Taking a page from the playbook of Las Vegas’ top resorts, Norwegian also has loaded the Norwegian Epic with big-name entertainment, including such well-known icons of Las Vegas as the Blue Man Group and Legends in Concert. Chicago’s famed Second City comedy troupe also has a permanent show on the ship, and the vessel offers an elaborate circus show created by theatrical impresario Neil Goldberg’s Cirque Productions in what’s billed as the first “big top” at sea.

Built with a squarish block of cabins at the forward part of its top, Epic has an unusual appearance, not at all like an old-fashioned cruise ship. This area contains The Haven, a private enclave that has its own pool area, restaurant, bar and concierge. Epic also has an unusual complex of 128 single-occupancy cabins called the Studios that includes a private lounge where singles can meet and mingle. All told, the ship accommodates 4,100 passengers at double occupancy (with room for more if every pull-down bunk and pull-out sofa in every cabin is occupied).

The Norwegian Epic is a big, bustling ship that will appeal to people who like a lot of nightlife, entertainment and dining options when they travel. Bigger (and newer) than all but a handful of other vessels, it offers one of the most diverse arrays of restaurants, bars and showrooms at sea, including such innovations as a dedicated “big top” for nightly circus shows (a cruise ship first) and a large theater that’s home to regular performances of the iconic Blue Man Group. With an unusual amount of big brand name entertainment (the ship also boasts a Second City comedy troupe and an offshoot of Las Vegas’ Legends in Concert), the vessel is a lot like one of the mega-resorts found in Las Vegas or Orlando, except that it floats.

Like other Norwegian ships, the Norwegian Epic also offers a highly unstructured cruise experience where passengers can pretty much do whatever they want, whenever they want — Norwegian’s so-called “freestyle” concept. There are no fixed times or assigned seating for meals, bars and lounges stay open late, and shows are scheduled at a wide variety of times for maximum flexibility. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to be tied down by specific eating times or events, the Norwegian Epic may be an ideal choice of ship for you. It’s also an ideal choice if you’re a solo traveler looking for a big ship experience, as it’s one of the few large vessels with cabins specifically designed (and priced) for singles.

If the Norwegian Epic has a flaw, it’s with the design of its basic ocean-view and balcony cabins, which include oddly broken-up bathrooms that are less private than the bathrooms found on most cruise ships. While many people won’t be bothered by this, it could be a deal-breaker for some. Also, while the ship’s many restaurants offer a wide range of cuisines, from Japanese to Italian to Brazilian, not all of them are knock-your-socks-off gourmet affairs.

Still, overall, the Norwegian Epic is a solid choice for a vacationer looking for a big, lively ship with lots of on-board offerings.
On the Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line has introduced a new kind of cabin: the Studios. Quite compact at just 100 square feet, these are meant for single travelers, though they do have a king-size bed and can accommodate two people. Of course, the Epic also offers a full range of standard balcony, ocean-view and interior cabins, as well as spa cabins and suites that range from 128 to 322 square feet.

In addition, there are also premium spa suites, balcony and deluxe balcony rooms that only can be accessed with a private key-card and offer complimentary access to the Epic Club and Courtyard areas. The rooms are located on decks 16 and 17 (forward), and include a two-bedroom Family Villa, the Courtyard Penthouse, and the Deluxe Owner’s Suite. On deck 14, the Spa deck, the Epic has eight spa suites with in-room whirlpools. The Epic also offers New Wave Staterooms with balconies and Family rooms.


If you’re traveling alone, the Epic’s 128 Studio cabins are perfect. Just don’t expect too much space. Brilliantly designed to offer everything a cruiser needs in a room in just 100 square feet, the cabins include a king-size bed and all-encompassing wall unit with a built-in desk, storage space and a sink. Sleek and contemporary, the wall unit runs nearly the entire length of the back wall of the room and has shelving units and two sliding doors that conceal more storage space. To the left of the built-in sink are hangers, along with a safe and the life vests. There’s also a storage box under the bed that can hold more items, as well as additional space to store your empty luggage during the voyage.

Along the wall unit is a tiny desk, which offers just enough space for the glasses and the ice bucket, and maybe a laptop – but definitely no food tray. There’s a bench too, but the space between bed and desk is so small, it does not really fit to sit comfortably. Above the desk is a television that faces the bed.

The designers of the room definitely had some fun with the lighting. In addition to standard lighting, which is well thought out, there is additional “mood lighting” that can be turned on with a few buttons near the bed. As you can see from the photos, this colorful and dramatic lighting can be set to bask the room in such colors as red, night blue or a sunny yellow (the red being the “romance setting,” we’re told).

The bedroom is small but functional.

There is no separation between bedroom and bathroom, though thankfully the toilet is in its own completely closed-off compartment (in contrast to many of the standard cabins on the Epic). The shower stall and and sink are in the room. The shower itself is quite small, with just enough room to turn around in.

Opposite the door is the closet unit, taking up most of the wall. This unit has two sliding doors with hanger and shelves. In the back is a safe and the life vests. Under the bed is a box with more storage space as well as space for the luggage.

We did not stay in the rest of these cabins, but we have summaries here provided by Norwegian Cruise Line. Note that any photos on this page may be provided directly by the cruise line and not our reviewer.

Haven Deluxe Owner's Suite w/Balcony

The Villas is the biggest suite complex at sea and includes an array of Suites and Villas on two private decks at the top of the ship. Hidden away and accessible only by private elevator, the secluded Courtyard Area boasts a private pool, two hot tubs, gym, saunas, sundeck, indoor/outdoor dining and a bar/nightclub. And, of course, the butler and concierge are there to cater to your every whim.

• Sleeps up to 4 guests
• Separate living room with dining area
• Luxurious bathroom with vanity sink, tub and separate shower
• Separate bedroom with king-size bed
• Exclusive access to Courtyard Area complete with pool, hot tub and lounging area • 8 available

Haven 2-Bedroom Family Villa with Balcony

The Villas is the biggest suite complex at sea and includes an array of Suites and Villas on two private decks at the top of the ship. Hidden away and accessible only by private elevator, the secluded Courtyard Area boasts a private pool, two hot tubs, gym, saunas, sundeck, indoor/outdoor dining and a bar/nightclub. And, of course, the butler and concierge are there to cater to your every whim.

