We recently returned from the April 14 sailing on the Norwegian Epic to Barcelona. The ship was only half full which was much to our advantage. The ship also had a happy aura about it: live music was playing in many venues day and night. It is also freestyle meaning you could eat whenever you want and dressing up on formal nights is optional. Only about 10% of the guests did dress on formal nights.
The staff was wonderful-so friendly and accomodating, no matter what we needed.
For example, I like to have blueberries and walnuts in the morning and I got them every day. Also, during the Latitudes party, a bartender made me a pina colada, which is a big plus.
On the second day out a Meet and Greet was held for Cruise Critic members and we met some lovely people.
The buffet on the ship was large and easy to navigate. There was a make-your-own miso or chicken soup station, as well as Asian, Indian, deli, salads, carvings, ice cream, desserts, etc.etc. There was no problem finding a seat and the plates were cleared as soon as you finished eating. Plus, unlike other cruise lines, there was a constant flow of food. When one side of the buffet closed for breakfast, it opened in time for lunch while the other side closed for breakfast and prepared for lunch. Now that is impressive!
I do have to say I missed the chocolate fountains that the Norwegian Jewel had.
In the Manhattan Restaurant most nights there was a band playing and my husband and I requested and got a table by the band. We got up to dance quite often. It felt so special. When we dined in the other restaurant, Taste, we listened to a trio of strings playing classical music on some nights and a pianist playing on others. It felt elegant.
There were lots of restrooms throughout the ship and they are all automated: the soap, the water, the paper towels. The only annoying thing I found with the restrooms is that the attendants always left the doors OPEN.
On the Epic you have to make reservations to see the shows. We had no trouble seeing any show we chose to see and sometimes got into the theater without a reservation. Blue Man Group was an experience for sure and we also enjoyed Legends, Second City, Jeff Hobson the comedian/magician, and Mark Yuzuik the hypnotist. No complaints about the entertainment.
We also played trivia quite a bit, which we enjoy, and met Diana and Gordon from Montreal who we hope to keep in touch with in the future.
Our only port was Ponta Delgada in the Azores. We took a tour of the Fire Lake, Ribiera Grande and the Pineapple Plantation, where we had been before. It was an enjoyable excursion.
On April 23 Norwegian went over the top with a luncheon for 60 plus Cruise Critic members. It was fabulous!!! They served a special menu consisting of Maryland crab cakes, mixed greens with coconut and mandarin and hearts of palm, filet mignon, and a chocolate caramel mousse dome. The food was superb and we met awesome people such as Mike and Di, Darl and hubby, Rob and Pam, Debe and hubby, and more. What a wonderful experience.
All in all, I'm sure the fact that the Epic was only half full did help to make things less crowded and easier to get what we needed but it certainly was a dream vacation for us!