This was our fourth cruise with NCL, but our first time traveling first class. We normally get a cabin with a balcony because after we tried it we prefer it over just a cabin with a view. It is great to sit out and enjoy a drink and a bite to eat almost any time of the day or night.
But when we decided to book on the Epic, we wanted to experience a cruise with all the trimmings,so we upgraded to a courtyard villa and our venture did all that and some! Having read some of the other reviews about the Epic, I wonder if we were on the same ship as the critics who seemed to delight in every mishap or imperfection they experienced. On any ship on any cruise line on any cruise there are going to be pluses and minuses with the mechanics of the ship, the crew and just about anything involved with your experience.
Boarding and disembarking were well orchestrated and very stress free. The only problem we had was that when we upgraded, our key cards wouldn't work although the system knew which cabin we were in. It took only about 20 minutes to correct the problem though.
Our cabin steward Michael was fantastic in making the cabin fresh every time we returned to it. The dining room manager and staff in the Epic lounge were always happy to see us and their service was exemplary and the food plentiful and well prepared. We ate most of our breakfasts there as well as some lunches and dinners, and the food and service always top notch. We tried the noodle bar for a light lunch that proved to be more than that with the portion sizes.. yum. The Irish pub seemed to be busy nearly all the time, and though the food was good, because it is in the atria and casino area tended to be very noisy. La Cucina in the evening is a very romantic dimly lit restaurant just right for that relaxing dinner. Moderno is the Brazilian themed restaurant that is a meat lovers haven. It shares a salad bar with Cagney's on the other side of the room. One thing to remember is that they give you a card with a red and green side for each diner. Just turn the card to red when you don't want them to bring you more meat and turn it back to green when you want more. Cagney's is in a class by itself. I had one of the best surf and turfs I have had on any cruise ship, equaling any land based restaurant. The King Crab legs on the table next to us looked so good and amply portioned that if I had room I would have ordered them too!
The big band playing in the Manhattan Room sounded well polished and played a lot of songs from the 30's and 40's to which many couples were dancing to. I liked most all of the entertainment, especially the Cirque and Blue Man Group. The Legends show was really good too. I was a bit disappointed in the dueling pianos and although the music and humor was OK, I guess it wasn't what I expected but the crowd that was there was really enjoying it.
We pre booked most all of our dining, entertainment and shore excursions before we left (I highly recommend this) and although you could access your schedule on the interactive TV to view and make changes. We did make use of Maria and Florentina, the Concierges for the villas who were most helpful in getting the reservations we wanted and any changes we needed. It was always "let me check this out for you" and "you are all set with your changes"...no problem. Thank you Maria and Florentina!! As far as this aspect of the trip a great experience for the value.