The 153,000-ton, 4,100-passenger Norwegian Epic is Norwegian Cruise Line's largest ship. Launched in June 2010, the ship is filled with innovations, and cruise travelers will love the wide range of high-quality entertainment, food, and venues.
Join me on a tour of the Norwegian Epic cruise ship. Click on each link to learn more and see 180 photos of the ship.
The Norwegian Epic has 2,114 total guest cabins including 78 suites, 1,351 balconies, 39 spa cabins, 372 family cabins, 560 inside cabins, 128 Studio cabins for solo travelers, and 42 wheelchair accessible staterooms. All oceanview cabins have a balcony.
The cabins include interesting features such as curved walls and energy-saving keycard slots to turn on the lights and conserve electricity. They also have a split toilet and shower, and the sink is in the cabin area. Since the walls are curved, every other outside cabin has the furniture reversed--some have the bed near the balcony; others have the sofa/sitting area near the balcony. All cabins have plenty of storage space and a good shower.
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The two-deck Norwegian Epic Courtyard Villa complex is located on decks 16 and 17 and is comprised of 60 Suites and Villas. All guests staying in Deluxe Owner's Suites, Courtyard Villas, and Courtyard Penthouses have access to the private courtyard. In addition to the luxurious suites and courtyard, the complex has an elegant restaurant and casual private Posh Beach Club.
This "ship-within-a-ship" area should be very appealing to affluent family groups and couples or those who want both luxurious accommodations and service along with the excellent entertainment and diverse dining venues found on a large ship like the Norwegian Epic.
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Fans of NCL's "Freestyle Cruising" will love the 20 different dining options on the Norwegian Epic. The ship does not even have a dining room with traditional assigned seating. However, the 600-seat Manhattan Room, which is a lovely art deco supper club, is open for breakfast and dinner and looks much like a traditional cruise ship main dining room. The meals at the Manhattan Room and five other venues are included in basic cruise fare; the other venues have a fixed surcharge or are a la carte.
While on a two-day preview cruise on the Norwegian Epic, I ate at the Garden Cafe, Spiegel Tent, Teppanyaki, and Cagney's. All had excellent service and delicious food. Other passengers I spoke with seemed to think that the overall food quality was very good to excellent.
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Like most cruise ships, the Norwegian Epic has a wide variety of bars and lounges designed for conversation, drinking, dancing, and listening to music or comedy. Some of the bars are familiar from other NCL ships like the martini bar, whiskey bar, and Bliss Ultra Lounge.
The most innovative and talked-about bar on the ship is the Ice Bar, which features a bar, walls, tables, stools, glasses and life-size sculptures all made from ice. Guests are given hooded coats and gloves to keep them warm, since the room's temperature is 17 degrees Fahrenheit. The tiny freezer only accommodates 25, and the $20 per person includes two signature cocktails and 45 minutes in the Ice Bar, which is long enough. It is open from 5-10 p.m. nightly.
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Much has been written about the entertainment on the Norwegian Epic. The variety and quality is much like Las Vegas. Being able to see Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams & Dinner, Legends in Concert, Second City Comedy Troupe, Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos, and Nickelodeon at Sea on one cruise ship (and in one week) is amazing! Although the Cirque Dreams and Nickelodeon shows have an extra fee, the others are all included in the basic cruise fare.
The Blue Man Group show was one of the most fascinating shows I've ever seen. It's certainly more than just drums and paint. The best thing about the show is that it is appropriate for all age groups. It is very similar to their land-based show, but the Norwegian Epic is the first Blue Man show at sea.
In addition to the cabins, suites, dining venues, bars, and lounges discussed above, the Norwegian Epic's other interior common areas are contemporary and fun. The ship is large, and the decor is much like a mega-hotel or resort. One note to remember to help navigate the ship--the carpet on the starboard side is blue/brown, and on the port side it is brown/red.
The atrium is the central hub of the ship and has a large video screen, seating, and a bar. An escalator goes up to deck 7 and the casino, shopping mall, and many of the restaurants and other bars. The central core of the ship on these two decks is always buzzing with activity.
The large and quiet Mandara Spa has many interesting treatments and a beautiful space. The fitness center has excellent equipment and classes in yoga, spinning, stretching, and conditioning.
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The Villas complex on decks 16 and 17 give the Norwegian a top-heavy, boxy look. However, the outdoor deck areas and Aqua Park are well-designed and fun. The three water slides are impressive and exciting. One difference from many large ships--the two swimming pools are both very small.
In addition to the water slides and two small pools, the Aqua Park includes five whirlpools, a wading pool, and a kid's pool in the children's Splash and Play Zone.
Guests in the Villas have their own private beach club area that has terrific views of the pool deck The Villas Courtyard also has its own pool.
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The Norwegian Epic will sail 7-day alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami, Florida from July 2010-April 2011 and a 7-day Western Mediterranean itinerary from Barcelona, Spain from May through October 2011.
Eastern Caribbean ports of call include: Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.
Western Caribbean ports of call include: Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico.
Western Mediterranean ports of call include: Florence/Pisa (Livorno); Rome (Civitavecchia); Naples, Italy; and Palma, Majorca, Spain.
The Norwegian was the most-talked about, most-anticipated mainstream cruise ship of 2010, and the long wait was worth it. NCL has included many functional and decorative innovations in its design, and the ship's extensive common areas remind me of many Las Vegas resort hotels. Topping off the ship is the entertainment, and NCL has raised the bar for other mainstream cruise lines with its well-known entertainment groups. I think the ship is a great addition to the NCL fleet.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.