We are a couple in our early 50's who cruised on the Epic, Jan. 12 -- Jan. 19th. This was our second cruise and we were in a mini suite, cabin 12265. I believe there were around 4300 other cruisers.
We flew in to Ft. Lauderdale the night before on Southwest airlines and stayed at the Hyatt Place FL which has a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel. I originally wanted to use SAS Transportation to take us to the port of Miami the next morning but I didn't make my reservations in time and they were all booked up. The hotel also has transportation but it was more expensive, although the door to door service and the fact that we weren't packed in like sardines was probably worth the extra cost.
We arrived at the port around 12:30 and embarkation was quick and easy. Our longest wait was while going through security. We carried on a couple bottles of soda and water and they were all carefully inspected to make sure that they hadn't been opened. This was our second cruise with Norwegian so we were able to use the shorter Latitudes line and we were checked in and on the boat in no time. We walked around deck 15 for a little while and sat and had a drink at Spice H2O until our cabin was ready.
Our balcony cabin was very nice and felt spacious. Our bed was near the balcony and that made the room much more functional. There was plenty of cabinet space and the shower/tub combo has lots of room. The toilet setup wasn't really an issue for us but I can see how it would be in some situations. Our room had a coffee maker and our wonderful and attentive cabin steward always made sure it was well stocked. The coffee was decent and I packed our own flavored creamer. The most relaxing part of the trip was sitting out on the balcony in the morning with our coffee and enjoying the warm Caribbean weather.
Although the Epic is a huge ship we found it pretty easy to get around and learned the layout quickly. Our cabin was near the elevator/stairs at the back of the ship so it was pretty easy to get around via the stairs and the wait time for the elevator was never very long. The casino was usually packed and difficult to walk through at times but we found it easier to get off on deck 7 and walk down the stairs at the other end to get to the entertainment venues on deck 6. We saw most of the shows and entertainment on board and liked them all. Our favorites were the comedy/magic show by Michael Finney and the Slam Allen Blues Band. Even if you're not a blues fan you should go check out the show, he's a great entertainer!
We usually had breakfast at the buffet, snacks/lunch at O'Sheehan's and dinner at Taste or at a specialty restaurant. We never had to wait for a table anywhere. The buffet is laid out very well with several stations and we never had to stand in much of a line. We had dinner once at Teppanyaki's, fun atmosphere and great food, and we also did the Cirques Dream show and dinner one night. The show was very good and the meal was just alright, it's really more about the show. We ordered pizza one night and were surprised at how large and good it was. The specialty restaurant we really enjoyed was La Cucina, so much so that we ate there twice. The food, view, hostess, waitstaff and service were truly exceptional both nights we were there.
We visited St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Nassau. We didn't schedule any excursions through the ship but scheduled an all day snorkeling/beach tour with Capt. Bob/Soualiga Destinations for St. Maarten. The seas were a little rough that day so we didn't get to snorkel or see much sea life because of the low visibility but it was a blast anyway. You go out with a small group of people, they provide all the drinks and a great lunch and it's a lot of fun touring the island and beaches in a speed boat! We did our own thing in St. Thomas. We took a cab over to Magens Bay and rode the tram up to Paradise Point. It was rainy at Magens Bay so we didn't get to enjoy the beach much but I'm sure it's beautiful in nicer weather. The bar up at Paradise Point is a great place to sit and have a drink while enjoying the view. It was also a good day for us to catch up on e-mail and check in with family back home. Our carrier is AT&T and there were no extra charges to use our phones that day since we were in the USVI. Nassau was cloudy and cool and we had already been there the year before so we decided just to stay near the port. We walked to the restaurants past Junkanoo beach and had some lunch and then stopped and had a drink at Senor Frogs before heading back to the ship. The little straw market that you walk through at the port has free wi-fi, it was very slow though we were able to use it to check in for our flight home the next day.
Disembarkation took a while even though we did the self walk-off. The line snaked through the casino but we finally got moving and made our way off the ship. It was a wonderful vacation and now we hope to go on many more cruises!