An Epic Cruise Adventure with Aaron Fletcher of Travel Solutions!

AARON FLETCHER, Cruise Manager at Travel Solutions was on board Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic for a four night cruise from Barcelona to celebrate their ‘Big Cruise Bounce Back’...

It’s been a long 18 months, but finally, I had the chance to once again step on board a cruise ship and help NCL with their `Big cruise Bounce back` with a 4 night test cruise from Barcelona on board NCL Epic.

After returning negative results on our Antigen test, which is provided at the port pre-departure by NCL, we couldn’t wait to get back on board and be cruising again.

Staff and crew were so happy to see us and you could feel the air of excitement around the ship as people began to enjoy all that NCL Epic had to offer.

Aside from wearing face coverings when walking around public areas, it felt just as normal on board. The level of service was as high as ever. The wide range of food and entertainment was outstanding, and it was very obvious how happy people were to be back cruising.

During the day, around the main pool was the hub of activity – Everyone enjoying the live music, appetising food and sampling how their premium drinks package worked was the order of the day. Spice H2O provided a quiet, adult only, ambience at the aft of the ship where you could enjoy a nice hot tub with sea views to die for. Throughout the ship there was Trivia’s, dance classes, seminars and Duty-free shopping to enjoy as well.

As the night drew in, we entered a foodie’s paradise with a wide range of choice for dinner. Speciality restaurants include the ever-popular Teppanyaki Asian fusion restaurant where we were treated to a live demonstration of show cooking at its finest. We also dined in le Bistro with its speciality French Cuisine and, of course, the nicest steak at sea can be found in Cagney’s.

If you are wanting a slightly more relaxed dinner or are pushed for time to make a show, the main dining is open seating so you can dine when you want to. There is also O’Sheehans American Grill which is a real hub of activity during the evenings. They offer a 24hr menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner and the ‘one for the road’ hot dog or cheeseburger on your way back to the cabin each night.

Entertainment wise, we were spoilt for choice. We were treated to the premier showings of the 2 main Broadway productions on board in the theatre. The fast paced, energetic dance show ‘Burn the Floor’ had everyone on their feet and we were very lucky to see ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ – shows that you would pay hundreds of dollars for in New York, all included within the price of your cruise – fantastic.

Smaller, more bar type venues like Headliners bar offered live music, stand up comedians, magicians and tribute acts throughout the 4 nights with the Dualling Pianos being by far the most popular choice with most. NCL have amazingly re-created a replica of the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where each night, an outstanding Beatles tribute band entertain the masses. Around the ship there is always something happening, so whether you wanted a big Broadway production or a quiet drink somewhere, there was always something on offer throughout the night.

All in all, NCL Epic ticks all the boxes. Short flight to Barcelona, short transfer to the port, Plenty of choice on board, high quality of food, excellent standard of service, endless entertainment and most of all, everyone smiling constantly and enjoying themselves… it was great to be back!

FAQ’s

  • Travelling: Travelling experience was fantastic. As long as you have the passenger locator form complete and your covid certificate, entering Spain was a breeze. Within 20mins we were off the plane, luggage lifted and through any checks and en route to our hotel
  • Check-in in at the port: Again, a really well-oiled operation. Plenty of staff to keep you right and point you in the right direction. The free Antigen test which was provided by NCL was a very smooth process. You book this during your on-line cruise check in and a QR code is generated which saves your test and result details. The test took 30 seconds and the results were through to our phone within 10minutes and we were good to go.
  • What if you test positive? So long as you have a double vaccine dose, covid certificate and have followed NCL’s protocols before arriving at the port, they will cover you if you happen to test positive – so it gives you complete peace of mind. NCL have a covid liaison officer who arranges your quarantine hotel and arranges your travel home. They also keep in contact with you at your quarantine location so you are not left feeling abandoned – so it gives you complete peace of mind.
  • Life on board: Passenger safety is absolute paramount – you can see from the outset. There was a visible increase of cleaners present around public areas, constantly cleaning bannisters, inside the elevators, table tops and other public area touch points – so this gave us all some added reassurance in terms of cleanliness. Face coverings are still mandatory in public areas, but when having a meal or a drink and when outside sitting by the pool, it is OK to remove the covering. The rule is really only enforced whilst walking around inside the ship. Other than that, life on board was very much normal. Staff were fantastic, all really pleased to see passengers again. Standard of service was as high as ever. The food top notch and entertainment fantastic. We were treated to the premier showings of ‘Burn the Floor’ & ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ – The ever popular ‘Howl at the Moon’ bar was back with their dualling pianos and The Beatles tribute at the Cavern club was as popular as ever.
  • Dis-Embarking: A free antigen test is provided by NCL on your last day on board. This covers the negative result needed to get back home. Again, it was very smooth and more importantly, free of charge. If a positive test is returned, NCL put you up on this ship until your quarantine is complete. Again, their liaison officer makes all necessary arrangements for your travel home.

Book your own Epic Adventure!

Travel Solutions have NCL Epic packages for Summer 2022, which include flights from Belfast, transfers to the port, seven nights on board with your choice of two from premium drinks / Speciality dining / Shore excursion credit or Wifi package. Visit www.travel-solutions.co.uk/tour/western-mediterranean-cruise/ or call: 02890455030 – Option 3.

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