Published at Thursday, June 07th 2018. by noah seihan in Cruise Ship Cabins.
One of the hallmarks of NCL`s acclaimed Freestyle Cruising is the choice of dining options and not surprisingly the Epic takes this feature to a new level. In addition to the two main dining areas the Epic offers 17 other dining venues each with its own cuisine and ambiance. This includes the spacious main buffet area (the Garden Cafe) in which the food was consistently fresh and of high-quality (albeit with somewhat less variety than we`ve experienced on some other ships). It also includes the poolside grill (Spice H2O) O`Sheehan`s (a huge sprawling pub that became the meeting place and social nucleus for many of the ship`s guests) and several specialty restaurants such as La Cucina Italian restaurant (which was even more attractively decorated on the Epic than on other NCL ships) Tepanyaki Japanese grill (much larger than on other NCL ships) and Le Bistro French restaurant just to name a few. Each of the specialty restaurants has a cover charge (which ranges from $10 to $35 per person) but in my opinion they are all well worth the money.
At 153000 tons with a passenger capacity of 4100 (based on double occupancy) the Norwegian Epic is by far the largest ship in the NCL fleet. In fact with the exception of Royal Caribbean`s Oasis of the Seas (which was launched in December 2009) NCL`s Epic is among the largest cruise ships at sea. It is also one of the most uniquely designed cruise ships that I have ever been on (... and I`ve been on quite a few). In most cases that uniqueness is a very positive attribute which reflects the thoughtfulness and attention that the Epic`s designers must have paid to maximizing the use of space to achieve a much bigger wide-open feel to all of the ship`s public areas. And the way that one area just seemed to flow into the next (without the cookie-cutter rigidity sometimes found on cruise ships) was truly remarkable. But in a few areas I did not perceive the unique design of the ship to be an advantage. For instance the exterior shape of the ship seemed a bit odd to me. The bow is somewhat stubby-looking and the stern is squared-off so that the ship does not have a sleek appearance from the outside. Adding to the irregular look is a massive 3-deck appendage that was seemingly plopped on top of the front section as an afterthought (or more likely to further maximize the ship`s interior space). Obviously the ship`s designers had to make some trade-off`s to accomplish everything they did inside the ship and after all from a passenger`s perspective the interior design is far more important.
The standard cruise cabin bathrooms are usually tiny and most only have a shower (no tub). The shower usually has good water pressure with the only complaint being the small size. Don`t be surprised if the shower curtain keeps trying to attack you! The bathroom also has a sink toiletry shelves and a noisy vacuum toilet like on an airplane. Often there is a small step up between the bedroom and bathroom perfect for stubbing your toe. The bathrooms also usually have a retractable clothesline for drying your swimsuit or hand laundry.
Since all restaurants offer a variety of culinary choices any evaluation of food is influenced not only by personal taste but also by what items are selected from the menu. For example on the first night my wife and I ate at the Manhattan Room one of the ship`s main dining areas. She had a chicken dish which she evaluated as OK while I had scallops which were very good. Like all public areas on the Epic the layout and décor of the Manhattan Room was a tribute to the ship`s designers. Wide open and airy the Manhattan Room had the look and feel of a fine dinner theater. In fact I was somewhat surprised when our dinner host (one of NCL`s executives) informed us that the Manhattan Room was not a specialty restaurant. The other main dining room appropriately called Taste was also extremely well laid-out and pleasing to the eye. At the center of Taste is a beautiful chandelier (claimed to be the largest at sea) that spirals down from the deck above. Although I did not eat in Taste I am told that the menu is the same as the Manhattan Room so I would assume our assessment of the food would have been about the same (i.e. OK to very good depending on the entre` selected and of course personal taste).
There is a company called Kiteship that has developed and produces kites for racing sailboats. These sailing kites do not require a mast. The kites fly high above the vessel attached by cable and controlled from the vessel. Dave Culp of Kiteship has done a technical feasibility study on fitting a very large kite onto a conventional cruise ship. This would dramatically reduce fuel consumption. It would convert a fuel guzzler to a green machine. This is tantamount to converting a powerboat into a sail boat. The design of a cruise ship limits the amount of sail that a conventional ship can safely accommodate. A cruise ship lacks the ballast of a sail boat. If used in addition to the main engine(s) the kite will increase fuel efficiency. If the kite is used to pull the ship with the main engines shut down the ship`s speed will be reduced substantially. However in this case not only would the ship save IFO (main engine fuel) but also save MDO (generator engine fuel). If the kite were pulling the ship unassisted by the ship`s engines then the propellers could be used to propel the ship`s generators without firing up the diesel generator engines. Even if the ship were traveling very slowly in the water the propellers would turn in reverse if freed from the main engines. This is a very simple and easy task for the ship`s engineer to accomplish. In other words the ship can be pulled by the kite and that motion will push the ship`s propellers providing power to produce electricity and power the air-conditioning without using any fuel. The trade-off is a loss of speed and also some tacking is required further reducing actual speed. What`s the rush? Why not go for maximum fuel savings? The salient point is that a high flying large kite can pull a cruise ship. If I were a co-owner of a cruise ship I would hope to find like minded co-owners who would be receptive to using such state-of-the-art technologies to save fuel.
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