Norwegian EpicNorwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Epic emerged from a three-week dry dock in October 2015 with significant enhancements to its already impressive nightlife and entertainment line-up.
The 19-deck mega-ship now boasts the all-new "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" show and the Cavern Club, a nostalgic recreation of The Beatles' former haunt. Passengers are given the flexibility to dine when and where they please at more than 20 different dining options and food is available around the clock.
The facelift included renovations to the existing Moderno Churrascaria, Cagney's, La Cucina, Le Bistro, Garden Cafe, Manhattan Room and Taste restaurants (new carpeting, reupholstered furniture and refreshed decor). Elsewhere, there is an all-new photo gallery, library and family SplashGolf attraction in the Aqua Park. Other improvements were carried out in the theater, spa, Bliss Ultra Lounge nightclub, casino and the exclusive Haven suite complex.
Although there is plenty of signage, a ship that's 1,081 feet long can take a bit of getting used to. Epic doesn't feature the helpful carpets found on some other Norwegian ships, where fish point the way forward and aft. As a result, passengers can initially spend a lot of time on endless walks trying to locate cabins. The layout of public areas is generally very good, aside from having to always walk through the huge midship casino to reach the bars, entertainment and dining venues clustered on Deck 6.
With so much going on, Epic has a broad appeal, and with no supplements for its single studio cabins, it's a standout vessel for solo cruisers. Even passengers searching for peace and quiet could stay in the Haven and never set foot outside. One thing that is guaranteed is that you won't leave this ship feeling hungry or bored.
Splitting its time between the U.S. -- with a homeport in Port Canaveral from November 2016 -- and Barcelona from March to October, Epic sails the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and on transatlantic crossings.
If Epic stands out in one particular area, it's in the cabin design. For starters, every outside cabin has a balcony, an industry first when the vessel launched in 2010. It also made a big splash with its 128 Studios, a two-deck complex of inside accommodations for solo cruises, accessible by key card and topped off with an exclusive lounge area.
A funky "new wave" design features in the majority of other staterooms (with the exception of inside cabins, villas and some suites) and provoked plenty of comments when it was first unveiled. Think curvy walls, recessed ceilings, rounded queen-size beds and arched sofas. The revolutionary bathrooms -- which split the toilet and shower into two separate units -- got most tongues wagging with much talk about the "see through" doors. In reality, the doors are translucent and couples and traveling companions of a nervous disposition can pull across a drape that effectively shuts off the bathroom area from the rest of the cabin; aside from the stand-alone wash basin that is situated at the foot of the bed.
While very tall passengers might find their feet sticking over the edge of the bed, the cabins are very pleasant overall. Kitted out in earth tones and dark wood -- with tiling over the sink and scatter cushions providing splashes of color -- the cabins feature a range of lovely lighting effects, including concealed LEDs and back lights. These can appear baffling to begin with, so check the helpful information card placed in every cabin.
Staterooms are divided into six categories: The Haven; Mini-Suites; Spa Suites; Balcony; Studio; and Inside. The Haven is a "ship-within-a-ship" complex and an oasis of calm away from the hustle and bustle of the main decks. Located on decks 16 and 17, the space also includes a private pool, two whirlpools, a gym, a sun deck and a private restaurant. The 60 staterooms include impressive family suites with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and separate living and dining areas.
Other options for families include Balcony and Deluxe Balcony cabins (many can interconnect), which are located close to the Splash Academy.
Epic has 42 wheelchair-accessible staterooms that include collapsible shower stools, toilets with arm guards, and lowered sinks.
Standard amenities in all cabins include daily steward service and evening turndown, air-conditioning, a TV, a radio, a telephone, a roomy safe, a good quality hair dryer, a coffee maker, a vanity/writing desk and a stool. There is ample wardrobe and storage space, along with plenty of mirrors. Bathrooms feature fixed dispensers filled with liquid soap and combined shampoo/conditioner. The informative Freestyle Daily newsletter is left in cabins each evening.
Nifty design touches include a wonderfully intuitive phone that simplifies setting alarms, making reservations and ordering room service, and a concealed basket for used towels beneath the sink (so well hidden that it took us a couple of days to discover it; so it's worth asking the room steward for room tips on arrival). Similarly, plugs are in a cupboard beneath the desk/vanity unit, and once located, they are useful for charging devices out of sight and/or keeping the cabin neat and tidy and free from trailing cords. Suite passengers have additional benefits, including enhanced toiletries, a bathrobe and slippers, Champagne on arrival and priority embarkation and disembarkation.
All staterooms have 220V and 110V electrical outlets with U.S. and European sockets.
Interior: The inside cabins all measure 128 square feet and can be made up as twins or as a queen-size bed. Family inside cabins are located on decks 13 and 14, near the children's area, and also include two pull-down beds.
