Family Friendly Norwegian Epic

Often when holiday providers promote themselves as family friendly it is more beneficial for school age children so it is helpful to know if the same counts for pre-schoolers.  The Norwegian Epic markets itself as family friendly so did it match up to expectations with its activities and facilities?

There is a free Kids Club programme for children aged 3 years and up

It is advisable to register your kids at the kids club on the first day of your holiday as they are issued with a wristband and you answer all the security questions etc (who is authorised to pick them up etc) there and then and it is done.  Children aged 3 and up can be dropped off at the kids club when it is open and you collect them at any time before the kids club closes for mealtimes or for the evening.  You can also arrange for the kids to eat at the kids club if you prefer.

You can’t go into the kids club with them so your child has to be confident enough to be led away by one of the friendly members of staff.  The kids are separated into groups by age and they can take part in lots of activities, watch films, make new friends and so on.

Master ATWWAH only went in the kids club once on the Epic.  He seemed to enjoy it, he had made a flag, and he told us it was good fun.  The cruise we did only had one sea day so the other days we tended to be off exploring a port and now that Mini ATWWAH is a bit older I think he quite liked hanging around with his younger brother.

There were a couple of older kids we saw every morning at breakfast who went to the kids club every day and seemed to love it.  They were always in football kit and were taking part in a tournament.

There are also family activities which run in the early evenings around the ship including pirate treasure hunts and Meet and Greets with Nickelodeon characters.  Master ATWWAH is a bit funny about costume characters and did an about turn when Dora The Explorer and Spongebox Squarepants approached.

If you have teenagers they have their own area too in the form of a lounge with video games and so on which becomes a nightclub in the evening.

There is a kids play area for kids aged under 3

There is a Guppies room for under 3’s on deck 4 of the ship which is a drop in.  You can’t leave your children here; an adult must stay with them.  There are lots of toys laid out for free play and at least once a day there is a 30 minute organised activity led by a member of the kids club team like singing, painting etc.

I was a bit disappointed with the Guppies area on the Epic as it is in a meeting room and is really boring for the adults.  The window is obscured by room dividers and the air con is turned right up so it’s pretty cold in there.  On the Norwegian Jade the Guppies room was up on the swimming pool deck and although the room was smaller it was floor to ceiling windows and you felt like you were still on holiday.  On the Epic you really feel like you are in a meeting room with playmats and toys.

Guppies play room

The not very welcoming Guppies play room

Having said that Mini ATWWAH loved a little play and explore in there, I suppose it was nice for him to have some toys to play with which were bigger than the ones I’d brought in our hand luggage.

There is no babysitting service in your room…..

For many a safety reason there is no babysitting facility in your cabin but if your child is old enough to go to the kids club then you can drop them in there in the evening until 1am.  We never did this but I assume most of them nod off to sleep and you pick them up and carry them to bed when you are ready.  Mini ATWWAH was too young to go there so it seemed pointless.  When they are both older we may give it a go as it’s a good way to spend time just adults in the evening.  Although children are welcome in almost all areas of the ship in the evening, more on that later….

The swimming pools and slides are a big hit

The pool deck of the ship is huge with swimming pools which are constantly full of people, there isn’t much chance to actually swim and on the busy days Mr ATWWAH commented that the pools looked like a human soup.

There are some great water slides which Mr ATWWAH took full advantage of one afternoon.  Master ATWWAH attempted to have a go on one of them.  He’s tall for his age and managed to just pass the height restriction so up he went with his dad.  The attendant at the top explained you had to go down on your own for safety reasons and suggested Mr ATWWAH go first so that he could wait for Master ATWWAH at the bottom.  He explained although the slides were fun they were pretty fast and in parts completely covered.

Master ATWWAH assured his dad he would be fine so Mr ATWWAH went down and waited patiently.  The next person to come down was a lady who was laughing saying that Master ATWWAH had told the attendant he had changed his mind and didn’t want to do it.  The lovely attendant asked the next person to pass the message on to Mr ATWWAH so he could go back up to collect him while he sat chatting to Master ATWWAH.  I’m sure next time he’ll have a go….

kids pool

The kids pool was a hit with our two

The kids pool area was a big hit with both Master and Mini ATWWAH.  It was very shallow and had a mini water slide as well as jets of water.  The water was really nice and warm and the pair of them spent many an afternoon in there.  Even Mini ATWWAH was sliding down the water slide there.  Although it was shallow one of us stayed in there with them.  Warning to parents, you do get soaked in there so wear your swimwear as the kids love messing with the water jets so they spray everywhere.  Mr ATWWAH and I took it in turns to drink our cocktails from a safe distance.

There are loads of sport facilities and an outdoor cinema

For older kids there are tons of sports to try with basketball courts, climbing walls, football pitches and so on.  There are organised activities and you can also book out the courts.  Almost all the port days were early starts so we took advantage after breakfast one morning and introduced the boys to basketball.

