We had the highest number of CC cruisers on our Transatlantic but only one review so far. So here I will try to write down whatever I remember from my faulty memory. Sorry if it is just a rambling and not well planed.
Embarkation is smooth enough. We are in group 1 (after suite guests), so we are on board in no time. Some officers greet us at the entrance which is nice. However, once inside, I lost my sense of direction (and even until later in the cruise I still get confused which way will go aft or fore). Well we just ask, and proceed to Garden Café for our lunch. We are early so not so crowded.
After lunch we rush to buy the spa pass (expensive but useful), then to our cabin and rest. One of our luggages come around 4pm, the rest after the muster drill. For the first night we don’t plan anything so enjoyed the dinner in Manhattan leisurely (that means s-l-o-w-l-y).
Day 2 is quite choppy and we have to go to the guest relation desk to get our pills. It helps but we sleep and cannot fully enjoy Chicago as DW is very sleepy.
Day 3 we feel better, and go in the the queue for Cirque Dream. We have our reservation but here everybody like to queue so we need to be there early. 45 minutes before the show, and the queue is already forming. Lucky we get two seats in the balcony which we prefer (premium tickets have a choice, downstairs or balcony). We really enjoy the show! And contrary to what we read in this forum before we board, we find the dinner good, too! We are both vegetarians, and our server takes good care of us. It is a wonderful evening. I can strongly recommend other Epic cruisers to see this show. Even just the laughs you get here is worth the entry ticket!
Day 4-5-6-etc-etc fly by, very fast as we reduce each day to 23 hours only. This is where the spa pass becomes useful as any time of the day we can enjoy thalasso theraphy pool, the sauna and aromatic steam bath. The heated ceramic loungers are at times difficult to get as people keep reserving without actually using it. Two times I have to ask the staff to clear the empty lounger so I can use it.
After 8 sea-days I get used to do nothing and being lazy, but DW missed the land so we join the crowds waiting the gangway to open. We have pre-purchased the shuttle ticket, and get in the bus (another queue).
Funchal is at its best with the Flower Festival in its full bloom. We enjoy the festivities, munching our pizza in the open air café. After that we try to make it to the cable car station, but the ride costs too much so we decided to let it go. Lucky for us, just in front of the station we met Luis, a young man who is offering a tour of the island. Two hours for 50 euros for the two of us. Sounds good, so off we go, in an open air three wheeler! What a novel experience! We drive through small lanes where no tourist bus can go, and see the real Funchal. After three old towns, the tall statue of Jesus, and the fort, we had enough and Luis sends us back to the ship. Good job, Luis! Search for TUKXI MADEIRA if you want to do this tour.
NCL Epic staff welcome us back at the port by dancing and cold towels and cold drinks. Well done, NCL!
We enjoy all the shows. Legends in Concert (NOT Kathy Pery), Blue Man Group (how did they do it?), the duets, the hypnotician. And the musical entertainment throughout the nights. Good, I must say.
I only hope the entertainment staff can be more professional, and not just simply getting their job done. For example, when a guest ask for a pencil to fill the Sudoku, the staff says rudely (over the mike) : “Wait! I will give to you later.” She may be busy, and it is a fact that she will distribute the pencils and the Sudoku forms later, but can’t she say “please”? And perhaps with a smile?
In between activities, there seems to be haunted silence in the Atrium. Yes, I understand they are preparing for the next thing, but maybe a simple background music can do?
Also the backdrop screen is too glaring. I just don’t understand why they must show a blown up photo of the Twosome Awesome when they are actually performing in person there!
Even the staff dealing with children acts indifference while waiting for the Nickleodeon character to show up on stage. Can’t they play children’s song so the children are not so tense waiting?
Housekeeping staff are better. We always have friendly chats with our cabin attendant, Michael from the Philippines. Even other cabin attendants in neighbouring cabins are also friendly.
Restaurant waiters and managers are friendly, too. We eat at Manhattan, Tastes, O’Sheehan, but mostly in Garden Café and find that the food is good. Somewhat limited in variety, but the taste is good. As vegetarians we cannot find any hot soup available. So we dine twice at Wasabi. That is the only place we can find vegetarian hot soup (mi-so), and some vegetarian sushi (we improvised).
The other specialty restaurant we try is the Italian, La Cucina. It is superb! That’s the culmination of our evenings on Epic.
We met the manager, Yohannes, who insists we try more desserts. We can’t eat it as we are already very full, so we take it to our cabin for later.
We are happy to meet many wonderful CCers at the Meet & Mingle. We are sorry we miss the gift exchange due to time confusion (what can you expect, daily change of time on a crossing).
Lucky we make it to the slot pull. For the first time in my life (never ever been playing in a casino before), I press the button of the machine and people roar! It’s $200 winning! In the end we share and everybody gains $7 each so it was fun. As the biggest winning NCL gave me a bottle of wine. Hehehe…
All in all, we have enjoyed our time on Epic (why not! We are on vacation). However, I also must admit that this ship is just not for me. Others may like her but for me once is enough. So farewell, Epic!