Ocean View: All ocean-view (outside) cabins feature a balcony. These cabins measure 188 to 251 square feet and can accommodate up to four people. They have panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows leading to balconies that range in size from 37 to 100 square feet. Particularly attractive are the aft cabins with views over the ship's wake.
Mini-suite: These cabins measure 241 to 245 square feet, with balconies measuring 52 to 56 square feet. They feature a luxury bathroom with shower or tub, and a drape can be drawn to separate the sleeping and living areas
Studio: The funky single cabins are located on decks 11 and 12 and measure 100 square feet. The key card access-only cabins have a full-size bed for one passenger, a separate bathroom and a window view to the corridor.
Spa: Situated on Deck 14, the balcony spa cabins measure 203 to 230 square feet, with 52- to 79- square-foot balconies. Mini-suite spa staterooms are 241 to 245 square feet, with 52- to 56- square-foot balconies. Both of these cabin categories can accommodate up to three people, but it should be noted that passengers under the age of 18 are not allowed in the thermal suites. At 322 square feet, the Haven spa suites are the largest spa cabins and accommodate two passengers. They feature a queen-size circular bed, an ensuite hot tub, tranquil decor and free entry to the thermal suites. Additional benefits include butler and concierge service and access to the Haven's private pool, lounge, restaurant and bar.
The Haven: The vessel's "ship within a ship" is situated on decks 16 and 17. The ultimate splurge is the Owner's Suite, which accommodates up to four people and measures 852 square feet with a balcony of 121 square feet. It features a separate bedroom with a king-size bed, a living room, a separate dining area and a bathroom with a separate shower and a whirlpool tub. Two-bedroom Family Villas (504 square feet) come with two bathrooms, a living room and a dining area and can accommodate up to six. The balcony measures 54 square feet. Courtyard Penthouse suites are for two passengers and are 319 to 322 square feet, with a balcony measuring 81 to 84 square feet. All Haven passengers benefit from butler service and private amenities including a pool, a sun deck, a lounge, a restaurant, a bar and a gym.
Norwegian pioneered the alternative dining concept and moved away from inflexible early and late dinner sittings and fixed mealtimes. In short, passengers can eat what they want, when they want. From casual grills by the pool and endless buffets, to pub grub, pizzas and posh nosh, you'll find it all. Specialty restaurants carry an extra charge, plus an additional 18 percent gratuity, but there are lots of free dining options onboard as well.
Taste (Deck 5): One of the two main dining rooms, Taste is at the foot of the three-deck atrium and the most elegant seating area can be found beneath the dramatic chandelier. This section leads into a larger dining space and in total, the restaurant seats 526. Breakfast features everything you'd expect, from light and healthy options through to omelets and eggs of your choice, pancakes and waffles, along with specialty items including traditional eggs Benedict and a version made with smoked salmon. If you're heading off on a shore excursion, or time is at a premium, opt for the handy express breakfast which comprises juice, yogurt, scrambled eggs with bacon and hash browns, pastries and tea or coffee. At breakfast, diners can expect to be seated with their cruise companion, or people in their group, and not have to share a table. The food is consistently good, but service can be patchy. Open 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
A la carte lunch includes dishes like soup, salmon, chicken sandwiches, burgers, salads and lighter dishes. Open noon to 2 p.m.
At night, tables are set up for two, four, six or eight people (with larger tables available on request). As there are few two-tops, couples are likely to end up dining with other passengers. The main dinner menu always features a good choice, served with a dash of contemporary flair, with starters such as blue crab cakes or pork and vegetable spring rolls with a sweet and sour dip or soup. Mains might include Thai chicken and shrimp curry in coconut sauce, rib-eye steak and healthy choices such as grilled Atlantic salmon. There is always a vegetarian option. For dessert, expect options such as chocolate mousse, vanilla bean and lemon whipped cream and cheese plates. Open 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
In common with the other dining venues, many wines are offered by the glass and start at $7.50. Bottles range from $28 for a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon to $282 for the Napa Valley red Opus One. Fizz ranges from a $32 Zinfandel to a bottle of Dom Perignon for $199. North & South is Norwegian's proprietary own-label brand (the equivalent of a house wine) and includes Sauvignon Blanc for $32 and a Californian red for $36.
Manhattan Room (Deck 6): Only open for dinner, the second main dining room seats 592 and is a lovely venue. It's an art deco-inspired recreation of a New York supper club (albeit a very big one), with gorgeous two-deck floor-to-ceiling windows looking aft and a polished dance floor (where dancers from the show, rather than passengers, perform three times a week). Tables are mainly for four, but there is limited seating for two, plus tables for up to 12 (if advised in advance). Open 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Quality and service, even at rush hour (around 8 p.m.) is consistently good. The menu features an extensive list of appetizers, such as yellow split pea soup with garlic sausage, smoked salmon tartare with avocado, fried calamari or a beef burger slider. Main dishes might include Swiss veal ragout, garlic roasted pork loin or less fancy classic choices such as spaghetti bolognese, sirloin steak and roast chicken. The dessert menu proved a talking point with its warm chocolate volcano (recommended) and curiously named snickerdoodle pound cake a la mode (which turned out to be the teatime favorite) served with vanilla ice cream, white chocolate curl and strawberries.
