I will try to keep this short. First cruise for us was Southern Caribbean on RCC Adeventure of the Seas. Love the ship, loved the food, loved the itinerary. 2nd cruise was NCL Pride of America in Hawaii. Hated the ship, hated the food, loved the itinerary. We had actually decided to not do NCL again after that cruise but we met someone onboard and she convinced us to give them another shot and to do the Epic if we could so we did. Just returned from the Epic. Ship was HUGE and was just OK for us. Food was great (only 2 bad meals on a 7 day cruise) and itinerary was amazing. Most people on this cruise got on and off in Barcelona. I'm so glad we go on in Rome. When we got to the area to get on the ship in Rome we were literally like 2 of 10 people in the entire building. We had wine in our luggage and were fully prepared to pay but there was no where to even claim it and no one ever said anything about it. Luggage was delivered to our room, no problem. So embarkation was a breeze. The ship was only too big because of the number of people on it. I know that's the point of large ships but the Adventure of the Seas that we went on a few years ago was also a large ship ( I know it's not as big as this one) but it never felt crowded, EVER. On the EPIC you always knew how big the ship was by the amount of people everywhere you went. In addition to the mass amounts of people, the ship layout is terrible in my opinion. Everything other than the pools are indoors. There is really on where on the ship to just be outside and walk around. In contract on the RCC Ship, almost every deck had outdoor space where you could just hang out or watch the sunset. The areas that were outdoors on the EPIC has very tall glass that obstructed your view. The adults only area had a small pool the size of a hot tub and the water temperature was about the same as a hot tub, one hot tub had luke warm water and the other hot tub broke a few days into the trip. The casino was fine. Biggest complaint there was the lack of roulette. There were 2 tables, one was so packed you couldn't possibly play and the other never had a single person there because it was $125 minimum. Why someone wouldn't recognize that if you changed the rules you'd have more people play is beyond me. I will say that getting off at the various ports was never really a problem except for Barcelona which is where most people were disembarking. We waited in line for quite a while to get off the ship. One other note, there were a lot of children for the first half of the cruise. I was thinking that a labor day cruise would not include a lot of children because schools in the US had just gone back in session. I did not know that schools in Europe don't go back until the middle of September. Once the new cruisers got on in Barcelona about halfway through our Cruise the number of children dramatically decreased.
The food was good, we did have to wait on a table a few nights but it wasn't a long wait. We liked Taste better than Manhattan even though their menus are similar. Did not try any of the specialty restaurants but I will say the breakfast buffet was mostly inedible as well as the midnight buffet.
We are a couple in our late 20's/early 30's and were certainly the minority on the cruise. AT night, most of the bars were filled with much older passengers and we never were able to find where the youngers passengers hung out. We'd meet several during the days on excursions or around the pool area in the evening but after dinner it's like the younger people went to bed and the older people came out to party :)
We did both the Cirque dinner show as well as the Blue Man Group. I wasn't a huge fan of the menu for Cirque since I don't eat a ton of seafood or a lot of meat and the only option was Filet w/ shrimp or vegetarian. I chose vegetarian and it was eggplant parm. and for me it was not edible. The show itself was entertaining. Blue Man group was just ok, I'm glad I saw it but won't ever see it again and am glad I didn't pay for the tickets. The legends show was not very good. The actual "legends" performers were pretty good but the back up dancing and choreography were atrocious.
In summary, the itinerary made up for the fact that we just didn't really like the ship that much. I will say the layout of the room that a lot of people complain about did not bother us at all. Our room was always clean and we really like the mid ship balcony rooms. I can't say that I would ever need to sail on the Epic again however if it had an amazing itinerary I would certainly consider it again. We will probably look for a smaller class of ship for our next cruise. WE talked to people who sail on the Epic twice a year, once in the med and once in the Caribbean. I certainly don't understand that appeal. Another side note: in Barcelona there are shops inside the terminal once you go through the security line and the ship didn't have another security line so we purchased wine and never were asked or had to claim it to anyone. In total we were able to get 5 bottles of wine on the ship without paying. Not because we tried to be sneaky about it, just because there were no checks in place to catch it. Of course if this happens you can't take the wine to any of the restaurants without having the sticker on it but we were able to enjoy it on our balcony.