Here is my daily update....
Sorry, but I will got to all of the questions here anon, and type the answers off line and come back and post them. I need another nap!
I am enjoying my trip now. The number of complaints has been reduced gretly - they are working things out quickly.
As fppr feeling crowded, no, it doesn't, except at showtimes. There is a problem with the venues beinbg too small as I explain in my text below. DO make reservations, but even that will not be enough.
I doubt the beds in a studio stateroom can be sparated, but why anyway? You have to pay the same price to get two separate ones - and they do connect. The other statrooms do not seem to have much room to separate beds, by the way - but they must.
Here is my report...
Sunday – June 27
The Second City Murder Mystery is a lunchtime show along with Second City performing what they call a Murder Mystery. It is essentially jusy a funny show with very little audience interactive beyond what the five person group does in any of its shows – basically asking the audience to shout out a word or ask a question.
The lunch was a cold stuffed chicken breast. Basically, it seems like a fun way for a family to get together for a fun meal; cost $10 per person. I enjoyed it and I was one of the few people to guess who the murderer was based on the very first clue he dropped just a few minutes into the show. But I won’t give it away.
Afterwards I did my first Rudy Maxa radio show, dialing into the States from the ship, then I took a loooong nap, which meant I was wide awake at 9:00 p.m. and could not sleep. I wandered about the ship. I saw some people I met at lunch in the non-reservation line for the 11:00 pm Second City Show so they let me cut in.
Here is what you need to know about Epic reservations; as I said DO make your reservation before you get here. Epic takes a pride in being the first fully free-style ship. This means that there is no venue larger than 680 passengers (the main theater for Blue Man Group and Legends), because the idea is that everyone will be in a different place every night. However, because they do not open the venues even to people with reservations until about 20 minutes before the show, you find everyone lining up as much as an hour before. Those with reservations line up to get the best seats, while another line forms for the 20-30% of seats they do not pre-reserve. Those people start lining up even sooner because all of the reserved seats are filled first, and the rest go to the hoi-polloi.
The program yesterday had a show for a comedian listed to show in the Cirque Theater, which only holds about 200 people. I heard there was a line of 1000 people outside waiting to get in – and no one came along to tell them most of them would never get in. This is why ships should probably continue to have main theaters.
Today the Studio Lounge has working televisions, a host on duty, peanuts on the bar and a blackboard for people who want to meet up. The coffee was hot this morning and they had fresh pastry. I really think this Studio Stateroom idea is going to catch on, but now they just need a little more: A German reader from CruiseMates, named Aviva, just approached me with some suggestions:
“This Lounge is coming along, but the blackboard was my idea. The TVs are good, but the movies in the cabins cost $12 to rent, so they should show the same movies here in the lounge for free. They need more activities here, like a singles host to organize outings and games.”
I suggested they should add some board games and a DVD player. “but the good thing,” I said to Aviva “is that you and I are talking because we both know we are single cruisers and on another ship there is no room like this where we could meet and automatically know we are both open to meeting new people – there is no automatic way to identify other single cruisers on regular ships.”
To which she replied, quite astutely, “Well, I talk to everyone on ships so that is not a problem for me.” Good for her, “and besides they should call us solo cruisers, not single, because that has a bad connotation, and besides, not everyone is single.” Come to think of it, I’m not single. Talking to Aviva I almost forgot that.
Last night I ended up eating a very late night dinner at O’Sheehan’s about 2:00 in the morning. Once again, it is great to have freshly cooked food available 24 hours on a cruise ship. On Princess they keep the buffet open, on Carnival there is a 24-hour pizzeria, and here on Epic they have O’Sheehan’s, the English pub. This is the best of those ideas in my opinion. You can get a tall English bitter at any time. For my late dinner I had chicken wings and pita chips with a tasty, hot spinach cheese sauce. It was hot, freshly cooked, much better than a cold slice of pizza or buffet food from under a heat lamp.
Finally I went to bed and slept until 9:30. I was scheduled to met Roberto Martinolli and Doug Ward again for a tour of the engine room, crew quarters and then lunch in the courtyard suites. I will have some great pictures of the engine room up soon, but once again the line would not let me take pictures of the crew quarters. I am sorry, but I have seen plenty of crew quarters and they certainly have nothing to hide on Epic.
85% of the Epic crew gets to sleep in a private cabin. This is unheard of on cruise ships. Most cruise chips put at least two people in every cabin. This crew has a huge game area with thousands of DVD movies to borrow. There was a drum set and guitar amps, I guess for the crew band to play on. The Internet center looked just like one for the passengers; with about 20 workstations, and the gym had the same brand of machines as the passenger gym; five treadmills, five elliptical, stationary bikes, resistance machines and a complete set of free weights. Oh, and an area for aerobics and yoga.
The crew bar a HUGE with a DJ booth, several flat screen televisions, a great disco lighting system and video games like “Rock Band.”
Next we saw the engine control room, which is always interesting, and we were even taken into the bowels of the ship where the generators create the electricity that powers the ship, including all the power onboard and for the two propulsion motors, the electric motors that turn the two propeller shafts.
Roberto cleared up something I had already posted. The bearing that went bad was, indeed, in a propeller shaft (I thought so). We went to see the exact engine it belonged to. The bad bearing was in the middle internal support for the shaft. It was easy to fix, but they just did not have the right part.
Knut Bakken, director of technical operations told us that Epic burn 3500-3700 gallons of fuel per hour. That is “bunker fuel,” a very low grade petroleum product. All together, the ship can create about 100,000 horse power, 24 megawatts of power.
We donned our helmets, gloves and earplugs and went to the engine rooms. You really have to see my pictures to appreciate this experience. We saw both propeller shafts turning, the motors that drive them and where they go outside to water. We also saw the water desalinization plant where they can produce and store 800,000 gallons of potable water, and about 450,000 gallons are consumed daily. They use a reverse osmosis process.
I am going to post this text now and I will post pictures later. Please check back, the pictures are really worth it.
NOTE: I just a got note from NCL PR on board saying the policy is to open the shows at least 30 minutes before showtime, and that the line for the comedian was more like 250 people rather than the 1000 I had heard from passengers. I guess this is one of the problems of traveling on a ship where the PR department is monitoring what I write - (even though I paid my own way) - now you understand the effusiveness of the first press cruise by the American reporters onboard before me traveling for free.
In any case - policy is important and I hope they stick to that 30 minute policy. I personally witnessed a show that opened to reservations just about 10 minutes before showtime. I really dont see why people with reservations should have to stand in line at all, except that they need to have a staff nenber there to check people in.
In any case - I won't be the final judge of how well this system works - we will hear from future cruisers with their own impressions. I do hope you sail on this ship, it is worth it. Then you can let us know YOUR impressions.
I am the editor, but I also speculate, ask questions and play devil's advocate. I reserve the right to change my mind.