O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill (Deck 6): The inviting dining arm of the ship's open-all-hours pub is open for breakfast and dinner, with a snack selection available outside these times. Seating 180, it's a popular venue with an accent on American favorites and comfort food.
Breakfast options include generous portions of corned beef hash or a country breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, hash browns, tomato, mushrooms and toast. Main meal choices include Buffalo wings, hearty soup or fried mozzarella sticks to start, followed by chicken pot pie, burgers, hot dogs, fish and chips or sandwiches. If you've still got room to fill, desserts include apple pie and cheesecake. Meals can be washed down with cocktails starting at $7.95, a glass of white wine for the same price (red is $8.95) or a choice of beer from around the world from $5.95.
Shanghai's Noodle Bar (Deck 6): This bar is the casual sidekick of the adjoining Chinese restaurant of the same name. Seating 15 around the bar, the venue makes it easy to order: simply tick the boxes of your choice on the order form, hand it over and wait for the chefs to prepare fresh and tasty noodles, dim sum and stir-fried dishes. Open noon to 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Shanghai (Deck 6): This dinner-only restaurant is decorated in deep reds and greens and serves a selection of pan-Asian fare. It seats 94 and typical dishes include egg drop and corn soup, chicken lettuce wraps, orange peel beef, Peking-style chicken and shrimp, and green tea ice cream. To complement the cuisine, the drink list includes Asian beer for $5.95 and cocktails such as Asian Pear Mojito at $5.75. Open 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Garden Cafe (Deck 15): Occupying the front of the ship, Epic's casual dining buffet is a bright area with great views, a logical layout and plenty of made-to-order food stations. Although the ship was pretty full during our cruise, it accommodates 680 and we never had a problem finding a seat, even if it took a bit of looking around. For obvious reasons, passengers head to the tables closest to the buffet stations, but it's worth the walk to find a quieter spot in the furthest port or starboard areas or the particularly attractive section that stretches across the front of the vessel. With an army of staff constantly tidying and cleaning, the food never looks tired and the dining area is spotless. Service can be overzealous at times, with plates whipped away before you've finished or when you have nipped back to get something else to go with your meal. I ended up asking passengers at the next table to guard my grub while I stepped away.
The breakfast spread includes juice, yogurt, fresh fruit, cereal, breads, pastries, cooked meats, cheese, bacon, eggs and sausages, and healthy options like smoothies. Lunch runs late and features all manner of salads, snacks, burgers, pizza, pasta, hot and cold dishes, excellent Asian and Indian food sections and sweet treats. Food is clearly marked for vegetarians.
At dinner you'll find a plethora of choice, from fish and chips to fancier dishes. There's a different culinary theme each night at one of the buffet stations, such as 'Taste of Asia' which features dishes like Peking duck or shrimp stir fry or a Mediterranean extravaganza with all manner of grilled meat, fish and more.
The buffet stations are well divided, and with no vast counters serving a combination of different dishes the lines are never overly long, even at busy times. Open 7 a.m. to 10.30 a.m., noon to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Great Outdoors (Deck 15): Steps from the Garden Cafe, and almost poolside, is the Great Outdoors. This extension of the main buffet seats 366 and offers easy access to well-spaced tables, tucked under attractive tent-like canopies. Open 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and noon to 3:30 p.m.; snacks are served until 5 p.m. (weather permitting).
Spice H2O (Deck 15): On certain days, this 166-seat adults-only complex offers a lunchtime buffet from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. From 6 p.m. daily it serves light appetizers such as Indonesian chicken satay, spicy popcorn chicken and sweet potato fries, which make a good accompaniment to a sundowner cocktail.
Le Bistro (Deck 5); $19.95: Savor a taste of France in this high-end formal dining room (think starched white tablecloths, sculptures, beautiful flowers and paintings). It seats 126 and the charming and attentive waitstaff add to the chic atmosphere. The large menu lists the dishes in French, with the English translation beneath. Set the scene with a $12.95 French Manhattan cocktail or a $6.95 sparkling kir royale while you browse through the mouth-watering starters and soups. Highlights include French onion soup, the traditional fish soup bouillabaisse, grilled asparagus with hollandaise sauce, and, naturally, escargots in herb butter. Mains include coq au vin, breast of duck served with duck confit and roast rack of lamb. Items from the small premium selection carry a surcharge; for example, $9.99 for lobster tail and $19.99 for rib-eye steak for two, which is carved at the table. Portions are well-sized, and not overwhelming, so that means there's room for desserts such as creme brulee, apple tatin with walnut cream, a chocolate fondue for two or a selection of French cheeses. Each course is absolutely delicious. Open to 9.30 p.m.
