Launching this summer, Norwegian Epic will offer many firsts at sea

When it launches this summer, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic will offer many unique features for a cruise ship. Among the firsts at sea are 21 dining options, the Blue Man Group, an ice bar and the largest spa at sea.

By Matt Roseboom

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is getting ready to launch their largest and most innovative ship ever this summer. For the past year NCL has regularly been releasing new information about the Norwegian Epic. Here are some of the newest announcements.

Many Dining Options
Every cruiser expects there to be no shortage of food. Epic is no exception, but what’s different about their offerings is the number of places you can get your fill. Epic passengers can select from a variety of cuisines, dining styles and atmospheres with a total of 21 dining options. Of those, 11 are complementary.
Free dining can be found in the Manhattan Room, which is reminiscent of an elegant supper club with music, dancing and entertainment; O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill; and Spice H20, serving Latin and Asian-influenced cuisine in an adults-only complex. Twenty-four-hour room service is also available.
For a nominal fee ranging from $10 to $25, plus a la carte, guests can choose steak, Italian, Chinese, French, sushi or Japanese at a variety of venues.

Largest Spa at Sea
With more than 31,000 square feet, the Epic’s Mandara Spa and fitness center will be the largest on a cruise ship. It will feature 24 treatment rooms, two private couple’s villas, two steam Rasul rooms, a DIY Scrub Experience, a Hydrotherapy Courtyard and Thermal Suite, full-service salon and a barber shop.
More than 50 treatments will be offered including Elemis facials, massages, body therapies, bliss face and body treatments and acupuncture along with cosmetic medical treatments performed by a licensed doctor. Kids and teens can also choose from a selection of kid-friendly spa services.
The fitness room will have 37 treadmills and 18 cross trainers, weight equipment, free weights, stretching areas and four distinct aerobic studios. Group classes such as TRX and kettlebell training, yoga, pilates, group cycling and body sculpting boot camp will also be offered.

And More
– Their first time at sea, the Blue Man Group will bring their comedy, theatrics and colorful paints to the Epic.
– Mixing food and fun, Cirque Dreams and Dinner will bring music, mayhem and acrobatics onboard. (A $15 per person fee applies.)
– Improv comedy at its best will be performed by The Second City Comedy Troupe.
– You’ll wanna dress warm for the first Ice Bar at sea, as it’s a cold 17 degrees inside.
– Nickelodeon will offer character meet and greets, interactive game shows and more for the kids.
– Kids and adults alike can have a blast in Epic’s Aqua Park featuring the only tube slide and largest bowl slide at sea.
– Adventurers will want to try out the 33-foot high, 64-foot wide extreme rock climbing wall and the first ever rappelling wall at sea.
– Two different venues will offer bowling for a total of six lanes.

Epic will begin sailing out of Miami in June. She’ll sail alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises until May 2011 when she’ll head to Europe and sail out of Barcelona.

New-Look Regent Seven Seas Navigator debuts

The 490-guest Regent Seven Seas Navigator has received a multi-million facelift. Image courtesy of Regent.

By Michael Coleman

One of luxury cruise travel’s iconic vessels, Regent Seven Seas Navigator, has received a stem to stern makeover.

The 490-passenger ship, just a decade old, was both updated and upgraded during a 50-day transformation. Fleet-mates Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner, each 700-passengers, were refurbished last year.

Among the most luxurious ships afloat, the intimate, all-suite Navigator sports a sophisticated new décor with rich fabrics and furnishings, much like those found in an elegant estate home. 

“The makeover gives the ship a stunning new look and feel,” said Mark Conroy, the line’s president.

Among the highlights:

Prime 7 — a new restaurant — features a rich palette of green and gold, with supple leather seating, granite and burnished woods. The menu features prime-aged steaks and chops as well as poultry and fresh seafood.

Compass Rose — the ship’s main dining room — has undergone a dramatic update with new window treatments, carpets and plush cranberry and camel armchairs. New signature china, silver and glassware complete the redesign.

La Veranda — with both indoor and al fresco seating — replaced Portofino’s restaurant. New furniture, carpeting and draperies create an elegant ambiance. Food stations have been redesigned and enhanced for guests to enjoy lavish breakfast and lunch buffets. In the evening diners select from a menu of regionally themed specialties. 

A New Pool Grill features a hot and cold buffet, panini sandwich station and coffee and dessert area in addition to a state-of-the-art barbecue grill. The Pool Bar, at the other end of the pool deck, was expanded and enhanced with a new ice cream station, equipped with machines for milkshakes and frappes. 

Star’s Lounge received a masterful makeover. A ruby-red carpet running the length of the entryway sets the stage for this glamorous club with furnishings that exude a classic Hollywood elegance. 

Galileo’s Lounge sports bold new interiors, window coverings and a sleek new bar area. An outdoor lounge has been added with stylish sofas and chaises overlooking the sea.

