This was our 7th cruise and my husband's favorite.First thing I would be sure to do, is read the daily freestyle while you are waiting to board the ship. It is very informative as to what there is to do before the ship even leaves port. It even has a map of the ship. Boarding is so smooth and easy, you wait your turn sitting in a waiting room, not standing in long lines. We went straight to Taste restaurant and had a nice sit down lunch. The buffet is open too, but we prefer the dining rooms. As we decided to go to our room on the 14th floor, the doors opened right into the Spa. We had booked a balcony room that included the spa entry for the entire cruise. Great choice. So, before going to our room, we toured the spa. Even if you don't have the spa included, you just might want to tour the spa, and maybe decide to pay for use anyway. We went almost everyday and it was never crowded, and so relaxing.
I mentioned Taste, but Manhattan has the same menu and is open for dinner and we liked the ambiance there better.Food was good there. The first night is lobster night. It came with steak, I chose to forgo the steak and had 2 lobster tails instead, I thoroughly enjoyed it. My husband's steak was overdone an he couldn't eat it. So he had another lobster tail too. As we ate there a few times, we never had a bad meal again, in fact the food just got better each time we ate there. We did pay for a few specialty restaurants and Teppanyaki was well worth the money, better than any restaurant of it's kind we've ever been to. The chef was so talented and funny and the food was fantastic. We ate at Cagney's and my filet was to die for. My husband's rib eye was not as good, but was cooked the way he requested, just to much fat ribbed in it.For fast easy dining we did try the buffet, nice variety. We went to O'Sheenan's for in between meals and snacks, quick and easy, the food not great, but nice. I don't know if I should tell about Cirque as an entertainment venue or restaurant, it was good as both. They serve steak and shrimp and the food was delicious. If you book this I would suggest paying the extra for the premium seats, we didn't and wish we had. You miss some of the high flying acts, because you are in the back under the balcony, but it was fun anyway. The buffet was great for breakfast, but we also ordered a continental breakfast from room service so we could sleep in one day.
We did everything possible for entertainment. Best advice is to book everything you can prior to your cruise. You can book up to 45 days in advance and I am so glad we did. The lines to book shows were long, and many of the shows require reservations. We did everything from Blueman Group to Howl at the Moon, trivia to shuffleboard, Family Feud to Bingo, and danced a bit too. Blueman is weird, they do silly stuff, but kept me laughing most of the time. Legends in Concert had 3 singers. Steven Tyler was great, looked like him, sang like him, moved like him, just fantastic. I was surprised to believe Katy Perry was considered a legend, but I guess they needed something for the younger crowd. Elvis sang great, but didn't quite get the hip movements down. Overall we really enjoyed the show. We don't drink, so we avoided the bars, but we did see Howl at the Moon in Headliners. Two piano players and a drummer that take requests, (they do the ones with money attached to the request first.) They are very fun. They joke, they play great and they can sing anything. As the show goes on, the audience gets rowdier, so we left after about an hour, but I say don't miss therm. They play at least 3 nights, so be sure to pick one and see them. Second City does a few different shows. We saw their Mystery Luncheon and their improve. They weren't the best Second City troupe we've ever seen, but they were entertaining.
We liked our room. The split bathrooms were no problem at all. I'm big and the shower was plenty big enough for me. The only thing wrong was the sink. It was small and too close to the end of the bed. We had one of the rooms with the bed near the hall instead of the balcony, and that way the sun didn't get my husband in bed when I went out to read in the morning. We had so much storage space, it was everywhere. Behind the couch, next to the mirror, two closets, under the counter, and the suitcases fit perfect under the bed.The only problem was if I was sitting at the mirror and my husband wanted to get past me, tight space between me and the bed.
we never felt the ship was over crowded. We didn't take the elevator next to the theater after a show, we walked down to the other end of the ship, no crowd their. You do have to walk through the casino if you cross on the 6th floor. If you don't like it, cross on 7 and look at the shops. The set up is different than other ships we've been on, no grand atrium. Go on NCL web site and look at the deck plans ahead of time, and managing your way through the ship becomes very easy.