Cagney's (Deck 7); $29.95: Norwegian's signature restaurant is Cagney's steakhouse, which shares space with Moderno Churrascaria at the aft of the ship. Two words: Go hungry. Expect starters such as a selection of salads or the rather curious baked potato soup, followed by steaks ranging from a 5-oz. filet mignon to a mighty 18-oz. bone-in rib eye, served simply grilled or with a choice of seasonings and sauces. There are some fish dishes, but it's not the place for vegetarians. It seats 146. Open 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Moderno Churrascaria (Deck 7); $19.95: Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the room, and open at the same time, passadors hauling towering skewers of beef and other carnivore cravings make the rounds at this 144-cover all-you-can-eat meat-fest. Diners are handed a green for go chip to put on the table to signal they want more, along with a red chip when they want to halt the feast, perhaps to rustle up some greenery from the salad buffet. To complete the Latin theme, the drinks list includes classic and strawberry caipirinha cocktails priced at $6.75.
Teppanyaki (Deck 7); $29.95: Culinary art is the name of the game at this Japanese eatery, which is perfect for groups (and if you go solo or as a couple, you'll soon get to know your fellow diners). Cruisers sit around a cooking station while the chef serves up equal amounts of food and theatrical effects, including juggling, jokes, singing and other antics. Start the experience with a wasabi cocktail or a Japanese martini -- both $9.95 -- while the chef gets to work on the large iron griddle. After a first course of miso soup and seaweed salad with a ginger dressing, mains include chicken, seafood, meat or vegetables served with noodles and other accompaniments, or combo dishes such as Samurai (chicken and jumbo shrimp), Shogun (steak and chicken breast) or Shinto (sea scallops and jumbo shrimp). Green tea cake with cashew nut brittle (nicer than it sounds) or fresh exotic fruits bring down the curtain on a brilliantly entertaining dinner. Seats 104. Open 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Yakitori & Sushi (Deck 7); a la carte: If Teppanyaki is not your style, then stop off at the 20-seat a la carte sushi and sashimi bar at the entrance and enjoy Japanese delights in more serene surrounds. Dishes served in this cozy venue start with appetizers such as miso soup and sesame seaweed salad followed by ura maki rolls and grilled yakitori dishes. Drinks include a Lychee Saketini, a vodka and lychee liqueur cocktail priced at $8.95, six-month aged sake, served warm or chilled, for $5.75 and Momokawa Pearl rice beer for $6.25.
La Cucina (Deck 14); $19.95: Accessed via stairs from the Garden Cafe or an elevator close to the aft cabins on Deck 14, this 182-cover Italian restaurant is tucked out of the way, and a lovely surprise (once you find it). With subtle lighting, well-spaced tables, a quiet vibe, good food, and panoramic views out of the windows, it's the best spot onboard for a romantic dinner. Starters include calamari, minestrone soup and tomato bruschetta topped with anchovies, followed by classic Italian osso bucco, or veal shank, pork scallop served with gnocchi or pasta dishes including lobster linguini and beef lasagna. To top it all off, desserts include tiramisu and panna cotta. Bellissimo! Open 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Room Service; $7.95, except Continental breakfast: Room service is available 24 hours, with breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., and a menu of other dishes including sandwiches, salads, hot dogs, burgers and snacks, available the rest of the time. Children's options include chicken fingers with barbecue sauce, macaroni and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Some items carry a charge, such as $20 for a platter of a dozen jumbo shrimps and $18 for a selection of international cheeses for two. A $7.95 "convenience charge" is applied to all room service orders, except for Continental breakfast and any meals ordered by Haven and suite passengers.
Note: Specialty food-lovers can dine out for less by purchasing the Specialty Dining Package, which can be bought online or onboard. Providing the opportunity to experience the restaurants for one set price, it costs $59 per guest for a three-day cruise, $74 for four-day cruises, $89 for five days, $104 for six days and $119 for seven-day cruises.
Casual attire is part of the Norwegian experience, so you can leave the ball gowns and tuxedos at home. During the day, cruise casual is the way to go, with shorts, Capri pants, jeans, t-shirts and sundresses for women, and for men: shorts, jeans, polo shirts and so forth. For the evening, there's not a great deal of change as far as Norwegian's recommendations go, with casual dresses, skirts, pants and blouses, summer dresses and "tasteful" jeans (no rips, cut-offs, acid washed etc.) suggested for ladies, and casual slacks, "nice" shorts (pressed, longer in length), polo, sports or button-down shirts for men. The only attire not recommended in the main dining area is beach-style shorts, although children under 12 can wear the aforementioned "nice" shorts in any dining venue.
