Norwegian Epic Review
A huge ship that is great for families and does a particularly good job catering to the solo traveler.
Unveiled in 2010, the Norwegian Epic is Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest and by far largest cruise ship (it’s more than 60% larger than any other Norwegian vessel). Bigger than all but a handful of Royal Caribbean ships, it offers an extensive array of restaurants, bars, showrooms and other activity areas, including a massive water play area with some of the largest water slides at sea, a rappelling wall (the first at sea), a large rock climbing wall and several bowling alleys.
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.
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