Seatrade Insider got a peek at this oasis of tranquility in what is otherwise a very busy ship with Fredrik Johansson, Tillberg Design’s partner and senior architect.
‘The Courtyard was created to become almost like a ship within the ship, an opulent, slightly decadent private zone totally self-contained from the rest of the ship. It’s designed to make you feel on top of the world,’ he said.
Johansson added that the concept, on the edge of being hedonistic, is something found in many of the world’s top hotels: ‘So why should we not have it on Norwegian Epic?’
The 60 suites and villas on two private decks at the top of the vessel form that chunky part of Epic’s distinctive forward profile. The complex encompasses a courtyard pool, two whirlpools, a gym, saunas, sun deck, concierge lounge, bar/nightclub and, new on Epic, indoor/outdoor dining.
The bar/nightclub sports elements of Dubai and South Beach, with golden columns, burgundy crushed velvet sofas, plump accent pillows and ottomans. The effect is both opulent and fun. A grand piano and a small dance floor complete the room.
The space flows into the Courtyard Grill. This contemporary, elegant restaurant offers widely spaced tables draped in crisp white linens with high-backed fabric and dark-wood armchairs. Panels of string curtains add an intriguing look. Two walls contain wine cellars. There’s an al fresco dining area, too.
The spacious, multi-room accommodations have marble baths with ample dressing areas and whirlpool tubs—some with full sea views, plush fabrics and sumptuous appointments. The rooms visited by Seatrade Insider had an Asian motif with paintings of lotus flowers and rich accent colors.
There are 46 Courtyard Villas with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Six Courtyard Penthouses include a bedroom with separate living and dining area. Eight Deluxe Owner’s Suites feature all-around floor to ceiling windows, bedroom and separate living and dining area. (There are also seven Penthouse Suites located in other areas of the ship.)
The Courtyard complex ‘attracts a new segment of luxury traveler that we don’t believe has bought a cruise before,’ said NCL’s Andy Stuart, evp global sales and passenger services. He cited younger couples and families with children who want an upscale experience within a ship that provides lots of entertainment and dining options, children’s activities and kids for their kids to play with.
Ramón Santos of corporate cruise and meetings specialists Landry & Kling, Inc. in Miami thinks the concept is ‘exciting,’ especially with the addition of the restaurant. ‘One of the neatest things for the corporate and incentive market is the whole suites/Courtyard Villas complex. You can do a buyout for a group,’ he said.