Entertainment on an Epic scale
With today being American Independence Day its fitting that New York’s Macy’s 4th of July fireworks are hosted by Epic, the new ship from Norwegian Cruise Lines.
Unlike land-based holidays entertainment is an intrinsic part of ocean-going cruises and though it can amount to a few cheesy line dancing sessions with the on-board entertainment team it’s generally good – very good. The larger ships pride themselves on this fact – from Carnival to Royal Caribbean, P&O to Princess, high-kicking theatre productions, comedy acts and musical combos are the order of the day. But Norwegian Epic is taking on-board entertainment to another level.
“Taking in shows on ships is usually about deciding which showing you’re going to,” said NCL chief executive Kevin Sheehan. “We wanted Epic to be about deciding what sort of night out you were going to have.”
When you look at the extent of entertainment options on Epic you can see what he’s getting at. NCL has moved away from the traditional theatre show and musical acts performing in static locations on the ship to bring cruisers dynamic entertainment offerings.
Let’s start with the Blue Man Group, the Las Vegas/Broadway/West End theatre show that’s been wowing audiences for years. This is being performed eight times a week on board Epic’s seven day cruises with no cover charge. I saw the show while onboard and can only describe it as bizarrely brilliant – you’ll have to see it to see what I mean.
Then there’s Cirque Dreams & Dinner a real circus under the ‘big top’ of the Speigel Tent – minus the performing animals of course! Ok so it’s all played out amidst an at times cheesily scripted show but these are real circus performers pulling off daring tricks and dangerous feats. Another aspect that makes this show stand out is the fact that it is performed over a set-menu dinner – another new move by NCL blending meal time with showtime. My only complaint, if you can call it that, was that the menu was fixed (barring vegetarian and allergy-specific options) and though tasty I would have preferred more choice. But then the waiters were busy – they’re also a part of the show!
The meal time/showtime idea continues in the Manhattan Room where Legends in Concert perform an ‘unplugged’ show three nights a week, alongside their six live shows a week in the Epic Theater. Now despite the idea of Madonna, Elvis and Tina Turner lookalikes sending the cool chill of Stars in Their Eyes down my spine and I although I didn’t get to see them personally I’m reliably informed that the show is great and not in the least bit naff.
Alongside these big hitters there are a host of other ways to have a great night out on Epic. The Howl at the Moon Dueling Piano Show is set to be a blast and runs back to back with the hilarious Second City Comedy Troupe in Headliners Comedy Club. Second City also performs a fun murder mystery lunch in the Speigel Tent. For a toe tapping time head to Fat Cats and check out the legendary Slam Alan and friends in this cool jazz and blues club, then you can go to one of the ship’s two clubs to let your hair down.
Bliss Ultra Lounge and Spice H2O host DJs from New York and Miami, with the latter also offering up a beach club within a ship feel with its open aired location and pool with a floor that rises at night for the party crowd.
For kids there are further collaborations that ramp up the entertainment levels. Nickelodeon at Sea features live interactive shows such as breakfast with the Nickleodeon characters, Nick Live Poolside and themed dance parties.
All in all Epic is entertainment central. Cruising has always offered quality entertainment offerings but NCL has just ramped things up.