I traveled on the Epic with my husband, 3-year-old daughter, sister, brother-in-law, and 2 nieces (ages 3 and 5). We stayed at the JW Marriott Marquis the night before our cruise, and we would highly recommend that hotel to anyone.
The Epic is beautifully decorated. There are unique couches and chairs in the public areas. Our balcony stateroom was beautiful but cramped. The room is so narrow that we were constantly running into each other at the foot of the bed or by the sofa. The balcony room felt smaller than our inside room on the Pearl several years ago.
I would rate the food as a 9 out of 10. It is remarkable that the kitchen staff is able to churn out such delicious food in such huge quantities. Even the buffet offered a variety of tasty dishes, such as chicken wings gumbo style, roast turkey, and yummy paneer dishes. Le Bistro and Moderno offered excellent cuisine and service. We had teppanyaki for lunch on a sea day (for half price), and the chefs were humorous and danced up a storm. Desserts are a definite weak spot on the menus. Basic items like cookies and brownies were poorly prepared. Ice cream is always a good option, and we ate a ton of fruit on the cruise.
The first time we tried to drop DD off at Recess, the youth program had a circus theme, and DD was scared because the counselors were dressed as clowns. The second day she was willing to play at the kids club and participate in the music program. However, I got a call an hour later because DD was crying. We found out later that she was upset because she could not play in the enclosed jungle gym area, which was in the 6-9 year old area, instead of the 3-5 year old area of Recess.
We enjoyed Dora's Dance Party, Storytime with Dora, and the family balloon twisting workshop. The splash pool and adult pools were a big hit with my kid. She went down the kids' water slide in the splash pool area many times.
I would rate the service an 8 out of 10. Most of the crew were friendly and kind. Our steward, Eugeno, worked long hours getting the cabins cleaned. Many of the waiters were very good, although some offered only fair service. The service at O'Sheehan's was not as good as in the main dining rooms.
We worked out at the beautiful gym a couple times and never had a problem finding machines right next to the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Magens Bay Beach in St. Thomas was definitely a highlight of our trip. I was disappointed that NCL did not offer more than just a refund of our government fees because we were not able to dock at Nassau. I would have appreciated a credit for a specialty dinner or something like that.
The music is really too loud on the ship. The volume should be turned down at least 25%, or even 50%, so people can have a more relaxing time. We learned to avoid the pool area. And the crew show was also too loud. We left dinner at the Manhattan Room early because the band started playing, and we could not have a conversation over the din.
The TV screens showed that the restaurants are open at 5 p.m., even though they are not actually open until 5:30 p.m. Also, the time listed on the TV screens was sometimes incorrect. This was a problem, especially because there were multiple time changes during the cruise when the clocks were turned forward or backward.
Disembarkation took forever and was reason enough for us to consider a smaller ship next time. It just took too long to get all those passengers off the boat.
Our cruise was lovely, relaxing, and fun. We woke up every day and saw beautiful views from our balcony each morning. My daughter has been asking every day when we will go on our next cruise. We will cruise again but may try another cruise line next time.