Hi, we're just back from 7 day med cruise on the Epic and thought we would share our views. We had booked really late and so got a good price but had to settle for an inside cabin, we didn't think this would be an issue after reading some reviews of the ship beforehand. We are by no means experienced cruisers having only cruised for the first time on the NCL Jade and we were in an ocean view cabin on that cruise so expected the cabin to be of similar size, how wrong we were! I have heard the cabin designs on the Epic described as "innovative" , that's the last thing I would call them, both the inside cabins and the balcony cabin we saw were tiny and when there are 2 people trying to get showered and dressed at the same time in the cabin there is no room for manouvere! The Jade beats the Epic hands down for cabin layout and space. Next the entertainment which was really hit and miss, we went to see the Blue man group and although it was a bit different we found it a bit boring after 20 minutes, the Legends show we found to be a joke with only Tina Turner getting any decent reaction from the crowd, the Beatles tribute act actually deserved a bigger audience than they got as they were passable as an act. We really enjoyed the duelling pianos although Tommy's throat wasn't at his best but Brandon and especially Chris really got the crowd off their seats and into a party mood.
Next the food, in the buffet area it started off not bad but we thought it got worse as the week went on, there were no what you would call British bangers only poor imitation pork links and some turkey links no good for someone who likes a banger in the morning. We went to the manhattan restaurant once and ended up walking out when they got our orders wrong after we gave them some specific requests ( we realised we weren't just being picky when we met the Spanish couple who were sitting next to us up at the buffet after they had left also!)We were advised not to go to the circus show as we were told the food was not up to much and the show went on to long! We had a lovely meal at Cagneys including the biggest portion of cheese cake either of us had ever seen! We never went to the other MDR which was called taste as you were sat in the middle of a room with people on an upper level staring down at you which we thought would be off putting as they wouldn't be dining and only drinking, a really strange layout!
Finally we must comment on our fellow passengers, the first 4 days everybody was pleasant and courteous, but on the last 3 days there seemed to be a real influx of Spanish guests and while the overwhelming majority of these people were great to get on with, there was a significant amount who were obnoxious, rude and couldn't or didn't want to keep there children under control, they were running about mad jumping queues pawing at food in the buffet (not using tongs) and being general nuisances all around the ship. Around this time the entertainment seemed to change to cater more for the Spanish taste than to the mixture of European and American taste that we had prior to this. We found this actually happened on the last 3 days on the Jade last year as well, so don't know if this is a coincidence or if NCL give the Spanish some discounts on 3 day cruises to keep the ship full on the journey back to Barca.
Finally the staff, while they were helpful when asked they didn't seem to be as friendly as the staff on the Jade and we felt they were out to get every last penny they could from you, pushing the drinks packages as much as they could, to the point that we very nearly signed up for one until we did our sums and realised we would be better paying as we went. I still don't agree with this 15% gratuity being added to your bill for drinks as well as a 10% tax which in effect means an already expensive drink costs 25% on top of the list price and I know at least 3 couples on our flight who insisted the 15% charge for drinks be removed which duly was only after a long winded argument with the guest service department. As they said why should it be left for the passengers tips to pay these peoples wages?
After reading all of the above you may think we had a bad holiday, we didn't! We enjoyed our time on the Epic but think the Jade is a friendlier and better laid out ship which perhaps proves bigger is not always better.
Oh! thought we should mention our excursions, we booked independently through cruisingexcursions.com to Naples/Pompeii and Rome and found them to be good value for money and we got the shuttle into Marseille (a lovely city) and Palma which we explored under our own steam.We wouldn't put any one off from going on the Epic but just thought we would post our thoughts.