Sailed Epic November 9th 2013, myself and a friend, along with my parents all of us in a balcony. After reading others reviews I thought I would return the favor and share a bit of my experience. Going to throw out thoughts instead of a day by day, hopefully others will get something out of it. Overall this is a nice ship but thinking it might be bigger than my group liked. We bought a Future Cruise Credit so NCL is still in my future.
Room my friend and I had a mini suite balcony on deck 13 (free upgrade from standard balcony after final payment) and we actually liked the layout, even the bathroom, the balcony seemed huge but same size as regular balcony my parents had. We had the tub which is a really high step but that aside the shower felt huge. Nice upgrade but I would not pay for a mini suite as it does not seem worth the price difference. One thing I did feel was lacking in the bathroom setup however, was a place to lay your clothes outside the shower given the More
counters were on the other side of the privacy curtain when it was closed. I often pulled the stool over to lay my clothes on so not a big deal. Fidel, our Room Steward, was great and eager to help if we needed anything. Ice bucket always full too. My parents got a free upgrade from an inside room to a balcony on 8th overlooking life boats and they loved their room too. They had no issue with the life boats being in their way looking out. That said, they started with an inside so they were beyond happy just to have a balcony.
Specialty Restaurants we only did one pay restaurant, Moderno, and the meat was amazing, and the garlic mashed potatoes OMG. Service was friendly and fast and worth the $20 charge. Even when we had our cards turned to red for ‘no more’ they came over with the skewers to make sure we weren’t just taking a rest LOL
Buffet felt food was pretty good for buffet but the layout was a bit odd for some things. Butter with the salad, bread not near toasters, many people with lost looks on their faces trying to find things. Why no Caesar dressing? I thought at first they just had none that particular mean so I kept looking day after day but nope, they just never had any unless they had someone premixing Caesar salad which was not routine. Found that really odd. Also found desserts lacking but no different than I found on the Pearl so it was expected. Another common occurrence was lack of cutlery at the tables. Not sure if this was due to their inability to clean them fast enough for the amount being used or if it was just a delivery issue. Some days there would be none on any table so you couldn’t even "borrow” from somewhere else. I would watch people grab them from the tables on the pool deck and stuff them in their pockets before entering the inside buffet area so funny. Food was pretty good overall though, amazingly we never starved ïŠ so not all bad. I really missed the open area that is on the aft of other ships like the Pearl, nice to eat there with the all-around view of the ocean.
Taste only went once but was good and uneventful. Service was good and we didn’t wait long for anything. We ordered a steak and while tasty, all who had it (4 of us) didn’t like the texture. It was almost like it was done in a microwave or boiled or something, can’t explain it. The bread pudding and apple pie were good.
O’Sheehan’s loved the feel of this place. It had a neighborhood bar kind of feel to it and was a nice casual place to have a beer or snack. It didn’t even feel like you were on a ship when sitting there, until you felt the sway. Chicken pot pie was really good, the chicken wings were good too but they were never really hot enough temperature wise.
Legends this was really good. Our performers were Steven Tyler, Katie Perry and Elvis. Steven Tyler was OMG unbelievable, he was fantastic and I could have watched an entire show of just him. Not a fan of Katie Perry and she seemed driven to children so didn’t care for that one, Elvis was good though but Steven stole the show.
Blue Man Group not our cup of tea. This felt dragged out and I actually felt bored with it all. I can understand why some would think it was good, there were definitely funny moments but I left before it was over and was glad I hadn’t paid for it. To each their own.
Cirque this was really good. We paid for premium seating and sat in the balcony. Really glad we sat here as we were often looking straight out at the performance. The meal was okay, nothing fantastic but we went for the show so it was fine. The only thing I really hated about this show was the lack of assigned seating. We booked the 5:30 show and people start lining up at 4:15 (we got there at that time based on staff recommendation and were 3rd pair in line). Ironically, the first couple in line went to the balcony and asked for 16 seats and got them!!! That should not be allowed and really left a bad taste in my mouth. Pre-assigned seating would eliminate both the need for getting there so early and eliminate people reserving ahead of others in line. Even funnier was another couple close behind us in line also came up to the balcony and asked for seats for 14 people so that almost finished off availability on the balcony and we were less than 10 people into the long line that waited so long. NCL r u listening? For a paid show you should assign seats so people don’t have to be there so early to STAND in a line (or sit on the floor to wait.)
Bingo played once and I WON! Was a single full card bingo and paid $40 and won $240. Woo hoo.
Deal no Deal played once and won a free photo. Woo hoo. Was fun for $20 and would likely play again but would not go expecting big winnings.
Piano Bar did not actually go in here but the first time I stopped along the way to check it out one of the players was saying "We will get to all requests, but the ones written on these ..” as he held up a dollar bill … "we will get to faster so not that we won’t get to them all but if you want the song played sooner … just saying”. He was saying it in a good natured joking kind of way but that just turned me right off. For me that is right up there with hearing Buskers that come to town saying "Change weighs heavy”.
