NCL Epic’s studio staterooms designed for the solo traveler

Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced a new concept to make cruising more attractive to solo travelers on the company’s upcoming largest ship to date, Norwegian Epic, launching this July. Epic’s Studios are the first staterooms designed and priced for single occupancy, starting from $799 on the ship’s seven-day alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. These specially designed and priced Studio staterooms available on all of Norwegian Epic’s sailings go on sale Monday, Jan. 18.

“Historically, the cruise industry has not embraced the large number of people who enjoy traveling solo,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “We are breaking the mold of traditional cruising once again by offering a stateroom designed and priced specifically for solo travelers, making cruising a more attractive travel option. We invite all solo travelers — whether they are first-time cruisers or cruising veterans – to sail on our incredible new Freestyle Cruising ship, Norwegian Epic.”

The Studios on Norwegian Epic are a private key-card access complex on two decks consisting of 128 staterooms and the Studio Lounge. Each Studio stateroom, at approximately 100 square feet of living space, features a contemporary design with a full-size bed and separate areas for the bathroom, sink and shower. In addition, guests in the Studios have private access to the exclusive Studio Lounge. Here, guests can grab a cup of coffee in the morning, meet up with fellow cruisers and plan their day or relax with a drink in the evening. Since many of the Studio staterooms are connecting, there is also the opportunity for friends to travel together while giving each their own private space.

For more information on Norwegian Epic as well as to book a cruise on Norwegian Epic to the Eastern or Western Caribbean, call Norwegian at 866-234-7350, visit http://epic.ncl.com, or contact a travel professional.

Nickelodeon to be featured on Norwegian Jewel and Epic

Norwegian Cruise Line today announced a new partnership with Nickelodeon in which select Norwegian ships will feature Nickelodeon-themed family entertainment and programming all year long.

Beginning in April on Norwegian Jewel and this summer on Norwegian Epic, Nickelodeon and Norwegian experiences for the entire family will include: character meet and greets; interactive game shows; and more. The three-year partnership also includes select specialty Nickelodeon-themed cruises each year, featuring Nickelodeon TV stars, show premieres and continuous themed-entertainment on the ship.

“Nickelodeon is an incredible family brand that is well-known to kids and parents of all ages,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian’s chief executive officer. “Combining its worldwide appeal with our signature Freestyle Cruising will create the ultimate experience at sea for families. For any family considering a cruise vacation, there is no better value and experience than Nickelodeon at Sea on Norwegian Cruise Line.”

“At a time when families are seeking special travel experiences, we see an opportunity to build on the success of our previous Nickelodeon cruises to create a unique family cruise vacation experience with Norwegian Cruise Line,” said Howard Smith, executive vice president, Nickelodeon Recreation. “By partnering with Norwegian, we are now able to offer families Nickelodeon entertainment and programming at sea all year long.”

Nickelodeon at Sea will launch on Norwegian Jewel when the ship begins sailing from New York in late April, and on Norwegian’s latest addition to its fleet – Norwegian Epic – when she launches in July. Each cruise will feature live Nickelodeon-themed interactive shows, including: SlimeTime LIVE! with Nick’s signature slime; Nick Live! Poolside entertainment; character breakfasts and meet and greets; Nick-themed dance parties; and more. Nickelodeon-themed elements will also be incorporated into Norwegian’s Kids’ Crew program.

In addition to the year-round programming on Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Epic, special Nickelodeon-themed cruises will be offered annually where families can immerse themselves in everything Nickelodeon all day, every day. These unique cruises will include: special appearances by the Network’s live talent; show premieres; more live game shows; even more opportunities to visit with kids’ favorite Nick characters; and much more. The first of the Nickelodeon-themed specialty cruises is scheduled on Norwegian Jewel later this year. More details and an on sale date will be released soon.