That said, on our cruise quite a few passengers upped the sartorial ante after sunset, especially at the specialty restaurants. There are no official formal nights, but every evening one dining venue is designated "optional formal" and you might even spot the occasional tux and long dress. Typically, you will more likely see a jacket, shirt (with or without neckties), dress slacks and closed-toed shoes for the men, with women favoring cocktail dresses, elegant skirts, pantsuits and blouses over evening gowns. Cruisers might also want to pack an all-white ensemble for Epic's weekly White Hot party in the Bliss Lounge.
The two-deck Epic Theater, located forward on Decks 5 and 6, seats up to 681 passengers with no restricted views of the stage. The final curtain went down on the popular Blue Man Group in the summer of 2015, making way for the debut of the Broadway show "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." Based on the Oscar-winning movie, it's a dazzling production with fabulous costumes (200 head-dresses alone) and a hit parade of toe-tapping dance floor favorites including "It's Raining Men", "I Will Survive", and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". Note: It contains adult themes and is not recommended for children or the easily offended.
That said, we enjoyed it far more than the rather disjointed Burn the Floor dance show featuring 14 dancers, a live band and two singers. A mix of mainly Latin dance numbers, the skimpy schoolgirl costumes worn in one steamy routine were tacky and questionable to say the least. (Needless to say, the men were not dressed up as schoolboys.)
The theater hosts two shows nightly, at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., to fit in around passengers' preferred dining times. Most shows need tickets -- even the free ones, which are in the majority -- and these can be booked online or at the box office located outside the theater on Deck 6. Generally, the later the show, the smaller the audience, so go later if you're in a big group and want to sit together.
Activities include traditional sun deck staples such as shuffleboard, giant chess and Ping-Pong, along with more energetic basketball challenges and batting practice on the sports courts. There are pool games in the main pool (on certain days) and sail in and sailaway music with the resident DJ.
The versatile atrium on Deck 5 has a large screen and seating area that is used for port talks, movies, trivia quizzes, workshops such as towel animal folding, Nintendo Wii classes and, in the evening, live music. There is no need to reserve seats. Morning trivia quizzes and bingo are also hosted in the Headliners venue, and passengers can pick up crossword and Sudoku puzzles in the library to fill in at leisure.
During the day, the Bliss Lounge hosts various sessions such as complimentary dance classes and circus skills workshops. During the refurbishment, the bowling alley was relocated next to O'Sheehan's. Three lanes are open from 4 p.m. to midnight (for an additional fee).
There are regular meetings for solo passengers, Friends of Dorothy and Friends of Bill W.
There's an almost endless array of live entertainment. The former Fat Cats Lounge was replaced in late 2015 with The Cavern Club on Deck 6, a recreation of the legendary Liverpool club made famous by The Beatles. Moodily lit, with plenty of red brick and retro decor, it is a fun and busy venue that recreates the atmosphere of the Swinging Sixties. Fans of the Fab Four will be disappointed if they expect full-on look-alike and sound-alike tribute bands, but the band we saw made an enthusiastic stab at playing all their big hits and general pop music.
The Bliss Lounge on Deck 7 is a multi-purpose area, and a typical evening will feature ballroom dancing from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m., karaoke from 8:30 to 10:15 p.m. and a nightclub from 10:30 p.m. until later.
Even non-gamblers and non-smokers can't avoid the sprawling Epic Casino that is planted midship on Deck 6 and has to be used as a thoroughfare to reach other venues on this busy deck. With a plethora of slot machines and gaming tables, the main action starts at around 5:30 p.m. (times can vary) until late.
Head to the 259-seat Headliners on Deck 6 for a changing early evening program of comedy and music. From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. the venue hosts the standout Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos, where passengers can pass their requests to the talented pair of pianists.
The colorful 217-seat Spiegel Tent hosts the nightly Cirque Dreams and Dinner Show, with tickets starting at $29.99 for standard seats that are furthest from the action. The central stage is surrounded by seats and sets the stage for an unforgettable evening of theatrical entertainment and gravity-defying acrobatics accompanied by dull, forgettable food. However, it is worth going for the show alone.
Atrium Cafe (Deck 5): For passengers that like to people-watch, the cafe in the atrium is the place to sip a coffee or chardonnay and watch the world go by. Open 7 a.m. to close.
Epic Theater Bar (Deck 5): This snug, ornate meeting spot is ideal for a pre- or post-show drink and is open to coincide with the twice-nightly shows.
Cascades Bar (Deck 6): Celebrate or drown your sorrows at the bar situated in the casino. Open from 5 p.m. to close.
O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill (Deck 6): The sun is always over the yardarm at this 24/7 pub.
Cagney's Bar (Deck 7): Located inside Cagney's Steakhouse, this is an ideal spot to have a pre-dinner drink. Open 5 p.m. to close.
