We sailed on the Norwegian Epic April 6-13 and just had a great vacation! My husband (45) and I (40) celebrated our anniversary and did not take our daughter. Because of a change in schedule at work, we found ourselves we vacation time all of a sudden and booked this cruise 3 weeks out. We booked an inside cabin initially, but as it go closer to the cruise, I watched the price of a balcony guarantee drop and drop, until I was able to upgrade through my travel agent for only $140 total and we were assigned to Balcony 10023. Go with an open mind, the ability to be flexible and the ability to spend a little more than you think you will and you will have a great time!
We flew from Kansas City to FLL on Friday night and it was a madhouse! Just make sure you pack your patience and sense of humor. We used Hilton Honors points to stay at the FLL Airport Hilton which had free shuttle service from the airport. It took some time to get room in a shuttle, but the hotel runs one continually on Friday night. We had a great breakfast buffet in the AM and SAS Transportation picked us up at the hotel at 10:45. We made one additional stop at another hotel and were off to Miami. This whole process was smooth and was a great way to save money by flying into FLL.
We were on the ship at 12:20 and headed to the spa for a tour to determine if we wanted to purchase the spa pass. After the tour, my husband gave a resounding 'yes!' and we utilized the pass each day on board. We found ourselves on sea days going to the spa to relax between breakfast and lunch, but on days in port, we would utilize the spa from late afternoon to early evening. The balcony in the spa on the back of the ship would be great for anyone booked in an inside cabin. I think we paid $149 each for the spa pass.
My husband also won the facial and close shave at the spa drawing at 5pm which he enjoyed later in the week. When he won, he had to dance for 10 seconds to get his prize and he does not dance, so it was a delight to watch my husband shake his booty to get the prize. I had a great facial and he also had a seaweed wrap that he felt was overpriced and a lot of up and down that didn't promote a ton of relaxation. I was not asked to purchase anything but he was hit up for $400 worth of products to clear his 'toxins'. I had a good laugh to his reaction on that one.
We enjoyed lobster night in the Manhattan room on the first night and ate at Shanghai's, Cagney's and Moderno (x2) during the week. Just a tip NCL- when you pay $15 for Shanghai and then $20 for Moderno and the two restaurants are light years away from each other in taste, quality and service, cruisers are getting either a huge bargain with Moderno or Shanghai's is super overpriced. The food was great the whole week. We are not used to gourmet meals, but we love to try new things and appreciate creativity and we were very pleased. We loved the omelets and eggs benedict cooked to order in the buffet each morning. Here's a tip, if you wish to escape the chaos of the buffet seating, take the stairs down to the Italian restaurant and there is a drink station down there for coffee, juice and water. Got a window seat right away and saw dolphins the first morning!
We are not big drinkers and tried to limit our consumption to 2-3 drinks per day and felt that things were reasonably priced when compared to land prices. Entertainment was great. We saw Cirque (although sit on the balcony if you don't want to be looking up the whole time), Blue Man and did not miss the Dueling Pianos. The players were so talented and each night was a blast. We will definitely be visiting our local spot where the same performers travel through occasionally. One thing I did not know, dueling piano performers travel around the country and perform similar to stand-up comedians. We did not do the disco, but watched and participated in some of the game shows and a couple of trivia games.
In St. Maarten, we did the America's Cup excursion with the racing sailboats and it was a blast! The crew was great and my husband was active (primary crank or something) and I was passive (bartender!). The ships fly through the water and it was our first time on any kind of sailboat. We went to Maho to watch the planes at Sunset Beach Bar and when the rain started coming down, we headed back to Philipsburg.
In St. Thomas, we went to Magen's Bay for the morning and it was the most gorgeous beach we have ever been on. No one bothering you selling anything, facilities available and even though it was somewhat crowded, it is a big beach with plenty of space to spread out. We headed back into Charlotte Amalie and had lunch at Cousins (Cuzzin's) which was delicious and then it was back to the ship and the spa to tend to our sunburns.
In Nassau, we were off the ship for only a little bit where we walked along Bay Street for a couple of blocks and then went back to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch before returning to the ship. We had never been there before and just wanted to get a feel for the atmosphere so that when we return, we will branch out more.
Overall, a great trip. My husband disliked the lack of an atrium on board and I will concede that this made it more difficult for me to get my bearings and learn the layout. We had to consult the ship map many more times than we have ever before, but they are all over the place. The staff was so friendly and every morning we were greeted by the 'Washy, Washy' girls at the buffet. It was difficult to come home, and the disembarkation was the only time all week that I felt disorganized, rushed and crowded, but I was already easing back into 'real world' and out of 'vacation world'.
Thanks to other previous reviews, we knew enough little 'secrets' to make us feel very smart and informed at different times during the trip.