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NORWEGIAN EPIC: Dawning Of A New NORWEGIAN Epoch

Posted on Tuesday, July 6, 2010 by

Join Peter Knego in this Sea Treks blog aboard the maiden U.S. two night inaugural cruise of NCL’s massive NORWEGIAN EPIC. No time for rest and relaxation with 153,000 gross tons of innovative and at times, controversial, ship to be covered.


Norwegian Cruise Line

Quadruple Decked!, Part One: MV NORWEGIAN EPIC Villa Complex and Suites

Quadruple Decked!, Part Two: MV NORWEGIAN EPIC, Decks 19 to 14

Quadruple Decked!, Part Three: MV NORWEGIAN EPIC, Decks 13 to 7

Quadruuple Decked!, Part Four: MV NORWEGIAN EPIC, Decks 6 and 5

NORWEGIAN EPIC passes Ellis Island for the first time. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

As much as I’d like to rally with my ship loving brethren over the ungainly shape of the massive new NORWEGIAN EPIC, I just can’t. Not yet, anyway. There is something so obvious and bold about that four deck high wedge atop the ship’s bridge that simply calls for more scrutiny.

Rob Di Stefano’s video of the EPIC’s outbound passage under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

I would suggest the EPIC’s monkfish profile is to modern passenger shipping what the lopsided PASTEUR’s or the rigid L’ATLANTIQUE’s must have been to theirs. Ironically, all three ships are a product of the same St. Nazaire, France-based shipyard (although the yard’s name has morphed from the bewitching Chantiers de l’Atlantique to the utilitarian STX Europe).

High forehead. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

In her utter simplicity and brazen lack of superficial curvature in certain places, namely the block of suites that comprise her high “forehead”, I almost find the EPIC refreshing. Anyone could argue the similarly-sized and proportioned MSC MUSICA and FANTASIA (also products of STX) are far more handsome but are they as interesting to look at? From a bow-on view, the EPIC is astonishing, while a 3/4 bow view makes her almost seem like a giant sci fi apparition. If the 1960’s television series “The Thunderbirds” featured a cruise ship, it would undoubtedly have looked something like the NORWEGIAN EPIC.

Forepeak tildes. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

But it is not what this $1.1 billion mass of steel and glass looks like from afar that will make or break her. It is how she functions and serves a complement of 4,100 passengers (max capacity of 4,600). Just as bold and unapologetic as her exterior, so are her many pioneering features. Some are likely to raise eyebrows and the occasional shriek and others are surely going to be studied and copied by other lines, much as many of NCL’s earlier cruising innovations have been. Remember all the naysaying with the introduction of the first private “Out Island”, first proper “mega” ship NORWAY and the utter shock and horror traditionalists expressed when “Freestyle” cruising debuted?

My sleepless, harried, two days on board barely scratched the surface. At least in images and video, I have about 90% of the ship covered. 153,000 gross tons in 48 hours rounds out to 3,187.5 tons per hour, a figure I’m still too exhausted to wrap my mind around.

A fully detailed Decked! blog covering most deck areas, public rooms and accommodation will accompany this Sea Treks report shortly.

Headstrong. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

From several blocks away, the giant midnight blue wedge was visible, meshing into the Hudson River skyline. The passenger terminal seemed almost overwhelmed by the presence of its newest, largest ever “guest”.

Temporarily "de-boated". Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Tenders in waiting. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

In fact, in order to clear the berth, the EPIC’s five forward starboard tenders had to be removed and stowed across the slipway and then hauled back aboard midstream in the Hudson after the ship had backed away from the pier.

Cabin 12084, facing starboard. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

After checking in, we headed immediately to our 245 square foot Category D4 Deluxe Balcony cabin, 12084, on port Deck 12. I visited a mock up of its configuration in St. Nazaire three years ago during the ship’s keel-laying ceremony and found its prototype especially nice to look at with its dark veneers (in France, the colors were more of a mahogany versus the current walnut tone), rich but soothing color schemes and plush soft fittings.

Mini Suite 12084, facing port. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

However, even in this slightly larger category (the regular balcony cabins measure 216 square feet), the “strait” at the foot of the bed is very narrow. With two people, it is negotiable but with three people (which it supposedly accommodates), the lack of floor space would induce claustrophobia and bruised toes.

