Norwegian Epic: An Adult Playground

by Gray Cargill on July 20, 2010

Epic Plunge

The Epic Plunge

Norwegian Epic reminded me a lot of Las Vegas:  It has a huge variety of activities to appeal to different tastes and different age groups, whether you are traveling with a group or traveling solo.  It’s like a playground for kids and adults alike. Since this was a press trip for me (read: free), and I was only aboard less than 48 hours, I didn’t have time to partake of very many of the offerings, but I took mental  and literal note of them for a future trip.

One of the questions a reader sent me prior to the cruise was: What sorts of activities does the ship offer and which ones carry an extra cost? Good questions!  There is a lot to do on this ship, regardless of your interests. Those of you who have never taken a cruise before (as I hadn’t) might not know this, but every day, your cabin steward will deliver a little newsletter to your room containing a list of the day’s events, activities, and entertainment, as well as times they are available.  This helps you sort through your options and map out your day.  Let’s take a look at what kind of options you have.

Basketball Court on NCL Epic

If you want to stay active

For those of you who don’t relish the idea of going home with an extra ten pounds from all the extra calories you will consume aboard ship, never fear: Epic offers plenty of opportunities for fitness.  There is a Sports Complex on Deck 17 with a basketball court, a skating rink, and batting cage. As long as you’re a decent player, I imagine you’d be able to get in on a pick-up basketball game, even if the other players don’t know you.

Rock Climbing Wall

On Deck 16, there is a rock climbing wall and a rappelling wall.  On Deck 7, there’s a jogging/walking track.  (No partner necessary for those activities.)  Pulse Fitness Center is located on Deck 14, next to the spa.

Pulse Fitness Center

During my cruise, Pulse was offering sessions on total body conditioning, a morning stretch, yoga ($12), and spinning ($20), among other things.  You can get fit by playing Wii golf on the two-story Atrium screen. Or you can go bowling in one of the three lanes located in O’Sheehans Pub (Deck 6) or one of the three located in Bliss Ultralounge (Deck 7).

Bowling lanes

Bowling carries an extra fee of $5 per person per game. (I don’t know about you, but I’d feel a little funny bowling alone.  This might be the perfect opportunity to pull together some other solo cruisers for a game!)

Personally, I got all the exercise I wanted by just walking around the ship.

Lounge chairs on deck

If you want to relax

You can, of course, engage in that age-old cruising activity of “sitting on deck” in one of the many lounge chairs, soaking up the sun’s rays and a cool ocean breeze, and taking an occasional dip in one of the pools.  I could have actually listed the Aqua Park (Deck 15) under your active options too, because when you get sick of relaxing in your lounge chair, you can go on one of the pool slides, including the Epic Plunge, which sends you into what looks like a giant toilet bowl.  No, I didn’t try it. I never even made it into my swimsuit this trip.  Sad, I know.

Aqua Park aboard NCL Epic

If you feel like there are too many kids and families at the Aqua Park, check out Spice H20, which is adults only, or Posh, if you’re booked into one of the pricier staterooms with private access to it. (Not much was happening at Spice H2O when I went by to check it out, but someone said they were setting up for the fourth of July fireworks celebration. Typically, I believe it’s quite the happening place.) Both of these areas turn into deck-side nightclubs at night.


Press reception at Posh

If you want a more passive form of entertainment, you can sit in the Atrium or O’Sheehans and watch a movie (The Blind Side was playing during my cruise), a sporting event (ala the Germany vs. Argentina World Cup game) or a concert (we saw Beyonce and Janet Jackson) on the two-story LCD screen.

Atrium Deck 5

Atrium Deck 5

If you’re a shopper, you’ll want to head to Deck 15, where the Marketplace is located.  (Although the tax and duty-free shops are on Deck 7.)  Men who want an old-fashioned barber shop experience can find that on Deck 7.

Art Gallery, Deck 5

Art Gallery, Deck 5

If you’re an art lover, check out the Art Gallery on Deck 5. They have some really attractive works of art.

There is an internet cafe on deck 5, but I don’t recommend using it. The prices are high and the connection is slow.  Besides, you’re on vacation!  Unplug.

