Norwegian Epic review

After taking two cruises on the EPIC in 2013, here is my honest review of the beauty.  I encourage everyone to cruise on the EPIC!

The EPIC was great. It was the second time on the EPIC this year and I would have to say it was better the second time around! I will try and go through it in order for you.

 

Embark – Pretty easy. Make sure you go to the correct terminal, because the SMS staff will make you go anyway. This was annoying, however it didn’t matter. The line at security went quick, however, I noticed that security is getting more tight, which again, is annoying. The last thing I want to see is TSA at cruise terminals. The chick in was easy and smooth. Took about 5 minutes, no wait.

 

Day 1 – I went directly to Osheehans and had food in front of me within 10 minutes. A nice tasty burger. I watched people shuffle around and try and find their way around the beautiful, christmas decorated, EPIC.

 

Day 2 – At Sea. This is a day to get to know the ship. I got up around 9 and had breakfast at Taste. I thought it was great! The service was good, but Taste was busy, so, it took a bit longer than I would have liked. They did keep me in coffee and water while I waited. Taste closes for breakfast at 10:30A so, if you want to enjoy a meal, get there by 9:45 at the latest.

 

After breakfast, 11A I went and played in the poker tourny. $100 buy in and you start with 2000 chips. Its a luck tourny, but still fun. The rest of the day was spent freely.

 

Lets skip ahead to St. Maarten – What a great port. We went ashore and did two activities on our own. We started with a jet ski for an hour which was $100 for two people. It was fun and the jet ski was in good condition. We fell off once, which was fun, but it was hard to get back up on the ski in the choppy waves. After that we went parasailing with NO1SXM. What a great ride! 800 feet up and the view was amazing. After that, we walked around front street and enjoyed some shopping.

 

St. Thomas – Amazing as usual. We went over to St. John and visited Cinnamon bay and then to Trunk bay. Absolutely beautiful and worth the trouble. Make sure to watch your time! The EPIC is all aboard at 3p and we got there in the nick of time.

 

At Sea – This night we went to Teppenyaki which was amazing! We enjoyed some of the public areas and the much needed relaxation.

 

Nassau – Before we got off the ship, we went down the slides, they are great! I suggest doing the slides if you normally don’t do that sort of thing. In port, we went to Fat Tuesdays after a walk to the beach, then we took a ferry over to Atlantis. The rum drinks at the ferry terminal on the paradise end is amazing. You get a ton of rum, but it is made well.

 

Disembark – We waited to be some of the last people off the ship. The line was long at customs, however, it went quickly. No pain. We parked at the terminal, so we were out quickly. Parking at the terminal is $140 for the week.

 

A note about the food. I thought all the food was amazing. My favorites were La Cucina and Tepenyaki had amazing food. La Cucina has an amazing atmosphere!

 

The Breakaway is here!!!

Breakaway

Breakaway

After much fanfare, the Norwegian Breakaway has arrived and the reviews are in.  This ship is the talk of the industry!  The design, the entertainment and the features are second to none.  The Breakaway is now the trendsetter when it comes to mainstream cruising.  Ocean Blue with Geoffrey Zackarian (Iron Chef) is an absolute hit, so popular the price is soon to be raised to $49 per person, which is still far undervalued for food and experience of this quality.  678 Ocean Place, which are decks; 6, 7 and 8 are where most of the action will take place on board. Night clubs, restaurants and of course the casino.  Our guests will not have to walk far to find their next adventure.

The Atrium

The Atrium

The Breakaway experience has been likened to that of many luxury cruises.  Guests just off the inaugural were comparing the ship and overall cruise to the likes of luxury liners of Oceania. The decor, staff and staterooms are all part of the Norwegian freestyle experience.  You can’t find this kind of cruise on any other line.  The Haven, the fastest water slide at sea, the Cake Boss and three broadway shows. Where else are you going to find this much entertainment and activity combined with a feel of luxury and intimacy?  An all inclusive?  I think not.

Norwegian is known for being the trendsetter of the industry, setting many cruising firsts over the course of its existence, and the Breakaway is just the latest and greatest of Norwegian’s accomplishments.  Check out the Breakaway website, http://www.breakaway.ncl.com/  then make sure you call your Personal Cruise Consultant for all the latest details.  The Breakaway is sailing to Bermuda and the Bahamas exclusively from New York City year around.