Wave cabin curtain open.Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Cabin w/c "occupied". Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

By now, it is no secret that the split bathrooms at the entryway and the en suite sinks are creating a bit of a controversy. I hugely appreciate NCL’s visionary new approach to the cabin w/c layout but think they were spot on with the STAR class format of a properly enclosed three-in-one bathroom with separate dividers and should have stuck with that. Some intimate things are better not seen, heard or, well, “smelled” and the curtain (which doesn’t fully close off the area) can’t address the reasons private bathrooms were invented in the first place. I predict there will be a “run” on public bathroom space on board the EPIC for those seeking a bit of privacy in their commode. Ironically, as we later discovered, inside and studio cabins do have solid doors to their w/cs.

Wave cabin curtain closed. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

The showers in the entryway guarantee a slippery floor and a “greenhouse” environment. Those laminate floors will begin to warp after being regularly inundated with water. And, while there is a frosted glass shower door to blur the details, should a cabin mate or steward enter while one is in the shower, anyone in the corridor at that moment will immediately know more about the person in the shower than that person in the shower might want them to.

Wave cabin sink. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

As for the sinks with their tall faucets that splash water into inadequately shallow basins and all over everything in the vicinity, this will be addressed in the near future. Apparently NCL’s former CEO thought it would be “cool” to have sinks that one can fit a tea kettle underneath. Note the word “former”.

in cabin coffee making "kit". Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

In other respects, these staterooms are quite dreamy. The beds, which can configure as queens or two twins, are comfortable and firm; the bedding is of a high quality, although I personally prefer sheets and blankets to incinerating duvets; the sofa slides out to become a reasonably comfortable, if slightly short mattress; there is abundant, easily-accessed storage space in a variety of interestingly curved nooks and crannies; the coffee makers are a really convenient touch (although the supplied coffee is typically bitter shipboard fare); the flat screen TVs are a good size and seem to function well and the balconies are just right without taking too much space away from the interior portions of the cabins.

Although I asked for more time after the two night preview cruise in order to fully document the ship, I was told everyone had to be off by 10:00 AM on July 4th as the EPIC was being turned over to NBC for their exclusive use that day. I learned later that NCL invited a select few to stay on for the July 4th Macy’s Fireworks show, which is a real “no no” when others, like myself, paid whopping airfares to attend this inaugural event.

Forward Deck 18, facing port. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

My first impression, especially after spending the prior day on board the similarly sized but far less dense QM2, was that the EPIC was screaming for a few loftier spaces. At 153,000 gross tons, it would be nice to have a triple deck dining venue or a soaring atrium for the proper “wow” factor.

Aqua Park from Deck 18. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

I also felt that deck space was very limited in the pool area and that passenger flow was congested in the central promenades of Decks 5 through 7 where most of the public rooms are situated. This was especially surprising since there were only 2,500 people on our cruise, which is only a bit more than half of the ship’s capacity.

For the next five hours, Rob and I raced about, trying our best to cover the ship-within-a-ship Courtyard Villas, some of the upper deck areas, most public spaces and cabin accommodation. It was hit and miss as the EPIC gradually filled with guests.

The Courtyard Complex was somewhat disappointing when compared with the most recent STAR class ships. The prior vessels’ massive suites with their private whirlpools, piano lounge and private decks are non extant. Instead, there are some interesting 852 square foot owner’s suites with jaw-dropping views over the bow, glass-enclosed balconies and a double deck concierge lounge.

Courtyard Pool and Spa area, facing aft/starboard. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

The courtyard pool and spa area is sunk within a two deck tall block of suites on all sides, save for the aft/port corner where there is a view of the sea from the Promenade.

Epic Club, facing aft. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

The exclusive Epic Club grill is one of EPIC’s most appealing spaces with its floor to ceiling windows and tones of beige and brown.

Blue stairs. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Orange stairs, facing up. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

Totally random laminate shot. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

In the main body of the ship, there are some inspired decorative touches, such as the blue (port) and orange (starboard) stairtowers and plenty of that dark-grained laminate to give a “wooden” effect.

Courtyard Suite with balcony, facing aft. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Suite details. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Suite detail. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

Balls of Bliss. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Blue and orange contrasts popped up in several places, including the glass fittings in the suites and the bowling balls in Bliss Ultra.

