Norwegian Epic Cruise Ship | Budget Adventure Travel

| October 3, 2020

“Oh, HECK NO!”

This is the first reaction most sane adults will have when asked to spend a week stuck with extended family members, cranky kids and all, within a +- 300 sqft cabin. On a ship. Traveling across the Mediterranean Sea.

Well as soon as I had committed to taking the cruise trip with members who are not that much of a stretch from the Griswold family of Chevy Chase’s Vacation blooper, those three words came right out of my mouth after I hung up.

This was going to be my first time on a Cruise Ship. And not any cruise ship. The 3rd largest cruiser on the Ocean ever to date. I had sworn not to go cruising ever. Being stuck on a floating vessel in the middle of the sea or ocean was not of my fancy. Or it may have had something to do with early childhood arrested development as a result of non-stop radio plays of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie Titanic,which probably created a permanent association of cruise ship = terror (Note: I have to date NEVER watched the Titanic. So no, it was not the movie!).

I was always the sojourner of the terrestrial where I know I can eat, walk, sit, rest, sleep, and poop to the effects of normal gravitational pulls. And cruising just sounded like a place that would be a more sterilized version of an all inclusive resort style trip and filled with noisy families with their even louder little kids – not exactly an avenue for local immersion and getting ones hands muddy, cruddy, and dirty.

Well then I arrived to this!

Travel Adventures | The View from the Stateroom | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) | Room with a view

Room with a view | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) | Room with a view

Stateroom Balcony View

Okaaay! Forget about mud, crud, and dirt! Who wants to do that?? What an uppity travel connoisseur that person is. Vacation is meant to be a room with a view. Just like above!

Wowza! And then came the top floor deck where all the pools, hot tubs and water slides are located. Oh my god, I just truly love places so vibrant with noise and of course little Johnies and Janes are just so cute to have them running around. Nope, I don’t mind them anymore.

Travel Adventures | The Playground | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) | Deck Pool/Hot Tub

Deck Pool/Hot Tub | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) | Deck Pool/Hot Tub

Deck Pool/Hot Tub/Water slides | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) | Water Slides

Water Slides | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) | Deck Dance

Deck Dance Area

Did I use the water slides and pool and hot tubs or what? Youuuuuu betcha. I was running around between slides like a little toddler with his arms held out close to torso and head bobbing side to side with eyes closed going “more, more, Mommy! more”. No really!
Here is a video I took of the slides. It is incredible fun and for all ages and difficulty levels. If I enjoyed it, ANY KID will just love it.

Well after all that sloshing around in water slides it was time to crush the hunger pang. Now the amazing thing is that Norwegian Epic, which just happens to be the largest ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line company’s fleet and also the 3rd largest cruise ship at present, comes with vast dining options. I think there are over 20 different places to eat. Of course not all are free. Some of the fancier dining venues charge a modest cover ($20 per person) but that is all. Then you can eat as much as you want in there based on the menu course.

Tip: I did not experience ALL the venues of course but of the ones I did, I highly recommend Moderno Churrascaria. This is the Brazilian/Argentinian style of BBQ where the various meats are brought out to you at the table on a skewer and cut to your preference. The meat options are several and all are very tasty.

So if you don’t wanna shell out any more money on dining then best option is to visit the Garden Cafe, the flagship all you can eat buffet style dining hall. Interestingly, the entire family preferred eating here than at the specialty dining rooms because of the vast menu options and daily variety in the main courses.

Travel Adventures | The Dining Area | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) | Dining Hall (Garden Cafe)

Main Dining Hall (Garden Cafe) | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) | Dining Hall (Garden Cafe)

Dining Hall (Garden Cafe)

After a full fiesta, nothing like a siesta on the top deck of the Mediterranean Sea.

Travel Adventures | The Views | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) | View from the deck

View from the deck | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) | View from the deck

View from the deck

Ok, so you can’t escape from some shopping avenues while on board. Now contrary to what you will read on the internet about high prices on board shopping areas (and it may just as well be for most items; I could care less to comparison shop; I was busy at the water slides), there are some incredible bargains to be found. Look carefully.

Tip: The Ship will announce special sale hours. Be aware of this. There are some really discounted products you can get during the sale.

There is plenty to do on board in between dining, entertaining, and relaxing hours.

Travel Adventures | The Shopping and Entertainment | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

The on-board duty free shopping area | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Library | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

The main lobby and Grand Chandelier

Onboard Dining and entertainment tips – Remember that your ticket buy includes complimentary access to several live entertainment on the ship. For example, on the EPIC we enjoyed the Blue Man Group and Legends in Concert, two very entertaining and world famous shows. Make use of those. You can book ahead of time by logging in to your account online to save time and make sure you get first priority on date selections. Some dining locations charge a cover ($15 – $25 USD per person), but that includes everything. | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Another Grand Chandelier | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Movie Theater | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Bowling Alley | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Theater viewing area

Tips on basic safety for first time cruisers – Modern cruise ships have in-built stabilizers to reduce the effect of sea sickness caused by rolling waves. However, it is always prudent to carry along basic medications for cough, cold, fever, allergy, travel sickness, and motion sickness. The ship maintains very high standards of hygiene and health; however, remember you are in an enclosed environment among several strangers who are disembarking at most port of calls. The ship provides in-house medical facility but remember that cost of medication will be expensive plus you are likely to be quarantined for a short period to ensure yours and other passengers safety.

