I have now been on the Ncl Epic 3 times and have plenty of knowledge on what to expect and where to go having done both the European and Caribbean Itineraries.
I arrived at the port around 10:30 as I know from previous experience that you will not be allowed on the ship till around 11:30.Check in was pretty easy the lines rather long but moved pretty fast as they have on previous trips.
Once on the ship having been on before I have seen it all before so I decided I was going to go for the ultimate beverage Alcohol package which is around $62 a day included gratuity which sounds expensive but if you like a drink or 10 you will definitely save money going for it(only exception is if you like top shelf booze or drinks mixed with red bull as not included).All you have to do to get the package is visit one of the bars and they will get you all signed up.(I think it is worth it and will go for it again).
The ship tends to be a bit manic on sail day as everyone charging round the ship all over excited wanting to try everything out.The elevators are a bit of a mare and I would advise you get used to taking the stairs as part of you daily schedule as good exercise.
Around 4:30 you go through the ships mandatory evacuation drill which is kind of fun actually but worse part is the bars close(major crises lol).
As a solo guest staying in the studio cabins which are fine, rather small but extremely well laid out with everything you need and very funky mood lighting.
the shower in the studio cabins are rather small so if you are on the larger side may be an issue.
One thing that Norwegian do better than any other cruise line is look after there solo guests on board, every night there is a gathering at the private studio lounge for all singles(6 pm) who meet up and the ship actually assigns a member of staff to book a table a the main dining restaurant the Manhattan room and the singles all go and eat together including the member of staff who in our case was Fernando(very nice guy).Of course if you do not want to hang with the other singles not a problem do your own thing(I did on my previous 2 cruises on this ship).
The food on this ship is generally pretty good although if you eat at the Manhattan room every night it's pretty much the same old menu usually with a special or 2 but in my opinion the food is not bad although I will say that I believe that the food on the Allure of the Seas which I went on before was better quality.
There are plenty of speciality places to go like the Chinese,Brazilian and Sushi places but there are cover charges included on top but it's not extortionately
expensive and worth it to go somewhere for a change .
One problem though is it can be a bit of a nightmare getting a reservation so book early and don't just turn up expecting to get in or you might be disappointed.
There is plenty to do on this ship all through the day and night.I went to see the Blue Man group which is fun but rather weird but worth seeing.
My recommendation in the evening is go and see Howl at the Moon really good piano duet that are pretty awesome and is a great laugh.
Karaoke is worth watching but beware of terrible singing...
The ship have a couple of outside party's on as well like 80's night which is fun but little tip Norwegian ,way to much Michael Jackson plenty of other music from the 80's that could be included and the 80's music finishes to early and switches to modern stuff.
You also have bliss nightclub which all the alcoholics all tend to end up in every night once they have spent all there money in the massive casino.
I will say that on the European Itineraries as lots of people go on long all day excursions to like Rome and Florence it can get pretty quiet after like 1 AM as everybody that is going on excursions the next day or people that have been out on that day all tend to go to bed pretty early which is a major difference from when the ship is in the Caribbean the party rocks till like 3 AM.
The part you all really care about.
There are plenty of bars scattered throughout the ship some are a little posh for my taste I prefer a good old English style pub where you can grab a burger and O'sheehan's Bar and Grill done the job nicely for me.
Also the Ice Bar is really cool yes there is a $19 dollar charge but you get 2 free vodka drinks included and it is a cool experience.
Waves pool bar is a good laugh during the day always plenty going on and the staff are funny.
If you want to get really hammered try the Martini mixer drink called (stormy night) but you have been warned 4 or 5 and you will be singing with the band...
Generally the staff are very good however I do believe after talking to some of the staff that I know well having met them on previous cruises that the quality has slipped a bit on the Epic,the reason being that many of the best staff have been moved over to the new Norwegian breakaway and you can notice the difference as a few staff in the dining room looked a bit disorganised.
This can be a bit of an issue the ship has up to 5000 guests and you can feel a bit like a sardine at times ..Avoid the elevators and take the stairs you will need the exercise although walking around this large ship is a challenge.
Getting a sun bed is a real headache generally if your not out by 9 AM you are out of luck although a few hidden areas up on deck 19 usually have a few scattered around.
Rather small to be honest and full of kids but best place to be is at the back of the ship where it's adults only so the little darlings are not allowed in so peace and quiet can be found.Also a small but nice pool at back to cool off in but beware of the floor it can get extremely hot to walk on.
Also a couple of jacuzzi's back there which are really nice.
the Epic is still my favourite ship but standards have slipped a little which must be addressed and a few improvements could be made to some of the entertainment.
No other cruise line comes close for the solo guest this ship is the best for them by far.
Having done all the Epic's Itineraries I will return once the ship changes it's route which I believe is next year when it switches to the Western Caribbean rather than the Eastern..
Next up for me is the Norwegian Breakaway lets see how it compares..