We were on the 12/8 sailing of the Epic and had a great time. This is our 3rd NCL cruise (previously on Dawn and Star). We have also sailed on Regent (twice), Costa, RCCL, and Holland America. We are in our early 50's and live in South Florida. I am often amused at how nit-picky these reviews can be. I can honestly say I have never been on a bad cruise as I believe a vacation is what you make of it. Having said that, this cruise was as much fun as we have ever had on a vacation!
Embarkation was the best we have ever experienced. Our cruises begin with a limo ride from home to the port. Cost is not much more than the cost of parking. Plus we don't have to schlep luggage, hop on a shuttle from the garage, and we can enjoy a glass (or two) of champagne on the way to the port. We arrived at the port at 10:30 am, waited in a short line and checked in at 11am. After check-in we were seated in the boarding lounge and allowed to board shortly after 11:30. Once on board we purchased our Posh passes and drink packages and were allowed to drop off our carryons in our cabin at noon - the earliest I have ever experienced!
Our cabin was a large balcony (B6). Cabin itself was a bit cramped. Next time we will likely book a larger cabin. Balcony however was awesome. Our steward brought us 2 loungers, where we spent a lot of time. I had read all the reviews (pro and con) on the bathroom set-up. It didn't really bother us as we have been married for 24 yrs. Bed was comfortable and we slept well. I am 6'2" and I was perfectly comfortable.
Food was, without exception, outstanding! The first night we dined in Le Bistro. The lamb I ordered was the best I have ever had. Cagney's was memorable, despite being seated next to a table with 6 of the 75 children on board - more on that later. La Cucina was outstanding and Teppanyaki was tasty, and a lot of fun. Best dining experience however were the meals in The Manhattan Room. What a beautiful and well laid out room with live music, great food and outstanding service. All in all, this was the best cruise, dining wise, we have ever experienced - including 2 cruises on Regent Seven Seas!
Shows were varied. Despite all of the glowing reviews of Blue Man, I guess I just don't get it. Legends was so-so. I hardly consider Whopi Goldberg and Jimmy Buffet "legends"' deserving to be mentioned in the same breath as Donna Summer or Michael Jackson. While not a big fan (I'm an 80's rock guy), I thought Michael was outstanding. We attended the dueling pianos show and had a great time. Note- they take requests but won't play Tupac :). The best show, by far, was the Cirque dinner show. Outstanding, skilled, top notch acrobats and musicians. We sat on the floor (recommended). Don't miss this show.
Ship itself is huge! Lots of walking. One of the major benefits to this size are the roomy layouts of the dining areas. Cagney's was especially roomy as compared to Cagney's on other NCL ships. The only time we ever experienced crowds was during the muster drill. Always lots of pool loungers - the ship never felt crowded - although we were told the ship was far from full.
Given the fact that we sailed between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there were very few children on board (note to self). The children that were on board however were in control, well behaved, and well entertained. A fellow passenger told us that there were only 75 children on board versus 750 and 1100 on the following weeks' sailings. In fact, all passengers seemed mellow and well behaved. We never encountered any rudeness, excessive drunkeness, or compulsive complainers. A fun group!
We spent a lot of time in Posh and highly recommend this. For approx. $60 each we had padded lounges, lots of room, shade for my wife and great bar service!
Prior to boarding I booked a massage and facial for my wife and an acupuncture treatment for myself. When we checked in to the spa I was told that my acupuncture had to be rescheduled, followed by a barrage of hardcore up selling. I was so turned off, I cancelled the acupuncture. My wife however kept her massage/facial appointment and really enjoyed it.
We took the NCL excursion to Trunk Bay while docked in St. Thomas, and had a great time Went to Orient Beach on our own in St. Martin and spent the day on the ship in Nassau.
Disembarkation was, once again, best ever. We did check our luggage the night before. After a great breakfast in Taste, we disembarked at 9am and were outside waiting for our limo at 9:15 - WOW!
NCL has really figured out this crowd control thing. Never a line to get off the boat in port. Plenty of room for all (except our cabin), outstanding dining experience, courteous crew who really appeared to love their job - the list of superlatives goes on and on. Although we love the all inclusive and intimate cruise experience of Regent Seven Seas, we now have a hard time justifying the extra cost of Regent given the outstanding dining, service and fun we experienced on The Epic. Hopefully the itineraries in the Caribbean are altered in the future. We will be back!