We were very excited to have the opportunity to go on the Inaugural sailing of the NCL Epic. Because of school, we normally are not available to do a Transatlantic, so we were thrilled about doing this trip in June. We were lucky enough to get a Courtyard Villa that had been cancelled by someone else, so even more excitement at checking out the Courtyard area.
I will start by saying that this was the best assemblage of entertainment talent on any mainstream U. S. cruise ship in modern times. We pre-booked to see the Blue Man group in the Epic Theater, which was very entertaining. My husband had seen them in Las Vegas, but for the rest of us, it was a new experience. I was not sure what to expect, but the comedy and percussion were great! My 17 and 13 year old sons were really laughing hard at the antics of these guys! We also pre-booked the Cirque Dreams Dinner Show. We have seen several Cirque shows and have always been mesmerized and this one did not disappoint. It is a much more intimate venue than you usually get at their shows and you really feel right in the middle of it all. There is a story about a movie production that is comical, but there are also numerous performers doing acrobatic and twirling routines. Very different and enjoyable, although the food itself was not the most delicious thing we ate on board! We attended the opening show for Legends, which currently has an Elvis, a Madonna, and a Tina Turner. All were very good, with the lady who impersonates Madonna being especially saucy and a very good likeness of the Material Girl. The five dancers who performed with all three performers were absolutely incredible. I don't know how they managed to keep up their incredible energy during the entire performance, just beyond belief!
The musical talent was extraordinary from Bernie Martini playing piano in the Shakers Martini Bar to Slam Allen and his blues band in Fat Cats. Bernie Martini is a talented, personable, poised, young man who did standards like Mac the Knife and Unchained Melody, but also performed Elton John (complete with zany glasses) and the Eagles. The bar was packed from 8 - midnight while he played each night. The very talented Ronald Brown played easy listening tunes in the Epic Club during lunch, but we heard him with Slam Allen during a set and he really was unbelievable at playing jazz and blues. This gentleman is an absolute master at the piano and I could only feel sorry for anyone having to play after he finished! Slam Allen is the real deal; he was playing all kinds of blues with his band and having a great time interacting with the audience in this great club that makes you feel like you are in the French Quarter. We spoke with him and found out he is from NY, but he sure sounded like he was from New Orleans! There were two gentlemen performing in the Maltings Bar at various times, both playing guitar who sounded great as well. I did not get their names as I only passed through to go shopping while they were performing.
The water slides were fantastic, although the Transatlantic crossing was a bit chilly to enjoy them. When this ship hits the Caribbean, then the water slides will get a real workout! Although my 13 year old and his friends were undeterred by the chilly temperatures and winds. They would slide and then get in the hot tubs to warm up. I had to try them out on the last two days, even though my DH thought I was crazy. Oh well, I took my robe with me to warm up with afterwards (you won't need to do that in the Caribbean!)
The ice bar was quite an unusual and fun experience. I would book this the first night before it gets filled up, so you can have a good choice of times. You are given a poncho and gloves, so wear warm footwear as there are no boots given. I did not know that ahead of time and was wearing my open-toe espadrilles from dinner--chilly toes by the end of the 45 minutes! While there is a charge for this, it includes 2 vodka-based drinks or 2 non-alcoholic drinks, so it was a really good deal (especially after seeing the price in Copenhagen last year!) The NCL photographer will come take pictures, so if you are worried about your camera lens getting frozen, there is a plan B.
There are many restaurants on board to choose from, so everyone can find a favorite. We love Le Bistro, so we knew we had to dine at the larger one on board the Epic. Everything was delicious, especially my family's favorite: the escargot. There was a new duck dish with duck breast and a big duck leg confit style, yum! We also dined in Cagney's, which had wonderful food, as always. The service there was a little slow, but the Food and Beverage Manager told us he was on top of that with the Maitre'd there, so I fully expect that to be rectified before it hits the Caribbean. The most spectacular idea for dining is the other side of Cagney's called Moderno Churrascuria, which is a Brazilian-style steakhouse. NCL even brought in pasadores from Brazil to bring the skewers of meat around to the tables! You do not order in this restaurant, just belly up to the enormous double-sided salad bar, then flip your card to green so that the pasadores begin bringing skewer after skewer of different kinds of meat. There was garlic beef, chicken wrapped in bacon, chicken legs, fillet, lamb chops, sirloin tip roast, chorizo, and Portuguese sausage. The Italian restaurant was La Cucina and the view of the bow of the ship and the ocean was worth the visit alone. The chopped salad, pizza, and Chicken Parmigiana were scrumptious. We do not normally dine in the Chinese restaurants as we have so many good ones at home, but heard many people saying how much they enjoyed the food.
As we were in a CV, we could dine in the Epic Club for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The breakfast was very relaxing and they still have the fabulous Crab Cakes Benedict! For lunch, there was a great menu including sandwiches, burgers, steak, chicken breast, and pasta. I absolutely adore the Ahi Tuna burger they serve and ate it almost every day it was so fantastic (marinated, with sesame seeds and wasabi shredded veggies and ginger). The mixed berry dessert was served with a perfect almond lace cookie! We only did dinner in there one night, but it was very good. My DH was impressed with the menu and the service was impeccable.
My 13 year old had the greatest time in the Teen Club with Remix, Erin, and the rest of the staff. They had lots of great music, foozball, air hockey, Nintendo Wii and Playstation. They had a Twilight themed dance in the Bliss Ultra Lounge one evening complete with smoke machines, which both of my sons loved. The youngest said it was the best time he had ever had on a cruise, which was high praise as it was his 8th cruise!
We had a great time exploring the Epic with her many restaurants and bars, plus bowling and water slides. I think this fantastic ship has a wonderful future ahead of her!