This was the first of two cruises we were doing almost back to back (one day in between) both with NCL. We had been on 5 cruises prior to these, 2 with NCL, 2 RCI and 1 Carnival. We loved NCL (Spirit and Pearl) and got such a good deal on this Epic cruise that we did not even hesitate to book. Oh boy...! Traveling was my husband (39) and myself (40), two kids (7 and 3) and my husbands mother (78) and sister (54). As I mentioned we chose this cruise for price (kids sailed free), freestlye cruising and the fact that the kids club is usually really good with NCL. Nevermind the entertainment sounded awesome as well as the Nickelodoen theme for the kids.
We arrived at the terminal around 11:30 am and from the time we got off the bus, our lives became complete chaos for the next 7 days. There were people running around everywhere! Getting in to the terminal the line was 4 people wide, shoulder to shoulder and people were RUDE! Pushing, shoving...I was astounded at how rude the other passengers were. I just wanted to get on the ship and away from what felt like all 4000+ other passengers who seemed to be embarking at the same time. I was in for the surprise of my life!
There were so many things wrong with this holiday it is hard to discuss them all. The room was TERRIBLE. There were two medium sized drawers under the couch (we were in a balcony room) that we could put all our clothes in that could not be hung up on the 10 hangers that were supplied. You might pull a muscle trying to open them if not careful! There were two cupboards as the back of the couch but you couldn't access these once the couch was made (which was the fourth bed for my child) without tearing apart the bed. They couldn't be accessed once my son was asleep. There was also two tiny cupboards touching the ceiling (about 5 inches tall) which I couldn't reach so were useless. I didn't mind the toilet/shower split and had no problem with the sink.
We went to eat at the garden cafe for lunch the day of embarking and it was PACKED!!! Took almost 30 minutes for us to get our meal in the buffet line! Then we COULD NOT find anywhere to sit. Finally we did find somewhere after about 15-20 minutes of walking and after we cleared the dishes from the table then went to look for cutlery, we were able to eat our cold meal with our tired and whiny children. I thought I can't wait until all these people taper away and not everyone tries to eat at the same time. After all, everyone did just embark. IT DIDN'T GET ANY BETTER!!!!! Not ONCE in 7 days did we sit to eat and not have to clean dishes from the table once you were able to actually find a table. Those of you who have cruised before can appreciate what this means! Seriously, clearing tables on your cruise, every meal?? Just odd!
The first at sea day we took our sons down to see Sponge Bob and Patrick. My three year old was standing watching through a glass railing when I noticed a lady sitting at a table near him moved over slightly. She was about 2 feet away and I said "no no that's ok, he has lots of room". She said "He's making me uncomfortable so close to my legs". Seriously? I hope she has insurance on those legs! People made comments like this the entire cruise! When my 78 year old mother in law was riding in the elevator and moved back in the elevator to accommodate one lady after the elevator stopped on her floor, she was told to "speak for yourself the next time you tell someone there's room". I quickly came to realize that what was happening was everyone was feeling to 'cold' on this cruise, that if you didn't look out for yourself, then no one would and it was feast or famine. People were like vultures and treated others like they would rather eat you than help you. I just wanted to cry with how cold people were. The staff were no better. My sister in law went to purchase a bracelet and asked for it to be put on hold as we were on our way for our supper reservation. The lady told her to put it down and that she was only open for another hour. So we said ok if you can just hold it, we will be back. The lady said "ya, ya, just put it down". When we returned to get the bracelet it had been snapped in half and was unfortunately the only one they had. Not remorseful at all. Guest services - terrible! Instead of another long story, just take my word for it. Useless! I could not believe this was how our family holiday was rolling out.
The kids club: We usually book our cruises based on the type we feel our 7 year old will enjoy. Our 3 year old is pretty happy anywhere. The first day we went o register the kids, the worker called the four of us to her desk. She proceeded to talk to me and my husband like the kids weren't even present. I don't even know if she said hello but she did make sure to tell them and us that if they lost their bracelet then there was a charge to replace it. No worries, I understand. That evening my 7 year old could not wait to go and since my 3 year old is not potty trained, we did receive a beeper as they do not change diapers on NCL. I have not issues with that at all. Like knowing they can reach me if there's anything. But be prepared to let them know exactly where you will be if you don't have a child that qualifies you for a beeper. So if you want to go to the hot tub, you better be there for 2 hours unless you'll go back and let them know you decided to go shopping! So we went back to check on the kids about 45 minutes after we dropped them off and they both wanted to come out. My 3 year old was screeching and my 7 year old was bored. Really??? This is a kid who normally begs to go to the kids club! That was the extent. We did try our 7 year old back one other time when the itinerary for the kids club said that from 10-12 am they would be making a Sponge Bob craft as well as making their very own "iCarly" show. I dropped him off at 10:25 and when I went back to get him at 11:30, he said when he got there, they had already finished the craft AND the show! Wow, those people are FAST ( whatever!). So the kids club: Cold and unfriendly, like the rest of the ship!
The line ups everywhere really did make you feel that all 4000 people wanted to eat at the same time you did as well as get in the pool and on the waterslides AND suntan on the chairs whenever you did. It was PACKED at all times and chaotic still. It didn't help that it was only sunny for 2 days of the 7 we were on board so most times people were inside and everyone likely had cabin fever.
I could keep going but you get the point. NCL does not have the ability to take care of 4000+ passengers in their terminal OR on the ship. As I said, 8 days after this nightmare began, we were boarding our second cruise with NCL, aboard the Pearl, and that exact same terminal had a single file embarking line where people stood aside and said "you go ahead". And THAT atmosphere lasted for the next 7 days. THANK THE LORD!!!! Unfortunately for us, the good of the PEARL did not outweigh the NIGHTMARE of the Epic and now as we plan our next cruise, my husband won't even let me look at an NCL offer, no matter the ship, itinerary or price. I wouldn't quite go that far. If it were up to me, I would do NCL again but never another big ship. Take our word for it...DON'T DO THE EPIC!!!! You'll kick yourself for spending all that money for a rat race.