Humidor Cigar Lounge (Deck 7): This cozy dark-red lounge has the feel of a gentlemen's club and has a humidor stocked with premium-brand and hand-rolled cigars. It tends to be used in the evening, and the cigar-lovers don't like it if cigarette smokers slip in for a sneaky puff. Always open.
Maltings Whiskey Bar (Deck 7): Next to the cigar lounge, and surrounded by evocative old movie posters and photos of the stars, this intimate bar has an old-fashioned feel and offers dozens of varieties of Canadian, Irish, American, Welsh or Scotch single malts and blends from 4 p.m. to close.
Wasabi Sake Bar (Deck 7): To work up an appetite for dinner at the adjoining sushi restaurant, sip some hot sake or go kamikaze with an Ichi, Ni, San (one, two, three) sake "bomb" downed in one swallow. Open 5 p.m. to close.
Shaker's Martini Bar (Deck 7): This piano bar is a sophisticated spot to unwind with a cocktail or a flute of Champagne. Open from 4 p.m. to close.
Svedka and Inniskillin Ice Bar (Deck 7): Undoubtedly the coolest spot on the ship, passengers can literally grab a cold one in the bar where everything -- bar, glasses and stools - is made from ice. Bar-goers are outfitted with cold-weather capes and woollen gloves and the $20 cover gives you a choice of two vodka-based drinks such as the vibrant Cobalt Blue, or non-alcoholic options like Strawberry Eskimo Kiss. Open 5:30 p.m. to close.
Waves Pool Bar (Deck 15): Relax in the sun and enjoy a frozen drink or other refreshments at this poolside bar. Open from 8 a.m. to close.
Spice H20 Bar (Deck 16): Just for adults, this quiet alfresco bar is open from 9 a.m. to close.
Surrounded by fountains and funky sculptures, the main pool, located midship on Deck 15, is the busiest and noisiest outdoor area, particularly on sunny sea days. Open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., it has four whirlpools, open until midnight. To escape the hustle and bustle of the main pool area, check out Spice H2O, a tiered stage-like adults-only space right at the back of the ship on Deck 15. It's a much quieter, sheltered area with its own pool that's open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are also two hot tubs that can be used until midnight.
Children have their own place to frolic in the Splash and Play Zone, a shaded oasis of fountains, wading pools and animal sculptures tucked under the Aqua Park water slides. Open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, residents of the Haven suites have their own private pool on Deck 16.
The high point, in more ways than one, is the mammoth Aqua Park on Deck 15; a kaleidoscope of pinks, greens and purples, centering on the Epic Plunge, in which tube-riders zip into a giant funnel before dropping through a 200-foot-long chute into a pool below. Two other slides are just as wet, maybe not as wild, but worth the wait. The water slides are generally open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., weather permitting.
Other outdoor diversions on Deck 15 include a rock-climbing wall (33 feet high and 64 feet wide) and an industry-first rappelling wall. The sports complex, on Deck 17, has a bungee trampoline and Slide Spider Mountain, a two-deck climbing cage. All of these facilities are usually open, weather permitting, from 10 a.m. to noon and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., but times can vary. Other amenities in the sports complex, usually open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., include a full-sized basketball court.
Passengers tee up at the new SplashGolf attraction, which opened in 2015 in the Splash and Play Zone. This interactive water-based game combines two age-old elements of fun -- water and mini-golf -- and is a top pick for families.
Although there are plenty of them, the loungers around the main pool on Deck 15 fill up quickly. There are more located on balconies around the pool, accessed via a staircase, but there is no shade. (Tip: Head further aft to find available seating or check out the nearly hidden -- and frequently uncrowded -- sun deck on Deck 18; take the silver cylindrical elevator to the right of the Garden Cafe entrance, and don't forget the sunscreen). Alternatively, Spice H20 is a lovely, peaceful daytime sunbathing spot, although the giant screen obscures views of the ship's wake.
As part of the 2015 enhancements, the library now occupies a larger area on Deck 5. The subdued, dark decor and comfortable arm chairs and sofas scattered with cushions make it a popular spot to read, do puzzles and snooze. It's a quiet area, and passengers who want to talk can expect some silencing glares. The extensive free-to-borrow collection of books includes popular and classic novels, non-fiction, travel guides, children's books and foreign language titles. You need to check them out with the librarian who is on duty from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on sea days, and 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on port days. There's also an open book exchange shelf where passengers are free to take books left by fellow cruisers.
The card room adjoining the library is a light and airy space with nine card tables. Passengers can borrow board games such as Monopoly and Scrabble along with backgammon, cards and jigsaw puzzles.
On the same deck, situated forward, is the i-Connect Internet room (open 24 hours) with four computers available for use. To sign up for Internet packages, or get assistance with Wi-Fi services, the Internet manager is on duty in the room from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship and packages cost $75 for 100 minutes, $125 for 250 minutes or unlimited use for $29.99 per day.