There is also a huge cinema screen outside on the top deck which in the day oddly showed beach scenes which was a bit weird.  But at night had different films showing.

There are not enough nights on your holiday to eat in every restaurant

There are tons of complimentary restaurants for you to eat at as well as some where you have to pay a cover charge.  All of the restaurants offer a kids menu, which is the same in each restaurant and has the usual kids choices of burgers, hot dogs etc.  But you can just order food from the main menu too for the kids which we tried to do as much as possible.  We tried these complimentary restaurants:

Shanghai’s Chinese Restaurant – very friendly, fast service with good Chinese food.  We had spring rolls, hot and sour soup, chicken and pork dishes with rice and noodles.

The Garden Café – this is a huge buffet restaurant which I hated.  It was always really busy and chaotic.  Although there was lots of choice as to what to eat the food was generally lukewarm, which didn’t bother the kids.  I don’t really like buffets anyway so maybe I’m biased but this was my least favourite place and we only really went when we needed to feed the kids quickly.  I usually just had a glass of wine in there.

O’Sheehan’s Neighbourhood Bar & Grill – this was a bit of a comfort food place and we all had fish and chips in there one night.  It also has a three lane bowling alley which even if you are not playing (annoyingly kids had to be over 6 years) was good entertainment to watch while waiting for your food.

fish and chips

Friday night holiday fish and chips

The Haven Restaurant – this is complimentary for Haven guests and had a lovely menu with different specials.  The main problem we found here was Mini ATWWAH and keeping him entertained before the food arrived.  It is a quiet restaurant so we often took it in turns to take him out of there while the other one ate if he was playing up.

We also paid the cover charge for a couple of restaurants and if you only pay extra for one meal you have to make it the Teppanyaki place.  It was brilliant.  The kids were fascinated by the chef cooking in front of them, the food was delicious and the chefs didn’t just cook, they used their utensils as instruments and just kept us all entertained.  We were on a table with newlyweds Emily and Jason from Winconsin, who were so friendly despite spending their first meal of their honeymoon with two young children.

teppanyaki

The food is definitely fresh in the teppanyaki restaurant

teppanyaki

Even Mini ATWWAH was listening to the chef

The ship also has a theatrical dining experience, Spiegel Tent, with acrobats as you eat.  We’d have loved to have gone but we knew we would be pushing our luck with Mini ATWWAH as the first sitting was at 8pm and he’d be going bonkers by then especially as you have to stay seated due to the performance. Next time……

There are some great shows to watch

Children are welcome in the shows and there are usually two shows per evening in the main theatre, the first at 7.30pm, the second at 9pm.  Both Master and Mini ATWWAH fell asleep in every show we went to and we were not alone when carrying out sleeping children at the end of the performance.

I saw Burn The Floor twice, as I went on my own the first evening.  It is a dancing show with an international cast of professional dancers.  If you like Strictly you’ll love it.  But be warned, if you are feeling a bit flabby after too much food you will feel very inferior in comparison to the scantily clad dancers, male and female.

burn the floor

Burn The Floor

We all really enjoyed Soul Satisfaction which was four guys singing Motown songs.  They were excellent.  Mini ATWWAH was hilarious and totally unprompted stood up for the start of their show and kept clapping with his hands above his head.  I think it was a hit.

Soul Satisfaction

Soul Satisfaction on stage and Mini ATWWAH appreciating them in the corner of the shot

The Legends Show was the most disappointing and most cruise-like of the shows we saw.  It had Rod Stewart, Sting and Gloria Estefan impersonators and was a bit cheesy.

Mr ATWWAH went to see Howl At The Moon one evening in the comedy club which was on around 9.30pm so I stayed back with the sleeping boys.  He thought it was great and very clever.  It’s described as a rock and roll duelling piano show and they take requests.

We didn’t go to any of the organised parties although saw a lot of families with slightly older kids who did.  Again, next time……

The Epic is definitely family friendly and I think when you have younger kids you just have to feel your way a bit more and work out what the kids can handle, and you.

Have you been on a cruise with the kids?  Any recommendations for truly family friendly cruise lines?

If you liked this post then you might like these:

The 2 Bed Family Villa on Norwegian Epic

Why I hate buffet restaurants

Why you should try a cruise holiday with the kids

Things to do with the kids on the Norwegian Jade

10 ways you know you are eating with kids on holiday

 

 

 

2 Comments
  1. I’ve heard such great things about Norweigian and how family-friendly they are. I’ve not been cruising yet, but I am seriously considering it as long as there are not too many sea days as I am worried about feeling claustrophobic! But what I get from your post and others is how much there is to see, do and eat. I don’t think Monkey could possibly be bored! Looks like you had a great trip. Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

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