“EPIC” proportions of everything!!
Last June, I was fortunate to be invited by NCL to a “familiarization event” which allowed me to not only take a tour of the ship, but to have the opportunity to have a special luncheon on-board which featured cuisine from many of the various fantastic restaurant venues aboard this extraordinary cruise vessel.
I also had the opportunity to meet an absolutely engaging and energizing personality in the person of Matt Gouthro, who not only acted as my host, but my personal tour guide for the entire event. Matt is just one of those people who you naturally gravitate to. Matt is a Business Development Specialist for NCL Cruise Line, and I am very happy to have been able to maintain an ongoing means of communication with him even since the event.
My tour began upon my arrival at the port of Miami pier, which was nice as it was located at the far end of the Cruise Ship Pier, so you are already situated away from the hub-bub of all of the other cruise ships boarding at the same time.
From everything I observed, it certainly appeared to be a well run boarding process, as our wait was basically rather limited. The very first thing we did once on board was to visit the many different types of staterooms and suites aboard the ship.
The Ships Accommodations
First we visited the suites, and the villas – These where absolutely the most modern and up-to-date accommodations I have seen of late. The room layouts in their five different levels of suites and villas flowed in wonderful sweeping walls and floor to ceiling window designs, glass staircases, and Jacuzzi tubs situated on private verandah settings. There was also something else that was very nice. NCL has planned well for their guests’ complete comfort and enjoyment, as these wonderful accommodations come with their very own special perks. Like a private members only pool and relaxation area, called the “Villas Courtyard”, complete with pool, whirlpool spas, shaded cabanas, sun bathing chairs and loungers that are key card accessable only, for just those who are staying in a villa or suite room. They even have their own special evening nightlife area called the “Posh Beach Club”, with lighted cube tables and their own private views of the Midnight Ocean and moon-filled skies, making for a great place to mingle and have fun. Additionally, there is a private restaurant area with an adjacent posh lounge area as well called “The Epic Club”. Wow! What a neat idea, and the accommodations are what I would call comfortable cushy and the atmosphere sophisticatedly refined! It gives those who are sailing in the suites and villas the opportunity not to have to wander very far at all, to be able to have everything at their beckon desire! Also the Concierge Desk is conveniently situated right off of the Epic Club Lounge area. Great Concept NCL!
Then we viewed the Staterooms-There are just a myriad (7 categories with 29 possible variations to be precise) of room styles and offerings to suit every taste or budget on board this magnificent vessel. I should mention one of those categories being the SPA Deluxe Staterooms, that come with their very own keycard to give you access to their glamorous spa called the “Mandara Spa and Fitness Center”. These rooms can accommodate up to three people, and would certainly be a wonderful experience for any fitness minded cruise passenger. For me, touring through all of the wonderful staterooms displayed for us; I saw some great forward thinking ideas evidenced in the marvelous accommodation offerings that would just about suite anyone who had certain or “particular tastes” quite well indeed.
Next we toured the Fantastic Studios-WOW! what a truly great idea NCL has brought to fruition with these fantastic single-minded passenger staterooms. Cool, Hip, and Modern, right down to their lighting from the hallway corridor, and the one way glass porthole type windows to let the passenger see who is outside, but not allow those outside to see in! Each of these staterooms comes equipped with all of the essentials one (and I mean one) would need while at sea. Flat Screen TV, Bed (on the floor), and its own private bath room with shower. These rooms are great for the upwardly mobile professional, right down to the solo mature passenger, who no longer has a travel mate. They also come very affordable in price, so it’s truly traveling for the price of just one without those pesky single supplement fees solo cruisers are faced with. This vessel has 128 of these studio staterooms. Also, if all of that weren’t enough, Studio Guests have a private key carded access to their very own exclusive Lounge area called “The Living Room”, which boasts a bar, two large screen tv’s, and a comfy seating area to allow hanging out, reading a book, or just enjoying a drink before or after dinner. Accolades for sure are due to NCL for this idea. Terrific Idea NCL, these should be a constant sell-out for sure!!!
