My friend and I both is our mid 20's decided to fly to Barcelona three days early to explore on our own prior to boarding the Epic. My skepticism heightened as we pulled up to the massive structure. The Epic towered others and dwarfed cargo ships; adding up the nuances we encountered, perhaps good things really do come in smaller packages..
Size- Because the ship is said to hold 4k passengers, the staterooms were surprisingly manageable. The closet was roomy, just right two girls, however there was virtually no room for empty suitcases (3 days into the trip, we figured out the empty space under the beds. The beds.. were probably the best thing about the cruise. The down comforter was layered with thick Egyptian (I think) cotton felt like a rain cloud and made our (much needed) naps really enjoyable. The ship itself never felt crowded (aside from the dining hall), however, the elevator service was terrible. Having two sets of elevators to service thousands of patrons was moronic. We took the stairs more times than I want to count. Many times we waited 10+ minutes for an elevator to arrive...only to have to let it go because it resembled a sardine can... you get my drift.
Service - The general consensus of our group was that the service was subpar. Because the staff split their tips evenly, there is no incentive to personalize service or make a good impression. All we witnessed was rude service, miserable workers, and unsatisfied vacationers. There were no smiles, no interaction, and zero friendliness. Instead, we were accosted on numerous occasions - two for looking underage (even though the drinking age is 18) and later a server decided he would not accommodate a gluten allergy (but others had previously in the week).
Pool - what pool? Seriously. Of the two pools (not counting Haven), one was packed with screaming children, and the other was 10x10 sauna like hole in rear of the ship. The water was constantly hotter than the hot tub. If you wanted to cool off -- you're better off spilling your drink on yourself, just saying.
Food - fresh but always a mob scene at the Garden Cafe. The "greeters" were too busy harassing patrons with their hand sanitizer to control the 1500 loose children running around and grabbing food with their hands. Although there were never very long lines, it was always busy and empty tables were difficult to find. We did not visit the paid restaurants, but went to both Taste and Manhattan room which seemed to always have the same menu. Taste had better service of the two. Both offered complimentary champagne if there was a wait to be seated; we may have taken advantage of this option on purpose (oops).
Entertainment- the DJ's made sure to always keep the crowd pumped. The ship did not enforce the no children rule after 10, which again caused kids running and screaming through the "disco." The newlywed game was funny and the most enjoyable. The "ship-n-mates" show was embarrassing for both the crew and the NCL brand. The out of shape performers were all part of the crew and looked miserable to be on stage -- almost as if they lost a bet to go up on stage. The out of sync dancing was horrendous although my girlfriends thought it was hysterical and enjoyed themselves... it's probably in NLCsr best interest to replace this program with something more entertainment worthy. The Spanish Ballet was stellar as was the Blue Man group -- both of which I would have paid for, instead we asked for a refund for the Cirque show. The premium seats were not premium and the performance was amateur.
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