There’s something about the freedom of the open seas that gets cruisers congoing, showing off their hairy gams or dressing up for dinner. In other words, doing things they’d never ordinarily do. Case in point: Cruise Critic’s Jamey Bergman spent four days on 4,100-passenger Norwegian Epic trying activities he’d be horrified to do back on land. For example, he wouldn’t normally …
Perform With a Circus Troupe
“How has this happened again?” I’m thinking to myself as I mime the international symbol for procreation (exaggerated hip thrusts) on a stage in front of a hundred people.
I’m at Cirque Dreams and Dinner in the Spiegel Tent onboard Norwegian Epic, and although I’ve never actually performed with a circus troupe, I somehow always end up the victim at any event requiring “audience participation.” I’ve been hauled up in front of audiences on three continents, and obviously this trip is no different.
This time, I’m in a “movie” that’s being directed by a clown, who’s using only a piercing whistle and mimed gestures to convey his directorial vision. I’m playing a lover who woos a young lady and takes her to bed, only to find himself at the wrong end of a pistol being shot by her angry husband (who’s a sailor). I know; it’s complicated. Try doing it in a dinner theatre in front of a hundred people.
Thank goodness there’s a bottle of wine waiting for me at my table.
Fortunately, the professionals who make up the cast of Cirque Dreams are impressive, even when engaging less-talented “actors” like me from the audience. From acrobats and tightrope-walkers to the amazing guy who can literally balance anything on a knife that he holds with his teeth — swords, pyramids of glassware, etc. — these people who hale from around the globe provide a truly entertaining evening.
Dinner at Spiegel Tent, which is a set three-course meal (with a vegetarian option) costs around $30 per person for premium seating. Booking in at the box office gets you a seat, but tables are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to queue early. Our show started at 9:30 pm, and people were in line 45 minutes beforehand.
Spa Day: The Facial
I’ve never been to a spa before, and I’m feeling a little apprehensive. I know many women endure all kinds of medieval torture in the name of beauty, but spas have always felt completely foreign to me. Nevertheless, here I am, and for the good of male cruise passengers everywhere, I am going to get a facial. (I know, I know: it’s a difficult job, but someone has to do it.)
The receptionist at Epic’s Mandara Medi-Spa is slightly surprised that I’m the one booking the facial and not my wife, who’s standing next to me, but she happily points out the “Mandara for Men” options on the price list. And quite a price list it is. (Incidentally, everything onboard is priced in U.S. dollars, even when the ship is in Europe.)
Prices range from a simple shave (done at the barbershop, which is separate from the spa) for $45 to the Elemis Urban Cleanse Facial for $129. The in-between treatments include manicures, pedicures and haircuts. The prices, however, don’t include 18% VAT and an 18% service charge (gratuity), which all factor into the final bill.
I selected the Elemis Skin IQ Facial treatment and paid a whopping $150, all tolled. Take a look at what I got for my money in the video below.
I found out I have combination skin that is on the oily side — men, be prepared. It’s the most common skin type among us. Also, my skin IQ is very low, meaning my beauty regime consists of washing my face occasionally with a bar of soap. Apparently, this is a big no-no.
My spa technician, Johanna from South Africa, was very patient with my incessant questions and gently let me know that most people who buy a facial relax and enjoy themselves. I took the hint and promptly fell asleep.
Before my nap, though, I learned that she used a cleanser, a toner to restore my skin’s PH (acidity), a lavender cellular recovery oil treatment, a papaya exfoliant, a restorative hydrating mask and a barrage of creams and moisturizers.
Truth be told, it felt great. She massaged my scalp, my neck and my shoulders in addition to all the face cleaning I was getting. I’m not sure my beauty routine will change much, but, gentlemen, I can say this: if you want to spoil yourself, a trip to the spa is the way to do it.
Wear a Parka in a Bar
I know, it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke …
I live in London, and although rainy, the weather rarely calls for anything more technical than a raincoat. So, getting geared up in a parka to get a couple drinks seemed like an exotic and exciting prospect — or at least the makings of a decent story to tell at a party.
My fantasies of a James Bond-esque trip to a frozen world where glamorous people sip vodka martinis in form-fitting skiwear and brandish dangerous glances and double entendres were quickly cooled at Norwegian Epic’s Svedka Ice Bar, however.
As much as I enjoyed the variety and quality of venues for eating, drinking and entertainment onboard Epic, Ice Bar didn’t live up to the hype.
It was impressively cold; I’ll give it that. The bar is basically a deep-freeze that’s been installed in the floors devoted to passenger entertainment. (I’d been on the behind-the-scenes tour of the ship’s kitchens and food storage below decks earlier that day and was far more impressed.) The bar is small, and the six drinks on offer — you get two vouchers for free drinks with the $20 cover — are neon-coloured and sickly sweet, although they do have plenty of alcohol in them and come in “ice glasses.”
Overall, it felt too gimmicky, even for a bit of holiday silliness, and if I were paying the bill, I wouldn’t shell out the $20 entrance fee for the experience.
If you’re in need of a chilly place to cool off after a long day in the sun, though, the bar accommodates up to 25 people and can be reserved between 5:30 and 10:30 p.m., nightly. The six alcoholic drinks are mixed with Svedka vodka, Inniskillin ice wine and a number of other juices and spirits. There are two nonalcoholic drinks on offer, and children are allowed in the bar.
Now it’s your turn: Are there things you do at sea that you’d never do back home? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Read more about Norwegian Epic in our member reviews.
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