We have just returned from our Mediterranean Cruise on the Norwegian Epic. This was our second cruise and we wanted to try a large ship. First of all, let me say what a lovely holiday we had. We visited some fantastic places which will always remain in our memories; beautiful Florence, awesome Pompeii and amazing Palma just to name a few. But for the purpose of this review I would just like to say a few things about the Epic, which may help future passengers, weigh up whether or not it is the ship for them.
Our cabin was great, we had a balcony cabin and we really appreciated this extra space. The cabin steward kept it spotlessly clean and we even became accustomed to the weird shower/toilet set up. We were fortunate to be in an area which was quiet and we slept well in the comfy bed.
Entertainment cannot be faulted as there is something for everyone. The Blue Man Group was spectacular. Although we heard some people complain that it was childish and not for them, they are without a doubt a very clever, talented and imaginative act. Without giving anything away, I would encourage everyone to see it, especially for the amazing finale. We loved the Beatles, Howl at the Moon and Legends.
Food quality is a little patchy. We went to three speciality restaurants; Cagney’s (lovely but pricey) Teppanyaki (our favourite) and Le Bistro (okay, but a little cold). The coolness of the food was most noticeable in the Manhattans and Garden Café, Taste was best to get your dinner served hot. The crowds in Garden Café were also a real pain especially at breakfast when it is a job to find a table to sit at.
This is a massive ship, so you have to accept there is a lot of walking to be done, lifts to use and a smidgeon of patience needed to actually get in the lifts during busy times. My worst gripe is one I had actually read on previous reviews but is well worth mentioning again. The huge casino sits at the heart of the ship. I was pretty appalled to see the amount of smoking going on here as I would have thought this could be a safety issue. If you are not a smoker be prepared! The location of it means you cannot avoid it, everyone, including families with babies and young children will need to use the area; so we are back to the bad old days when you go back to your cabin at night with hair and clothes reeking of smoke. During the day, the stale smell is still hanging around this area of the ship which includes bars and restaurants. Balconies can also be used for smoking, so again, if you averse to this, you will have difficulty opening your balcony doors without it seeping into your own cabin.
One other issue which you have to consider before starting your cruise is the question of the drinks package. Do you take it or not? As NCL are a little coy about publishing prices we decided to go for it for the week we were away. Big mistake! I would describe us average holiday drinkers, but didn’t want to be hit by an unexpected bill. As it turned out, we barely used half the allowance. At the end of the cruise, we did speak to a very courteous gentleman at guest services and pointed out that NCL were hundreds of dollars well in given our credit plus the gratuity charge. We had also tipped very generously the bar and waiting staff that had provided an excellent service and also our cabin steward. The extras you pay on this ship really do add up if you do not keep an eye on them. Water and coffee are not included in the drinks package and they are very expensive.
So, overall, a lovely cruise on a ship which provides everything you need. But we will be returning to smaller ships in the future. This is an ideal ship for families and smokers. For us, we would never discourage anyone from using the Epic as we had generally had a very good experience,