In January of this year my family and I sailed on the Oasis and like that ship our time on the Epic rates as one of our favorite cruises but there are some areas that can be improved on as well.
First the cabin: very spacious and with a lot of storage, more so than any other stateroom we've ever had. We also liked the"wave" design as it was new and different. The problem with the stateroom which really alienated my wife was the bathroom. Everyone complains of the bathrooms in the cabins on this ship; the comedians at Second City even make fun of them in their routine. The doors are transparent and you have no privacy; the sink is outside of the bathroom & has a very small bowl that splashes if you turn the water on beyond a very low level. My wife preferred to use the spa bathroom when open.
The other problem with the spa deluxe was how NCL sold it and what it was. When we booked we were told that A) there would be a wall across from our door to limit accessibility and noise and that we would have 24 hour access to the spa. Well, there is no wall, you get off the elevator and your in the spa, make a turn and your at our cabin. And the 24 hour access? Not even close, instead you get black bracelets that you have to wear after you go to the desk at the spa and trade in your cabin key for spa access. That means the spa is only available when the spa is open and you have to check in & out. Other spa cabin passengers complained they too thought we'd have longer & better access.
The ship itself is very nice & very clean & new. The crew could not be nicer. I'd rate crew performance higher than Oasis. The only cons for the ship is a small pool deck & the need for mid-ship elevators as the set fore & aft get very crowded during the day & night. We had to take elevators going in the opposite direction and take a ride just to get in one. The Oasis with over 2,000 more passengers never felt as crowded.
My last major complaint before we get to the good stuff is the children's area, Recess, & the kid's entertainment. I have a nine year son and he liked going to Recess but it seemed somewhat disorganized. What I had the biggest problem was that unlike every other cruise line we've been on they charge $6.00/hour to watch your child on port days even if your on the ship. Nickel & dime... Also, really, do they need to charge $10 or $15 for the Slime Time Live or the Meet the Nicktoon's characters breakfast? As I said nickel and dime.
Now the good stuff. Starting with the food. Simply put the food on the Epic was the best ever of any cruise we have been on! The buffet was fresh & hot, the meals at Taste was great as well as the Manhattan room which we did feel was a little too noisy; we preferred Taste.
We ate at two speciality restaurants in addition to the Cirque Dreams dinner. One dinner was at Cagney's and was as good as Chops on the Oasis. The other was at Teppanyaki which was incredible. Your meal takes almost two hours and the chef was amazing! He asked me if I liked my fillet Mignon and when I said it was great he cooked me another one! Cirque Dreams you have a limited menu and they feed you Pre-prepared meals and that was the least favorite of our dinners on the cruise.
As for the Ice Bar, do it to say you did it but don't expect much. It is very cold and very, very crowded. It was a let down at $20.
We loved the Blue Man Group and would have seen them again but could not schedule it. Howling at the Moon was okay but it seemed like the two piano players were more busy trying to get tips than performing; my wife & I left early. I'm not a big fan of tribute shows but Legends was very good and I enjoyed it very much. Both the Murder Mystery & Improv show by Second City was fun and both my son & I got picked to participate in the murder mystery show.
That leaves Cirque Dreams. What can I say? Most of my party liked it very much, me not so much. It was too frenzied and parts of it not appropriate for my nine year old. I would not pay to see it again.
No cruise is perfect and when I wrote my review on Oasis at the start of the year I said it was my favorite cruise ever but there were some areas for improvement. The Epic now ties as my favorite cruise but as noted above there are areas they can improve on, starting with those darn bathrooms!
If you asked me which I would pick to recommend, Oasis or Epic, I'd say they both have their pros & cons and you wouldn't go wrong with booking on either one.