Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Norwegian Epic Review

"Not quite two days.  I would have just under 48 hours to explore this floating resort, otherwise known as the Norwegian Epic!  Would it be possible to investigate all she has to offer in such a short amount of time? How many of her exciting dining options would I be able to try, how many bars and lounges could I linger in, and would I like her contemporary “new wave” staterooms that are unlike anything else at sea?  This was a challenge I looked forward to conquering!

Stepping onboard I was immediately taken by the openness of the ship. A big airy atrium with lots of seating, a café, the reception desk, and the shore excursion desk still left enough open floor space to accommodate ballroom dancing if they so desired! The two-story screen, a familiar site on all recent NCL ships, is used for Wii and many other functions.  I passed through during the day to see a good size crowd cheering as they watched the World Cup semi finals on the giant screen, and then again one evening to see families munching on nachos and watching a movie. Decks six and seven are an entertainment mecca.  I like the fact that each show had its own dedicated lounge with the appropriate ambiance.  There is something for everybody.

“Headliners” was a great space, a bar in one corner, the stage in another and rows of chairs with small tables in between.  Perfect for comedy and for “Howl at the Moon”.  I enjoyed this talented rock ‘n roll dueling piano show so much I stopped by both evenings!  They take requests; in fact, there are slips for this purpose on all the tables that you complete and put in the request bowl on top of one of the pianos. So if you don’t like the music they’re playing you have no one but yourself to blame.  Singing along is encouraged even if you only know the refrain, and there was some friendly competition among patrons when they divided the place in half for certain songs!

I went to the “Blue Man Group” even though I saw them in Vegas a few years back.  The show was every bit as good, actually more so since I didn’t pay $80 per ticket like I did on the Strip!  Even if you saw them before go again.  The show had some new material and some acts are funnier the second time around!  If you haven’t seen them this is a “must do” and is perfect for the entire family!

“Cirque Dreams and Dinner” held in the Spiegel Tent is comedy, acrobatics and dinner all in one!  It has been compared to the famous Moulin Rouge in Paris and while I see the similarities, I pleased to say this show is fine for the entire family! Of course there is the one act with the gorgeous guy in the bathtub, and although some may think it’s a bit steamy, it was not inappropriate! There was a fixed dinner of a salad with a thousand island dressing, an entrée of filet mignon and chicken Florentine (both) served with scalloped potatoes and asparagus, and chocolate decadence for dessert.  The show was quite long which may be an issue for families with small children and since dinner is served during the show you may want to consider this before making a reservation.

I donned a parker and ventured into the “Ice Bar” and although I left with my toes close to frost bitten (maybe open toe shoes were a bad idea) it was a fun experience!  The cover charge includes two shots and though I’m not much of a drinker, I appreciated the toasty warm feeling that spread through me after downing the first orange flavored one!  It’s a great photo op so don’t forget your camera. As this is a bar, children are obviously not allowed, however there was some talk about opening it to tours for all during the day.   Time did not allow me to see “Second City”, “Legends in Concert”, or “Fat Cats”, though all three got rave reviews from my co-workers.

We chose to dine at Le Bistro on our second night. This French restaurant is found on many other NCL ships and is a favorite of many past NCL guests.  Oh my gosh, it’s no wonder!  Dinner was fabulous!  I started with escargot that was so garlicky that I was sure to sop up all the olive oil with the fresh baked rolls that were on the table.  My husband had the mushroom soup that was ladled over a variety of fresh mushrooms and our dinner companions had bowls of steamed mussels.  I could have made a meal on an assortment of appetizers! For my main course I had lobster tails that were tasty and succulent.  I sampled the salmon that my husband ordered and it was moist and delicious.  The 32 oz. steak was way too large for one; in fact, our table companions ordered one to share, along with the lobster tail to create their own surf & turf!   The choices for dessert were so extraordinary I felt cheated not having the room to try them all!  I decided on the fresh fruit served in a hollowed pineapple half, accompanied by the chocolate fondue.  It was amazing!  My husband enjoyed the warm apple crisp and our tablemates had crème brulee.  Nobody was disappointed with their meal.  Dining at Le Bistro was a leisurely 2 ½ hour meal that was one of the highlights of my too short Epic cruise!

O’Sheehans, an Irish pub, is so much more!  Great food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between.  One day we stopped for lunch and on the second evening for late night munchies.  I missed the pot pies but heard so many rave reviews about it; I will have to make it a priority when I return!

The Garden Café is the buffet restaurant and is open from early morning until late at night with multiple stations offering a nice variety of foods.  I had breakfast here both mornings and was pleased to find eggs Benedict being served.  As long as you get it when its first put out it was as good as anything served in a sit down restaurant.  The café itself had lots of seating both inside and outside and its décor was quite lovely!

I was assigned a category BG balcony cabin for this cruise.  Make sure to check out the deck plans before booking, as some cabins have particularly large balconies.  To my surprise our cabin (9026) had an extended balcony that was double the size of a standard balcony!  It was a shame that I didn’t have more time to enjoy it.  I did spend both of my early mornings out there with my coffee.  I love the fact that Norwegian Cruise Line has a coffeemaker in each cabin and I don’t have to rely on room service to bring up a pot. The cabin was sophisticated and contemporary, done in a palate of cream, teal, and wine I loved the powerful blow dryer although the lighting could have been better in that area. Overall, the concealed contour lighting added to the upscale design of the room. Storage was incredible!  We discovered hidden cabinets quite by accident!  Now I suppose I must address the bathroom situation as it seems there’s so much chatter about them! The room had an opaque plexi-glass enclosed shower (with a great shower head), and a separately enclosed toilet with the same style door.  A vessel sink is located within the bedroom area.  The segregated areas offer increased functionality, though some felt the design compromised on privacy. A curtain does allow division of the bath / bedroom.

Although I did not stay in the new studio style rooms, I did check them out and was very impressed. First of all, they are not buried in the bowels of the ship, but are on deck ten and eleven.  The corridor of the studios is lit in blue…very cool.  To achieve the proper balance of style and function a specific designer with experience in smaller accommodations (think private yachts), was called in solely for the design of these spaces.  Tiny…no doubt about it…but hip and stylish and absolutely perfect for a single traveler! What really makes the whole concept work is the private “living room” that studio guests share.  This area looks like a lounge you’d find in a NYC boutique hotel!  Morning cappuccino, pre dinner drinks, or just a great place to meet and make plans with new friends! The whole concept of this studio enclave is absolutely brilliant!

So that’s a summary of my two nights aboard the new Norwegian Epic.  Was I impressed?  Oh my goodness, YES!  Would I recommend her?  In a heartbeat!  Would I cruise her again?  Absolutely!  As a matter of fact, I will be onboard the Norwegian Epic for a full week in September! But don’t wait for me to tell you about everything else this amazing ship offers!  That hardly seems right! Book it and enjoy her yourself!"

No comments:

Post a Comment