Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by LTCSZ: Epic November 2 Cruise From Miami Review
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Epic November 2 Cruise From Miami Review
Now that I have returned from my seven day cruise on the Norwegian Epic, (Nov 2-9) I thought I would share some thoughts on the trip...I should note that these opinions are mine and are not meant to offend anyone…
Airlines: Planes are planes, but everything went great…I am certainly glad we have the jet flight out of my home town (GCK) to Dallas…Makes things much easier. Score: 5 out of 5.
Embarkation; Painless...No real line to wait in...Walked right up to the desk at 10:30...Staff very friendly and knowledgeable... Lots of people in the waiting area, but the system worked well...Remember, we are talking about 4,300 passengers...Everyone was given a boarding group number...I was group 6...When called at noon, I walked right onto the ship...The staff announced constantly that cabins would be ready at 2pm...Some people were not happy with this...Heck, the bars and restaurants were open so what's the problem? There was a place to store carry-on More bags if you didn't want to keep them with you...Cabins were actually ready at 1:20...Amazing what some people consider "carry on" luggage...The "Muster Drill" was not actually held at the lifeboats but in different places around the ship...Just watched a video and a life vest demo...Not sure how that would work if we hit an iceberg, which, granted, in the Caribbean would be unusual...I guess they have it figured out...Each lifeboat holds 280 people...Score: 5 out of 5.
I went right to Cabin 12501...It is what Norwegian Cruise Line calls a "Studio" cabin...Only available for single/solo passengers...It was very cool...Small, but plenty of room for one person...Lots of storage and places to hang things with lots of electrical outlets…One criticism; no place to sit but on the bed…Not a serious drawback, but using a laptop was a bit awkward...Bed is actually a full size double bed...One of the staff members told me that when the ship is in Europe, they put two passengers in these cabins as Europeans are used to smaller rooms...I think it would be bit cramped for two…Flat screen TV...Nice shower, never ran out of hot water…World’s smallest waste can…Incredibly loud nuclear powered toilet...One funky thing; The lighting in the room constantly changes colors...Sounds weird, but was actually cool...Since it is an inside cabin, it sort of makes up for not having a window...It can be disabled if desired, but I left it on, even when sleeping…There is a night time setting and a romantic setting (Didn’t need that one)...The Studio cabins are all in the same corridors and only accessible by using your room card to enter the corridor, so it really cuts down the noise in the hallways...Each cabin has a one way window looking out into the hallway...Some sort of electronic light blocking thingy…A window looking out to sea would have been nice, but I was really only in the cabin to sleep and I didn’t really miss it at all...There is also a "Studio Lounge" reserved for studio passengers...Never saw anyone in it except a few folks looking for the "Friends of Dorothy LGBT" meeting. Nice idea, but with all the ship has to offer, why isolate yourself?...Room steward was very efficient...After a first introduction, he always called me by name...I'm not sure how he did it, but it seemed like every time I left the cabin, he went in and cleaned, filled up the ice container, replaced the towels, etc...Always turned down the bed in the evening...He told me he was half way through his tour...He signed on for nine months...The stewards work basically 24 hours a day with one day off every two weeks...Most are from Indonesia/Philippines, but the Chief Hotel Officer said the staff includes 1900 people from 43 countries...Almost all of them spoke pretty good English...They make about $100 per week plus tips...Most of them send all but a small amount home...They keep an account on the ship for extras, and they are not allowed to leave the ship in ports unless they have a certain amount of funds in the account...Certain places, mainly in Europe, will not let them enter without visas, which are expensive...So it is not unusual for them to be on the boat for four or five months straight...I did not meet one staff member, from the Captain on down, who wasn't friendly and accessible...NCL gets very high marks for this...Score: 5 out of 5.
Fellow Passengers: I guess it takes all kinds, but passengers fell into several categories...Most people were very friendly, polite and interesting; Some were mildly irritating, rude and inconsiderate; A small minority should just be thrown overboard...NCL is not known as a "party" cruise line like Carnival, but I was surprised at the number of younger passengers who were stereotypical cruise/party types...NCL is, by the admission of the Staff Captain, changing to what they consider a "less stuffy" atmosphere...I didn't have a problem with this, as there were plenty of places to go that were calm and quiet...Maybe I am just getting older (?)...Well, OK, I will admit it...I did go to several of the "cool people" events...The Disco Ball and the White Hot Party and the ABBA event...They were impressed with my disco moves...My least favorite people were the old fart guys wearing Speedos and nothing else walking through the boat and the buffet, and elderly women who wear bathing suits better off on 20 year olds...Some of those tattoos are starting to sag, ladies...Which brings me to another negative...NCL did not really enforce some of their own rules...Like the "no shirt, no shoes, no service" rule or the "adults only area" rule...Shirtless guys at the buffet and snack areas...Why are they all over 80?...There were a number of children at the White Hot event for example...It got pretty wild...Oh well, not my job to raise their children...I did get a free glow stick for being dressed all in white...Only saw one fight; Two drunks who mainly just fell on each other...Fighting over a football game they were watching...That brings up another question...Why do bars think everyone there wants to watch sports?...Why don't they ever put Sons of Anarchy” on those TVs?...
