The December holidays were truly ‘Epic’ for our Business View Publisher, Marcus Vandenbrink, and his family, as they explored the tropical seas on a 14-day Eastern Caribbean adventure aboard Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) luxury vessel “Epic”. Sailing to and from Orlando (Port Canaveral), this dream ship played host to two weeks of spectacular entertainment, breathtaking sights, and incomparable cuisine. Without a doubt, NCL Epic excels as a luxe cruise experience, and a ‘Haven’ for the C-suite elite. Temptation awaits…
NCL coined the term “Freestyle Cruising” to highlight the freedom guests have in personalizing their vacation, thereby enjoying it to the utmost. Dining when they want, where they want, with whomever they want.
Vanessa Picariello, APR, Senior Director of Public Relations for Norwegian Cruise Line shared the details: “We have extended this concept to our award-winning Broadway-style entertainment, allowing guests to attend a variety of shows, at the time of their choosing, throughout the course of their cruise. On any given evening, there is a multitude of entertainment options including live music, comedy, family activities led by our Cruise Staff, dance parties, and more.”
The Haven: ultimate at-sea experience
All accommodations on the ship reflect Epic high standards – from Studio staterooms for solo travelers to the exclusive suite complex, The Haven by Norwegian. Picariello describes The Haven as “Norwegian Cruise Line’s luxurious “ship-within-a-ship” concept, providing guests with exclusive access to an enclave boasting a private restaurant and lounge; beautiful two-story courtyard with a pool surrounded by daybeds, private cabanas, chaise lounges; plus, intimate seating for al fresco dining.”
And if that doesn’t quite float your boat, the complex also features two hot tubs, a steam room, indoor/outdoor dining, a bar, concierge lounge, sundeck, and a private gym overlooking the pool, replete with advanced cardio equipment, weight training machines and access to the ship’s personal trainers. All Haven guests enjoy the services of a butler and a private concierge, as well as priority access to reservations, VIP embarkation and disembarkation, exclusive reserved seating in the ship’s theatre and much more. “Jeeves, more ice please?”
Indeed, our publisher was duly impressed with boarding, breakfast and all that followed: “Beautiful ship! Check-in was hassle free for luxury travelers. Haven breakfast = 4-star dining. Perfect way to wake up. French press coffee, made-to-order breakfast. Could get used to this. Workout room – amazing facilities, full attention to details, right down to cold towels.”
Catering to every whim
Vacationers love the exciting vibes of a cruise but, at the same time, expect a smooth-sailing, leisurely getaway. Norwegian Epic offers a wide array of activities for cruisers of all types and ages. Guests seeking quiet relaxation can soak up the sun at Spice H20, an adults-only Ibiza-inspired beach club, or retreat to the full-service Mandara Spa for a soothing hot stone massage, rejuvenating facial, mani-pedi, or acupuncture. Ahhh, the spa…
High rollers and first-timers, alike, are welcome in the Epic Casino – Norwegian Cruise Line’s largest casino at sea, spanning more than 13,000 square feet. Guests can try their luck at gaming tables featuring poker, black jack, roulette and craps, or at one of the 340 latest slot machines.
Kids and kids-at-heart will adore Norwegian Epic’s Aqua Park, and the 200-foot “Epic Plunge”, the only bowl slide at sea. There are also two main pools with night-lit arching water effects; five whirlpools; and a children’s Splash and Play Zone. More adventurous family members can challenge themselves on the 33-foot Rock Climbing Wall, or the first-ever rappelling wall at sea. Or, perhaps, a round of SplashGolf™; a fun combo of water features and mini-golf for all ages. The Vandenbrink kids give the Aqua Park high fives all around.
Norwegian Epic also offers supervised youth and teen programs. The Splash Academy has two separate zones designed for ages two through nine, and 10 through 12. The kids’ area includes a space-themed play area, air hockey table, interactive light-up dance floor; WiiTM gaming; arts and crafts; and a state-of-the-art surround sound cinema. The Tween Zone has a futuristic feel with multiple Wii™ and PlayStation® 3 areas, and a private karaoke performance stage which doubles as a cinema.
Entourage – a high-energy, teens-only lounge for ages 13 through 17 – rides high at the top of the ship. Activities include air hockey, foosball, a video jukebox, and large flat screen televisions, some located around a central video game console featuring PlayStation® 3. In the evening, Entourage transitions into a hip nightclub for dancing or just hanging out on comfy couches.
Fancy an island stopover?
Great Stirrup Cay, NCL’s private Bahamian island, boasts dreamy beaches with gorgeous views. Relax in a lounge chair, listen to live music, take in the lush natural scenery, snorkel, try wave runner tours, parasailing, or stingray encounters. It’s all here for your pleasure.
For a more luxurious experience rent a private Cabana on the Cay. Each comes complete with padded lounge chairs, couches, freshly-prepared salsas, fresh fruit and complimentary bottled water, as well as a $50 credit towards food and beverages on the island.
