This was my first time sailing solo and I felt that the studio cabin concept would work out perfectly for me. I am glad to say that I was not only right, but my expectations were happily exceeded. A bit of background info: Traveled from BUF to FLL the day before the cruise. Took a taxi to my hotel (Best Western Hallandale). Paid $40. Will NEVER take a taxi in the Miami area again. The hotel itself had very nice rooms and was in a pretty decent area. Plenty of food options to walk to and had a small outdoor pool. Took an SAS shuttle which ran an hour and a half late, the driver was apparently held up by a festival downtown. The driver was very good on the way there and the way back...would definitely recommend SAS overall as a transportation option.
-Embarkation and Disembarkation were very very easy, straightforward, and expedient. Embarkation took no more than 15 minutes from the time I arrived to the time I was stepping onto the ship. Disembarkation was similarly easy and took about 10 minutes from when I was called.
-Plenty of room in the cabin itself. Being a bigger guy (6'6") I was worried about the size of the cabin and the size of the bed. The bed was more than ample and there was plenty of space to stretch out and move around in the cabin. The shower and toilet were a bit tight but that is pretty standard. More on the shower later. Loved the mood lighting that rotated colors. Kept a nice ambiance. Not once did I feel claustrophobic or cramped.
-Studio lounge was a great place to meet and socialize with other solo travelers. Finding people to dine and go to activities with was very easy. Free premium coffees (Cappuccino, espresso, etc) also helped. Our bartender (Rodnie) was also one of the best I've ever had (At sea or on land). You haven't had a drink until you've had a Rodnie drink.
-Entertainment was exceptional. Saw Blue Man Group twice and Legends in Concert once. Both acts were top notch. The Steven Tyler impersonator was quite honestly better than seeing the real thing. Did not get to see the Cirque show, heard very positive feedback from those that did though.
-PLENTY to do on board. Never got bored or felt that there was a lack of programming. Had many of the standard options and a few new ones I was glad to try. Also glad to see that the crew was encouraged to put together their own entertainment options, which yielded some very different and neat shows. The entertainment crew overall was very very pleasant and good at their positions.
-Food was very very good. PLENTY of options, ate mostly at Taste and O'Sheehan's for breakfast. Had breakfast and lunch once at the Garden Cafe but realized that buffets are not really my style anymore. The food there was fine for buffet food. Lunch was primarily O'Sheehan's, I cannot say enough about the quality of the food and options for a 24/7 operation were far beyond what I experienced on my previous cruises (NCL Star and Big Red Boat). Dinner was mixed between Taste and Manhattan Room, both of which I found to be very good quality food. I also ate at Teppanyaki for lunch one day and Cagney's for dinner. Teppanyaki for lunch is one of the best deals I've found anywhere ($12.50 for a huge quantity of really good food) and extremely entertaining. Experiences may vary depending on the chef, but ours (Mel) was highly, highly entertaining. Cagney's was delicious as always, my steak was cooked to perfection (Medium Rare) and the sides were phenomenal. I did hear about some people who had to send their steaks back throughout the week because of being cooked too long, but did not experience that myself.
-Enjoyed myself in St. Thomas and St. Maarten. St. Thomas was especially a highlight, taking the cable car up to Paradise point and having a couple of Bushwhackers up there. Great value for the price ($18), but get there early, it gets busy. Nassau was too overrun with people pushing their taxis and tours by the waterfront. Found that once I got into the downtown area it was okay though. The straw market was disappointing, so after a walk down to Junkoo beach I just headed back to the ship.
Room for improvement:
- Shower basins needed to be deeper, found that the shower overflowed with any shower I took over 5 minutes long.
-My room steward never introduced themselves and I found service to be very spotty (Towel animals 3/7 nights, sometimes my bed wasn't turned down even though I used the wheel religiously). It wasn't a real big deal so I didn't say anything to guest services, but others might prioritize this higher than myself.
-Seating in Bliss was very very difficult to come by and felt cramped for larger events. The design is definitely refreshingly different but I felt that more seating was definitely needed.
In summary, I had an amazing time. I will definitely be returning to the Epic on one of my next cruises and I am completely sold on the Studio concept. Thanks to a very hard working crew for a great time and I can't wait to return!