Totally random carpet shot #1. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Totally random carpet shot. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

Another totally random carpet shot. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Soft fittings ran the gamut from sleek and sophisticated to eye-popping (some patterns from the STAR class ships have returned in spots like Bliss Ultra, which is in every respect meant to feel “glitzy”).

La Cantina courtyard, facing starboard. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

For better or worse, some spaces like the Garden Cafe, La Cantina, the Tradewinds shops, Headliners Comedy Club, The Spiegel Tent, O’Sheehan’s Pub and Fat Cats Jazz and Blues Club seem to have taken their decorative cues from land-based shopping malls.

EPflections. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

Tastes, facing aft. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

Manhattan Room, facing aft from Deck 7. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Other venues, like the Manhattan Room, Shaker’s Martini Bar, Maltings Beer and Whiskey Bar, the Taste Restaurant and Shanghai’s have an elegant and sophisticated contemporary feel with hints of Deco, MidCentury Modern and even the occasional Beaux Arts.

Legend on the promenade! Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

Although views of the sea are blocked by the extended lifeboats on the EPIC’s finite promenades, if your timing is right, you may encounter one of the ship’s three on board “Legends” (Tina Turner, Elvis, Madonna).

Fiberoptic chandelier from Deck7. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Chandelier from below. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

The fiber optic chandelier hovering over the aft end of the central atrium area is reputedly one of the most expensive ever put to sea.

Garden Cafe, facing forward from port. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

After a hurried but tasty lunch in the extremely well laid out Garden Cafe, we headed to the Epic Theater for the christening ceremony at 2:00 PM.

NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan on stage. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Elvis and Madonna share the stage with Garlin while a live broadcast from the EPIC's Manhattan Room is projected on the screen. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Emceed by “Curb Your Enthusiasm’s” Jeff Garlin, whose ad libs mostly fell flat, the ceremony was impressive in its synergistic use of all the ship’s main entertainment venues where various live acts simultaneously contributed to the event.

Reba McEntire invokes. The christening is a heartbeat away. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

Christening cast for an EPIC encore. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

A long, reverential blessing was followed by more of Garlin’s cheekiness before godmother Reba McEntire appeared to press an animated heart that was projected on the screen, releasing a pre-recorded champagne bottle’s splatter on the ship’s bow.

Gym, facing forward. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

We had time for a round on the ellipticals in the massive gym prior to heading topsides to witness the EPIC’s New York departure.

Heavy signs. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

MIRACLE on the Hudson. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

On the Sun Deck and in the Aqua Park areas, there was literally no available rail space. One can only imagine what it will be like when the ship is at capacity on a regular revenue cruise. To be fair, this may have been exacerbated by having the entire aft portion of the EPIC closed off in preparation for the 4th of July Fireworks event.

Petit plume. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Heading downstream. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

Once in the Hudson, it took a while for the tenders to be hoisted back on board before the EPIC began her glide past the beautifully lit New York skyline. We finally went to the Garden Cafe to take photos through its tinted windows.

Narrow clearance overhead. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

The EPIC cleared the Verrazano Narrows bridge by a mere 24 inches on the prior day, so we wanted to secure a good vantage for her second passage underneath the graceful suspension span, once the world’s longest at 4,260 feet. We climbed to the top of the slide platform and watched, wondering what the people driving across the bridge were thinking as the massive ship approached.

Don't mind the gap. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

The tides must have been lower than on the prior day as the tip of the radio mast slid by at least three or four feet from the bottom of the roadway’s underbody.

Rob Di Stefano’s video of the EPIC’s outbound passage under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

Bouncing off the fantail. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Pair of grilled blue crescents. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Fenced off fantail. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

The open decks and public areas were bustling with crowds and loud music. There was no quiet place to just sit, relax and watch the scenery pass.

Savory sunset. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010.

We retreated to our balcony as the sky beyond distant-but-sharp-as-a-pack-of-needles Manhattan turned from pinkish blue to a fiery magenta.

Cirque pantomime. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

The media group headed to the Spiegel Tent at 7:30 for the extra tariff Le Cirque Dreams and Dinner show, one of the EPIC’s exclusive new entertainment innovations. Our embarkation cards, which use facial recognition software, were scanned at the entrance and (since the lower portion of the room was filled) we were led up to an open gallery in the round overlooking the stage.

