Before I begin I will say that my wife and I just returned from our Western Caribbean tour on the mighty NCL EPIC. The ship has so many positive things that are truly unique to the Epic that really you cant compare it to other vessels. That said we did have some criticism about some things that the ship just seems to have completely overlooked.
Lets start with the Wonderful:
- Entertainment.... Entertainment...ENTERTAINMENT!!! This ship really has something for everyone. The shows were constant and all on a high level. You almost wish there was more time on the ship simply to see more shows and acts. I think this is where this ship shines (as it was intended). The best way to describe the epic really is Vegas on the open seas. In many ways a Casino on the open seas....but more on that later.
- Cabins....wait whoa...cabins you say? are you crazy? the sink, the bathroom the....yes Cabins folks. Maybe we are in the minority or maybe it was just the interior cabins....but we LOVED them. The space was ergonomic and functional. We were blown away with the storage in the closets. The Bed was very comfortable which my wife (who is 22 weeks pregnant) really appreciated. The Shower was truly full sized and amazing. The only knock and it is a big knock for a lot of folks was the toilet room with frosted glass...yes this was odd. The easy solution was the curtain and faucet running for "noise" Overall we both really liked our cabin and believe complaints should be taken in stride.
- Le Bistro: This deserves its own bullet point. Quite possibly the best Fillet and mushroom soup I have ever had....worth every penny of the up-charge.
Now on to the Good/OK:
- Food In general. yes there are really only four "free" dining options but its really not that bad. They give you a nice sampling of options and we thought the food at Taste/Manhattan room was really pretty good. Is it 5 star dining? no. But it wasn't sub par for typical cruise fare. Some dishes shined and some were just not so bad. Could have eaten here every night and been satisfied.
- If you like casinos....well this one floats. Pretty much the largest in your face you better gamble casino at sea. In fact it would be almost impossible to NOT see a slot machine from any point on the ship. If you like Casinos this is your ship. on the flip side this was actually what a lot of people complained about. All of the public areas basically filtered you through a casino or with a view of a casino. Again this is not an accident and im sure is making NCL a lot of money. didn't bother us but I could see some people being turned off by it.
-Pool deck was nice, large and plenty of lounges. Plently of sun. Much to our relief the pools turned out to be not so bad and see my note about loving waterslides above.
-The shopping is abundant on the 7th floor and has what you would expect of a huge ship. Almost a bit too much....again didnt really bother us or impress us.
Spice H2O.....we dont get it. we didnt get it. and still dont get it. Its an adults only area that isnt adults only. It has an enormous screen that shows pictures of the ocean when the ocean is all around you. The pool or puddle or pond is well....almost unusable. at night it becomes a vibrant club wait...active dance floor....wait....none of these things. its empty but with pretty lights. this area had the potential to be really neat but its just not successful.
In a related note....The "market place" is even more puzzling. Nobody was in it, nobody bought things in it and it just seemed odd.
Flow of the ship. this is something that I just really think NCL dropped the ball on. The ship was clearly designed from the venues/casino out. Everything requires you walk through shops or casinos to get anywhere....wait you say...this makes perfect sense....dollars and sense that is...$$$
Ok ok ok now your thinking...well this guy really didn't like this ship did he....
Honestly like I said folks we had a WONDERFUL time. Freestyle cruising is different, NCL is different, and this is really a ship that fits a lot of that mentality. There were things we loved and there were things we just didnt get...but then again it was a great vacation and a fun new ship. Would I recommend this ship....YES! but to a certain clientèle. if you like to relax with a nice book and coffee well....this might not be your cup, but if you like endless entertainment and vegas style lights and sound....well run to your travel agent because this ship will be your dream come true. Would I sail epic and NCL again....sure! but it wont stop me from enjoying more classical lines as well....