Monday, August 27, 2012

An Epic Adventure: Nickelodeon Fun, Acrobatic Dinners And Wavy Rooms On A Four-Day Cruise Aboard The Norwegian Epic

From The Daily Mail:
An Epic adventure: Acrobatic dinners, wavy rooms and a frozen bar on a four-day cruise

We always tell children it's rude to play with your food. But when circus performers hang upsidedown while you're eating, chefs juggle knives by your table and waiters only stop bringing you food when you show them a red card, it's hard not to join in the fun.

Dining has always been an important part of any cruise holiday but on Norwegian Epic, food as theatre has been taken to whole new heights.

During Cirque Dream And Dinner, the incredible acrobats performed mind-boggling feats above us and we had to remind ourselves to eat the three courses that had been served in the Spiegeltent big-top restaurant.

With 20 eating establishments on board Norwegian Epic, our four-night mini cruise around the Mediterranean gave me only enough time to get a taste of the options available.

Launched in 2010, the 4,100 passenger Epic dwarfs most other big cruise ships, but despite its hulking size, the ship has a pleasant flow and well-thought-out design inside. Eschewing the glitzier, brash décor that many large ships favour, Epic attracts a young mixed European crowd of couples and families who come for the less stuffy 'freestyle cruising'.

Studio single cabins are a genius idea; these cool inside-facing pods, with mood lights and a communal lounge area, are perfect for solo passengers who don't want to pay a single supplement.

Elsewhere, balcony cabins have a 'wavy' design, with an unusual bathroom arrangement, but use their available space excellently. There are also interconnecting staterooms.

Taking the tots along doesn't mean having to sacrifice on style when it comes to staterooms. Some of the most luxurious suites, such as the Haven two-bedroom balcony villas, are perfect for a family of four.

This luxurious ship-within-a-ship area called the Haven is an exclusive place for Haven villa and suite guests. With its own plush lounge, dining room, pool, spa and gym area, there's no need to venture out into the ship.

It would be a shame not to, though, as there is so much going on. Kids big and small can enjoy a ride on one of the three water slides in the Aqua Park. Teens and adults can indulge in treatments in Mandara, the largest spa at sea. There's also the Posh Beach Club – an adults-only area of day beds.

NCL Epic is a fun place for a holiday with friends and couples, but she is also an ideal place for families to enjoy a quick getaway. Norwegian Cruise Line has a partnership with TV channel Nickelodeon and so children can enjoy a Dora's dance party, breakfast with SpongeBob SquarePants or take part in messy 'splash mobs' with Team Nick.

Epic's free children's clubs have had a makeover with the addition of the Splash Academy for children aged six months to 12 years old and the Entourage programme for 13- to 17-year-olds.

On 2012 Epic sailings there is a 'Little Norwegians Explore for Free' programme of free shore excursions for children. Ports of call often take a back seat to the wow factor of the ship itself, but with stops at Marseilles, Palma, and a day at sea, the four-night cruise to and from Barcelona packs in some Mediterranean highlights.

In Majorca's attractive capital Palma, Epic's berth overshadows even the poshest mega yacht in the marina, and it's a pleasant walk to the old town's cathedral and winding back streets.

On board, there's entertainment throughout the day, but the evening is when the fun and freestyling really begins with the huge range of restaurants to choose from.

Epic is big on Asian food; from the swish Wasabi sushi bar to the Japanesestyle Teppanyaki, where our jubilant chef expertly sliced open a raw egg and showed off his knife skills as he cooked dinner in front of our table.

Moderno Churrascaria is based on Brazil's famous meat meccas. Waiters come around brandishing meat skewers, carving some off for you until you turn over a card on your table to say you've had enough.

Cagney's Steakhouse shares Moderno's mean and moody décor and sophisticated Le Bistro is the place to head for good French food without any circus tricks.

Adult after-dinner entertainment in the 20 bars and lounges is a good mix of comedy in Headliners, DJs in slinky Bliss Ultra Lounge and live music in Fat Cats jazz club – not forgetting the famously offbeat theatre and on-beat percussion of the Blue Man Group in the Epic Theatre, or a drink in -20C temperatures inside the only ice bar at sea.

Epic's 'freestyle' cruising offers plenty of choice for foodie families and even on a four-night trip it's possible to get a taste of how Norwegian Cruise Line has put the Epic into epicurean cruising.

Travel Facts

NCL (0845 201 8900, offers seven nights on the Norwegian Epic from £874pp. This includes return flights from Heathrow, transfers, some meals and entertainment and is based on departures on October 6, 2013.

Other operators offering family cruises include Royal Caribbean (0844 493 4005,, Carnival Cruise Lines (0845 351 0556,, Disney (0800 028 3179,, MSC (0844 561 7412, and Thomson Cruises (0871 230 2800,