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NCL's Epic WeekendJuly 6, 2010 By: David Eisen
Norwegian Cruise Line took Manhattan over the Fourth of July weekend, and with good reason—it was showing off its newest and boldest ship to date, Epic. Why not unveil it on the biggest stage on Earth? Hey, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Lucky for Epic, the reviews have been, well, epically good.
The festivites were kicked off by emcee Jeff Garlin, the rotund actor/comedian best known for his role as Jeff on Larry David's HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm. A bit desultory at times, Garlin still kept the audience in the Epic Theatre loose with his off-the-cuff humor while he introduced the ship to the audience through a video backdrop. All of it in anticipation of the actual christening, which was overseen by country legend (and NCL cruise enthusiast) Reba McEntire. She blessed the ship then placed her hand over a hand imprint on the video screen behind her, which triggered a bottle of Champagne to ram full speed into the ship's hull. Norwegian Epic was christened.
Epic is surely a ground-breaking ship, not only for NCL, but for the cruise industry. Nowhere is this more evident than with the ship's entertainment, namely these three performances: Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams and The Second City Comedy Troupe. We saw all three and can report that they all exceed expectations. For this reason: you forget you are on a cruise ship. These performances are of the highest caliber and match what you'd see if they were being held in their normal locales.
For instance, Blue Man Group killed—they were spot on and it was like seeing them in New York's East Village. Same thing. Second City, well we felt like we were in a Chicago comedy club. Their improv matched the troupe's heritgae: professional and funny as heck. Meanwhile, Cirque Dreams is held in the Spiegel Tent and is part of a two-hour dinner show. While a tad long, the performance is never dull and very dream-like in its sequence.
Time for Teppanyaki!
That's the 4,100-passenger Epic's entertainment. Now, the ship's accommodations are surely a departure from normalcy. Linear design was thrown out of the porthole. Walls are wavy and guests will find the bathroom in three: there is a separate shower, sink and bathroom. While some might think NCL chose form over function, we think it works out nicely, particularly since one can now take a shower in peace! That said, the sinks, as they are now, are a bit of a bear—and NCL has taken note.
In standard staterooms, they are small and water gets everywhere when you are, say, washing your face. Kevin Sheehan, CEO of NCL, has acknowledged the problem and it's safe to say they will probably be switched out in the coming months.
Guests will find no shortage of food outlets, from the steakhouse Cagney's to Moderno Churrascaria. We especially love O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill, which not only serves up a nice pint of beer but also pub favorites ike fish & chips and buffalo wings. Speaking of alcohol, you're going to want to make a reservation—at least one evening—at the Ice Bar. Guests are given fur-lined coats then escorted into the bar to imbibe on frosty potables amid an Arctic climate. Good way to cool off from the Caribbean heat, we say.
The culmination of Epic's unveil was the Macy's Fourth of July extravaganza, which NBC broadcasted from the ship. While Enrique Iglesias sang, Nick Cannon hosted and fireworks shot up from the Hudson River, it was Epic that made the indelible impression. This is a ship that shot for the moon.