My wife and I sailed from Miami on the Epic to Phillipsburg, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. This was our first time on the Epic. Previously, we have sailed on the Dawn, Jewel, Pearl, Star and Breakaway. As a one off ship for NCL, the Epic is a little different from all of the above ships.
Although a large ship, we found it easy to get around the decks. We had a mini-suite on the eight floor behind the front elevators. This proved to be an excellent location. We were in a small corridor with little traffic. We never heard any elevator noise during our cruise. Although we usually take the stairs, when we needed the elevators, they were readily available and often empty.
The room itself was nice. On prior cruises with our kids, we stayed in full suites, but the mini-suite had ample room for two adults. There is storage everywhere in this room. The bed is a bit small head to toe, but fortunately, we are not tall people. I liked the much discussed bathrooms. There is a curtain dividing the living space and bath space. With the curtain drawn, the bathroom had good privacy. The shower was large for a mini-suite. I found the independent sink to be useful. One person could shower, while another person shaved without being in each other's way. The balcony was covered with a nice view. The lifeboats on seven did not obstruct the sea view. Overall a very good room for two people.
Dining was very good. We are NCL platinum so we had two free specialty dinners each from NCL. We dined at Le Bistro twice, La Cucina, Taste, the Manhattan room twice and O'Sheehans. The specialty restaurants were excellent. Taste and O'Sheehans were very good. The Manhattan room was a bit disappointing. Twice we were promised the band at dinner, and twice they failed to show up. Most of our breakfast and lunch stops were in the Garden Cafe. Food was always good and fresh. As early risers we had lots of room to dine, but around 10 a.m. the Cafe is wall to wall people.
Entertainment was a disappointment. The Blue Man Group and Legends were both excellent shows (but please replace the Katy Perry impersonator). However, after you see those shows, the rest of the week is pretty dull entertainment wise. We went to Second City, but it was a very short show with mostly cruise humor, or lack thereof as the case may be. The main theater is small. Therefore, in order to accommodate everyone that wishes to see Blue Man and Legends, those shows monopolize the theater the entire cruise. It also appears, NCL devotes most of the entertainment budget to these shows. Therefore, the rest of the entertainment is low budget.
Our stops were fun. We did the rum, perfume and cooking demo tour in Phillipsburg. Entertaining and informative. In the Virgin Islands, we did Megan Beach and shopping. Megan Beach is a great beach. Much nicer than Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda which is typically rated higher than Megan. As this was our first trip to both islands, both tours in addition to their stops, gave a nice overall tour of each island.
Embarkation and Disembarkation went smoothly. We arrived at 10:30 a.m. in Miami and we were lunching at Taste by noon. We did the walk off leaving the ship. We were off the ship by 7:30 a.m.
Overall, the Epic is a good ship. For a large ship, we never felt crowded. The mini-suite was a very nice room for two (it would be tight for four). My only issue was the entertainment on the ship. The big budget shows are very good, but once you have seen those shows, there is a dearth of main stage entertainment.