TRAVEL THERE: WELCOME TO MY NORWEGIAN EPIC CRUISE
Welcome to my cruise. The bus Norwegian engaged to transfer us from the Miami Beach Holiday Inn to the Epic showed up right on time. The loading and unloading was training film perfect. We zipped through check-in. The obligatory boarding photo was taken. All of a sudden we were on board Norwegian Epic.
Now, if there’s one thing about me that’s consistent it’s that I’ve got my priorities figured out. The first order of business was to be sure I was well-hydrated on the cruise. That meant taking advantage of the wine discount program and finding my thermal soda cup, so I could begin justifying the $6.25 it cost me per day.
Wine Discount Program
The easiest part was the wine discount program. We sidled up to a bar on the 5th deck and they handed us a form. All you have to do is mark the wines you want and give the nice lady your room card. This is a very good thing to do, because it gets you a 20% discount on your selections and streamlines your service. This is one of those things that you have to know about to ask for. Even if you don’t retain anything else I say in this blog, please remember this, take advantage of the wine discount program if your cruise offers one.
There’s a dissonance between Norwegian’s website and reality at this point though, so if you’re given to planning the way I am (my husband calls it over-planning), you might download the wine list from the website and select your wines. Don’t bother, because your discount is on specific lists of wines, not the entire list. There’s two or three categories of wine programs and each has a nice selection of wines to choose from, but selecting the wines from the wider list was just an exercise in futility.
We chose the least expensive program. We like a nice glass of wine, but we’re no grape snobs. Our taste buds demand something more exciting than Beringer White Zin, but don’t ask us the best year for grapes in Argentina. (I know people that could, however.) Even though we chose the most economical route, one of the best parts of the cruise was the wine. Every single wine, from a white zin we didn’t realize we’d chosen to the magnificent cabernet sauvignon, was a winner. Kudos to the alcohol and beverage manager.
Let me tell you another bit of planning you can skip. I ordered the soda program by phone before the cruise. According to the lady I talked to, I’d be handed a refillable soda cup upon arrival. That didn’t happen. The cup was delivered to my stateroom during the afternoon. My friends waited until they got on the boat to purchase their soda programs and were immediately handed a cup full of carbonated caffeine. That’s the way to go. Cans of soda were $2.50 on board the Epic. My $6.25 a day got me all the Pepsi product I could drink, on ice, from the fountain. Since I virtually have a soda in my hand all day, every day, I liked being able to get a fresh drink, on ice, whenever I wanted it. I can never finish an entire can quickly enough to keep it from getting warm and flat.
I’m a Pepper!
I’m going to complain a little bit here. Cola, any cola, is not my beverage of choice. I am a Diet Dr. Pepper addict. There are no Dr. Pepper products anywhere on the boat. You’re probably not amazed by that and neither am I, but I’m so fond of the concoction that I make it my business to make an official note of its absence whenever it’s unavailable.
Next we found our staterooms – mid-ship family balconies. I’ll describe the room at length later on, but my research saved me from being shocked by the twin towers on either side of the entry door which served as our toilet and shower. The stateroom was small. Good design keeps it from looking that way when you first walk in, but you’ll be tripping over yourself and your travel companion soon enough. But this was our first balcony. It only took us one cruise to figure out we weren’t fond of interior staterooms, but this was the first time we’d splurged on a balcony. I spent more time out there than I did any other place on the ship, except perhaps the Garden Cafe.
Speaking of the Garden Cafe, it was time for the Embarkation Buffet, so let’s go eat next week.