Get the balance right! Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

What ensued impressed more for its execution than content. Waiters seamlessly and synchronously delivered three simple but tasty fixed courses (a wedge of iceberg lettuce with thousand island dressing, stuffed breast of chicken florentine and fillet mignon and a raspberry and chocolate decadence with mixed berry sauce) at set intervals in the show.

Stacked against the odds. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Central casting. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

The extra tariff entertainment/dining venue costs $20 per person for prime seating or $15 for back seats. The acrobatics, lighting and technical aspects were impressive but it was far too long and the hammy dialogue and drawn out juggling routines were at times groan-inducing. The dated gender stereotyping was annoying (Hello, “Prince Charmaine”?), if just not plain offensive, too.

Aqua Park, facing aft.  Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Aqua Park illuminated. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Behemoth in the blackness. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

From there, it was off to Wasabi for cold beer and sushi with some fellow writers before we headed to the pool area for a balmy summer night stroll.

We started the second morning with a pot of freshly brewed coffee, then raced up to the Garden Cafe for breakfast. Once again, kudos to NCL for their excellent chandlering. I had a marsala omelet (onions, tomatoes and bell peppers), watermelon slices and salmon with capers and onion, doused in fresh-squeezed lemon juice. All very basic stuff but fresh and of a consistently high quality.

Kevin Sheehan, NCL's CEO. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Left to right: Andy Stuart, NCL Executive VP of Global Sales and Passenger Services; Kevin Sheehan, NCL CEO and Roberto Martinoli, NCL COO Technical Operations. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

At 1:00 PM, there was a press conference in Headliners comedy club. The EPIC’s Captain Trygve Vorren and hotel manager Klaus Lugmaier were briefly introduced before NCL’s executive VP of Global Sales and Passenger Services Andy Stuart, CEO Kevin Sheehan and COO Roberto Martinoli fielded questions from the audience.

Blue Man Group without the blue.

At 2:00 PM, the press were given an opportunity to interview members of the Blue Man Group.

We tried making the rounds once more to finish documenting the ship but with only limited results.

Studio passage, facing forward. Photo and copyright Rob Di Stefano 2010

We did visit the Studio Cabin common area on Decks 12 and 13 and found an open Studio Cabin on aft Deck 12. These compact but expertly conceived cubby holes are beautifully designed with porthole style windows that look into the central passage but the six inch tween deck ramps in those same passages need to be clearly marked to prevent trips. Much more on them in Decked!

Ice Bar, facing aft. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Yeti for his close up! Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

We also had a chance to visit the Ice Bar, donning gloves and a faux fur-lined parka/pancho for a few moments before it was opened up for regular business. This venue is the first of its kind put to sea, featuring a bar, seating and sculptures made of ice. For crowd control, reservations and a tariff of $20 per person is charged but that includes two drinks. Only 25 at a time are allowed in for a maximum of 45 minutes but most people don’t usually last that long in the carefully controlled 17 degree temperature.

Cruising Authority's Barry Vaudrin. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

One of the pleasures of attending inaugural events is getting the chance to meet people like Cruising Authority’s Barry Vaudrin. A couple years ago, I was a guest on his podcast and we met for a mini-interview reprise that afternoon, discussing my recent visit to Alang and our mutual impressions of the EPIC. Barry has spent years in the cruise industry, loves ships and it shows in his work.

Rob and I had time for a quick workout in the gym before regrouping for the 7:00 PM Blue Man Group show in the Epic Theater. We were not allowed to take photos or video but the show lived up to its very high expectations. Attendees in the first two rows are given plastic panchos for protection from the often messy on stage antics. According to Rob, who attended one of the BMG’s early performances in New York, it is true in almost every respect to its original incarnation, featuring PVC pipes, regurgitating vests, a live backup band and some truly astounding food performance art. This was yet another well-orchestrated NCL production and entertaining, to boot — all part of why I predict the EPIC will shine, despite some inherent design flaws.

Teppanyaki, facing aft. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Dinner at 9:00 in the EPIC’s vastly expanded, extra tarrif ($25) Teppanyaki was just as good as it has always been on NCL’s other Freestyle ships, beginning with miso soup and seaweed salad with ginger dressing. I chose the Chicken Yakuidon Noodle main course but would have been perfectly satisfied with a huge portion of the delicious veggies that were grilled in garlic and soy sauce. Dessert was a tasty green tea cake with a dollop of green tea ice cream.

