All in all our experience on the Epic and as a guest in one of the courtyard suites was a very positive experience. While we observe some minor issues that need the attention of NCL, none took away from our positive experience on the Epic. We were a family of 5 that included a grand-parent (the writer), two adult children and girls ages 11 and 9. The makeup of our group of travelers necessarily had impact on our ship activities and opinions expressed. This was a cruise for the kids and as such we catered to their interests.
Courtyard Suite: We were in suite 16010. Being located on the courtyard level offered several advantages not the least of which was having the pool in close proximity to our suite. Almost daily, and regardless of our day activity, the kids found themselves in the pool for a short swim before dinner time or show time. This was a HUGE advantage for us as the children love swimming and the pools on deck 15, while nice, were small and often slightly crowded (depending on time of day) and certainly were not so convenient. It was an easy trip to the coffee station from our suite in the morning as various of us adults awakened and the children were still sleeping in the living room area. We didn't want to be bothered by the butler either. Proximity to the concierge (Maria and Ashuman were excellent), the Courtyard grill and restaurant, sauna and small gym were other advantages. Finally, we were escourted by on of the concierge to the Cirque, BMG and Ledgends shows. We had front row seats for each of those performances as we were allowed to enter the theater just prior to those in line entered. This was a huge 'perq'. We'd highly recommend a Villa Suite located on the Courtyard level.
Issues: The sliding door between the living room and master bedroom would roll open and slam shut as the ship moved. We had to secure it with pillows to keep it from sliding. Three adults and 2 pre-teen children were a "crowd" especially if were were all gathered in the living room area. The round table had to be pushed to the wall to allow room for easy ingress and egress from the suite entry to the couch or master BR. Grandfather slept in the small second BR which was perfect for him. The bed was comfortable enough and the private bath perfect. Only issue was when one lays on the bed and looks up at the TV - the picture washes out and is not visible. The TV is good for listening -- not viewing. The couch converted to a bed is not the greatest for an adult as it is hard. The grandchildren slept there most of the time - but on one night dad slept there as the kids were fussing.
Food: We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants so consider that as your read our thoughts. The food in the Courtyard restaurant was excellent as both presentation and quality was enjoyed. The lunches in the Grill were also excellent (don't miss the shrimp cocktail). We frequented both often. We considered our meals in O'Sheean's and the Manhattan as acceptable but not exceptional. Service was always good and within expectations. The buffet was often the preference of the children especially for breakfast and a couple of times for lunch. There was a wide variety of food and reasonably good quality.
Entertainment: We saw all of the major shows. The general consensus of the 5 of us rated the show preference in this order: Magician/Comedian; Second City; Blue Man Group; Cirque Dreams; Legends; Nickelodeon Slime-time. The degree of difference in preferences is slight as all of the shows were well produced and a whole lot of fun for all. The parents and grandfather loved Slam Adams in Fat Cats and Howl at the Moon performances. Entertainment is one of the reasons to cruise on the Epic.
Kids Club: We signed up on the first day -- never went back as we were too busy doing other things. I'm sure it would have been good as the reception during registration was excellent.
Internet connectivity: It was surprisingly very good. Not like home but clearly adequate for email and web browsing. It worked fine from inside the small BR in the suite.
Shore excursions: We did Benard's Tours in St. Maarten. Excellent for a tour of the island and a 2 hour swim at Orient Beach and viewing the airplanes at Maho. Highly, highly recommend. In St Thomas we did the Sea Blaster snorkeling. It was good, but some of the women helpers on the boat were a bit surly. Snorkeling location was good enough and the ride out and back a lot of fun. Nassau - we used the free buses to and from the port terminal and ship and walked to the straw market where the kids bought some "knockoff" purses and "baked' in the heat! Grandfather joined a friend at Senor' Frogs right next door for beers.