Tag Archives: Ice Bar

Norwegian Epic: Members’ first impressions

Cruise Critic’s members don’t hang around when it comes to reviewing a new ship! Congratulations and thanks to our first four reviewers of Norwegian Epic, all of whom were among the first paying passengers on the one-nighter from Rotterdam to Southampton on Monday.

Not surprisingly, there was good and less good. Let’s get the negatives out of the way first, which focus mainly on the cabins.

While there are no complaints about the décor of the new, wavy design, space could be an issue. Member RussellF notes: “There’s a ‘no passing zone’ bottleneck at the foot of the bed, which means that even with just two people in the cabin, you’re forever getting in each other’s way.”

More toilet talk

And those bathrooms. Nobody is yet saying ‘Ooh, goody, a cabin with no proper bathroom, what a great idea.’ Member Sandra Barnes comments: “We had a balcony cabin on deck nine which was the only thing that we did not like about the ship. We did not like that there was no bathroom and although the shower and toilet doors were not see through they were not soundproofed!”

Member Clydecruiser adds: “The big but here is the basin is the wrong side of the curtain so when you come out the toilet you touch the curtain before you can wash hands – probable norovirus source in the future, I think.”

RussellF comments: “When you have a shower, all the water that normally ends up on the bathroom floor now ends up on the cabin floor. It’s not helped by the fact that all the towels are stored by the washbasin in the main cabin anyway. So if you forget to pick up a towel before you step into the shower, stand by for a flood!”

That’s entertainment

Moving on, entertainment gets top marks from everybody. All our reviewers (and everybody I was travelling with this week) loved the Blue Man Group. “I think the Broadway at sea concept will really catch on across many companies,” says Clydecruiser.

RussellF raves about Cirque Dreams, the dinner show in the purpose-built ‘Big Top’. “Think Cirque du Soleil in a much more intimate fashion and then some. It’s billed as the first ‘big top’ at sea, and it’s a dazzling two hours of acrobats, muscle men, trapeze artists, music and comedy all taking place in a 10ft-wide circular area in the middle of the room just feet away from the audience at their dinner tables.”

Clydecruiser enjoyed Manhattan, where the tribute act from Vegas, Legends in Concert, plays, commenting that: “The dinner show or dance concept is a good idea.” RussellF bills the duelling pianos of Howl at the Moon “Another amazing show.”

Given that our first reviewers were only onboard for one night, they haven’t commented on all the bars, although Clydecruiser sampled the Ice Bar and says: “The $20 surcharge included two strong cocktails so was probably a fair charge for the 45 minutes. You do need to book, though.”

Food for thought

Food, of course, came under the scrutiny of our reviewers. Clydecruiser says of the Argentine-style Churrascaria, with its huge array of meats and salads: “The experience did not disappoint. More than worth the $18 per person surcharge.” Everybody praises the seating arrangements in the Garden Café (the main buffet) where head-miked waiters communicate with one another to find available places. RussellF breakfasted in O’Sheehan’s Bar and Grill, not the first place you’d think of first thing in the morning, but pronounces the ‘country breakfast’ “excellent”.

Some of our reviewers express concern about the space on deck.  “The pool deck was very cramped,” says Airlinesteward. “Not much deck place. The two pools were very small.” Clydecruiser, although impressed by the waterslides on the main deck, comments: “There were seats on the promenade deck but with the lifeboats hanging here, next to no view.”

One member felt a bit let down about the lack of razzmatazz on arrival in Southampton. “Maybe NCL was ashamed about the late arrival, or they just did not care,” says Airlinesteward. “It was like a normal arrival. We were also surprised not to receive a certificate as it was the first sailing for the ship. What a shame, as we were expecting more from this sailing and also by being the first passengers sailing on the ship. It looks like we were more guinea pigs instead.”

And finally, just to show how diverse our members’ opinions are, two opposing views of Norwegian Epic. RussellF’s conclusion is: “There’s no doubt about it: Norwegian Epic is a beautiful ship. The crew are wonderful, the food is excellent and the entertainment is probably the best you’ll ever see at sea.”

While Airlinesteward, although impressed by the food and service, says: “The ship was just OK and not very well designed. It looks more like a rushed job. Nothing to compare to Oasis Of The Seas, which has got a WOW factor.” Ouch!

You can read the reviews in full here: http://tinyurl.com/24t85o4. Meanwhile, do send us your own opinions; we know from our Epic forum and this blog that members have plenty of questions!

SJB

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Norwegian Epic’s Ice Bar

Norwegian Epic’s Ice Bar is of course one of the ship’s most unique features. Inspired by the Ice Bar in Stockholm (and beyond), it’s the exact same concept: you queue up at a designated hour, don a quite attractive pewter-colored nylon parka-poncho with fake fur hoodie, slip on some wool gloves, and head inside. About 20 people at a time can participate (you’re asked to show up on the hour, put on the protective gear, and then enter at half past, from 5 – 11 p.m.). Cost is $20 per person, and you get two tickets each for pre-made vodka drinks (think vodka/peach schnapps or vodka/Curacao) that are ice-like looking. And warming…

This is a “chalk this up to an experience” experience. The oddity of it makes the group of 20 strangers come together as if at a very civilized cocktail party (albeit one that takes place in Lapland in January). You’re very social if only because you’re trying to distract yourself from the fear that you might be getting cold, even with the extra outerwear! And be forewarned: Those who wear flip-flops do so at their own peril (beyond worries of frostbite, you might also slip; the floor slides a bit here and there where touches of ice have melted).

Though reservations are generally suggested, I just stopped on by (slow night? 5 spaces were available). I was on Deck 7, wandering past the Ice Bar enroute to Bar Central, and I was intrigued by a gaggle of people donning grey coats as if to embark on an Arctic expedition. I paid my $20, got my drink tickets and my gloves, and headed on in.

The actual time you spend inside maxes out at 45 minutes; most can’t take it much longer than a half hour or so before the cold penetrates, says Romeo, the Filipino bartender on duty for this shift. He can handle two Ice Bar sessions in a row (with a 15 minute break in between to warm up — and he does dress in layers), and then he moves on to warmer climes in Bar Central or elsewhere.

Tonight, we’re drinking our cocktails in plastic cups; Romeo says that the machine that makes the ice goblets is on the fritz. I frankly think the plastic’s easier to hang on to.

Beyond feverish chatting through clicking teeth, the big fun is to take silly photos of all and sundry. The furniture — yes there’s furniture — looks reasonably comfortable for a loveseat made out of ice, but, and I’m not sure you can see the terror in my face, some earlier patron has apparently warmed it up to the extent that it now slopes. Sit gingerly.

As the last of us headed out, having spent some 40 minutes in a glass-and-color-infused meat locker, Romeo endured one patron’s final question: “What did you do wrong to get assigned to this bar?” With a gentle smile and a ready quip he retorted, “Hey, we have the coolest job in town.”

I’m thinking that Paul (pictured first), a London-based cruise fan who’s onboard for this short sailing and then beyond, could help out if need be. Noting that he simply doesn’t feel the cold the way others do, he took off his parka shortly after entering — and stuck around for a good half hour in only his shirt sleeves (yes, his arms did have goose bumps!).

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