Norwegian Viva Activities

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85 reviews
Watching ICONS aboard Norwegian Viva (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Go for a spin on The Speedway aboard Norwegian Viva (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Tee Time on Deck 18 offers an elaborate mini-golf course (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
There are even binocular podiums aboard Norwegian Viva for long-distance spotting (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
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Editor Rating
4.5
Very Good
Entertainment
Aaron Saunders
Senior Editor, News and Features

Theater and Shows on Norwegian Viva

Norwegian Viva offers plenty of entertainment by both day and night -- so much so that guests will find it difficult to do it all on a typical weeklong sailing that's already loaded with enticing ports of call. For those who are up to the challenge, however, Norwegian Viva is a destination in its own right, offering up enticing diversions from stem to stern.

Most of the large-scale production shows -- like the ship's signature performances of Beetlejuice, The Musical -- take place in the Viva Theater and Club situated on Decks 6, 7 and 8 forward. This multi-use space can be used as a theater or nightclub, thanks to elevated seating that can raise or lower into the floor as needed.

Other stage performances held here on our inaugural sailing included This One's For Frankie, a tribute to Frankie Valli; and ICONS, showcasing blockbuster artists like Dolly Parton and Lady Gaga. Select evenings saw performances from guest entertainers as well, most of whom perform crowd-pleasing variety shows.

Other performances are held in two lounges onboard that are exceedingly popular, often filling to standing-room only. Syd Norman's Pour House emulates a rock-and-roll pub and pairs an extensive beverage list with some exceptional performances (the band on our sailing performed Fleetwood Mac's Rumours in its entirety one evening). Across the corridor (the design of which, with its bright illumination and diagonal lines, recalls some of Norwegian's earlier ships), The Improv at Sea hosts a roster of comedians that perform both PG-and 18-plus-rated shows nightly. During the day, The Improv at Sea is sometimes also used as a location for trivia and other activities, though the bar portion remains closed until evening.

Daily Things to Do on Norwegian Viva

By day, Norwegian Viva is hopping, particularly when it's cruising along at sea between ports of call (things do tend to quiet down when the ship is in port, as most big cruise ships do).

Activities start bright and early with board games and playing cards available in the Observation Lounge before the obligatory Morning Stretch and Fab Abs classes in the Pulse Fitness Center.

Mornings are stocked with activities like trivia, poolside challenges, painting classes, casino tournaments and the like. The ship's dry and wet slides open for business, as do diversions like mini-golf and the Viva Speedway go-karts, which are available for riding as either solos or doubles.

Many events and activities throughout the day and afternoon incur a separate charge, so be sure to consult the Freestyle Daily program -- Norwegian denotes activities with an additional charge with an asterisk (*). While it may be obvious that the Satellite Poker Tournament carries an additional charge, you might be surprised to learn that painting classes do, as well.

Things kick off in the afternoon, with language classes, cocktail tasting seminars, murder mystery games and the like. When the weather is good, expect plenty of outdoor fun to be had up on the ship's Pool Deck.

Nightlife on Norwegian Viva

Nights on Norwegian Viva are as busy as you want them to be -- or as quiet. Comedians perform in Improv at Sea, and live musical acts can be found all over the ship, in nearly every bar and lounge. Productions shows kick off before and after dinner, and some outdoor attractions still operate into the early evening hours -- though we were surprised to see mini-golf, in its sheltered and well-lit area, shuts down at 8 p.m. nightly.

As the night wears on, Karaoke becomes the mainstay entertainment, lasting until well after midnight at Improv at Sea. Bars typically stay open until at least midnight, and a select few don't shut down until around one in the morning, meaning there's no reason to go to bed early on this ship -- unless that is, you want to.

Our favorite way to spend the post-dinner hours was with drink in hand, listening to some of the fantastic music found around the ship. And, for those who look for something a little more quiet, the ship's outdoor promenade deck makes for a fantastic late-night stroll, particularly near the bow of the ship, where the lights are darkened before the navigation bridge.

Norwegian Viva Bars and Lounges

Most bars and lounges aboard Norwegian Viva are clustered along the ship's entertainment decks, namely Decks 6, 7 and 8. Anchored by the Penrose Atrium Bar at the base of the ship's striking three-deck atrium space, each bar and lounge has its own unique décor and specialty drinks, supplemented by a menu of standard beers, wines and spirits that are available shipwide. (Across all bars, Norwegian Viva offers several pre-mixed cocktails and Norwegian's own branded '66 Lager and '66 Sparkling Wine.)

