This is my first cruise so I don't have a lot to compare it to but I'll just write a bit about each day, the good and the bad.
Day one embarkation was easy. No hassle orderly and relatively quick. The line moved along and I didn't lose patience, the staff was friendly. It was a lot easier getting on the ship then on an airplane in my opinion.
We were allowed to our cabins not long after boarding. Finding my cabin was easy, I didn't get lost or confused, they give you maps that fold easily into pocket size or purse size, I only needed it for the first couple days, once I was familiar with the layout of the ship I stopped using it. I found the Studio Cabins to be roomy enough for one person and very comfortable. I did spend some relaxing time in there because this trip was supposed to be some much needed R & R for me. The studio areas were quiet and you could be as sociable or reclusive as you wanted. My luggage hadn't arrived yet, but it was nice to be able to drop off my carry-on and have freedom of luggage.
It wasn't long and we had to go to the muster drill. Finding my muster station was easy and the staff was at the stairwells directing everyone and on the deck(s) making sure everyone got to the correct station for direction/instruction on what to do in case of an emergency. I met a lot of new people there and talked to them a few times during the cruise.
The sail away party was a taste of how much fun I was going to have, the dancing the music, the laughter.
I bought a week Spa package, WELL WORTH IT. I loved going to the spa every day to relax for a few hours before dinner. It was great after shore excursions.
Being my first cruise, this was all so exciting, I didn't even have time to be anxious or apprehensive on this cruise with the staff and other guests being so friendly and helpful I soon forgot this was my first cruise.
We ate in the Manhattan the first night, the food was really good, the only complaint I have is it took 35 minutes to get our desert, we didn't have time for coffee and had to literally run from dinner to the Blue Man Group show. I HIGHLY recommend this show. The beats were catchy, the guys were funny, and you couldn't help but crack up at their lack of facial expression. The audience participation was a show in itself. I wanted to go a second time. I ended my first night there and went back to my Cabin to sleep.
I woke up early and went up on deck 15 to take pictures of the Ocean and the deck. We had rough seas the first day and now the second day we were having rough seas again. Seasoned cruisers told me this wasn't normal and the swaying and rocking of the ship is usually not so noticeable. I was feeling a bit ill but nothing that made me want to just sit in my cabin, so I put on anti-nausea wrist bands and continued to enjoy my cruise.
A fellow Solo cruiser and I signed up for the champagne tasting event and I found after that even I didn't notice the ship was rocking so much. Go figure should have started drinking the moment I stepped onto the ship!
I was with a group of people from Cruise Critic and Facebook who had organized a cocktail party/meet and greet at Fat Cats, but somehow, the powers that be, double booked our party with a high end art auction. So we were stuck waiting outside of Fat Cats for almost an hour. Eventually we were displaced to the Havens which was nice but some of our party couldn't attend due to the wait outside of Fat Cats being so long, they had dinner reservations elsewhere and couldn't attend our cocktail party.
Dinner that night was at Manhattan again, all went well, dinner was wonderful, service prompt and the entertainment Manhattan Motown Cabaret, very entertaining. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
After dinner I went back to my cabin to relax and get some sleep. We were still in pretty rough seas and I was ready to call it a day.
Our group organized a cabin crawl so we could see the different types of cabins from our roll call. It was pretty funny, we were still in rough seas and there was no walking down a hallway without swaying from one side of the hall to the other.
I ate in Taste today and enjoyed it, also had the Buffet on Deck 15 all was very good. You can easily eat in all the main restaurants and skip the specialty restaurants and still eat very well.
That night we planned to go to the FABBA: Fabulous ABBA Party but the rough seas and storms moved the party indoors to Bliss Lounge but they were having Karaoke Madness, so it was moved to a later hour, I tried to stick it out during Karaoke but the DJ for that and the singers weren't just bad they were horrible I ended up leaving and going back to my cabin skipping both Karaoke and FABBA.
We arrived in St. Maarten today. The island did not impress me. I had been to the USVI and BVI several times and if I ever get to travel to St. Maarten again I'll probably stay on the ship. Our tour was with Bernard's Tours. We broke into two groups because half wanted to spend the whole time at the beach while the other half wanted to shop. I was on the shopping bus and our bus didn't shop we just drove around the island. We made a pit stop at Orient Beach and Maho Beach. We stopped at one store and were given a short time to pick up a few items and we were given 1 hour to find a place to eat, eat and get back on the bus. I'm sure the beach tour was probably fun as they were able to go straight to the beach and lay out, but if you want to shop, you're probably better off to find a different tour.
After returning to the ship I went to the Cirque Dreams and Dinner and it was awesome. The food was fantastic, the beef tenderloin was so tender I was able to be cut with a butter knife and the entertainment was top notch. I highly recommend this show; it's not a free show but well worth it. I paid for premium seating and sat in the balcony.
After dinner I finished my night up by going to the spa to relax, perfect ending to a long day.
We arrived in St. Thomas, I was up early to watch us dock and take lots of pictures. I do have to say disembarking and embarking this ship is so easy to do. To move that many people off the ship and on the ship is incredible that it runs so smooth. I went on the Champagne Catamaran Sail and Snorkel to St. John. Out of all the visits to the Eastern Caribbean that I've made, this was the most fun I've ever had. I highly recommend this excursion.
When I got back to the ship, I went to the spa to relax and then ate at the Wasabi Sushi Bar. This is a specialty restaurant. I was able to fill up on Sushi for under $20.00 including my beverage. Well worth the price and Shashimi and Sushi was excellent.
Unwind day. I relaxed today, I hung out in the Spa, the pool deck and the water slides. Waits to ride slides weren't too bad but be prepared to wait if you want to ride. I ate light today because I felt like all I had done all week is pig.
In the evening I went to White Hot Party. If you like to dance, I recommend this party, it goes late, but it's so much fun. I danced until 2:30am, but when I left there were still a few hundred people dancing.
The Bahamas was exactly as I pictured it, beautiful water, lots of street vendors, speed boats, catamarans, and tourist. I wish we would have had more time here, as we arrived later in the day it only gave us about 4 or 5 hours. So if you wanna do some exploring of the city, skip the excursions, they'll take up your whole time in port.
That night we had a group dinner in Taste. This was probably the only real negative I have of my eating experience. It took us an hour and fifteen minutes to be seated and another 45 minutes to get our food. It was quite obvious the ship is short staffed in both Manhattan and Taste. We felt bad for the servers because they are doing what they can but the EPIC needs to hire more staff in order to meet the needs of all their guests.
Positives: Atmosphere, Shows, Food, Stewards, Activities, Disembarking and Embarking, Freestyle cruising, Studio Lounge.
Negatives: Wait staff being short, overbooking private functions, broken vending machines never being repaired in the Studio area, rough seas cancelling out door events.
All in all for being my first cruise, I loved the freestyle cruise. I was able to come and go as I pleased without schedule, since I didn't have a clue about what to do cruising. The daily freestyle info that was left in my cabin every day was so helpful to plan out what I was going to do. I enjoyed Epic so much I bought two future cruise credits because I want to do it again.