(11:00 a.m EDT) -- Norwegian Epic was showcased Monday in Southampton, U.K. -- boasting a whole range of new features and refurbishments that touched on virtually every aspect of the cruise ship, including entertainment and dining -- and Cruise Critic was there for a sneak peek.
The biggest change after the three-week dry dock is the launch of the Cavern Club (formerly Fat Cats), which invokes the spirit of the iconic Liverpool nightspot made famous as the venue for The Beatles' early shows. The onboard venue is designed in partnership with the owners of the real 57-year-old club and features Beatles-inspired music from international artists.
Moodily lit with plenty of red brick, the Cavern Club makes a good stab at recreating the atmosphere of the 1960s club, though some modern decorative touches do break the spell.
Award-winning musical "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" replaces the long-running Blue Man Group. This joins the popular dance show "Burn the Floor," added earlier this year.
Another brand new feature is a SplashGolf game -- combining water features and mini-golf -- installed in the ship's Kids Aqua Park.
Norwegian's second-largest vessel -- after Escape, which launches next week -- also received refreshed decor, carpeting and furnishings in many of its dining venues including Moderno Churrascaria, Cagney's steakhouse, Italian restaurant La Cucina, Le Bistro French eatery, Garden Cafe buffet, and main dining areas Manhattan Room and Taste.
Further refitting included a brand-new photo gallery, library and card room. Additional refurbishments took place in the Mandara Spa, Bliss Ultra Lounge, pool deck Marketplace, Epic Theater, casino and the exclusive Haven suite complex.
The vessel also underwent technical modernizations and maintenance, including new rudders, more efficient propeller caps and more energy-efficient hull paint. Additional significant technical and safety updates include: lifeboat and tender boat release systems; thruster and stabilizer maintenance, air duct upgrades and improved storeroom refrigeration systems.
--Leon Beckenham, Cruise Critic contributor