I wanted to take this cruise specifically to check out NCL's Epic ship and I will say that I thought most of our moments were highlights. I waited on purpose to write this review a month later because I wanted to remember what really made an impression on me and on what didn't really make an impression on me.
NCL's embarkation is wonderful as it was very well organized and moved smoothly. We arrived at 11:30am and we were on the ship by 12:15pm.
First impression: No wow factor as we entered on deck 6 into the box office area.
We were able to go to our rooms at 2pm and we meet our room steward almost immediately. Marissa was wonderful and she showed us all the cubby holes in the room. I asked her to remove the items in the refrigerator so we could use it for things that we wanted it for. I tipped her $5 as our room had a larger balcony and I prefer to have the option of reclining vs. sitting up when I am on the balcony. Our room was satisfactory. This was my first balcony in 14 cruises and I loved the balcony however I was a little bit disappointed in the width of the room area as it really needed an extra 6" to make it comfortable not to bump into my husband all the time. He had to ask me to pass him his clothes and I found myself asking him to pass me things as well! There is a stool by the bed to use if you want to sit in front of the mirror but there is no need to use the stool because you can sit on the bed. Our room set up was the bed first and than the couch and balcony. People have talked about the set up of the bathroom being split up. It was a non issue for us. The only time I was a little uncomfortable was when I realized I ordered a Pizza and I was in the bathroom and I thought oh did I move the "dial" on the outside of our room by the door to read "make up the room" or "Privacy Please" well, of course they knocked and it was a non issue but I guess it could have been. The shallow sink you get used to but really you can't wash your face in it with the faucet being designed the way it is currently.
I like the idea of Free Style however on the EPIC if you really want to see special entertainment like Blue Man Group or the Cirque Dreams you need to reserve ahead of time especially if you want to go a certain night. I highly reccommend reserving before you board the EPIC specialty entertainment, otherwise you may be spending your time waiting in line at the box office when the box office is open. You will end up missing something fun because you had to wait in line and than you may be disappointed once you tried to make a reservation and they tell you the show is already booked!
I like all the numerous choices for dining. Yes you can spend alot of extra money on the speciality restaurants but you don't have to as I dined in all the free dining options as well such as the Garden Cafe and Manhattan room, Taste and Oshean's Sports bar and I found the service as well as the food to be quite good.
We ate in several of the Speciality resturants including Moderno, Le Bistro, Cagneys, Teppanaki and La Cucina. Now, I traveled with my mother-in-law and she is not so fond of "free style" she wants to know where she will be all the time so for me it wasn't fun reserving dinner reservations every night. But you can always cancel and on the sailing we were on the EPIC was not full. The only day I think you would have had to wait to eat was on the last sea day as it seemed that everyone was in the speciality restaurants. Our service on this day was not the best but they ended up comping one of our meals due to the service being slow.
I had my meal comped at La Cucina because I tried three different entrees and I was not happy with the taste of the food. I was with other people who wanted to try this restaurant out so it may just have been due to this wasn't my favorite food venue. I loved the scenery in this restaurant though and several mornings I slipped down here to enjoy my breakfast from the Garden Cafe and I almost had the place to myself some mornings.
My favorite speciality restuarant by far was Le Bistro. It was very intimate and the service was exceptional!
Both my husband and I used the fitness center and by far this was the best fitness center as well as Spa area on any ship we have sailed on. The fitness center was well layed out and their were plenty of people around to show you how to use the different equipment and boy what a nice view of the ocean from here!
In the Spa area you can opt to pay extra to get all of the services such as the different style saunas, jacuzzi's and specialized heating chairs. Wonderful and very relaxing. My husband and I both had a massage and this was the first time I wasn't hounded to buy something extra. So I know I really enjoyed my massage. It was a very relaxing 4 hours in the spa area for both of us. I wish we would have upgraded to a Spa suite.
I was also apart of a very large meet and greet through cruise critic and we really had a fun group. We met all the officers on the first sea day. We had a slot pull and we also checked out different style rooms and boy are the Villa areas sweet! Definitely try to upgrade to this area if you are looking for a special vacation.
We did not order any specializedd shore excursions. We have been to the Eastern Caribbean numerous times and we just went on our own and enjoyed the beach areas.
In summary, the entertainment was wonderful, Fat Cat Jazz club was out of this world a very small setting and alot of fun. We also enjoyed Second City and we really enjoyed Howl at the Moon. Those guys are super talented! The Pool area was wonderul I thought during the time that we went because there were not that many kids. We were able to go down the slides several times and they were alot of fun and we didn't have to wait long. But I bet if the ship was full of kids this woul be something we would not have done.
I liked the Center area of the ship with Oshean's Sports bar being a good meeting place however, I am a non smoker and I did not like having to go through the casino area where the smoke filtered through the common area.
I am a Casino at Sea Player and I felt the Casino to be lacking in drink service. I am not a High roller but I certainly should not have to leave my area in order to get a drink because this was a benefit for me.
The employees on board the EPIC were for the most part exceptional. Silas was our cruise director and he danced with me on the first day at sea and he seemed to remember me whenever we bumped into each other. Marissa, our room steward as well as the other stewards always greeted us. Marissa always greeted us by name. The times that we had an issue with our meals they were comped and we did not ask for that so we appreciated that been done without us having to ask.
I would sail again on the EPIC but only with my husband as I would like to be more free style. That's what makes a vacation really nice not having to be anywhere unless you feel like it! Leave your watch behind and computer behind and sail on the EPIC!