Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by lusitanica: Norwegian Epic - The Biggest Gimmick at Sea
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Norwegian Epic - The Biggest Gimmick at Sea
This review is about a cruise ship. This is not about someone having fun or someone not having fun. This is about the ship. This is about how it looks and how it works. It comprises objective facts and subjective impressions. A cruise is what you make of it. This mantra is being repeated over and over. May be we should stop reading reviews then? People have fun on every cruise ship. But everyone makes fun his/her own way. And cruise ships are different. That is why we read Cruise Critic. This review is about the Norwegian Epic. It is entirely up to you whether to have fun here, there or elsewhere.
Hilton Miami Downtown. A nice hotel with spacious rooms. Beds are very comfortable. Close to cruise port. Continental breakfast $10. Full breakfast $20. Some rooms provide good views of cruise ships.
Other convenient hotels in this area: Biscayne Bay Marriott Hotel and Marina (some rooms provide good views of the ships) More Intercontinental Miami Holiday Inn Port of Miami Downtown
CVS Pharmacy is on Biscayne Blvd one block from Holiday Inn (bottled water, lotions, soap, etc.)
Uneventful. Quick and easy. Room ready by 2 pm.
Norwegian Epic Design (public areas)
Generally speaking, Epic is a huge "sandwich" made of three main public decks (Decks 5-6-7), seven "hotel" decks (Decks 8-14), and Deck 15 (pools and Ã la Lido deck buffet). There is also a "hidden deck" which is never mentioned in booklets. We'll talk about that mysterious deck later.
The good. Interiors look new and clean. DEcor? Hmm.. Just plain. Moderate. Nothing distinctive. Unfortunately, nothing nautical.
The bad. The first impression: no Wow factor at all. It's very unusual for such a big ship. Boarding the ship you step into... the casino! Strange. No one said "Hello". Strange. Which way to go? As many Cruise Critic members might know, I am not a person that needs help finding directions on Epic... No problem then.
Epic, Epic... There are no vast spaces, no significant atriums, no glass elevators inside the ship... On the contrary, the main public areas (Decks 5, 6, 7) have low ceilings (I am not tall but I could touch them!), narrow passages, minimum to no access to natural light and sea views. It looks like designers deliberately wanted to separate sea travelers from the sea. Public interiors looks closed in. They lack air. Don't look at the sea, look at the casino and bars?
There is an impression of being somewhere in the underground station full of vending facilities or in the basement of a busy hotel at best.
Public decks are opened up to the height of two decks in a few places. Small open areas slightly alleviate claustrophobic effect, but make passages even narrower.
Technically speaking, Epic designers followed axial design for public decks that was necessary for the ship of this size. But the implementation of the axial planning is quite strange. In fact, they neglected it. The main central "avenues" are crooked and narrow. In some places the major (and the only on the deck) passageways are... about 10 feet narrow. That is on a ship for 4100 passengers (double occupancy) or ~5000 (max)!
The casino seems endless. It takes a huge part of the Deck 6 and located... right in the central (and the only) passageway. It seems that they want us to go through the casino all the time. They send us a message to understand what this ship is about first of all. Can you see children in the casino? Yes, you can. Other venues like bars, kiosks, shopping isles are right in the passageway as well.
There is a lot of smoking in the casino. Smoke comes up through "anti-claustrophobic" openings and a small atrium (with a big chandelier) to Deck 7. You can feel "old" smell if you go through the casino in the morning.
How to avoid the casino smell? It's unavoidable within public Decks 5,6,7. The casino is on Deck 6. The smell comes up through open areas to Deck 7. Deck 5 passage is short. It ends up right under EPICenter of the casino. The way through outside corridors of Deck 7 (boat deck) is not perfect (explained further below). The only way to effectively avoid the casino is to go up to one of "hotel" decks and walk all the way down to the second bank of elevators/staircases.
Public decks are busy and noisy. Please watch the video. I went all way long through public Decks 5, 6 and 7 with a camcorder trying to find a "quiet air-conditioned place" (as was asked by a CC member once). What time of the day was that? Definitely not the "prime time". Watch the video, listen to the Epic... (links below).
The only public place that provides some room is a hall between Customer Service and Excursions Desk on Deck 5 (near the big screen). But it is under "press" of the low ceiling...
