I just returned from the press trip on the Epic out of Miami, we sailed from July 8-10, spending all of our time at sea (we skirted the Western Bahamas).
I am going to recount my opinions of the ship. (I am a radio personality and not a writer so pardon my "loose" writing)
Day 1: July 8th, 2010
Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at terminal B in Miami at 10 am, parked in the garage, went right through security and made our way to check in (since this wasn't a revenue cruise, there was no porter service at the curb). Check in was a breeze too. This was the Epic's first embarkation out of Miami and it looked like they had extra staff on hand to make sure there wasn't any problems. Talking to other folks on the gangway, they agreed that embarkation was a breeze. One thing I liked was the check in agent fully explaining the difference between using your debit vs. credit card and how each one is treated for on board purchases.
We went to our room (9084, balcony stateroom - mid ship- 2 beds and couch) and checked out all the amenities. A couple things threw me off that I have never seen on any prior sailing. There is a key card slot when you walk in to your room, to your immediate right. You have to put your room key in that slot in order to have any power in your room. I guess one of the attempts of going green. Also, there is one plug outlet in your room and its tricky to find. The bathroom layout has been quite controversial as well.
In a nut shell, the toilet, shower and sink were all separated with the option of a privacy curtain. The concept to me is brilliant. To think someone took the time to put thierselves in a passengers shoes speaks numbers to me as a consumer. The sink could have been a little deeper, water tends to splash on the sides a lot. We were joking around on the ship that if you were on the bed closet to the sink you should probably wear a poncho to bed.
The press conference on the ship was next on the agenda, but not much to it. The CEO was there along with the port folks exchanging plaques and certificates. After the conference we had lunch at Cagney's steakhouse (typically a specialty pay restaurant). I have been to Cagney's only once on the NCL Sky and this one blew it away by size and quality. You could cut the filet with a fork and the shrimp for the shrimp cocktail was huge.
After lunch we had the rest of the day to explore the ship til dinner. So we checked out the studio cabins on decks 11/12. There are 128 of these 100 sq ft cabins. The hallways were really cool with lights fading between neon blue and pink, really contemporary.
The cabins were what you would expect if you were traveling alone. It has everything you need for a single person room (double bed, flat screen TV, private bath facilities). Now granted the room isn't huge but your not paying a single supplement fee so you can take it for what its worth. What the room doesn't have the "meet up" area makes up for it. There is an area within the studio cabins for folks to meet up, get a drink, coffee, watch TV and hop on Wi-Fi. When I walked down there, it wasn't packed but probably a handful of people talking and some pecking away on their computers. Also, I took notice to a sign up sheet where single folks can sign up to meet and greet at certain times. It was a really casual and chill atmosphere.
For dinner we did the the Cirque Dreams and Dinner show in the Spegial Theater (there is a fee associated for this venue because its' a speciality restaurant). Talk about an amazing array of Broadway talent! To watch them swing, balance and run around was stunning.
There was a set menu for this restaurant which included a cobb salad, chicken/steak and a choc dessert. I didn't find the food anything to write home about although my table mates (all 10 of them enjoyed it). The show was a little long for my liking, two hours in length. They could have made it a 90 minute show and it would have been just fine. Also, make sure you go to the bathroom before the show. The performers are all over the venue during the show and if you get up you may not be able to come back in or you may have to wait outside til the hallways are clear.
After the dinner show we checked out some of the night life. Howl at the Moon piano bar was a hot spot (right across from the cirque show). Two piano's dueling it out with a drummer behind them. They go back and forth and if they dont know the song, they will give it their best. I wanted to check out all the night life so then I went up a floor to Bliss (disco) that place was packed, drinks flowing, people mingling and great Top 40 music being played. My last club stop for the night was Posh. Posh is a high energy night club on the stern of the ship that is set up to resemble a Miami night club. Cool concept but with the humidity out there, I couildnt take it. If you sweat a lot you may want to head out there very casual (shorts and short sleeve).
Our night wound down around 3 AM with a call to room service for a BLT and a large pizza. Room service took about 30 minutes, typical food.