Ahoy there mateys! Today I’m going to be telling you a story of the seven seas, well actually just one, the Mediterranean Sea and my first ever cruise! I’ve always had the thought of a cruise in the back of my mind as a great holiday option for seeing lots of different places whilst catching a few rays along the way but I’ve never booked because, well, I honestly thought they were reserved for the over 65! But Amelia, there are so many different cruise options for all ages and interests now I hear you cry, and you’re right. Come with me as I take a trip on The Norwegian Epic for a 3 night mini-cruise around the Western Med!
The Norwegian Epic
I flew to Barcelona on Sunday morning and hopped on the coach which drove me straight to the port. As we pulled up I got my very first glimpse of a real life cruise ship! The Norwegian Epic has a capacity of 4,100 passengers and sails with Norwegian Cruise Lines across the Mediterranean, Bahamas and Caribbean with modern studios for single passengers, top notch entertainment and something for everyone on board. I couldn’t believe the size of the ship when my coach rolled up, I now see why when it was built the Norwegian Epic was the third largest cruise ship in the world!!!
Norwegian’s main sell is that they promote free and flexible cruising – perfect for a newbie like me who’s a little terrified by the thought of ball gowns and bingo on holiday! I checked in, got my room card and headed on board for a whistle stop tour of cruise life sailing to Rome and stopping at Naples on the way. After investigating my cabin (more about that later) it was time to head to the top deck for sail away cocktails with the rest of my cruising crew!
The Cavern Club
Howl at the Moon in Headliners – an absolute must see!
There was no time to waste after we left the port as the Norwegian team had got a jam packed itinerary for us to experience! On our first night we were booked in for one of The Norwegian Epic speciality dining packages – Cirque Dreams & Dinner – an intimate dinner and show with some seriously incredible acrobats and performers. We were served our three course meal while the performers did their thing in the centre of the room right next to our table! Definitely worth booking in for on your cruise and the premium seats were fab.
After dinner we took a stroll to Headliners and sat with a beer watching Howl At The Moon a live duelling piano request show which was absolutely fantastic! Throw any song their way and they’ll play it for you – we had the classics like Queen and even a bit of old school Backstreet Boys – these guys are amazing! They have to memorise over 300 songs as well as thinking on the spot when someone throws a curve ball their way…System of a Down Chop Suey was a tricky one but they managed it!
Ahoy There Mateys!
I was staying in a Balcony Stateroom which was quite simply perfect for me. I has visions of chintzy bedsheets and creaky showers when I first arrived and boy was I wrong. The Norwegian Epic cabins are modern, pretty roomy and filled with everything you need. The bed was a little short (I think Joe being 6″5 might have his feet off the end!) but super comfortable and I even had a bath to relax in with my kindle before dinner each night. I couldn’t have been more wrong or more pleasantly surprised with my cabin and it had so much storage space too! There are American and European plug sockets in the room so don’t forget your adapters.
A special shout out to my cabin steward Richard who was one of the most amazing members of staff I’ve ever come across on holiday. He was always around when I needed him, knew me on first name basis and left chocolate covered strawberries and towel animals to greet me each day – give that man a raise, what a star. But it wasn’t just Richard, all the staff members on board the Norwegian Epic were incredible, so friendly and couldn’t do enough for you – they went above and beyond and I felt so at home.
A Tour of The Galley
Yes, That’s a Bowling Alley On Board a Ship!
Day two we had a tour of the ship to get our bearings and see everything the Norwegian Epic has to offer – we even got a tour of the Galley which was so interesting! There’s a number of different restaurants and bars offering everything from French to Brazillian, a Barbers Shop, Gym, Spa, Casino and even a bowling alley! You can actually book in to see all of this and more with the Behind The Scenes Tour ($79) where you get to see the galley, laundry rooms, backstage of the theatre and the environmental facilities – it may sound like a strange one but it’s honestly astounding just how much work goes into keeping a ship like this in tip top shape with the Epic’s 1,753 crew members!
Off Rock Climbing!
In the afternoon it was time for Rock Climbing and a slide on the Waterpark! I’ve only ever done rock climbing once and it was incredibly bizarre to be doing to again in the middle of the ocean but so fun! The waterpark has a number of slides which are great for kids and adults alike and there’s even a teen club for those of a certain age who’ve been dragged along with their parents which looked pretty damn cool. Spice H20 is where you can venture if you fancy a child-free zone with friendly bar staff and a plunge pool – they often have parties up here too with DJ’s under the stars, nice!
