We are lovers of the freestyle cruising that NCL offers and could not wait to get on this new, big ship. We had cruised in March and heard so much hype about what a fantastic ship the Epic would be. What a disappointment! The design of this ship is a mess.
The rooms are very tiny and so unbelievably nonfunctional it would be laughable except you are stuck there for the duration of your trip. You must orchestrate your movements with your spouse/roommate because two people cannot pass in the room. The sink is elevated and shallow and water splashes everywhere. We did not like the glass walled toilet. There is NO privacy. The bed and the sofa were on the curve and looked lovely but both were uncomfortable. The sofa was mostly good for storage. Postiives: The shower was roomy and worked well. The balcony was large and enjoyable. Storage was adequate. Our steward was outstanding.
All the Epic traffic is routed through the casino. It is filled with cigarette smoke and has narrow walkways due to the slot machines that run down the middle and on the sides. There is a mass of people trying to get to the main dining room,the casual pub, the Shangai restaurant, the Blues Club, the shows etc. It is overcrowded and difficult to traverse. People waiting on the shows view the casino bar as a smoking area and stop there just to smoke. If you are at the bar having a drink or playing the bar top machines you are subjected to constant cigarette smoke. It is miserable. If you are just walking through you WILL be exposed to excessive amounts of smoke.
The very lovely martini bar is on the floor above the casino. It is close to the Ice Bar. A nice tranquil spot. View is of the life boats and shuffleboard deck. What a missed opportunity to harmonize a vista of the sea and a quiet nook amidst the stampede of traffic one deck down.
Looking for the promenade deck? Doesn't exist. There is a miniscule outdoor jogging track that is barely wide enough for two people abreast with an outstanding view of the lifeboats and the wonderful aroma of exhaust fans from the galley. It is pitiful. What in the world were they thinking?
The top deck is given over to the waterpark. This is supposed to be your open space. We tried to use it for walking but it was perpetually awash in water, excited running children and people jockeying for chairs. Early in the AM it was being cleaned so again you sloshed through water. It was wonderful for the kids but an absolute bust for adults. The very small adults only area was not monitored and children were present.
Food was mediocre and the restaurants left much to be desired. Service mentality among the staff was below the usual for NCL. The 24 hr restaurant is the OSheehan's Pub. It is dark and bordered by the bowling alley in the main seating area. Noisy does not begin to describe it. On the opposite side of the room there is a rare glimpsing of the sea where the bar is located and the pool tables. In the back of this area are the restrooms. You must ask the pool players to let you pass to get through to the ladies room. It is simply incomprehensible why this area is laid out as it is. The pool tables and the bowling area need to be together and the main dining area needs the room with a view. Did anyone walk this ship and try the amenities before sending it on its maiden voyage? Public restrooms are nearly nonexistent. There are NONE in the casino area. You must walk all the way back out to the Manhattan Dining Room. It is utterly ridiculous that on a ship this large there are so few restrooms and so little opportunity to walk outside and enjoy the sea breeze.
Spa was nice and had ample space. Exercise facilities were good but small in comparison to the size of the ship and the number of passengers. It was jam packed in the AM hours and you definitely had to wait. Afternoon hours were less crowded.
We will definitely not cruise on the Epic again. We experienced continual problems with the toilet and were unable to use it on and off across the trip. We were told it was due to someone somewhere on the ship flushing an inappropriate item but this story got old after the fourth day. The truth of the matter was that an entire floor was having an issue with the toilets. This was simultaneous with the water that flowed down the light fixtures into the casino. Something was really wrong and they were having a hard time getting it fixed. Needless to say, not being able to flush a toilet is just NOT what you expect from a new cruise ship. It was an uncomfortable trip on an ill designed ship. Give me the Pearl anyday.