We have sailed Carnival 4 times and Royal Caribbean once so we were excited to be trying NCL. Embarkation was a breeze and the staff in the terminal were awesome. We were lucky enough to be the first ones on the ship. The Epic is not only massive, She's a beautiful ship. They had the staterooms available at 1:30, A half hour before they said they'd be so that was nice. Our stateroom had the largest balcony we've ever had. The curved room was different but very welcoming and lots and lots of storage space, So much in fact that we didn't even use it all and we had 10 days worth of clothes.The curved bed was a little small but bearable. I liked the separation of the toilet and shower.They only had one tv channel for tv shows but as one ended the next one wouldn't come on for 15 to 20 minutes. Not a huge deal as we only watched it for late night viewing until we fell asleep.
As I said, We've sailed 4 times previously on Carnival and loved it. We made the mistake at first of comparing NCL against Carnival (which is something we said we wouldn't do... RIGHT!) We were hoping that the Epic would live up to the high standards that we were used to on Carnival and i guess you could say just a little apprehensive.We were on a beautiful new ship but as we looked off the stern there was the new Carnival Breeze. Kept saying "keep an open mind" and in the end NCL won me over. My wife is still on the fence although she did have a great time.
The muster drill was completely different than what were used to. They had everybody gather in different lounges, In the theater and dining venues and without life vests.Our cabin steward Reggie was great. Very accommodating, Professional and always with a smile.We absolutely LOVED the freestyle dining concept but missed having the same wait staff every night.The Manhattan room and the Taste dining rooms were beautiful. Even though we missed the same wait staff every night having a different table each time we dined was a nice change.The dining room wait staff was fantastic, Friendly and eager to please.I had read reviews that the wait to get into these rooms were long. We never waited more than 5 minutes.The 24 hr restaurant O'Sheeans had a great day menu but minimal selections on the late night menu.We didn't dine at any of the specialty restaurants so I can't comment on them.
The Garden Cafe buffet was very nice with lots of selection. The only thing we though could be better is if they had trays to carry your plates to your table.The way it is now is you get your plate, Fill it up and head to your table. If you wanted a salad or a drink or to you had to go back to the buffet. Trays would really be a big help here.One thing I do have to say is even though there were over 4000 passengers on the ship we could always find an open table to eat at. Not once did we have to search for one.Getting a lounge chair on deck was a different story. As usual you had the selfish boneheads that would come out first thing in the morning to place towels on them and not show up for hours to use them.
When we went to the casino you had to either get cash from the ATM or go to the cashiers window. Unfortunately you can't place your seapass in the machine and access your account but every time you got cash from the window they charged a 3% fee for getting it.Same deal on the tables too. One review I read awhile ago about NCL said they nickle and dime you to death and sadly I found this to be true.
The entertainment on the Epic was second to none and by far the BEST we've ever had at sea! Blue man group was phenomenal. Legends in concert and Howl at the moon dueling pianos were incredible too. At legends they had Jimmy Buffet, Donna Summer and of course Michel Jackson. You would swear they were the real deal. Karaoke was fun with alot of people singing and ofcourse I had to go up and massacre a few songs. The Fat Cats blues club was great. The band they had could really knock your socks off with some kicka** blues.We played Bingo and Deal or no deal which was alot of fun.
We went to Maho Beach on our own in St. Maarten. We enjoyed cocktails, The water as we watched all the planes land 30 ft over your head. Let me tell you, When that KLM 747 came in it was nothing short of amazing! We booked a parasailing excursion through NCL in St. Thomas. We've never done that before and it was awesome! We then did the skyride to paradise point on our own. The view from the top was breathtaking although we thought the gondolas and giftshop area would have been cleaner.We had to cancel our beach break in Nassau due to an insane thunderstrom when we arrived so we walked around town. It was ok but I wouldn't want to go there again unless we had an excursion to do.
The water park was great. we did all the slides and only waited maybe 10 minutes for an innertube for the Epic Plunge. Worth every minute!Another con for us was the waits for the elevators. You would push the button, Order a pizza, Have it delivered, Enjoy it, Then about five minutes after you were done the elevator would arrive.I think you get my point.
All in all, We had a great cruise. There are pros and cons to every trip and I would not hesitate to book another cruise on NCL. My wife always tells me I'm long winded. Well, Here's your proof. :-)