Navigator Lounge features rich hues of cappuccino, camel and navy accented by apple-green. The card room and library were redecorated and all public spaces throughout the ship were refreshed. 

Canyon Ranch SpaClub — a former health club and an observation lounge have been transformed into the ship’s new Canyon Ranch SpaClub. The serene and stylish wellness center has body and skin-care, massage and thalassotherapy treatment rooms, including a couples’ suite. Added is an aerobics studio and new gymnasium with cardio and strength-training machines, both affording forward-facing, panoramic ocean views. Locker rooms, including his and hers sauna and steam rooms, have been updated as has the full-service beauty salon, which features new wood cabinetry and granite accents. A juice bar and relaxation lounge are additional SpaClub amenities.

The ship operates seven- to 11-night cruises to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America this winter, followed by a summer series of seven-night Alaska cruises between Vancouver and Anchorage. Upon completion of the Alaska season, the ship embarks on a 96-night Grand Asia Pacific cruise.

Regent offers all-inclusive packages featuring two-for-one cruise fares, complimentary airfare, free unlimited shore excursions, complimentary onboard liquor, and gratuities are included in the cruise fare.

Regent’s three elegantly appointed, all-suite ships operate seven- to 119-night voyages to more than 300 destinations worldwide.

On the Web:

In Port Today: Five ships in Nassau, Bahamas

Five ships are lined up in Nassau, Bahamas today, March 12, 2010. From left are the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas, Carnival Destiny, Disney Wonder, Carnival Sensation and MSC Poesia.

Follow us on the MSC Poesia in the Caribbean this week

We’ll be onboard and updating live via Twitter and Facebook from the MSC Poesia from Saturday, March 6 to Saturday, March 13, 2010.

Here’s our schedule:
Saturday: Leave from Ft. Lauderdale
Sunday: At sea
Monday: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Tuesday: Philipsburg (St. Maarten)
Wednesday: Roadtown (Tortola)
Thursday: At sea
Friday: Nassau (Bahamas)
Saturday: Return to Ft. Lauderdale

This is also a Baseball Greats Cruise. We’re scheduled to be sailing with Amos Otis, Stan Bahnsen, Rennie Stennet, Gary Peters, Vida Blue and Rico Petrocelli. Click Here to check out all of MSC’s themed cruises.

As the Internet connection allows, we’ll be updating our Twitter and Facebook status with photos and/or video at least once per day. We’ll also try our best to answer any questions you may have about the ship.

Follow us on Twitter at
Become a fan on Facebook at

Oceania unveils new Marina

The 1,250-guest Oceania Marina made her debut this week during a float-out ceremony at Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente shipyard in Genoa, Italy. Marina’s inaugural voyage will take place in late January, 2011. Artists rendering courtesy Oceania Cruises

By Michael Coleman

Oceania Cruises’ stylish new 1,258-guest flagship, Marina, was unveiled this week in Italy.

Although her inaugural voyage is still 10 months away, the debut has cruise aficionados abuzz as Marina, Oceania’s first-ever new ship, will feature an array of elegant accommodations, bars, lounges and dining venues.

Oceania presently operates three, 684-passenger ships — Regatta, Insignia and Nautica – each a former vessel in the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises fleet. Over the course of the past half-decade, Oceania has carved a successful niche in the upper-premium cruise travel category and has enjoyed a loyal following.

Marina guest accommodations are comprised of 629 staterooms and suites, 96 percent of which feature private verandas. The 65,000-ton, 16-deck vessel (11 passenger decks) will also include a Bon Appétit Culinary Center, Owner’s Suites exclusively furnished with Ralph Lauren Home, a Grand Stairway and lobby area custom-crafted by Lalique and a full-service Canyon Ranch SpaClub and fitness center.

Marina, however, was purposefully designed for epicureans in mind. Look for 10 dining venues, including six open-seating, gourmet restaurants including Jacques, the first restaurant at sea for Chef Jacques Pépin.

Pépin’s namesake restaurant will draw inspiration from bistros in his home town of Lyon and the fabled bistros of Paris.

The ship will also feature a state-of-the-art culinary studio with fully-equipped individual work stations, each with induction cook tops, a first at sea, affording guests the opportunity to gain a hands-on learning experience.

Oceania Cruises’ curriculum, designed in part by Bon Appétit, will appeal to a wide range of tastes and incorporate regional cultures and cuisines. Depending on the itinerary, classes may range from 45 minutes to three hours, and cater to all levels of aptitude, from beginner to master-chef level. The culinary experience will also be brought ashore with market tours where guests will shop for local ingredients with the chef.

Marina will also introduce Red Ginger, a Pan-Asian specialty restaurant featuring Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese cuisine. Red Ginger will offer both traditional and fusion dishes amid comfortable, visually stunning surroundings, with seating for just 126.