Another rule infraction that was not enforced: Smokers…OK, I don’t like smoking in public places…Supposedly, the only smoking area were in the Casino, the Cigar Bar and on your cabin balcony, if you had one…I saw numerous people smoking in the outdoor dining areas and bars…The staff obviously saw these rule breakers and did nothing…Smokers, you have the right to smoke if you want; I have the right to hit myself in the head with a hammer if I want, but that would not affect others…Follow the rules or quit indulging in your disgusting habit in public...Oh, and to you folks riding electric scooters: I welcome you on the cruise; I am glad to see you getting out and enjoying yourselves and appreciate the efforts you need to make…(Note; I have a grandson in a wheelchair, so I empathize with you)…But, please; keep your speed under 30 miles per hour…We are happy to let you into elevators; just don’t try to turn around while in them…And, pretty please, do not use those irritating little horns…When you park your vehicle in the hallways, try to get it close to the wall and not angle parked…And if you run an extension cord into your cabin to charge the battery, don’t leave it strung out in the hallway so we can trip on it…The largest group of nationalities was USA...Next was German then Scandinavia then Japanese...Score; Fellow passengers 4.5 out of 5
Entertainment: Excellent...The two main shows I attended were great...Blue Man Group was, well, difficult to describe, but fun and funny...I went to a question and answer session with the three guys who play the Blue Men...Made a lot more sense after I heard them...Trivia; There are 63 Blue Men in different shows around the world, and there is a Blue Man Academy that lasts two months for new guys…Yes, there have been several women working as Blue Men, but all Blue Men have no gender, so it doesn’t matter...The other show was Legends in Concert...One of those imitator shows...Again, it was a really good show...The guys they had doing Steven Tyler and Elvis were spooky good...Katy Perry, I couldn't say...(Is she a legend?)...The lessor entertainers in the lounges, and smaller venues were really good too...Some great jazz and blues, as well as oldies and such...There was always something to do...Some great dancers in the acts and events...Only less than great show was a magician who did more "adult comedy" than magic...Should have been performing on a garbage barge. I left after about 20 minutes...(He did make me disappear)...I lost a trivia contest by one question...(They were wrong; Eisenhower was not the highest ranking US officer in WWII...George Marshall was)...Lost a free T-shirt on that one...So, overall, I would give the entertainment a 4.8 out of 5...(I'm just annoyed about the trivia thing)...
Sea Conditions and Weather; Yeah, I know... Nothing anyone can do about that...Had some 18 foot waves at one point...Lots of passengers barfing over the rails...Not bragging, but I never felt the least bit sick...(I would highly recommend a product called SeaBand...It is worn on your wrist and applies pressure...Works great. Also stops hiccups)...One morning there were only three people at breakfast in the restaurant I went to...For a ship as big as an aircraft carrier, (1,080 feet long), it did some serious ups and downs…The staff had to drain the swimming pools one day as they were sloshing so badly... Rained for a time all but one day...I loved it...At least it cooled it off a bit...I know the Caribbean is supposed to be hot and believe me, it is...Too hot for me...
I got off of the ship at each port and didn't get farther than the pier...Not disappointed...I didn't go on the cruise for the ports...Also extremely crowded...In Nassau, there were 6 ships in port...That's about 22,000 people...I think all of them but me went into town...I did speak to several people who got ripped off in the ports…Usually cab drivers taking them the wrong way or intentionally delaying their trip; lots of panhandlers, people selling junk trinkets and overpriced jewelry stores.…No complaints from those who took NCL organized tours…It rained at every port stop for at least half of the day....Score: Not Rated
Food: I did not have any bad food at all…The service was consistent and friendly…I did not eat at all of the 22 restaurants, but those I did graze through had great food and selection…The best breakfast: In the Buffet…More selections than you can imagine; eggs and omelets to order etc …The best lunch: O’Sheahan’s Pub…Really good Fish and Chips, Meatloaf and Corned Beef Sandwiches…Also the only sit-down restaurant open 24 hours…There were Snack Stations in several parts of the ship that were open 24hours, serving pizza, ready-made sandwiches, etc…The best dinner: The Moderno Restaurant…A Brazilian style place that serves 10 types of meat and sausage, all brought to your table on the skewers straight from the rotisserie…A different meat is delivered every 5 minutes…You are given a two-sided card, one side red the other green…If you want to take a break from eating, you turn the red side of the card up…When you have burped a couple of times and are ready for another meat, just turn the card over…I did a lot of card flipping (and burping)…It was one of the best meals I have ever enjoyed…Side dishes included rice, fried bananas, a sort of cole slaw dish and a dipping sauce for the meat…The Manhattan Room, the main dining room on the ship, was also excellent (less burping) with good service and atmosphere…Some passengers don’t realize it, buy you can order any number of main courses at one sitting…Dress codes in the restaurants were loosely enforced…No place required a jacket and tie…Some required "collared” shirts and no shorts or tank tops…Some passengers really dressed up while others stayed casual…The snacks that were served throughout the ship were very good…I only ordered room service once, and it was prompt and friendly…Score: 4.9925 out of 5.
