My family and I just got back from our week long cruise on the Epic leaving from the Port of Civitavecchia. First piece of advice, use Rome's port as your cruise start and finish. The ship picks up passengers in two locations, Rome and Barcelona with about 75% of their cruisers boarding in Barcelona. When you get on in Rome you don't have to do the whole Muster Drill and it is SO fast and easy. Once the ship hits Barcelona the madness begins. Bar tenders are pushing new drinks, the pool is PACKED (first day of Barcelona trip is an at sea) make sure you get your pool seats BEFORE 8:30am. If you want to do any slides or relaxing do it before you hit Barcelona. Don't be scared, its not horrible its just a lot to take in. When boarding in Rome you avoid all this hassle.
The rooms are fine with lots of storage. My husband, Sister and I (all adults) shared one room and it was fine. The balcony's are very nice and the extra storage is helpful. Room was always cleaned in a timely More
manner and the room service hosts were very nice. Don't worry about the rooms. Plus you're hardly in you rooms.
Excursions. Book them through the ship, cheap ass. The ship has the excursions uber organized and will put an info sheet in your room with details on what you will need and where to meet (on the ship) along with times in your room. If the bus is late getting back the ship will wait, it won't for non-ship bookings. Play it safe, you're in another country book through the ship. It is just easier.
The food is good, we aren't foodies but everything was great and there was a huge range of options.
Smoking - wasn't bad. I am rather young (30) and i remember smoking in restaurants. I am not a smoker nor do I like smoking but its manageable and you can avoid the smoke (casino) its not too bad. You will survive.
Book on the 11th floor. Things are either on the 7-5th floors or 15th floor. The elevators are ALWAYS busy so be smart and book between where all the action takes place. Will make the steps not seem so traumatic. Plus you will be eating at a buffet for a week straight, you could use a few steps.
Take binoculars. Water bottle - in Rome there are many public water fountains. You don't want to pay an arm and a leg for a bottle of water. Some cruise excursions include a free bottle, check the details. But regardless take a waterbottle.
Wear running shoes. You won't get a tan line. Plus the boat sets sail at 6pm most nights which means you're back on the boat and by the pool before 5pm which actually leaves plenty of time to get rid of sock tans.
Visit Nice and Eze. Most people overlook this stop. It was by far the best! Everything is closed on Sundays so if you are going to Barcelona on an excursion don't plan on doing any shopping.
Wifi - hard to find. The port of Cannes has wifi so take any items you may want to check your email on to this port. If you book an excursion through the boat you won't need to schedule a time to leave the boat. This is the only stop you have to take a boat to get to shore. Another reason to book through the ship. None of the other ports has wifi and it was VERY hard to find any at shore. So leave your phones behind.
Take small bills/ coins. Places HATE giving you change for 50Euro. Save the headache and take small Euros with you. Also at the end of your trip if you have Euros left over, pay your bill. They charge 10Euro but so will your bank when you return to convert the Euro back into $. We had enough Euro left over to pay our entire bill and saved ourselves the CC bill. There is a $12 service charge per person per day. This is all your tipping and cruise fees. Be prepared.
Don't miss Blue Man, Cirque or Legends. Howl at the Moon is the perfect ending to an evening.
Don't overpack. Have fun and bring a hat and sunscreen! Less