Ship Review: Polished Pearl pleases passengers

Above the dive-friendly, turquoise waters of the Caribbean, a playground of another kind beckons.
The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl is a world unto itself, epitomizing Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept where passengers enjoy a myriad of onboard entertainment and dining choices yet with no set schedules, dining times or even dress codes to adhere to.

Click Here for the full review.

Pearl offers stunning array of restaurant venues

Chefs in Teppanyaki, one of 12 restaurants aboard Norwegian Pearl, treat guests to both a culinary show and excellent fare. Photos by Michael Coleman
Chefs in Teppanyaki, one of 12 restaurants aboard Norwegian Pearl, treat guests to both a culinary show and excellent fare. Photos by Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

The biggest culinary fan aboard Norwegian Pearl may also be the most disappointed passenger on disembarkation day.

With 12 restaurants and 11 bars and lounges to choose from, it’s next to impossible to sample all of the ship’s culinary venues on a typical, seven-day Caribbean voyage.

The 2,394-passenger ship features locales which run the gamut from complimentary (as part of your cruise fare) to reservations-only, nominal fee, specialty restaurants from among French inspired cuisine in Le Bistro, steak and seafood in Cagney’s, and even a Japanese/Thai/Chinese complex complete with a teppanyaki dining area.

Dining options are a big factor today within the cruise industry as more ships than ever before offer alternative onboard venues for their passengers to enjoy. At NCL, however, it’s the very premise of their “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept where one is offered a host of outstanding dining choices, relaxed dress codes, and the freedom to dine with whom you want, when you want at a locale that’s right for you on the evening of your choosing.

The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl operates weekly Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Miami but with so many onboard events and activities to choose from, including some 12 restaurants and 11 bars/lounges, Pearl begs guests to return.
The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl operates weekly Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Miami but with so many onboard events and activities to choose from, including some 12 restaurants and 11 bars/lounges, Pearl begs guests to return.
Aboard Pearl, the operation is virtually flawless.

The ship, of course, still offers casual buffet fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner in both the Garden Café/The Great Outdoors venue on Deck 12. Look for omelets, waffles, fruit, soups, ethnic specialties, salads, pasta and carving stations.

The best meals occur nightly, however, primarily in four dining venues.

Le Bistro, on Deck 6, is a warm, art nouveau restaurant reflecting all things French. Wine displays surround the entrance and the artwork celebrates famous icons throughout French history. It’s also the scene for jazz brunch, hosted once each cruise.

The Lotus Garden Asian Restaurant, on Deck 7, is the ship’s Japanese/Thai/Chinese restaurant complex featuring sushi, sashimi and a Teppanyaki room where chefs treat passengers to both a culinary show and excellent fare.

Cagney’s Steakhouse on Deck 13, meanwhile, is a traditional steakhouse albeit with a 1930s ambiance. Look for a choice of beef, lobster, veal, lamb, seafood and grilled chicken.

La Cucina Italian Restaurant, on Deck 12, is Pearl’s casual Italian eatery reflecting a village Trattoria or traditional farmhouse kitchen.

Pearl features a central area, next to reception, for passengers to conveniently book their dining reservations. Look also for a number of electronic dining boards erected throughout the ship advising guests – in real time – as to how busy their favorite venue is expected to be later in the evening.

For your pre or post dining experience, look for any one of Pearl’s bars/lounges to help set the mood.

Bar Central, on Deck 6, may be the nicest way to start or end your evening as it features a martini bar, a champagne and wine bar, and a beer and whisky pub all within a few feet of each other.

Onboard: Passengers embracing polished Pearl

The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl, docked today in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, features cruise travel’s first four-lane bowling alley at sea. Photos by Michael Coleman
The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl, docked today in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, features cruise travel’s first four-lane bowling alley at sea. Photos by Michael Coleman

Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard the NCL Pearl this week. Here’s his latest update:

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Dec. 16, 2009 – Above the dive-friendly, turquoise waters here a playground of another kind beckons.

