Day 1 – Departure from Barcelona, Spain.
To go to Barcelona Cruise Port is pretty easy, we can go by taxi which can be a bit expensive, depending where you are in the city, if you’re already in the Barcelona, you can go to Columbus Square (near the famous Ramblas) and take the port shuttle it will cost you 2,5€ for person. If you’re feeling athletic you can walk, with will be a long walk. To get from the airport to the port if you’re decision is not taking a taxi, you can take the train in Terminal B (there’s a free shuttle in the airport that goes from terminal to terminal), so take the train (renfe) to Barcelona-Sants, than the subway/underground (tmb) to Drassanes (green line), you’ll be in the middle of the Ramblas, just go down to the river, and you’ll spot the Columbus statue.
Like, we were in Barcelona the day before, we toke the port shuttle, arriving by the terminal Epic was docked, we drop our bags with the “luggage guys” in the terminal entrance, and walked through the check in, there was no waiting line, and not that we needed, but the guy in the check in spoke Portuguese, which is always a nice surprise to hear aboard.
It was still early, the boarding was due to noon, and at that time it was 11 something, so we wait for some minutes until they call our number, we were in the 2 group that boarded the vessel, has we enter we toke the elevator to deck 11, where our stateroom was, and for our surprise the stateroom was already done. That way we could easily drop our carry-on bags and walked to the buffet to grab some lunch.
The buffet was strangely calm and not crowded as we expected, which was wonderful. And there were plenty of juice options (or let’s say water with enhanced flavor).
As soon as we finish lunch we went for a walk around the ship, to get to know the places, and the way to make our days aboard efficient when moving inside the Epic.
Back into the stateroom, when we cruise, we always stay in inside cabins, because the time we spend on it does not pay the money difference. And this time we really and a great catch, we book two studios (those for single travelers) with a connecting door, cheaper than an inside stateroom, and like we were in a studio we got exclusive access to a lounge, where you can read, use your computer, chat with other travelers, and drink several kinds of coffee (cappuccino, espresso, latte macchiato, etc.) for free.
After our walk around the ship we went to the room, to chance into our pool wear. And we have a surprise in our room, a letter from Jane Valdez (Hotel Director Secretary) and Alain Magnier (Hotel Director) attached to a bottle of champagne and strawberries dip in chocolate. Thank you NCL.
After that we spend the rest of the afternoon in the pool, they are great, sometimes busy, but the water was excellent, and if you want a quiet area, you got spice H2O, just for adults.
We have our dinner at Taste, it was Lobster day. And after it we went to see the Blue Man Group, I advise you guys to book it in advance, because having almost 5000 persons in the ship and a theater with 700 chairs, the places go out fast.
As we went to bed the sea was getting rocky.
Day 2 – At sea
Again the buffet as calm and not busy at all, so we had our breakfast with no rush, just with a tiny difficulty in chose what to eat in the immense variety that NCL offers.
We went to the pool and at 11 a.m. we get together in the Bliss (deck 7) with other Cruise Critic users in a meet and greet that NCL kindly helped us to organize, the senior officials went there to greet us.
These day was rocky, the sea was wild, the waves where very high and strong, and we sometimes had to use the handrails to move from one side to the other. Through the speakers we heard that there was some incident inside the Epic, it was a code Bravo (normally used for fire) and later we found that there was some tiny incident in the laundry room, but by maritime laws they have to let passengers know about everything that happens in a vessel.
In this day we received two invitations, one to a VIP Cocktail hosted by the captain Sverre Sovdsnes in the Haven Lounge (our chance to go to the Haven, hopefully one day we can stay there) and other invitation to have dinner with the other Portuguese speaking guest (there were only 10 rooms booked with Portuguese speakers) by the international representative Yuri Rodosli, Yuri was kind enough to offer wine to his guests.
Day 3/4/6 – Italy (Naples, Civittavecchia, Livorno)
As these was our third cruise going into these ports and because we truly need to rest, we decided not to go ashore in Italy. So for us, these were sea days also. Which is great because the vessel is almost empty and it’s all ours.
