By PAUL MOTTER
Personally, I am pretty darn excited about the coming of Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas next year, but I am also get pretty excited about another new ship that is comong about six months later and we are just now starting to get the details. I am talking about the new Norwegian Epic, the largest ship NCL will have ever built and set to debut in May of 2010.
Epic, at 150,000-tons, will be about 50% larger than the latest ships from NCL. In terms of what makes it unique the first word that comes to mind is "style." The staterooms will be unlike anything any ship has ever featured. Dubbed "New Wave" staterooms by NCL, they feature curved walls and domed ceilings, a bit like being in a bubble. The lighting is all recessed and diffused, with colorful mood lighting available and customizable by the guest.
One aspect of the ship that really makes it stand out is the ship within a ship concept. In this case it is more like ships within a ship as there are several areas where certain categories of staterooms will come with private areas not available to other guests.
First are the "Studio Staterooms." These inside cabins are a mere 100 square feet and do not contain much more than a bed and bathroom facilities. However, all 128 of them are connected to a common living room which will have a bar, two large screen television sets, food available and plenty of areas for conversation, playing games or just reading a book.
The whole "studio" complex is enclosed within the ship and access to the Living Room is limited by keycard access. I envision this being popular with single cruisers, whether or not they are traveling with roommates, and with family members who may not be couples. It will be very convenient for one person to just "slip out" for awhile while the other person has privacy. On the other hand, couples who enjoy a value cabin and enjoy meeting other people are also likely to book these cabins. They are a value and offer the opportunity to socialize with other cruisers.
The other ships within a ship concepts include the Spa Cabins which all come with full 24-hour access to the thermal suite in the ship's spa area. The thermal suite generally includes a sauna, several herbal diffused steam rooms, whirlpool baths and heated ceramic beds. These spa cabins come in especially soothing colors and very cool floorplans.
The family cabins are not designed any differently from the other staterooms, but they are all in the proximity of the childrens' programs, the sports deck, water park and swimming pools. These cabins come with sofabeds and also connect to other cabins. They will be ideal for families with kids who want convenient access to the facilities families are most interested in.
The last "ship within a ship" is the Courtyard Villa. This is the large, two-deck high area you see atop the bridge at the front of the ship. These are a set of beautiful suites of several sizes, all of them surrounding a private courtyard with a pool, hot tubs, gym, spa services, private restaurant and bar.
Look for several articles on Norwegian Epic coming to Cruisemates soon.