Next to the Internet room is the walk-through art gallery, displaying a huge array of works ranging from the tasteful to the tasteless. In addition to fixed-price works, Epic also upholds the old seagoing tradition of art auctions. This forward section of the ship also has two meeting rooms, which can be used separately or as one larger venue.
Epic was also outfitted with a brand-new photo gallery, which is next to the card room. The large area includes a retail counter selling cameras and other photographic equipment, plus the gallery area where passengers can view and buy photos taken by the ship's photographers. It's good to see they have done away with the sprawling and wasteful photo displays that are still a common feature on other vessels. Instead, passengers can search for digital images on computer screens before deciding to buy, making the whole process much simpler.
Deck 5 is home to guest services and the shore excursion desk, both located midship. Opposite reception is a seating area with a large screen that projects detailed presentations on all ports of call (the films can also be viewed on the cabin TVs). This area also includes a studio for passengers that want formal photo sittings.
The Tradewinds tax and duty-free shopping area is located midship on Deck 7 and is open at varying hours, but usually until midnight, while the ship is at sea. The shops are laid out like a small shopping mall and sell designer clothes, watches, jewelery, perfume and accessories, along with Norwegian logowear, souvenirs and everyday items and essentials. The Marketplace, a small shopping area selling sundries and casual attire, is located aft on Deck 15.
A novel facility is the bridge viewing room on Deck 13, where passengers can watch the captain and crew through large windows (photos are not permitted). The room also includes interesting photos and memorabilia relating to Epic. Open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There are no self-service public laundry rooms.
Kids are likely to have as much fun as adults with the complimentary Splash Academy and Entourage programs -- the latter for teens -- offering supervised, age-appropriate creative play, sports and more.
Both the Splash Academy and Entourage feature a different theme every day, such as pirates, space cowboys, jungle fever or circus. Specific emphasis is placed on active offerings, including soccer and physical challenges, through a partnership with the King's Foundation and Camps, a U.K.-based organization that provides sporting and activity programs designed for children. For teens, bowling tournaments, soccer challenges and dodge ball under the stars are just a few of the offerings. Other typical activities might include trivia quizzes, cake-eating challenges and video games, along with an Olympics for older children and face-painting, puzzles and a treasure hunt for the little ones. On sea days, activities will typically be divided into morning, afternoon and evening sessions with children expected to join their parents at mealtimes.
Family accommodations include cabins and suites with room for up to four. Infants must be at least six months of age. For voyages with three or more consecutive days at sea, children must be at least 12 months old. Note: Young people under the age of 21 must be accompanied in the same, connecting, or neighboring stateroom by a passenger who is 21 years of age or older at the time of embarkation (staterooms opposite each other do not comply).
The Splash Academy divides youngsters into four age groups: Guppies (6 months to 3 years), Turtles (3 to 5), Seals (6 to 9) and Dolphins (10 to 12). Guppies have a separate colorful playroom open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. that's situated forward on Deck 5. Note: A diaper changing fee of $28 is charged if a parent cannot be contacted by the Splash Academy staff. The main hub for kids is the Splash Academy Youth Center, forward on Deck 14 and is open from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
For parents that want some time alone while in port, Port Play is available for children aged 3 to 12. The service is free, but there is a port day meal fee of $6 per child, per meal, which includes supervision during meal times. The service is offered between the hours of arrival and departure.
And when parents want to enjoy time out after dark, the Late Night Fun Zone is a group-sitting, fee-based service for children aged 3 to 12. Run by the youth staff inside Splash Academy, the late-night program continues the day's play theme. Available from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., there is a $6 per hour fee for the first child; $4 per hour for siblings. Note: One-on-one care or babysitting is not available and no diapers of any kind, including those marketed as "swimmers", are permitted in the swimming pools or hot tubs,
Teenagers have their own dedicated lounge, Entourage, located aft on Deck 16. Open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., the glass-enclosed enclave features air hockey, football, flat-screen TVs and plush couches that encourage chilling. A video arcade is situated just below.
Epic is primarily a kids' ship (at least during school holidays). The revamped, complimentary children's and teen's program, with age-appropriate play, sports and activities for tiny cruisers aged from six months to 17 years (plus the fantastic onboard water park), means Epic is a natural pick for families; you'll see plenty of youngsters during school vacation. Outside of that time, expect adults in their 30s to 50s, with a smaller number at the opposite ends of that age spectrum.
