The highlight? The Blue Man Group is headed to sea, onboard -- you guessed it -- Norwegian Epic.
Amid color-changing lights and blaring club music, the Blue Man Group crashed the press conference, handing out buckets and pails, snorkel sets, flip-flops and inflatable cruise ships -- our managing editor ended up with a boogie board! -- while chasing a photographer with a flowered swim cap and squirting attendees with tanning lotion.
The display, followed by a 30-minute performance at the Astor Place Theatre across the street, served to announce the group's new partnership with NCL. One Blue Man's ability to catch more than 30 marshmallows in his mouth was particularly interesting -- and he only dropped one after it bounced off the ever-growing wad of white goop that slowly formed. The Blue Men also took NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan backstage and showed footage of him being hung upside down and covered in blue with paint rollers.
The 150,000-ton, 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic will welcome the group as part of its entertainment offerings, featuring eight performances -- two each day for four days -- on its seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings. Epic Theater, the show's onboard venue, will be nearly twice the size of the Blue Man Group's home theater in New York City, seating more than 600 passengers. The show will be free; spokeswoman AnneMarie Mathews tells us the line's still working on a system for tickets and priority seating.
"It was clear to us that the face of Norwegian Epic entertainment was obviously blue," says Andy Stewart, executive vice president of global sales and passenger services for NCL.
Another highlight for Epic, which will float out in June, is Cirque Dreams and Dinner, a combination alternative restaurant and show. The eatery, which will carry an extra cost of $15 per person, is set to feature a one-ring, red-and-white-striped big top -- and a very active waitstaff.
"Contortionists will be cocktail waitresses, and aerialists will drop down from the ceiling to fill your water glasses," explains Cirque Dreams creator Neil Goldberg, who has partnered with NCL to bring the offering onboard.
Three characters -- including a whimsical ringmaster in a striped suit, a contortionist in face paint and a gold dress, and a violinist wearing purple sequined pants and a top hat -- made appearances at the event for added flavor, while a Warhol-esque video dance montage played in the background.
Other Epic offerings include the Epic Casino, NCL's largest at 13,000 square feet; the Ice Bar, kept at a constant 17 degrees; the Manhattan Room, featuring big-band music, Salsa dancing and romantic dinners; Spice H2O, an adults-only aft pool; Fat Cats blues and jazz club; and Headliners Comedy Club, housing improv troupe The Second City.
Bookings for all sailings, which begin next year, go on sale to the general public Thursday. Members of NCL's past-passenger program, Latitudes, can book today.
Do you dig funky shows or would you rather just relax at a bar? Tell us what you think about Norwegian Epic's entertainment options in our poll!
--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor
Images appear courtesy of Melissa Baldwin Paloti. Pictured, top right: Ashley Kosciolek and Astor Place Theatre's Blue Man Group.