OK, let me start this review by saying that we are big fans of NCL, so big that we have a deposit on our next cruise with them. It WONT BE ON EPIC !!
A little background to start with. 3 adults traveled this time, myself, my better half and my elderly mother. My mum has never cruised before, so we chose Epic as she has a lot of studio cabins for solo travellers.
We flew into Barcelona and straight to the ship ( taxi, 35 Euro from airport to port ). Embarkation was very good indeed, on board by noon ish and cabins available by 1.30pm.
First impressions were very good.
After eating at O Sheehans following advice from cruise critic that the Garden Cafe would be horrendous ( great advice ), we went to our cabin. Here is the start of why the Epic is anything but.
Where to start ? OK, I read beforehand that the Epics cabins did not have separate bathrooms, to be honest I was wondering what the fuss was about.Let me explain. A ' normal ' cabin has a bathroom right ? Epic has a toilet, in the cabin, behind a frosted glass screen. You can see your fellow cruiser sitting there and hear everthing...
A ' normal ' cabin has a shower in the bathroom, right ? Epic has a shower in your cabin with frosted glass. You can see your fellow cruiser showering in there ! Now I must say that was an advantage to me, hahaha, but come on NCL ! All joking aside, the comedy value diminishes somewhat when you realise that to actually dry yourself, you get out of the shower and step into the cabin, water is on the cabin floor, privacy = zero. They do actually have a curtain that can be pulled, so you pull it, water is still everywhere on the floor and you find yourself standing behind a curtain about 1 inch from the cabin door !
The entire cabin has been designed by someone who obviously has never cruised but has some Harvard degree in 21 st century BS grand design ! You open the wardrobe door, guess what it does ? It BLOCKS the room ! There are reading lights that have little blue circles of light on the switches, they cannot be turned off . EVER ! So, you turn off the lights but those little blue lights stay on just calling out your name all night lol.. there is light on the aircon switch, it cannot be turned off ! It calls your name all night !!
Our cabin steward ( excellent by the way ) must think we are crazy. We had face cloths wrapped around those crazy little annoying lights in the vain attempt to actually make it DARK ! Our cunning plan failed.
Did I mention the unbelievable tiny sink ? Yes, its in your room ! That grand designer strikes again. You know the guy, he never cruises, he just tweaks stuff and makes it worse. He is the guy that is responsible for you splashing water allover the place ! The same guy that puts the only 2 electric sockets under a shelf that is nowhere near a mirror so ladies cannot do their hair nor their make up. That guy !
Oh yes, I almost forgot. Don't forget to take your boots with you. You see, you will need your boots to stop you stubbing your toe on the footstool that sticks out into the already garbage cabin !
OK, fair enough, the cabin is aesthetically pleasing. But functional ? My dog could have designed a more functional room, trust me.
So, we love cruising as you get to meet some really interesting people and make friends. We have friends from literally all over the world because of cruises.
The Epic is the most anti social ship we have ever cruised on. And it is NCL's fault !
Firstly, the entertainment. You have to pre book or it is full. This is not conducive to meeting with new friends and arranging to go to the theatre together, you cant do this. Why ? Because they are already booked in for a show, say on Tuesday, but you are booked in for it on Wednesday, and so on.
Onto one of our biggest gripes about this ship, and it is about this ship as we know for a fact that this does not happen on other NCL ships. The sharing, or lack of sharing, of tables at dinner.
Epic is set up with mainly tables for 2, 4, 6 or more dinner guests in its 2 main restaurants, Manhattan and Taste.
Often time there are long lines at the Manhattan. So, when you eventually get in there, what do you see ? Two guests sitting at a table for four, 3 guests at a table for 6 and WORST OF ALL !!! ONE GUEST sitting at a table for two. The poor lonely single traveler, does Epic not actually advertise SINGLE cabins ? YES ! We met a lovely chap and he told us that he had dined alone most nights. Disgraceful Epic dining staff. Can they not at least attempt to get people to share tables ?
We specifically asked to share on several occasions, it was like asking a caveman for directions to the moon. Forget it. Blank looks all round. Yes, the dining room staff smile politely and tell you they will ask, so you sit there, the three of you on a table for six, and sit there, and sit there. All the time the dining room staff bring in couples and sit them at tables for four. The same couples who sit there staring into space and do not speak to each other... all they need are some new friends !! All we wanted were some new friends ! Pathetic Epic staff, pathetic.
One night we decided to see how far we could push the dining room staff. We arrive, ask to share a table. The staff say yes, yes, we will ask. Do they ask ? Erm, not a chance. Same old same old. I went to the bathroom and en route ( some 100 metres at most ) I counted 11 tables, all under occupied. Yet outside a massive wait line !!! So, coming back I ask for the manager and explain that some of us actually like to chat to other cruisers, it makes for an entirely lovely evening. After him looking at me strangely for a few minutes and me not prepared to move on my position, lo and behold up pops a delightful couple onto our table and we remained friends the whole cruise. They were pleasantly surprised to be asked they told us ! Oh my word is all I can politely say here.....
Later that week, on sitting in headliners club, we get chatting to a couple from the USA who tell us that if only they could find some table mates to share a table with... ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
This situation is entirely down to the wait staff on Epic. On NCL Dawn and on NCL Jade no such issues occur.
I am going to end this review now by saying that contrary to what you may think, we did enjoy the cruise. Its tough to NOT enjoy a cruise.
But NCL have tried their best with Epic to make it the least enjoyable cruise we have ever done.
Will we cruise with NCL again ? Most definitely.
Will we cruise Epic again. Not until I am crowned King of All England and England hasn't had a King Steven in about a thousand years...not to mention I am a proud pleb and about 56 millionth in line to the throne lol
P.S. The ship has hardly any sea views, fancy a walk around deck ? Forget about it. It ain't happening. Because you cant actually do the circumference of the deck !
P.P.S. Dont take NCL excursions ! They rip you off people ! You can do it yourself with some homework for a fraction of the price.