I sailed on the Epic on January 4, 2014. I had read the reviews on CC from November and December and was concerned about the negative comments.
I made a point of taking notes to give a fair review. I arrived at the ship at 11:15 am and check in was efficient. Waited to get on ship for about 30 minutes (in 4th group to board). Went to guest services once on board to purchase "posh pass" for 18th deck (which I hardly used and really didn't need), and waited for 20 minutes in the long line. However didn't feel it was a too long to get business done and go to lunch.
Went to O'Sheehan's for lunch and had a great salad wedge with smoked salmon--very good service and pleasant service.
Since I'm a 'foodie',decided to purchase the three specialty restaurant package and reserve the restaurants on 'sea days'. Le Bistro, Cagney's and La Cocina were all very good. I also requested a vegetarian entrée in the Cirque and Dinner show, which the maiter'd insured that I received.
Prior reviews had also stated poor service. I experienced very good service in the dining rooms (Taste) and the Irish Pub where I eat most breakfasts and lunch. It was quick, efficient and food was fine. Only went to buffet on last morning for a quick bite. Never requested room service.
There was a meeting of CC attendees with the officers the second day at sea. We received a card with all the officers extensions and asked to let them know if there was a problem while we were on the ship--not afterward. When I called the restaurant manager to request the special dinner for the Cirque show, the maiter'd called me back right away with the name of the appropriate person to ask for when I went to the show.
All was handled efficiently and with a smile. That same maiter'd was at Cagney's when I dined there and remembered he had called me to make arrangements. By the end of the week I knew two maiter'ds on first name basis. That has never happened before.
Dining in Taste for lunch or dinner (get there early for no wait to be seated) was fine. Good service and enjoyed the food. One evening I requested a window seat, which wasn't available and was advised to get there at 5pm when they open for window seating. However I did sit where I could see out which was fine.
I make a effort to tip cash each time at a restaurant or bar. Perhaps that helps, but the good service preceeded the tip!
Also leave a nice gratuity last day for room steward--they are great.
I believe the problems on Epic in November and December may have been a issue due to the storm in the Philippines and some staff may have left--a condition they can't control.
Saw many of the officers visibly present, working, clearing tables in food venues.
Cirque show was very good. Legends show super as well.
The activities (Deal or No Deal and Dancing with the Epic Stars) were entertaining.
Disembarkation seemed to run about 15 minutes behind their schedule, but once through the card scanner, the check to go through immigration was a few minutes. Easy to find my one piece of luggage and go outside to catch a shuttle to airport.
Overall a great cruise. Cabin very adequate with ample storage. No issue with sink lay out which others seem to have.
Although I'm not a huge fan of 'free style' dining because I like to have same servers. On other lines even if one doesn't chose a specific time to dine, they usually put you with the same server through out the cruise. I enjoy the ability to establish a rapport with the food staff.