There’s bars everywhere you turn on the Norwegian Epic and they’re currently offering a Free at Sea package where you can choose to have free drinks on board. This is well worth doing as I was seriously impressed with the quality of the cocktails and drinks on board – it’s not your usual all inclusive standard mix and the staff really do know what they’re doing. A cocktail on board The Epic will set you back around $13 and a beer around $5-7. There’s so much choice, I was very happy indeed!
The Ice Bar!
Oh, did I not mention they have an ICE BAR?! Seriously, this ship is amazing! Evening two we were booked in for a chilly cocktail or two in the Ice Bar which was so fun! For around $20 you’re bundled up in a furry poncho, passed a pair of gloves and sent inside the freezer with a couple of cocktail vouchers. We only managed about 20 minutes before we had to come out and defrost but I highly recommend the Nordic Apple cocktail and a selfie with the life size Viking ice sculpture. Standard.
Dinner was at Taste one of the complimentary a la carte restaurants – like the drinks the food was top notch with great choice. You can get all sorts to order and the staff were excellent at catering for different dietary requirements too. After dinner we went to see Burn The Floor the broadway dance spectacular and partied the night away with a few mojitos in the Nightclub Bliss which was quite frankly so much fun!
Pompeii Shore Excursion
Day three we docked in Naples and took a shore excursion out to Pomeii. I’d always wanted to visit Pompeii so this was right up my street and what a great tour it was. Our guide Pepe was awesome at giving out just enough information (with a few jokes along the way) and we made it round the excavations in around 2 and a half hours. I’d definitely recommend taking an excursion out into the cities – $50 off excursions is one of the Free at Sea options you can choose when you book with Norwegian. That’s a great saving and a brilliant way to get the most out of your time in each destination, but they’re only offering Free At Sea for a limited time so get booking!
When in Naples!
The Haven VIP Section
In the afternoon we got a tour of the Haven VIP Section of the ship where passengers can upgrade for a private pool area, gym, restaurant, bars and chill out space on deck…there’s even a butler service! It’s super fancy and if you want to make your cruise extra special it’s certainly worth a look. After the tour I settled myself in Spice H20 with a Cuba Libre and relaxed in the sun with my kindle for a while – after all, what’s a holiday without a bit of R&R in between the exploring!
As a special treat on our last night we were treated to a cocktail making class in Shakers the Martini and Champagne bar on board. It was so much fun and Petra our bar lady was hilarious (and damn good at mixing!). As this was a special treat arranged for us it’s not bookable by guests but you can head over for a Martini Tasting for just $19.99 with 6 different martinis…and I’m sure if you ask Petra nicely she’ll even let you shake one!
Dinner was at Le Bistro another speciality restaurant that again is well worth a visit. Another thing that impressed me was the quality of the wine on board – something you normally avoid on most holidays, especially holidays that come with a free bar. There were fantastic wines available by the bottle or glass and great food to pair them with. Consider me impressed. After dinner we took our seats for Priscilla Queen of The Desert in the theatre and having seen the west end version last year I can honestly say that the Norwegian Epic cast seriously did it justice – it was amazing!
I was incredibly sad to leave the ship in Rome as we had a so much fun on our mini cruise and I have to say, I’m a total convert. Modern cabins, amazing food and drink, super friendly staff and beautiful destinations – what’s not to love?! I’ve got my sights set on the Caribbean next – now I’m officially a cruiser the world is my oyster!
Watch My Travel Vlog and Take A Tour of The Ship With Me
Norwegian Epic sails weekly seven-night Western Mediterranean fly-cruises until 23 October 2016. Travelling: Fly UK / Barcelona (Spain) – Naples (Italy) – Civitavecchia (Rome, Italy) – Livorno (Florence / Pisa, Italy) – Cannes (France) – Marseille (Aix-en-Provence, France) – Barcelona (Spain).
Priced from £869 per person based on two adults sharing an Inside Stateroom and flying from London Heathrow on 22 May 2016.
To book, visit www.ncl.co.uk or call a travel professional on 0333 2412319.