Archive for December 5th, 2015
Norwegian Epic Steals The Cruise Ships Thunder

Even on a day when five mighty cruise ships jostled for attention in Santa Cruz, Norwegian Epic had a bit too much class for her rivals and shone like a true star. Although five years old, this was the first visit for the pride of the Norwegian Cruise Line, 3,200 British and Spanish passengers plus many of the 1,300 crew joined in the party spirit in the Tenerife capital as they were greeted by traditional Canarian musicians and dancers. It’s a beautiful looking ship crammed full of every indulgence you could imagine, I was eager to get on board and see all the goodies. Our first stop was the bridge deck, a large open area with wide expanses of glass for all embracing views of the port. Former Tenerife Cabildo (government) President Ricardo Melchior, now President of  Puertos de Tenerife, exchanged momentos with Captain Idar Hoydal as waiters plied us with drinks and nibbles. The control panels, labeled in English, looked daunting and a couple of times when shrill whistles sounded I hoped I hadn’t brushed against an important lever by mistake. The Captain told me he had started with the company in 1980 as an able bodied seaman but had only been at this helm for two years. My feet and camera finger were itching to explore and our guide led us through the ship. There are 11 restaurants on the Norwegian Epic but most were empty as a fleet of coaches had whisked passengers off to many varied destinations. Le Bistro French restaurant looked very stylish and intimate while Taste restaurant hit the spot with stunning décor fanning out from a centrally placed piano. There were clear notices about the ships dress code, even without my football shirt I felt like I could be breaking several taboos. The Manhattan Room was also impressive with its more subdued colour scheme and black and white prints of old America. I stuck my head inside a few of the other entertainment rooms, The Cavern was a tribute to The Beatles, some of my scouse friends would love that – yeah, yeah,yeah. The Headliners Comedy Club looked like it could be a giggle, and the Fat Cats Jazz and Blues Club would have them swinging from the roof. There was a big parade of art on one landing, they have seminars and auctions. A squatting dog was passing his own artistic judgement, very appropriate for the start and end point of the trip, Barcelona, home of the Caganer. The social events caught my eye, a solo passengers gathering, Friends of Dorothy, and even cup cake decorating. A giant Wii wall dominated one area with an interactive game of ping pong that drew a few people in. There’s no shortage of things to do with a bowling alley, the circus themed Spiegel Tent, and the Epic Theatre where Priscilla of the Desert was the live show. Gamblers would be constantly challenged with the Epic Casino and a poolside casino, the lights were flashing as I strolled down a lengthy corridor of fruit machines and a passenger I spoke to later in Santa Cruz told me bingo was 39 dollars a game with the prize of an upgrade to the ultra swish Haven suite at the very top of the ship. Our next group stop was deck 15 and the Aqua Park water slides and kids pool, I took the steps to the launch point for the water tubes, it looked great fun. For those just wanting to chill out there were plenty of tables to sit at after raiding the Garden Café buffet and Waves pool bar. Looking around these floating cities I can see why some people don’t even venture out to the ports of call, Norwegian Epic pops into Tangier, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Funchal, and Malaga between leaving and arriving back at Barcelona. Norwegian Epic will be back in Santa Cruz on Christmas eve and makes another 66 Tenerife calls up to 2 April 2016.