Charles Keefer's Blog

Epic Cruise

with 3 comments

Norwegian Epic

Last night I received and responded to a very serious consumer survey from NCL about how I enjoyed my recent vacation on their megaship “Epic.” They wanted to know everything, in great detail, except what I thought about my recent vacation on their megaship “Epic.”

The survey, you see, was multiple choice. It was the longest multiple choice test I can remember taking since the SAT in high school.

So it told them nothing, but the answers were machine readable.

Hello, NCL. You need some new consultants.

Here is my “Did we leave anything out?” comment, which your survey gave me only a tiny box and a few characters for.

Everything was fine except:

– The ship is ugly. It looks like a refrigerator laid on its side wearing sun glasses. Nobody, including the crew, thought it was a pretty ship. You didn’t bother to ask about this.

– Sure it’s big, but neither from the inside nor from the outside did it appear any bigger than the last generation of ships. Everything appeared to be scaled up precisely to accomodate the increased passenger load and to give everyone a balcony. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It works. What it didn’t do was give me a new experience. I wanted it to feel bigger. I wanted some WOW factor. I didn’t get it. I mean, come on – a three-story atrium on a ship with 12 passenger decks?

– No champagne on boarding? Are you kidding? Just because you built a cattle car instead of a cruise ship doesn’t mean you have to make the passengers realize it even before they get to their staterooms.

– And the staterooms… I admit to being spoiled since my last few cruises were in VIP suites, but has it not occurred to anyone over the last 30 years that a pathway a mere 18-inches wide from the door to the balcony might be a tad restricting to the average American? Do away with the sofa thing and give me a small table and two chairs and room to cross my legs without blocking access to the bathroom.

– And the bathrooms, or lack thereof. I admit the round, glass-walled shower is cool and serves as a nice night light, but the same treatment for the WC doesn’t work. When I want to take a dump, I want a door I can close that is soundproof. And no AC outlet at the sink? Whose brilliant idea was that? I need to use a water-pik and there was no place to plug it in. I went to the main desk to ask for an extension cord, but no. I was told they were all loaned to passengers who brought breathing machines on board. Really? Why not just put one in every room? NCL buys in bulk. What is it going to cost – 59 cents a room?

– And more about bathrooms – There was no signage that I could find for the restrooms on the entertainment decks. I spent lots more time walking back and forth looking for a restroom than actually using one. Others apparently had the same problem because, when I finally found one, it was always empty. That is good in a way, but it tells me that 4,000 other passengers couldn’t find the restrooms either.

– Then there is the cool, energy-saving, boarding card thing. When you go in your stateroom, there is a socket next to the door where you insert your boarding card. It controls the stateroom’s power. When you leave your cabin, you always take your boarding card because it gets you on and off the ship, and back in your cabin, and you need it to charge your drinks. When you take your boarding card out of the socket, it turns off the lights. Great idea. But, nobody told us you have to put the boarding card in the socket to turn the lights on in the first place and there was no sign to enlighten us. I met people two days into the trip who were complaining that the lights in their stateroom didn’t work. This is just dumb.

– Latitudes. Every cruise line has a club for people who cruise frequently. NCL has Latitudes. I am a Latitudes member. I have eight cruises. I’m supposed to get benefits like express boarding and parties where I get a free drink and a look at the captain. That kind of stuff. The first Latitudes benefit I got came before I even got to Miami. It was a letter that said there won’t be any Latitudes parties on the Epic because – well, who the hell cares? I want my Latitudes party. If there are too many Latitudes people to accomodate with one party, have two of them. Come on, you have a week to fit us all in. And express boarding? Is this some kind of a joke? There was one line for express boarding and it was longer than the normal lines. And automatic cabin upgrades – how the hell can you tell. I ordered a balcony room and got one. But it looked just the same, from the outside, as did the hundreds of other balcony rooms. Want to make me feel good about being a Latitudes member? Put a bottle of champagne in the room. I’ll feel upgraded in about half an hour.

And my friend and fellow passenger, who is female, said the on-board shopping sucked. I agree. I didn’t even buy a tee shirt – and I always buy a tee shirt.

So here, NCL, are the answers to the questions your consultants didn’t want to ask.

Did I have a good time? Yes. Was the food good. Yes. Was the entertainment good? Excellent. Will I cruise again with NCL? Certainly, but not on the “Epic.” And now you know why.

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Written by Charles Keefer

July 23, 2010 at 8:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. If everyone has a balcony, but the rooms are small, what is all the interior space filled with?

    ksteinhoff

    July 23, 2010 at 10:11 am

  2. There are inside staterooms, but the ship is designed to maximize the number of balcony rooms because, once you have had a balcony, you don’t ever want to cruise without one. Actually, judging from the number of teens and younger on board, I’d say the inside rooms are where they stuffed the rug rats.

    ckeefer3

    July 23, 2010 at 10:30 am

  3. To each their own, but I’ll pass on big cruise ships. Their main aim is to sell you food, drink and trinkets amongst loud crowds of strangers, all of which I could probably do at City Place much cheaper. They seem to downplay any scenery or interaction with locals at ports of call and all their non-ocean related activities make hard to even realize you’re at sea.

    George P

    July 24, 2010 at 9:41 am


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