Our first cruise with NCL in 7 years (with the exception of a 3 day cruise in Nov 2012)
We are Platinum Latitudes with NCL and joined the Latitudes line which moved slower than the other lines checking in. We arrived at Port of Miami at 1:00 PM and we were in our cabin at 2:10 so not the fastest but not horrible. We then ventured to find lunch at O'Schaunecy's (?) Pub on deck 6 and had a very peaceful meal without the hub-bub usually found in the buffet on departure day.
Our cabin at the end of the hallway on Deck 14 just around the corner from the Spa Lobby was really fabulous - We loved it! The location, slightly larger balcony and the wave design suited us and this made the cabin one of our most favorites!!! There was a bottle of champagne and Godiva chocolates awaiting us (nice) and our luggage appeared within 45 minutes. The storage space was amazing and the split bathroom did not bother us (having been together for 21 years); however, for many I can see where the cabin would be awkward.
Over all Pro's and Grade:
- SPA - we are big spa people and we loved the EPIC Spa. Large, clean, and the outdoor balcony at the back of the spa was great. We spent many relaxing hours here and yes at times it gets busy but many times we were the only people in there. B+
- Entertainment - Amazing and Excellent. Blue Man Group and the Magician Comedian were highlights - do not miss any of the shows and remember to book this on-line before you get on the ship or you may not get in. DO NOT MISS the Cirque dinner theater show in the Spiegel Tent - Amazing. Grade: A
- Tariff Restaurants - Bistro and Cagneys were excellent others were good. B- overall.
- Cabin - Loved it - A
- Cleanliness - Ship was spotless and amazing given there were over 900 children onboard. B
- Decor - Lovely stylized interior - alternates between very nicely appointed to rather sparse. The Manhattan Restaurant and Marketplace Buffet are standouts. loved the lobby and video wall. Taste Restaurant is bizarre we spent the week trying to figure what the NCL designers were attempting to create - cellar meets dungeon... Grade: B -
- Crew/Captain - Exceptional. Friendly and genuine on the most part. Not effusive but competent and pleasant. We had to miss Nassau due to a mistake made by the Nassau Port Authority overbooking the port. When we went to the lobby we saw the Captain standing and discussing the situation with guests, he was patient and courteous to passengers of which the same could not be said. The Captain could have easily hidden on the bridge and let the Reception staff deal with the disgruntled passengers, he did not. Excellent and commendable Grade A++++++
- CIGARETTE SMOKE - Because the casino stretches through two decks of over 1/3 of deck 6 & 7 it is is omnipresent and passengers cannot transit the ship without going through the casino. Smoking seems to be permitted everywhere though we did spot a few no smoking signs for non-smoking areas they were not enforced. If you have a real problem with smoke and smokers then the NCL EPIC should be avoided (unfortunately). Because it is omnipresent - Grade D-
- Lack of an sea view/ocean facing lounge or quiet place under air conditioning. on most ships the location of La Cucina is a large lounge where one can read, have a drink, play a game, location to sit and chat, etc. Such a room does not exist on the NCL EPIC and we really missed it, luckily we had a comfortable and nice cabin to which we could retreat. NCL is focused on revenue generation and it shows , if it is not the casino it is a bar, shop, or tariff restaurant. A real shame. Grade - D+
- Lack of Promenade Deck - Deck 7 does have two large linear decks however views of the sea are blocked by the massive lifeboats. Again we missed having deck chairs on a quiet promenade deck watching the walkers stroll by. NCL seems to think that those onboard the EPIC do not want to know they are at sea. A shame. Luckily, they have heard the many complaints and the Breakaway and Getaway will have promenade decks. Grade: F
- Low ceilings: No soaring atriums or grand spaces - felt a bit claustrophobic at first , but got used to it. Reminds me of the ships of 30 years ago. Grade: C
- Pools - Incredibley small and inadequate for a ship of this size. Grade : D+
- WaterPark - Takes up too much room and while popular with many passengers - they are a minority and so much deck space is sacrificed for this attraction. Grade: C-
- Deck Space/Deck Chairs: We are not sun worshipers but chairs were in very short supply and many had been "reserved" by 8:00 AM (no enforcement of non-reserve rule). Thank goodness we had our balcony mini-suite and the use of the spa balcony or we would have been out of luck.
We had a great week and we would book the EPIC again but only in a mini-suite or higher. However, we have been on the Allure and if the pricing was close and itineraries the same, I would have to pick the Allure due to the cigarette smoke/Ocean view facing lounge/ and Promenade deck.
Being a Platinum Latitudes member does help to some extent but unlike other lines - this highest level is lumped in with the other Latitude members for expedited boarding and disembarkation. Celebrity, Princess and RCCL distinguish the levels and grant time saving/ Line avoiding benefits - NCL does not.
This is an innovative ship and NCL should be commended for taking risks and trying new things. Looking forward to the Breakaway and Getaway