• Sleeps up to 6 guests
• 46 available
• Access to Concierge Lounge
• Combined living and dining area
• Two luxurious bathrooms with separate shower
• Queen-size bed
• Additional children’s bedroom
• Exclusive access to Courtyard Area
• Exclusive access to The Epic Club (dining)

Haven Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony

The Villas is the biggest suite complex at sea and includes an array of Suites and Villas on two private decks at the top of the ship. Hidden away and accessible only private elevator, the secluded Courtyard Area boasts a private pool, two hot tubs, gym, saunas, sundeck, indoor/outdoor dining and a bar/nightclub. And, of course, the butler and concierge are there to cater to your every whim.

• Sleeps 2 guests
• 6 Courtyard Penthouses available in The Villas complex
• 7 Penthouses available on aft decks 10-13*
• Access to Concierge Lounge
• Luxurious bathroom
• Exclusive access to Courtyard Area • Exclusive access to The Epic Club (dining)

Haven Spa Suite with Balcony

You can go on a total spa vacation as these accommodations feature soothing décor, entry to the Mandara Spa experience, including complimentary access to the thermal suites the perfect place to unwind either before or after your spa treatments. Here you can indulge in heated tile lounge chairs, saunas, hydrotherapy pool, whirlpools and steam rooms.

• Sleeps 2 guests
• Domed ceiling with guest-controlled colored room lighting
• Deluxe circular bed
• In-suite Hot Tub
• Separate shower
• 8 available
• Exclusive access to Courtyard Area
• Exclusive access to The Epic Club
• Butler & Concierge service – exclusive to Spa Suite guests only

Mini-Suite with Balcony

The Mini- Suites feature curved walls and a luxury bath with shower (MB and MD) or tub (MA and MC) and a private balcony with an amazing view. Deck level and location determines the category. Sleeps up to four.

Spa Balcony

You can go on a total spa vacation as these accommodations feature soothing décor, entry to the Mandara Spa experience, including complimentary access to the thermal suites the perfect place to unwind either before or after your spa treatments. Here you can indulge in heated tile lounge chairs, saunas, hydrotherapy pool, whirlpools and steam rooms.

• Spa Deluxe Balcony sleeps up to 3 guests
• Domed ceiling with guest-controlled colored room lighting
• 2 lower beds that convert to a queen
• Unique curved walls and soothing décor
• Luxury bath or separate shower in Spa Deluxe
• Separate shower in Spa Balcony
• Comfortable sitting area
• 21 Spa Deluxe Balcony available
• 10 Spa Balcony available”

Family Balcony

"Freestyle Cruising is all about choice. So we’ve created the most flexible accommodation at sea – with more choices of connecting staterooms than any other cruise line. Norwegian Epic offers this flexibility in every category to keep you connected to your family while still providing plenty of privacy and space. Many of the Family Balcony Staterooms come with two lower beds that convert to a queen, one upper bed and a sofa bed, to sleep four comfortably. Plus, our family deck area is in close proximity to our Kid’s Crew® Zones."

Inside Room

Our New Wave Staterooms are a leap forward in cruise ship accommodations. The walls have a delightful, contemporary curve. Concealed contour lighting and domed ceilings give the open feel of a skylight. Even the bathroom treatment is totally unique – every area is separate, including the shower and modern vanity top sink. And on Norwegian Epic, all the outside rooms are New Wave Balcony Staterooms. New Wave is the new way to travel in style.

• Sleeps up to 4 guests
• 560 available
• Two lower beds that convert to a queen
• Recessed lighting and domed ceiling"

Cabins come with a range of amenities depending on their size and price point.

In standard category of cabins the shower has both a shampoo and soap dispenser. Other than a hair dryer the room had no appliances. Note that it’s standard on cruise ships to ban irons in cabins due to the risk of fire.

The ship’s 128 Studio cabins are so small there was no room to add a mini bar, but mini bars are standard in other inside cabins as well as ocean-view and balcony cabins. They’re stocked with soft drinks, beers, and spirits that come at an extra charge.

Like most ships today, the Norwegian Epic offers Internet and phone connections at sea via satellite for an extra charge. The by-the-minute rate for using the Internet is 75 cents, but there are also packages available starting at $16.50 for 30 minutes and $55 for 100 minutes. Note that as on all ships, the Internet connection is relatively slow due to the data transmission over a satellite.

The phones in rooms have a touchscreen with important numbers such as room service, guest service, and housekeeping all preset. Calls outside of the ship are possible but come at a steep extra charge. You’ll also find that your cell phone likely will work on the ship, but keep in mind you’ll pay a large roaming fee to your service provider for accessing your cell phone at sea (as, again, the signal must go over a satellite).

The televisions in rooms offer about 30 channels but, alas, only ten of these are regular TV channels (many of the rest being stations providing cruise-related information), and there’s no movie channel. Passengers can purchase a movie for $9.95, which is a steep price but, we note, still less expensive than on rival Royal Caribbean (where in-room movies are $11.99). One nice feature of the in-room movie system is passengers can save a movie they’ve purchased to watch later in the day.
The dining on the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic and earlier ships such as the Norwegian Dawn (also reviewed by us) have a lot in common. Not only do the ships offer a number of the same restaurants (with some slight name variations), but also the same menus, right down to the daily menu changes of the main dining rooms.

Unfortunately the similarities don’t end at names and menus. As on earlier Norwegian ships, many of the restaurants on the Norwegian Epic levy an extra cover charge that, in our opinion, would be justified only if the eateries lived up to the expectations created by the line’s marketing. Unfortunately, we found quite a few of the restaurants on Epic to be a disappointment, at least in relationship to the high prices the line is charging for them. If you pay a cover charge of $25 per person plus an automatic gratuity on top of your upfront cruise fare for a cruise ship restaurant, you should expect excellent food. In some cases, however, what we found at Epic’s on-board eateries was mediocre.