Among these watering holes is the Metropolitan Bar on Deck 7 midship, notable for both its sustainable featured cocktails made from things like spent coffee pods and old bananas (the drinks are superb, really!), and the 52-foot-long interactive LED work of art that lines the inner bulkhead wall of the bar. Known as “Every Wing has a Silver Lining,” the interactive artwork was designed by British digital artist Dominic Harris and is great fun for passers-by to play with as they walk down the corridor that passes through the lounge.

The downside: the artwork, with its multitude of greys and whites, is bright, bright, bright -- particularly in the evening cocktail hour, when the lounge's lights are dimmed. So much so that we found ourselves repositioning to avoid looking directly at it.

Other unique bars onboard include the semi-hidden Viva Speedway Bar adjacent to the Viva Speedway go-kart track on Deck 18, though this never seemed to be open on our inaugural sailing.

Our Picks

For The Quiet Introvert: The Observation Lounge Bar is open at night. Popular by day, we found it was often forgotten about during the evening hours, resulting in a public room that was sparsely populated -- and quietly soothing -- once the sun goes down.

For Sundowners: The Soleil Bar on Deck 8 aft is situated outdoors on the stern of Norwegian Viva, perfect for those sunset wake views and libations. Cocktails lean towards poolside favorites, though beers, wines and bubbles are available, too.

For An After-Dinner Drink: The Whiskey Bar on Deck 8 midship, at the top of the Penrose Atrium, specializes in scotches, bourbons and whiskeys from around the world -- including cocktails infused with a variety of the brown liquors. Better still, it's modern, contemporary décor means the place isn't oozing with outdated masculinity, making it a welcome space for all cruisers.

For the People-Watcher: Amble up to The Local Bar and Grill on Deck 8 midship and pull up a stool at the bar -- or sit in one of the nifty (if hard-to-balance) "birdcage"-style chairs that line the starboard side of the room -- for some of the best people-watching onboard, thanks to a main thoroughfare running through the room that leads from bow to stern. The window views and convenient Promenade Deck access are all just bonuses.

Pools, Hot Tubs and Waterslides on Norwegian Viva

Just three small pools are accessible to all passengers aboard Norwegian Viva, along with two hot tubs. The rest are reserved for the extra-fee areas like the Vibe Beach Club and those guests fortunate enough to be staying in Haven-grade suites. The result is that pools often feel crowded, particularly the main pool on Deck 17 (see "Sun Decks aboard Norwegian Viva", below).

Norwegian Viva also boasts two separate dry slides, known as The Drop and The Rush. These 10-story slides travel down the height of Norwegian Viva, from Deck 18 to Deck 8's Promenade area. Sun Decks aboard Norwegian Viva

Here's where things fall apart aboard Norwegian Viva, at least at first blush: the main pool deck on Deck 17 is woefully under-sized for a ship of this scale. Deck chairs are snapped up almost instantly, and the small central swimming pool is overrun by the time breakfast starts. Those who are fortunate enough to get a spot poolside soon realize the error of their ways: once the Viva Speedway go-karts get revved up, the sound of them zipping around on the track just above the pool area quickly becomes tiresome.

Much of the other upper-deck space aboard Norwegian Viva is inaccessible to passengers -- at least, most of them. A large portion of Deck 17 aft is set aside for the extra-fee Vibe Beach Club, where loungers and cabanas can be rented for the voyage at a hefty cost -- which remained completely deserted, as far as we could tell, on our voyage. One deck down, on Deck 16, further open deck space is set aside for the exclusive use of passengers booked in Norwegian Viva's Haven Suites.

All of this represents a significant problem, right? Not necessarily. Norwegian Cruise Line has reinvented the Promenade Deck concept aboard Norwegian Viva and sister-ship Norwegian Prima, and that's resulted in this gorgeous area on Deck 8 -- which wraps completely around the entire ship -- becoming the new Pool Deck of sorts.

The Promenade aboard Norwegian Viva is divided into several different sections, all of which offer ample outdoor seating. The promenade extends out over the side of the ship, so it's perfect for sun-seekers looking for a little Vitamin D, while still offering plenty of shaded areas for those who would rather keep out of the rays.

The Promenade Deck is also home to two infinity pools, one on each side of the vessel. This is bookended by plenty of comfortable lounge seating, including some loungers placed within a small area of water that's just deep enough to submerge your feet -- perfect for those who want to cool off without taking a full dip.

Once passengers accept that the promenade area on Deck 8 is the better of the "pool decks" aboard Norwegian Viva, the onboard experience gets substantially more enjoyable -- and far more relaxing.

Services and Wi-Fi on Norwegian Viva

Most essential services aboard Norwegian Viva -- like the Guest Services and Shore Excursions desks are clustered around the Penrose Atrium on Deck 7. Shore excursions are possible to book online pre-cruise or via the Norwegian Cruise Line app, or by completing a paper form and returning it in advance to the Shore Excursions desk, which limits the need for lineups.

