Arrival & Check-In
After having gotten off a cruise ship just a week ago, it was a little surreal to be packing for another cruise. On the upside, I really knew what I wanted to pack, so it didn’t take long. I arrived at Port Canaveral around 11am and found several spots on the ground floor of the parking garage and easily walked to the terminal entrance. After checking in, I waited in the terminal for about a half-hour until my group number was called. Then I walked on board and directly to Shakers martini bar.
Offering First Timer Tips at Shakers
I met Vladimir the bartender and Vladimir the bar waiter and ordered a cucumber martini. Well, the prep kitchen hadn’t been able to stock cucumber yet, so I opted for something simpler. Vladimir the bartender said it’s one of their best drinks and I should definitely come back from it. I’m sure I will.
While I was at Shakers, I met B and D, newlyweds who were on a belated honeymoon cruise now that D had some time off of school. We talked about what they were looking forward to on their first cruise together. When they asked me for advice, I told them, order whatever you want in the main dining room. You’re not restricted to one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert, so if you want three appetizers, go for it. I also advised them that if they didn’t like something, speak up at that time. The staff on cruise ships really wants you to be happy and have a good time, so they’ll do whatever they can to accommodate you.
I walked around to familiarize myself with the ship and when I got to Spice H2O, I stopped for lunch. Something pretty simple this time, I had a hotdog, french fries, some potato salad, and a really good banana bread. I continued my walk around the ship and stopped near the pool deck stage to hear a reggae band do a cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You” that took me right back to the late 80’s. After the song, I kept moving to check out the Garden Cafe, which on Epic is at the front of the ship.
Epic Stateroom – First Impression
When the cruise director announced that cabins were now open, I went to check out my place for the next seven days. Much has been written about the Epic’s split bathroom, so I won’t belabor the point here. Suffice it to say, I’m glad I’m staying in the cabin on my own. The toilet situation lacks privacy. When I wanted to go out on the balcony, I thought the handle that locks the door was broken. Well, it wasn’t. I’m very used to handles that turn 180 degrees to unlock, and this one turns only 90, so when it stopped “halfway,” I thought it was broken. My stateroom attendant came by to show me how it works and I tipped him to forget my embarrassing inability to read the sign on the door.
Note from Billy: If you're not familiar with the unique staterooms on Norwegian Epic, the shower and toilet are located in separate glass "pods" within the stateroom, and the sync and vanity is in the common area.
CruiseHabit Bill lent me a GoPro camera with a magnetic mount so I can take time-lapse videos of our sail-aways. I think I got our departure from Port Canaveral, but I’m new to the GoPro, so this is really more of an experiment for me.
Another new thing for me was the Coast Guard escort we had as we left the port. Maybe I’ve had these on other sailings, but this is the first time I noticed. A small boat powered by two propellers in the rear and defended by a mounted machine gun in the front came alongside us almost right below my room and stayed with us until we crossed the second buoy.
Once my bags arrived at the room, I committed to fully unpacking and getting the wrinkles out of my clothes. If this is where I’ll be for the next seven days, I want to go ahead and settle in now rather than bit by bit.
The First Evening Begins – Meet Ups & Cique de Dreams Dinner Show
Around 5:30pm, I stopped by Spice H2O for an informal gathering of people from a CruiseCritic discussion board. We all wore Mardi Gras beads (or for me, Gasparilla beads) to identify each other. Around 6pm, some of my fellow solo cruisers and I went to the Studio Lounge to meet Clarissa, a Norwegian crew member (that’s a crew member employed by Norwegian — she’s actually Brazilian), who will be organizing some group activities and dinners for those who would like to sign up. She offered to make group arrangements to dine at Taste, one of the main dining rooms, but I already had a reservation for Cirque de Dreams.
I arrived at the Spiegel Tent for the show and was seated with a couple in a booth along the back wall. I thought I was going to be seated in the balcony when I reserved this show and that may be what happens when the show is sold out. With plenty of seats available on the floor, no one was seated in the balcony. Much like The Supper Club on Escape, the Spiegel Tent serves a fixed three-course menu. The appetizer was a salad of sliced tomatoes and mozzarella with balsamic vinegar. The entree was three large shrimp, a small steak with green peppercorn sauce, and steak fries. For dessert, we were served a red velvet mini cupcake, a flan/panna cotta with mixed berries, and a chocolate cake bar with frosting.
As we dined, the performers came around dressed in whimsical costumes. One woman was dressed as a martini glass with a glittery olive fascinator and an olive purse. One guy came by with an enormous moon mask reminiscent of McDonald’s Mac Tonight character. The show began with a performer balancing glasses on the blade of a knife held in his mouth. His most impressive feat was balancing a candlestick on a balloon on the blade, then popping the balloon and catching the candlestick on the blade. Then a male-female acrobatic duo came out and did some impressive work on aerial silks. This kind of act always impresses me. I love the coordination in timing matched with the physical strength required to perform those acrobatics. Up next was performer dressed as a pirate who did tumbles and jumps on a slack line. The last performer I saw was a woman who, while perched on a platform on her back, balanced spinning tubes and built stacks of boxes on her feet. I’m sad to say she’s the last performer I saw because the motion of the ship really started to get to me. Probably seeing all the back and forth and spinning motion of the performances didn’t help. That said, if the motion of the ship bothered me that much, but they were still able to perform, I’m pretty impressed.
Billy's note: Worried about motion sickness? We recommend Sea-Bands as a drug-free solution that many people swear by. They're available from our shop if you want to help support CruiseHabit. Maybe we should have sent some along with Ric.
Tomorrow is a sea day, and I have a few CruiseCritic events scheduled like a Meet & Greet, a Slot Pull, and a Cabin Crawl. I also have reservations to see Burn The Floor. I was already looking forward to this dance show, and seeing promo videos for it on the stateroom tv has increased my excitement.
Norwegian Epic Live Blog Preamble - Ric's Solo Cruising Epic Adventures, The Fun (and Puns) Never End
Norwegian Epic Live Blog Day 1 - Embarkation Day
Norwegian Epic Live Blog Day 2 - Sea Day
Norwegian Epic Live Blog Day 3 - Sea Day
Norwegian Epic Live Blog Day 4 - Falmouth, Jamaica (as seen from the ship)
Norwegian Epic Live Blog Day 5 - Sea Day Off the Shore of Grand Cayman
Norwegian Epic Live Blog Day 6 - Sea Day With a Glow Party