The Norwegian Epic has two no-extra-charge main restaurants: Manhattan and Taste. Extra-charge specialty restaurants include Teppanyaki (Japanese), Le Bistro (French), Cagney’s Steakhouse (steaks), Moderno Churrascaria (Brazilian Grill) and La Cucina (Italian). The cover charges range from $10 for La Cucina to $25 for Teppanyaki and Le Bistro. It’s all typical of what you’d find back home in a “theme” restaurant: Japanese food prepared in a showy style in front of you, French food in a romantic restaurant, family-style Italian, etc.
Being in the rear of the ship, the Manhattan has a huge, two-story high panoramic window. A live band plays in front of the windows every night. As with the rest of the ship, tables and chairs are made of dark wood, lending a certain elegance. Depending on the meal, the tables are laid with white linen or left plain, with just a small vase on the table. Surrounding the diners are some lovely paintings, the largest hung just at the entrance.

The Manhattan offers breakfast and dinner, but never lunch. There’s the so-called Chef’s Special, normally a specialty of some region, like spaghetti vongole in Italy, but sometimes the choices are questionable (such as Bermudan tacos).

Honestly, everything at Manhattan and Taste was mediocre at best. Preparation was decent: when we asked for a medium rare steak, we got it. But that’s just not enough. The food was bland and tasted like it was sitting around for a while. Sure, lots of people need to be fed on the Epic, and it might take a little while for food to reach the table, but it seems to take too long. Some dishes delivered, like prosciutto with melon, figs and a balsamic glaze. Finding the good dishes is a matter of luck, though.

So if you don’t mind bland food and want to dine in a nice environment, don’t hesitate to go to Manhattan. Overall, though, we’d recommend spending a little more money and going to one of the specialty restaurants (like La Cucina or Shanghai’s). Or just go to the buffet, where you get the same dishes without the wait.

The second main dining room, Taste, is a lot smaller than the Manhattan Room. The decor is almost the same, with dark wooden chairs and tables covered in white linen, but overall the space is a lot brighter. Only the back of the room is a little different, with white benches and colored windows. Unlike the Manhattan, Taste does not have a stage, but a diner’s-level piano plays every night.

Taste looks a bit like someone’s living room with its white, padded benches and the multicolored windows. The middle of the room, where the piano is located, is separated by white curtains, which give the room an airy feeling, furthered by the benches with high rests. The s-shaped bench by the piano catches the eye, and can also be seen from deck six.

The Epic offers a lunch menu at Taste, but only on sea days. It’s exactly the same as the one we found on a the Norwegian Dawn during a recent voyage. For starters, there are portobello mushrooms or chicken soup, cob salad and shrimp caesar salad. For the mains: spaghetti, fish n’ chips, and grilled New York strip steak.

In terms of food, the Epic’s main restaurants are a step up from what we found on the Norwegian Dawn, especially when it comes to the presentation and preparation. When we ordered a steak medium rare, we got it medium rare. That’s the best we can say, though.

The Garden Cafe is very big, with six areas where food is offered. The menu is extensive but repetitive, especially during breakfast and lunch, when all six buffets offer the same items. Dinner has a little more variety, especially in the dessert category. The Garden Cafe is located on deck 15. It’s always crowded unless it’s lunch-time on a port day. You can eat your breakfast inside or take it outside.

The Garden Cafe doesn’t just look like a cafeteria, it feels like one – all that’s missing are the folding chairs. Walls, floors, and buffets are all white, which makes the place even brighter and more sunny. Tables and chairs are of a dark wood, and along the dividing walls are red, wavy benches. Silverware is already at the table, as well as a tray with ketchup, Tabasco, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Some table islands are separated by rose fences. Fake plants adorn the whole dining area.

The Garden Cafe opens every day at 6.30 am for breakfast, and offers Eggs Benedict, pancakes, waffles, French toast, a big selection of bread, marmalade, cereals, cold cuts, salads, sausages, boiled eggs, bacon, etc. There’s also an egg station, where you can get eggs done to order.

Lunch options are more extensive than at breakfast – but only on sea days. On port days the ship is nearly empty and the menu is scaled back accordingly.

Desserts include crepes, fruits, ice creams, puddings, and cakes for dessert.

The Great Outdoors is directly outside the entrance to the Garden Cafe. It’s the same breakfast menu as the Garden Cafe.

The Great Outdoors is designed like a beach-side cafe. It has rattan chairs and marble tables with chrome legs. However, the two elevators in front of the grill do manage to disturb the relaxed feeling. On the tables are trays with condiments and silverware. The decor is sparse, but the sun and fresh, salt air make up for it.

Breakfast at the Great Outdoors consists of waffle, pancakes, French toast, cereal, scrambled eggs, sausage, and bacon.

Lunch and dinner at the Great Outdoors is always the same: hot dogs, burgers, mac & cheese. As with the rest of the ship, the burgers are not the best we ever ate, though the mac & cheese is pretty good.

Shanghai is classified as Chinese, but it’s more of an Asian-fusion restaurant, with traditional Chinese dishes but also Indian and other Asian dishes. Dishes like dim sum, wok-fried noodles, rice dishes, and lamb curry are prepared in an open kitchen. It has the same menu as Bamboo on the Norwegian Dawn, but the cooking is much better.

The decoration is all about old Chinese restaurants: Lots of reds and greens and Chinese vases and lamps. At one end of the restaurant is an open kitchen where all the food is prepared.

Shanghai’s menu has a lot to offer, including noodles, dim sum, wok dishes. As an hors d’oeuvre you get shrimp chips with three different sauces. Highly recommended is the chicken lettuce wrap. It includes one leaf of iceberg salad and ground chicken. You have to wrap it yourself, and it’s a little messy, but the sweetness of the chicken and the salad go very well together. As a main course, you should definitely try the bass with mushrooms. The fish was cooked perfectly, almost melting in your mouth, and it included the only mushrooms on the Epic that didn’t taste like they’d been in dry dock for a month.

Shanghai’s offers ice cream, like most of the restaurants, but also some more unusual dessert options such as an Asian-spiced crème brûlée. Our favorite dessert was the lychee and coconut spring rolls. They’re not too sweet or heavy and round out the meal perfectly.

Shanghai’s offers Epic’s regular wine list, along with Japanese beer, but oddly no Chinese beer.

The Noodle Bar has a very limited menu, but the idea is great. You fill out a form and give it to your waiter. Since the kitchen has an open design, you can watch the chef preparing your meal. Because it’s part of Shanghai’s, the Noodle Bar has the same decor.