The pools are really small, but the slides are awesome. If you don't want kids around, go back to the H2O pool. Since we did the spa, we didn't go to the pool much, so I'm not to sure if it was crowded much or not.
Overall we had the best time. We never lacked for things to do, we ate whenever we wanted and we enjoyed the staff and games. As you can tell, we liked our cruise to the Caribbean on the Epic very much.
We went to the Blue Lagoon Dolphin Encounter, not the one on Atlantis. We didn't want to walk all across a giant resort, and we wanted to avoid the crowds. Blue Lagoon dolphin encounter was perfect. We boarded a boat right there by the ship, and took a 40 minute ride out to the Blue Lagoon. It was pouring rain when we started, but it completely stopped before we got there. Even if the rain hadn't stopped, the area we were in was covered, so it wouldn't have mattered. I did the encounter, and we paid for my husband to come and observe. I have wanted to play with a dolphin ever since I was a kid and watched the show Flipper. It was worth the wait. I don't remember being this happy and excited since I got married. They put us in groups of about 8 - 10 people, we had a family of 6 and two singles. Our dolphin, Sean was so fun and he seemed as excited as we did. He loved what he did. He showed off for us and then each of us got to have our own special encounters with him. We got to pet him, we danced with him, hugged him, he kissed us, clapped for us and i loved every minute of it. We were in the water about 15 minutes, and the entire time Sean was playing with one of us. It was great. To me it was worth every penny. Truly a once in a lifetime experience. They took pictures, and a 5x7 was $16.95, of course I bought one, it is a memory I want to have forever!
We didn't book an excursion with the cruise ship for this island, but took one of the many vans that were waiting outside to take us where ever we wanted to go. We chose to take a tour that took us to both the Dutch side and the French side of the island. It was definitely a bus tour, if you take this do not plan on stopping anywhere to actually experience anything. We stopped to take pictures a few places and we did stop at a flea market type shopping area for 30 minutes on the French side of the island. But the ride around the entire island was very informative. We had him drop us off at the downtown area of St. Philipsburg and looked at some stores and then went to the beach that was right there not to far from the cruise ships. There was a casino on the corner so we played blackjack for a short time, and left with money. Good job! I was tired so we paid $3.00 to take a taxi back to the ship. Very nice island, blue warm water, beautiful views. A nice place to visit.
Our excursion was Kayak, Hike and Snorkel. I imagined kayaking around a little bay or area that we could just wander at our leisure, WRONG. When they say kayak, they mean it! We actually had to kayak through mangrove trees over to the tip of the island where we would be hiking and snorkeling. My husband and I haven't kayaked in over 25 years. We had a rough time at first, but finally were able to work together and move that thing the way it was supposed to go. The staff really helped. First thing when we got in the kayak, we leaned over to get something off the dock, and tipped over and landed in the water. I weigh 250 and they had to get a ladder to get me back on the dock, pretty funny. We were last to get to the island, and last to return, but a staff member stayed close, and we never felt rushed of stupid. When we got to the island we each got to pick up a hermit crab, and had a hermit crab race. Mine never even left the starting circle until after the race was over.The hike was nothing strenuous, rather a nice walk over a rock trail to the tip of the island where there was a small blow hole. Beautiful scenery. If you choose this excursion to snorkel and see lots of beautiful fish, don't do it, choose on that just has snorkeling. Snorkeling was nice, the water was really calm. We had life jackets on and actually had to swim out to where the fish were. And there weren't very many. We saw a few and a beautiful stingray and some ship-wrecked pottery. Near the mangrove trees on the way back did see thousands of little tiny fish swimming together. That part was really cool. Overall we had a good experience. Very physical work for me. But I loved it.