First sailing of NCL Epic Rotterdam to Southampton
We came back from Epic yesterday afternoon. Rotterdam to Southampton. What a shamble at Rotterdam. We arrived at 10.30pm and only boarded at 1.15pm. People were all over de place, announcements you could not understand. They were asking hundreds of people to seat down on 50 chairs. Girls from NCL based in Dover were on hand to help the very inexperience staff in Rotterdam. Around 12.30, they stopped the checkin. More delay. The were having a meeting about the situation. Finally that made an announcement to inform us the ship was tech and will arrive in Southampton at 5pm instead of 10 am.Passengers were offered to cancel the cruise or stay onboard. A few minutes later boarding started.
The first thing we did was going to the box office to book the show for that night. First we wanted to do Spiegel Tent and after the Blue Man Show. One girl said it was possible to do both while the guy said it was not. It was like yes and no for around 5 minutes. You would imagine they would know. At the end we only booked Blue Man Show and it was great. Good fun. After that debate, we went to the Lido for lunch, the food was excellent and the views from the restaurant were amazing. After lunch we decided to go and see our cabin. The girl at the check in told us we were upgraded and at the end it was the same cabin as we booked.
The cabin was an inside (why pay for balcony on a one night). The cabin was very small ( we later visited a balcony and it was not better) and not practical. When you entered the room, directly on your left you had the toilet with a plastic tinted door and on the right the shower cubical also with tinted plastic door. A bit further down, you had a sink (very small and not deep) with a mini fridge above and the tv near the fridge. Not the best set up if you are 3 in the room or don't know the other person if you are two. The phone only started working on Tuesday morning. Lucky we didn't have an emergency during the night.
After checking the room, we started exploring the ship, the pool deck was very cramp. Not much desk place. The two pools were very small. We went down to explore the ship. Deck 5,6,7 were nice with restaurants, bars and shops. You could see the ship was not finished and some wires were apparent and a lot of workers were working around the passengers. In the evening we decided to go to the Churascaria and it was excellent. Service, staff and food. We could not fault it. The only problem was some staff from Dover and also a table of travel agents being very loud and making very upsetting comments. Lucky no kids where around for the language used.
Before and after diner we spent a bit of time in the Martini bar. The Pianist was excellent. The bar staff had a bit of an attitude in that bar.This was the only place where we found unfriendly staff. During the morning, we had breakfast in the Lido and again the food was nice and tasty. After lunch we wanted to try the slides and jacuzzi and no luck as they were all closed. They only opened at 2pm for a 3 pm arrival. Instead we sat in the sun for a while before going for our duty free tax purchases. And yes they were selling duty free within Europe. We hope HMRC won't find out our big trouble ahead again if they need to pay taxes for all the sales they have done. A few minutes later my partner told me we were approaching Isle of White and I didn't believe it as we had another 5h00 to go before the arrival. When the sentence was finished, the Captain made an announcement and told us we made a very good progress during the night ( the announcement was around 12.00) was would now arrive at 3pm. Amazing he did not know that early to help passengers changing the travel plans.
We decided to have lunch in the Manhattan restaurant. Once again the food and service was excellent. A band was also playing during the lunch. After lunch we all went to the deck and see the arrival of the ship, as it was the first time, the inaugural in Southampton, we were waiting for something exceptional and nothing happened. Maybe NCL was ashamed about the late arrival, or they just did not care. It was like a normal arrival. We were also surprised not to receive a certificate as it was the first sailing for the ship ( non promotional). When we sailed on Independence Of The Seas a few years ago. We all received a certificate with a picture of the ship in a very nice leather folder. We also received a video of the ship. It was great. Here NOTHING. During the cruise, we went to the front desk and asked if this was the inaugural, Maiden voyage, or ... and her answer was I don't know. She also said they haven't decided. Once again what is going on there.
A little after our arrival, they started the disembarkation process and again it was chaos. Normal as nobody knew when to leave the ship. When we left the ship, we were expecting a big welcome in the terminal and again nothing. After this trip, we don't think EPIC made a big entrance like other ships for the Inaugural. Maybe NCL EPIC is a bit shy. What a shame as we were expecting more from this sailing and also by being the first passengers sailing from the ship. It looks like we were more Guinea pigs instead. The ship was just ok and not very well designed. It looks more like a rushed job. (Nothing to compare to Oasis Of The Seas who has got a WOW factor) The food and service were excellent. As we found out a 7 nights cruise onboard NCL can be very expensive as you need to pay a lot for the restaurants. We need to agree they offer for every taste, from French to Japanese.