The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl is a world unto itself, epitomizing Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept where passengers enjoy a myriad of onboard entertainment and dining choices yet with no set schedules, dining times or even dress codes to adhere to.

As such, during this seven-night Eastern Caribbean swing port calls to the Dominican Republic, neighboring U.S. Virgin islands and even this idyllic British outpost where the local airport is too small to accommodate large jets, seem almost secondary.

Passengers aboard Norwegian Pearl are enjoying a myriad of high-energy events and activities plus quiet time, pool-side.
Passengers aboard Norwegian Pearl are enjoying a myriad of high-energy events and activities plus quiet time, pool-side.
Pearl features 12 restaurants, 11 bars and lounges, a spa, fitness center, sports court (basketball, volleyball and tennis), four hot tubs, two swimming pools, a kid’s pool, internet café, casino, library, card room, jogging/walking track, shuffleboard court and movie theater.

The biggest onboard wow factor — clearly — is Bliss, a sports bar by day and a high-energy lounge at night complete with the industry’s first four-lane bowling alley at sea. Look for multiple flat screen televisions featuring sports events and arcade games during the day and music videos at night. There’s even a spacious dance floor, full bar and mood-lit bowling in the evening.

When not playing under these Caribbean waters, or above them, guests are also enjoying a ship that is relaxing. Pearl features 10 accommodation categories.

There are 360 balcony staterooms — each a comfortable 205 square feet — complete with two lower beds and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to a private balcony. Look also for a sitting area, rich cherry wood finishes, flat screen televisions, mini-bars, tea and coffee makers and internet connection and bathroom.

Mini suites, 134 in all, measure 284 square feet and include floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to a private balcony, two lower beds that convert to a queen size bed, sitting area with convertible double sofa, bathroom with shower and bathtub, plus balcony stateroom amenities.

There are 416 inside staterooms, each 143 square feet, and 243 ocean view staterooms each 161 square feet.

For passengers seeking larger accommodations Pearl, too, is a treat.

Look for 24 penthouse suites (572 square feet); 10 courtyard villas (572 square feet); four owner’s suites (823 square feet); two deluxe owner’s suites (928 square feet); four romance suites (460 square feet); and two, 5,000-square foot Garden Villas offering panoramic views of the ocean.

Each villa features a roof terrace and private garden, three separate bedrooms with king- or queen-size bed and private luxury bath, multiple TVs with CD/DVD players, open-air dining, whirlpool, steam room and private sunning/relaxation areas plus a living room with a piano, state-of-the-art BOSE entertainment center with CD/DVD library, computer access with internet connection and WiFi. There’s a refrigerator, wet bar, tea and espresso/cappuccino coffee maker, butler and concierge services plus access to a private concierge lounge.

Passengers will enjoy a sea day tomorrow en route to NCL’s private island — Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas — Friday.

Later this week: We’ll look at Pearl’s amazing array of culinary options.

Cruise Guide: Caribbean voyages in vogue

The world’s top cruise ships will soon be ushering in the 2010 Caribbean season. The Caribbean is the top cruise ship destination in the world. Photo by Michael Coleman.
The world’s top cruise ships will soon be ushering in the 2010 Caribbean season. The Caribbean is the top cruise ship destination in the world. Photo by Michael Coleman.

By Michael Coleman

The cruise industry is just a few weeks away from ushering in the 2010 Caribbean season. If picture-perfect tropical islands, sun-drenched beaches and boundless shopping opportunities float your boat, a Caribbean cruise on one of the following mass-market lines may be for you.

Carnival – The largest Carnival ship ever constructed, the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream launches year-round Caribbean service from Port Canaveral in December. Carnival also is increasing its capacity from Mobile, Alabama by 42 percent with the deployment of the Carnival Fantasy in November (to be replaced by Carnival Elation in May 2010) and by 34 percent from New Orleans when Carnival Triumph begins new Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises in November. And, beginning in May 2010, Carnival Fantasy will launch the first year-round cruise schedule from Charleston.

