Norwegian EPIC - Continuation of Inaugural NOTES.


Okay, so I promised I would do this...I have been stalling because this ship is so big and has so many rooms, it's kind of intimidating. But, here goes: I will go thru it deck by deck, from stem to stern (thats front to back for you non-nautical types)


Coming off the forward elevators, forward is the lower half of the Epic Theater. This is not the entrance you would usually use. I'll reserve the description for later. Also that way are two meeting rooms. In case you didn't know, NCL does a great job with conferences and such. They have excellent facilities and state of the art electonics for any type of meeting, symposium, etc.

Heading towards the back is first, the Art Gallery. Paintings are set up. I didn't spend much time here. I got over my urge to buy art at sea when I found out those great auction deals are typically 300-400% of landbased gallery prices. But, hey, they do give you a glass of champagne, so that probably makes up for it.

Next up, to starboard is the Photo Gallery, which has really cool facial recognition software. Instead of wandering a hall looking thru a bazillion photos, trying to find one of YOU, you stand in front of the machine, it scans your face, and up on the screen come all your photos. Then it's just a matter of pushing a few buttons, scanning your key card for payment, and you get the printed photo. Very cool, very high-tech, and a little scary how easy "they" can figure out who you are...but I digress. There is also, tucked into this area, the Internet Cafe, with lot's of terminals, and a retail photography store, for your film and flash and memory card needs.

On the other side is Le Bistro, NCL's French Restaurant. I have seen several. This one is larger and a little lighter, decor-wise. I have never eaten at a LeBistro, because I am just not that into French food. Sorry.

Next, starting at the port side and going around the Atrium Lobby is the Shore Excursion desk, where you purchase your shoreside fun, the Cruise Consultant office, where you can get some great deals by booking your next cruise, in the middle of this one, the Purser's Desk, The Atrium Cafe, an "L" shaped affair with bar on one leg and coffee bar on the other, the WNCL Broadcast Studio, where, among other things the Cruise Director does his daily briefing, live on your cabin TV, and all the way around: THE Wii WALL. This is a 30 foot tall television screen. During our little trip I saw both Wii, and the World Cup Soccer. It's incredible! I don't think it, technically is "hi-definition", but the resolution was excellent compared to some stadium screens and such that I have see. I am already planning a Super Bowl Group Cruise, mostly because of this TV. It is also visible from upstairs in O'Sheehans Sports Bar.

The Atrium is also home to the largest LED Chandelier in the world...a massive beast that hangs from under Deck 8, all the way to Deck 6.

So, that finishes the circle around the Atrium...straight back, between the Pursers Desk and the Atrium Bar is TASTE one of the two main restaurants. It is also open above to a smaller atrium, with a somewhat less flamboyant chandelier.


Again, starting from the front is the main entrance to the EPIC Theater, home of the Blue Man Group. A 650ish seat showroom, with no columns to block sightlines, and excellent acoustics. Comfortable seats, theater style. This is the largest public space on the EPIC, and it is "quaint" compared to some of the showrooms on ships these days, which seat in the neighborhood of 1400-1500. The Jewel class ships of NCL were purpose built with for Freestyle Dining, but retained the large showroom. The EPIC is the first ship purpose built for Freestyle Entertainment. And the good part of that is, with so many small venues scattered around there is never a time when all 4000 passengers are trying to get in the same room. Granted there were only 2500 on this sailing, but there was never a real crowd, or much of a line.

Moving back from the Epic Theater, on the port side is the Spiegel Tent, home of the Cirque Dinner and Dreams. Small, close up cirque acts are performed as folks dine on a set menu. This is also where the Nickelodeon Character Breakfast and the Murder Mystery Lunch are held. I was there for the breakfast. It is an interesting room, but I didn't really feel the "Big Top" vibe, though maybe that is more obvious when the circus acts are there. To Starboard is Headliners. Definitely done in Comedy Club chic, with bare floors and the obligatory brick back drop on the stage. Second City performs here several nights a week, doing their improv sketch comedy. Alternating with them is Howl at the Moon, a dueling piano bar show. FINALLY. One thing lacking on NCL, in my humble opinion, was real PIANO BAR, like they do on Carnival. NCL, like most cruise lines, has piano players, some quite good, but in venues that are not at all interactive. Howl at the Moon is all about audience participation, singing along, doing requests and getting a little crazy. I loved it!

