First, I just want to say that I am not a complainer when it comes to cruising. We always have a good time on a cruise whether because of our friends, family, the itinerary, the weather.... Really compared to Chicago weather, getting on a cruise ship and travelling to the Caribbean is a slice of heaven. My husband and I have been on 30+ cruises together and consider it the best way to travel.
I will start with Embarkation. It went very smoothly! NCL had two terminals loading the 4500+ passengers onboard. Thank God! It made for a quick non crowded experience. We had read a previous review of the Epic and knew that once on board we should head to O'Sheehan's instead of the buffet for lunch. It was nice and quiet and we were able to sit down and order off a menu instead of trying to balance plates and carry-on luggage in the crowds.
Our first impression entering the ship was that it was very pretty with lots of wood. Our cabins were ready shortly after we finished lunch and we headed to our balcony on deck 9. Our party had 3 cabins in a row. Ours was the layout with the bed by the door. It was awful! The space around the bed is very tight and the sink in the room is right at the edge of the bed. (So close I could probably brush my teeth while seated on the edge.) There is plenty of storage space, but the room is so narrow, it's ridiculous. The bathroom layout is pretty bad. You step out of the shower and you are standing naked right in front of your door.
Not much privacy at all. The closet is all the way at the other end of the cabin in front of the sliding glass door, so after showering, you need to skinny past the bed to the other end of the room for clothes.
There is a huge built in sofa across from the closet. The only time we really used it, was to to put on socks or shoes. You cannot see the T.V. very well from the sofa, so we only watched t.v. from the bed.
We went to 4 of the specialty dining restaurants. Cagney's steakhouse was very good, as was the Teppanyaki. The Bistro was OK and La Cuccina (forget about it) our food came to the table cold and my steak which I requested Med rare came well done. The manager credited us back our surcharge.
The pool deck on sea days is total chaos. We are early risers and managed to secure chairs with no problem, but the pools fill up with wall to wall people & are very shallow. You cannot swim in them at all and the water tends to get quite murky after a few hours. The main pool had at least 6 small unpotty trained kids in it EVERY day. There is a large sign stating that no children who are not potty trained are allowed in the pool, but alas, nobody can read and no pool police cared enough to boot them out. The main pool is only like 4 feet deep and the adult pool aft is the size of a large jacuzzi.
The entertainment is awesome (Blue Man Group, Legends, Howl at the Moon)but because you are supposed to try to book your shows in advance, you have to work your dining schedule around that and VOILA - no more freestyle. I prefer to just show up at a designated time for dinner and then head to the show. I don't want to think or plan on my vacation days. I don't mean to sound old fashioned and rigid, I just find the traditional way easier.
All in all, I would avoid the cabin layout we had at all costs and I can understand why NCL stopped the construction of another "Epic" ship. I also feel that I like the other 5 cruiselines I have traveled on better.
Did I have fun? Yes Would I go NCL again? not too sure.