Friday July 2, 2010.
Left home around 8am and headed for New York through the Lincoln tunnel. Traffic was very light considering it was a major holiday weekend and rush hour was in progress and we arrived at the Manhattan cruise terminal just before 8:45 (it’s usually a 15 minute ride with no traffic). Parking here is expensive, $30 per cruise night with a maximum of $300 for sailings of more than 10 nights. The Carnival Miracle was also in port.
Boarding was to commence at 10 and since the previous cruise passengers departed the day before, there was no need to wait until they debarked. We had about a 10 minute wait in the terminal and then they let our NCL University group join the queue lines first.
We boarded the vessel on deck 5. There is no grand atrium rising multiple stories through the middle of the ship like you have on most newer vessels. There is a center atrium that is 3 stories tall with what some would call a beautiful Waterford crystal/led chandelier. Decks 5, 6 & 6 are the entertainment and dining center of the ship.
Here on deck 5 are Taste restaruant, the reception and shore excursion desks, the photo gallery, internet cafe, the Atrium Cafe (speciality coffess and liquor), Le Bistro french restaruant and the main entrance to the Epic Theater. There’s also an escaltor up to deck 6 as well as elevators aft and forward.
Deck 6 is more of the same, aft is the Manhattan Dining Room, Cascades Bar, Fat Cats Jazz Club and Shanghai’s Chinese Restaurant. The Epic Casino takes up a lot of deck 6. It just seems to be everywhere mid ship. In the center you have O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill. This is the 24 hour restaurant serving comfort food, chicken fingers, chicken noodle soup, all day omelets etc. There are also 3 bowling lanes and 2 pool tables here. Heading forward you find Headliners Comedy Club where Second City & Howl at the Moon perform and the Speigel Tent, home of Cirque Dreams and Dinner and also the Murder Mystery lunch and Nickelodeon breakfast. One interesting item here on deck 6 forward is the Entertainment Kiosk. This is where you can make all your entertainment reservations.
Heading up to Deck 7 from here, forward you will find the Bliss Ultra Lounge with another 3 bowliong alleys and another pool table. It’s an interesting place, all dark with lots of animal prints on the furniture (which includes a bed and a cage for dancers.) There are 2 horse statues flanking the entrance with lamp shades on their heads (they are real lamps)
On deck 7 you will also find all of the shops, ice bar, Wasabi sushi bar, Teppanyaki, the Sake Bar, Martini Bar, Whiskey Bar and Cigar Lounge. Aft is Cagney’s Steakhouse and Moderno Churrascaria (more on that later).
Since there were no departing passengers, we were able to go to our cabin straight away. We had cabin 12047 a BD category standard balcony on deck 12. After dumping our suitcase and other stuff. We went out to explore the upper decks of the ship.
On deck 15 you will find the pool area and water slides as well as the Garden Cafe (Buffet), Great Outdoors (outdoor buffet) the Waves Bar, outdoor casino, rock climbing wall and Spice H2O, the adults only pool & grill area. This was off limits on our cruise as NBC was setting up to film there on the evening of July 4. If anyone watched the Macy’s Fireworks on TV on July 4th, This is where Enrique Iglecias performed. There is also a kids aqua park and even though NCL has an agreement for Nickelodoen characters, all the character statues I saw in here looked vaguely familiar:
Although I did not brave them myself, the water slides were very impressive and could potentially have very long lines once the ship is sailing in the Caribbean. There are 3 slides, the green one on the left is a corkscrew, the purple on the right actually goes through the rock climbing wall and the yellow in the center, called the Epic Plunge, drops you 200 feet and into the great big orange and yellow toilet bowl looking thing, where you circle around a few times on your tube and then get flushed down the center.
The pool are looked very small for a ship this size.
Decks 16, 17 & 18 contain Epic’s ship within a ship, Suites and Villas with their own private pool, clubs and dining.
There are also a public sun deck on deck 18 and another on deck 19 called the “Freestyle” sun deck with solid walls. I guess if you are gonna let people let it all hang out………
We lunched in the Garden Grill, your typical cruise ship buffet fare. There was a pasta station, pizza, panninis, sandwiches, and a small hot selection including some Indian dishes that were very good. Did I forget to mention that alcohol was free on this cruise? A glass of rum punch to wash it all down with. There’s also a soft serve self serve station as well as 10 varieties of hard ice cream and toppings they will scoop for you.
The christening ceremony was to take place at 2pm. Since there is nowhere on this ship for all the guests to gather for the event, they assigned everyone a specific room to be in. We were in Fat Cats Jazz Club. Reba McEntire was to christen the ship as godmother, but while waiting they were broadcasting a sample of entertainment from each venue where people were assigned to see the show so that everyone got to see everything. It ended with a champagne toast.
First on the agenda this evening, was our Blue Man Group reservation. This was the first time I had ever seen them and it was excellent. This show is included in the price of your cruise.
That night we had dinner in Moderno, a Brazilian Churrascaria. If you have never experienced one of these, first you are led to a salad bar, with some excellent choices including a ceviche that everyone said was excellent (not my cup of tea). This is followed by a parade of meats on skewers. You are given a card, green on one side and red on the other. If you want to continue eating, leave it green, otherwise turn it to red. We were served massive quantities of meat, Chick wrapped bacon, chicken legs, filet, ribs, sirloin, lamb chops, garlic beef and chorizo. There servers come around with skewers filled with each and serve you. There were also quite a few side dishes, which we mostly ignored! Dessert was flan. This had to be the best meal I had ever eaten on a cruise ship. Normally the cost is $18 per person.
After that, spent some time in the casino at the video poker machines. Lost a couple of $, nothing to write home about. We tried to get into the ice bar both days of the cruise, but all the available times were already reserved.
That’s it for Day One, more coming soon!