Another flaw of Epic design: banks of elevators. There are only 2 of them. No elevators in the middle. It means long journey along the huge ship and long waiting for the elevators. Note that the earlier reviews of the Epic were related to the period of time when the ship was not ready to carry the full amount of passengers. But now... ~ 4700 PAX on board!
For comparison the QM2, the same size ship, has 4 banks of elevators. A smaller Princess ships have 3 banks of elevators...
Open decks Epic has no promenade deck, no observation deck. A concept "a ship without the sea" works here as well. The corridors that give access to lifeboats on Deck 7 ("jogging track") cannot be considered as promenade decks. Both sides of the sun deck provide some views, but they are congested with chairs that hold our sweaty bodies under Caribbean sun.
There is no place to walk outside and enjoy sea breeze on Epic.
The posh superstructure (the infamous "storage container" on top of the ship) takes up a huge part of the upper surface of the ship. What a waste of space! Other massive objects on the upper deck are engines uptakes, water slides (great fun for kids, long lines) and the structure that holds some sports facilities.
The rest of the space belongs to the pool deck itself. Pools are tiny and full of people.
On Epic sun deck you are exposed to two extremes: either sun or shade. There is nothing like solariums or the Sanctuary that can be found on Royal Caribbean or Princess ships. There are no covered pools. Epic offers limited choice in that department.
A part of the roof of the posh superstructure (Deck 18) is open to the public. It is hot like a pan, far from pools, but much less crowded. There is a shower there.
The "Hidden Deck" There is extra space between Deck 7 and Deck 8. The height of this space is comparable to the height of regular decks on Epic. It's virtually an extra deck. It houses ventilation mechanisms and probably sewage equipment. Ventilation fans fill the open sides of Deck 7 (where lifeboats and "jogging/walking tracks" are) with noise, smoke, stench and whatever else the ventilation system is trying to get rid of.
Oasis of the Epic This is a tiny and the only corner of Epic public areas where you can leave a noisy floating "Hotel&Casino" behind and suddenly find yourself on a ship at sea. Oasis of the Epic... Watch the video.
Norwegian Epic Balcony Cabins
That's another Epic gimmick. Standard balcony staterooms represent the quality of accommodation that a cruise ship provides. That is the face of the ship the majority of cruisers are going to see.
To say that a standard balcony stateroom on Epic is small is to say nothing. It looks like a narrow curved passage from the entrance door to the balcony door with a bed that happened to be in the way.
A standard balcony cabin is ~160 sq. ft. A typical balcony is ~ 56 sq. ft. The size and the shape of balconies may vary depending on the cabin location. The passage between the bed and the sink is ~ 16". You can touch opposite walls (cabinets and walls, to be precise) easily with your hands. The sofa is stone hard, curved along the curved wall (inconvenient for sitting) and useless. When converted for sleeping, the sofa takes up practically the whole available space. It blocks the access to the balcony and cabinets.
Beds? Epic short bed with rounded corners is a joke after that one at Hilton. The available length of the bed is 72" in a standard position (the mattress is 75"). Hilton's bed was 79" long.
A coffee table? No. There is no room for a coffee table in Epic cabins.
There are clocks on the phone screen and on TV channels. Be prepared to see discrepancy between them. The phone screen is too bright and has to be turned off for night. Reading lamps buttons are bright enough to be used as a nightlight.
Another major "feature" of Epic cabins are split bathroom facilities. Instead of proper bathrooms with solid doors, Epic cabins are fitted with separate toilet and shower cubicles with half-transparent sliding glass doors. There are dispensers with liquid soap and shampoo in the shower cubicle. No lotion, no conditioner.
And where is the sink? It's ... in the "bedroom". There are two separate problems with the sink: 1. Sink design issue 2. Sink location issue
Sink design issue. Water splashes out of the sink when you turn the faucet on. It's ridiculous but it's not the major issue - just turn the faucet on gently. You can wash your hands there. But if you try to wash your face, water splashes everywhere around.
Sink location issue. A sink has to be next to the toilet so that a person can complete necessary private hygiene procedures without leaving the toilet cubicle. In Epic standard balcony cabin a person will have to leave the toilet cubicle and cross the bedroom to reach the sink.
Epic cabins design looks contemporary, but it's not functional. A person in the toilet or shower cubicle is pretty well visible from outside.
Glass screen doors are not soundproof. Whatever happens behind the glass screen is well audible in the room. The toilet flush is very loud. It will wake up everyone in the room at night. Available curtain provides no help. The distance between the bed and the toilet glass door is about 10". The distance between the bed and the toilet bowl is about 32".
