It seems to me that the reviews of this ship are one end of the spectrum or the other. I thought I would add my two cents to the mix..
Background – This was my 27th cruise. 12 have been on NCL, most of the others on RCI, and have done a few on Princess, Carnival and Celebrity as well.
Embarkation: This was a bit slower than we have experienced in the past, but I believe due to the fact that they had a hard time getting the previous week’s guests off the ship! One of the NCL reps told me they were literally calling people by name coming out in their bathing suits. LOL, some people apparently aren’t ready to let it end…
Ship: I loved the colors and the décor as well as the magnificent Swarovski LED chandelier and the shopping area was also one of the best at sea. The pools are small by any standards and the Casino was a problem as it was not in a contained area and the smoke was a serious issue. The smoke was an issue in O’Sheehan’s pub and with the noise from the bowling, air hockey, etc. the NCL Dawn’s Blue Lagoon takes the prize for better venue for 24 hour dining. I appreciate NCL’s innovate and fresh approach on things, but this was one of those “when you’ve got a good thing going, stick with it areas“
Entertainment: This is where this ship shines like a diamond. The Blue Man Group, Legends, Cirque Dinner Theater, Fat Cats Jazz café and the duo group (sorry can’t think of the name right now) with the girl playing the electronic violin and the guy on the keyboards were all exceptional shows. Howl at the Moon was good, but not as good as I had been to on land. The problem with that show in my opinion is they seemed more interested in selling their songs for a buck or two than working to really keep the audience connected and participating. That was a shame, as this has lots of potential to be a great cruise venue.
Food: I have to say that the food on this ship did not disappoint in any way. We ate most very night at the main restaurants, one night at Le Bistro, and one night in the buffet. I had been on an RCI’s Mariner of the Seas in March and I have to say that the food on the Epic was heads and shoulders above the quality I had on that ship. Of course that is not one of their newest ships, so possibly not a completely fair comparison, but I had been on NCL’s Jewel in early February and the food was much better on that ship as well over the food on RCI.
Cabin – I liked the look of the wave staterooms, the lighting (bring a business card or other “dummy” card to keep the lights on), but the functionality of the room was inferior to the design of the rooms on their other ships. I love the bathroom configuration of the Dawn and Jewel class ships and that is still my favorite setup. It was not a problem to have the frosted doors for my husband and myself, but I would never want this room with children in the same cabin (and even anticipating room service delivery was an issue as most modest people would not want to be in either the bathroom or the shower when anyone else enters your cabin). ;) The couch in the room was uncomfortable and I really missed the little “coffee” table that is usually in the balcony staterooms just to set thins on.
Overall: My overall impression of this ship is that I had an absolutely great time. I stayed up late almost every night with shows and the awesome entertainment. I love the innovativeness of NCL and just like with everything else - you win some you lose some. Most of the new things I liked. Would I sail on this ship again? As a matter of fact already booked… doing the Med on her next October. Do I hope that NCL listens to her loyal guests and incorporates the best of the Epic with the best of the other NCL fleet into their two new upcoming builds.. you bet. I think NCL should expand the entertainment of the Epic to the rest of the fleet, keep the bathroom configuration of the Dawn/Jewel class and keep offering the flexibility and freedom that we have come to love with freestyle.