Guest Services inquires are handled at the Guest Services desk, and tend to be busiest on embarkation day and the day prior to disembarkation. Most things -- like your account balance -- can be checked via the Norwegian Cruise Line app, or by using the interactive TV in your stateroom. On our sailing, a request for maintenance to look into the non-functioning temperature controls in our cabin was met with prompt response.

It's neither a bar nor a lounge, but chances are passengers will find their way to the adjacent Starbucks Coffee location at some point during the voyage. There's plenty of cozy seating on this Deck 7 location, including some superb chairs clustered around the windows overlooking the port side of the ship. Pro Tip: Norwegian Cruise Line, along with Royal Caribbean, have partnered with Starbucks to create special cups bearing the ship's name! Pick one up for $20.

Wi-Fi internet access aboard Norwegian Viva is available shipwide, and comes in a variety of packages. Prices vary depending on voyage length and the number of devices chosen, as is becoming common these days. The good news: internet access on our Mediterranean inaugural sailing was fast and responsive.

Mandara Spa and Salon onboard Norwegian Viva

Aboard Norwegian Viva, the Mandara Spa and Salon is a standout. Operated by Steiner Spa Services (which manages most of the cruise industry's spa fleet), the Mandara Spa and Salon is situated across two decks, with the entrance on Deck 16. A welcoming reception area and relaxation room gives way to a wide variety of treatment rooms -- all of which wrap around one of the most attractive thermal suite complexes at sea.

The Thermal Suite -- which can be enjoyed complimentary with a spa treatment, or on its own with the purchase of a voyage-long pass -- is one of the more dramatic at sea. A hydrotherapy pool offers both fresh and saltwater plunges, bordered by a two-story mural and situated in a space accented with a sweeping staircase at the aft end, and comfortable loungers forward. It, oddly, lacks the metal grates to lay on that other hydrotherapy pools offer, but we found wading in this oasis of bubbly water, heated to a refreshing temperature, was just as relaxing.

Relaxation continues with a variety of aromatic steam rooms and saunas situated just off the hydrotherapy pool, while banks of heated ceramic loungers are positioned overlooking the bow of the ship -- though noise from the gymnasium above can sometimes transfer downward for a somewhat noisy experience.

Regardless, it's a stunner of a facility that has to be experienced firsthand at least once per voyage.

Finally, the Mandara Spa and Salon offers a full-service salon that comes complete with a menu of favorites designed for men and women alike, from haircuts and shaves for the men to manis and pedis for the ladies.

Fitness and Gym on Norwegian Viva

The Pulse Fitness Center onboard Norwegian Viva is a real stunner, with rows of equipment facing windows that overlook the bow of the ship. The usual assortment of treadmills and weight equipment is here, and a dedicated spin classroom is located on the portside of the fitness center, tucked into an unassuming space behind a door.

Dedicated areas for Yoga and stretch classes are also situated here. Some classes carry an additional fee, as do personal training seminars. The Fitness Center can, however, be used free of charge.

Is Norwegian Viva Family Friendly?

Norwegian Viva is family-friendly -- up to a point. While older teens are likely to delight in the high-tech games and escape rooms in the Galaxy Pavilion and the novelty of being able to drive a go-kart at sea around the ship's funnel (all of which comes with a hefty price tag), younger cruisers are a bit left out on Norwegian's newest ship. Kid's Club facilities are on the small side for a ship of this size, and don't compare well to offerings from the likes of MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean. Even kids' facilities on Cunard -- a line steeped in tradition -- are more elaborate. There's a splash park tucked away on Deck 18 forward, but it's exposed location means the Mediterranean heat and blazing sun are likely to get in the way of your little ones' play time.

Norwegian was, at one time, a very family-friendly line for kids of all ages. We'd have a tough time recommending Norwegian Viva, however, for families with little ones, unless they are sailing on a port-intensive itinerary and are planning to keep themselves occupied.

Splash Academy on Norwegian Viva

Norwegian Viva has its Splash Academy kids club located on Deck 15 forward. Unlike other recent ship launches from other mainstream lines, the Splash Academy isn't really built out of several different areas; instead, it is simply a large room situated along the inner centerline of the ship that functions as a sort of multi-purpose area for kids of all ages. On the plus side, it's open until one in the morning most days. On the negative side, it doesn't really feel tailored to any particular age group: there are some bean-bag chairs and television and video game consoles to play with on one side, and some toys and activities on the other. Staff are universally kind and engaged with kids, but the facility itself isn't the slam-dunk it could have been, particularly for little ones.

Kids have to be at least three years of age to be enrolled in Splash Academy aboard Norwegian Viva; there is no dedicated facility onboard for infants under three.

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