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Norwegian Epic Transatlantic – Day 1 – Boarding

by Patrick O'Halloran
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The countdown timer has reached zero. It’s boarding day for our 13 night transatlantic cruise aboard Norwegian Epic.

We awake in the comfy surroundings of the H10 Metropolitan in Barcelona. The hotel itself is perfectly located a stone throw from Placa Catalunya. We love this little hotel and the attention to detail the staff give to all their guests. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to a balcony room which overlooks the pool area at the rear of the hotel. They also sent up a complimentary bottle of Cava and truffles the evening before. A nice touch.

We breakfast at the hotel. I keep it simple with scrambled eggs bacon and grilled tomato. Peter has fried eggs, bacon and mushrooms. The croissants they serve are so delicious we almost ask for more but with a 2 week cruise ahead we decide to restrain ourselves.


We relax in our room for an hour or so before taking our cases downstairs to check out. The concierge calls a taxi for us and we are soon hurtling through the streets of Barcelona toward the port. We spy Epic as we cross the small bridge to the port. She sits alongside the much smaller Marella Celebration.

It seems that everyone has turned up at the same time as the terminal is a hive of activity. Organised chaos though as we are soon directed to drop our bags off with the porter and then to join the long line of people entering the terminal building. The line moves quickly and we are soon filling in our health questionnaires and checking in where we receive our key cards. From arrival to stepping onboard the ship took 50 minutes. Not too bad. We are fairly new to NCL. We sailed on Norwegian Breakaways inaugural sailing from Rotterdam to Southampton a few years ago. Just one night, not enough time to form an opinion on the cruise line.

We head up to deck 15 and the Garden Cafe which is Epics buffett dining option. We sit outside in the warm Catalonian sunshine. It is really pleasant considering its early November. The area is busy as you would expect on boarding day but there is plenty of seating. I get a cheeseburger with fries and wash this down with an ice cold beer. Peter has the same. A guy comes up to us to say hello. We both have no idea who he is but he does look vaguely familiar. Peter thinks he was on the Eclipse TA with us last year (it turns out he and his wife were on that sailing). Small world.

We head down to the Maltings Bar for a drink as the rooms are not ready yet. All drinks are served without straws as NCL have introduced a no plastic straw policy. The only time I see this being an issue is for long frozen style cocktails. To that end I did bring some stainless steel re-usable straws with me. Just in case.

The rooms are declared ready just before 2pm and so we make our way to cabin 10189. It’s a standard balcony cabin. It’s a bit smaller than what we are used to on Royal and Celebrity but nice all the same. The balcony is a decent size with two chairs and a rather small table. The only thing we don’t really like is the bathroom set up. The shower and toilet are two separate rooms and the wash basin is actually situated in the cabin itself. There is a curtain you can draw across to separate the toilet/shower with the main part of the cabin. I am sure we will get used to it.

Muster drill is in the casino. It’s relatively straightforward with not many stragglers, which always helps as this is the part of the cruise everyone wants to get out of the way. Once done we head back to the cabin. My case turns up before Peters and so I unpack. Peter gets restless waiting for his and goes off in search. It’s waiting for him outside the cabin when he gets back.

Once unpacked we relax in the room in preparation for our departure at 6pm. We open up the bubbly and toast a happy cruise as Epic slips her moorings and makes her way out of the port and into the Mediterranean where she takes a southerly course. We are due to arrive in Funchal, Madeira on Wednesday.

We shower and change and head out just before 7pm. We head back to Maltings where I enjoy a great Woodfords Old Fashioned. They never seemed to get this right on Oasis of the Seas back in April but on here it was perfect. From there we head to the Bliss Lounge where there is an LGBT Welcome cocktail party. We don’t normally attend these types of things preferring to meet people as and when we do throughout the course of the cruise. However, as there was such an active LGBT Facebook group for this cruise we decide to attend.

Out of 4000 guests 400 are LGBT and I think they all turned up as the Bliss Lounge was crowded. We say hi to people from the FB Group. Peter knows more of them then me as he was more active on FB than me. They all seem very friendly and excited to be on the cruise. The Cruise Directer, Andre (also LGBT) stops by to say hello and advises that there will be a daily LGBT event at 7pm in the Cavern Club.

We head off for dinner just before 8.30pm. We are in Taste tonight. One of 21 eating venues on this ship. The food is excellent. I have Shrimp and Crabcakes followed by a Caesar Salad and then Chicken Piccanto for main. Dessert is a salted caramel mousse. Peter has crabcakes, Greek salad and Beef Tenderloins followed by apple pie al a mode. We are impressed with both the quality of the food and the excellent service which is both friendly and attentive.

It’s not a late night for us. We try a cocktail in Shakers Martini Bar which we don’t really like and so we head back to Bliss for one more glass of wine before retiring for the evening.

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