Get Away With Fran

June 19, 2010

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.

First photos – Norwegian Epic arrives in Rotterdam

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The 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic, the most-talked-about new ship of 2010, arrived in Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, today, and will take on its first passengers – me included – this afternoon.

I was on the pier as the ship came in. A small crowd of locals was gathered. Fireboats shooting water helped escort the ship for a time in the Nieuwe Maas river.

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Then a tug took over, giding the 153,000-ton Epic to the pier.

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Some people thought the original artist renderings of Epic looked too boxy. But in reality, it’s a big, resort ship and looks just that. Lots of balconies, some square angles. It’s different, but different can be good.

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I caught a little glimpse of the waterslides on top. It’s cold and windy here today and a little rainy too, so not sure I’ll actually try them.

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Can’t wait to get onboard, though, to check out the entertainment including “Blue Man Group” and the “Cirque Dreams” dinner theater. And then there is the world’s largest spa at sea and 20 restaurants and that crazy Ice Bar that must be explored.

(All photos by Fran Golden)

November 12, 2009

Dream a little Dream

Filed under: Cruise — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 10:54 am

It’s cloudy yucky in New York today, but from my friend’s 26th floor apartment I can see a bright spot, the Carnival Dream. I’ll be onboard the newest and largest Carnival ship later today for the official naming ceremony – featuring the ship’s godmother, actress Marcia Gay Harden, and some sort of mysterious “exhilarating dance” performance (not by the Tony- and Academy Award-winning actress I don’t think). But then again, this ship features a Pink Floyd -accompanied laser light show at night, so who knows.

The 130,000-ton, 3,646-passenger ship leaves tomorrow for a sampler two-night sailing, and I’ll be onboardfor that too (the ship earlier debuted with a series of cruises in Europe).

BTW, you can see the champagne smashing and other naming ceremony festivities live around 4 p.m.

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