Booze: Expensive…Two ways to go…You could pay for each drink as you ordered it…Drinks ranged from $2.65 for a diet soda to over $16 for some of the fancy mixed drinks with call booze and of course even more for fancy bottles of wine…Or, you could purchase one of several drink "packages”…An unlimited soda package that gave you all the soda you could drink for 7 days for $49.95 plus 15% gratuity, or an unlimited booze package that provided almost unlimited alcoholic drinks for $365 plus 15% gratuity for 7 days…Bottled water is not included in either package, nor are specialty coffees and the really fancy drinks…I purchased the soda package and bought the beers as I went along…My total will remain classified…Bottled water costs more than wine…You are allowed to bring on to the ship sodas and non-alcoholic drinks and many people did…Any booze was confiscated at the dock and returned to you when you left the ship at the end of the cruise…You were allowed to purchase bottles of booze and wine on the ship and take it into any of the restaurants if you wanted to do so…They also offered a "Bucket of Beer” containing 5 bottles for $25.95…The bars would add ice to the bucket as needed…There was a "drink of the day” for $6.95, but it was not covered by the beverage package…I should add that a 15% tip was automatically added to any purchase, and there were several other beverage packages offered…Score: 4 out of 5 (Just seemed too expensive)
Shopping: Expensive…Almost the entire Deck 7 was a shopping mall…Lots of watch stores, overpriced jewelry, junk Chinese watches on sale for $19.95 "marked down” from $350, reproductions of famous paintings, and so on…I had learned from a travel forum that on the last sea day of the cruise there was a giant sale up on the top deck…It actually was a bargain…2 for 1 t-shirts, etc…Sort of a feeding frenzy, but worth it and fun…Score 3 out of 5.
Cleanliness: Excellent…Never saw a messy place…Tables cleared instantly, floors mopped and vacuumed constantly, people always polishing and scrubbing…Hand sanitizers everywhere…You could not enter a restaurant without a staff member spraying your hands…Score 5 out of 5
A Few Notes:
Went to a very interesting question and answer session with the Captain, Chief Engineer and Staff Captain…Lots of good info about the ship…
Several of us went to what’s called the Ice Bar…7 degrees at all times and everything is made of ice; the bar, the chairs, couches and even the glasses you drink from are made of ice…It’s sponsored by a vodka company…Two drinks are included…Everyone gets wrapped up in a parka and gloves…We lasted about 15 minutes…But we were laughing most of the time…
Places to Sit: I enjoy just sitting and watching the water and chilling…After the first day, I found several places that were really nice for that…Up on Deck 18 there are several spots, shady and breezy with nice deck chairs that are never crowded…People hoard deck chairs around the pool area, but that’s not for me…The pool area is crowded and very noisy, especially the constant disco/rap/reggae music…Cool if you like that sort of thing…(There is apparently a "black market” in beach towels)…I also found that the "Adults Freestyle Sundeck” on deck 18, which is supposed to be a topless/nude area, was deserted and very nice to sit in…(Never did see any nudists…If I had, they probably would have not been the type I would liked to have seen naked anyway)
I also enjoyed watching several movies out on the Spice H2O area at the rear of the ship…
I did not go to the Spa but I heard it was extremely nice, with some pressure to buy products but not too bad.
Didn’t have to use the Medical Clinic…Cost a minimum of $100 to see the physician.
The Bridge Viewing Room is very cool…You can see into the bridge area and observe the crew at work…There are instruments in the viewing room that mimic the bridge instruments…Open during daylight hours…Closed when entering or leaving port…
Internet: Extremely slow...Probably not NCL's fault, just the nature of the satellite system...I purchased the 100 minute plan for $55 and received 10 extra minutes...I needed every one of them...If you plan on doing a lot of emailing or sending photos, good luck....
Conclusion: I thoroughly enjoyed my cruise on the Epic…Wish my wife had been with me, but I did meet several friends on the ship…In my humble opinion, the boat is too big with too many people…I understand that these ships are being built as "destinations” in themselves, but I think I prefer something smaller…My only other cruise was to Alaska on a much smaller (1400 passenger) ship, which I felt was a bit too small…Next time, I plan to try a ship with a capacity somewhere in between…This is not a criticism of the Epic…A beautiful ship and a great crew…Just sort of overwhelming at times…Overall, my score for the entire experience would be 4.6 out of 5…
Thanks for reading my review…Hope I didn’t offend anyone, but my opinions are my own (and probably correct!)
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