A walk around the Norwegian Epic

I knew where I was getting into. The Norwegian Epic is a huge ship, with a poor space per passenger ratio. And NCL it’s quite clear about what it offers. It´s a popular cruise company with a slight premium touch, but quality and unbeatable value. Freedom and endless options, where you spend what you want to spend. And everything is done in a diligent and efficient way. However, is it a cozy ship?; not at all¡¡. I know it´s a personal opinion.

Popular and moderate cruise lines are characterised in maximizing space to extreme levels. In the case of the Epic it was not going to be different.

IMG_20151025_122811.652 (Copy)It took 40 minutes by taxi, getting to the ship from Plaza de España in Barcelona. It’s rouhgly less than 2 miles. The Epic, Allure and 2 big Costa ships were at port. There was a huge jam in the area; long lines of buses and taxis collapsed the neighbouring areas. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the check in, and boarding to such a 155,000 tons mammoth was in just only 20 minutes. I got quickly on board, and when I was in, I wondered: Where is the big atrium?. Big atrium ?. Forget about it.

Public areas are mainly on decks 5, 6 and 7 with just two moderately sized atrium; a circular one with a dramatic chandelier, and a central squared broader one, at the reception area the with a large screen, and a welcoming lounge bar, which is always full of people relaxing, sipping coffee, or listening to music.

20151025_131912 (Copy)They are not spectacular spaces, and don’t have the scenic effect produced by tall heights lounges, which normally mitigate the concentration of crowds in the public areas.

I regret to say that the Epic loses by a landslide against its immediate competitors. No woww effect as in Royal Caribbean, in the theatrical central lobbies of the new Princess ships, or compared to Costa or MSC vessels, where passengers “mix” themselves well in a kind of organized, “disorganization” layout.

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20151026_083105 (Copy)I feel that NCL concept is to live inside the ship, away from the sea pleasures. Everyone participates in everything, and we all go through “all the areas, all the time“.

A kind of a pub that overlooks the atrium, bar leading to another lounge, which includes other thing, and casino occupying the corridors…. not knowing clearly where one thing begins, and where another ends.

That is, except in specific lounges and restaurants, everybody moves through everything in a swarm of noise and distress. It´s not a bad thing, because some people seem to enjoy this forced socialization, but it´s not my kind of ship. Things are worse when ceilings are low and low and one feels overwhelmed at certain times. And prepare to walk…..a lot. All day.

20151026_195411-1 (Copy)Outside decks are partially occupied by a weird scaffolding-like set20151026_200549 (Copy) of slides, which surely provide intense doses of excitement, for those looking for adrenaline and extreme sensations. It is a cruise “against” the sea. Even in her promenade walk, instead of saying “how beautiful is the sea,” we say “tenders are nice”

However there are five unique spaces, which should be remarked, and praised. The Epic is a brilliant creature in five places.

-Bliss Ultra Lounge

20151025_194950 (Copy)The ship decoration is classic, beautiful and balanced. I would say she is smart. The Bliss Ultra Lounge, is perhaps one of the most fashionable places I’ve seen in years.

I remembered how cool it was on the Norwegian Gem, but this time, the gold and black tones, leather touches and metal, make this disco to be eye striking and the “space” to be at night. I have to say, that NCL organizes the best parties ever. Wel done¡¡

-Buffet

20151027_082956 (Copy)Hurray….¡plenty of sea views¡. It had been newly renovated, and although the seating, and distance among the tables is not really confortable and wide,  it’s on the bow, and offers the chance of eating overlooking the waves.

No distant scattered islands, but two concentrated service areas, with a considerable large space, where people move around without congestions.

No long walks back, if you forget something after seated. Polar and chocolate tones gives it a refined fresh look.

-The Cavern

20151025_195915 (Copy)My favorite spot for a night cocktail. This bar is a tribute to pop 20151025_195822-1 (Copy)music. A small and usually quiet room.

This space recreates the aesthetics of the eclectic  Liverpool Club,  where the Beatles became universally iconic.

It looks like an antique shop mixing divinely brickwork, memorabilia of the famous group, and vanguardist design furniture, with more traditional, one in a sort of messy order.

-Mandara Spa

epic6The spa staff is efficient and highly professional. I do recommed it. Although treatments are very expensive, the list of “treats” are infinite. The girls and boy there are terribly friendly, and the Thermal Suite is large enough not be overcrowded.

The toiletries shop is incredibly large and well stocked. You can enjoy several spa jets, jacuzzis, hot stone beds, glazed sauna, relaxation rooms, and a wonderful thing: “aft open area to relax while the ship is moving”.

We can enjoy from fantastic relaxing rooms with tea, water, coffee, different healthy infusions. I would pay the cruise pass again without any hesitation.

-Shopping arcade

Having a proper commercial offer is not always something found in any cruise ship. Shopping 20151026_085414 (Copy)areas are usually small, packed, tacky and selling too much of cheap chinese stuff. The souvenirs tend to be expensive, and like on many ships, quite ugly. I suppose, it´s what most passengers want.

And although the whole public space is compact, the casino blocks the middle of the aisles, the large commercial area is strategically placed not be omnipresent, and attractive at the same time. There´s a wide set and shops, selling all kinds of objects, offering a very balanced selections of things.

These do not exclude other wonderful areas, because we must admit, that the general decorative standards are very pleasant, smart and carefully designed.

What does the ship offer?

Restaurants: Taste, Le Bistro, The Manhattan Room, O´Sheehan´s, Shanghai, Cirque Dream & Dinner, Noodle Bar, Wasabi, Moderno Churrasquería, Cagney´s Steakhouse, La Cucina, Garden Café, The Great Outdoors. The Haven Restaurant, Atrium Café.

Epic Theater, Casino, Epic Theater Bar, Cascades Bar, The Cavern, Headliner Club Accademy, Bowling, Bliss Ultra Lounge, Cagney´s Bar, Sake Bar, Shaker´s Martini, Cigar Lounge, Malting´s Whisky Bar, Svedka Ice Bar, Waves Pool Bar, Spice H2O, The Great Outdoors Bar. Spice H02, The Haven Lounge, Posh Club Club.

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Jogging track, Pulse Fitness Centre, Spa & Salon, Splash Academy & Entourage for Teens, Video Arcade, Acqua Park, Epic Plunge, Splash Kid´s Pool, Climbing wall, Rappelling wall, Entourage Teen Club, Haven Courtyard Pool, Haven Spa, Sun deck and The Haven Courtyard, conference rooms, shore excursions, future cruises consultant, customers service, library, card room, art gallery, Photo Studio, I Conect Internet Café, shopping mall, barber shop, medical service, The Marketplace.

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