Oh, almost forgot: between the Epic Theater and the Spriegel Tent/Headliners is The Box Office, a kiosk where you can make reservations for all the entertainment on board.

Continuing back on Deck 6 you hit a bit of the Casino, before you get to O'Sheehans Sports Bar. Awesome! A central bar, 3 lane bowling alley, pool tables, darts, air hockey, and food service (basically pub grub) everywhere. All done in Irish Pub. And the seats against the rail, looking down on the Atrium Lobby on Deck 5 have the best view of the 30 foot big screen in the Lobby. It is a REAL sports bar, and huge.

Past O'Sheehans you get to the Casino proper (there are banks of slot machines nearly the whole length of Deck 6), where it widens out and there are tables and wheels and the cage and the players club and all that. In total, the Casino is 13,000 square feet. Again moving back thru the slot machines, on the starboard side you come to Shanghai's. In the back is a sit down restaurant with a great Chinese/Asian Fusion menu, and out front is the Noodle Bar. Very cool and nicely decorated for a Chinese feel. Directly across, to port, is Fat Cats Blues and Jazz Club, with entertainment by a variety of musical acts. It too, is well done with an urban jazz club feel to it. Between the Noodle Bar and Fat Cats is the Cascades Bar, with video poker in the bar, it being the tail end, finally, of the casino.

After the casino is the Manhattan Room Supper Club, the other main restaurant. Full width, and all the way to the stern, so there are windows on three sides for a view of the ocean. The central portion rises two stories. All done in very elegant dark wood paneling. A bandstand and dance floor for dinner music, which sometimes includes the Legends in Concert Unplugged. I happened to catch that show and it was a blast.


Again, starting all the way forward is the Bliss Ultra Lounge. Sexy with a capital Sex. Honestly. As you walk in to the foyer, there are two 10 foot tall high back black leather chairs, and two 10 foot tall horse sculptures. Entering the actual room (which at night means going thru a mist curtain with the DJ projected on it), the floor around the central bar is a gold glitter thing with "depth". It is a bit dirorienting to walk on, and I am not sure how that's going to work with the drinkers, but...oh, well. Directly forward is the stage. On either side of the stage are, yes...wait for it...wait for it....CAGES!!! For all the ladies that want to get in touch with their inner cage-dancer. You really should pack some Go-Go boots! To port all the way over are three bowling lanes with cool blacklights and strobes. Between there and the bar, standard lounge seating in a bewildering array of colors and animal prints. Almost as wild as my closet! And on the other side, past the cocktail tables and chairs - THE BED. Yep, a black four poster, with (and this is by actual count), room for 7 minimum.

If you can drag yourself out of Bliss, and head back there are shops. Tons and tons of shops. I am not much of a shopper, so all I can say is it appeared uncrowded, with very nice displays and cases, very light and airy. Past the shops you come to the top of the atrium for your best view of the largest LED chandelier in the world. Pretty cool. Kind of spirally and chrystally, and it, of course, changes colors. I am not an expert on these sorts of things, but I liked it. Anyway, right before the atrium is Svedka, the only Ice Bar at sea. Kept at 17 degrees, with ice furniture, etc. Being a non-drinker, I didn't even try to get in, but it does look pretty neat (you thought I was gonna say "cool" there, huh? sorry, too obvious). The only problem is, there is a serious "flow" problem here, and I daresay NCL is working right now on a way to fix it. See, the hallway narrows there, and you can only go on the Ice Bar side. Seating in the Ice Bar is scheduled, on the hour, and when everyone lines up for their turn it gets a little tight. And then the guys come down the line handing out parkas and gloves, and it's complete stoppage. Again, only 2500 on this cruise, and it was bad. With 4,000+ it's going to be chaos. But I am sure they will figure something out, like maybe assembling farther back where the hallway is wider, then marching 'em all in together or something.

Anyway, the Atrium area on Deck 7 is, more or less, Bar Central. From the Ice Bar, to port, in quick succession is Shaker's Martini Bar, Maltings Whiskey Bar, and the Humidor Cigar Lounge. Each decorated differently and all very "bar".

On the starboard side is, rather like the Chinese restaurant/Noodle Bar one deck down, the Teppanyaki Room with several Teppan tables, in the back, and up front, Wasabi Sushi Bar. The sushi was excellent, fresh and with an extensive menu. Past the Sushi Bar is a largish Duty Free shop for your booze and smokes. Prices were excellent.