The best dish at the noodle bar are the pork dumplings – no matter if you prefer them steamed or grill. You can get noodles from the wok, in broth, or on different kinds of fried rice. The beef chow fun was also delicious, with crispy vegetables and soft noodles.

There are just two dessert options in the Noodle Bar: chilled mango pudding and five-spice chocolate cake. We recommend the Chocolate Cake. The mango pudding has a layer of jello on top that just didn’t work for us.

La Cucina not only has the same name, but the same menu as the Italian restaurant on the last Norwegian ship we visited, the Norwegian Dawn. We suppose that makes things economically efficient for the line, but it’s a bit of a let down if you like jumping from ship to ship on your vacations. La Cucina is located underneath the Garden Cafe and has a beautiful view on the ocean. The menu is all Italian, with different pastas, pizza, risotto, and different meat dishes.

With its fake brick walls and book shelves, fake tree and fake vines, La Cucina feels a little like a parody of a Tuscan restaurant rather than an homage, but it’s comfortable and the food is decent.

Beef carpaccio, as a starter, is done well, and the pork saltimbocca with gnocchi was good too, but the sauce was a little bland. The gnocchi was delicious.

Tiramisu is a standard Italian dessert and La Cucina does it justice. The idea to make a panna cotta trio, with amaretto, vanilla, and lime sounds good, but alas, lime turned out to be a stretch for pana cotta, in our opinion.

In addition to Italian cocktails such as Bellinis and Italian liquors such as Campari, La Cucina also has wine suggestions on the menu and sells these by the glass or in carafes of 1/2 or full liters.

Le Bistro is one of Norwegian signature dining venues. The high-end specialty restaurant is the spot to celebrate an anniversary with a romantic dinner. Being one of the higher priced and more elegant restaurants on the ship ($20 cover charge per person, excluding drinks) the expectations are high. Sadly, it did not meet expectations.

Le Bistro offers classic French dishes like escargot and steamed mussels with Pernod for appetizers. Entrees include bouillabaisse or Coq au Vin (Burgundy Chicken). There are some specials on the menu, but they cost $10 more.

As an hors d’oeuvre, Le Bistro offers an acceptable salmon pate. The “Coquilles St. Jaques,” seared scallops with eggplants, so small and lacking in flavor that we can hardly comment on their quality. Perhaps salmon is not the food to order in a French restaurant, but we did. It, too, was mediocre. The cream sauce was fine, but the mushrooms were on the verge of going bad. As for the fish, it is hard to mess up salmon, but it was definitely not the best we’ve eaten.

As one would expect, desserts have a French theme and range from crème brulée and profiteroles to the not-very-surprising French cheese plate. The profiteroles three ways, with chocolate, vanilla, and lime is an unconventional idea, but the lime did not play well with the rest of the flavors.

Signature drinks include Kir Royal, a French Kiss, and more. Port wines, cognacs and liqueurs are also offered on the menu.
Le Bistro is one of Norwegian signature dining venues. The high-end specialty restaurant is the spot to celebrate an anniversary with a romantic dinner. Being one of the higher priced and more elegant restaurants on the ship ($20 cover charge per person, excluding drinks) the expectations are high. Sadly, it did not meet expectations.

Le Bistro offers classic French dishes like escargot and steamed mussels with Pernod for appetizers. Entrees include bouillabaisse or Coq au Vin (Burgundy Chicken). There are some specials on the menu, but they cost $10 more.

As an hors d’oeuvre, Le Bistro offers an acceptable salmon pate. The “Coquilles St. Jaques,” seared scallops with eggplants, so small and lacking in flavor that we can hardly comment on their quality. Perhaps salmon is not the food to order in a French restaurant, but we did. It, too, was mediocre. The cream sauce was fine, but the mushrooms were on the verge of going bad. As for the fish, it is hard to mess up salmon, but it was definitely not the best we’ve eaten.

As one would expect, desserts have a French theme and range from crème brulée and profiteroles to the not-very-surprising French cheese plate. The profiteroles three ways, with chocolate, vanilla, and lime is an unconventional idea, but the lime did not play well with the rest of the flavors.

Signature drinks include Kir Royal, a French Kiss, and more. Port wines, cognacs and liqueurs are also offered on the menu.

The only significant difference between the Teppanyaki on the Epic and the Teppanyaki eateries found on other Norwegian ships is that the Epic’s dining area is a much larger. They share the same concept. The chef prepares food on a griddle right in the dining room, surrounded by an audience of diners. They toss their utensils around, generally making a lot of noise while cooking, all for a cover charge of $20.

The menu is the same: appetizers are edamame, miso soup, and seaweed salad. For main courses you can choose between different meats and seafood, or a combination of both. For dessert, you get the same green tea cake with green tea ice cream as on other Norwegian ships.

The restaurant’s decor is relatively clean and simple, but the room is cavernous — a design mistake, we think, as it results in an uncomfortably noisy and impersonal experience as compared to the smaller Teppanyaki restaurants found on other Norwegian ships. Norwegian clearly was trying to pack in as many tables as it could into this space, and the result is a warehouse-like ambiance that has a production-line feel. Unlike at the Teppanyaki restaurants on other Norwegian ships, this is not an intimate experience.

Fresh fruit sashimi and green tea cake with ice cream are offered for dessert.

Teppanyaki offers two signature cocktails: the wasabi cocktail and a Japanese martini.

The Epic’s churrascaria eatery is next to Cagney’s Steakhouse, and offers a variety of meats and a huge salad buffet. When you arrive they give you a little card with green on one side and red on the other. When your card is green side-up, that means you want more servings; red side-up, you’ve had your fill.

Moderno looks like an old-style Argentinian steakhouse, with everything in dark woods and reds. The tables are lined with place mats instead of cloths, the steak knives are enormous, and the walls are decorated with monochrome photos.

We think this is one of the best restaurants on the Epic and far better than a similar churrascaria eatery opened recently on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas (Epic and Allure are the first two ships at sea to offer a churrascaria restaurant, a new trend in cruise ship dining).

