Get Away With Fran

June 19, 2010

Epic entertainment served up by Norwegian Cruise Line

Filed under: Cruise — Tags: , , , — admin @ 3:35 pm

manhattan-tina-epic

Norwegian Cruise Line has been touting its new 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic as the cruise ship for entertainment. And a first glimpse proves they deserve the bragging rights.

Now I will admit I am not always a fan of cruise ship show productions. I generally find them pretty darn boring. But I was awe struck by the dinner performance of Legends in Concert in the Manhattan Room restaurant (one of the ship’s two main dining rooms). No, that’s not Tina Turner in the top photo, but a really good Legends impersonator.

elvis-manhattan-room

Elvis and Madonna also made impressive appearances.

motown-manhattan

There was an excellent Motown tribute too. And you see all this while eating – in my case a decent New York Strip steak. I love the idea of dinner with show – tomorrow I’ll check out the ship’s Cirque Dreams circus with dinner.

kevin-dances

Audience members get called into the show, and the performers just happened to pick NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan, who was a good sport participating in a rendition of “My Girl.”

The show in the dining room is about a half hour, but Legends also does a full-length show a few nights each cruise in the theater.

After dinner, I checked out some of the clubs in the ship’s entertainment area on Deck 6. “Howl at the Moon,” an act involving two piano players facing each other and taking audience requests, is the place to go if you like your entertainment participatory (they perform some nights in the comedy club, which other nights features the Second City comedy troupe).

blues-club

But the place with the most enthusiastic crowd was Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club, where the top notch band tonight was doing a little Prince, a little Hendrix, a lot of amazing guitar playing.

“Blue Man Group,” the ship’s headline act – and the reason for many to come on Epic in the first place – was not performing tonight due to a minor technical issue in the theater. But I hope to see their premier at sea tomorrow night.

First photos – Norwegian Epic, WOW

Filed under: Cruise — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 9:05 am

balcony cabin

Okay, I have been on the brand new Norwegian Epic for a few hours now (on a special invited guests preview in Rotterdam, Holland), And I am saying wow. My first wow came when I got to my deluxe balcony cabin. It is not at all the square box we all know, but feels more elegant with its curvy walls and furnishings. Dare I say it? It’s sexy. And I love the fact there are coffeemakers among the amenities.

bathroom

There has been much discussion about the bathrooms, which feature separate, translucent toilet and bath or bath/shower, and sink. But there is a curtain you can pull to separate the compartments from the bed area, and I like the look. And the colors are nice, cream and purple. There is an elegance you may not expect from NCL.

OSheehans

I have already chosen my favorite hangout spot and it is O’Sheehan’s, named for NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan. It feels very much like a giant “Cheers” bar with bowling (three big lanes) and an overall fun pub atmosphere. And it’s open 24 hours per day. Fish and chips or a juicy burger washed down with a beer. Yay.

IceBar

And if you want to shell out $20 (including two drinks) to be super cold in the Ice Bar, where it’s always 17 degrees (they lend you a fake fur to wear), the space is really super cool, in oh so many ways.

water-slide

It’s too cold here in Rotterdam for the water slides today, but check them out. they sure look like fun.

Manhattan Room

Manhattan Club, one of two main dining rooms, is a nice, traditional space, again more elegant than you might expect, with two-deck-high windows. The ship has a whopping 20 dining spots, plus room service. I have bashed NCL on food in the past – they charge for many venues and my feeling has been the food is better in the places you pay for. But I have to say lunch today in the other dining room, Tastes, was delicious – I had a Caesar salad with shrimp and a wild mushroom omelet.

Okay, some more photos. First the much hyped Spiegel tent where the Cirque Dreams dinner show will take place (I’ll see it tomorrow). NCL officials tell me they think this will be the ship’s big hit.

Circus

And here’s a look at the Bliss Ultralounge, the sexy nightclub with bordello-esque decor and cages – yes cages – for dancers. And there is three lanes of bowling too.

bed-bliss

Now for the family crowd, the kids’ center is huge, with multiple spaces for various ages. Teens get their own club in a different part of the ship.

kids-playroom

I haven’t seen SpongeBob yet, but thanks to an agreement with Nickelodeon, I understand he’s onboard along with Dora the Explorer (they’ll be doing shows and character breakfasts).

The Epic’s spa is the largest at sea, and I’ll be trying a treatment tomorrow. The reception area is also huge and felt it – there’s no pretense that this is an intimate place, but presumably that changes when you get inside. The gym too is massive, with 37 treadmills among the equipment.

fitness-center

Among other much talked about spaces is the Studios area where there are a bunch of small cabins for solo travelers and a lounge where everyone can hang out. Love the lounge. The cabins are small but neatly designed with padded walls and mood lighting that changes colors.

You can, for instance, make your room red, as in “hot,” as in, well, like this ship.

January 15, 2010

SpongeBob and singles on NCL

Filed under: Cruise — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 10:48 am

SpongeBob

SpongeBob and Dora the Explorer will be making regular appearances on the Norwegian Jewel, on cruises out of New York beginning in April, and on the soon-to-launch Norwegian Epic, on cruises in the Caribbean beginning in July. And that will no doubt come as great news to family cruisers; those with kids. (Actually, I can name an adult or two who would probably like to pose with the costumed characters as well.)

The appearances are part of a big partnership deal between Norwegian Cruise Line and Nickelodeon, the premier family entertainment brand. Look too for shipboard game shows like Slime Time Live! with, yes, opportunity to get slimed with the green stuff; live Nick performance shows; Nick-themed arts and crafts and games in the Kid’s Crew program, character breakfasts (for a fee) and more.

The announcement was made to press and 300 travel agents onboard the Norwegian Gem for lunch, while the ship was docked in New York, and there were hints the program could be expanded to other NCL ships as well.

But families aren’t the only cruising group NCL is hoping to draw in larger number with new offerings.

Epic studio

NCL also announced its block of interior cabins on Epic known as The Studios, would be marketed and priced for solo travelers. That means instead of paying double fare to occupy a cabin by yourself, those who “vant to be alone” can book one of The Studios cabins from $799 for a weeklong eastern or western Caribbean cruise. The cabins are tight, at 100 square feet, and all interior (no ocean views), but feature a very hip design that includes padded walls for leaning, a double bed, portholes into the hall and colored lighting that you can adjust to your mood – red for love, for instance.

Epic StudioLounge

The area is only accessible with a private keycard, and those in The Studios also get exclusive access to The Studio Lounge, a two-deck social spot with a bar, coffee service, plasma TVs, cushy seating and what’s expected to be a meet and mingle atmosphere (ie., singles hot spot).

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