Thursday, March 6, 2014

Norwegian Epic "Wave" Balcony Staterooms

Cabin layouts in cruise ships don't vary much from ship to ship or cruise line to cruise line.  This is likely because every cruise line is trying to maximize the number of staterooms on the ship, therefore increasing the occupancy, and there are only so many ways to configure a stateroom.  However, the Norwegian Epic challenged the basic rectangular cabin with its "wave" layout.

Norwegian Epic Balcony Stateroom

I sailed in a wave balcony stateroom with my sister in May on our Mediterranean cruise.  I had read on Cruise Critic that the aft balconies had bad engine vibrations, and while I did notice it when we were entering and leaving port, it didn’t bother me at all. I loved the view from the aft – it was great to be able to look to either side of the ship. The only downside was that we did have some smokers neighboring us, so it was annoying to be on the balcony and smell smoke. I realize that there are very limited smoking areas on the ship and that smokers get the balcony stateroom for the luxury of being able to smoke on it. I just wish it didn’t smell so bad to non-smokers. I think this is a problem that is going to eliminate itself over the next few decades.


Norwegian Epic Balcony Stateroom


The design of the room itself is quite different than typical balcony cabins. One thing controversial on here is the lack of a true bathroom. When you enter, there is a shower on one side, a water closet on the other, and a sink out in the main room. You do have the option of closing a curtain to allow for privacy from the rest of the room if you wish, but if someone comes in through the door, then they’re walking through the bathroom space which is a bit odd. This room configuration wasn’t a problem for us, but I could see how it would be a concern for others. For us, it actually helped to have the sink in the main room because one of us could get ready by the sink while the other was in the shower. And the shower also never fogged up the mirror which was nice. It’s a room that works for families that aren’t super modest, but one you probably wouldn’t want to be in with a stranger.

Norwegian Epic Balcony Stateroom


Norwegian Epic Balcony Stateroom

As for storage, there is a lot of storage space, but it’s all very weird. They didn’t have standard sets of drawers. In one cabinet, there were baskets on the back of each of the cabinet doors which was completely bazaar to me. Most of the storage was up high, which was annoying for us because we had to stand on the bed to get to that overhead storage or climb on the counter to reach the top shelf of the safe cabinet. A set of drawers or just some shelves down low would be nice.

What the “wave” allows NCL to do is cram in more staterooms by taking away a large amount of floor space in front of the sofa. It’s a concept that they like because they continued it with a similar floor plan on the Breakaway (but instead of curving walls, they used right angles). While it looks cool, it’s actually taking away square footage from the stateroom. It was annoying when the boys would come in and sit on our couch while we were trying to get ready because their knees extended to the counter, and we had to step over them. This is why I can’t imagine putting four (grown) people in this cabin – there is very little space for circulation. Any more than two people and you’re stepping over one another.


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