After taking shower the person will step on a towel right in front of the entrance door (the dirtiest part of the cabin).
The entrance in fact becomes a part of the "bathroom".
No one can enter or leave the cabin when such a "bathroom" is in use.
If you have a visitor, no one can use the toilet.
After all, this cabin is not a regular "stateroom". This is in fact a STUDIO cabin. It's technically a studio because all separated facilities open in the same small space. Wouldn't it be fair to advertise this as a balcony studio and price it accordingly?
Depending on what place the bed "protrudes" into the adjacent cabin, there are two variations of the design: with the bed closer to the entrance door and with the bed closer to the balcony door. Both have their pros and cons. The second variation leaves some more room near the entrance and the sink. At the same time the sofa in "sleeping position" will block access to the toilet and the sink same way as "balcony sofa" blocked the balcony and cabinets.
Standard Precautions Hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections. By Epic cabin design, passengers leave toilet before washing their hands. Bring your own sanitizer and take a minute to clean all handles in the cabin.
The cabin has no sufficient light. Even with all lights on (including that one over the sink) it's still too dim for doing makeup or shaving. Lamps by the bed are convenient for reading though.
Why are Epic cabins narrower than "normal"? Because designers of Epic decided to fit more cabins in the "normal" volume. More cabins means more passengers. More passengers means more revenue.
Why are walls waved? Because the minimal "critical width" of the cabin is the length of the bed plus the width of the passage between the bed and the opposite wall. If you squeeze the cabin further, the bed will protrude through the wall of the adjacent cabin. This is exactly what was done. But the walls were not broken. They became "wavy" to outline the "protruded" beds.
Why are toilet, shower and sink separated? Because the cabins are so small and waved that there is simply no space for a proper bathroom.
That is what is behind "A New Wave of completely unique accomodations" gimmick.
This design would be OK for a camping, for student hostels but not for a $2000 balcony stateroom on a modern cruise ship.
Who is this cabin for? 1. This standard balcony studio (standard balcony stateroom in NCL semantics) is very good (with the exception for the sink) for a solo cruiser. It provides reasonably comfortable space and amenities for a single person. 2. It's small for two people, but may be still OK for a couple (assuming lack of privacy is not an issue for couples). 3. Three persons in this cabin would have much inconvenience. 4. This cabin design is a deal breaker if co-travelers need comfort and privacy.
Note that there is no space in the cabin to separate two halves of the bed. A few inches gap can imitate separation but will not make practical sense.
What cabins on Epic should not be booked?
It's better to avoid Deck 8. The majority of Deck 8 balconies are partially obstructed with lifeboats. Lifeboats spoil the view and radiate heat. There are many uncovered balconies on the Deck 8. And moreover, the "hidden" technical deck with ventilation fans is located right below Deck 8.
Insist on a discount if you are offered a balcony cabin on Deck 8. Make sure your balcony is covered.
Deck 9 is the second closest to Deck 7 (boat deck). A significant number of cabins on Deck 9 have uncovered balconies. Whatever can be dropped from above will be found in your open balcony. Additionally, cleaning solution drops down onto open balconies when the crew is washing the ship from outside.
Deck 9 balconies are less affected by the presence of lifeboats, but they still block a good part of the view. Plan your cabin location beginning with Deck 10 and up if you want to have peace of mind on your vacation. Epic design is very confusing. Be extremely accurate choosing a cabin on Epic.
Epic at sea
The weather was fine and the sea was flat or almost flat during the cruise. There was no chance to see how Epic handles the sea.
Norwegian Epic Design Summary
Lack of connection to the sea Closed in spaces with low ceilings Insufficient space on open decks "Bottle necks" in public areas Just two elevator banks Confusing layout Balcony cabins are below industry standards of comfort Many uncovered balconies Lifeboats spoil the views Ventilation fans under Deck 8 No choice of open deck vs solarium, open pool vs covered pool One of the industry worst tonnage/passengers ratio
Before we go to dining chapter, a preliminary note about "freestyle" cruising on Epic. Preparations for a cruise have never been so involved. Epic requires mandatory reservation of potentially interesting dining and entertainment venues. It has to be done online 45 days in advance.
Planning of what and when you are going to do and what and when you are going to eat in 45 days has little in common with spontaneity of free-style cruising.
Norwegian Epic Dining
It's interesting to experience "official" freestyle dining for the first time. Especially considering that during my previous cruise on a "non-freestyle" ship I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted and where I wanted and (unfortunately) gained some weight.
