An Epic Day at Sea

The view from my balcony stateroom aboard Norwegian Epic. Nothing like a sunny day at sea! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

It’s our first full day aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic, and what better way to start off a day at sea than with a relaxing hot stone massage?

One of the treatment rooms aboard Norwegian Epic, taken yesteday when we were docked in Miami. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

I took advantage of an embarkation day special yesterday that gave me an additional 20 minutes for no extra cost, and it was well worth the price of admission.  After several hectic weeks and three flights yesterday, the hot stone massage was the perfect way to unwind, and by going at 8am, I beat the typical sea-day crush that most spas endure.

The Hydrotherapy Pool is part of a larger area that includes heated ceramic loungers and a relaxation spot. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Located all the way aft on Deck 14, the Mandara Spa is open daily from 8am to 10pm.  They offer all the typical treatments you might expect of a cruise ship spa, but here onboard the Norwegian Epic, there’s also a full hydrotherapy pool, heated thermal loungers, a relaxation area and an outdoor veranda with padded loungers and a beautiful view of the ship’s wake. On our weeklong voyage, passes can be purchased for $253 per couple, which gives you access to all these areas for the entire week.  Of course, you could also book one of Norwegian Epic’s special Spa staterooms that allow guests complimentary access here.

Padded loungers on the aft bacony of the Mandara Spa. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

A few cool things about my stateroom I only noticed last night. First, there are two handy reading lights, one on each side of the bed.  Secondly, your interactive phone also functions as a night-light; the display is back-lit and provides a good deal of illumination. You can shut it off like I did by pressing the “light” button in the upper right hand corner of the phone, but it sure is a handy feature if you prefer to have a bit of light in your stateroom, particularly if you are sailing in an inside cabin.

Spice H20 is located all the way aft and featurs a large, theatre-style screen suspended aboave a small swimming pool. In the early morning hours, it's an oasis of calm - and it's Adults Only until 8pm! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

It was initially a bit cool and breezy today as we made our way towards Philipsburg. The sun was struggling to peek through until around lunchtime. The reason I mention this is because the upper outside decks of the ship were a ghost town for the first part of the morning. The sun worshippers had all retreated inside, though a few hearty people were still making use of the pools and hot tubs. Yet the flow of people inside the ship remained manageable; there seems to be enough to do, eat, and drink all over the ship that most passengers are off doing their own things and not retreating to one or two public rooms. That impresses me; with 4,100 guests onboard, I had wondered what would happen on the first cloudy day.

Soak up the Sun: passengers aboard the Norwegian Epic take in the Caribbean warmth. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

I also received more than a few questions from people curious about the extent of the cigarette smoke in the casino. While it is smoky at times (like any casino), Norwegian has placed portable air purifiers every ten feet or so along the length of the casino, and they seem to be doing their job quite nicely. Part of the original problem stems from the fact that the casino is quickly becoming the last haven for smokers as cruise lines move to more extensive non-smoking policies, so more people resort to lighting up there. Onboard Norwegian Epic, the Casino is surrounded by atriums and open-air spaces, which would have allowed the smoke to waft through the ship had Norwegian not listened to their customers.  Big kudos to Norwegian for fixing this issue so well.

Much of the Norwegian Epic's public areas revolve around an open-space concept. Here, we have the Epic Club Casino (below), Shaker's Martini Bar (right) and Maltings (ahead, past the atrium.) Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Finding lunch couldn’t have been easier. Instead of the traditional “lido lunch”, I worked my way down to Deck 6 and ate in O’Sheehan’s Pub. Sporting a wide selection of sandwiches and traditional favorites, as well as breakfast, this round-the-clock venue looks like it came straight from Dublin.  There’s a good selection of international beers, and three lanes of bowling are located off to one side, while the other side sports some nice oversize windows looking out at the sea rushing past.

Ahhh, pub lunch! Get your food cravings satisfied at O'Sheehans, open 24 hours a day. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

I had the Traditional Fish & Chips, complete with tartar sauce and mushy peas, all of which is served on the side so you aren’t stuck with anything you don’t’ like.

Located on Deck 5, the Atrium Cafe is a great place to grab a coffee and relax in the plush chairs. A 2-deck high screen flanks the room, along with the Reception and Shore Excursion desks. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

I also spent some quality time at the Atrium Coffee Bar on Deck 5, which is modern and trendy with its nearly all-white design.  They make a heck of a good latte too, and for $2 and change, it’s cheaper than at home.