The expansive 31,000-square-foot Mandara Spa, located aft on Deck 14 and refreshed during the 2015 refit, has a large reception area that leads to the treatment rooms and a thermal suite. Open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on sea days and until 11 p.m. on port days, the spa offers treatments using Elemis products and the menu includes more than 40 manicures, pedicures, beauty treatments and massages for men and women, including massages for couples. Spa-lovers can really push the boat out with the 75-minute 24 Karat Gold Facial ($325), or relax with a 75-minute bamboo massage ($199) or a 75-minute traditional Swedish massage ($165). "Medi-spa" services include teeth whitening ($149), Botox and dermal filler treatments, with prices quoted on the amount of work required. There is also a unisex hair salon. An 18 percent gratuity is automatically added to spa services.
In common with other cruise lines, it's always worth pre-booking treatments that you especially want to avoid disappointment, particularly on sea days when the spa is busy. Discounts are often offered on port days when the majority of passengers are ashore.
Passengers are charged to use the thermal suite, typically $39 for a half-day pass. Discounts are available if you to use the spa for several days or the entire cruise. Although numbers are limited, the area gets crowded on sea days. We opted to go on a port day and virtually had the place to ourselves. There are separate changing rooms, each equipped with a sauna for men and women. Towels, robes and a locker are provided, and shampoo, conditioner and body lotion are supplied in dispensers. Surprisingly, the entry charge does not include slippers, so you need to bring your own flip-flops or water shoes if you don't fancy walking about in bare feet.
Under twinkling ceiling lights, the main thermal area comprises a pool with a selection of water jets and whirlpools, and a novel area where you virtually lie down and enjoy the bubbles. Nearby are heated stone beds and an outside relaxation area with loungers. Complimentary refreshments include subtly flavored orange and lemon water or tea.
There's also a men's barbershop situated aft on Deck 7 that offers services such as a cut and style for $35 and a shave, combined with cleansing and exfoliation for $45. Open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Cruisers wanting to work off calorie overload (on average Epic's passengers eat their way through 130,000 steaks, 25,000 pounds of poultry, 65,000 eggs and 16,000 pounds of potatoes on a seven-day cruise) can head to the supersize Pulse gym next to the spa on Deck 14. Situated aft, on the port side of the vessel rather than the forward spot favored by some lines, the gym has panoramic windows that offer plenty of ocean and port views. The well-equipped space includes 27 treadmills, 18 cross trainers, static bikes, fixed and free weights, Swiss balls and kettle bells. There are dedicated studios for spinning classes and TRX suspension training, both of which are used for group sessions that cost $12 and $20 per class, respectively. The gym area is also used for complimentary seminars and fitness talks, usually aimed at selling a product or additional services.
Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., the gym features an exhaustive program of daily classes, starting with a morning stretch at 7 a.m. Classes like stretching, Fab Abs and Total Body Conditioning are free. Other classes, such as yoga and Pilates, are $12. Personal training is available for $85 for a one-hour session and passengers can sign up for packages such as a three-session boot camp for $99. A nice touch is a cabinet filled with chilled towels.
Passengers can stretch their legs on the outdoor jogging and walking track situated starboard on Deck 7 and 3.6 laps of the circuit measures one mile. There are no time restrictions on usage for those that want to go it alone, and each day a member of the fitness team leads a one-mile walk at 8:30 a.m.
A prepaid $12.95 ($14.95 for suites) per person, per day gratuity is automatically billed prior to sailing. This is distributed to crew members including restaurant staff, stateroom stewards and behind-the-scenes support staff. Tipping also applies to children aged three and over. Passengers have the option to arrange for the charge to be added to their onboard account; however this must be requested at the time of booking or up to two weeks prior to departure. In addition, a gratuity of 18 percent on drink bills, for-fee dining options, spa and salon bills is automatically charged to your onboard account. Additional tipping is discretionary. If you are unsatisfied with the service, and Norwegian can't resolve the issue, the charge can be adjusted and you must apply for a refund after returning home by writing to the guest relations department. The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar and your account can be paid in cash, with credit/debit cards or traveler's checks. For cash and traveler's checks, a deposit of $150 per person (up to six-night cruise), $300 per person (seven-night cruise), or $450 (cruise of eight nights and more) is required at check-in.
Country of Registration: Bahamas
Regular Capacity: 4100
Maximum Capacity: 4228
Number of Crew:1753
Crew Nationality: International
Officer Nationality: International
Language(s) Spoken:< Multiple Languages
|Norwegian Epic is the ship of choice for those sailing on a Mediterranean cruise or one of our many Caribbean cruises. In fact, we have literally changed the face of cruise line entertainment with the introduction of Blue Man Group at sea, and that's just the beginning. Norwegian Epic is offering world-class performers and a new wave of accommodations - from Studios, designed and priced for the solo traveler, to the private Haven. Add more than 20 different dining options and you'll understand why this is Freestyle Cruising on a truly grand scale.|
Health and Beauty
Dining InformationDinner Gratuity Policies
Daily Service Charge - Any Category up to Mini-Suite $12.95 per guest per day
Dalily Service Charge - Any Suite Category $14.95 per guest per day