We arrived in Barcelona on Friday morning and stayed in Hesperia Towers. Very nice hotel, but too far away from everything. We took a private tour of Spain which was really nice. We also ventured to Las Ramblas both evenings and could feel the excitement in the air. Very easy to use the subway from Las Ramblas to the hotel. Loved Barcelona and would go back again.
Sunday morning we left the hotel and went to the cruise ship. This had to be the quickest and easiest embarkation of any of our cruises. We were able to board early and it took less than 15 minutes from when we got out of the cab to when we boarded the ship. The rooms were ready and the luggage was delivered within an hour. But we were slightly disappointed when we actually boarded the ship. It is a huge ship but you walk on and no one greets you or provides any instructions or guidance. The Epic is a nice ship but there is no "WOW" factor. You board right into the elevator banks and it just leaves you flat. Not making a good first impression is a big miss! This was a stark contrast to last year when we boarded RCL Allure of the Sea. The Allure enters into the Royal Promenade and there was so much to take in that all we could do was look around and say WOW! Plus there were people everywhere to help guide you. The elevators on the Epic are dark and there are not enough of them. Also there was no one explaining the difference between the red elevators or the blue elevators so you just hoped you entered the right ones for your cabin location. Much of the cruise was like that, there really was no one making you feel special or welcome and you had to find out things on your own.
But anyway back to the ship, there is really no promenade or grand common area on the entire ship. Not even good photo ops. The cabin was very nice, probably the best of our five cruises. We had a mini suite and it had plenty of room and more than enough storage. We didn't mind the bathroom arrangement because it was much bigger that a normal cruise ship bathroom and both the shower and toilet were private. The one thing we were not too happy about is having a bathtub instead of a walk in shower. The side of the tub was too high and it really was awkward getting in and out.
The food in the Garden Cafe left a lot to be desired. It didn't taste bad, but the menu was very limited and unimaginative. Even the food in the Manhattan was just okay. We think they are trying to push people to go to the Specialty Restaurants which cost extra. We did pay to go to Moderno and it was the best meal we had the entire cruise.
We choose the Epic for the itinerary and we were not disappointed. We loved Spain, Italy and Rome and for that experience alone it is a good value for the money.