Although I had initially been troubled by the cramped and clotted passenger flow on the prior night, with a little “practice”, it seemed to contribute to the ship’s overall “party” atmosphere, recalling high-density but altogether fun cruising experiences on much lamented older ships like Costa’s CARLA C and Chandris’ BRITANIS.

Alas, with so much more left to document, it was off to pack and try to get some sleep.

Shakers, facing aft/port.  Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

Shakers, facing aft/port. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

On the 4th, I was up at 6:30, dragging the tripod and gear around for one last round of the public areas on Decks 5 through 7. Fortunately, most of the guests were still asleep by the time I was wrapping things up and the disembarkation announcements began. This was the first time I could actually see what the Shakers Martini Bar area looked like without an impenetrable layer of travel agents and media. Nice!

We had breakfast in the Garden Cafe with sweeping views over the tops of VEENDAM on our port side and NORWEGIAN DAWN on our starboard side. Disembarkation was as seamless as a swipe of our cabin key cards. The NORWEGIAN EPIC was soon behind us, waiting to be broadcast into millions of living rooms that night as the epicenter of Macy’s annual 4th of July fireworks celebration.

Overall, it is impossible to correctly assess all aspects of the EPIC, having only experienced a small portion of her many offerings but I applaud NCL for trying something unique and innovative in an otherwise formulaic time for new cruise ships. Full Decked! in the works!

Special thanks: Martin Cox, Rob Di Stefano, AnneMarie Mathews, Courtney Recht, Barry Vaudrin

Norwegian Cruise Line

Quadruple Decked!, Part One: MV NORWEGIAN EPIC Villa Complex and Suites

Quadruple Decked!, Part Two: MV NORWEGIAN EPIC, Decks 19 to 14

Quadruple Decked!, Part Three: MV NORWEGIAN EPIC, Decks 13 to 7

Quadruuple Decked!, Part Four: MV NORWEGIAN EPIC, Decks 6 and 5

28 Responses to NORWEGIAN EPIC: Dawning Of A New NORWEGIAN Epoch

  1. Jim McKinstry

    July 6, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Peter,

    Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but comparing this ship to Oasis is like compairing the sunken Queen Elizabeth to The Norway. I know STX built this ship to specs, but again NCL needs a new ship designer.

    Jim

  2. Peter Knego

    July 6, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Hi Jim. Interesting analogy (not sure if I understand it) but i never compared this ship to OASIS. :)

  3. Peter Newall

    July 6, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Hello Peter,
    Thanks for an excellent and objective overview of this great ship. Why people keep on harking back to the past, baffles me. This ship is the future and I agree that NCL should be applauded “for trying something unique and innovative in an otherwise formulaic time for new cruise ships.” Bravo NCL and bravo Mr Ocean Liner (modern) Knego!

  4. P.C. Kohler

    July 6, 2010 at 11:25 am

    All in all, I’d rather have a colonoscopy than cruise in this thing.

  5. Patricia

    July 6, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Some are and I think it’s in relation to pax. I say they need to compare more realistically to Freedom class. But even then, RCI and NCL are two different animals. I was told this design was originally offered to MSC who rejected it. Heard anything about that? The side balconies are harsh like MSC rather than soft looking like NCL. But interesting your gripes so far have been the same as mine and I was on half the length.

  6. Lance

    July 6, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Mr. Newall,
    I don’t think a ship on a maiden voyage should ever be called “great.’ Or other things like “unsinkable.”

  7. Kevin

    July 6, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    The Epic is by far a superior product for her market segment. The only product that comes close is the Oasis which offers an interesting and different product. Kudos to NCL for making the necessities of travel part of the cruise experience. In an industry so full of clones and blandness to finally see a cruise line take a design chance, and the under dog brand at that, actually is refreshing and exciting.

    Thanks for the review, Peter!

  8. P.C. Kohler

    July 6, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I am intrigued by why people keep going on about the “boldness” of this thing? Or does “boldness” in cruise ship design mean, as here, taking your pick of eight or so of the most boring, bland chain strip mall “eating experiences” and putting them on shipboard? “Garden Cafe”, “La Cantina”, “O’Sheehan’s Pub” and “Fat Cats Jazz and Blues Club” are right out of the Paramus Mall. And these “studio cabins” are rip-offs of any Toyko Airport hotel. If these are your exemplars of travel “experiences” worthy of being put aboard a ship, then I guess the rapture over all this is entirely justified. Just wait until they put a JiffyLube on a cruise ship, you’ll be in ectasy….