First of all, the list of Epic restaurants needs some clarification. The official dining gimmick sounds like: "Experience more than 20 extraordinary culinary dining options".
Facts first. Let's see what we have here. Of course, I exclude separated posh eateries and such "restaurants" and "extraordinary culinary options" like pizza delivery... We have 12 restaurants/cafes suitable for dinner or at least for any substantial evening meal.
Now personal preferences that can be subjective. I like good Japanese food. But the menus and the look of Asian-style eateries resembled those venues I had been sick and tired of in my local city. Same about "Italian" La Cucina on Deck 14 forward (access via general buffet on Deck 15).
Tastes differ, but Taste and The Manhattan Room offer the same menu. They are essentially two "rooms" of the same restaurant that is called MDR (main dining room).
Finally we selected 6 eateries of practical interest.
1. MDR (included in the price of the cruise) 2. General buffet (included) on deck 15 ("Garden Cafe") 3. Cagney's (extra charge) on Deck 7 4. Moderno (extra charge) on deck 7 5. Le Bistro (extra charge) on deck 5 6. Casual pub ("O'Sheehan's") on Deck 6 (included)
1. Main dining rooms. Same menu every day with little daily variations. Food is mediocre. The only thing to mention was lobster night. Other than that - level of a cheap buffet with added waiter service. Tried both Manhattan and Taste. Manhattan room - come early to avoid lines, noise and get good seats. This ship is sealed like a can of sardines. Take this rare (on Epic) opportunity to see the wake. Sit at the aft facing window, order something and enjoy the view over the conversation. Then go somewhere else to find something to eat. Taste - located on Deck 5. Note that public Deck 5 is much shorter than Decks 6 and 7. It does not go all the way to the stern. Taste is where Deck 5 ends (for the public). Did not like it at all. Especially the part that is under the opening to Decks 6 and 7 (the one with the chandelier). This part looks like a railway station eatery. Anything dropped from above can be on your plate.
2. General buffet on Deck 15 offers good selection for breakfast. Some reports say that the casual pub is a better place for breakfast. It depends. The selection of food in the buffet is incomparably better than that in the pub. You can admire good views (only through the tinted glass)... if you get a window seat and avoid crowds.
For some unknown reason, even on a "freestyle" ship, people prefer to have breakfast at breakfast time, have lunch at lunchtime, and have dinner at dinner time.
The buffet is a nightmare at breakfast time. The crowd is overwhelming and noisy. The positive impression from the good breakfast food in the buffet is spoiled by the presence of the huge crowd. A separate table? At the window? Smile!
There are no trays in the buffet. Plates only. That means extra trips to the food stations. That means even more crowds. People are trying to load more food on the plates - everything drops on the floor.
Thanks god, very few people (so far) know about the presence of the extra charge restaurant La Cucina below the buffet. La Cucina is empty in the morning and can be used as a moderately quiet extention to the buffet for breakfast - in my opinion, the best use of this venue. Views from here are not as good as from the buffet because of massive window frames (they seem to have structural function here). Grab your breakfast plate and go to La Cucina one deck below. But if you forget something or want some more food ... long journey upstairs to join the crowd. Fortunately, orange juice, coffee, tea, milk, some bakery products are available in La Cucina (not for a long time). No butter, no marmalade though. Juices are included in the price for breakfast time.
For lunch and dinner time the buffet becomes an average $10 country buffet you can see in your local city. Juices are available for extra charge only. Why?.. Desserts are cheap, primitive, and tasteless. The only exception is for scones with cream. That is good. The cream does not taste like real clotted cream, but it's a sort of whipped cream. For unknown reason such a treat is available from the buffet counter that faces hot pool deck (!?) The bowl of whipped cream is standing on the counter in the tropical heat!
3. Cagney's steakhouse. Extra charge. If you like meats, skip Cagney's and go to Moderno (same place, same entrance on aft Deck 7).
4. Moderno. Extra charge. Don't eat everything at Moderno. Save your appetite for Rib Lamb Chops and Fillet Mignon. If you are full, take a break and have some cheese from their buffet. Your appetite will return.
5. Le Bistro. This place has a touch of class (that the ship lacks). Extra charge.
6. Casual pub. Included. It's adjacent to the "atrium". What they call "atrium" is not that place with the big chandelier (in the EPICenter of the casino). The "official" atrium is where the big screen is located. This "atrium" is open to Decks 5 and 6 only. Deck 5 hosts Customer service desks. Deck 6 hosts the casual pub.