Margarita Tasting I am a beer drinker who likes a cocktail every now and then so thought I’d try the Margarita Tasting cost $15 for 4 drinks. Well … if you don’t like taste the alcohol BEWARE as these were so strong they were almost undrinkable and looking around many didn’t finish most of them and suspect this might have been why. I forced myself to drink them so as to not waste my money but they were not ones I would ever order. Ironically the last drink was most people’s favorite and I suspect it was because it was not strong and tasted sweeter than the others it was peach. That one was too sweet for me so I needed something in between the too strong and too sweet. It was fun though and my mother was there with me and she enjoyed the peach one I didn’t like and she is not a drinker.
In General …
I felt many staff impersonal or indifferent and often seemed to not have answers to questions. This could be due to the mass of people they have to attend to so can somewhat understand but it was definitely noticeable. Nobody was rude or anything, it was just a general observation from staff we encountered but maybe it was just us
I had one experience that ended on a positive note. I put a luggage tag on a case of diet coke and it never made it to my cabin I kept kicking myself later for not carrying it on. After repeated visits and calls to Guest Services and never hearing back on what, if anything, could be done I pretty much gave up and looked at is as lesson learned. I understand losing things and the luggage tag may even have fallen off, I was just frustrated with them never telling me if anything was being done; I was told they would contact Security but that was all I ever heard. In the end, however, days later I got a few calls from Hotel Services (manager I think) and on day five she said that given they could not find my soda this late in the trip they would give me the soda mug and sticker for the rest of the cruise for free!! Even though I do not drink Pepsi, this was a very good gesture on their part and I was sure to tell her that. I got a couple diet lemon lime with the card so didn’t really use it much but it was the gesture and very smart on their part and beyond any of my expectations.
I also have to mention an experience that I found disturbing. I went to O’Sheehan’s bar to get a soda (did not have soda sticker at this time) and the bartender gave me fountain pop which I discovered after I took a drink and I said aloud to my friend "did he give me fountain pop … I think I’m supposed to get a can since I’m charged for it”. Well I didn’t realize the bartender heard and next thing I knew he set a pop can and glass of ice on the counter and took my fountain pop back. What followed next was what was most disturbing. A guy sitting a few seats down the bar says to the bartender "We’ll take that, don’t waste it” and I stood there shocked as the bartender passed him the cup of soda I drank from! I spoke up and said I drank out of that cup and the guy said "that’s okay I’ll use a straw”. R U kidding me! Hello NCL, the bartender must have missed the lesson on containing germs we have wishy washy all over the place and the bartender gives a soda I took a drink out of to another person. !!!!! This bartender was one of the indifferent staff I encountered as he hardly made eye contact with me during the entire purchase and never spoke a word, almost like I was bothering him and there were no others waiting for drinks so it was not due to him being bombarded with orders.
I also had an issue getting my NCL slot pay $10 get $20 and never got the coupon in my room and repeated visits to the Casino had no record of it. Luckily I had my amenity printout proving the purchase but even with that they had to contact the head office to verify their records and finally on day 4 and repeated visits to the Casino Cashier I finally got my credit. The SlotPlay coupon I purchased proved easier than theirs was, I had no issue with redeeming it day one rather ironic.
These things may seem trivial in nature but there were many other experiences like this and it was more the way things are responded to than the events themselves. Of course there were staff that were very pleasant so it was not all staff but the indifference was felt enough that it stood out to us.
Elevators OMG OMG OMG. Come on NCL, why no elevators mid-ship. Elevator ratio to people was way off. Having to take an elevator during any semi peak time (which was almost any time in the evening) proved to be the most stressful event, so much so that people lost all manners and just shoved their way on regardless of those impacted at the back. People would get on to ride up so they could ride it back down to where they wanted to go because they knew they might never get on otherwise. One day a young woman squished to the back of the elevator with me said "I’ve learned a lot about manners on this cruise” to which I responded "You mean bad?!” and she nodded "yes”. She continued to say that she was most shocked by the lack of manners of many elders which was exactly what I had noticed so it wasn’t just our experience. Manners were bad.
Casino sorry to say smoke was an issue. Why would you situate the casino (the non-smoking part) all through a main walkway which is already a busy area I understand you want to entice people to play but I don’t think that it is necessary to be this in your face on a ship as passengers are sure not to miss it if it’s placed off to the side of a main area? The non-smoking part really is nonexistent with this layout. I think the casino should be located within a space you have to enter and not in a main walkway. If nothing else, it would have been nice if they made one of the two walk in areas of the casino where there were windows into non-smoking so the non-smokers don’t have to sit in the pass through deck area.
Pool deck went up here one morning around 8am and had no problem finding a chair, most empty. By 10, however, it was a different story but that should be expected. I did not see a lot of chair saving but that could because we sat on the top deck away from the pool so perhaps not a first choice area.
Ship Rocking waters may have been a little wavy but this ship never stopped rocking from day one when at sea. The waters were a little rougher one day but otherwise the seas were not too bad. I assume the rocking is because the ship is built so high and any wind has an affect but this really surprised me. I don’t get sea sick so didn’t bother me but my friend lost a night from the motion (seasick). The motion was extremely noticeable just walking around the ship and at night time it was even worse; you would sometimes feel the ship bounce roughly over waves (front to back). I would not want to be in this ship in any kind of bad weather.
I know I’m missing stuff but think this captures the trip. Overall it was a fun week with a few (okay many) buckets of beer in the Caribbean. Fun in the sun. Less