The Canyon Ranch SpaClub, meanwhile, will feature a visually stunning state-of-the-art spa, wellness and fitness facility, plus a luxurious full-service beauty salon. SpaClub will offer a host of spa amenities from 16 massage, body and skin-care treatment rooms, a gym and weight room with more than 50 pieces of cardio and weight training equipment to a juice bar, men’s and women’s locker rooms, thalassotherapy pool, two whirlpools and Thermal Suite.

Marina’s inaugural voyage is a 13-day transatlantic crossing, beginning January 22, 2011 from Barcelona to Miami.

Company officials are so pleased with the debut of Marina – even before a single passenger has enjoyed her amenities – they have approved the construction of a sister-ship, Riviera, scheduled to debut in April, 2012.

Oceania visits more than 300 ports in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the Americas each year.

On the Web:

First photo of new Celebrity Eclipse

To witness the next solar eclipse, you have to wait until July 11. But if you’re in the area of Papenburg, Germany, you can see Celebrity Eclipse right now.

The third in Celebrity Cruises’ stylish, $3.7-billion Solstice Class fleet, Celebrity Eclipse showed off her sleek profile Sunday as she emerged for the first time from the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.

Celebrity Eclipse will enter service April 26 and, following two “short break” cruises, will offer a series of Canary Islands, Scandinavia/Russia and Spanish Mediterranean sailings roundtrip from Southampton, England.

The new vessel will present Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Miami beginning in November.

Repositioning voyages a big hit with travelers

In June, cruise travelers will have the chance to sail across the Atlantic, from Europe to America, on the maiden voyage of the world’s second largest ship, Norwegian Cruise Line’s 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic. Artist rendering courtesy NCL

By Michael Coleman

Transocean and transatlantic voyages are in vogue among today’s cruise ship travelers.

In Part 2 of our look at such voyages, we profile the mass-and-premium market cruise lines.

Some companies, like Princess, Royal Caribbean and Holland America Line have numerous ships crossing the Atlantic or the Pacific this spring, from ports in North and South America.

AZAMARA CLUB CRUISESAzamara Journey — From Miami to Barcelona, departing April 11; from Rome to Miami, departing November 15.

CELEBRITY CRUISESCelebrity Century — 14 nights from Miami to Barcelona departing May 20; 14 nights from Barcelona to Miami departing October 25; Celebrity Equinox — 14 nights from Fort Lauderdale to Rome departing April 19; from Rome to Fort Lauderdale sailing October 31; Celebrity Constellation — 14 nights from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale departing November 6; Celebrity Eclipse — 13 nights from Southampton to Miami departing October 31.

COSTA CRUISESCosta Atlantica — 17 nights from New York City to Copenhagen departing May 5.

DISNEY CRUISE LINEDisney Magic — 14 nights from Port Canaveral to Barcelona departing April 10; 14 nights from Barcelona to Port Canaveral, sailing September 18.

HOLLAND AMERICA LINEEurodam — 16 days from Fort Lauderdale to Rome departing April 3; Noordam — 13 days from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona departing May 14.

MSC CRUISESMSC Poesia — 18 nights from Fort Lauderdale to Hamburg departing April 27; 18 nights from Kiel to New York departing September 4.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINENorwegian Epic — Seven day transatlantic crossing, a maiden voyage, from Southampton to New York departing June 24.

OCEANIA CRUISESInsignia — 15 nights from Rio de Janeiro to Barcelona departing April 3; 15 nights from Barcelona to Rio de Janeiro departing December 6; Nautica — 24 nights from Bangkok to Beijing departing March 1; 35 nights from Cape Town to Singapore departing December 11; Regatta — 14 nights from Miami to Barcelona departing March 21; 14 nights from Barcelona to Miami departing November 13.

PRINCESS CRUISESCrown Princess — 14 days from Fort Lauderdale to Rome departing May; 14 days from London on to New York departing September 3; Grand Princess — 15 days from Fort Lauderdale to London departing April 9; 16 days from London to Ft. Lauderdale departing September 25; Ruby Princess — 16 days from Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona departing April 19; 16 days from Venice to Fort Lauderdale departing October 8; Star Princess — 18 days from Ft. Lauderdale to Copenhagen departing April 24.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONALNavigator of the Seas — 14 nights from Miami to Rome departing April 10; 14 nights from Rome to Fort Lauderdale departing October 23; Independence of the Seas — 14 nights from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton departing April 11; Voyager of the Seas — 14 nights from Galveston to Barcelona departing April 18; 14 nights from Barcelona to Galveston departing November 7; Adventure of the Seas — 13 nights from San Juan to Barcelona departing May 2; 14 nights from Barcelona to San Juan departing November 28; Jewel of the Seas — 13 nights from Miami to Harwich departing May 6; 14 nights from Harwich to Boston departing September 4.