Since this was our first cruise ever, we wanted something big, with plenty of dining and entertainment options, so we decided to try the Epic. All I can say is WOW!
Of course, I have no other experience as reference but the Cruise exceeded all our expectations. Here's an account of our experience, the good and the bad.
We took the 7 Day Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Epic, feb. 2-9/2013.
Embarkation and Disembarkation: extremely smooth. We were told there were 4,300 passengers that week, but it felt like there were only about 500. We arrived at noon and in less than half an hour our luggage was checked, our room keys were given and we were taking pictures by the pool with big goofy smiles on our faces. Disembarkation was equally easy. There was a small line, but no big deal.
Stateroom: bigger than we expected for a cruise ship. We had a regular balcony stateroom. Very comfortable bed, interesting toilet/shower settings, gorgeous view from the balcony, and an overall pleasant experience. We particularly liked the fact that we could access our account from the tv and make reservations, which was very practical. There was a specific channel that showed all the activities programmed for the day and at night they showed different events that happened that day like game shows and other activities. Very nice.
Food: Very good indeed. The main dining rooms had a very diverse menu of high quality cuisine. There was no need to go the specialty restaurants but we did decide to go to La Cucina, which was the Italian restaurant. Very good, but just as good as the main dining rooms. The one criticism I do have is that on one night the service at Taste restaurant was very, very, very slow and the food was not that exciting. We did however go back to the same restaurant a few days later and everything was great, so I guess they're allowed one off-day in seven :) We didn't have a chance to try the food at O'Sheehans but the Graden Cafe had an assortment of wonderful breakfast and lunch buffet options.
Daytime activities: Very fun! We found the crew to be very kind and helpful, always with a smile on their faces. We took part in some of the activities, like the trivias (we actually won one, and received a pen and a trophy!) and saw some others from a distance. I have to congratulate Ken, the Cruise Director and Simon, the Assistant Cruise Director. They were always very nice and entertaining.
Nightly Entertainment: Amazing!! Blue Man Group is just awesome. We also really enjoyed the various musicians that played at the bars, especially Carrie Stone (acoustic guitar at the Maltings Bar) and Jeff Spence (piano at the Shakers Bar). Very talented people! Now I have to say that to us the highlight was the Howl at the Moon guys. They were phenomenal, especially Paul, which seemed to be the lead pianist throughout the shows. We were there pretty much every night they played. I cannot emphasize enough how much we enjoyed him and the other two musicians (unfortunately we don't remember their names, but they were equally talented and entertaining). Good job Howl at the Moon! We did not go to the Cirque Dinner Show but we heard from other travelers that it was very good as well.
Pool Area: Very pleasant environment, wonderful Jacuzzis and every now and then there was live music, which added a nice touch. And the waterslides were just amazing! The only thing we would change -- but was not at all an issue for us -- was the size of the pools. We were hoping to have bigger pools to enjoy, but -- again -- not a big issue.
Casino: Fun! We're not the gambling type but we did play a bit at the roulettes table and the slots. The employee working the table was a very nice young man from Costa Rica who explained the basic rules to us (we had never played before!) and was very friendly throughout our experience.
Ports of Call: We did not buy any of the shore excursions but we did enjoy the three stops. Bahamas was our absolute favorite (the ocean was amazing!) but the other two were also very nice.
In a whole, the Epic provided everything we expected for our first Cruise experience, and we couldn't have asked for anything more. I'd like to thank the Norwegian Cruise Lines for such a professional staff, all round great entertainment and creativity (an ice bar?? Really? Just fantastic!) with the options we were given to pass our days.
Huuuuge thumbs up for such a lovely experience!!