New NCL Design Not So Epic? Readers Respond, Dub Ship "The Hat"

March 4, 2009
Usually, the first artistic renderings of a new cruise ship look far better than the real thing. You know: A vision of the vessel in its most perfect form, gliding in a crystal blue sea, absent of rough edges and real-world wear. But after checking out the newly revealed images of the 153,000-ton, 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic -- NCL's largest and most innovative new-build ever -- Cruise Critic members are hoping for quite the opposite.

That Norwegian Epic, due out May 2010, will look a little better in person.

So what issues did readers take with the design? Some called the ship downright ugly -- jingle5616's commented that "...only a mother could love this profile..." and 2Cruise4Ever stated "Ugh! OMG!!! Yuck!!!! Eeeewwww."

But many made fun of one particular characteristic of the boxy superstructure: the jutting-forward decks above the ship's bridge. Atomica asked, "What's with the two top-heavy looking decks above the bridge?! It looks like it's going to tip over!"

"Although the exterior design of many of the large new ships is not very attractive," seacruise9 added, "this ship truly reaches a new low. If it weren't for the huge structure over the bridge and the small (and unusual) funnels, the ship's appearance would not be worse than most of the new ships. However, these two design elements are extremely unattractive."

Is Beauty Only Hull Deep?

A game of coming up with what the ship resembled ensued:

Carlalena1 wrote that "From the front it looks like a mean old man with bushy eyebrows."

NYY suggested that "It looks like someone dropped a wedding cake and tried to put it back together."

AWinkler added that "The structure they built up top that juts out is as strange as the hair on Donald Trump's head ..."

But not all were so disapproving. There were several respondents who were more interested in the inside of the ship -- and even a handful who liked the unique design.

MichellP noted, "A great thinker once said 'all cats are grey in the dark' - and it's likewise true that one doesn't have to look at the outside of a cruise ship once one is on it!"

Member Bennett'sCruise interjected, "Actually ... I think it's a nice looking ship. But, I think I'm in the minority here, eh?"

Ladder55 was willing to wager that "she will look much better once we see the final product ... I think she looks really interesting."

AWinkler's comment -- "Oh C'MON people ... It's not that bad ... It's like a ship ... with a hat. Who doesn't love a hat?" -- generated a buzz, with several members thenceforth referring to Norwegian Epic as "The Hat." Marinearchit opined that with a few tweaks, the ship would be quite attractive, and even took it upon himself to rearrange the "hat" in the photo (click here to see his version).

We must note that the exterior renderings are still lacking hull art, and NCL's striking designs -- jewels, flowers, radiating sun -- have become the line's calling card. The hull design will be determined at a later date.

What do you think of the new design? Did Norwegian Epic get hit with the ugly stick, or is it what's on the interior that really matters? There's still time to join the discussion! Go to the Cruise Critic Message Boards and chime in.

--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor