The Epic may have "cured" me of wanting to cruise. Less than four months earlier I had sailed on the Nowegian Dawn with a group, and I loved it. Yes, the food on both was often bland, but in time you learned what to enjoy and what to avoid (too much salt in so many dishes and hoysin sauce on salads...yuck!).
And with both vessels, the staff was excellent (70% of them being the forever-polite willing-to-please Filipinos). On the Dawn, I had some great brisk walks, even if they were just a long circle around the ship, but someone had decided that the Epic would need only a straight walkway on one side, right where everyone was playing shuffleboard. Dumb. You walk back and forth? I don't think so. Sure, the Epic's gym is fabulous, even larger than the Dawn's, but a treadmill just doesn't compare to a walk in open air on a moving vessel.
The Epic's entertainment was also first class (I didn't see much of the Dawn's since my group had a lot of evening sessions). Blue Man Group was more enjoyable than in Vegas since the Epic's theater is smaller. Second City is always fun, and Legends in Concert was super.
But the itinerary of the Epic is just plain boring, at least to someone who is not caught up in phony "excursions" around islands that are tourist traps unrivaled. There are more watches for sale than in all of Switzerland, as if we are desperate for more watches? Anyone who finds blatant consumerism a bit stupid will have plenty to hate. With the Dawn, you have the chance to see Maya ruins, and tour up the Belize River. Not the most exciting side trips in the world, but pretty pleasant.
But, to get to the main reason that I would never set foot on the Epic again, it comes down to quiet time, with smoke-free air. The Dawn has a really nice little library, a separate room with thousands of books. The Epic has a "wide spot in the road," just a nook with less than 200 books, with piped-in music, and it is right beside the Cigar Room! Every time the door opened, the cloud of blue smoke poured out. Who in their right mind thought that a separate cigar room was needed more than a library? Fortunately, the cigar room sat empty most of the time (hint to the Norwegians: make it the library, and tell the smokers to sit in a small boat being towed a thousand yards behind the Epic). And somehow, despite it being a relatively new boat, the halls of the Epic had some horrible smells from time to time.
Many people have commented on the unique bathroom arrangement on the Epic (versus the very nice conventional ones on the Dawn). I can use an outhouse for a week if need be, so this was not a major issue. I think my wife and I would be happy with either arrangement, at least for a week.
OH, if you have kids, of which there were over three million on our cruise, the Epic may be a good choice, especially if the kids like water slides and small pools (the one larger pool on the Dawn would be my preference). The green slide is unforgettable, and should not be attempted by anyone not ready for a pounding in-the-dark adventure. I loved it, but then I'm a 70 year old kid.