My husband and I were in Spain for a golf tournament in Marbella Spain and took Ryan Air from Malaga to Barcelona. Word of Advice - if you are flying Ryan Air be sure to know their rules. As we did not know, we did not check in online within 20 hrs of departure and they charged $60 euros each for printing boarding passes, they charged $105 for each baggage not checked in prior to going to the airport and their weight restrictions are lower than the international flights we took from Canada. The overweight baggage was another $105 euros. It ended up costing us an additional $631.00 Canadian on top of what we had already paid for the flight.
Once we arrived in Barcelona, we had arranged for NCL to pick us up at the airport which was very good. NCL met us at the gate and told us what to do, when we would leave for the port. It gave us enough time for coffee!
The embarkation process was very fast and efficient. We were on the ship within about 30-45 minutes. Our rooms were ready and it certainly didn't take very much time for our luggage to arrive. We unpacked our bags and were ready to explore the ship a bit and grab a quick bite by the pool.
The bar staff by the pool treated us exceptionally, but keep in mind tips do help. Julio, Raymund and Clarence were awesome.
We had pre-booked all our shore excursions through NCL and the excursions for the most part were pretty good. We didn't like Marseilles but unsure if that was just because our tour guide had a very difficult time speaking English and we were not sure whether she was making up details or whether she knew what she was talking about. Marseilles is under a lot of construction to the buildings they took us to so never really saw a whole lot.
All of the excursions were a bit expensive but I'd say worthwhile. I would not bother taking an excursion to Marseilles...I'd save my $ and stay on the ship for a day of rest.
I did find the itinerary very busy; it would have been nice to have a day on the ship between Italy and France.
After each day of excursion, we enjoyed the entertainment and dinners that we attended. We saw the Blue Man Group (excellent), Legends (I found it a bit of a disappointment), Cirque (awesome) amongst other entertainment in the Fat Cats. We did go to Headliners and it was OK.
The food on the ship was pretty good...we only booked one night in the specialty restaurant (Le Cucina) and from what I remember was OK.
Bruce and I don't know which we preferred between "Freestyle Dining" or set dining tables (which we had on Carnival). There are benefits to each.
We met some really nice people on the ship, Hector and his wife, who were great to be around. If you read this please email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can keep in touch.
The cruise director on the Epic is the best I've ever had on any cruise ship. I found on most cruises they are annoying but he was very down to earth, had a great time doing his job and made things really quite enjoyable.
I would have liked to see more music varieties for dancing (country, old time rock) as I found most of the parties had nothing but music for younger people.
The pools and hot tubs were awesome.
Our room steward was OK, but not the best I've ever had. When you leave a bucket of bottled water in your room, you would have hoped they would fill it with ice at night so its cold for your shore excursions the next day. We exchanged our bottles getting off the ship for colder ones.
Our room was a little small but we had enough room to store all of our luggage, the balcony was very nice and I would definitely do that again, and as far as the toilet/shower...I didn't mind it at all. You don't have enough time to spend that much time in your room so its sufficient for our needs.
Disembarkation was great...we wanted to get off the ship last because our hotel in Barcelona didn't have check in until noon. We got off the ship at 9:15-9:30 and were at the hotel at 10 am. Very fast and other ports could learn a lot about how NCL did it....
Overall, this was a very enjoyable cruise and I would certainly like to do it again.
Thank you NCL!