This is a review of the cruise 3/30 - 4/6/2014. We were in cabin 9035, a balcony stateroom, which was in the forward area of the ship.
My wife and I went on this cruise primarily to relax and get away from home for a while. In this, we were not disappointed. We were able to take it easy on this ship, and "decompress".
Embarkation was easy and fast - the staff was efficient, if not friendly in the port. The porters were great, both at embarkation and leaving; in fact they were the friendliest people at the port. We were on the ship by 12:30, and eating in Taste by 1:00. That was our first time encountering the staff and food in this venue, and it was not a good beginning. It seemed no server was assigned to our table, and we waited, and waited... When we finally got a waiter, he was friendly, but service was spotty at best. This was to be the case at almost all the restaurants we tried. Our food here was cold, and we got out as soon as we could.
We decided to try the iConcierge app that Norwegian recommended. While at lunch I sent a text message to my wife. It arrived at her phone 3 days later. There were two things I liked about it; you could see all the ship's activities each day, which meant I didn't have to carry the Freestyle Daily with me. And you can make reservations for the shows and restaurants with the app. The bad was that communication with my wife was impossibly slow and unreliable. When she tried to call me, the call never came through. And we have 2 of the latest smartphones, which normally work perfectly.
The food quality on the buffet was average - but then again I wasn't expecting gourmet food there. Breakfast was generally the best meal of the day, but crowds meant that we sat on the pool deck to eat sometimes.
The La Cucina Italian restaurant was great - the food quality was excellent and prepared exactly as we had requested, and the staff was friendly and attentive.
Moderno was NOT great - in fact, mediocre was about the best I could do here. The premium cuts of meat were rarely to be seen, and we had sausages and chicken come around frequently. One piece of chicken I got was half raw, which I pointed out to our server. Amazingly, our service improved dramatically at that point, and EVERY skewer of filets and sirloin came by our table. The salad bar was not great, although it was an improvement over the buffet. And because they seated a large party with lots of noisy children in the center of the room, it was impossible to get away from the high noise level. Wow, what a value for our extra $$...
The Teppanyaki restaurant had outstanding food, and the service was also very good. The only issue is the (very) cramped space. It felt claustrophobic, with very little space between the chairs and the walls. This left little space for the servers, who did their best.
O'Sheehans restaurant was not a premium option. However, the staff there was absolutely horrible. They all looked like they were ready to revolt, and had no desire to provide good service. The food was mediocre, and not always hot (or cold, as the case may be). The best things were the ice cream concoctions, which were an upcharge.
We ate at Taste one other time, and stopped going there. Horrible food and horrible service did not make us want to return.
The Manhattan Cafe was the absolute best of the free dining options. The service came with a smile, and the food was actually quite good. Kudos to this location.
The entertainment was generally good, and we saw the Second City, Blue Man Group, and Legends. All were enjoyable. Still wondering why they are doing a Katy Perry entertainer in Legends; she was definitely the "Weakest Link" of the three singers.
And here is my biggest issue with the Epic; the staff all seemed like THEY need a vacation. Smiles were missing on many faces, and those that were smiling seemed forced. They just didn't seem like they enjoyed what they were doing. This was throughout the ship.
I work in the theme park industry, and if our team provided this kind of service, we would be looking for the causes, and trying to fix it. I can only hope that NCL is doing that now.