Updated January 8, 2020
Norwegian Epic is a true one-off. This bold, brash 4,100 passenger behemoth is the third-largest cruise ship in the world, but it has no siblings. What's notable, though, is that its many innovative features were copied and tweaked on the ships that followed: the first ice bar at sea, a high-end "ship-within-a-ship" concept called The Haven and a suite of solo cabins (complete with bar area) that made it cool to be single at sea. Norwegian Getaway has all those features as well, but its focus is outward, opting for a cool South Beach vibe along its Waterfront outdoor area. What both share is a sense of fun and excitement, but if you're struggling to choose between Norwegian Epic versus Getaway, here's a roundup of what's similar and what sets them apart.
Similarities of Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Getaway
Both Epic and Getaway offer nonstop activities, morning, noon and night, and both are ideal for family groups, couples and those who have never cruised before.
Cruisers will find unique room options, pioneered on Epic, such as two-bedroom "villas" in the suites-only Haven, funky studio cabins complete with solos-only bar, and lots of family-friendly cabins including minisuites and interconnecting family cabins on both ships.
Both ships also have a bewildering number of restaurants (23 on Epic versus 28 on Getaway). Restaurants you'll find on both include free options like Taste (a small main dining room); O'Sheehan's, which offers pub grub; and Shanghai Noodle Bar, which doubles as a Chinese restaurant at night. The for-fee options on both Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Epic include the perennially popular Cagney's Steakhouse; Teppanyaki, which offers a hibachi-style experience; and Brazilian steakhouse Moderno Churrascaria, a carnivore's paradise.
Entertainment-wise, there are many crossovers between Norwegian Epic and Getaway, including Headliners Comedy Club, Howl at the Moon (a dueling piano bar), Svedka & Inniskillin Ice Bar and late-night club Bliss (smaller on Getaway than on Epic). Both ships also offer dance parties and theme nights at Spice H20, including Norwegian's signature Glow Parties.
As far as kids are concerned, both ships offer exactly the same programs and a dedicated kids space, called Splash Academy. SpongeBob and pals can be found all over the ship via Splash Academy and meet-and-greets, but make the most of them; they will sadly be gone in January 2016. There is a lot on offer to stimulate the little one's minds, including interactive workshops for younger kids, family-friendly sports events, talent shows and Cirque du Jour, where kids learn circus skills. Both ships also have the teens-only room Entourage.
Differences Between Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Getaway
Look a little deeper, however, and you'll find a number of key differences when you compare Norwegian Epic versus Norwegian Breakaway.
The main difference between Epic and Getaway is where each ship is based. Epic sails from Barcelona year round, offering Mediterranean itineraries during the summer and Canary Islands cruises in the winter. The ship has proved hugely popular in Europe, attracting nationalities from all across the Continent. Getaway was designed specifically for Miami and is based there all year, offering Eastern Caribbean itineraries. You'll find Miami/Caribbean touches all over the ship, from the food on offer in the Flamingo Grill to the ambience in the Sugarcane Mojito Bar, with pastel-pink decor, Latin-themed music, ersatz Cuban memorabilia and mojitos served with sugarcane. The Tropicana Room has the feel of a 1940s Havana supper club -- complete with a Latin jazz band.
Another key difference between the two ships is Getaway's Waterfront, an outdoor boardwalk pioneered on sister ship Breakaway. Restaurants and bars on the sixth deck all have outdoor seating, allowing you to eat, dine, drink and smoke (should you wish), while enjoying the warm Florida and Caribbean evenings.
Food-wise, while Epic caters to the European palate, Getaway taps into its homeport's roots and offers a mixture of Caribbean -- specifically Cuban -- influences. For example, you'll find pulled pork, rice and beans, and empanadas in the Flamingo Grill on Getaway, while you'll have standard cruise ship options like salads, cold and roast meats, pasta and pizza in Epic's Garden Cafe. And on Getaway, you'll find Ocean Blue, originally developed by iron chef Geoffrey Zakarian, which offers seafood dishes.
Both Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Getaway offer Broadway shows. On Epic, it's "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert"; on Getaway, you can catch a showing of "Legally Blonde." Both ships also offer a dinner-theater show. On Epic, it's Cirque Dreams and Dinner in the Spiegel Tent, which is an odd mixture of an old-timey (think Victorian) show and acrobatics; on Getaway, you can eat the same food in the Illusionarium, which offers an old-style hit-and-miss magic show with a steampunk vibe. Cirque Dreams and Dinner will set you back $39.99 per person, while Illusionarium is $24.99. Getaway's Tropicana Room also hosts performances of the "Burn the Floor" Latin dance show, while on Epic, in a nod to its U.K. clientele, you'll find the Beatles-inspired Cavern Club.
Norwegian Getaway vs. Norwegian Epic: Bottom Line
Both Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Getaway offer unabashed fun for families, solos and couples, and they're perfect ships for first time cruisers.
If you like everything on a larger, louder scale and you're keen to visit the classic Mediterranean ports of Barcelona, Naples, Cannes and Palma, then Norwegian Epic is probably the ship for you.
If you're after a more laid-back, South Beach vibe, Latin-inspired culinary offerings and are keen to soak up some of that Miami sunshine with an eye out to sea, then Norwegian Getaway might be the ship for you.