Costa Cruises – With sailings from Fort Lauderdale, Costa Atlantica returns to the Caribbean with new, exclusive spa accommodations that feature personalized wellness consultations, complimentary spa treatments, fitness or meditation classes, complimentary access to the Wellness Restaurant and more. Guests on Costa Atlantica and Costa Fortuna can also take advantage of “Italy in the Tropics” with a “Free Upgrade” promotion and the popular “Kids Sail Free” program.

Norwegian Cruise Line – Next year marks the arrival of Norwegian Epic, Norwegian’s largest and most innovative ship, which will begin her inaugural Caribbean season in July with alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries available as seven-day individual sailings or 14-day combined sailings and offered through April 2011. Norwegian will also seasonally homeport the 1,936-passenger Norwegian Sun in Port Canaveral beginning October 2010 for seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.

Princess Cruises – Princess will sail six ships on 13 Caribbean itineraries ranging from seven to 14 days this winter, with 129 departures visiting more than 25 ports. Ruby Princess will take over the line’s 10-day eastern and southern Caribbean itineraries, offering some of the less-visited ports in the region. Crown Princess’s western Caribbean itinerary will feature Roatan, Honduras. Grand Princess returns with an extensive 14-day Caribbean Collection route and Sea Princess will again sail on 14-day voyages from Barbados.

Royal Caribbean — The line will welcome the largest ship in the world, the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas, to Fort Lauderdale in November when the ship begins year-round Caribbean cruises. Looking ahead, sister ship Allure of the Seas joins the company’s Caribbean fleet for the 2010-11 Caribbean season, which will feature year-round voyages from such ports as Port Everglades, Port of Miami, Port Canaveral, and San Juan, Puerto Rico; seasonal voyages from ports ranging from Cape Liberty to Galveston; and over 20 short itineraries to 15 ports in the Caribbean.

Next week, we’ll look at what the premium and luxury cruise lines have in store for their passengers as they also head into the tropics.

NCL shows off Epic’s hull artwork

ncl-epic-hull-art

Norwegian Cruise Line has unveiled the contemporary hull design which will adorn Norwegian Epic, scheduled for delivery in May 2010. Epic’s hull artwork, designed by the company’s internal marketing team, is painted on both sides with free form rolling waves of varying sizes that run through a modern color spectrum of lime, aqua, red, and purple and are dotted by silver circles. Continue reading “NCL shows off Epic’s hull artwork”

Cruise Guide: Princess, NCL move ships

Emerald Princess will be operating a series of Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale in the summer of 2010. Image courtesy Michael Coleman
Emerald Princess will be operating a series of Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale in the summer of 2010. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

cruiseguideheadersmallPrincess Cruises will offer Caribbean voyages from Fort Lauderdale and New York in the summer of 2010 while Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has announced that it will re-deploy two of its vessels next summer.

Look for Emerald Princess to sail on seven-day roundtrip cruises from Fort Lauderdale to the Western and Eastern Caribbean while fleet mate Caribbean Princess will offer a nine-day itinerary from New York to Bermuda and the Caribbean. Continue reading “Cruise Guide: Princess, NCL move ships”

NCL Epic’s bow lowered into place at shipyard

epic-bow2

Norwegian Epic’s construction, underway at STX Europe in St. Nazaire, France, celebrated a milestone in the early morning hours last Wednesday, April 9, when the ship’s bow was lowered into place. The bow, known as block 642, weighed 445 tons and measured 85 feet long, 108 feet wide and almost 30 feet high. The process of putting the bow in place took 100 workers about two hours. This significant step represents the completion of the lower part of the steel hull, those areas that come in contact with the sea, and indicates that only the superstructures, or topsides, remain to be finalized. Continue reading “NCL Epic’s bow lowered into place at shipyard”