I was the travel agent and tour manager for a group of 100 people in the NCL Epic in October. I had 49 cabins mostly balcony cabins a few inside some family balcony and some T1 (singles). The trip was wonderful and the ship was great but there were just a few problems. First was each of the ports most of the shore excursions were 9-10hours and by the 5th day of the cruise many people were not doing their excursions because they literally had no time to enjoy the ship. Your gone all day long and the ship becomes just a floating hotel and you come in late in the evening and set an alarm for an early morning departure. Not complaining about the excursions just that if your booking the trip to enjoy the ship this is the wrong one.
I would agree with the people complaining about the smoke in the casino. I know that the smokers have rights too but when you cant sit at a table because of all the smoke and the watchers are smoking it makes it unpleasant for those of us that like to breath fresh air. I complained to one ship person because the people were smoking on the "non-smoking" side of the casino and he said the "non smoking" only applies to the tables not the slots. As much as I hate smoke and want the cruise line to shut down the smokers and not allow them to smoke... as a business person I noticed the tables where they could smoke they were full and the non-smoking side .. the dealers were looking for something to do. Darn those smokers ....
The ship surprised me that there are no "mega rooms" for gathering. Even the auditorium you would think they would have seating for 1000 .. since the passenger count is 4000 but no.. the auditorium seats about 150-200 ... thats it... I really liked the advance reservations that they use to control the amount of people coming to a show. You make a reservation (you can do this on your TV in your cabin or they also have a "show reservations desk"). Once you make your reservation that is just a person in their count that is not a Seat. Its still first come first served. Then they have a "stand by" line you can get in that opens 10 minutes before show time. Each time we did this we would get in the show and there were always a bunch of empty seats.
I was on the Pride of America last year and the big complaint was the food was not so great. Either NCL has made some big changes or the EPIC is just different but we really enjoyed the food on this ship. Several dining rooms that were free to choose from. Always a line but once you got in the line you would see that it was gone in 5 minutes. Once we got in line and they said the wait was 30 minutes and gave us one of those flashy things to let us know when our table was ready and they also gave us a ticket for a "free" glass of champaign at the bar while we waited. About 45 minutes later I went up to the desk and asked why our flashy thing hasent gone off and she was very sorry as they have been hlding our table waiting for us ... something was wrong with it... no issues.
The buffet was a bit difficult in the morning for breakfast as it seemed everyone had a 7am meet for their shore excursion so they buffets were packed ... then they all left in one big swoosh .. suddenly there were bunches of tables available...
We ate several times at the resturant in the center of the ship by the casino. Wasnt my favorite but my mom and wife liked it alot so thats were we ate most dinners. Seems 7pm for dinner is when everyone else on this ship wanted to meet for dinner as well.
Entertainment on this ship was awsome. I have seen the Blue Man Group in several different citys (Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas) and the show is the same. I thought on the ship we would get a modified version but no. It was the same show. In Chicago we paid $65 to see it and on the ship "free" .. the perfect price.
The Cirque Dreams was better than expected. The show is $35 which includes dinner. The food on the lido deck was better than this show food but the show made up for the ick food. The show starts a bit slow but gets going and by the end of the show all you can do is say "WOW"!!! ... it was a super great show. Then I went up to the Buffet and had a bit of dinner. The show was worth the $35 ... if you go all seating is open seating exept the booths in the back. The booths are the $25 seating and if your going to this show either pay the $35 or dont go. The $25 booths are awful for seeing the show.
I loved the casino. But then who wouldnt love a casino that you start out with $100 and leave the ship with $180 ... and played on and off all week. I really liked the size of the casino but the smoke kept driving me away. I could be there for an hour or so and then I would have to leave. Thats ok because with no smoke I probably would have spent a lot more time in the casino and come home with less not more...
I was totally shocked that there are only 2 banks of elivators. One in the front of the ship and one in the back of the ship. There is an escalator in the middle from deck 5 to 6 but other than that - not even a staircase in the middle. So you want a cabin in the front or the back because a middle cabin is a long walk from either elivator bank.
Having 100 people and 49 cabins I had things to do on this ship but I was surprised at the few calls I recieved from my group. I can assure you if they had problems they would call me and other than some shore excursion issues and changing money issues I didnt field a single call. Everyone loved the cabins, they enjoyed the ship (waht little time they had on it) and the over all experience was wonderful. My Groups coordinator was awsome - answered all my questions, made sure that everything was to my satisfaction.
We usually have breakfast out on our balcony in the morning but couldnt once again because of all the early morning shore excursions.
We truely enjoyed our trip on the Epic and loved our time in Barcelona.