After researching our vacation options, we decided to try NCL and the EPIC as the Aqua park, Recess Kids Academy, Nickelodeon characters and freestyle dining appealed to my 8 year old and everything else appealed to me & my partner.
We stayed at the Miami Marriott Biscayne bay for two nights and although it may seem pricey, it was worth it. The service was outstanding and it was close to both the trolley, bus & OMNI stations and offered free shuttle service to and from South Beach!!
On February 2 we boarded the EPIC in under an hour from arrival at the port and started enjoying ourselves immediately. Don't let its size scare you. The EPIC was the easiest to navigate of any other ship I have been on. There are maps at every elevator & signs are abundant, not to mention blue starboard & orange port decor. Yes, there were over 4100 people on board but it didn't seem it as there are so many activities & spaces to occupy people that the pool deck & buffet were the only crowded places and we were still able to find places to sit & relax.
Although we didn't take in all that the EPIC had to offer, we certainly enjoyed what we did. The Blue Man Group is an absolute must!! Nickelodeon Breakfast was cute & the breakfast itself was delicious-pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, yogurt, fruit loops & Jell-o for some added fun. Lots of photo & hug opportunities with the characters too and no one left crying!
The food was amazing! I have never seen so much fresh fruit in my life! The options at the buffet are plentiful & diverse (Indian, Asian, Vegetarian, Deli bar, Salad Bar, Dessert Bar, Ice cream bar, American, daily specialties, etc...) The two main restaurants have a cruise long standard menu and nightly specials and of course the up graded restaurants are pretty spectacular. We thoroughly enjoyed Teppanyaki as it was as entertaining as it was delicious. You may read some negative comments about the food but I would have to disagree with each & every one of them. I consider myself a novice foodie and I enjoyed everything. My steak-loving partner had no complaints & had to switch to salmon as he had his fill of red meat!
Our stateroom was a large balcony on level 12, not far from the elevator. It was perfect! Clean, quiet, & comfortable. I am not sure what people's hang ups were with the bathrooms. They are NOT translucent and there is a curtain to pull if need be. We felt the configuration made it easier to get into & out of the room and allowed for each of us to be using a component of the bathroom simultaneously.
We had 3 days at sea and had no trouble finding things to do.Do keep in mind that some of your fellow cruisers feel the need to "save" deck chairs and not use them for hours at a time. (my only negative point of the whole trip!)
As for ports, we visited St Maarten where we booked with "Bernard's Tours". They are very well priced & it was a great day. We then headed to St Thomas where we simply walked from the ship to the main drag and enjoyed the sights. While in Nassau we walked from the port to Junkanoo Beach and took in some snorkeling.
Needless to say, we had a FABULOUS vacation and have already booked our next trip on the EPIC.