And then, an actual Barber Shop! For those of us guys who just want a shave and a haircut, without the mani-pedi and hot stone aromatherapy rejuvenation treatment. Two chairs, and looking an awful lot like the shop I got my "regular boys" haircuts as a kid. I was not in need, or I would definitely have tried it.

Finally at the stern end of Deck 7 are the Moderno Churrascaria and Cagney's Steakhouse. Cagney's is an NCL staple, with great steaks and even better Fries. Seriously, the Cagney's Fries, topped with garlic and parmesan cheese, then drizzled with white truffle oil are to die for. But, hey, been there, done that, so I tried Moderno this time. Even better. A meat eaters dream with 10, count 'em 10 meats to choose from (not counting the meats on the salad bar). Both rooms are very elegant, with dark woods and carpets, and large enough to not feel crowded, though they were both pretty full when I was there.

DECK 8, 9 AND 10

All Staterooms


All Staterooms, but with the Studios Complex. The Studios are the next big thing, as far as I am concerned. Single occupancy cabins, sold with no Single Supplement. I will get into the details of the actual staterooms in the next Note, but the Complex itself is cool. It's all inside, with private key card access for Studio passengers only. It takes up a significant portion of the inside of Decks 11 and 12. The hallways are very long and kind of narrow, and have Neon blue LED lighting. The folks I toured with compared it to The Death Star. But in a good way. Several places along the hall are snack rooms with vending machines with chips and cookies or sodas. And in the middle is The Living Room, a great little space with a Bar/Coffee Bar, which will be staffed in the morning and evening. A limited liquor inventory and an espresso machine. Several couch/table conversation areas, another bar with two big screen TV's and another long area with small cocktail tables and chairs/couchettes. Very nice for the Solo traveler. I can definitely see myself going to the Living Room for coffee in the morning, in my robe. Or hanging out in the afternoon, to see if anyone else would like to have dinner, and not get those looks you get when you are in a restaurant alone. And not in a "singles" pick up kind of way. I know lot's of people who cruise solo for lot's of reasons besides looking to snag someone. And we are tired of paying double. I am sure that is why NCL assiduously avoids the word "single" and stresse "solo". I really think NCL has hit a home run with the whole Studios idea.

DECK 12 AND 13

All Staterooms


All the way forward is La Cucina Italian Restaurant. Floor to ceiling windows right at the bow of the ship afford great views of where you are going. Nicely done is a rustic Italian sort of way, with, of all things a REAL olive tree right in the middle. How cool is that?

Back a ways on Deck 14 is Recess, the Kids Club, which was huge and bright and looked like a lot of fun, though they discouraged me from using the jungle gym. Also, the staterooms immediately surrounding Recess are the Family Balconies, which, if you've ever lugged a sleeping child to your stateroom a mile away, you realize how nice that is.

Again moving back is Pulse Fitness Center which is huge, and one wall is windowed so you can look out over the ocean while you sweat. I have to say, I am not much of a gym rat, but the equipment was all state of the art and plentiful. There is also a large aerobics room right off the gym.

Back from there, starting to port and moving around the stern of the ship is the Fitness reception center, the Hair Salon, Mandara Spa, Smile Spa and Medi Spa. You'd have to ask someone else what that's all about...I am the barber shop guy, right? But it was all very pretty, and smelled wonderful and, like everything else on this ship, very large. Also, clustered in this area are the Spa Balconies, with private access to the spa area, etc.

I think I will close now. From Deck 15 up, it's mostly the pools and such, and the Courtyard Villa Complex, each of which is worthy of their own Note. Good nite for now!
DECK BY DECK, continued

Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah:


All the way forward is the Garden Cafe. Buffet open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Multipe action stations, and some cool touches like a real ice cream stand, with a half-dozen or so flavors, as well as the usual soft serve, and a Kid's area with low tables and chairs. It was never crowded that I saw, but with a small complement of cruisers. This could change when she is full, especially on boarding day, as people wait here for their cabins to be open. It did seem well designed for traffic flow, and was quite spacious.

Heading out of the Garden Cafe you hit the Great Outdoors area, for dining al fresco. Large canvas awnings keep it shady and cool. Plenty of tables and chairs, but again, we'll see when she sails full. I am guessing tables might be hard to come by on a balmy day at lunch time. This is also where the burgers and fries stuff is, on one side, and pizza on the other.

Past the Great Outdoors, to port is the Waves Bar, easily the most crowded spot on the ship. But then, it was open bar, so...

