We booked Epic from Barcelona over a year ago and received two price drop upgrades so we ended up in a mini suite, deck 10, forward on Starboard side. I selected the cabin with much assistance from Cruise Critic posters and made sure we had the 'bed near balcony door' set up. The room was very elegant and apart from the toilet set up, was perfectly fine. This set up was ok for us but might be a problem for some. My wife did comment, however, that the lighting was too poor for make up purposes. Great storage but the hairdryer cut out after a few seconds on high. We had a bath tub which was surprisingly spacious but a high step in and out. Our stateroom attendant was Guillermo and he was very efficient and pleasant. He cleared out the mini bar first night and provided towel wildlife some nights. We were just behind a bank of elevators and that was very convenient.
We brought on some wine and paid corkage at the gangway. Incidentally, although the wine shop at the terminal is very convenient, the quality is lower and price is much higher than that available in Barcelona itself. Also, corkage is $15 per bottle plus 10% tax. We also bought the Viva Vino package to which was added tax and gratuity of 25% total. The wines on the Enthusiast package were surprisingly good.
Food was excellent, in our opinion. We ate in Manhattan 3 times, Taste twice and the Garden Cafe twice. We felt no need to eat in the specialty restaurants although I was willing to do so. Embarkation night was lobster night. My wife is a seafood lover and I prefer steak so we ordered the surf & turf and swapped over the steak/lobster. Even though the steaks looked small, they were very filling and well cooked. I ordered the New York strip steak on two other nights and was never disappointed. Food was hot enough, except one Warm Peach Tartlet which was cold. Other good entrees were salmon, lamb shank and seafood ciobbini(kind of seafood stew). We preferred Manhattan as it was a more elegant dining room, with pleasant music and the service was crisper there. Service in Taste could be leisurely at times. Garden Café had a great variety of food and there was always something to suit. Here, though, you run the gauntlet of ignorant elbowers and queue jumpers.
We expected the casino to belch cigarette smoke across the deck and into Taste but, to be fair, it was barely noticeable and we are both ex smokers. Perhaps in the early hours it would be worse but both MDRs closed up from 10pm.
Entertainment is where the EPIC really excels; Blue Man Group was super, very funny and entertaining, Legends in Concert was very good, especially Tina Turner, Beatles tribute was very good, and Howl at the Moon was outstanding, such talent although the format and patter seemed to repeat each night, partly because most requests for songs tend to repeat. Los Locos Ole was a very funny Spanish guitar comedy trio, promising to play Flamenco but actually playing almost everything but. Very funny, a little bawdy too.
EPIC is very large and takes concentration to make your way around. There are touch screens around that tell you what’s on at the moment but it is still easy to get lost/confused. The staff will be happy to help re-direct you.
The staff was very pleasant on the whole. The ‘washy washy’ staff were very cheery and it is a definite must do, as the amount of coughing, sneezing and hawking that was going on was scary.
We did our own thing at each port as we find cruise line excursions extortionate.
Overall a great cruise on a fine ship. The ship is so large and a bit awkward. The outside space does not flow as well as other ships, RCCL Adventure and Splendour for example. However, we found much more railing space forward on deck 18 than we expected.
We enjoyed Freestyle dining as we could eat when we wanted and not have to share with others. Otherwise, we enjoyed NCL as much as Royal Carribbean. I will happily sail on NCL and Epic again depending on itinerary and price.
They will not let you walk out of Livorno port. It is huge and it would be dangerous. NCL charge €12pp for the shuttle to town centre and train station. We had a private bus organised with some cruise critics and we travelled to Florence in comfort. Great day there, beautiful city. Transfer time, 1 hour 20mins to and 1 hour back. I only rate the port a 3* as you have to pay to get out of it.
This is a delightful port. You can walk out the gates and avail of any number of transport options. NCL charge $12pp for a shuttle up to the cathedral but the local buses stop outside the port terminal, line 1 up to Palma centre. From there you can access the whole area quite cheaply. We opted for a lazy walk off and across the road to Porto Pi shopping centre.
Free shuttle from ship to gates of port. Walk to right and buy BIRG ticket(covers train, metro and buses in Rome). This costs €12 plus €1 commission. Railway station is over to the right along the prom, about 300m. The track for Roma/Termini was stated as 2 but many failed to see the ‘T’ at the end and we gathered on Binario(platform) 2. When someone realised, we scrambled down and up the steps again and raced to binario 2T. Lucky to get a seat and a 1 hour 20 minutes to Rome Termini. In Termini, it is a long walk to the metro but then the city is easily travelled.