The one thing that is missing from this ship is a library. But you can bring your own reading materials, and there are plenty of cozy lounging areas inside and out on deck, so if you’re looking for a place to read, you’re sure to find one somewhere, even if it’s in your room.  Or you can try my favorite vacation activity: Take a nap in the middle of the day. Nothing says “vacation” like a mid-day nap.  Besides, you’ll need that extra sleep if you want to sit up at night and enjoy all the great nighttime entertainment options.

Mandara Spa

If you want to rejuvenate

Head to Mandara Spa (Deck 14) – This is a full-service spa, and when they say “full service,” they really mean it. I’ve never been to a spa that offered teeth whitening ($199), acupuncture ($150 for first session), botox treatments ($350+), and cellulite reduction ($159) before. They also offer Dysport injections (350+) to eliminate frown lines between your brows, and Restylene ($700+) to fill in deep wrinkles, such as those around your mouth.  This is the spa for people who aren’t happy with the way they look and aren’t afraid to spend huge gobs of money fixing it, apparently.  To be honest, this is a whole other world for me, and I was fascinated by it.  (Not enough to want to do it, but enough to want to learn more about it.) I had a nice long chat with the doctor who performs these treatments.

Mandara Spa

Naturally, Mandara Spa offers more traditional services, too:

  • facials ($119-325)
  • massages ($119-265)
  • manicures (starting at $29)
  • pedicures (starting at $45)
  • waxing (starting at $19)
  • hair care and makeup applications (at a wide range of prices)
Heated seats in the spa

Heated seats in the spa

It’s a lovely, relaxing facility with men’s and women’s locker rooms, saunas, and jacuzzis, as well as these wonderful heated seats made of tile that look like they would be hard and uncomfortable, but were in fact very, very comfy. The sauna has large windows looking out to sea for fantastic views. I could spend a lot of time at this spa being pampered during a cruise.

Blackjack table in casino

And then there’s always gambling

I told you this ship reminded me of Las Vegas!  There’s a very large casino that takes up quite a lot of space on Deck 6.  It has both table games and machines, and a small video poker bar.  Unfortunately, like Vegas, they do allow smoking in the casino.  It looked to me like there was a decent selection of machines.  The lowest table limit I saw during one of my many pass-throughs was $10, but I don’t know if they offer anything lower than that.  I was too busy to gamble this trip.

One of the other questions I received from a reader was: How easy is it for solo travelers to meet other solos during activities? Because this wasn’t a normal cruise, and I didn’t really participate in any of the above activities, I unfortunately can’t answer that question as it stands.  I didn’t have trouble meeting people in various settings (during dinner, at the bar, standing in line, in the elevator); but I didn’t pursue additional plans with any of them.  Had this been a week-long cruise, I might have done that.  But remember that if you’re staying in a Studio Stateroom, you’ll have access to the Studio Lounge, where you can hang out, read, watch TV, chat with other solo travelers or crew members, have a drink and a snack–and pull together groups for activities like bowling, pickup basketball, etc.  Now I hope you see why I’ve been saying it would be very difficult for a solo traveler to truly be bored on this ship.

In my next blog post, I’ll cover the shows and nighttime entertainment options available aboard ship (with my reviews), along with more information about your bar options, including the oh-so-cool Svedka Ice Bar.

Gray August 14, 2011 at 8:13 am

Thank you, Mark! Glad you liked it.

Mark August 13, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Amazing site, really like it . I will spread the word about your site Keep up the good content, Blogger, very interesting.

SoloFriendly July 20, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Maybe it's because resorts and cruise ships offer so much more now than they used to? They're not just “vacations for the idle” any more.

SoloFriendly July 20, 2010 at 7:43 pm

It's not top of the line (that would be out of reach for most of us in terms of cost), but it's definitely not run of the mill, either. It's the 5th largest cruise ship in existence, meaning there's a lot more stuff on it than the average cruise ship. Wait until my next post, when I talk about the entertainment offerings. 🙂

Daniel July 20, 2010 at 3:54 pm

I felt the same about Mexican resorts — was never very enthused at the prospect of being 'stuck on a resort'. But last year I attended a friend's wedding and actually had a really great time. So too cruising — I'm really coming around to the idea lately — and I don't know why!

travelingsavage July 20, 2010 at 2:36 pm

I've never been intrigued by cruises, and I also never imagined they looked like that on the inside. Incredible. Is the Norwegian Epic the top of the line or run of the mill?

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