First impressions: Seeing the Norwegian Epic tower over the pier in New York was impressive, in fact the Epic completely blocked the site of the Carnival Miracle docked in the next pier over. I knew the ship was going to be very big, and what seems to always be among the first comments when you talk to someone is "wow this ship is really big". Having also been aboard the Oasis of the Seas with Royal Caribbean, in January, which is a much larger ship at 240,000 tons, it was interesting to compare the two. Oasis is the biggest, but you'd hardly know the difference when ships get this big. I think as ships get larger, the ocean seems smaller, because the focus onboard these giants revolves around numerous options, more amenities, more dining venues, more entertainment, more staterooms and suites, and of course more people. The key is to build a big ship with excellent attention to passenger flow, and I think for the most part, NCL has succeeded in developing spaces and lounges that flow together well.
Wavy staterooms One of the big discussion points as the Norwegian Epic is revealed in all her glory, is her "wavy", staterooms with curved walls and separate compartments for the toilet and the shower. My first impression when I arrived at my room 9248, a deluxe Balcony stateroom, was that it felt small and narrow. I liked the wood-like paneling, and the lighting. There's a large domed-ceiling above the bed that offered a soothing glow, which reminded me of something from the future. I discovered plenty of storage space, and clever baskets in a couple of the compartments, which are perfect for storing the dirty clothes after a long day at the beach or exploring the Mayan Ruins. The bed linens were nice, but the beds, themselves, were a bit too firm for my taste. The balcony was a decent size, and from what I understand, the air conditioning for the room, is connected to the sliding balcony door, and the air shuts off when the door is opened so passengers aren't wasting or blasting cool air into the hot and often humid Caribbean.
There has been much to say about the bathroom arrangement in the wavy staterooms, most of the comments being on the "uneasy" side. After speaking with seasoned cruise industry journalists who suggested that North Americans will have a problem with the bathroom arrangement, I came to the conclusion that maybe experienced cruisers might struggle with it a bit, but first-time cruisers won't notice anything terribly unusual. I have noticed when first-time cruisers board a ship for their vacation, everything is "different" and takes a little "getting used to", for example; the movement of the ship, the lips at the base of many doors, compact staterooms, even navigating around the ship. Because "things are different" on a cruise ship, many passengers won't notice or care that the bathrooms are unusual onboard the Epic.