On the cruise

Trip Start Apr 04, 2011
Trip End Jun 14, 2011

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Where I stayed
Norwegian Epic

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Monday, May 9, 2011

After spending almost two weeks at sea we have arrived in
Germany to spend some quality family time with the Vanderbundts and Mockoskis
(not to mention all of the extended family that James has here). There is so
much to tell about our time on the high seas, from the food to the shows and
daily activities. We’re going to have to break this up into multiple blogs to
make sure we cover our bases, so here it goes:

When we first arrived at the cruise ship terminal in Miami
we were immediately struck by the size of the ship. We knew it was one of the
largest in the world, but there is no way to really prepare for a boat that is
nearly 1100 feet long, 19 floors tall and weighs over 150,000 tons. We went
straight to a restaurant for lunch while we waited for our room to be ready. The
food was delicious and we knew it was just a taste of what would come later.
After a quick trip up to the pool deck the announcement came that we could make
our way down to our room. Luckily for us our cabin was located just two flights
of stairs below the buffet (this would come in very handy later). The room was
amazing, being a new ship has its advantages. The bed was very comfortable, the
large LCD TV on the wall featured a about 20 channels, including one dedicated
to keeping you up to date on the location of the ship, and of course the
balcony wasn’t bad either. There are so many balcony rooms on the Epic that
they’re actually one of the easier rooms to get and we’re glad we did. As we
unpacked our bags into the drawers and closet we waved goodbye to Miami and the
US from the comfort of our own room. We were glad to be able to call room #
13024 home for the next two weeks!

We saw a lot of fun shows over the course of the trip, and
I’ll spend the rest of this blog giving you the highlights…

One of the first shows that we saw was Legends in Concert, a
Las Vegas show that features ever changing celebrity impersonators. For our
trip, we got to see Janet Jackson, Neil Diamond, and Aretha Franklin. All of
the performers were extremely talented (the group of backup dancers and band
included) and it was a great way to kick off the cruise. This was followed up
by an awesome performance by the Blue Man Group the following night. The entire
600+ seat theater was packed and we enjoyed every minute of the extremely high
energy event. This was a show that we had wanted to see every time that we’ve
been to Vegas but for one reason or another never did, and for those of you who
have not seen them yet we would highly recommend it. The show was part music
(their well known drum routines) as well as some pretty entertaining comedy
too. They included the audience whenever possible, bringing more than one
person on stage with them to participate in skits and at the ending showering
the audience in what seemed to be huge rolls of crepe paper that unwound from
the ceiling. The Blue Man Group would like you to know that all of the paper
used in the show is recycled! I think this was one of my favorites and with the
scaled down version being so great I can’t imagine what the Vegas show will
have in store.

We saw comedic magician Jeff Hobson who is another Vegas act
that has taken to the seas. Even though we were a little unsure of him at first
(he can be a little corny), by the end we were thoroughly enjoying the show. He
did mostly sleight of hand tricks, pulling cards from thin air and then sending
them back there, making balloon animals that have popped reappear, and even
inviting an audience member to pull an egg from an obviously empty bag. In
between tricks he switched to comedy, which as it turns out is a good way to
break up the show. One of the best tricks was when three of the audience
members who had participated in the show watched as the magician pulled all of
their watches out of his pocket. They were truly stunned. 

Cirque du Soleil is another group that has put together a
show just for the Epic and this one included dinner. The show took place in a
large round room meant to resemble a Belgian Spiegel tent. Seating was either
premium (on the ground floor) or standard, which was on the second floor in a
ring overlooking the diners and performers below. Being at the front of the
line when they opened the doors allowed us a perfect seat in the standard
seating section, which in our opinion was even better than the premium seating
because there was nothing between you and the show. When the performers took to
the air in the center of the room they were literally 15 feet directly in front
of us. Dinner was great too, a fixed menu that included a trio of appetizers,
surf and turf and many chocolaty desserts.

The Headliners Comedy Club had a great group of performers
called The Second City who did a variety of shows from sketch comedy to improv.
We went to one show together, and as I am especially fond of comedy I even went
to a second on my own. The group was hilarious both times, and apparently had
had some practice since we caught their final (198th) show since the
boarded the ship 4 months ago. For those who are unfamiliar (as I was), the
Second City is based in Chicago and has had famous alums like Tina Fey, and Dan
Aykroyd. I believe a new cast would be joining the ship to continue the show
after this group left.

Since one can never have too much comedy in their life, I
also went to the comedy hypnotist show. For anyone who has been to a county
fair and seen a hypnotist show, you might have seen this show. In fact, you
might have seen this show from this hypnotist. It was still funny though to see
people furious at having been splashed with imaginary water while at the same
time replace every swear word they know with the word “love”. In case you were
wondering, I did not get hypnotized. Apparently I am not susceptible enough to
his suggestions because I never made it out of the audience during the tests. Its
probably better that way though, I’d much rather watch everyone else dance
around like they think they’re Cher.

For the kids (and the grownup kids) there was the
Nickelodeon Slime Time show which pitted two families against each other in
games and trivia questions. This was one of those “what the heck, let’s go see
what it is” type of shows for us. It turns out it was pretty funny to watch
even if the team we were supposed to be rooting for didn’t win. Apparently
though winning means you don’t get slimed at the end, which seemed a little
backwards to me.

There was one karaoke night that we went to and quickly
decided it wasn’t for us. The crowd (and the music) was reminiscent of our
grandparents, and while we love them very much it just wasn’t the show for us.
They did make it into a competition though and by the end of the cruise it
might have been interesting to go to the finals and see who made it all the way
through. Even though karaoke was a bit of a bust, there was plenty of music
elsewhere on the boat. Howl at the Moon was a dueling pianos show that usually
went until 1am so we definitely had a few late night cocktails and went to the
show. The piano players were good and they knew quite an impressive range of
songs! Music was everywhere, with at least three different live bands playing at
different spots around the ship at any given time. We had one dinner with a
live jazz band, and watched the duet Twice as Nice sing their hearts out from
our table in the Irish pub.

There was also the giant Wii wall. How often do you get the
chance to Wii bowl on a screen two stories high? It was a pretty cool
experience and even if my 219 was a little rusty it was enough to beat that
teenager who was laughing at her friends previous game…They used this screen at
different times in order to project movies, background for some of the live
performers and as a monitor during some of the trivia games that took place
throughout the day and night.

On the second to last night we went to a Vegas inspired
Burlesque show which was 18+ for good reason. This show included many of the
crew members we had been seeing throughout the week and it was a little
different style coming from the girls who had been involved in the family
friendly Nickelodeon Slim Time! One of the best numbers was a rendition they
did of the Broadway inspired Cell Block Tango from the musical Chicago.
Following the performance by the ladies, they turned the tables and unleashed
the  Shippenmales. A little something for

All in all there was really a great variety and those are
some of the highlights from the live entertainment that was presented. We
enjoyed everything they had to throw at us….underwear and all!!
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