Cruise Ships

Norwegian Announces New Restaurants and Bars for the Aqua

Norwegian Cruise Line has been teasing us with details about their new ship, the Aqua, since they first announced it in November 2023. This upcoming ship is technically in the Prima-class but quite different. The first two ships in the class, the Prima and the Viva, are nearly identical to each other, but the Aqua is 10% larger and has quite a few changes from its older siblings. Today, we get a look at some new restaurants and bars, and see how Norwegian is changing up the ship’s layout compared to the previous iterations. 

New Thai specialty restaurant replacing Food Republic

The Aqua will feature Norwegian’s first-ever Thai specialty restaurant, Sukhothai. Here, guests will find dishes like Thai Cashew Chicken, Thai Grilled Steak Salad, and a variety of curries. This upscale venue will be located on Deck 17, replacing Food Republic.

While Food Republic is a favorite on many Norwegian ships, removing it from the Aqua makes sense. On the other Prima-class ships, it feels a bit repetitive. If guests want to order off a tablet, they can go to the Indulge Food Hall, and there is already another specialty dining option with excellent sushi options, Nama. 

Upgraded Indulge Food Hall with a new plant-based food stall

The popular Indulge Food Hall concept, which originated on the Prima, will also be coming to the Aqua. This area has ten different dining concepts with a variety of food available. Guests order from a tablet, and the food is delivered from the various food stalls. 

On Aqua, they’ll be adding a new plant-based option called Planterie. It’ll specialize in vegetarian bowls like a Southwest Bowl with smoked tempeh and a Mediterranean Goddess Bowl. 

Aqua gets a new wine bar called Swirl Wine Bar

Norwegian is using some of the new space on the Aqua to add a new wine bar. This lounge will feature an extensive wine-by-the-glass menu with some rare and premium vintages available. 

Swirl Wine Bar is not your average stuffy wine bar; instead, it’s a modern take with lots of light and curves, similar to the design of this ship’s atrium. That makes sense because it was designed by the same group, Studio DADO, the design group behind many of the public spaces aboard the Prima-class ships.  

Reshuffling of bars and restaurants on the Aqua

To better make use of the extra space and to upsize many of the venues, Norwegian moved around several bars and lounges from where they were on the Prima and Viva. 

The Belvedere Bar moves to the third floor of the Penrose Atrium of Deck 8. This new location allows it to take advantage of the floor-to-ceiling windows to offer amazing views at this popular pre-dinner bar. It will be in the area of the Whiskey Bar on the Prima and Viva, which is moving to take its spot on Deck 6. 

Next to the Whiskey Bar will be the new Swirl Wine Bar. It’ll be located in the space between the newly redesigned Commodore Room and Hasuki (which has been moved to a new location where Cagney’s is on Prima-class ships). 

Cagney’s will move to a new location on Deck 7, taking over where Le Bistro is on the Prima. The new, larger space will accommodate more guests. The space has been reconfigured to make it easier to find. Previously, the entrance to Le Bistro was at a dead end, but now Cagney’s will have an entrance directly across from the Metropolitan Bar. 

Le Bistro will move to where Haskui was, at the aft of deck 7, next to Hudson’s and Nama Sushi. It’ll still sport the stunning chandeliers hung at eye level. 

Makeover of spaces on Aqua

On top of those changes, many spaces on the Aqua will get a more cohesive feel. When we were onboard the Prima for an inaugural cruise, one of the designers from Studio DADO said how difficult it was to design for this ship because several companies designed the different areas. The result was an incohesive design; The Penrose Atrium was spectacular but had a totally different feel from the industrial-looking pool area or even the Metropolitan Bar, which felt more like an airport lounge. 

For the Aqua, Studio DADO has brought its same design style to several new spaces on the ship, offering a more cohesive feel. The Metropolitan Bar gets a more intimate feel with dark hues and fresh greenery, a refreshing change from the bland white of previous ships. The complimentary dining room, the Commodore Room, which felt like an afterthought on the Prima, gets a more rustic feel with a more modern touch. Studio DADO also rethemed Nama Sushi to add lots of bold colors. 

The Penrose Bar and the Waves Pool Bar also get makeovers for a more classy and polished feel. 

Entertainment options still not released

The biggest thing we still don’t know about the Norwegian Aqua is the entertainment options. On the Prima and Viva, two of the performance spaces, the Improv Comedy Club and Syd Norman’s, are grossly undersized. It’s too early to know if they’ve corrected that, but on the deck plans, we can already see Improv at Sea’s previous location is being used for shops and boutiques. There is a new space marked “to come” on Deck 6 next to the casino, which might be the comedy venue’s new home, hopefully holding more than the 73 people who can fit in the Prima comedy club.

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Randy Young

Randy Young is the founder and editor-in-chief at Cruise Spotlight. He has been in marketing for 19 years and has been cruising for just as long. Over the years, he's worked with products like TVs, copiers, light bulbs, and EV chargers, but cruising has always been his passion. There's nothing Randy likes more than the first couple of hours on a ship, exploring every nook and cranny and seeing how it's different from everything else out there. He's known for providing detailed and analytical coverage of cruising to help cruisers get a comprehensive picture of a ship's offerings.