Being a Brazilian style grill, the choices of meat is extensive. The best is the picanha, a special beef tenderloin only found in Brazilian restaurants. Others include linguica, a Brazilian sausage. Waiters come along frequently with meat on a stick, and cut off a fresh piece for you. In between, they also offer grilled pineapple. Brazilians believe this helps the digestion and makes room for more food. On the side, they offer pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), rice, black beans, garlic mashed potatoes, and fried bananas.

The sides are very good, especially the fried bananas. Most meats are well-prepared. Our first piece of picanha was almost perfect. For some reason, a later serving of the same meat lost a lot of taste.

Moderno offers all the regular drinks, as well as some specialty mixed drinks, like caipirinha, ginger passion, and strawberry batida.

Spiegel tents were invented by Belgium in the 19th century as moving dance hall, and many chefs took this idea and made a dinner spectacle of it. The Norwegian Epic presents Cirque Dreams and Dinner, their own take on the spiegel tent.

Encompassing two levels, guests can eat and watch the circus, including clowns, aerialists, and other acrobatic shows. The show itself is fun and exciting – the food, not so much. There are three predetermined courses that never change. If you don’t mind sitting on the balcony or further away from the stage, the cover charge is $20, if you want to sit downstairs, close to the action, you’ll have to pay $30.

Spiegel tents looks just like a circus. It’s round, like a tent. On the walls are paintings of clowns. In the middle of the restaurant is a small stage where everything happens, as well as four corridors for the artists.

The menu for Cirque Dreams and Dinner never changes. For starters you get an appetizer trio with crab cake, salad, and chicken satay. Surf & turf is served next, with a roasted beef tenderloin and jumbo shrimps. The dessert is a trio, as well: the Trilogy of Sweets, with a red velvet cake, vanilla bean pot de cream, and a flourless chocolate cake.

For a cover charge of $20 or $30, our expectations were very high. Unfortunately the crab cake was not good at all, the salad bland, the shrimps tasted funny, and vanilla bean pot de cream is just a fancy name for a vanilla pudding. Only the beef and the gratin were any good.

The Spiegel Tent offers a selection of sparkling, white and red wines, as well as two special cocktails.

Located on deck seven (midship), Wasabi has a beautiful view on the gigantic chandelier hanging down to the deck below. The restaurant offers a simple menu of sushi, sashimi and yakitori.

Being the entrance to Teppanyaki, the decor is basically the same. Every place setting has some fake grass and white dishes.

Wasabi’s sushi rolls have far too much rice and not enough fish or vegetables. It tastes good, but we wish there was less rice. The sashimi is just the right portion size and the fish tastes fresh and delicious.

Wasabi offers the same desserts as Teppanyaki: green tea cake and fruit sashimi.

Signature drinks include Kamikaze (a Seabreeze) with Vodka, cranberry and apple juice, and a lychee saketini with vodka, lychee liqueur and sake. Wasabi also offers different sake and Japanese beers.

The Cagney’s on the Epic is huge, much larger than on other Norwegian ships. Apparently taking a cue from Moderno, Cagney’s feels more like an Argentinian steakhouse than an American one. There are some two-tops right next to the windows, making it a perfect spot for a romantic dinner. To show everybody that all the food is prepared a la minute, Cagney’s has an open kitchen in the back.

Once a week, the Norwegian Epic offers a jazz brunch, which sometimes takes place at Cagney’s. For $15, Norwegian sets up a buffet with salmon, different cheeses, salads, souffles, and sweet rolls. At the open kitchen, the chefs serve French toast and pancakes. Beyond that, there are some dishes you have to order a la carte, like braised beef or salmon with saffron risotto. The salmon is the perfect brunch dish: not too heavy, with the fish perfectly cooked.

There was so much spinach on the oysters Rockefeller, that you couldn’t really taste the oyster beyond a vague fishiness. We do feel that Cagney’s on the Epic is better than the Cagney’s on the Norwegian Dawn. We salute the chef for delivering the prime rib as ordered, medium rare, but on the other hand, our side of asparagus was completely overcooked. We tried the Cagney Fries again, in hopes that this time we’d actually taste the truffle oil, but as on the Dawn, we were disappointed.

Cagney’s offers a variety of desserts, from a sampler plate to a cheese plate. The raspberry crème brûlée looks good, but the cheese plate is the best thing here, with Danish blue cheese, brie and parmesan as well as some fruit and honey.

O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill is the first Irish pub at sea, at least according to Norwegian. It offers food 24 hours a day, as well as bowling, darts, pool, some arcade games, and big-screen TVs.

O’Sheehan’s is the only place on the Epic offering food 24/7. For breakfast, you can create your own omelet or get O’Sheehan’s Country Platter with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, mushrooms, hash browns, and grilled tomatoes – a great and healthy start to any day.

After 11 am serving up comfort food like chicken wings, chicken pot pies, meat loaf, sandwiches, burgers, and salads. There’s also the same desserts you get from room service, but you can be more sociable while you eat them here.

Along with soft drinks and water, O’Sheehan’s offers a long list of beers from all over the world. Shots, mixed drinks, red, white, and sparkling wines are also available for an extra charge. All drinks cost an extra charge and not all prices are in the menu. Very sneaky, Norwegian.

During the day, Spice H2O is a terrace sun deck located on deck 15. At night, all the sun chairs are put away and the pool rises from below to form a stage and dance floor, simultaneously very cool and completely extravagant.

On sea days, Spice H2O offers breakfast and lunch. For breakfast you can get French toast, waffles, eggs, and bacon. At lunch, the pool bar serves up burgers, hot dogs, and mac and cheese.

The Epic offers nearly the same drink options all over the ship. Spice H2O is no exception, though it doesn’t have as large a beer list as O’Sheehan’s pub. For a cover charge, you can get the featured drink of the day, as well as all the cocktails and frozen drinks, such as pina coladas, margaritas, and mojitos.

The room service menu is not long. Breakfast must be ordered by 4 am and will be delivered at the requested time (sometimes a little earlier). You can also order salads and sandwiches, special occasion dishes, and special dishes for kids.

There’s a 24/7 pizza service too, which sounds very exciting. Delivery takes 30 to 45 minutes, sometimes less. Room service is available all day, but Norwegian adds a service charge of $3.95 per order between midnight and 5am.

