BY MARTHA BRANNIGAN
When the new Norwegian Epic hosts Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks in New York this summer, NBC-TV will broadcast the show live on prime-time national television.
It’s a fitting U.S. debut for the 4,100-passenger Epic, which will be Norwegian Cruise Line’s biggest and most expensive ship ever. NCL Corp., the cruise industry underdog, is betting big on glitzy entertainment to stand out from its far larger competitors, Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
“It’s a perfect way to introduce the Norwegian Epic — with its big focus on entertainment, says Kevin Sheehan, who in November 2008 became chief executive officer of Miami-based NCL Corp., the parent of Norwegian Cruise Line.
The $1.2-billion Epic’s high-profile acts, which include the Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams and Legends in Concert, will replace the standard fare — two shows a night in a main theater.
That’s in keeping with Norwegian’s “freestyle concept of cruising, which boasts of letting passengers do what they want when they want.
The balcony-laden Epic has an ice bar and radically different curve-shaped cabins. A private “ship within a shipÂ spans the top two decks with 60 suites and villas dedicated to elite guests.
The ship has 19 restaurants and an embarrassment of night spots, including Spice H2O, where a daytime pool floor will rise in the evening and morph into an adults-only dance floor with a beach-club theme.
“The Epic coming out in July will be the cruise event of the year says David Brams, president of World Wide Cruises, a travel agency in Fort Lauderdale.
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