Saturday, November 27, 2010

NCL Epic--Final Post

Now for a bit more about cabins on the Norwegian Epic. In addition to those “new wave“ balcony cabins, NCL also broke the mold in designing accommodations for single travelers, a long overlooked segment of the cruising population. Instead of paying a single supplement for the privilege of booking solo in a double occupancy cabin, singles can choose studio cabins instead--smaller and more compact in size than standard inside cabins, but still equipped with TV, private bath and adequate storage space--and much less expensive.  For example, on the May 22 sailing of the Epic's round-trip Barcelona itinerary, a studio would cost a single $979 for the cruise/port charges while a standard inside with a single supplement costs $1718.  That's quite a savings--and these prices are based on Cruises Inc's current group rates.

Down the hall is a communal lounge area where travelers can relax, read, enjoy bar service in the evenings, and meet up with other singles if they wish. We spoke with one woman who had previously sailed 21 times as a single on various lines and especially liked the Epic‘s setup. She would book it again.

NCL‘s suites and villas are some of the best at sea among contemporary lines. Competition in this category in comes only from Royal Caribbean‘s Oasis and Allure of the Seas. That‘s what makes these three ships (and NCL‘s Jewel Class ships) such a good choice for both luxury and budget clients alike. Although the ships may be larger than luxury clients prefer, they can relax in style while their grandchildren enjoy more activities and entertainment than any luxury liner afloat offers.

USA Today’s Gene Sloan recently posted an excellent photo site of Allure of the Seas cabins in his Cruise Log.

Which brings me to that topic of discussion. In previous posts, I've written about the broad range of things to do on the Oasis and her amazing entertainment (Hair Spray, AquaTheatre shows, ice shows). The Epic takes a different approach with a different audience in mind: Blue Man Group, The Second City improv, Fat Cats, Legends in Concert, and Cirque Dreams and Dinner in the Spiegel Tent (at an extra fee), etc. We didn‘t have enough time to see it all during conference, but did make a Blue Man show. A lot of folks seemed to really enjoy it.  Frankly, I don‘t quite get it.  (Am I showing my age?)  Again, however, lots of mold-breaking options never before offered on a cruise ship.
On the other hand, we really did take the Epic Plunge in the largest water park at sea. If that‘s not your thing, you can bowl for a small fee, or play ping pong or rappel down a 33-foot wall for free.

All of these new ship innovations go to prove that cruising isn‘t what it used to be, nor is as regimented as in days gone by. Admittedly, for some of our long-time cruise clients, this new approach is not welcomed. They like being pampered by the same waiter all week long and appreciate a more traditional schedule, along with the anticipation of formal nights. There are cruise lines for them, too.

For today‘s generation preferring a more flexible, less dictated mode of travel, however, cruise lines are listening to you!

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