Published at Monday, June 04th 2018. by noah seihan in Cruise Ship Cabins.
On this pre-inaugural cruise I tried two of the specialty restaurants Cagney`s steakhouse and Moderno Churrascaria a Brazilian all-you-can-eat barbeque in which guests signal their servers with a green card (OK I`m ready for more) or a red card (No more please. I`m stuffed). My wife and I have raved about Cagney`s steakhouse on several other Norwegian cruise ships (e.g. the NCL Dawn the NCL Gem and the NCL Jewel) and we enjoyed it just as much on the Epic. On the other hand we were not nearly as impressed with the Epic`s Moderno Churrascaria which is the first such restaurant on any cruise ship. The salad bar was absolutely fabulous (especially the plump shrimp and fantastic gourmet cheeses) but other than the sirloin (which the servers cut right in front of you) my wife and I were both disappointed with the quality of the meats. Ironically my son Greg (who is CEO of Direct Line Cruises) and several of our staff members tried Moderno Churrascaria and really liked it. So don`t take my word for it.
Another Epic first is Cirque Dreams and Dinner which is performed by an exceptionally talented group of acrobats in a special theater-in-the-round called the Spiegel Tent. Several of our staff members saw this show and said that it was very good but perhaps a bit too long. My wife and I saw a very different show in the Spiegel Tent. Our 3-year-old granddaughter who we were able to bring with us is a big fan of Dora the Explorer and Diego and she just loved the Nickelodeon character breakfast which in addition to Dora and Diego also featured Sponge Bob Square Pants Jimmy Neutron and others. In an exclusive deal with NCL the Nickelodeon characters are presently appearing on the Epic and the NCL Jewel (which now sails year-round out of New York City) and will eventually appear on several other NCL ships.
On paper it seems to make good sense to man the ship with a Philippine crew. I love the Philippines. I have been there several times. English is still widely spoken and usually spoken quite well. The people are usually friendly and happy to see foreign tourists. A large percentage of ships worldwide are manned by crews from the Philippines. The Philippine government has a pretty good structure and system to facilitate the export of Philippine labor. In spite of how attractive it seems on paper I would recommend NOT hiring a crew from the Philippines. Philippine workers tend to be envious of others and especially of everybody else`s wages. They tend to think they are getting the raw end of the deal. It is rare to find a Filipino who is happy with his employment. While I am sure there are many good employees from the Philippines there are more who are dissatisfied than satisfied with their employment. There seems to be a cultural anomaly in the Philippines where people feel that employers are bad guys. I would hesitate to recommend a crew from the Philippines in spite of the apparent advantages on paper.
I was able to negotiate with the owner John Kosmas and get some concessions. I got the price down to $500000. And at that price he agreed to bring the ship into compliance with SOLAS 2005 and also to include new paint topside. The ship was fairly well furnished even including bed linen but the ship had been laid up for years. Its most recent service was in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Cruise ships that trade exclusively in the Mediterranean and Black Seas tend to have smaller cabins and fewer amenities than the typical cruise ships that frequent the Caribbean. The bottom line is that this ship was an economy model not a luxury model. When I was inspecting the engine room I asked for the engine log. When I opened it I noticed all the entries were in Greek. I was able to discern some dates and other data that told me when the ship was last in service but I could not read the Greek entries so I handed the engine log back to the ship owner and told him It`s all Greek to me. Being Greek Mr. Kosmas failed to find the humor in that.
The looming SOLAS 2010 implementation date offers both perils and opportunities. The biggest peril is the possibility that the expense to bring a ship into full compliance with international standards will be greater than the value of the ship. However there is a silver lining in this cloud. This pending SOLAS implementation date has already started to show up as a primary factor in the asking and selling prices of ships on the market today.
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