Background: DH and myself, 40's, 7th cruise, 3rd with NCL. We sailed on August 28th and had a change in itinerary due to Hurricane Earl. NCL called the day before and left a message alerting us that they were monitoring the situation and an itinerary change was possible. No problem with us, gives us an excuse to book another cruise so we can get to St. Thomas!
Ship: Loved the look of the interior spaces. Orientation to the layout of the ship was easy and we found navigating the ship to be a breeze. The dEcor was fantastic. Each venue is decorated to make the space unique to its function. We could always find a quiet nook to sit, enjoy a drink or people watch. TIP: Blue carpeting in the hallways indicate you are on the starboard side of the ship. Orange/Red carpeting indicates the port side.
The casino was definitely a popular place and could get crowded from time to time, but wasn't a huge factor as we walked through it. Also, the smoking in the casino was noticeable at the busiest times, but never offensive to us even though we are both non-smokers. The casino can be avoided if necessary to get to most things.
We also enjoyed the concept of Spice H2O. It was a nice area and people seemed to really enjoy themselves when we were there.
I can't say enough good things when it comes to the Spa area and the staff. We purchased the $199 couples pass to the Hydrotherapy and Thermal Spa area. Best bargain on the ship in my opinion. We used this space every day and it was a quiet retreat to relax. The Fitness Center was quite busy each time we were there. We worked out a few days, but then opted to use the jogging/walking track on Deck 7 to get in a bit of exercise.
Cabin: We liked the layout and dEcor of our balcony cabin. It was on the small side, but we just looked at it as a cozy space and didn't find any major issues with it. The storage space is phenomenal. I am a heavy packer and we had lots of empty spaces left after unpacking. We were in cabin 10254 and had a deeper balcony since we were on the corner of the 'bump out'. The bathroom set-up was a non-issue for us. I would describe our cabin steward as adequate at best. The entire week our door to the toilet area needed to be wiped down from the previous guests, didn't happen. The previous guests (or their child) left 'artwork' on the mirror you could see when the cabin steamed up. It was cute the first time, but after that it just remained evidence that the cabin had not been thoroughly wiped down and cleaned between departing and arriving guests. Yes, he made up the bed and provided clean towels and the obligatory towel animals, but that was about the extent of it. I would also like to add that we are not demanding or high-maintenance guests. My only request for the entire week was an additional pillow. One other note regarding the cabin; we loved the technology available to check our on-line account to track our expenses.
Entertainment: Does not disappoint. We saw Blue Man Group, Howl at the Moon (twice), Slam Allen and Second City. Wonderful, entertaining, best we've ever seen on a cruise ship.
Restaurants: We had dinner at Taste (twice). Our first night was fine and we enjoyed the meal and the service. The food was very good (tilapia was excellent) and we enjoyed our evening in the main dining room. Our second evening was a different experience than the first. We asked for a table for two and were seated at one of those banquet areas with just a small amount of space separating your table from the next. Another couple was seated immediately with us also. The waiter proceeded to take our orders, fill our drinks, and serve our food, etc. in tandem with them. It was as if we were dining with them, and we might as well have been since we were close enough I could have eaten off the ladies plate next to me.
The Garden Cafe offered a large variety of food choices. Of course being a buffet it did get hectic at certain times but you just have to take your time to get through the lines. TIP: If only one side of the buffet is open and you would like quiet seating, go to the opposite side and you can always find a table.
I had looked forward to O'Sheehan's since I first heard about it. I really liked the way the area was set up and the food was really good. I recommend the Tune Melt. The service on the other hand was disappointing. Unless you were buying drinks, the service was really bad. Forget about getting a refill on iced tea. Once when we went to grab a quick snack we had to move three times before anyone would come to the table to wait on us and it was not particularly busy at that point.
La Cucina dining was very enjoyable. The space is small and intimate. We liked the food and the service. I asked our waitress if I could have a smaller version of one of the pastas because I was curious to taste it; no problem at all. I was served my regular entrEe and my other request as well.
Shanghai Noodle Bar was by far my favorite place to dine (three times!!) Everything there is ala carte and very modestly priced. I highly recommend the Vegetable Spring Rolls and the Singapore noodles. You can get a bit of entertainment if you sit around the cook station by watching the chef prepare the orders.
Overall thought: I did mention a few negative things in my review, but none of them played a major impact of our time on the ship. We had a wonderful week onboard the Epic and I wish I was still there! Take my review for what's its worth since everyone's experience will be different. For all the future Epic Cruisers ~ Enjoy all it has to offer.