The Norwegian Epic cruise ship has a lot to live up to. When Reba McEntire, the Queen of Country Music, gave the ship her blessing at the christening ceremony in 2010 there was all sorts of pressure on the company to live up to the hype. The most innovative ship in Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)’s fleet, Reba serves as the godmother to the flagship of the line. The ship boasts over 20 restaurants, 20 bars and lounges, and even some of the top tier entertainment at sea. The NCL Epic lives up to having such an iconic godmother: it’s something that Reba would be proud of.
I had the chance to sail on the Epic for a 7-night New Years Eve cruise out of Miami, Florida and I was able to see why Reba herself chooses to sail with the cruise line. NCL will be hosting both the Rascal Flatts and Blake Shelton cruises later this year, and there’s really no question as to why country music and NCL get along so well. The freestyle element of the cruise line is a perfect fit for country music fans everywhere, who would rather do things on their own time than be scheduled to fit into a routine. Think of it as Vegas at sea; the ship has the best entertainment I’ve ever seen at sea: The Blue Man Group, Legends in Concert, Second City Comedy, Cirque Dreams, and even the amazing Slam Allen Blues Band. I interviewed both the Blue Man Group and Slam Allen while on-board so make sure you look out for those interviews later this week!
The Epic has a little bit of everything for everyone. If you’re more of an adventurous type then you’ll be the first in line to try out the rock climbing wall at sea, the trampoline, or the three water slides which include a 200 foot tube slide – the only one at sea! If you’re more into the entertainment then The Blue Man Group, Legends At Concert, Howl At The Moon, and Second City Comedy show should be at the top of your list. For vacationers wanting things on a slower, easy-going pace: you’ll find plenty of room to grab a lounge chair and tan out on the pool deck. That’s the beauty of sailing NCL: it’s freestyle and you’re able to do things on your schedule, not theirs! That’s one of the main things that Reba was happy about putting her seal of approval on: to be able to do things your way, on your own time, for what you like to do.
Reba has proudly sailed on one of the smaller ships in the fleet with her family, the Norweigan Gem, according to NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan at the 2010 ceremony:
“I met Reba and her family on Norwegian Gem and saw how much they were enjoying the freedom and flexibility that Freestyle Cruising offers. Later, I discovered that they are frequent customers on our ships which is why I believe that Reba is the perfect choice to christen our largest and most innovative ship, Norwegian Epic,” said Kevin Sheehan, chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “We are more than thrilled that such a celebrated performer as Reba, who also has experienced our product firsthand, will serve as Norwegian Epic’s Godmother.”
From arriving at the Port of Miami it was obvious that NCL takes vacationing seriously: we waited less than 30 minutes to get out of the taxi, through customs, and checked-in to get on-board the ship. As soon as you walk on-board you see the picture of Reba from the christening ceremony reminding you that this ship is just as legendary as the woman who chose to become its figurehead. I have sailed previously on both the Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, but the NCL Epic has its own character, its own personality, and just like Reba: it stands out from the crowd.
For fans wanting to see if cruising with their favorite stars is the right choice for them we will be having several features on NCL and its entertainment on-board. Over the next few days, look out for our exclusive interview with the drummer from the Blue Man Group, Slam Allen from the amazing blues band on the NCL Epic, and two preview features on both the Blake Shelton and Rascal Flatts cruise. For more information on NCL and the Epic, or to book your vacation, visit the Epic’s official website. Read more about my review on the cruise line’s largest ship below:
The Epic was the largest ship at the Port Of Miami when we arrived on New Years Eve. It stood out from the other five ships also docked from different cruise lines. With over 4800 passengers on-board, one would think it would be crowded but it was anything but! The only time you felt the other people on-board was when everyone rushed to exit the ship at the same time to visit the ports. The major positive to the cruise line is its “Freestyle” way of doing things. It’s what they market themselves on and it works: because there is no set dinner time, which separates the line from the others, there’s no rush for everyone to dine at the same time. With over 20 different dining options on-board, passengers are able to experience a different meal each night if they so choose. While the included dining rooms (The Manhattan Room and Taste) and the included buffet (Garden Cafe) are great; it’s the specialty dining that really stands out. If you’re looking for something special, make sure to book reservations at the specialty dining rooms for a nominal fee. The service, taste, and experience you receive in those restaurants are the best on the ship and worth it.
The entertainment is really where the ship stands out. The Blue Man Group is the same act from Las Vegas and is the must-see on the Epic. If you’ve never experienced the phenomenon that is the Blue Man Group, or even if you’ve seen them on-tour or in Vegas, you need to see their performance here. While they aren’t exactly “country,” the group is fantastic and has appeared at the GRAMMY awards in the past. Without giving too much away, the first two rows at the theater all received plastic ponchos for the performance. Look for my exclusive interview with a member of the legendary entertainment group in the next few days here on Keepin’ it Country. If you’re into the Vegas-style shows, make sure you also see Legends In Concert. The show has three famous celebrity impersonations that are Vegas-quality! The three singers change every few months on-board, and have had Madonna, Britney Spears, and Michael Jackson in the past.
One of the secret gems on-board can be found in the Fat Cats club. Slam Allen is one of the most talented performers I’ve seen at sea, and he is one of the highlights on NCL. He might not have the name recognition like that of the Blue Man Group, but it won’t be too long before that changes. He’s far too talented to stay working on a cruise ship for long. I had the chance to sit down and get to know the talented blues singer, and I’ll have that interview up later this week as we launch our monthly “look at other genres” feature on Keepin’ it Country.
With so much to do on the cruise, and the high quality entertainment, there really wasn’t anyone else who could put their name to a ship of this calibre. The NCL Epic should be something Reba would be proud of.