John and I have one holiday a year. We work almost 24/7 for over 50 weeks a year so really treasure our time off. This cruise was a lifelong dream for both of us to sail into New York,the only way to arrive anywhere! New York was 'simply the best' as sung by Tina Turner as part of the 'Legends'. However, some of the cruise could have been better.
We had been awake for over 48 hours as we endured our first long queue at Southampton. We drove overnight to heathrow to leave our car ready for our return home, then made our way to the bus station to reach Southampton. This all went well until we saw the ship and the queue for embarkation. Never mind, nearly on board now .....
After nearly 2 hours we arrived on deck 5. No staff, no idea how to navigate this enormous, stunning ship. Princess always greet you with staff everywhere but not on board NCL. It took us a further hour to find our room, rabbit warren sprung to mind. We had a nice room, huge balcony and unlimited use of some of the Spa,s facilities, which proved a godsend with the bad weather for the next 6 days. We were now quite tired. NO remote for the TV meant we couldn,t access any information. Also no phone handicapped us too. We had a good view of the grotty weather for 2 days on the bridge cam as we were unable to turn the TV off. When the windscreen wiper came on it broke the tedium. I hate lifts so kept very fit walking up and down the stairs. Alot.
We ate in the Taste and Manhatten Restaurants and enjoyed them both. The Buffet was huge and the amount of choice plentiful. We backed off any of the speciality restaurants as they were overpriced and not very original. We never saw the Spegial Tent, booked up and hidden behind closed doors when not in use. Why? We never tried room service. Having endured a really long and freezing winter we chose not to try the ice bar. Going on deck made up for it.
No pools, water slides which were not designed for mere mortals and deck crew in designer Hunter wellies sum up activities on deck. The sports facilities were amazing but not for a ship in the Atlantic weather. The jogging track was not. No chance of fresh air with food vents blowing on you. What a letdown after the Princess ships.
More thought needed to go into the entertainments. Where were the resident ships performers? Why build a theatre so small and have it exclusive to one act? The Blue Man group were very different and good but surely other performers could have used the facilities? Headliners proved interesting if you sat behind a large head but the comedy magician was very entertaining. I found it hard to grasp the idea of a box office on a ship. Usually you just turn up and walk straight in to your chosen show. Ha! Not on the Epic. You just queue......
We did expect some teething problems on a new ship on its maiden voyage. But sometimes it did feel like it needed new dentures. Alot was right but the casino occupying a whole deck in a fog of smoke was not. Staff were never in abundance and the cruise company seemed to want your money and gave little in return. As for disembarkation, the least said the better. Never NCL again.
Sailing into New York was so thrilling and magical.Was expecting more of an occasion being its maiden voyage and arrival. The hype we were given led us to believe there would be all sorts of greetings. Nothing. We could have been on a tug boat. New York was wonderful. I thank the Epic for getting us there and realising my lifelong dream.I thank Virgin airlines for an amazing flight home, first class at economy price. It was all part of the package we booked which to be fair, is why we chose this cruise as it was a good deal. I wish the Epic well in much warmer climates where I think she will be more suited. At least you can top up your tan whilst you queue..............