Travel Adventures | The EPIC Lounge | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Epic Lounge (for premium stateroom occupants only) | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Epic Lounge (for premium stateroom occupants only) | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Epic Lounge (for premium stateroom occupants only)

Tips on currency conversion – Note that Norwegian Cruise ships are registered to a Miami based currency therefore they use USD as the official currency on board regardless of your tour destination. So for all purchases on board best to use your credit card (keep in mind credit cards will charge higher conversion rate) or USD cash. If you are Canadian traveller, don’t convert to EURO on land as you will again have to convert to USD on board (two conversions and exchange fee commissions) | Travel Adventures | Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Dinner and Entertainment

Offshore excursion tips – The cruise ship provides several shore excursion trips to fit your timing, style and tastes. These can be viewed when you login to your account online and buy it ahead of time or on board. One thing to remember is that organized tours by the cruise company assures you of being returned to your ship in time for departure (a typical port stay duration is around 10 hours) which does not give you a lot of time to spend on shore. And you must give yourself an extra hour to disembark and embark to/from ship. If you are a small party (single, couple, party of 3) I recommend taking the cruise trips as it works out cost-effective. However, for larger groups (4 or more) I recommend using a third-party local operator. You will save LOTS of money. Do your research extensively if using local tour operators. Ensure that the operator is very familiar with Cruise off shore excursions.

So would I do it again?


Cruising has now become another part of my arsenal of travel options. It offers the best of both worlds – all-inclusive environment within the ship while allowing for local cultural immersion at several destinations. Doing the land trip across Europe can get expensive. However, with the Cruise option you don’t get flexibility of locations and time.

It’s a good middle of the path approach to adventure travel.

Visit the NCL Website for more information

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As some of you may have read in the news in early 2013 about the malfunction of a cruise ship operated by a major cruise company. In context of that event, I asked NCL media relations to provide me a statement of NCL’s policy in case of similar occurrence on the sea. Their team responded immediately with this official statement below.

At Norwegian Cruise Line, the safety and security of our guests and crew is of the utmost importance.  We operate all of our vessels to meet and exceed the requirements of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention and the International Safety Management Code maritime standards, the international safety requirements which govern the cruise industry.

We have Hi-Fog fire extinguishing systems throughout our ships, including within the machinery spaces where our ships’ engines are located. These systems can be released immediately as soon as a fire is detected and are effective in that they displace oxygen while releasing highly pressured water particles which have a cooling effect to quickly extinguish fire.  Our ships are also equipped with CO2 fire extinguishing systems as a back-up.

Finally to further protect our vessels in all of the engine rooms across the fleet, the switchboards for electrical power and the engines are separated, providing a redundancy in the event of a fire, so that the vessel retains propulsion and electrical power by alternate sources.

Beginning with Norwegian Epic and on all of our current new builds, Norwegian is coating all of the electrical cabling throughout the machinery space with a flame retardant material. We are also in the process of implementing this safety precaution on all of our existing ships and expect this to be completed within the year.

Every crew member is well-trained in the Company’s stringent safety protocols, participating in weekly safety drills onboard every one of our ships. Our shoreside technical and safety teams provide oversight to constantly test and re-evaluate on-board safety procedures.

Having spent a week on their ship, I have to say that the company does take passenger and crew safety very very seriously. We underwent extensive safety briefing at the beginning along with several reminders throughout and even witnessed a crew emergency situation scenario training on board on the sea. Every crew is assigned an emergency task in addition to their primary on board task.

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Category: Budget Adventure Travel, Budget Cruise Vacation

About the Author ()

Larkycanuck is the pseudonym for the spirited, spontaneous and zestful Canadian. The Blog is focused on showcasing budget adventure travels for working families. Larkycanuck has traveled to over 15 countries, 38 cities in 10 years. He has never quit a job to do this. He travels with his wife and on some trips with the house rabbit (Pepper).

Comments (5)

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  1. careerbabs says:

    Gosh, Abi! I am so impressed by your blogs — the writing, the look, the photos and video – it has such a wonderful inclusiveness.  Your blog style has continued to grow and blossom.

    I learn more about things that I normally would not be researching and it expands my horizons in a very positive way.  Your blogs are more than articles- they are well-crafted pieces of information and value that have a lovely personal touch.  You were so enthusiastic about the cruise and what you did that it was just a joy to read even for those who do not do the ‘cruise thing’.

    I think you should be approaching travel companies, resorts and airline companies about your travel blogs. They could use someone like you!

    Cheers, Barbara

  2. Rajib says:


    Great blog! Learned a lot. I too, like your old self, am not a big fan of cruise ships as its feeling of being on a constricting, albeit large space appeares to limit my freedom. But after seeing your blog and the pictures, maybe I will give it a try one day.

    As for the excursions, did you find that you were usually tense when they’d take place? Or is there usually a lot of time? I just feel as though I might be nervous with, “What if the ship leaves without me if I don’t come back on time!” . Let me know your thoughts.

    – Rajib

    • larkycanuck says:

      HI Rajib
      you enjoyed reading haha.
      Don’t worry about ship leaving. If you follow my advice given on how to arrange for excursions from third parties then you will not be in trouble. always requires research to be done.

  3. Viki says:

    Thank you for the info and photos. I actually saved some of your photos in my computer.