My husband and I, now both in our 40's, and our 8 year old opted for a cruise to celebrate MY 40th as I wanted my son to also have a good time and thought a cruise was a good option as he'd be very busy. We chose the EPIC because it was voted #1 for kids, oh, and the Royal Caribbean Cruise we wanted was booked. It looked beautiful on the pictures and the reviews weren't bad, so we went with it.
I should preface this by saying I'm a picky traveler. I've been on a few cruises, the last being when I was 24. I've traveled all over the world, and appreciate 5 star hotels and restaurants. I did go into this with what I believe to be reasonable expectations, however. I knew were weren't going on a very high end cruise line and that our room wasn't going to be large. I left after 7 days swearing I may never cruise again.
4000 or so people on this cruise!
Embarkation Day was a nightmare - lines everywhere and people milling around not knowing where to go. After the first day, the shear number of confused wanderers died down, but the boat and crew don't seem prepared to handle the number of guests that are on this ship. For example, there are only two TINY and I mean TINY pools for all of the people on this ship with the exception of a jacuzzi size pool in the adult only area. The pools are so full of children that no one else can go in and cool off. The pool deck is overcrowded and there aren't enough chairs for everyone so unless you are on deck at 7:30 reserving your chair, you are out of luck. They do come around and put stickers on the chairs that have been left more than two hours, but they never come back to remove the items to free up the chairs and most people won't move others personal items. There are 8 elevators, 4 at the front and 4 at the back, and they are ALWAYS packed full of people so we ended up walking up and down the 14+ floors most of the time.
All of this being said, I could have been happy if the service level wasn't sub par at BEST. The waitstaff trips over each other as there is no organization. One comes over and waits on you, then another comes over not realizing someone else has already taken your order. Sometimes we had a third person come to take our order. You'd think with all this waitstaff service would at least be fast, but it's not. You'll wait forever for your cocktail and that doesn't matter where on the ship you are - complimentary dining or paid dining.
The rooms are very small. We got a Large Balcony room. The Haven, where I would have preferred to be, was booked as were most of the good rooms since we booked late. The set up of the bathroom was very awkward - shower on one side, toilet on the other, both with shadowed doors, and then a sink actually in the room. The sink is so tiny when you wash your face water goes everywhere.
Apparently the ocean was very rough during the trip so there was constant movement, all day and all night. This can't be helped, and I understand that, but every time the ship backed up into port the whole ship vibrated violently waking us out of a sound sleep. Something felt broken, it wasn't normal and I've never experienced or heard of anything like it on any other cruises I have been on.
Lastly, the Guest Services team was outright rude. They seems constantly bothered by questions and frankly misinformed about many things - it's hard to get straight information. For example, my husband talked to a Norwegian Rep to book our cruise. We were told we could purchase a drink package to include alcohol for $900. When we boarded the ship we went to Guest Services to book it and they said they weren't offering it on that particular cruise and when we told them we had checked, they essentially just said "tough, that's how it is". Then they asked us to move aside so they could wait on the next person. Apparently the drink package wasn't being offered because it was spring break time, but that was never conveyed to us. Also, the lines for excursions, on board credit, etc. are long and you really need to get there early in the day to get in line.
Overall, I can say I was very disappointed with the ship and the Norwegian experience in general. I wouldn't cruise with them again.
A few positive notes I should mention:
1. The buffet is actually very good as far as buffets go. The food is fresh and there is a lot of variety.
2. The children's area is well run and I felt safe leaving my son there for an hour or two a few of the days.
3. Disembarkation was a surprisingly smooth process.