Flew into Miami a day early and stayed at the Loews in South Beach - nice hotel with great access to the beach. Embarcation the next day was painless with the ship looking very impressive indeed!
First stop were the slides and pools - DS had a wonderful time and then we headed for our aft cabin. Wandered through the buffet at Garden Café and it looked excellent - tremendous selection, a huge steamship roast being carved and lots of salads and attractive side dishes. When we got to our cabin it REEKED of smoke. Spoke with the room steward and he said he would take care of it. (Loved the balcony, and as it was on the side of the ship the balcony appeared to be a little larger than our neighbor who had cabins on either side - also enjoyed the use of the aft stairway).
Dinner at Cagney’s that night was a huge disappointment - steaks were just OK, but my wife ordered crab legs and they were terrible. I ordered the apple crisp dessert and it was cold in the center. Returned to cabin - smoke smell still strong. Visited reception desk the next morning and they sent up an ozonator machine which we let run all day. Smoke magnitude had receded but still present. DS went to the kids club and loved it - he would go as often as possible throughout the cruise. Had breakfast in the Garden Café and although crowded found a table fairly easily and no complaints whatsoever about the food what with eggs made to order and a host of other offerings. Shanghai for dinner that night - not really moved one way or the other. The setting was nice but food unremarkable.
Had lunch at O’Sheenahans - fish and chips - food was hot, texture good (crispy fish) but not a whole lot of flavor. We enjoyed the atmosphere at O’Sheenahans - as well as a number of beers that they had on tap - but the sound from the air hockey table became annoying - you could even hear it below on deck 5 when watching the big screen! Dinner that night was La Cucina - appetizer plate was good - everyone enjoyed this and meal and felt it was worth the additional fee. For lunch the next day my wife and I went to Spice H2O where we had surprisingly the best meal of the cruise - Indian chicken Tikka served at their buffet. In fact we found a number of the buffet options to be very good indeed throughout the cruise and in hindsight see no great need to dine at the specialty restaurants as often as we did - we really think that it is not necessary - and we are foodies! Although our second favorite meal was at Moderno which in our opinion was the best value of the “specialty” restaurants - the chicken breast and filet mignon were superb (blew Cagney’s out of the water!). We also enjoyed the Noodle Bar which had 4 fried pot stickers for $2.00 and other noodle dishes. The staff were kind enough to prepare my order on numerous occasions so I could take it away to enjoy onn the balcony.
Cirque - perhaps the highlight show of the cruise. We reserved the premium seating and lined up 45 minutes before the show began. We had great seats, the performers were within arms reach - and DS was spellbound. While some maintain that the seats in the balcony offer a better overall view, I don’t think that would supersede the immediacy and eye contact afforded at the tables on the floor. We also saw Blue Man Group - which was a lot of fun - and Legends. Madonna put out the best performance (in our opinion), Tina Turner very good, and Elvis can go home.
Shore excursions - went to Maho Beach in St Maartan to see the planes land and take off - a great experience! Taxi from cruise terminal was $8.00 per Person. Nassau - went for ½ day at Atlantis - obtained passes through room booked at Comfort Inn, taxi was $4 per person from port.
Cabin was fine - although small, and the much discussed bathroom arrangement was a non-issue for us - in fact we enjoyed the large shower.
This was the perfect cruise for DS because of the slides, water activities and (as he expressed) the wonderful kids club. The downside for my wife and I was the prevalence of smoke. My wife and I are not gamblers, and the casino is vast - in which smoking is of course allowed. The problem for us is that it was not easy to avoid the casino area when walking to restaurants, theaters, shops etc. We accepted the situation for what it is, but with this in mind would probably not cruise the Epic again.