I just had a very enjoyable cruise on the Epic and look forward to sailing again soon! This was my fourth sailing on NCL, having previously sailed on the Sunward 2 (twice), and the Seaward, and other lines. What amazes me is when people complain about the product they have received for the amount of money paid. For $640 is received a week's cruise in a single cabin, transportation to three islands, all meals and entertainment including Blue Man Group, Second City and Legends in Concert, plus a magician. And unlimited pool and water slide usage. A truly terrific bargain. I read one review in which a lady complained there wasn't a champagne greeting upon boarding the ship nor was there a large atrium to impress her. Good Lord. Did she visit the website? Look a pictures? Peruse the deck plans? Do your research. Know what you are buying. It's all there. So I honestly do not have any sympathy for someone who is surprised by such things. All of the information is there. But, some people LOVE to complain.
Well, my experience was lovely. A few bumps, but nothing major.
I flew into Miami the day of departure and caught a taxi to the pier. $25 and a quick 15 minute ride. Easy. Having arrived around 11 am, I went quickly through check in. A quick process. I do not like leaving my credit card number so opened an on board cash account of just $400, which was plenty for me. I waited in the departure lounge for about 30 minutes, then was on board. The cabins weren't ready yet, so I made my way to Taste for lunch. I assumed the Garden Cafe would be packed, and Taste had plenty of room.
I ate primarily at the Garden Cafe, as I enjoyed the variety. Overall the food is fine. Nothing fancy. And there's tons of it. The meats in the Garden Cafe were very good, and in the Manhattan restaurant as well. Service was fine. Very attentive and friendly. They do charge for soft drinks. $2.50 for a plastic cup of soda, not a bottle or a can. But, there is a vending machine in the video arcade selling full sized soft drinks for $2. So you get more for your money. Although I don't think NCL is going to win any culinary awards, the food was fine.
I booked a solo cabin and it was perfect. The bed...oh, so comfortable. All is very cozy and well organized with plenty of storage for one person. Hangers are provided as is body wash and shampoo. Free movies are broadcast each day as are popular TV programs and you can rent movies in your room for $9.99 and there is a very nice selection. My steward was fine. I never saw him at all, but they room was always clean and I never needed anything.
The ship is very nice. There are a few worn places and I noticed the floor around O'Sheenan's was actually dented in places. But, I have to remember the ship has 4,000 quests each week, 16,000 a month and 192,000 annually, so yes, there is going to be a bit of wear and tear. Certainly. The one thing I did have a slight problem with is the smoking. The casino is a smoking area and it is huge. When you are on that deck and have to get anywhere, you have to walk through the casino, which is riddled with smoke. There are air purifiers working hard, but there is an overall musty smell to that part of the ship. The ship never seemed really very crowded except when shows were being let out and there was never a long wait for the elevators. Pool deck was very nice and if you want to have open use of the hot tubs, water slides and pools, come back early while in port. The ship is deserted and you have the run of it.
Tip about on board shopping. Wait until the final day. Prices are slashed. I got an NCL tote bag, for $3.50. Regular price was $20.
I didn't try any of the specialty dining, but did hear complaints about the food at Cirque and that the service in the other specialty restaurants was slow and the food not worth the extra charge.
PHOTO TIP: I enjoy the official photos, but they are priced. $12.95 for a 6X8 and $19 for an 8X10. On the last day they offer photo packages bundling all of your photos into a lower price.
St. Maarten is beautiful. You can pay $7 round trip for the water taxi, or make the short walk into town from the pier. Everyone was very friendly. Not aggressive. Several cafes will provide free WiFI if you eat at there. The downtown is very walkable and lovely. Shopping is what one would expect for a tourist port. St. Thomas was fine, too. I am not a beach person, so I struck out on my own. There is a fine shopping plaza directly across from the pier, so there is no real need to go downtown. I enjoyed walking and browsing then getting back to the ship early to enjoy the water features with no crowding. Nassau, honestly, is a dump. The locals are very aggressive, especially in the Straw Market and I had more than one person approach me on the street and ask if I wanted to purchase some weed. Once I got off the main tourist shopping street, I felt unsafe, even in broad daylight. i have been to Nassau several times and it's not my favorite place by far.
Blue Man was good and the shorter version of their show on the ship works much better than other productions I have seen. It can drag, but is entertaining. Legends in Concert was very fun. Second City was very disappointing.
Quick and easy. If you carry your own luggage off, you are off the ship quickly.
Overall, a great time and a great bargain.