So we have sailed on the Med lots of times - this time we were blessed with a very calm sea which was wonderful.
I had enjoyed RCL so many times before that I was worried that the Epic would not match up. It was not the same.... but that was because it was different. To compare the Epic with the Liberty or Adventure would be liking comparing apples and pears.
On the Epic I loved the cabin layout, there seemed so much room and the split bathroom was a bonus for getting ready, one person was not hogging the shower sink and toilet at the same time.
The ship was a little chilly but we turned up the air conditioning to as warm as possible and we were comfortable, I don't get why people travel to warm places and then have to blow cold air everywhere.
Thank goodness we had a balcony because I hated the pool deck, just looking at the pool made me think 'people soup". I did not want to rub shoulders with random people. There were five port days so we took advantage of the sea when we left the ship. As long as you have plastic shoes you can even take a swim on the way back from Rome.
My husband loved the idea of not having to dress up and we enjoyed the food in the main dining room every night. There was along wait for a table every night, but hey we got a complimentary glass of bubbly to while away the time! One evening we realised that we were too early for the wait so went off and waited ten minutes more.
One of the evenings we were on a table in the corner, this was literally in the waiter's workstation. I could see how hard the waiters worked and the movement was distracting me from enjoying my meal. I also could see how much the waiters were being pushed to get things right to keep customers moving, I am not sure that customers should be facing this during their meal.
I think I prefer having the same waiter every night, but it was not a deal breaker for me. I did not like the idea of being charged extra to go to a different dining room. Why?? The point of the cruise is that it is all inclusive.
To compare liberty and Epic, I did not like the casino in the main thoroughfare. It did not seem nice to have kids walking through. I did not enjoy walking to and from the dining room with the croupiers sitting at their tables greeting you as if they were beggars asking for money.
As on all ships, there were not enough lifts so we walked most of the time, it was a long way from our midship 9th deck to the garden cafe, but after all I needed the exercise. I only used the lift for disembarkation.
Yes the tours are over priced, but they are on all ships so we mostly find our own way around. We did use a ship tour to get up to Cinque Terre because we would to have had time on our own. It was a highlight of the cruise.
I was impressed that in Livorno they took you directly to the railway station for only 12 dollars return. I thought that was a bargain and I would use it another time. In Palma we knew that the bus was only 1.5 euro so hopped on the public bus right outside the port.
The waitstaff and stewards were great, there was one of the staff organising the shuttle bus who needed to be reminded about being polite to customers, but one bad apple did not spoil the cruise.
There were three embarkation ports so the cruise did not build up and then everyone leave tearful on the last day. With pre paid tips, I did not get the idea that staff were being nice just for the tips.
We only went to one show. I did not like the idea of having to book them ahead, that seemed less like freestyle than previous cruises. I did however love the show that we went to which was Blue Man Group. I would happily pay to see them again.
There was a coffee machine in the room so I kept fresh milk in the fridge and could make a my cups of tea. I missed going down to get my tea from deck five on the Adventure though.
So there were things I liked and things I didn't. At times I had the sort of Premier Inn meets Ryan Air type feeling, but I had everything I wanted for my cruise so I have no complaints at all. I would use NCL again if the price/ port schedule was right, but RCL would be my first choice.