If Epic stands out in one particular area, it's in its cabin design. From its funky "new wave" staterooms and its wildly popular solo Studios to the fact that every outside cabin has a balcony (an industry first), there's a lot to admire -- and question -- on the ship.
Making the biggest splash by far are the 128 Studios, a two-deck complex of inside accommodations accessible by keycard. Geared toward solo travelers and priced at about $800 to $1,000 for a seven-night sail (considerably less than the traditional single supplements that lone cruisers have to pay), each cabin comprises about 100 square feet of living space and contains a full-size bed, separate shower/toilet and sink, a surprising amount of storage and nifty lighting effects that let you change the room's hue depending on your mood. I liked the large round window in each cabin as well; it looks out into the corridor (so no real view), but there's a shade you can close to ensure privacy. I talked to about a dozen Epic voyagers bunking in Studios, and everyone said they loved the concept -- and the execution. Bonus points for the Living Room, where solo-istas can gather to watch TV, drink some coffee and have a drink before heading out.
Meanwhile, tongues have been wagging since Epic's launch over the "new wave" design worked into most cabins (with the exception of inside accommodations, villas and some suites). Think curvy walls, recessed ceilings, rounded queen-size beds and arched sofas. However, it's the revolutionary bathrooms -- which split the commode and the shower into two components, which are separated by the foyer and ensconced in smoked glass -- that are giving some folks fits. Two problems: The stand-alone sinks can be disconcertingly close to beds. And you can see the shadow of the person using the facilities, so unless you close the curtain dividing the enclosures from the rest of the cabin, a simple pre-dinner shower becomes a peep show.
One puzzling side note: While many cabins feature the see-through loos and showers, the Studios do not. The toilets lie behind solid doors, giving the solo passengers, uh, more privacy than those traveling with others. The translucent showers are a Studio staple, however.
Overall, I was more than pleased with the design... and the bathroom configuration. Who doesn't want a little extra roominess? However, I was struck by the difference in the standard Balcony and Deluxe Balcony staterooms (having the chance to sleep in both varieties), encompassing 216 square feet and 245 square feet, respectively (including the balcony). At 6 foot 1, I felt a little cramped in the smaller space (the bed nearly touched the built-in vanity), and I was traveling alone. An upgrade to the larger stateroom included a bevy of extra cubbyholes for clothes, a larger shower, bathrobes, a full range of toiletries and room to move. Both cabin classes accommodate three, but I'd spend the extra money if I were part of a trio.
In any event, cabins come with flat-screen TVs (with a pitifully small range of viewing options); roomy safes; a complex but wonderfully intuitive phone that simplifies setting alarms, making reservations and ordering room service; and a paucity of electrical outlets (be prepared to crawl on the floor to plug in your iPod). The lighting effects are lovely throughout, though it took me two days to figure out how to turn on the light over the sink -- so ask your steward. The curvy couch, alas, looks cooler than it is comfortable. Closet space is fine, though borrowing an iron from housekeeping to de-wrinkle some shirts was an ordeal that took several phone calls and 75 minutes to untangle.
Families can pick and choose among a variety of staterooms, including Balcony and Deluxe Balcony accommodations within close proximity to the Recess Kid's Crew activity area. They're the same size as other balcony cabins, only with an extra upper bed. Many are connecting, so the whole brood can be together.
In addition, Norwegian has introduced 39 spa-themed Balcony, Deluxe Balcony and 322-square-foot Suites into the mix. Clustered near the Mandara Spa, each lodging offers complimentary access to the ship's hydrotherapy area and thermal suite, while passengers in the Spa Suites can take advantage of the Courtyard Villas concierge lounge.
That lounge is just one of numerous amenities offered to splurgers ensconced in the Haven complex, the largest "ship-within-a-ship" enclave in the NCL fleet. Nestled atop the ship on Decks 16 and 17, the space also includes a private pool, two whirlpools, a gym, sun deck and the posh Epic Club restaurant. The 60 accommodations include 46 Family Villas, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and separate living and dining areas (up to 506 square feet); eight Deluxe Owner's Suites, with king-size beds, floor-to-ceiling windows and his-and-her powder areas (up to 852 square feet); and six Courtyard Penthouses, with queen-size beds, separate living and dining areas and a luxury bath (up to 322 square feet).
December 2013 Cruisingwith3
Balcony was big and we were on the side of the ship that was great for mountain views. Clean neat and big enough. I did not have a problem with the lay out. Liked the room a lot....continue
December 2013 murraync
Clean- great cabin steward Jingle- plenty of storage- two hanging areas - 3 dresser drawers - lots of other storage spaces- vanity area has storage behind mirror - hairdryer in room- coffee pot in room. There are only two electrical outlets in room. Bed was comfy- sofa...continue
December 2013 MarineDive
In our group of 5 we all had balcony staterooms that were beautiful. Mine was custom decorated with a bottle of wine, cake, and chocolate covered strawberries. There was plenty of room for all of our clothes and personal belongings. If fact we did not fill up half of the...continue
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