Breakfast delivery is available from 6.30 am to 10 am. Orders have to be made by 4 am, using the forms hanging on the door knob. There are juices, cereals, fruits, yogurts, beverages, and breads to choose from.

There’s just one menu for the whole day. It includes chicken noodle soup, caesar salad, omelets, and assorted sandwiches (BLT, tuna, etc.). Even though there was not a lot of bacon on it, the BLT tasted pretty good. The tuna sandwich, however, tasted as though the mayonnaise had gone bad. For kids, Norwegian offers mini hot dogs, chicken fingers, and mac & cheese.

For special occasions, there’s a selections of cold and special hors d’oeuvres, a dozen of jumbo shrimps, Sevruga caviar, and a cheese platter for four. The special occasion menu is available from 11 am to 11 pm, for a cover charge of $15 to $42 (caviar is available at market price).

A 24/7 pizza delivery service is also available. Three pizzas for $5 each are available: cheese, vegetarian and pepperoni. They were all pretty terrible.

For dessert, the room service menu offers cheese cake, strawberry pound cake, and chocolate cake. The chocolate cake is Norwegian’s special flowerless chocolate cake, which tastes more like a heavy brownie.

Soft drinks, still and sparkling water, and beers are available around the clock. Wines include Pinot Grigio from Italy, Cabernet Sauvignon from California, Moët & Chandon, and more. All wines and champagnes / sparkling wines are available by the glass and bottle, and cost between $28 to $69 (a bottle) or $5.25 to $14 for a glass.

Every day, Epic’s bars offer a new drink of the day, mostly cocktails. All wines, beers, mixed drinks, spirits and liqueurs, and soft drinks can be ordered at almost every bar. Soft drinks cost about $2.50, beers from $4.95 to $6.

Different martinis, rums, vodkas, whiskeys and other spirits are available from $7.05 per glass. There are also some super premium and ultra premium spirits for $6.75 to $17.50, as well as different shots for $6.25. Special whiskeys from Scotland, USA, and Canada as well as beers from all over the world are available at Maltings. Prices for whiskeys range from $6.25 to $16.25 (for a blue label Johnny Walker), beers are available from $4.25, Shaker’s offers special Martinis from $5.25.

Except for some Whiskeys and Martinis, drinks are available at every bar and restaurant on the Epic.

Beer & Wine

There are a lot of wines aboard the Norwegian Epic and almost all restaurants have their own little wine “cellar.” Most wines come from the Americas though, just a few from France or Italy. There are no wines from Spain or Greece at all.

The beer menu is not quite as extensive, though large enough: there are a bunch of mainstream American beers, such as Budweiser, Coors Light, and Miller, as well as some imported beers like Becks, Guinness, Newcastle, Stella, and Heineken, and even one brand from the Caribbean. We’d like to see more craft beers from smaller breweries on the menu.

Mixed Drinks

All bars have mixed drinks and daily changing featured cocktails, like the Mangopolitan or the Rebellious Fish, for $5.95. Frozen Cocktails like pina colada and mudslide, as well as tropical cocktails like margaritas and mojitos are also available. Prices for these drinks range from $6 to $9. Shakers is the ship’s martini bar and offers an extensive list of special drinks like the Pear Pleasure or the Forbidden Fruittini.

Drink Packages

Other than five-for-the-price-of-six bucket of beer, there are no drink packages on the Norwegian Epic.

Non-Alcoholic Options

Being a family-oriented cruise line, Norwegian offers a soft drink package for about $50 a week. When you buy it you get a mug and can get it refilled as often as you like – great for families, but a little too expensive for a single traveler. Other than that, most bars also serve smoothies and all the cocktails can also be ordered without alcohol.

The bar is not very large for its task: Serving one of the biggest spaces on the Epic. Still, the bartenders here do the job reasonably well.

The bar offers soft drinks, beers, cocktails and iced drinks, as well as smoothies.

Bliss is Epic’s only club, restricted to adults 18 and up. The entrance is marked by a light mist, which can be a tad disconcerting the first time you encounter it. A round bar sits in the middle of the room. For those who don’t want to dance, there’s a pool table, a dart board, some video games, and a bowling alley. Bliss also offers some light entertainment, like karaoke and trivia, before fully converting to a club at 11 pm.

Just as in the rest of the ship, Bliss offers mixed drinks, some beers on draft and in bottles, wine, and soft drinks.

Before 11 pm Bliss has karaoke, trivia, and other games.

Mandara Spa

The Mandara Spa features more than 20 treatment rooms. All of them have a massage bed, a sink, and dozens of different lotions. There are also two couple’s villas with outdoor whirlpools. Six treatment rooms have balconies with sun chairs for relaxation before or after treatments.

Mandara Spa features more than 50 treatments from Botox to acupuncture to Thai herbal poultice massages. Mandara also offers special kids treatments, like an Acne Attack Facial, as well as treatments for couples. Prices range from $79 to $300 or more.

The salon in the spa features hair, nail, waxing, and tooth-whitening services from $19 for a chin waxing to $149 for the tooth whitening.

The Hydrotherapy Courtyard has one large pool, a whirlpool, thermal benches, and a balcony looking out the rear of the vessel. Day passes are available on port days only for $30 and cruise passes for $119.

Fitness Center

The fitness center features 37 treadmills and 18 cross-trainers, as well as weight equipment, free weights, and several aerobic studios and stretching areas.

Different classes are available throughout the week, most complimentary. Some, like boot camp or Zumba classes, have a service charge of $12, $20 or $69. Other classes include Pilates, yoga, and spinning. Nutritional consultations and metabolism testing is also available.

Rock Climbing

According to Norwegian, the Epic’s rock climbing wall area includes the only U.S.-rated climbing wall afloat, and it also features the only rappelling wall at sea. There are races to reach the little bells on top, the shorter route is easier, the longer one more difficult.

Bowling / Ping Pong

Both Bliss Ultra Lounge and O’Sheehan’s have bowling alleys — a Norwegian Cruise Line signature (the line remains the only one with bowling alleys on its ships). There are two lanes at Bliss and three at O’Sheehan’s. Bowling balls and shoes are provided on-site.

On deck 15, in the passages running underneath Spice H2O, are several ping pong tables. It’s not a lot of space, but enough to get a good game going.