Continuing along is the pool area. A large bandstand in the middle, two good sized pools and a few jacuzzis. Lots of shaded seating and plenty of loungers in the sun. There are stairs up to the Sun Deck on 16, where, again there are lot's of loungers. In fact, too many. When we went up their to watch the Sail Away, you had to step over or move the little tables between the lounges, as they were packed in solid. But, I digress.

At the back end of the pool area are the waterslides. Three of them. One for the kids, that wraps around and goes thru the rock climbing/rapelling wall on the other side, one regular old slide (though it was apparently quite fast), and the Epic Plunge, the first tube slide at sea and the first bowl slide at sea, where you come out of the slide, take a few turns around the bowl before dropping thru the middle. It's kind of like being flushed down the toilet, but in a fun way! The slides are accessed by two towers, and in between the is the Kids Aqua Park, a bunch of splash and spray type areas...again, I was discouraged from flopping around in there...

On the other side of the towers as you move back is the Rock Climbing Wall and Rapelling Wall. Not the largest rock climbing wall out there, but tall enough, and the rappeling wall is a sea-going first. Seeing as how I do some climbing and rappeling up and down actual rocks, the whole wall thing seems rather ludicrous to me, but, whatever...

Farther back to port is the Video Arcade and The Marketplace. Whatever that is going to be, wasn't evident while I was on board.

And finally all the way to stern on Deck 15 is the Spice H2O Pool and Grill. This is the Adults Only sanctuary. Sadly, NBC had it all closed off in preparation for the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks broadcast. But it is a large area with tiered seating, another big screen almost as big as the one in the atrium, and a pool, which at night is covered to make a dance floor for a South Beach style outdoor club. I really wish I had gotten to see it in action, as it sounds very cool. Guess I'll have to check it out next time.


All the way forward is the Courtyard Complex, which will be dealt with seperately. Midships, all the way back on 16 is Sun Deck for grabbing a tan, until you get to the back, port side, where you will find the Entourage Teen Center. Since I neither have, nor like, Teenagers, I didn't really check it out.


But from there you go up the stairs to the Sports Complex. A full basketball court, a Euro Bungee (bungee cords and a trampoline...looks fun, I guess), some weird climbing contraption for the kids called the Spider, and a view of the climbing and rappelling walls.


Forward, more of the Courtyard Complex, and midships, the entrance to the water slides

Deck 19

The top of the Courtyard Complex

And there you have it...all 19 Decks of public space, less the Courtyard Complex, which I will get to soon!


I failed to post my Facebook Notes, re: The Epic Inaugural cruise I went on this last 4th of July weekend.  So, for your perusal:

I am giving this area it's own Note, because it nearly is it's own ship. Within a ship. Private, key card access for Villas guest only. Actually, a private elevator. Hoi polloi can't even get to your deck, much less your cabin. Like being on a private yacht with 100 or so of your best friends. Everything you need, right there in the complex.

Sixty or so accomodations. The smallest is the 322sf double occupancy Courtyard Penthouse. Then the 506 sf 2 bedroom Family Villa, which sleeps 6 (2 bedrooms and foldout couch in the living room), and finally the 850 sf, quad occupancy Deluxe Owners Suite.

These are arrayed, on two floors around the private Courtyard, which has it's own private pool, 2 jacuzzis, steam rooms, and BBQ area. Also on Deck 16 is a bar, the Courtyard Grill restaurant, the Epic Concierge Lounge, the Epic Club nightclub, and the Epic Club Lounge with another bar. And that's just the lower level. Up on Deck 17 is another private courtyard, the private Courtyard Lounge and a Fitness Center and Spa. Up one more is the Courtyard Sundeck and the private Posh Beach Club, a very Riviera looking space, with a bar in the middle, and nice padded wicker furniture, overlooking the pool and bandstand down on Deck 15. And finally, Deck 19, highest spot on the ship, is the Posh Sun Deck and the Freestly Sun Deck.

So, tally it up: 60 staterooms, 3 sun decks, 3 lounges, and one each nightclub, beach club, pool, restaurant. Oh, and two jacuzzi's.

And of course, butlers, concierge, room service from the premium restaurants, etc, etc, etc. So, while at first glance the price of the Courtyard Villas seems a little steep, the only thing to compare it to is, maybe Seabourn, in terms of size, amenities and level of service. And when do you suppose Seabourn is going to have Blue Man Group and Second City on board?

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