Firstly, I’d like to address some of the other blatantly negative reviews I’ve read on this forum. To claim the food is “inedible”, that the cabins are “closet-like small” and designed by “Ray Charles”, that the tube and slide lines were “two hours long”, that the restaurant and buffet lines were “up to an hour long”, the sinks are “useless”, the cabin TVs as being “the smallest ever”, are all absolute, baseless exaggerations. Frankly, NCL should look into who’s authoring all of these defaming reviews. I wouldn’t be surprised if NCL’s competitors are doing some dirty undercover work by making these malicious statements. The ship is not perfect, but is amongst the most perfect cruises I’ve been on, which have been well over a dozen.
Dining: The food was consistently good. Rarely was something just average, and more often than not the food was delicious. Both “Manhattan” and “Taste” do share the same menu every night, but each establishment ALSO has its own unique daily menu as well. If you choose not to do one of the pay restaurants, you should have plenty of variety at the freebies. The Lamb Shank was delicious, fall over the bone quality. You also have “O-Shenan’s” or whatever that pub restaurant is called. The mozzarella sticks were consistently rich, and perfectly fried. The chicken tenders were very good, great texture. I’m not going to summarize each individual included dinner we had, but generally speaking they were all very good, served hot (never cold like one reviewed wrote), and with a smile.
We decided to go to three of the pay restaurants, and they were all very good. Of these three, two in particular were flat out delicious. The French “Le Bistro” was amazing, as was the Foie Gras. At $25/pp, it’s a relative value because a meal of this quality can only be had an ultra premium restaurant. Our other favorite was “Shanghai’s”, which was a real surprise because its one of the cheaper restaurants but was just as enjoyable as “Le Bistro”. The special fried rice was very light, unlike most fried rice dishes that tend to be drenched in oil. The sweet and sour pork, along with the seabass and scallops had great texture and were perfectly cooked. Both establishments, especially “Le Bistro” and “Cagney’s”, were nicely designed and created a very upscale, intimate surrouding.
Not all dining experiences were favorable. The desserts didn’t match the quality of the meals. Nothing “inedible”, but generally speaking they were all just good not great. One trouble area that NCL needs to address is the “Cirque Dreams” dinner. This is probably the one critical area that I’ll agree with even the most vocal of reviews in this forum. I left half of my meal on the plate, and even with that was drinking water throughout the evening because the high sodium content of the food had me thirsty until bedtime. NCL, I know you’re reading this, the “Cirque Dinner” food must be addressed. Especially when you’re charging the same amount as “Le Bistro” and “Cagney’s”, which are well worth the cover. It’s the only thing that kept me from giving a perfect score as the Garden Café buffet was consistently good, plentiful, and fresh.
Cabins: The “wave” design of our balcony stateroom was more about form over function. It is something different, and I applaud NCL for trying something new, but I think the standard box stateroom designs are more functional for a ship.
The sink is small, but for heaven’s sake if you notice the water spout shoots water too forcefully, be mindful and simply open the water slowly. All these stories I’ve read about this poor sink turning cabins into rain forests and ruining their entire vacation are laughable. Simply be careful until NCL adjusts the pressure at which the water is released by the spigot! There is plenty of storage, and there is a mini fridge as well. I never had a problem with the separate toilet and shower design, and simply used the curtain for privacy. Don’t want people outside your door peeking in? Then CLOSE YOUR DOOR, man some of the things people have complained about in this forum are ridiculous. The bedding was comfortable, and I’m 6’4”. Someone was complaining that, despite their average height of 5’10”, their legs were hanging off the bed. This is another bloated statement, as even with my considerable height I only had my feet hanging off the bed. No big deal. The balcony was pretty large, with plenty of room for all of us to hang out and enjoy the water passing us by.
Entertainment: Epic showed me the best entertainment I’ve experienced on any cruise, by far. Blue Man Group was entertaining, but the real surprise was by Jeff Hobson, a comedian/magician who was so damn funny and entertaining that we saw his show twice. You’re not going to witness Vegas style magic on a ship, but his tricks were effective and left your head scratching. Legends in concert was entertaining too, although Elvis and Tina Turner are too old school for me. I’d like to see something more current like Lady Gaga, regardless it’s a good show. The Cirque Dreams was entertaining, only when the performing artists were carrying out their routines. It was often too loud, too much blabbing and pointless talking. But again, just a minor blip on an otherwise incredibly entertaining cruise.
Anyways this review is too long, plus I'm sleepy! We all had a great time and look forward to our next cruise with NCL.