  9. Dewey

    July 6, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    I’d rather starve on this behemoth than live in Paramus! :)

  10. Corey

    July 6, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks Peter for the pictures . I like the bow. Hey the exterior is no worse than carnivals ships that look like a floating slabslided box. The interiors are great looking. It’s all about function to get the most people per square inch. I like the miracle on Hudson joke and the bathroom picture had me rolling. Felt like I went on a vacation looking at pictures

  11. Simon Howell

    July 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Having worked on such great ships as SS. Canberra ans MV Sea Princess, formerly Kungsolm, I find the design very bland indeed, for Gods sake lets start treating ships as works of art not just money making projects. All new ships really look the same with the exception of Celebrity and their Solstes Class, well done to them and lets stop banging on about another box with propellers!!!

  12. Liz Becker

    July 6, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    I was on the 2 day inaugural as well out of NYC and, yes, externally the Epic may not appeal to all, her interior was very pleasing. The artwork was simple and understated – difficult to explain as a great portion I saw looked like “rubber stamp” designs (very poor explanation but I wish I had a photo to post as an example) or 3 dimensional paper cut-outs in the Mandara Spa or professional photographs. Very simple and quite lovely. There are still a few kinks to be worked out. My sister and I were on the same deck as Mr. Knego and our A/C did not work for both days plus the sink in the cabin constantly leaked. We reported these items to the cabin steward and hopefully both will be repaired before the first Caribbean revenue cruise. Slam Allen who performed in the Fat Cats Jazz Club was a wonder with his guitar and very humble to speak to after his performance. To the gentleman who compared the Epic to Paramus Park Mall, this ship in no way resembles this mall and I live the next town over. The mall has changed over the years but there is more diversity and creative thought on this ship than Sears, Macy’s and Panera Bread. My only “complaint” concerns the Noodle Bar. The food was delicious but I watched the assistant chef as he was prepping some of the meals. He never changed his gloves as he switched between chicken, pork and crab. My only thought was I hope there is no residue on his gloves for anyone with a food allergy to pork or shellfish.

  13. Mage Bailey

    July 6, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Thank you Peter. I’m overwhelmed by the totality of it all. Tomorrow, I’ll come back and read this all over again.

  14. Laurence Miller

    July 7, 2010 at 5:59 am

    Peter, thanks for fine the review of Norwegian Epic. I feel as if I have actually been on the ship. We tend to notice some of the same things.
    I don’t mind the exterior so long as the onboard experience is good. For me, I like the wonderful outdoor decks of the Star Class, especially those offering deck chairs, shade, and are low enough to hear the sounds of the sea.

    Best to you!

  15. Kalle Id

    July 7, 2010 at 6:54 am

    I wonder if Patricia’s info about the ship’s design being originally an MSC reject might be mixed information… in late 2008 there was the hassle between STX and NCL, with the possibility that NCL would cancel their order for both ships of the class (as there were originally going to be two). There was a rumour at the time that STX were negotiation with MSC about completing the already under construction Epic for MSC should NCL cancel the order. Of course, in the end NCL and STX worked out their differences, continued with the Epic as planned but cancelled the second F3-class ship.

    The MSC-esque design elements of the Epic could be explained simply by her being in part at least the product of the same design team at STX’s French yards.

  16. edvard

    July 7, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Beauty is a subjective thing. From a pure aesthetic standpoint I think the exterior is unremarkable and unmemorable. These ships have become so gigantic that they resemble floating condo complexes.

    From a business perspective they know what they’re doing. Cruise ships have become more akin to floating versions of a Sandals resort. Plenty of stuff to do for kids, families, etc. The fact that they are so large and chock-full of things to do- most of which requires you to spend more money- means these cruise ships monetize quite well. It used to be that all you did was eat, drink, sleep, watch a show, and maybe play shuffleboard. These new ships seem to have tons of things to do beyond what was available even a few years ago.

    I’ve never even been on a cruise ship in my life. But this ship is definitely not of my taste- or at least what I can see from the pictures.