Be sure to Come Hungry
The Manhattan Room – offering drama, romance, and amazing cuisine is to be enjoyed in this marvelous New York Styled Supper Club atmosphere.
Or how about Dinner al dente in the Tuscan Courtyard setting called “La Cucina”
Then there was Dim Sum and then some. For those with a taste for Asian, you have come to cruise ship heaven with a variety of offerings like “Wasabi” for the freshest in sushi and sashimi with the adjacent “Sake Bar”. Or maybe you are in the mood for more sophistication so you might try “Teppanyaki” where they prepare right in front of you, by slicing, dicing, and grilling your order to perfection. All while you are cruising the high seas. Or maybe you might just like to do like when at home, and grab a bite with some Chinese takeout from “Shanghai’s”. It’s hard to believe that one ship has all of this Asian cuisine. Certainly a great idea!
Oh and speaking of just having a quick bite, you can always just stop in to the many casual dining venues, if you don’t wish to make things so formalized. NCL Freestyle dining means there is no dress code to contend with in the casual venues. Uniquely varied with 15 (that’s right) fifteen, different dining venues to choose from, there is certainly something for every taste. And of course there is always 24hour room service available.
The Common Areas
We also took a tour of the various public or common areas aboard the ship. Now let me tell you just a smidge of what kind of activities await you onboard the Epic.
Starting Off outside with all of the Fun Stuff to Do. First for the kids is “Aqua Park”, with its twisting water slides called the “Epic Plunge”, Two Main Pool Areas, A Special Kids Pool, there’s a nearby two-story sports and gaming complex, a fitness center (complete with squash court, and boxercise ring). With all kinds of outdoor activities to be enjoyed like the Full Sized Basketball Court, Dodge ball, Hockey, and Soccer on the multi use sports deck, there’s a climbing wall, repelling wall, and even a full-sized batting cage. There is Spice H2o for pool dipping, outdoor movie viewing, and just plain sunning yourself. So when it comes down to outdoors and shaded fun, The Epic certainly offers just about anything for pretty much anybody.
Moving Indoors offers also a host of things to keep you occupied. There’s Bowling, “The Spider Web” (climbing bars)Wii, Age specific Kid Only areas, Catch a Show in the Main Theatre, or a Cirque type performance in the “Spiegel Tent”, See a Comedy Review , or enjoy a Jazz performance at “Fat Cats”, Try your hand with Lady Luck in the “Epic Casino”, and other World Class Performances to take in.
All of this made you thirsty? Why not check out the first of its kind at sea, “ICE Bar” that takes the phrase “on the rocks” to a whole new meaning. One of only 14 true ice bars in the world, with a temperature always at 17 degrees F, (or less) you will definitely want to don one of their cozy fur hats, coats, and gloves to enjoy your cocktail. There is certainly no “cooler” way to get in out of the heat on this ship for sure! What’s that you say, doesn’t really sound like your cup of tea? Then check out any of the 17 other bar and lounge venues on board! There is certainly an ideal place awaiting you to “get your drink on” here aboard the Epic!
All and all, it was a very interesting and informative event, and I must say that while I see many of these familiarization type functions, this ship is truly a wonder in its own right, and definitely one ship that I just have to sail on myself!
Check out all my Epic Photos on Flickr (click here)
For more information about cruising on the Magnificent NCL “Epic”, you can contact Mike via email firstname.lastname@example.org . You can tweet (or follow) Mike at http://www.twitter.com/cruisewithmike . To “Join” our Travel Club go to http://meetup.com/Sun-Cities-Travelers-Group/ Mikes web site can be found at www.mberryhill.cruiseholidays.com . Follow Mike’s blog (or subscribe to it) at http://www.cruisewithmike.com (or merely click on the subscribe button above to have daily delivery to your email). View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cruisewithmike/ . Mike also edits his own twice daily e-newspaper called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at http://paper.li/CruisewithMike
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