located in this space as well.

It’s the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle for a while and just watch the world go by, which is one of the best things about taking a cruise.

7. Take note of the functional design.

There are lots of thoughtful design touches on Norwegian Viva that make it not only a more interesting ship, but also more user-friendly for the guests and crew members. For example, it will ease some minds to know that, in my experience, Norwegian Viva has one of the cleanest, most well-kept buffets on a cruise ship.

This is accomplished, in part, by having spoon rests next to many of the selections vs. putting the utensil back into the food when you’re done serving it. It’s always gross to realize that a serving spoon is falling into the food and the handle — which lots of other people have already touched — is now touching the food itself. With many dishes, that problem is solved on Norwegian Viva.

Another example is simple but so important to women especially — there’s a shave bar in the shower. With smaller cruise ship showers, it can be extra difficult to shave your legs if there’s nothing to prop your foot up on. The shave bar is an easy solution that I was so happy to discover on Viva. I also appreciated the USB outlets next to the bed for easy phone charging.

Out in the elevator banks, I noticed a design feature that left me wondering why I haven’t seen this on all modern cruise ships: a garbage can built into the wall. This gives guests an easy place to throw trash away without the eyesore that is a normal standalone garbage can.

8. Head to the Belvedere Bar for after-dinner drinks.

Those looking for an upscale, sexy bar for after-dinner drinks need not wonder where to go — I’ve found the place for you: the Belvedere Bar. Located on deck 6, the Belvedere Bar is situated between The Commodore Room (one of the main dining rooms) and the ship’s specialty steakhouse Cagney’s.

While there are lots of bars to choose from on Viva, this one feels especially cozy due to its lower deck, interior location; use of dark blue and brown tones; and a dark but inviting atmosphere with small lamps on each table.

In addition to drinks you’ll find at any full bar, the menu includes a selection of wines, “spritzer” cocktails, and — the bar’s unique offering — bottled cocktails. They include the tropical tequila-based Su Primo, the gin and Chambord-based All About That Basil, and the bourbon-based Bourbon Myth.

9. Go-karting should be booked ASAP.

Norwegian Prima and Viva feature the longest go-kart tracks in the NCL fleet. And of course, this top-deck attraction is popular (for obvious reasons) amongst cruisers. One race, or “heat,” costs $15 per person and includes eight laps around the three-story track.

What You Should Know Before Taking a Norwegian Viva Cruise

If you want to enjoy this popular activity, try to book your time slot as soon as you get on the ship (it can’t be booked pre-cruise for most guests). This way, you’ll have the most time slots to choose from and can pick an ideal time that works for your schedule.

Reservations can be made on the touchscreens located at the elevator banks, as well as on the NCL app and at the desk at the Speedway entrance.

10. The ship has an exclusive Starbucks “Been There” mug.

If you’re a fan of Starbucks’ “Been There” mugs (or the older “You Are Here” versions), you’ll be happy to know that over half of the ships in NCL’s fleet have their own “Been There” mug.

What You Should Know Before Taking a Norwegian Viva Cruise

The one on Norwegian Viva features a pretty purple and blue color scheme, and includes features of the ship as well as Great Stirrup Cay and Harvest Caye — two private NCL destinations in the Bahamas and Belize, respectively.

Guests can purchase the mug at Starbucks on deck 7. Also remember that if you have onboard credit, you can use it for Starbucks drinks and Starbucks merchandise.

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Do you have upcoming plans to take a Norwegian Viva cruise? What do you love about NCL’s new Prima Class vessels? Drop us an anchor below to share your experiences sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line.

Sarah has been writing about the cruise industry since 2015, and in that time has taken a dozen cruises and counting. Her favorite onboard activities include trying the casual dining options, spending time in the spa’s thermal suite, and attending the love & marriage show. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @IAmSarahJaneB.
Sarah Bretz, Contributor
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1 comment on What You Should Know Before Taking a Norwegian Viva Cruise

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  1. Fantastic and very informative article about the Viva !!!
    It’s now on our Bucket-List !!!

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