We were sadly disappointed in the transatlantic cruise on the Epic which left Southampton on June 24. Embarkation and disembarkation were poorly organized and it took an unprecedented amount of time to board and disembark the Epic. We were not welcomed aboard after standing in line for hours in Southampton and had to find our cabin without any direction from the few staff that were around. We missed the champagne welcome too - something we enjoyed last year on the Pride of America. We had booked and paid NCL for transfers to the airport when we arrived in New York on July 1 but had to find a taxi as we were hours late disembarking and barely made our flight.
The cabin had a few intermittent problems with the phone and television and the sink leaked (this was repaired mid-way through the cruise)but we were a lot better off than many cruisers who encountered more serious problems. We weren't too happy with the arrangement of the toilet, sink and shower being all separate and the sink is way too small. We found it very objectionable that we had to line up (sometimes for more than an hour) to get a seat even for those events for which we had reservations and for some activities that we had paid for in advance. We think the size of the entertainment areas like the Epic Theatre (seats 800) and Spiegel Tent (seats 120) are much too small for the number of passengers on a ship of this size and the reservation system and extra costs added to the bill for entertainment are objectionable.
The lack of comfortable sitting areas, a library and games room are also issues. We were astonished to hear one of the senior entertainment staff unapologetically trying to explain these problems away to passengers who had waited in line and were unable to get into the Spiegel Tent for a performance by the magician by stating that the Epic is an "activity ship" and he didn't expect that people would want to "sit around". What else is there to do on a cruise where the entertainment venues are full, the pool is not available because of weather, other problems or occupied by children and the casino full of smokers so non-smokers or people with health problems can't even venture across that deck?
We were really looking forward to this maiden voyage across the Atlantic and expected a few problems as the Epic is a new ship. The problems that we found didn't relate so much to the fact that the ship is not yet finished (one technician said he would be aboard for another 2 months to finish the work still to be done) but to disorganization, poor planning and lack of attention to customer service by NCL management. We are also concerned about all the 'upcharge' restaurants which outnumber other restaurants available to passengers, the problems with the entertainment reservation system and extra charges for some of the entertainment.
The best parts of the cruise were the events organized by Cruise Critic members, we enjoyed the food and some of the entertainment like the Blue Man Group was fantastic. We will likely take another cruise on NCL as we enjoyed previous NCL cruises but it is highly unlikely we would want to sail again on the Epic.