In September 2009 I was excited to book a cruise for my family. I had been cruising with my sister for many years. My husband went on one cruise. I had taken the eldest of my 3 granddaughters with me once. My son, his wife and 4 and 7 year old daughters; my daughter had never cruised. I had 8 booked in 3 staterooms.In January my husband decided not to go. So I moved my daughter and granddaughter into my stateroom. Now we were 7. Arrived in Miami about 12:30PM on Friday July 23. Took a van from MIA to the Bayside Marriott, where we had reservations. The hotel is just completing a multi-million dolllar renovation. We had 2 comfortable rooms on the eleventh floor. The hotel obliged in loaning me a wheelchair. We took a van to the Marketplace to shop and have dinner at Bubba Gumps. One granddaughter is on a gluten free diet. Bubba Gumps has that menu.
Before leaving home I had contacted Family Rentals in Miami to rent a scooter for the cruise. While en route from the hotel, by van, I called the rental company. Upon arrival at Terminal B out luggage was unloaded and put onto carts. As we approached the entrance of the terminal the man was there with my scooter.
Embarkation went smoothly. Before we knew it we were in the Garden Cafe for lunch. The excitement of the little girls was something to behold. The 7 year old returned to the table by herself with a bowl of ice cream and exclaimed"I asked the man for chocolate and strawberry and he "GAVE" it to me". After lunch we explored deck 15. The girls changed to go swimming. Around 2:00PM our rooms were ready. My daughter went to the room ahead of me. As I was parking my scooter in the hallway, she called out to me to hurry in. As I came into the room, the first thing I saw was balloons on the ceiling. Then there it was---my sister, her husband and grandson and my other sister! All standing in my room. I was speechless. I had spoken to each of them from the hotel in the morning. One lives in FL and the other in NM. They told me their "plans" for the weekend and wished me a good trip. What a surprise !There were tears all around. So now we were 11. My sister was in room 11279. My nephew and my other sister each had studio rooms. We proceeded to go there to check out their rooms. WOW what a neat concept! The rooms are compact with all the necessary accouterments and storage galore. One can change the lighting to suit the mood. The studios have their own living room with games, drinks,etc. They are great for single travelers ;without the single supplement.
Later back in our room I was able to unpack. Even with 3 women there was loads of storage space. I travel with multi plugs and a power strip, Which came in handy for our re-chargers and "Girlie" things. The shower is great. And the split of the bathroom worked out well for us. Stored our suitcases under the beds. The lighting was good for us and we did not need a night light. There was light from the telephone and the the power button on the bedside lamps. The beds were very comfortable. Walking in the room was learned after bumping into the rounded edge of the beds. Love the subdued colors and the wave design. There was an outlet in the hallway for me to recharge the scooter. I saw several people on board with scooters and wheelchairs. There are no mid ship elevators. The For and Aft have banks of 8 elevators and there was never a problem.
Surprise number 2. In honor of my husband (not present) and my anniversary our son had spent over 70 hours working to make a DVD presentation with slides and Music. Only to find out that our staterooms didn't have a DVD player.He made arrangements with the front desk for us to have a private room with a DVD player. When I arrived at the designated area, all my family was there, I was made to sit down. The lights were dimmed and the show began. It was so well done and moving. There was not a dry eye in the room when the lights came on again. A big thanks to the staff for that consideration and help in setting it up for us.
That evening we had dinner at Taste on Deck 5. The dining room staff was most considerate for my granddaughters gluten free diet. Mohammad Hasan the executive chef took very good care of us.
Sunday, the second day was a sea day. We all went our separate ways during the day. My sister went to book some shore excursions, as she had only decided on the Wednesday prior to sailing "That I can't miss this Epic adventure". I went to Bingo, my thing on sea days. My sister joined me later to report, she was late as the machine that she was using to book her tours "ate" her room card and she had to go have another one made.
Surprise number 3. There was a drawing during the bingo session and I won FREE BINGO for the rest of the cruise!! What a treat for me.
Later in the afternoon my sister was in her cabin. She checked her on line account to see if the excursions that she booked had gone through. To her surprise she found charges to her account that she had not made. She went to the front desk to point out the errors. Then ensued a whole investigation.Just the month before we were in Las Vegas and she had her purse stolen. What is this black cloud following her? Meanwhile, some of us went that evening to see The Blue Man group. Truth be told, the show has been around for awhile. I had no real desire to see it, but went along for the family. Well, boy oh boy shut my mouth They were really great. I definitely would go again. We all enjoyed it.
