I got a pretty amazing email the other day; it was Norwegian Cruise Lines asking if I wanted to join them on a cruise. After a good solid fifteen minutes of incoherent squealing, I emailed back saying hells yes. The cruise was a mini break, three days sailing starting and ending at Barcelona on their biggest ship appropriately named the Epic, along the way we would stop at Marseilles and Palma oh and have to choose from the 20something restaurants on-board … challenge accepted.
I always thought that cruising was the sort of holiday I would love. I am very much a solo traveller (I really don’t like other people), and cruising seemed like only way a solo female traveller could really let her hair down and not worry about a thing. After all, there was no cash to lose (everything on the boat is pretty much included, if not it gets charged to your room), no worries walking back late at night and entertainment on tap.
So I boarded a plane with a scoop of journalists (not kidding, that is the official Wikipedia collective noun) and headed off to the sun. Side note: journalists are beyond lovely people – they are the first to buy a round of drinks and they have the best murder stories, I highly recommend travelling with your own scoop.
The ship? boat? floating thing? was HUGE, I mean it seriously deserved the name Epic. On our short hop on the Med it would be carrying 4000 passengers plus staff which to be honest is a number I can’t even contemplate. Even with this epic number of people, the Epic never felt crowded. There was always a seat at dinner, you barely had to wait for the water-slides and everyone had a chance to rock climb (rock climbing on a boat, IIII know #Epic).
The room I had to call my own was a Balcony Stateroom, which was better than most of the land based hotels I had stayed in. Actually, pretty much everything on the Epic topped a land based hotel. The service by the staff was second to none, when I forgot my toothbrush and went to the front desk to check where I could buy one, they just handed me one with a smile. Oh and did I mention you could order FREE room service to anywhere on the ship? Feel like cake and coffee but are too lazy to move from your sun lounger? Problem solved.
And that brings me to what is included on the Epic. Most of the restaurants are, and those that aren’t have a small surcharge (like $15US) in order to eat there – they tend to be the specialist ones such as Japanese or Brazilian. Unless you have a specialist hankering the normal restaurants are fantastic, there is one buffet where you can pile four continents onto a plate, but my favourite was the Manhattan Room. Its basically a fancy restaurant where you order your three courses off an a la carte menu, thats right for no extra cost. Oh and for those moments when you are lost in the Epic, there is an Irish (O’Sheehans) bar half way down where you can get wings and burgers at any time of the day. I was only on the ship for three days and I’m pretty sure I doubled in size.
Oh and did I mention that Norwegian has specially designed solo rooms? They are essentially set up for the solo traveller, no balcony but you get your own lounge to hang out in (and breakfast or drink in) and it is a brilliantly cost effective way of enjoying the cruising experience.
Raaa ok this is all too much for just one blog post. Coming up this week the shore trip to Aix-en-Provence and what I did instead of going to Palma. I will leave you with this beautiful sunset from my last night on the Epic.
Big thanks to Norwegian Cruise Line for hosting me, as always all opinions are my own!