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Battle of the Norwegian Cruise Line Big Ships


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I've only been on Getaway, Breakaway, and Epic..... but in terms of thermal suites, hands down the Epic wins for me. I think the thermal suite on the Epic is one of the best at sea. What makes it exceptional for me is the outdoor aft balcony with padded loungers. Perfect solution when we don't want to spend the extra for our own aft balcony cabin. I've found that I prefer to relax outside. The spas on Breakaway and Getaway (and any interior spa at sea) are lovely, but the chlorine smell irritated my eyes after awhile.

 

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Let's stay with the newest ships....

 

Taking up 1/3 of Deck 15 (from the forward elevators to the bow), the Observation Lounge provide panoramic views in a living room setting. The two story forward facing windows (shared with the Garden Cafe buffet) give you views that can't be missed. With a private bar and a buffet serving light breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks (tea time), the Observation lounge provides an immense space for relaxation and taking in the views (best on Alaskan cruises). There is nighttime live music and special events during the day. 

 

While younger than the Joy, the Norwegian Bliss was the first to introduce the Observation Lounge on her maiden voyages to Alaska. You can spend hours watching the scenery, whales, dolphins, and other sea life as you sail between ports. 

 

During her $50M dry dock to convert her from the Asian market to the American market, the Joy removed a lot of Deck 15 rooms and the concierge lounge to install the Observation Lounge. In addition to the bar, a second Starbucks serving a limited menu was also installed in the Observation Lounge on the Joy. 

 

The Encore, NCL's newest ship, carries on the "made for Alaska" tradition with it's own Observation Lounge. 

 

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3 hours ago, BirdTravels said:

In addition to the bar, a second Starbucks serving a limited menu was also installed in the Observation Lounge on the Joy. 

 

I'll go with the Joy. After over indulging at the bar in the Observation Lounge, having a Starbucks there would come in handy for the inevitable hang over that would ensue. The comfy couches and chairs would also help.

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There is always a battle to stay fit while on a cruise. The ships offer a variety of free and for-fee services and classes. 

 

Similar to the Thermal Suite, Pulse Fitness is in the front of the ship on the Breakaway, Getaway, Escape,  and at the back on the Epic, Bliss, Joy, and Encore. 

 

Fitness equipment is similar and gets refreshed during the 5-year dry docks. 

 

And there is always a demonstration person scamming you with an ancient "parlor trick" to get you to buy arch supports. 

 

One thing to remember is that you never want a room under the gym. You don't need the thump thump thump of a treadmill over your head starting at 6 every morning. NCL oddly even puts some of their Haven suites under the gym which is very unfortunate.

 

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On 7/11/2020 at 2:55 PM, BirdTravels said:

Today's Battle of the Big Ships takes us all the way to the back of the ships. Spice H20 made it's first appearance on the Epic with a large aft sundeck, pool which converted to a stage for night time activities, stadium seating (reminiscent of the small ships aft decks), and a large video screen.

 

Over time, Spice H20 shrunk in size, but added water features.

 

For a while, the Breakaway and Getaway both had fireworks shows shot from the Spice.

 

On the Bliss, the video screen was removed as larger and larger screens were added to the main pool area.

 

And on the Encore, Spice H20 disappeared,,, replaced by laser tag.

 

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We truly enjoyed Spice on the Epic years ago...

We did a T/A on the Getaway - most of the cruise Spice was quiet & we enjoyed ourselves w/ a few others...

When the weather was nice many people were enjoying...

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2 hours ago, BirdTravels said:

There is always a battle to stay fit while on a cruise. The ships offer a variety of free and for-fee services and classes. 

 

Similar to the Thermal Suite, Pulse Fitness is in the front of the ship on the Breakaway, Getaway, Escape,  and at the back on the Epic, Bliss, Joy, and Encore. 

 

Fitness equipment is similar and gets refreshed during the 5-year dry docks. 

 

And there is always a demonstration person scamming you with an ancient "parlor trick" to get you to buy arch supports. 

 

One thing to remember is that you never want a room under the gym. You don't need the thump thump thump of a treadmill over your head starting at 6 every morning. NCL oddly even puts some of their Haven suites under the gym which is very unfortunate.

 

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They all look pretty nice to me. I'll give a nod to the Escape again for the same reason I gave for her Thermal Suite. I prefer to look out forward rather than aft. From the above pictures, it looks like they all have big windows with great views.

 

Yeah, I wouldn't be too happy being in a Haven suite (and paying premium Haven price) directly under the gym. In addition to the thump thump thump of a treadmill over your head starting at 6 every morning, you'd also have the inconsiderate loud dropping of the barbells and dumbells onto the deck every time someone finishes a rep.

 

On cruises, I used to love getting up early and hitting the gym (& jogging track) every morning before breakfast. Now being (ahem) older, I don't think that would be happening again on any cruises. I'll probably opt for the sleeping in.

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I have sailed on the Spirit, Gem, Epic, Getaway, Breakaway, Escape, and Bliss. Escape is by far my favorite for a variety reasons. My second favorite is the Epic. It is unique in class. It may not have the best appearance from the exterior but I loved its layout and amenities.

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So, let's get real. No matter how much people insist on it, a ship with 4500+ passengers will never have all 4500 people on the pool deck at the same time. And no one sits in the sun from sunrise to sunset. 