Sports Complex

Deck 17 is where outdoor sports are played, at a basketball court that doubles as a soccer field. The entire area is contained within a huge net so no balls can be lost. Next to the stairs is the Spider Web, a climbing web, and Vertical Reality, a bungee catapult. Unfortunately, these were closed while we were on the ship.

Shuffleboard and Jogging Track

Both a shuffleboard and jogging track are on deck seven (port and starboard, respectively). Norwegian Epic does not have a promenade that goes around the whole ship, so the two parts are separated. There are three shuffleboard courts on the port side, and a giant chess/checkers board. The jogging track on starboard requires 3.8 laps to equal a mile.

Pool / Darts

Pool tables and dart boards are in Bliss and O’Sheehan’s. They are free-of-charge and you can play as long as you want.

The Norwegian Epic has a large main pool area in the middle of the ship that includes an aqua park with multiple slides. There also is a smaller pool at the back of the ship. Sun decks surround both pool areas, as well as on deck 16.

The biggest public sun decks on the Epic are decks 15 and 16 (forward), and deck 19 (aft), with hundreds of sun chairs. There’s also the Courtyard sun deck, reserved for Norwegian’s suite and Villa passengers. The Posh sun deck and Beach Bar are exclusive to Norwegian’s Silver members. There also is a “Freestyle” sunning area where passengers can go topless if they like.

All of these areas are crowded nearly all the time, but sea days are the worst. To try and combat bickering, Norwegian has a “no sun lounger reservation” policy, but it’s still tough to find a seat.

Aqua Park

The main pool area is called Aqua Park, which features two large pools, with fountains, and five hot tubs. Near the pool area is Waves, the pool’s bar, and the Great Outdoors dining area, as well as a stage and dance floor. The water in the pools is heated to about 80 degrees, making it just right for a swim. There are a lot of sun chairs, but on sea days the area is completely swarming with passengers. Chairs are informally reserved with towels from as early as 7 am, despite requests from Norwegian to knock it off.

Water Slides

The Aqua Park includes a huge, multi-channel water slide, including the “Epic Plunge,” which feeds into into something resembling a toilet bowl. All in good taste, of course, and lots of fun.

Spice H2O

Spice H2O is supposed to be an adults-only area from 7 am to 8 pm, but this rule is not always followed. It’s made up of one large pool and two hot tubs. The bar offers cocktails, beer, and wine, as well as breakfast and lunch on sea days.

Spa Pool

The spa offers a third pool option, although not outside. If you need to retreat from the crowds, this is the place to go.

Kids Pool

The kids’ Aqua Park, with several little slides, is located behind the main water slide area.

Aqua Park

Around the Aqua Park are hundreds of sun chairs, but not nearly enough to accommodate every passengers who wants one on a sea day.

Deck 16

Deck 16 is not very large to begin with and the sun chairs are really crammed in there. There is not much space to navigate, but it's sufficient for sun bathing and getting drinks.

Spice H2O

Spice H2O has several terraces with sun chairs and tables with sunshades.

Deck 17 & 18

The public sun deck on deck 17 (aft) is next to the sports complex, looking over Spice H2O. It's sunny, of course, but never very quiet.

The sun deck on deck 18 looks over the Great Outdoors and the pool area. It is located forward. The very end of this area is closed to public.

Courtyard Sun Deck

This area can only be accessed by Suite and Villa passengers.

Posh Beach Club

The adults-only sun deck with Freestyle (topless) area is for Silver members only.
The Epic has quite a few lounges and other places to relax and grab a drink. Among them is O’Sheehan’s, billed as the first Irish pub at sea (it takes its name from the line’s most recent CEO, Kevin Sheehan). Other than that, there’s the Humidor Cigar Lounge for smokers, and the Svedka Ice Bar, which is actually made of ice and serves cool vodka drinks (virgin for kids).

Humidor Cigar Lounge / Internet Cafe

This is one of the few smoking areas within the ship. It’s designed like an old Cuban bar with dark leather seats and sofas, surrounded by pictures of big Hollywood stars from the ‘30s to the ’60s, and its often in use. On our cruise, the population of 5,000-plus passengers turned out to contain quite a few smokers, and a lot of them came to this lounge for a nicotine fix. Norwegian installed two very loud air purifiers to accommodate the air quality. Drinks are available from the nearby Shaker’s or Maltings bars.

The Internet Cafe is located by Clicks Photo gallery on deck five. The area is broken up into several cubicles with individual desktops. It is not a very comfortable environment, so nobody stays here too long. WiFi is available throughout the ship.

Maltings Beer and Whiskey Bar

Maltings offers a long list of draft (14 and 22 oz) and bottled beers, along with whiskeys from Scotland, Ireland, USA, and Canada. Prices range from $4.25 for a Coors Light, to $17 for a Johnny Walker Blue Label. Additionally, the menu has martinis, spirits, wines, and soft drinks.

Fat Cats Jazz Club / Headliners

At night, Fat Cats features live jazz and blues music. The decor is simple and the space is filled with chairs and small tables to fit as many people as possible. All the drinks come from the nearby Cascade Bar.

Headliners is home to the comedy shows, as well as Howl At the Moon, where dueling piano players take requests from the audience. It has its own bar in one corner, and offers the same drink menu as the rest of the ship. During the day, you can frequently catch a game of bingo here.

Atrium Cafe / Svedka Ice Bar

The Atrium Cafe is a Starbucks-like venue where you can get espresso, cappuccino, hot chocolate, and various cakes. The whole area has reddish seats like you might find in a European café – if not for the gigantic, two story high screen.

The Svedka Ice Bar is touted as the first bar actually made of ice that’s cruising the seas. There’s a $20 cover charge for it, but two drinks are included in the charge. Before entering, you’re presented with a fake fur hooded poncho so you don’t freeze (although even with this, it’s still chilly). Once inside, most everything is constructed of ice: the bar, the walls, even the glasses. Ice statues of a bear and a viking watch over you while you drink and shiver. If you want a seat, the Svenda Ice Bar was kind enough to supply fake fur drapings for the ice furniture.