In the 3rd day it was the first day we found a queue to dinner, there was an estimated waiting time of 20 minutes, and NCL was offering all those who have to wait a glass of sparkling wine or soda, what I considered a very nice gesture. But again, NCL went the extra mile, when Jane Valdez realized that we were on hold (waiting) she went by us apologizing and offering her services for whatever we need.
In these days we saw a lot of live music, shows and parties, like the FABBA party which is a tribute to ABBA, the amazing pianos of the Howl to the Moon, they are great, excellent show. The Legends, which for me could have more legends, I left the show wanting more. And a lot others, must me there to know.
In the Civittavecchia day Alain Magnier (Hotel Director) let a chocolates plate in our room, another kind gesture from NCL.
The Livorno day was the one with the best weather, and it was great to be by H2O pool, sunny, hot water, and silence. A pure relax day.
I took the chance to buy our latitude rewards in this day, so NCL get ready to have us on board again.
Day 6 – Marseille, France
For a change we decided to skip breakfast at the buffet and went to Oshean's, and again a very nice meal for an excellent start of day. For Marseille, we decided to book a shore excursion with NCL, because as the port is commercial, you have to buy a 12USD shuttle ticket to go to the city center, anyway as the excursion would only be at 2 p.m. we decided to go by the pool until lunch time.
For lunch we went to the buffet and then went to Manhattan Room to get together with the rest of tour/excursion guests. We decided to buy the excursion to Aix en Provence, and I have to say that is one of those cases where you pay more than what you get.
It was a 30min. BUS drive through the highway, and then you got into a nice looking city, but equal to so many others, that you can easily find elsewhere, we walk towards the old part of the city and then the new, saw a cathedral and some other sights in 2 hours, after some free time, we got back to ship in another highway drive.
Returning to our stateroom we got another chocolate plate, this time a special offer from the Captain Sverre Sovdsnes. And we also had a letter from Jane Valdez with priority tags for our bags to the disembarking day.
Day 7 – Palma Majorca, Spain
As we would only arrive to Palma at 2p.m. we had our breakfast in the buffet and then we hit the pool. For change we decided to have lunch at Taste (they only serve it on sea day or when you dock in the afternoon), they gave us a table by the window, so we could see the arrival on Palma and the ship been docked.
In that morning the Epic got is first negative point for me, when I went to buy some shorts, I was told that I have to pay the VAT due to some European law (I will check these out in detail and then let a comment on it on Cruise Critic).
In the afternoon we went to Palma, more precisely, to the Beach – Cala Mayor – I went there by taking a BUS in a stop near the port, which is great. The beach itself wasn’t bad, the water was light blue and not that cold, and we pay 1,5€ for the bus ticket (one way).
Has we get back to the Epic we went by the pool, and then dinner and packing. We still got the time to watch by the third time the Howl to the Moon.
Day 8 – Disembarkation
Thanks to the priority tags we skip lines in disembarkation and Jane Valdez walked with us to our luggage.
Then was just get the port shuttle, the metro, the train and the plain back to Portugal.
In the overall the Epic is great, I’ve heard that people would run each other in the buffet, that the buffet would went out of food, I didn’t saw that, I saw a calm and clean buffet, always with tons of good and eye catching food. I’ve heard that people would queuing for elevator, and despite the disembarkation day and the end of a show, I didn’t saw no queues. And also I’ve read and heard that you would have to wait ages for dinner, again the maximum that we’ve waited was 20 minutes, and for that they offer us a glass of sparkling wine. But there are some downsides of course, like the VAT issue, the fact that when I bought a souvenir I’d to request for the 10%off that Bronze Latitudes have because the seller wasn’t aware of it, and we aren’t that happy with the excursion to Aix en Provence. But anyway, in a scale from 1 to 10, I had to give the cruise a 9,5.
To finish I would like to let a big thanks to Adonis Canada, Jane Valdez and Yuri Rodsoli.