The casual pub offers breakfast (did not try because the selection of food in the buffet was much better). For the rest of the day they offer typical pub fare and junk food. Tried chicken wings (inedible) and Fish and Chips (awful, greasy). Perhaps that was not the best choice or the best day, but we did not go further. I liked the way they served tea with Chocolate Brownie Sundae or Warm Apple Crumble (not a real apple pie and custard, but something in that direction). This place is very noisy. It's a cacophony of everything that is nearby. But people tend to gather here. I see some reasons for that. This is one of three "included" restaurants/cafes (MDR and the buffet are other two). This pub is located closer to the middle of Deck 6. The big screen attracts attention. Probably the most pleasant of Epic music performers are seen here (below on Deck 5 actually). Bowling lanes border the pub. In addition to MDR at the stern, this pub is the only eatery for all three main "public decks" of the ship that does not require cover charge.
Mediocrity of "included" food encourages guests to go to extra charge venues. If you are intended to have "freestyle" dining on Epic, be prepared to spend extra ~$100 per person. Just add it to the price of 7-night cruise when you plan your trip.
In general, crew members were friendly and polite. Strangely, some waiters were not trained to know if you have finished your meal. In a paid restaurant the waiter tried to take our plates twice although it was clearly indicated that the course was not finished.
Have I gained weight this time? This is the first time I lost some weight cruising.... This is not bad, by the way! Funny.
Norwegian Epic Dining Summary Food included in price is mediocre. Lines in MDR - "freestyle" cruisers like to eat when all people like to eat. If you want to enjoy "freestyle" cruise you have to go "FEEstyle" in extra charge dining venues. And it's questionable if all of them are worth extra charge. General buffet offers good selection for breakfast, but crowds are huge. Come early.
Norwegian Epic Entertainment
The official gimmick sounds like: "The best entertainment at sea with Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams & Dinner..."
Epic has a theatre that accommodates 681 guests. We had ~4700 passengers on board... The theatre is too small for such a big ship. There is no proper proscenium there.
Epic offers two (2) full stage theatrical shows during 7-night cruise.
They are: Blue Men Group and Legends in Concert (both require reservation, no extra charge).
BMG is a highlight of the Epic entertainment program. Is BMG the best show at sea? Not the best. It's surely one of the best. Is it different from what we have seen in cruise ship theatres? For sure yes. And it's very entertaining! At the same time, as fellow passengers said, it's not everyone's cup of tea. Will I pay to see this show in Las Vegas or New York? For sure not. We'll I cruise just to see BMG? For sure not. But if you happen to be on Epic - don't miss it! Be in the line at least 1 hour prior to the show time to get good seats.
Legends were just so-so. Not very impressive. Performers themselves were talented and worked hard. But may be the band was too weak for the show, or the stage and the theatre were not optimal...
No more full stage shows for 7 nights.
During our previous cruise on a "non-freestyle" ship we had 7 shows in the main theatre and then a choice of smaller entertainment venues scattered throughout the ship. Again: every night we were offered a "main show" plus smaller scale entertainment, not one instead of another.
Epic features some mini format performances not in addition to, but instead of the main shows. This limitation of choice does not correlate with "the best entertainment at sea" and "freestyle" hype.
The most controversial performance is Cirque Dreams & Dinner (extra charge, reservation required). By its scale it's somewhat between a real show for a stage and mini format entertainment for bars and lounges. It takes place in the "Spiegel Tent". Spiegel Tent is quite small in diameter and is two decks high. The main floor is Deck 6, the upper level (circle balcony) is Deck 7.
On the one hand, it looks like no one should miss this: it so new, so intriguing - cirque and dinner. Limited number of seats, long lines... On the other hand, when the show is over one can say: "what a... waste of time and money!" Both things are true.
In my opinion, the problem is that the authors combined something incompatible in this show. They mixed up food, show, and the place which is not suitable for this show. 1. The layout of seats on the main floor is unacceptable. They try to fill tables as if they were in a restaurant. But this is not a restaurant. Some guests are seated their backs to the show! Guests in the distant booths can see just a half of the show. 2. The food distracts guests from watching the show. 3. The food was below criticism. The main course was salty. For dessert there was something under something like sugar glue. Coffee was barely warm. Ice water was OK. I just tasted this "dinner" a bit to make sure it was exactly what I expected. We were prepared (had dinner before this "dinner"). 4. The show is long (about 2 hours), slow and full of senseless boring dialogs. 5. The Cirque part itself is very good. Had Epic theatre had a proper proscenium, there could have been a sparkling full stage show with this talented troupe.