Rave reviews were issued from our Publisher to those back home: “Grand Stirrup Cay – private island. Pristine, crystal clear water. This is the life. Not missing the office at all, sorry team…”
Picariello adds, “Great Stirrup Cay is currently receiving island-wide enhancements to revolutionize the private island experience. These include a half-mile oceanside boardwalk for easy access to the beaches, a half-acre entertainment and activity complex, a stage for live music, a shaded picnic area and a new air-conditioned reception area with expansive changing rooms. All dining and bar venues will be updated across the island and will feature resort-style decking and shaded areas.
“Abaco Taco, a new complimentary taco bar, will be added, and the island’s 8,500-square foot buffet will be re-designed. Coming next summer, and expanding on Norwegian’s exclusive partnership with Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Great Stirrup Cay will also feature a Landshark Bar & Grill, offering the perfect mix of casual à la carte dining, hand-crafted drinks, and panoramic ocean views with indoor and outdoor seating.
“Guests seeking the ultimate luxury experience can retreat to the island’s exclusive lagoon enclave. This private area will feature a secluded, pristine beach, the Silver Palm ocean-view restaurant, a posh Mandara Spa, sheltered family area and 22 air-conditioned private villas. All these renovations and enhancements will be introduced in summer 2017.” Exciting!
“… escape the regimented schedule of the office and do it all, or nothing at all.”
14 days is a long time to be actively on holiday. When it’s time for a “vacation from your vacation” head to the Posh Beach Club, a private-access, adults-only (18+) outdoor beach club with cushioned day beds, a full-service bar, water spritzers, cold towels, fruit skewers and more.
The Thermal Suite, a private-access area within Mandara Spa, refreshes the mind, body, and soul. Feel the weightlessness and kneading effect of water in the Thalasso Therapy Pool, or bask in the warm, cascading waterfall in the Vitality Pool. Unwind in the hot tub or steam room, detox in the sauna, or take a nap on one of the heated mosaic lounge chairs.
We asked Picariello: Of all the cruise companies sailing today, what is unique about Norwegian Cruise Line, particularly the Epic, that would help a corporate executive decide in your favour? Her reply is certain to sway.
“The freedom and flexibility to design your perfect vacation, something that only Norwegian can offer, is unbeatable. It provides a corporate executive the opportunity to escape the regimented schedule of the office and do it all, or nothing at all, at their own pace. Aboard Norwegian Epic, the Freestyle concept can be enjoyed on a truly grand scale; guests can dine, drink, dance or simply relax at their leisure with Broadway entertainment, a wealth of recreational activities, and more than 20 dining options.
“For families, we highly recommend Cirque Dreams & Dinner; an amazing theatrical experience, including acrobats, aerialists and musicians, performed while guests enjoy a three-course dinner in our very own Spiegel Tent.”
The Vandenbrinks concur wholeheartedly: “The Cirque event was amazing; the best in Vegas-style entertainment. The juggler was particularly mesmerizing. The crowd was pulled into the show. Kids loved the humor aspect. Laughed like crazy. The dinner – perfection.”
Epic’s specialty restaurants offer a wide range of high-end cuisine, from classic French fare in Le Bistro, to signature American-steakhouse favorites in Cagney’s. Teppanyaki, an authentic Japanese Hibachi restaurant, is a fun option for families, as chefs put on a high-energy show, slicing and dicing freshly prepared steak, seafood and chicken.
Cagney’s wowed our Publisher: “Mouth-watering cuisine. Rivals any NY steakhouse! Best food on the boat, we ate there twice. Made a nice wine choice from the diverse selection of vintages in all price ranges. The interactive iPad wine list was both high tech and informative.”
Of course, corporate executives are never completely away from the office. And that’s taken care of, too. Norwegian Epic offers Wi-Fi throughout the entire ship. In 2016, the previous bandwidth was quadrupled to meet rising expectations for internet accessibility. Norwegian offers a variety of flexible internet plans to fit individual needs. Guests looking for a quiet space to work can retreat to one of the multiple lounges on board, or slip away to the library/card room. Shhh…
All in all, Business View highly recommends the NCL Epic as a ‘cruise of choice’ for 2017. Ideal for families: “Fab live music on deck. Jamaican band is amazing, Filipino rock band jamming out free bird. Fantastic magician. How do they do that?”
For couples: “Enjoyed a quiet boat today. Reading and relaxation. Enjoying our all-you-can beverage package. Aimy had her nightly espresso martini to begin the evening.”
For the ultimate in pampering. As our own Business View top exec sums it up, “We were treated like royalty.” And who isn’t up for that?
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Norwegian Cruise Line – ‘Epic’
WHAT: Freestyle cruising on a grand scale. Vessel Capacity 4100, Crew 1724
WHERE: Office located at 7300 Corporate Center Drive | Miami, FL 33126