The big ships typically  have an adult pool, family pool and splash pool for the kids along with a couple of bars for "hydration". If you want a drink, get up and go to the bar. You will not get personalized wait service on the sun decks, it will be more by chance that a waiter is walking by. If you want personalized service, pay for a Vibe/Posh Club pass or use the Haven sundeck. 

 

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On 7/10/2020 at 7:40 PM, BirdTravels said:

Fans of the Phantom of the Opera know that it's all about the chandelier. Which big ship chandelier is your favorite?

 

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joy>getaway>rest

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On 7/11/2020 at 5:55 PM, BirdTravels said:

Today's Battle of the Big Ships takes us all the way to the back of the ships. Spice H20 made it's first appearance on the Epic with a large aft sundeck, pool which converted to a stage for night time activities, stadium seating (reminiscent of the small ships aft decks), and a large video screen.

 

Over time, Spice H20 shrunk in size, but added water features.

 

For a while, the Breakaway and Getaway both had fireworks shows shot from the Spice.

 

On the Bliss, the video screen was removed as larger and larger screens were added to the main pool area.

 

And on the Encore, Spice H20 disappeared,,, replaced by laser tag.

 

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joy has a huge hot tub which i like

 

Never been on epic

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The two newest big ships, Joy and Encore, feature the Galaxy Pavilion. Step into alternate reality on on a large number of virtual simulators ranging from robot battles to race cars, to trips through prehistoric times to hang gliding. It is amazing where you can go once you dawn one of the VR headsets. 

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I’ve only done the Bliss and the Getaway...

but that chandelier on the Joy has always been my favorite. Encore has to be one of the ugliest ever for chandelier. 
 

bliss has the best thermal spa

 

i would sail on Bliss again... Escape is the one I want to travel next.  

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Hmmmmm.....the Epic was our first cruise on a Norwegian Ship since sailing the (now defunct) SS Norway.  So, having a cruise ship so modern, offering so much, and so far removed from the SS Norway was stunning.  We had a Balcony and loved the sink, shower and toilet set up.  I guess if you're sailing with someone who you is not your spouse or significant other, there might be some who didn't like the set up.  But, when doing something like shaving while the other person was showering was quite convenient.

 

Have sailed both the Getaway and Breakaway twice each.  The WATERFRONT on those ships was such a delight, we ate meals and drinks out there every day.  Loved that feature.

 

Sailed the GEM....just a different and welcome experience after coming off of a bunch of mega ship cruises on MSC, RCCL, and NCL.  Met some great people on that ship (who I still love chatting with in here).

 

Also sailed Escape twice.  Probably my favorite NCL ship.

 

Was going to sail the Bliss to Alaska on October.  Clearly, that's not happening.  But, someday I'll take that cruise.

 

Escape is my fave (so far) but have loved them all.

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I have been on the Escape, Getaway, Bliss and Joy.

 

If the Escape has the observation lounge then it would be my favorite by far.

 

Since it doesn't I have to go with the Bliss

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Feel the need for speed? The Joy, Bliss and Encore have the fastest go karts at sea. The Joy was the first and has the shortest and slowest track. On the Encore, they build the track hanging over the end of the ship making it the widest and fastest track on NCL ships. 

 

Or, if you are on the older ships, you can get tangled in the ropes course. The Breakaway and Getaway were the first with a single plank to walk out over the edge of the ship. On the Escape, the Ropes course expanded to 2 stories with two planks and two sky rails/zip lines (one taking you out over the end of the ship). NCL was considering replacing the ropes course and sports deck on the Escape with a newer, faster go kart track during her next dry dock.

 

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With the launch of the Norwegian Epic, the Manhattan Room became the iconic symbol of main dining. Modeled after a New York supper club, the dining room featured live dance band playing music each night and a large dance floor for diners. A 2-story aft-facing window with Cagney's and Moderno looking down from above, Freestyle Dining was taken to a new level. 

 

The Breakaway, Getaway, and Escape continued with the live bands and dance floors. Ships featuring the Broadway show Burn the Floor also brought the cast in to preform hot, Latin dances for the diners. We had a dance floor-side table on the Getaway where one of those cast members was a young Keo Motsepe, now a pro dancer on the US Dancing with the Stars and a finalist on a recent season. 

 

With the Joy, Bliss and Encore, the lifeboats are stowed inboard, allowing the ships to transit the Panama Canal. This makes all facilities on Deck 7 a lot narrower, including the Manhattan Room. With the smaller space, the dance floor was eliminated. 

 

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I loved the Burn the Floor dinner shows in Tropicana and Manhattan on the Getaway and Breakaway.

  

Also very fun to eat dinner and watch some really good dancing from cruising couples....clearly some have had lessons!   

Edited by Sand and Seas
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25 minutes ago, Sand and Seas said:

Also very fun to eat dinner and watch some really good dancing from cruising couples....clearly some have had lessons! 

 

My girlfriend (at the time, then became my fiance then my wife, now we're divorced, lol) and I were supposed to be one of those dancing cruising couples. Took many dancing lessons specifically for our 12 day Med cruise on the then brand new Carnival Dream (sailed out of Civitavecchia, Italy).

 

However, for some strange reason, when we were on the cruise, we only danced once. I still don't know why we didn't dance a lot more, especially after paying for and taking all those dance lessons.

 

Of the two of us, one of us didn't want to dance anymore after that one dance (we did pretty good btw). I'll give you a clue, it wasn't me.

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