Hotel Director Denis Prguda
and Entertainment Director
Julie Valeriote talk about
Richard H. Wagner
Cruise ship interview - Norwegian Cruise Line - Norwegian Epicl - Denis Prguda - Julie Valeriote
Norwegian Cruise Line has long been known for offering guests choices so
that they can decide for themselves how their cruise experience will unfold.
Norwegian Epic, Norwegian’s latest and largest ship, was designed so as to
offer guests not only more options but also new and different choices - - all at
a quality level more often associated with land-based resorts than with cruise
Two of the key players in turning this concept into reality are Hotel Director
Denis Prguda and Entertainment Director Julie Valeriote. Both speak with
contagious enthusiasm about their ship .
"The Epic is a different ship; completely different than any Norwegian or other
company's ship. It will stay unique as it is because they are not building any
more of these ships," says Prguda.
What makes Norwegian Epic different from the ships that have gone before
it? The first thing Prguda points to is the unique accommodations offered on
Epic. "You purchase [one of the studios] cabins and you pay a single
[occupancy] price in comparison to [other ships] where you pay a
supplement. They have fantastic interiors - - modern and well-accepted."
In addition, Norwegian Epic has two decks dedicated exclusively to luxury
travel. "75 top suites, with concierge service, private dining, private decks,
and private bars. It is all here. I call it ‘Silver Seas within a 4,000 guest
ship’. You can go downtown [to the public rooms and dining venues on]
decks 5, 6 and 7. But if you want luxury, you come up to decks 16 and 17."
Thus, guests traveling in one of these suites can utilize all of Epic's extensive
dining and entertainment facilities but when he or she so desires, the guest can
retreat into Epic's exclusive luxury enclave.
Epic also has caters to young families. "We are a family cruising company.
We have Nickelodeon onboard; a huge kids' center; and a huge teen center,
which is completely separate. The pool area has a couple of pools for kids
"But for those guests who want a quiet area, we have an adults-only area with
a huge screen, a pool, a little bar and a grill as well. It is called Spice
H2O. We also have a Freestyle deck, which is very popular with
Europeans. Also in the same area is the quiet zone, which doesn't have any
music. There are lots of choices."
With regard to dining, Epic is not merely a larger version of earlier Norwegian
ships. New venues have been created and earlier ideas have been developed
beyond their previous incarnations. These venues often blur the traditional
line between dining and entertainment venues. "We have added the Brazilian
churrascaria, which is an amazing concept and very popular. The Noodle Bar
is another popular venue which we have implemented here. We have a
couple of cooks just making noodles right in front of you. It is a show galley
right in the open. The show tables of the Teppanaki are packed every single
night. During the Cirque Dreams show we serve a set menu, which is also
popular. It is sold out basically every night - - both shows, 270 people, six
nights a week."
New concepts have also been developed for the bars and lounges. For
example, Epic has the first ocean-going ice bar where guests can experience
signature cocktails in a room where not just the bar but also the walls are ice
covered. "It is sold out every single week. Every 45 minutes, we [allow] a
certain amount of guests into the Ice Bar. For $20, you get two free drinks.
It's an amazing experience for the guests altogether. Again, it is unique in the
Norwegian's Jewel-class ships feature bowling alleys in their Bliss Lounge
nightclubs. On Epic, however, not only is there a bowling alley in the Bliss
Lounge but there also are bowling alleys in a new venue that is styled after a
neighborhood bar and grill. "Popular again - - O'Sheehan's Bar, which is
named after our CEO Kevin Sheehan. It is open 24/7 with a full set menu,
which is another addition on the Epic."
Valeriote is similarly enthusiastic about the entertainment experience offered
on Epic. "Incredible - - there is no other ship like it. It is non-stop. It is
always alive at all times of the day - - from the Aqua Park to the
"We have the Blue Man Group, which is a show known all around the world.
We have the Legends in Concert, which is a very popular Las Vegas show
that has been running for a decade. We have the Cirque Dreams, here on a
moving ship so there is an element of danger. Second City, sketch and
improve comedy. Then we have like a pub-style show Howl at the Moon,
which is interactive fun with the guests. We have poolside movies. We have
Fat Cats with blues and jazz. There is show band music everywhere - - in
the atrium and in the restaurants. We have a show that happens in the
Manhattan Room [restaurant], which is a Motown version of Legends in
Concert called 'Legends Unplugged."
Although Epic is a third again larger than earlier Norwegian ships, each venue
on Epic is not necessarily larger than the venues on the earlier ships. With
many more passengers onboard, much thought had to go into the flow of
passengers around the ship so as to avoid overcrowding and to ensure that all
of the guests would have the opportunity to see Epic's entertainment
offerings. "We offer the entertainment events more often. You pick when you
want to go to the shows and book it through the reservation system." Guests
can book shows onboard at the ship's box office or through the interactive
televisions in their staterooms.
Advanced technology is also utilized to enhance the entertainment offerings.
One example is the daily television show that the cruise director does to
inform the guests about what is happening onboard. "We have a full
broadcast center down in the atrium with a green screen and the capability of
broadcasting live events around the ship. We have this thing called 'Epic
Live.' We have people up in the bandstand and some areas on Deck 5 and we
have various hosts. [Like a network television morning show,] the cruise
director stands in front of the green screen and we can put in any background.
It will be broadcast to all of the TVs and recorded so it can be played over.
It is incredible what we can do there."
"The technical part of the ship is amazingly nice, when it comes to audio,
video and any kind of technical aspect," adds Prguda. "The quality of the ship
from the carpets to the interior, the exterior - - it is all high quality."
So what sort of person does the Epic attract? "It is pretty much a mixture of
everything - - families, singles, couples. Between 39 and about 46 is the
average age on the Epic. We have something happening for everyone."
Entertainment Director Julie Valeriote and Hotel
Director Denis Prguda have fun with a cool occupant
of Epic’s Ice Bar
Above: The studio staterooms have their own
common area where guests can socialize.
Below: Guests staying in Epic's suites have
exclusive access to the luxurious Epic Lounge.
Epic has outdoor facilities for children (see above)
as well as an adults-only area, which features a
giant screen over the pool (below).