  17. Kevin

    July 7, 2010 at 11:06 am

    It sounds like there is at least one person taking this design as the begining of the end. The segment of the market Epic was designed to cater to has been on a downward spiral design wise for decades. Dictated by one large company with a very small circle of designers and suppliers has constantly produced a barely tweaked example from the last platform ship launched. Epic is what she is, a well thought out alternative to the plethera of similar vessels. Exceution of her plan remains to be seen, NCL certainly has issues to work out and implemented ideas that will need to be revisited. But NCL decided, for better or for worse, build a ship with new ideas and visible improvements on both the big things as well as the small components of a cruise. NCL isn’t Silversea, Oceania nor P&O/Princess’s version of Cunard. She is a worthy contender to the Dream and I am sure the Glory. With so little new in the industry as a whole kudos to NCL for taking a chance finally.

  18. Dieter Killinger

    July 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Thank you Peter for finally giving everyone a comprehensive and informative overview of what to expect on NCL’s Epic. I for one, prefer a more traditional and sedate ship, but I can fully understand why younger people would prefer a more innovative approach. To each their own!

  19. Dave

    July 7, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Like Dieter I also prefer the more sedate and conservative ships, and also smaller ships, hence my preference for Holland America ships, especially those prior to the Vista Class. I especially favor Prinsendam and the Statendam class plus Rotterdam & Amsterdam. The only NCL ship I’ve been on was the Norwegian Dream just after it was stretched. It was a pleasant-enough ship though high-density, and the cruise was a good experience as long as you kept reminding yourself how little you paid for it.

    I do like the single studio cabin offerings on EPIC and would like to see the concept spread to other lines.

  20. Glenn L.

    July 8, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Thanks Peter, We had seen Epic at sea from the Carnival Glory. We were on our way up to New Brunswick and spotted Epic off the coast of Long Island on July 3rd at night. Epic was casting a search light skyward and was no easy to miss.

  21. Captain Gort

    July 8, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Unspeakably ugly. Looks unsafe, frankly. God Help her in a hurricane.
    But POSH! Comfortable! Profitable! Fun, I’ll bet. But God-awful ugly.

  22. Peter R

    July 10, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I guess if you really think about it, althoughit is jarringly ugly, it is no worse than the two deck addition added by NCL to the NORWAY. There is just more of it to “admire!”

  23. Michael Bennett

    July 10, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    I must admit, you made me think about EPIC in a new light…and made me laugh several times too! The bathroom would totally, totally give me pause about cruising on EPIC with anyone except a VERY close acquaintance. I wouldn’t mind, however, having one of the cool Studio cabins…the maritime equivelant of Jeannie’s bottle! Thanks again…I was anxious to hear your “take” on EPIC…

  24. Helge Strand

    July 11, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Ugly ship, very ugly, get a new designer.

  25. dotcruise

    July 12, 2010 at 8:37 am

    unbelievable ship, yes not the best looking from the out side but once you step inside its like stepping tardis, really did have the wow factor, yes the cabins were small but everything else made up for that, food and bar wise was amazing whilst still haveing that touch of class

  26. Captain Gort

    July 12, 2010 at 11:56 am

    This ship has been very carefully engineered to take the science of raising the vacationer’s ships account end-of- cruise payoff figure to a whole new level!!! RC is right on the cutting edge, too!

  27. Will

    July 13, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    I’ll take something considerably smaller. I’ll admit she does not look to bad on the inside, but the idea of being crammed into a floating box with another 4,000 people is just a little crazy to me.

    But, on the inside at least, not too bad. On the outside, I still hate it. I looked up the other two ships you mentioned in the beginning, and they were not very good looking either, but again, the beauty was on the inside (which is probably why the L’Atlantique burned to death, they tried too hard on the inside)

  28. Mike Ralph "The Sun Viking"

    July 15, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Peter (and all)
    After viewing these excellent photos of EPIC’s interiors – all I can say is “very refreshing”. Some spaces are a bit of a jar – however, everything new takes some time to shake down and become comfortable. Can’t say I like the bath arrangements… Privacy is paramount in ablutions! The single Studios are a very refreshing idea and long overdue in the industry. I’m a retired Travel Writer and Travel Agent and have covered the cruise business for many years. The classic ships of the past are gone. Let them “rest in peace” in our memories! Finally, I tip my hat to NCL for having the courage to build such an inovative ship. I look forward to sailing on this thought-provoking ‘Monster’ next year!
    Mike – The Sun Viking

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