It's all in the name EPIC and it certainly did not disappoint. From escalators to aquapark fumes NCL have obviously pushed the boat out to make sure this is one of the most innovative cruise ships at sea today. From first capturing sight of the 150,000+ tonne modern marvel from our coach transfer it certainly had presence towering in the Southampton skyline. The exterior of the ship does look slightly odd with the villas and courtyard area peaking on the 15th deck making it appear top heavy but with the bright, modern yet tasteful livery on the ships bow there was no doubt this was going to be a spectacular ship.
Entering on deck 5 the ship immediately showed it cards with stunning interior with fresh design, dazzling lighting and friendly staff. Making our way on the lift area and in a slight daze attempting to capture it all. Next stop was deck 13 to take our place in our balcony cabin. The room on first appearance seemed 'cosy' but still very liveable, the room was slightly tight for space but end of the day you don't come on a cruise holiday to spend much time in your cabin and with the bonus of a balcony we did have that additional space for relaxing when required - it's an upgrade I would definately recommend. The furniture and fittings were to a high standard as expected and comes fitted with a flat screen TV. The bathroom setup again was different from the norm but that's what NCL seem to do best, all the amenities were open plan with a curtain to cover up when required. The curved panels, rounded sofa and dark wood made it a nice place to be an we immediately settled in and felt at home. With it being a launch cruise we had the bonus opportunity to view the various cabin types (inside, outside, balcony etc) and was impressed with all types, the single cabin being a great option for those who like to holiday in perfect peace with a great living area without the dreaded single supplements. The penthouse cabins were breathtaking with your own personal jacuzzi bath and very contemporary interiors - if it was a special occasion would I spend the extra - definately!
You really are spoilt for choice of NCL's latest creation - 21 dining options for starters then numerous bars, clubs and another cruise first from Norwegian Cruise Line - an ice bar at sea! A large Casino, aquapark with flumes, bungee trampoline, sports court, climbing wall, beautiful spa retreat, top of the range gymnasium - this ground breaking ship has something for everyone and can see the ship appealing to all ages. The Freestyle Dining was a great revolution to the cruise market when NCL brought this in several years ago meaning you can dining when and where and this ship is no different just with more choice than ever before. I had the feeling these bigger ships would have more queues for food and drink but with bigger ships there are more restaurants, bar and staff meaning you still get the personal touch as you expect on a cruise.
Staff throughout the cruise were exceptional from room attendants, bar staff, restaurant, entertainment nothing was too much trouble and always keen to have a conversation and a smile making the trip very relaxed. NCL not only spent a lot of money and time on this ship but spent a lot of time planning the launch and apart from mechanical problems on the journey from Rotterdam to Southampton done a terrific job pulling out all the stops making sure the media and travel agents were going to give the Epic a 5 star review. I personally hardly heard a complaint or moan throughout the 3 days and all 12 members of staff from Stewart Travel had a great time onboard and I have already been checking out prices for 2011 when the NCL Epic comes back to the UK to sail Western Med itineraries from May until October.