The first in a whopping four Decked! installments covers the NORWEGIAN EPIC’s ship-within-a-ship Villa Complex. The massive block-like structure atop the bridge was conceived from the inside out, which explains why it is so unapologetically angular.
Passenger Capacity: 4,100 (double), Approximately 5,000 (all berths filled)
Brief History: The NORWEGIAN EPIC was conceived as the first of three F3 (Freestyle 3) cruise ships for NCL. Unlike the prior generation of NCL’s STAR and GEM or “F2” class of ships, which were enlarged versions of co-parent company Star Cruises’ SUPERSTAR LEO (now NORWEGIAN SPIRIT) and SUPERSTAR VIRGO, the EPIC represents a completely new and unique blueprint for both the line and the cruise industry at large. 40% larger than the German-built “F2’s”, the EPIC has introduced a number of innovative and/or controversial new concepts in dining/entertainment and accommodation that sets her apart from anything else afloat.
The keel was laid on April 24, 2008 in a special ceremony at STX that was also an opportunity to showcase the new “wave” cabin mock ups, featuring curved bulkheads and controversial “en suite” sinks and toilet/shower layouts. Shortly thereafter, renderings of the EPIC’s unapologetically squared-off profile were released, stirring much speculation about the vessel’s stability and overall aesthetics. Gradually, over the next two years, a staged “reveal” of NORWEGIAN EPIC’s facilities was fed to the travel industry. The option for the third ship was never taken and due to rising costs, NCL canceled the order for the second ship after a protracted legal battle with the beleaguered shipyard.
As the vessel neared completion in early May 2010, a fire swept through the Deck 4 provisioning area before being extinguished. Two more fires of a suspicious nature hit shortly thereafter, leading to a police inquiry. NORWEGIAN EPIC was delivered to NCL on June 17, 2010 and sailed to Rotterdam to begin the first in a series of inaugural cruises. As with most newbuilds, initial glitches included wiring, plumbing and pool deck malfunctions and a problem with the ship’s propeller shaft bearing that slowed her crossing from Rotterdam to the U.K. In Southampton, a short introductory cruise was truncated so a spare bearing could be fitted, enabling the EPIC to make her scheduled maiden transatlantic crossing without incident.
The NORWEGIAN EPIC arrived in New York on the morning of July 1, 2010, clearing the Verrazano Narrows Bridge by a mere 24 inches before proceeding up the Hudson to discharge the first five of her starboard tenders so she could fit into the berth at Pier 88 in the midtown passenger terminal. The ship is the largest ever to berth at the Manhattan facility.
A two night inaugural cruise introducing the US $1.1 billion ship to American media and travel agents (during which the following photos were taken) departed on July 2. When the EPIC returned on July 4, she was used as the setting for the Annual Macy’s Fireworks show, then sailed on July 5 for Miami, where she undertook another inaugural cruise before beginning regular 7 day alternating eastern and western Caribbean cruise service.
For now, it looks as though the EPIC will be the only ship of her kind — an announcement regarding two enlarged STAR Class vessels to be constructed by the Papenburg-based Meyer Werft shipyard is anticipated in the near future.
Like her STAR and GEM class predecessors, the NORWEGIAN EPIC features an exclusive “ship within a ship” Villa complex with private sunning areas, fitness center, lounge, grill and concierge services. The block spans from Deck 19 down to Deck 16 atop the forward superstructure, giving the ship its uniquely “stacked” appearance. Our Decked! tour of the EPIC begins with a look at the Villa complex area and several of its suites.
The port side of forward Deck 19 features the upper level of the Posh Sun Deck with its large cushioned wicker seating and views over the midships pool area and Deck 18 terrace of the al fresco Posh Beach Club.
Please click on image to see a larger version. All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2010 unless otherwise noted.
The Courtyard portion of Deck 18 begins with a terrace overlooking the Courtyard Pool and Spa on Deck 16.
The 5,499 square foot Posh Beach Club is located in the aft portion of the Villa Complex on Deck 18. It offers a view over the midships pool area under shaded canopies with access to an al fresco bar. At night, it becomes an exclusive open air disco catering to 175 Villa and Suite guests.
The two deck Concierge Lounge is located in the aft portion of the Villa block on Decks 17 and 16.
The Courtyard Pool and Spa area contains a pool, two whirlpools, plush deck chairs, private cabanas, a bar and a steam room.
The 38 seat, 1,765 square foot al fresco Courtyard Grill is a slightly more informal adjunct to the Epic Club.
The 70 seat, 2,098 square foot Epic Club is located in the aft/port section of the Villa Complex. For the exclusive use of Villa and Suite guests, it is open for breakfast and lunch. The decor is in warm earth tones, infused with light through full length windows. Pearl curtains give the space a somewhat exotic effect.
The Club Lounge is on the starboard side of the Epic Club.
Courtyard Suite Accommodation
Deluxe Owner’s Suite (Forward)
Measuring up to 852 square feet, eight Deluxe Owner’s Suites are the NORWEGIAN EPIC’s most posh accommodation. They feature large living/dining rooms with floor to ceiling windows, flat screen televisions with CD/DVD players, BOSE entertainment centers, cherry wood furnishings, refrigerator and tea/espresso makers.
Owner’s Suite bedrooms include king beds, flat screen televisions with CD/DVD players and libraries,
Owner’s suites also have granite bathrooms with whirlpool tubs and separate showers, as well as his and hers “powder” areas. Separate guest bathrooms are also featured.
Forward-facing Owner’s Suites have a glass-enclosed solarium overlooking the bow and a separate balcony on the side.
Deluxe Owner’s Suite (Sides and Aft)
Courtyard Villa Suite (Forward — with Solarium versus Balcony)
Forty Six Courtyard Villa Suites measure up to 506 square feet and can sleep up to five guests. The living and dining area features a cappuccino/espresso maker, mini-bar, flat screen TV with CD/DVD player and library.
Courtyard Villa Suites have two bedrooms, including a master bedroom with flat screen TV and CD/DVD player.
There is also a second, smaller children’s bedroom.
Forward-facing Courtyard Villa Suites have solariums that overlook the bow. In calm conditions, windows can be opened for fresh air.
In the forward-facing Courtyard Villa suites, the larger of two bathrooms overlooks the bow.
Separate smaller bathrooms are also part of the Courtyard Villa Suite facilities.
Courtyard Penthouse With Balcony
Six 322 square foot Courtyard Penthouse Suites feature a large bedroom with circular queen sized bed, flat screen TV with CD/DVD player and library.
There is also a separate tub in addition to the shower.
Penthouses also have large balconies.
Spa Deluxe Balcony Staterooms
There are 21 Deluxe Spa Balcony cabins measuring 245 square feet. Although not shown in the Spa class, they are similar to the regular Deluxe Balcony cabins featured in a later part of this Decked! feature. With a zen-inspired decor, occupants of these cabins have key access to the EPIC’s Thermal Suite in the Mandara Spa.
Spa Balcony Staterooms
Ten 216 square foot Spa Balcony Cabins feature tub and shower as well as key access to the Thermal Suite. Two twin or queen bed configuration available with separate sitting area featuring flatscreen TV, coffee maker and mini-bar.
End of Quadruple Decked! NORWEGIAN EPIC, Part One: Villa Complex
Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea. With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications. Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India. He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."