Later that evening the charges were mounting on my sisters account. Seems the card went into the machine, then later came out. My son found one that it had happened to and he returned it to the front desk. Unlike the persons that found my sister's. Staff realizing this is what happened changed her room. My son went to help her move. My sister was very upset. I gave Klaus Lugmaier ,the fleet hotel director's number to my daughter and she called him.
Bad weather prevented the ship from making port in Costa Maya. My son and nephew were disappointed that they were not able to go on their ATV adventure. My sister missed her trip to the ruins. Later that morning my sister had a meeting with Klaus, Simon and Sean. They were very professional in their handling of her situation and made every effort to settle it to her satisfaction. She quipped to them that we put "Fun "in the word"Dysfunctional"! She was so pleased with their treatment toward her she will recommend the cruise to all and can't wait to return to the Epic again.
Monday evening 7 of us went to Cirque Dreams/Dinner show. We had premium seating on the main floor. However, our seats were such that we had to turn to see the performance floor while trying to eat our dinner. The young children enjoyed the acrobats and didn't "Get" the spoken parts of the dhow. The fillet and chicken dinner was very good, as was the dessert. Costumes were fabulous. Next time though I would prefer the upper level seating.
After the show my daughter experienced an adverse reaction to a newly prescribed medication. I was summoned to our stateroom. There was a whole assembly of officers and doctors in the hallway. My daughter was taken one floor down to the Medical facility. I am so grateful to Dr. Maryke Loubser, nurses Lisa and Sidney. Captains Vorren and Svedung, our room attendant, Marissa and all who attended to her. They eased the pain of this difficult moment. Their kindnesses will never be forgotten. Another reason that my whole family is now loyal to NCL. And making plans to sail again on the Epic.
Other than these eventful days. The beach at Roatan was marvelous. Those that went to Tulum, I have been there before, enjoyed it and thought it was worth the journey. My son, his wife and my eldest granddaughter went to the Swim and Ride with the Dolphins in Cozumel. That was the highlight of their trip! While my sister and nephew were in Tulum, my other sister, her husband, my son, daughter -in-law and I went into the duty free shopping and took a taxi to Poncho's Backyard. Our favorite watering spot. More for the sedate crowd. Less noise than Carlos and Charleys and Senor Frog. That evening we had a top notch dinner at Cagney's Steakhouse on board. All the restaurants we went to were very good. Went to Noodles several times, everyday went to O'Sheehans, Teppanyaki, Shanghai. We liked Taste. The Garden Cafe. The youngsters liked breakfast with Nickelodeon. Twenty restaurants too few days.
There was so much to do. The shows Cirque Dreams, Blue Man Group, Legends, Second City, Howl at the Moon,Fat Cats jazz, the cruise staff shows. Time and space don't permit all the good things I could say about this EPIC ship her beauty, her staff, the food and entertainment. Did I mention the bowling, rock climbing, Water park with huge slides, ice skating, ice bar(only one at sea),Kid's programs and teen encounters, slot machines, game tables. Whew! With all this activity and more it is no wonder we slept so well. With the exception of the aforementioned incidents, we all enjoyed every minute.
For someone like myself with limited mobility a scooter rental was the answer. I was able to enjoy the ports and shipboard activities. Believe me it's a Big Boat! The staff at the Garden Cafe assisted me with taking my food to the table. Everyone was so friendly and helpful.
Disembarkation was about the easiest that I have experienced. Considering the amount of passengers. The rental representative was outside the terminal, I didn't have to call them. He accompanied us until we got a van to take us to the airport. On the way to the airport, I realized I left my passport in the basket of the scooter. I turned on my cell phone and called the company. They knew my error and were trying to reach me. I had other ID and didn't need it for the return flight. The company returned it to me by priority mail.
My sister and her husband drove my other sister to the Airport in West Palm Beach, after lunch along the way. They then drove an hour to their home. They were home about 2 hours when my sister called them to say her flight was cancelled and she would be flying out the next day! My niece went to the airport and brought her back to my sisters. If we didn't laugh, we'd cry. We are the FUN in dysfunctional.