Just back from a fabulous cruise on the Norwegian Epic, May 5th to May 12th from Barcelona. Our group of 13 family members sailed in 6 adjacent cabins on Deck 10 . For most of the group it was their first cruise, and we all really had a wonderful time.
A bit of background. We are all from Australia and New Zealand and having done a few cruises before it was left to me to do most of the planning for this cruise. Luckily, everything worked out smoothly.
First of all cabin choice. I chose mid ship, deck 10 so as to maximise stability. We had balcony cabin 10155 , and our cabins extended to 10179 on starboard side. Excellent position as no lifeboats blocked our view downwards. Slightly long walk to stairs, but not a problem at all. We all tried to use the stairs as much as possible rather than elevators to balance out some of the overeating! Cabin was fine, very comfortable. As has been mentioned in previous reviews, if you can't find the light switch for the sink area it is under the bathroom cabinet, just above the sink. And if the light from the phone bothers you at night, just touch the light icon on the phone screen and the phone lights go out. I was waiting for the $25 laundry bag special and when there was still no mention of it in the Freestyle daily by Wednesday I asked our wonderful cabin steward Freddy who said that although it was not being officially offered on our cruise he would organise it for me if I left my clothes in the bag provided in the closet with an itemised list for records, which I did and it was duly returned the following day.
The ship was in good condition, staff all very welcoming and happy to help. Boarding was simple at Barcelona- put your bags through a security scanner , then line up to check in. Just in case anyone is interested there is indeed a bottle shop following security and check in, but at the top of the escalator just inside the ship is another xray security bag check, and any bottles were collected and could be picked up on the last evening at 6pm. The buffet had a lot of variety. One of my favourite areas was the Indian section which was vegetarian and had rice, roti, dahl, another vegetable curry, and a selection of cucumber raita, mango pickle, and mint yoghurt. Also loved the hard ice cream, lots of variety of flavours -- they are different on the 2 sides of the buffet- coconut and rocky road were excellent, and in the evenings the crepe station made amazing sweet crepes with your choice of filling.
On our first night several of our group bought the wine package which is only available for purchase on embarkation day. There is a table set up outside the buffet on deck 15 with the various wines, but the package was also available for purchase from your waiter at the main dining rooms. We chose the least expensive package of 4 bottles for $88 which with taxes ended up costing $110. They give you 4 slips of paper which you can present at any restaurant during the cruise and your wine will be brought to you. They will store any unfinished bottles for you too.
We enjoyed the sail away party on Deck 15 on Day 1 around 5pm after the safety drill, and lots of other activities such as Mr Epic competition, team trivia, salsa dance class, Martini tasting, the Fabba party day 3 spice H2O, back to the 80's party in Bliss day 4 and the White Hot party which was held day 6 in Bliss rather than Spice H20 due to winds. The entertainment crew did an amazing job and kept us up and dancing, especially Nacho from Mexico. Interestingly I only saw the cruise director once when introducing a show and felt he kept a very very low profile. The assistant cruise director was more visible, but the entertainment staff was excellent. My husband used the internet on board one day and found it to be expensive and slow as is often the case on cruise ships.
Shows.....loved Cirque Dreams...we booked standard seats and were seated at the booths. There were only a few moments of the show where we could not see what was happening up high, but we thoroughly enjoyed this amazing show packed full of entertainment. Well worth attending. Legends in concert were great too, especially Tina Turner. The 3 legends now are Tina Turner, Adele and Tom Jones. I was looking forward to seeing Michael Jackson but looks like he's not on this cruise ship now. Blue Man Group must be a matter of taste, most of our group were not enthusiastic about this show.
The only speciality restaurant we ate at was Teppenyaki which we all thoroughly enjoyed. Our chef Ray from the Phillipines kept us well entertained whilst cooking us a most delicious meal. A couple of our group had the fillet mignon and prawns and found the steak to be extremely tender and ready to melt in the mouth. Other nights we at twice at the Manhatten Room and once at Taste. We enjoyed the entertainment at the Manhatten Room but found we had to go early if we wanted to be seated together, around 6-6.30. In fact they will take bookings at 5.30 or 6pm for a large group. Meals and service were good at both Taste and Manhatten.
We had only 1 teenager amongst our group, my 13 year old niece. I took her to register ( somewhat reluctantly) at the Teen Club on the first evening aboard and after that we hardly saw her when we were aboard the ship, she was busy with friends at the Teen Club until it closed at 1 am. She said there were only about 10 teens who registered but they got on well.
We were very lucky with the weather, smooth seas and sunny days around 20-24 degrees centigrade daily. We had some winds and slightly rougher seas on Day 6 when we left Marseille and this was the only day that the movement of the ship was really noticeable. Most of us were quite fine, only one member of our group felt a bit unwell.
Disembarkation was the most organised of any cruise I have been on yet...no lines, no crowds. Even the buffet was not overly crowded on the last morning, we chose 8.30 disembarkation and were off the ship with our luggage by 8.45. There are no customs formalities when you disembark at Barcelona, just walk off and find your bags.
Overall, it was an excellent cruise which we all thoroughly enjoyed. I had organised private tours for the ports and will outline them below. It was lots of fun being in a large group and doing things together. I would thoroughly recommend this cruise and we look forward to cruising again.