Sailed the Norwegian Epic out of Civvatevechia on June 6, 2012. Prior to the cruise, we spent two days in Milan and a day in Rome to be able to see the Papal Audience on Wednesday, which was important to us. With that said, we didn't arrive at the ship until 5:00 p.m. It was completely deserted. As another review stated, there are not may people that get on the ship from this port. It was almost erie though because you're thinking there are 4000 guests, but you don't see any of them... Embarkation was very easy because of this and our bags beat us to the room. Because we got on mid-cruise compared to most everyone else, they didn't have tours or port talks or other first day festivities (no muster drill either).
Our room was a family suite and it was very nice for us. Our room steward was Garry and he was exceptional. Because we were in a suite, we had access to the Haven area, which was very nice. The Posh area outside was great because you didn't have to hunt down a lounge chair and they had nice cushions on them. Also, because we were guests in the Haven, there was a private concierge that was there to assist us with any excursions, entertainment and dinner reservations. Prior to the cruise I had made dinner and entertainment reservations because I thought we might have a problem getting into the places that we wanted to eat at. I would recommend taking care of this when you arrive on the ship. We had pre-paid for the reservations that I made pre-cruise and because we changed some of them, they had to be refunded and recharged. And some of them didn't even show up in their system. They claimed it was because we got on mid-cruise.... It was a bit confusing. I think it all worked out in the end, but I would recommend to just wait to make the reservations until you get on board.
We ate at LeBistro (our favorite), Cagney's, La Cucina, Shanghai's, and the Epic Restaurant for Haven guests twice. We went to the 'lobster night' at the Epic Restaurant and it was a disappointment. Very small and the fish they served with it was not edible... We also had lunch on the day at sea at O'Sheehan's. It was very good for typical pub food. For breakfast, we went to the Epic Restaurant, where you could get a quick breakfast but ordering from the menu. We never ate at the buffet.
The entertainment was good. You have to have a reservation for all the entertainment. You're not able to just walk into a show like on other cruise ships, so do keep that in mind. The Cirque Dreams show is a 'must see'. It was a great show. We had the best seats because we were Haven guests. It came with dinner - steak and shrimp, which was good. We also saw Blue Man Group, Legends in Concert and the Beatles Tribute band, which were all very good.
I arranged private tours for all the ports, so we did not use any of NCL's Big Bus Tours. See port reviews.
Disembarkation was very easy. Again, likely because not many people got off the ship in Rome. Spent two nights in Rome on our own before heading back to the States.
A wonderful vacation. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it's an epic adventure!