Norwegian_Breakaway_4766_zps781cce4f

Destination: Venice, Italy

Venice is one of the most famous places in the world for art, culture, history and tourism.  Averaging over 50,000 visitors each day, taking a cruise that includes Venice is a must for anyone.  In Venice, you will find historical churches, man made canals perfect for a gondola ride, great food, wine and stunning scenery.

Man Made Venice Canal

Man Made Venice Canal

The Grand Canal is perfect for touring the city.  The ‘S’ shape canal cuts directly through the city.  Start at St. Mark Basin and make your way to the Santa Lucia rail station.  A perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon of sightseeing.  You will see architecture from the Byzantine (Late Roman) Empire, the Renaissance and Gothic Venetian.  When your cruise stops in Venice, do not miss a Gondola ride.  You never know what wonders you will come across.

St. Mark’s-Basilica

St. Mark’s-Basilica

St. Mark’s Basilica is the Cathedral church of the Roman Archdiocese.  It is the most famous church in Venice.  Known also as the Church of Gold, due to it’s architecture and symbol of power and wealth, it is cherished by the people of Italy and a must see for visitors.  As you come face to face with the church, you will see the majestic statue of St. Mark perched on the roof of the Cathedral above a gold winged lion, the mascot of Venice.

Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco is the famous public square of Venice.  You will see this area as you make your way to St. Mark’s Cathedral.  You can’t miss the amazing clock tower, constructed in the late 15th century.  This area is famous in movies, however it has many historical and religious connections as well.  Enjoy the sights, architecture and historical artwork. There you will also find a great view of the Great Canal as you walk back from St. Marks.

Sail on the Jade round trip from Venice and purchase the “Best of Venice” shore excursion.  You will have a guided tour of the best of Venice as well as a ride to the airport upon conclusion of your tour.  Cruise like a Norwegian to Venice, you will have memories to last a lifetime.

Norwegian Sky 3 day cruise

If you want a weekend getaway and you love to cruise, or if you want to get to know what a cruise is like, this three day escape is your chance.  The Sky is an absolutely beautiful ship.  Norwegian is dominating the competition for this type of cruise.  It is the newest ship with the most staff per guest and the most recently refurbished.  You will find great activities from the White Hot Party to the Art Auction (where you can grab some free bubbly as well).

Your first port stop will be Norwegian’s private Island, Great Stirrup Cay.  Norwegian has done a great job turning this small island into an excellent beach day.  You will find private cabanas, volleyball tournaments, jet ski excursions, a straw market and of course an excellent buffet.  Don’t forget your sunscreen, you will spend a lot of time in the sun.

Great Stirrup Cay

Great Stirrup Cay

After you are done checking out the private island, you can escape back to the ship for some spa specials or an empty pool deck.  It is a great chance to explore and enjoy the ship.  The tenders (transport from island to the ship) run about every 20-30 minutes, so, you won’t have to wait long to get back aboard.

Your second stop will be at beautiful Nassau Bahamas.  Here, I recommend either being the first person off the ship or one of the last.  Why wait in line on your vacation?  Once on this island, you will find people offering taxi’s, jewelry and other, darker, items.  Just a word of warning, if you engage the street vendors, it will be tough to shrug them off.  Why not try one of Norwegian’s shore excursions?  A parasailing adventure or  a quick ferry over to Blue Lagoon for some snorkeling or swimming with the Dolphins? Of course, the choice is yours, it’s your vacation!

Near Cable Beach

Near Cable Beach

The Sky is a great ship for all ages.  The staff puts on excellent shows and activities, the casino for adults, the White Hot Party (Norwegian’s Signature late night party), where I saw a 12 year old kid leading the dancing on stage!  No fear for that kid.  Latin beats in the Outrigger Lounge (Deck 11 Forward) and many other excellent locations for viewing the sea and finding a sense of adventure!  Book your Sky cruise ASAP!

The Sky

The Sky

Find Additional pictures – http://www.flickr.com/raffles

City of Seattle

Are you thinking of an Alaska cruise this summer?  Sail on the youngest fleet to Alaska, the Norwegian Pearl and the Norwegian Jewel.  Two absolutely beautiful ships, sailing out of one of the most picturesque cities in the world.  Why not extend your trip a few days and explore this wonderful city full of sights, history and natural beauty.

