Photos: New Courtyard and Studio Cabins

This morning, Norwegian Cruise Line revealed new details on cabins for its upcoming Norwegian Epic at the 25th annual Cruise Shipping Miami Convention, the year's largest cruise event.

What can you expect? In a word: Exclusivity. Yet, it's on a bigger scale. Norwegian Epic will feature the industry's largest "ship within a ship" area, with a whopping 60 courtyard villas, penthouse suites and deluxe Owner's Suites, spanning a two-deck suite complex. Also announced today were new, modern studios that surround a second, exclusive, shared social space.

On hand for the announcement were NCL executives Kevin Sheehan, CEO; Roberto Martinoli, president and COO; and Andy Stuart, executive vice president of global sales and passenger services.

The major highlights:

Largest Suite Complex at Sea. Norwegian Epic will feature 60 suites across a two-deck-high, private Courtyard -- the industry's largest "ship within a ship". All offer access to a private pool, two whirlpools, saunas, a sun deck, a fitness facility, private indoor/outdoor dining, a bar and a concierge lounge. Forty-six courtyard villas, measuring 506 square feet, each feature two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Six courtyard penthouses, measuring 322 square feet, each include a bedroom with a separate living and dining area. Finally, each of eight deluxe Owner's Suites, at 852 square feet, feature floor-to-ceiling windows, and separate living, dining and bedroom areas.

These are all located on Decks 16 and 17, forward (in what Cruise Critic members have dubbed the "hat" -- the structure that juts out over the ship's bridge).

Modern Studios. With Norwegian Epic, NCL is introducing a new style of stateroom. There are 128 modern studios, 100 square feet apiece, on Decks 11 and 12. The studios are all insides that sleep two guests each, with a corridor facing window. Special, color-changing lighting effects add to the chic feel -- control panels allow guests to change the lighting in their cabins, depending on their moods. (There's a "love setting" for romantic evenings, for example.)

Similar to the Courtyard concept, studio guests have access to an exclusive, shared social space, called the Living Room. We got a taste of Living Room "living" at the press conference; the space was set up with the same white couches and modern "pod" chairs that will be found onboard. The two-floor lounge will feature a bar, two large TV screens, a concierge for booking dinner reservations and shore excursions, and comfy seating for hanging out, ordering room service or sipping pre-dinner drinks.

The studios themselves are downright tiny -- a standard cabin on ultra-budget easyCruise, in comparison, is 108 square feet -- but remember that, on Epic, you also have the shared social space, accessible by keycard only. It's basically another option for the budget-conscious, offered at the same price point as a larger, standard inside but with a chic feel and private lounge.

Spa Accommodations. Epic will also offer NCL's first spa cabins, to be located on Deck 14. Thirty-nine spa suites, at 322 square feet (same as "regular" New Wave suites), will be clustered by the spa in a private enclave, accessible only by keycard. Eight of these suites will feature in-room whirlpools. At this point, it's undecided what types of amenities will be offered (in terms of free treatments, etc.). We do know, however, that NCL's generally bright color scheme has been toned down slightly in these spa cabins.

Family Staterooms. You'll find 225 family deluxe balcony and 146 family balcony cabins, located on Decks 13 and 14, clustered around the expanded Kids Crew. Like the spa suites, these family staterooms are actually the same, in size and layout, as "regular" New Wave cabins -- but with an additional pull-down or sofa-bed. The bonus here is the convenient location, near the children's facility. Also, many will connect for families and multigenerational groups traveling together.

Want to see what it's all about? Check out our newest photo gallery.

The ship will open for booking about six weeks from now, though travel agents were given the option to pick up group blocks today. NCL executives tell us that the next big reveal -- what they are calling "chapter four" -- will occur during Cruise3Sixty, another industry conference that will take place in Ft. Lauderdale April 2 through 6.

Stay tuned!

-- by Dan Askin, Associate Editor, and Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor

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