First, let me say that I am a veteran cruiser of 26 cruises. I have cruised on Celebrity, NCL, Royal, Carnival, Holland America , Disney and several others that are now out of business. I never expect a cruise to be perfect and always go with the same idea..."You are on vacation, not at work, so even if a cruise is not that great YOU are responsible for your own fun...make it a good time!"
That being said, we traveled with 16 other people....ages 16 to 78. We all had pretty much the same attitude and had a very good time on the Epic.
Embarkation...easy (they do not let you on the ship until 11:30 so don't bother showing up too early)
We purchased posh passes for 6 of the adults at guest service and went to Taste and enjoyed a very nice lunch. After lunch we went to our cabins...no surprises there...we already knew how small they were. But the cabins are very efficiently designed so they are fine really.
Stopped in St. Martin....went to Maho..had a blast (literally) and Orient..beautiful.
St. Thomas..grabbed a taxi and went on a little private tour of the island and decided to go to Coki for snorkeling. We love Megans bay but with so many ships in port we knew how busy it would be plus we wanted to snorkel. Coki beach is beautiful in it's own way, but a little on the rough side...think Jamaica
Snorkeling was great my husband and sons even saw a 12 foot shark over by Coral world! Our cab driver met us afterwards and took us to a few scenic stops for pictures and even stopped and bought us the most delicious coconut tarts at a little store she shops at. She also got some freshly chopped sugar cane for the kids to try. We really appreciated her doing all these little extras for us. If you need a driver in St. Thomas..contact me I will give you her contact information. Not only does she drive taxi but she is also a member of the SWAT team on St. Thomas!
Our last stop in Nassau was cancelled. According to the Captain there was a mix up with the port authority in Nassau and they refused to let the Epic dock (even though this ship is there every Friday...hmm?) Oh well, we had a nice day at sea.
So now you are probably wondering why am I so disappointed in the Epic this time..well here goes...
1. Service in Manhattan room was a nightmare. I don't expect fast food but come on...3 1/2 hours for dinner is way too long. First night, we waited 40 minutes for a table. Then we were seated and we waited to 20 minutes for a very rude waitress from Romania to come over and acknowledge us. She never asked us if we wanted drinks she just looked at us and said "what do you want?" My husband made the mistake of asking what the specialty item of the day was and I thought she was going to throw something at him...She said "I don't know...I am very busy...what do you want?"" We ordered out food and once again..we waited and waited...20 minutes more finally appetizer arrived and I kid you not she threw them on the table. I was really concerned that something was wrong with her and very nicely said "I know that you are really busy but are you OK?" She glared at me and walked away! Wow! I was shocked. After the appetizers were finished a 45 minute wait for our entrees! This was just crazy! We finished eating our entrees and the dirty plates sat there for another 30 minutes at least and she never came back. Eventually a supervisor walked by because the guest sitting next to us complained. She offered us a bottle of wine and apologized. We were never offered dessert or coffee or anything to drink. This was not a good way to start the cruise but it wasn't the end of the world either!
I wish I can say the service improved after the first day but sadly, it got worse!
On the third day I decided to fill out a comment card at the hostess station and OMG the hostess was very worried out it saying anything bad. She asked were you happy with your service is that why you want a card? When I said "No" she looked shocked!! I left the Manhattan Room and was almost to the stairway when another hostess stopped us to say "My boss really needs to talk to you...can you come back for a minute?" Well, the manager apologized for the horrible service and again offered a bottle of wine. I told her we don't want a bottle of wine we just want to have dinner in under 3 hours! She gave me her card and told us to ask for her and she would make sure we would have better service next time.
Overall, I really don't think it is the servers fault. They work really hard but this ship is woefully understaffed. The staff they do have in the dining rooms all seemed unhappy and somewhat confused. All looked terribly overworked...very few smiled ever. After 26 cruised I can honestly say that these were the most UNHAPPY people I have ever encountered as a whole. All the food must be brought us on an escalator from another floor and it takes a lot of time. Also, these little petite woman are bringing up huge trays loaded with dishes. I really felt sorry for them. They seemed to have much worse working conditions them on other ships.
Buffet food was fine...no service in that area at all (as expected)
The shows were not as good as last time I was on this ship. Legends was awful! The Woopie Goldberg impersonator was soooo bad...Michael Jackson was good but basically this show could have been a high school performance.
Blue Man..was very good..exactly the same show as last time.
Second City...once again...going downhill. They were OK but now as funny as in the past.
Our favorite was Howl at the Moon. Again, not the level of talent that they had previously but they put on a solid good show most nights.
The pool decks were all overcrowded with no where near enough seating for everyone. All loungers were taken by 7 am on sea days. The pools are very small.
The six of us that bought posh passes were not happy to find that even the posh deck did not have enough loungers for everyone. Part of the upper deck of Posh is now open to the public so there is not enough space. That was a big disappointment for many people.
The ship overall is maintained very well. It is started to show some wear and tear.
Overall I would not sail on Epic again. The service was just way too slow and the employees are just so tired and overworked!