I wanted to share my experience about the EPIC since this was my first cruise with NCL. We went on two cruises last year with Carnival and they were on the Miracle and the Pride. We have also previously sailed on the Dream, and so I was ready for a larger ship again, thinking that they offer a higher level of entertainment and amenities that maybe some of the smaller boats cannot offer. I had high expectations for the Epic since it's written up as being one of the best cruise ships.
Dinners; I like to have the semi formal dinning experience that Carnival offers. We usually dine at the latter sitting since we enjoy using our daylight time to do things outside. Carnival is good about serving you quickly and getting it's customers out in time for the latter seating or for other activities. Our first night in the Manhattan room was not a great experience. I cannot say that the food was as nice as Carnival and my partner did not enjoy her meal since she complained that it was not very good or hot. I know NCL promotes their anytime dinning but Carnival has the the same thing, with regard to the buffet so I don't see any advantage with NCL. Comparing the two Cruise lines, I think Carnival has better food. I will compliment NCL for their cleanliness and their selection of delicious cut fruits. I'm also very glad that they have a person that insures that customers sanitize their hands upon entering the dinning area.
Pool area. NCL has two small pools in the mid area that are way too small for 4,000 guest and I really didn't like their set up. The last day at sea, they had a Jamaican style band playing until noon, then they played music such as the polka dance style with I actually wasn't in the mood for. The problem is, that the sound system for the mid-area is so loud that it over powers my ear buds. I couldn't get away from their noise. I know there is a tiny pool at the back of the ship, but I didn't want to go all the way back there. I liked how Carnival has their pools in sections so that if people want to listen to the band they can, but if not they can go to other pool areas that are quieter. It's not just bands, it's the games and other distractions that might be going on that I'm not interested in listening too... I like to stay in the pool and cool off but I kept getting splashed by the kids and then parents that brought floats in the pool with kids that want to bump into you. It seems like many parents don't have any courtesy towards others when it comes to being around pools. I do have to mention that my partners Adidas sandals were stolen from the pool area. She has foot problems and really needed those sandals and she was really dishearten that someone would take her shoes. I was able to buy her another pair when we went to St Maartin.
Pool chairs. It's the same story on most cruise ships. People come out and reserve chairs and place their items and then are not back for over a hour. I've given up on getting a chair, I just look for some place to put my back pack and lay about the pool. My motto is that I don't need a stinkin chair. The Epic has an adults only area where clothes are optional. I think that is actually a great idea. I used it one day but when I went to the tanning area no one was there, so I kept my shorts on and enjoyed the solitude. I enjoyed seeing people go up there and discover that sometimes people were nude tanning. I was warned prior to sailing that the rooms were small. I didn't like the fact that when I tried to sit at the desk to work on my laptop, that my partner could not get around me. I felt that we kept getting into each others way since there is not enough space to pass between the bed and the cabinets. The rooms are nice in many aspects but there is something about the design that restricts the flow of two persons trying to maneuver about. I liked the combination safe, and the coffee maker in the room. The ice buckets don't keep ice very long, and that could be improved on, but that's a minor thing..
Entertainment: We saw the Blue Man group twice. I think once is enough for the most part. The Cirque Dreams was great, The legends was okay but not as high quality as Carnival. I think Carnival has better entertainment overall.
Deck plan: I really missed having a deck where we could walk around the ship. The walking deck is on level 7 and the lifeboats obstruct the view..
I really enjoy seeing past cruisers comments, and I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to cruise on the Epic. We had fantastic weather, and all our extrusions went well. My partner and I do think NCL does some things very well and the service people were very friendly.