Lake Union from the Space Needle

Lake Union from the Space Needle

Seattle is a beautifully built town, with water surrounding you at every turn.  To the West, you have the stunning Puget Sound, where you will sail out of on to Canada and Alaska. From the ship, you will see everything from sailboats to jets skis, and a ferry whisking people back and forth across the Sound.  The city looks absolutely majestic as you sail away on your Alaska cruise.  To the East, you have Lake Union, where sailboaters and water enthusiasts enjoy the brisk winds and cold water as they race their boats or just enjoy the catamaran tours.

If you choose to venture into the city, you will find a wide array of shopping, culture and foods. Pike Place Market is world famous for fresh fish, vegetables and fruit.  Enjoy some fish and chips as you watch the fisherman throw a huge salmon from one end of the market to the other.  The Space needle is another famous Seattle landmark, with views of every inch of the city.  Families will love snapping a few photos from the outdoor viewing area.

The Space Needle

The Space Needle

I lived in Seattle for a while and let me tell you, this city has it all.  It is a great port to sail out of and a great place to visit.  If you choose not to explore the city, you still have a great view as you leave and Pier 66 is absolutely as convenient a port as there is.  From the airport, it will take you about 30 minutes via taxi (traffic willing) and you will be on your way. Make sure you bring your camera as you sail away, you will not want to forget the unbelievable view as you sail away.

The Pearl in Seattle

The Pearl in Seattle

Bermuda – One of a kind.

Amazing Scenery

Amazing Scenery

The first time I went to Bermuda, the weather was overcast, humid and somewhat dreary. At first, the atmosphere did not impress me.  However, after about an hour walking around the Royal Naval Dockyard, the sun started to come out and I began to realize how amazing and unique Bermuda is.  Never too hot, rarely too cold, the climate is ideal for any outdoor activity you can imagine.  Snorkeling, swimming, wind surfing, kite surfing to golf, hiking and sightseeing, you will be very comfortable.

Royal Naval Dockyard

Royal Naval Dockyard

Your ship will dock at the west end of the Island in Somerset Village or more famously, Royal Naval Dockyard.  Here you will find a very accessible ferry terminal, fortresses and historical buildings.  Some building have been converted into museums and shops for an interesting shopping experience.  Looking for a bit more adventure?  Purchase a shore excursion from Norwegian and go on a catamaran sail and snorkel.  The calm blue waters are perfect for viewing sea life and maybe even a shipwreck!  How’s that for a vacation?

Bermuda is a combination of beauty and adventure.  So many amazing activities, sights, cultural events and history, you will not have any problem finding something to do, or choose to do nothing at all.  The pink sand beaches are wonderful for relaxing and taking in the amazing scenery.  Try Horseshoe bay, rated top ten beaches around the world by TripAdvisor, you will find yourself on a beach of dreams come true.  As you depart Bermuda, you will find yourself pining for extra time to shop, another round of golf, another hour of scuba, or another glimpse at a classical lighthouse.  Cruise like a Norwegian to Bermuda on the newest ship in the fleet, the Breakaway, this summer from New York. Amazing combination.

Pink Sand of Bermuda

Pink Sand of Bermuda

The Norwegian Sun pt. 2

Enjoy a cigar

Enjoy a cigar

The Norwegian Sun has amazing decor, excellent public areas and vibrant entertainment.  The windjammer, pictured above is located on deck 6, in a secluded area.  You will have easy access to the rest of the ship, as well as a central location that is easy to find, should you use this as a meeting place.  The windjammer is a microcosm of how this ship is designed, comfortable, relaxing and convenient.

The staterooms of the Sun are like any other rooms on cruise ships from interior to Balcony.  You will have to make the most of your space, but you will have a nice tv, a comfortable bed and a spacious bathroom.  Enjoy a nice view from your large port hole window, or take a seat on the balcony.  The two unique Owners suites are at the forward of the ship and are absolutely beautiful.  Enjoy a huge balcony complete with hot tub and a view as good as the captain.

The Owners Balcony

The Owners Balcony

All in all, the Sun is a beautiful ship.  A taste of the old style of cruising, sans all the bells and whistles of the mega-ships of today, it gives you a great vacation cruise ship styled for couples and older cruisers.  Kids can have fun on this cruise, there is a great sports court, kids pool and video game center, however, with the Sun doing longer Caribbean itineraries and one way Alaska cruises, kids and teens on this ship will be few and far between.  If you schedule a cruise on the Sun, have the piece of mind that you have booked a great ship and an excellent cruise.