The NCL Epic is very new and clean--nothing is tired or needs updating. There are lots of options for dining and activities but most of them were not really memorable. Most things were just okay and sometimes "good" so first-time cruisers might not even notice. Here is my review:
Getting on board the ship was very quick and easy and room was ready at 1 pm. In-cabin sink did not bother us at all- we liked the access and splashing was not a problem at all. Didn't mind the frosted doors on the bathroom and shower although the thin glass door opening directly to the toilet did provide a little "too much information" for my liking. The rooms were nice, the refrigerator we emptied and utilized right away with the alcohol we brought on board. (Yes we brought alcohol- a bag in the box wine, and a bottle of scotch and rum both distributed between bladders we bought and small water bottles.) They totally saw my bag in the box (box removed) and didn't care. They are looking for other things I guess. A guy on the cruise was asked to throw away 2 60 oz. bottles of liquor from his luggage but his wife managed to get her 2 60 oz bottles on so there is a lot of smuggling going on. I highly recommend bringing extra rum to doctor up the ones you buy. People were using the all you can drink plan (700 a couple?) and liked it. 2 couples said they would room the men together next time (on paper only) so that they could qualify as the 2 drinkers for 700 a week (because their wives weren't drinking and both people and the room have to commit to the plan). Our room had a towel stuffed animal about 4 times - other than that nothing extra from our room steward. There are not enough elevators on this ship so keep that in mind when you choose your room.
The freestyle dining was nice- if you like the pomp and circumstance of the formal dinners you wont like it. We only went to the main dining room twice. We ate at taste the other nights and we did not pay for any restaurants because of the review that said it wasn't worth it. A couple we met said the Cirque de Soleil food wasn't good. The staff on board the Epic was definitely the most unhappy that I have met. Another reason we didn't go to the main dining room. Not only did you not have a personal relationship with your own waiter but the ones you got 80% of the time were just stressed and miserable. It was like, "So what do you want to eat?" like we were putting them out. They were not smiling let alone happy. The food also just was average to good. Nothing was particularly bad, but each thing seemed to just be shy of being really good. I guess it was a little boring to us. The Irish Bar was good because it was 24/7 but where was the Irish beer??????
We spent St. Thomas buying a diamond anniversary ring. I highly recommend this process: Go to Diamonds International which is highly promoted by the cruise ship and write down their cost and the specifications for the diamond jewelry you want (size, clarity, etc.) Then go to Jewelry Forever right down the street and they will blow the price right out of the water. I got bigger, better diamonds from them for a much lower price. Read about them on the Internet-rave reviews, They are a family owned business. They created a necklace out of my original diamond and had my new diamond ready in 1.5 hours. They are very knowledgeable and patient and you can trust them.
In St. Marteen, we went to Orion beach where one side is nude and the other you can walk down to a couple resort beaches that will charge you 10 a chair for the day which comes with an umbrella. But you will get bar service and clean bathrooms.
Nassau Bahamas was cancelled because the captain sail the port of Bahamas didn't have a slip for our ship. I guess the Bahamas screwed up. So we spent a day at sea. Some people were really mad. They gave out a lot of free rum drinks and quickly published a new itinerary with a lot of added activities which was nice.
There is a transfer at the end of the ship for 25 each to FLL if you need it. Nice bus- worth the money.
There is a very nice adult deck over 18 until 8 pm. At night there are some themed fun parties there for the baby boomers. Get there at 7 to reserve your chairs with towels. The pool is small but not cold. There are 2 hot tubs and its own bar.
The Entertainment on board was very average. The Manhattan Room band is very loud-ask for a seat away from the band. The other band they had there looked like a bunch of kids trying to imitate Glee and they were terrible. Even the staff was plugging their ears.
The Blues Bar had a band that could have used a better vocalist. The Martini bar would have been a lot classier if the pianist just stuck to the piano and didn't try to sing Billy Joel, etc.
Recommended activities are: Definitely go down the water slide (the bowl) at least once! The Blue Man Group -either you liked it or you didn't. The first 2 rows get the audience wet but don't sit too far back or it wont be as funny. We sat in the back and could not see the expressions of the Blue Men which is part of the comedy sketches. Get a seat for Dancing with the Stars and Quest. We enjoyed Howl at the Moon. The Second city Adult version is the one you want-did not enjoy the other. See the magician- he is a riot. See the Epic staff talent show at the end-where were these people? They should have been singing in the lounges all week! The gym is nice and I did the treadmill looking out over the ocean 3 times.
To conclude, I got a good price on an inside room so the value was there for me. I liked that everything was new and nice. As an experienced cruiser, I have seen better food and better entertainment but you get a lot to do and it is very organized and the cruise ran really well. I would recommend it.