Norewegian Epic, Great for Families?

Depending on how you look at it the soon to debut Norwegian Epic will be either one of the best or one of the worst cruise ships for families.

Positives for Families:
On the positive side the ship will features many family friendly amenities. The accommodations will include family sized state rooms that will accommodate 3, 4, 5 or even six people. The company website also states that they offer a larger choice of connecting state rooms than any other line. They have also located the family state rooms close to their “Kids Crew Zones.” The Aqua Park will also be a sure fire hit with families. It will have two traditional corkscrew type water slides plus the “Epic Plunge” that will feature a core of a bowl slide, with a thrilling drop through a 200-foot long tube. The kids program will include special area just for tweens, known as Recess. The Recess area will have an interactive light up dance floor, Wiiâ„¢ and PlayStation®3 gaming areas. A private karaoke performance stage will double a state-of-the-art surround sound cinema. NCL pioneered bowling at sea and this ship will include two venues, O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill where the whole family can test their skills and the three lanes at Bliss Ultra Lounge where during the day all ages are welcome. For teens, the ship will include Entourage teen club, filled with all things important to the 13- to 17-year-old crowd like food and soda stations. During the day teens will enjoy PlayStation®3, air hockey, pinball, foosball, a video jukebox and nine large flat-screen televisions. In the evening, Entourage turns into a teens-only nightclub with a space for dancing to a video jukebox and trendy seating arrangements for just hanging out. The sports deck will actually be two decks, where adults, families, teens, and young ones can play basketball, dodge ball, and even practice in a batting cage. They will also be able to try their skills at rock and wall climbing in the two level climbing area. The ship has a variety of dining venues “So while adults enjoy a world of culinary options on board Norwegian Epic, kids can stick to their favorites including freshly grilled burgers, pizza or pasta. Even Chinese or grilled cheese.” Norwegian certainly has made an effort to appeal to families in the design and amenities on the ship.

Negative for Families.

With all of these wonderful amenities, it might be hard to find fault on the surface. However, if you are looking for a more traditional type of cruise where families can relax and unplug together, then a ship with all these bells and whistles might not be your best choice. Many families lead very fast paced “go, go, go” lives at home so they are looking a for an environment that promotes relaxation and slowed down family time. With so much to do, families may not want to be around so much temptation even though they always have a choice to do less. Another aspect of the Norwegian experience that may not be as family friendly are the multitude of extra charge or extra fee dining venues on the ship. While families can always grab a meal in the the cruise included venues, there might be extra pressure on the family budget to indulge in the extra cost meals. With a family of four, the fees can really add up. Catering to preset kids tastes may not always be the best choice. While kids menus may always be a good idea for pre-school age children, families may want to push their kids to widen their food horizons and ordering off the adult menu in a traditional dining room can be one of the simplest, risk free ways of doing this. For families who spend much of their time at home playing video games, working at a computer, or watching TV at home, the idea of have so much of those things readily available may make a ship with all these bells and whistles less desirable. Finally, with exclusive adults and exclusive teens or kids areas, the structure of the ship may encourage fun, but separate rather than family fun. The description of the kids program says things like “Expanded hours let mom and dad have time for their own fun. It’s a great time to be a kid on Norwegian Epic” and “THE KIDS WON’T KNOW YOU ARE GONE.” Many of the evening entertainment venues are billed as “adults” only. Many families prefer lines where their children are graciously accommodated almost any where on the ship with only a few areas like the spa, retreat, or late night disco being off limits to kids.

Great to Have Choices
The Norwegian Epic will benefit the cruise industry by creating another choice for cruisers. Many families will prefer this type of ship with its Freestyle dining, casual dress code and exciting amenities. Other families may still choose a more traditional cruise experience on a smaller ship with less amenities for a quieter, low key cruise experience. Which ever you prefer it is up to you but either way cruising offers one of the best values and best experiences in vacation travel.