Once again, here’s a peek at just a few of the things happening around the ship today:

  • 8:30am – Breakfast with Nickelodeon – Spiegel Tent
  • 8:45am – Tour de Spin – Pulse Fitness Centre
  • 9:00am – Family Nintendo for All Ages – Atrium
  • 10:00am – Team Trivia with your Cruise Staff – Bliss Lounge
  • 10:00am – Giant Spider Web opens – Sports Court
  • 11:00am – Kid’s Hockey Tournament – Sports Court
  • 11:30am – Bingo! – Fat Cat’s
  • 12:30pm – Murder Mystery Lunch – Manhattan Dining Room
  • 1:00pm – NCL U Wine and Food Pairing – Taste Main Dining Room
  • 1:30pm – Mr. Epic Contest – Poolside
  • 2:15pm – Basic Spanish Class – Bliss Lounge
  • 2:30pm – Arts & Crafts: Card Making – Fat Cats
  • 3:30pm – Family Lego building – Fat Cats
  • 4:30pm – Nickelodeon Meet & Greet – Atrium
  • 5:00pm – Blackjack Tournament – Epic Casino
  • 6:00pm – Dress Up or Not Night begins – All areas
  • 7:00pm & 10:00pm – The Blue Man Group – Epic Theatre
  • 9:30pm – What’s My Line? Gameshow – Bliss Lounge
  • 10:30pm – Latin Dance Class with Jorge – Spice H20
  • 11:30pm – Movie: Soul Surfer – Atrium

I also had the opportunity to visit an exclusive area this afternoon: The Haven Lounge on Deck 16.  Part of the Haven Suites that reside on Decks 16 to 18, this area is normally only for use by guests staying in Norwegian Epic‘s top-of-the-line suites. But the benefit of writing about cruises is that I can see and report on off-limits areas like these – and I liked what I saw!  Almost a ship-within-a-ship, The Haven certainly lived up to its name by providing guests with an exclusive retreat with a commanding view of the pool deck. Of course, outstanding bar service doesn’t hurt, either.

The Haven Lounge on Deck 16 is for the exclusive use of guests staying in Norwegain Epic's top-of-the-line suites. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Plush seating and excellent service are a feature of the Haven Lounge, not to mention the stellar views. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The Bar at The Haven Lounge. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Since it’s a sea day, it only seems appropriate to take a look at some of the other great public rooms aboard this fascinating ship.  I say “fascinating” because it really is; Norwegian Epic is a one-of-a-kind ship that really deserves to be appreciated on her own merits; if one venue or public space doesn’t float your boat (pardon the pun), chances are another one will.

The cool and funky Bliss Ultra Lounge hosts numerous events throughout the day, and even has bowling lanes! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The Garden Cafe is Norwegian Epic's casual, Lido-style buffet eatery, located all the way forward on Deck 15. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Norwegian Epic has six hot tubs onboad, all of which are typically open from 7:00am to Midnight - and only not in use at 6am when this photo was taken! Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The Marketplace, a sheltered portion of Deck 15 running under the smokestacks and allowing access between the forward pool deck and Spice H20, located all the way aft. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The attractive elevator lobbies aboard Norwegian Epic. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Internet access can be obtained from the iConnect Internet Cafe, tucked away behind the Photo Gallery on Deck 5. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Intimate and modern in design, TASTE is one of the complimentary dining rooms aboard Norwegian Epic. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Dinner at Tepanyaki isn't just a culinary experience; it's also a show in its own right. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The Epic Club Casino stretches the length of part of the ship. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Tonight, I will cap the evening off  by taking in the 10pm showing of the Blue Man Group in the Epic Theatre. A complimentary offering, if there’s only one entertainment venue you make reservations for, make sure it’s this – I’ve heard it’s spectacular, and will have a full update on the show in tomorrow’s post.

So as we wrap up our second day of coverage here aboard the Norwegian Epic, I’ll leave you with these two shots of the ship at night; the time of the day when I feel Norwegian’s latest and greatest truly shines.

Neon lighting adorns the glass elevators that whisk guests of The Haven to their private suites and public areas. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report from aboard Norwegian Epic continues tomorrow, as we spend an another entertaining day at sea en route to Philipsburg, St. Maarten!  Looking to book your very own Norwegian Epic cruise? Get all the details from our friends at Cruise Experts Travel, or better yet, enter their Norwegian Epic contest!


3 Responses to Norwegian Epic Live Voyage Report – Day 2

  1. Leslie says:

    Hi there. I found your blog through Cruise Critic! I will be sailing on Epic on March 24th and am loving your play by play so far. I am eager to check out the spa so finding out that it’s $253 now instead of $199 was very helpful. Can you give me some clues as to what services cost? Massages, acupuncture, wraps, etc? It would be much appreciated! Thank you! Leslie

  2. Kim says:

    sounds like the spa was amazing! cannot wait to go on board myself

  3. Jo Greggre says:

    Beautiful beautiful pictures. Thank you so much.

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