Wife and I in our 30's went on the Epic the 24th-31st of March. We left the kids with Grandma. We were part of an extremely large group that took up 1/2 the ship. So we did not pick the Epic, it was picked for us.
We had a blast, I have read tons of these posts on Cruise critic so I knew what I was getting into. From a business stand point, I think the Epic is brilliant. IT'S DIFFERENT. That apparently after reading on this web site, change has freaked a lot of retirees and cruise addicts out. I think NCL purposely made the Epic different to stand out, to set it apart from the masses of cruise ships that are all very similar.
Differences: Best shows on the seas, free style, solo rooms, ice bar, no atrium, tons of deck rooms, style of the rooms, curves, bathrooms, showers. etc etc.
De/embarkation- Fast, efficient, smooth <30minutes. Impressive.
Waiting for rooms from 12-2 sat. - Was a little crazy. Nobody had a room so everybody was up on 15 either eating or sunning. Really crowded. But that only lasted a short while.
The mustard?? drill- was silly, they took 30 minutes to show us how to put a life jacket on. I figured since the italy thing there would be more to it. But no.
Rooms- We liked it. We had a midship balcony. lighting was really cool. We liked the separated shower and toilet, but it did lack privacy but that wasn't an issue for us. Fat guys will struggle with the toilet and shower. Lots of storage, too much really. Our deck was covered, most were covered but many on decks 8 and 9 were not. The room only had 1 way traffic if you want to walk by the end of the bed. But it's a cruise ship it's going to be tight...duh. I'm 6'1, bed was OK, A touch short in the corners (it's rounded off) but not terrible.
Food- It's free style, so I think that affects quality at Taste and Manhattan a little bit. (The both have the same menu) It's still good, just not crazy good. We also went to the moderno and Tepanakiki and also had sushi snacks from time to time. Moderno is $20, Tep is $25. Moderno was INSANELY GOOD. Top 5 meal in my LIFE, even the salad bar was amazing. Tepannaki was a typical hibachi grill, fun for our big group though. O'Sheenahans was typical bar food, which was a nice option.
Deck 15- Deck 15 is the main top deck, the middle of the ship is where the slides and 2 small pools are. It was pretty loud and crazy at times up there. We actually avoided that section. Just too many people. Our group hung out at the back of the ship called "H20" we liked it just because it was more laid back. 2 hot tubs and 1 small pool back there. A mini lunch and breakfast buffet back there too that was convenient. Also, there is not a point where you can see the front of the ship, I missed that. The yellow toilet slide was fun, sometimes a big line, sometimes no line. The ship was confusing to get around at first, but after about 24 hrs I got it down pretty good.
Shows- Everybody has there own preferences. But I thought Cirque and Blue Man were awesome. The ship was really rockin the night we saw cirque which made it even more impressive, totally worth the $35. Cirque is a really small theater, maybe 70-100 people, everything is up close. Legends was exactly what I expected...meh. But some women in our group loved it, just not my thing. 2nd city was disappointing, that was my 4th 2ndcity show ive seen. But hey, it was free and it's something to do after the sun goes down. We saw the muder mystery performed by the 2nd city cast in the cirque venue. That was excellent. Came with a lunch for $20.
Islands- First of all, there is a web site that somebody posted in here that shows how many ships will be docked at each port (sorry I cant find the web site now) That was very handy knowing what island are going to be busy or slow. We're not exactly loaded, so we laid off the excursions. St Martin was our favorite stop. Beach right in the bay, cheap beers ($1) right there too. Water was amazing. Not too busy, only 3 ships at port. We spent 3 or 4 hrs at the main beach then took a cab ($8/person) to Maho Beach. If you don't know what I am talking about do a Google image search of Maho Beach. We went to the bar there and watched the planes come in. Very cool. Once in a lifetime thing. Had to see it.
St Thomas- We knew that island was going to have 7 ships docked, crazy busy. We took a cab ($8/person) to Magens bay. bar and grill there, equipment rentals if you want. I would estimate 2000 people were on that beach by noon. It's just got really busy by 11am with 7 ships being there. We didn't shop downtown, way too busy and it was our shortest stop. I weeped for hours since my wife couldn't shop. St Tom could have been way more fun had there been about 15,000 less people on the island.
Nassau- We just walked around downtown, went to Senior frogs, hung out at Junakoo beach. Bought some cubans, rum cake, rum.
Keep in mind you don't necessarily need to book excursion via NCL. You can do it once you get on land, or just get a cab. Sometimes excursions are great, sometimes they're rip offs.
Anyway, we had a really good time. Beer being $6.70 tempered my trip. Luckily I had my own that I smuggled on. The ship is not perfect but you cant have everything.