Published at Sunday, May 27th 2018. by noah seihan in Cruise Ship Cabins.
SOLAS 2010 also offers a tremendous opportunity for those who may prefer to have a very large houseboat instead of a commercial ship. Ships that are not in compliance with SOLAS 2010 are now selling for a song (inexpensively). A cruise ship can easily be converted into a megayacht with the stroke of a pen. Privately owned yachts not in commercial service and not carrying passengers or cargo for hire are exempt from many of the SOLAS requirements. Operating costs are also lower for a private yacht. It cost less to register flag and insure a private yacht. Megayachts can be flagged and classified for unlimited service. That means that a megayacht can go practically anywhere you want it to go. There is one major drawback to registering a cruise ship as a private yacht. You cannot use the yacht commercially. This cuts off a potential revenue source.
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.
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.
My wife and I were in a standard stateroom with a balcony (one of the Category B staterooms on the ship). Upon entering the stateroom we had two initial impressions. First of all the curved walls gave the room a very unique look (unlike typical cruise ship staterooms which are almost always rectangular with straight walls). The second thing we noticed is that the stateroom didn`t have a bathroom... well at least not in the traditional sense. You entered the stateroom through a door between a shower stall and a toilet stall (each with a heavily frosted enclosure). A curtain separated these areas from the main part of the stateroom which among other things included the bed a couch storage closets / cabinets and a sink. The advantage of having the sink outside of the toilet and shower area is that one occupant can use the sink while another is using the shower or toilet (a convenience that you don`t often find in traditional cruise ship staterooms). In addition the unique design of the stateroom provided much more storage space than is typically found in a conventional stateroom of similar dimensions. However despite that I found the stateroom to be very tight (particularly in the cabins that have the bed nearer to the entrance door than to the balcony door) and overall I must admit that I would have preferred a more conventionally designed stateroom configuration or one of the larger deluxe balcony (Category D) staterooms on the Epic).
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.
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