So I just got off my cruise today on the Epic and I was eager to sit down and write down my review of the ship along with the ports of call. I had read many bad reviews about the Epic and I don't feel that they were very accurate so I will give my opinion of what I saw. Let me start by saying that I have cruised many times on Carnival, Royal, Disney and now NCL for my first time. If you are looking for the good and the bad, along with tips to help you out, then read on. We had a Family Balcony for 4.
First off, we had a great time on the Epic but that is not to say that everything was perfect. Lets start off with the good; The ship is beautiful and very clean. I saw multiple employees checking the top of the picture frames in the halls for dust. The rooms were very clean except for a small problem which I will mention later. So the rooms are not as bad as everyone talks about. I'm 6 feet 2 inches and yes my feet hung off a little but nothing that bad, just from my ankles down. The bed is very comfortable and so are the pillows. I think they failed with the round shape bed and furniture but its really not bad. It does have huge amount of storage space, starting with two huge closets. Tip #1 place your life vests under the bed so you clear up the space in one of the closets. You will still have plenty of room for placing your luggage under the bed also. There is also storage above the couch, near the sliding door, which has room to store some items. We stored our duffle bags which we use for all our shoes. On the couch there are two big cushions that open up to store things but the housekeeper uses that to store the pillows and comforter for the couch and bed from the ceiling. There is also two drawers under the couch but they use that also. Under the sink there is a nice size drawer you can use for dirty clothes or towels. Next to that under the TV you have two doors with a nice space for your smaller items. Next to that behind a door you have two electrical plugs "ONLY". I will discuss that negative later but make sure to bring an outlet strip so you can have multiple outlets for all your electronics. You also have a mirror above the sink which had two doors with a ton of space. Ok so lets talk about the biggest things people complain about, the shower, bathroom and sink. First, the sink never splashed any water anywhere. It's not the best design to have in the middle of the room but it was not bad at all. The sink is small but I never had any issues of water splashing. Now the dreaded shower/bathroom area. The shower was very nice and a good size with good water pressure. TIP #2 Bring your own shower sponge so you can take a good bad since with out it, you will not be able to lather up. The body soap and shampoo smelled really good and worked fine. You might have to put a lot of product to get a good lather. There are two hooks that are just outside the shower door where you can hang your towel while you shower. It's really hard to see anything through the glass. You need to get really close to the glass to try to make out something. We traveled with our two kids so we used the curtain that separates the room from the shower/bathroom area. The toilet space was small but nothing to bad. I will talk about the negative about the toilet later. In summary the room was very nice and comfortable for a family of 4 with two teenagers/2 adults.
Lets talk food; the food was very good! We ate at the Manhattan Room almost every night because it's a very nice setting. We were not very fond of Taste, the other free restaurant. The interior decorator must of been blind..... very ugly. On some nights in the Manhattan Room they have a live band which is a nice touch. TIP #3 On lobster night, go to the buffet for dinner and you can get as many lobsters as you want. I must confess but I had 7 lobsters that night. Every single one was cooked to perfection! We never had any lines to get into the restaurant which was great. This freestyle cruising was awesome. We tried all different times and never had more than a 2 minute wait, we might of gotten lucky but that was our experience.
The buffet was also great! I had read that all the food was cold or undercooked, nothing could of been farther from the truth. We had great meals everyday. We started with breakfast there and then lunch and snacks throughout the day. TIP # 4 When you enter the buffet from the elevators on the 15th floor you will see four station right in front of you, don't bother going to any of these because usually they are packed. If you walk around the corners, you will find the same food with very short lines. We always went to the corners and were able to get in and out fast. All the folks in the buffet are very helpful also. Seating could be difficult at times but we always found seats towards the front of the ship, still inside the buffet. As for drinks, the do have lemonade along with Mango water,Strawberry kiwi and Ice tea. At times they would run out of lemonade but I will discuss later.
Entertainment: All the shows were GREAT! We were able to see the Blue Man twice which was awesome. The legends show was also great, especially Stephen Tyler, WOW. Second City comedy was hilarious also.
If you want to sit in the front row for Blue Man, get there 45 mins before the door opens, worth it. Howl at the Moon was great also. You must see the behind the scenes Blue Man where you meet them without their costumes and they answer questions. Those were all the shows we saw.
Kids Activities: They have bungee jumping near the basketball court which opens only on certain times, a must do. Next to that, they have the spider wall, not very exciting for my kids. TIP # 6 If you have kids, as soon as you get on the ship, go to the rock climbing wall on 15 floor and sign the waiver before the lines get huge. Also go to Splash Academy on 14 and do the paper work. Lines get HUGE! There is a tone of things for the kids to do for activities.
Hidden Gems: On floors 11-13 go all the way to the end of the hall in the back and there are private hidden shade outdoor space. On 11, they have two lounge chairs so you can spend quiet time. Also on 13 bow, there is the bridge view room, very cool.
There is a great place to hang out is the library on 7. They have leather couches and seats you can use to read or play games. You can borrow books and board games.
Here are the ports review: Ocho Rios- We didn't do the Dunnes Falls like everyone else, instead we went to the BLue Hole(UNBELIEVABLE). We used Courtney Taylor and his folks were the BEST! Melo was our driver and he told us how to cook Jamaican Style and gave us the history of the area. When we arrived at the Blue Hole we were then introduced to Morgan who brought us through all the waterfalls and jumps. This place is AMAZING! Has to be one the nicest things we have ever done. Thank you Courtney......http://www.courtneytaylortours.com
Costa Maya: We went to Maya Chan, WOW! It's an all inclusive food and drinks. You get your own private tiki hut with bed, hammock, chair hammock, table and chairs. There are snorkeling gear, floating chairs, and kayaks. The food they serve it to good to explain..... You have to go there. Contact Mark at Maya Chan: http://www.costamayabeachresort.com
Cozumel: Last review I told you about Buccanos Bar & Grill, still the best place I have been to in Cozumel. This time around we just went shopping but check out this place. Read my past review about it. http://www.buccanos.com
Now here are the negatives about the EPIC: The first thing we encountered was in our room, the curtain that separates the shower from the room had what looked like dried blood on it. I also found that one of my kids comforter had some nasty stains on it. I immediately complained to my housekeeper and I must say that they fixed the problem quickly. The floor manager came personally to my room and talked to me and was apologetic. They sent me a bottle of wine along with some chocolate covered strawberries for my trouble.
On another occasion, I went to lunch at the Garden Cafe(buffet) and there was no lemonade in any of the machines anywhere. So I went to the manager on shift and her response to me was"we only serve lemonade for breakfast" which was B.S. I got so upset that I tried to contact the Director of Food and Beverage that I had met earlier that week at the Cruise Critic Roll Call. I was not able to talk to him but Gary Bryan, the Restaurant Manager tracked me down at dinner later that nigh and spoke with me directly. he also sent me wine & strawberries for my troubles. Everyday after that, Gary would say hello anytime we ran into each other which was very nice.
The room needs to have more outlets since everyone has an iphone, iPad, cell phone, how can you just have two outlets? The toilet in my room smells like your in a porta-john. Also the bathroom on deck 15 near the pool smells like a porta-john. Not sure what the heck it is because the bathroom are clean. The smell comes from the inside of the toilet. Always keep you lid on your toilet closed and you should be fine.
The last thing that I didn't like is that there is no communication for the kids to have unless you want to download their app and pay 8 dollars per phone in order to use it for calling and texting. Disney gives 2 free phones per room so NCL needs to change this.
I hope this helps you with your decisions or with your travels. We really loved our experience and are ready to book the Breakaway for next year if I could find a great price.