Concierge Floor / Club Floor

The Studio Lounge is reserved for passengers who booked a studio on the Epic. Its design is similar to the Studio cabins: all whites and bright blues, as well as the recessed, multicolored lights. It features a bar, a coffee machine, and a vending machine. You can get a little breakfast here, too. One crew member is responsible for all the singles staying in the area, and there’s a “single mingle” get-together every night at 6 pm.

Another club floor is the Epic Club area, where suite and villa passengers find a lounge, two restaurants, a Hydrotherapy Courtyard & Thermal area, and a fitness center.

Conference Rooms

The conference rooms were used as a storage room, and not accessible.

Libraries

On the way to the Humidor, just behind Maltings, is the library. Because of the leather seats and dark wood tables, it actually looks like it is part of Maltings. There are two shelves full with books and different board games.

One of the strengths of the Norwegian Epic is its entertainment, which is more diverse and elaborate than what is found on almost any other ship.

The biggest and most popular show on Norwegian Epic is definitely the Blue Man Group, which plays several times a week in the ship’s main theater. This isn’t the only big, Vegas-y acts, though. A Legends in Concert show, with impersonations of such celebrity singers as Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Tina Turner, also is aboard the Epic and plays multiple times.

In addition, the ship’s Headliners club has two rotating acts: Performances by a Second City comedy troupe and performances by Howl at the Moon, the branded dueling piano show found on land. With the latter, two side-by-side piano players will play whatever you ask them to perform, provided its a widely popular song from the 60’s or later.

Another show option is Cirque Dreams & Dinner, at the Spiegel Tent, which offers a Cirque du Soleil-like dinner theater experience. All tickets, except the Spiegel Tent dinner, are complimentary and you can book all shows at the box office, located on deck six in front of the Epic Theater.

The Epic’s Casino, with its Las Vegas-style ambiance, is Norwegian’s largest. It offers poker, black jack, roulette, craps and hundreds of slot machines. There’s something for everyone. For beginners, the casino also offers gaming lessons.

There are hundreds of slot machines in the Casino. Epic’s Casino offers blackjack and a bunch of different poker games. There are roulette and craps tables. The bar provides gamers with drinks.

Movie Theater

There are two huge screens on Norwegian Epic, one in the Atrium and one at Spice H2O. During the day, Norwegian plays some BBC or History Channel documentaries on these screens, and on some days there are even movies.

Arcade

The video game arcade contains a mix of classic, older video games and newer games such as Rock Star to balance out the selection.

Lectures & Classes

The spa and fitness center offer complimentary lessons on health and fitness.
There are two children-only areas on the Epic: Recess and Entourage. Recess is for smaller kids, while Entourage is for teenagers 13 to 17 years old. Both areas feature the newest gaming consoles, TVs, and board games. Some days, the big, two-story TV in the Atrium serves as a Wii screen. Other activities include the water slide, rock climbing wall, and sports courts. The Norwegian Epic also offers Nickelodeon at Sea, where the little ones can meet their favorite cartoon characters, like Sponge Bob or the Avatar.

Recess is overseen by crew members, and open long hours, so mom and dad have time to enjoy themselves too. Older kids can explore on their own.

Tradewinds

Tradewinds is a typical duty-free shop, and only open when the ship is at sea. It’s divided into two big stores and several smaller ones that are all connected. It’s one of the only duty free shop at sea to have a small Guess boutique (Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, notably, has its own Guess store). You can also get sports gear, accessories, knickknacks, and souvenirs. Prices range from a few dollars to thousands of dollars for brand-name jewelry, watches, glasses, and the like. Special sales are available almost every day.

Duty-free cigarettes, some prescription-free drugs, and alcohol are available in a smaller shop midship, next to the barber shop.

Click Photo Gallery

The Epic’s photo gallery makes the traditional shipboard procedure of searching for your pictures much easier: you simply put your key card into a slot and all the pictures taken by the ship’s photographers appear on a screen. You can print them out or get them on CDs and DVDs.

Mandara Spa Shop

At the Mandara Spa, passengers can purchase all kinds of creams, lotions, facial masks, and exfoliations. All products are from Elemis, with prices starting at $49

Marketplace

On sea days, weather permitting, a part of deck 15 is transformed into a market place. The duty free shop offers the same products as Tradewinds, and there are no special prices.

Staff

The service on the Epic is spot-on, keeping it in line with the better cruises we’ve taken. The wait staff, in particular, is friendly and attentive. The only complaint we would have from a service point of view is with our room steward, who came off as just a little creepy. But hey, one person’s creepy is another person’s charmingly eccentric.

After a few hours on board our cabin steward knew us by name, which is impressive. He kept the room neat and clean, and we got a little towel animal every night. Stewards are available until 9pm.

Tipping

A $12 per person, per day service charge is added automatically to your bill. This money goes into a pool and is divided between the whole crew. A gratuity of 15% also is added to drinks, specialty restaurants, and spa services. If you’re particularly pleased with a crew member and want to give him extra tip, it’s best to give them cash, as every tip on the receipts are also going into the money pool.

Dress Codes

Norwegian likes to boast that its ships offer “freestyle” cruising, which means everything is flexible and there is no formal dress code. Everything is very casual. The only restrictions are that for any of the dining rooms, no shorts or sandals are allowed.

Loyalty Programs

The more you sail with Norwegian, the better, and the more rewards you get. The Latitudes Program is divided in four tiers: Bronze (1 cruise), Silver (5 cruises), Gold (9 cruises) and Platinum (14 cruises). Benefits include a members-only cocktail party, on-board credit of up to $250, priority debarkation and a complimentary “Behind the Scenes” Tour, depending on your level. Upon completion of the first cruise, Norwegian offers complimentary enrollment into the Latitudes program.
General Safety

There are several closed life boats with room for almost 300 passenger a piece on deck seven, as well as inflatable and floating boats. A mandatory drill is held on embarkation day. Life vests are spread all over the ship, and in every room in the closet.

Clinics

The medical center is on deck ten. Opening times vary and depend on the ports of call.

Smoking Regulations

Public areas throughout the ship are smoke-free. Cigarettes can be smoked in one’s cabin, on cabin balconies, in the casino, and in the Humidor cigar lounge. The Humidor is also the only place to smoke cigars. Open decks have designated smoking areas. Smoking is not allowed near food venues and kids ares.

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