So far, in its present condition, this show is not worth time and money, but it's a treat for children though.
Premium seats in Spiegel Tent are those on the main floor (except booths). Standard seats are on the balcony (and booths on the main floor). In my opinion, standard seats on the balcony are better then premium seats on the main floor. Try to see Spiegel Tent in advance and get familiar with the layout. The show is badly overhyped, the availability of good seats is limited. That leads to "high demand" effect and long lines. There are three lines at the entrance: premium seating, standard seating and stand-by. To get good seats you need to be in the line at least 1 hour 15 min prior to the show. This is how it works so far.
A mini format is represented by The Second City comedy troupe (one of their performances requires extra charge and reservation, another does not). Some funny moments (thanks to participated guests), but overall boring, amateurish. Waste of time and money.
Saw a performance of comedy magician Jeff Hobson (no extra charge, no reservation required). Very professional, very entertaining. Some jokes are not so funny, some tricks are well predictable, but stop there and admire a professional man at work. Recommended.
Several musicians perform from time to time in a couple of bars (dueling pianos, jazz and blues), in front of the big screen on Deck 5 (a solo pianist and a duet of "Ã la street performers"), and in MDR. The presence of a woman and violin added a pleasant note to the duet. Their repertoire included selection of world famous easy listening melodies. That was not too specific, not too aggressive, not karaokish. Unfortunately the place where they perform is busy and noisy, but it probably suits the "style" of "street performers". Due to the limit of main shows the whole entertainment program was seen in 4 nights. To fill empty time we saw BMG for the second time. That was a mistake because the "novelty effect" evaporated and the show was less entertaining. Performers looked a bit tired by the end of the week. There were some mistakes (one of their tricks was not started properly and was quickly skipped). No complaints, this is a live show. Things do happen. Still very good. The theater was Â¾ full.
Is reservation 45 days in advance mandatory? It is "highly recommended" (read: mandatory). You can probably see BMG without reservation, but there will be no guarantee that you get there when you want. You'll have to wait in the line and most likely will not get good seats. Cirque is sold out due to reasons mentioned above.
Other notes. Cabins are equipped with LCD TVs. Movies are available for extra charge ~$10 The big screen on Deck 5 requires better technical support. Images displayed there are distorted.
Norwegian Epic Entertainment Summary Two main shows for 7 nights Mini format venues do not fill all gaps The whole program was seen in 4 days Entertainment program saved by excellent Blue Men Group show and comedy magician Jeff Hobson
Norwegian Epic Fellow passengers There were about 4700 passengers on board All ages were presented Uncontrolled kids It seemed to me that English was not the first language for ~50% of guests Crowds were everywhere and sometimes nasty
Epic is MORE welcoming to the people who do not mind crowds, consider crammed cabins and lack of privacy not an issue, like drinking, gambling, smoking and partying, like to come to evening shows with their hairy legs and bare toes exposed.
Epic is LESS welcoming to the people who value the beauty of sea travel, prefer comfortable accommodation, like upscale ambience at night, like romantic atmosphere.
Epic and First Time Cruisers
I would not recommend Epic for the first-timers. Why? The variety of pleasures available on a modern cruise ship is not limited to what Epic offers. It's wider. The first-timers can get a false impression of what a modern cruise ship is. Can first-timers have "a blast" on Epic? Yes, they can - on any ship including Epic (see mantra from the Foreword).
Norwegian Epic Freestyle Summary:
Same mantra is good for freestyle - it is what you make of it on any ship The essence of Epic "freestyle" is by and large - loose and minimally enforced dress code FEEstyle reigns Planning and reservations 45 days in advance Lines are normal
General thoughts in a few words
The ship is poorly designed (some prefer euphemisms like "different" or "innovative").
Notable positives about the Epic are related to invited performers (can be changed any time, can be a part of any ship). Notable negatives about the Epic are related to its design (made of steel and cannot be changed).
Links to supporting videos on YouTube:
Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNFqalyk91k
Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6tFcjSvP9Y
Visit Cruise Critic Message Board to read the full review with various photos of the ship and vacation: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1281547 Less
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