We were on the October 2nd sailing to the Western Caribbean in a balcony stateroom. After reading all the 121 reviews before our cruise, we almost cancelled but glad we didn't.
Food - was better than on Royal Caribbean or Princess.
The main non-paying restaurants were excellent with good variety, presentation and most of all, service. The buffet was designed with plenty of food stations so there were no long line ups. Again, good service and plenty of seating both inside and outside.
Specialty restaurants - were also good but if you are on a budget, it is not necessary to dine there.
Entertainment - excellent and great variety. Plenty to see and do all week!
O'Sheehans - Wonderful pub style restaurant with lots of selection 24 hours per day and sitting there in the late evening was so much fun, people watching, etc.
Atrium - Huge tv screen with a variety of movies playing in the evenings, a free giant Wii game with many choices during the day, and our favourite, terrific live entertainment by a husband and wife guitar and fiddler group called Wildfire. They played a variety of dance music and took requests from the audience as well as prepared sets such as the Beatles. The place was always packed in the evenings but again, lots of places to sit and listen or get up and dance.
Stateroom was clean and pretty with lots of storage but it was smaller than on most ships. Balcony was large but perhaps NCL should reconsider putting larger patio tables out there for in-room dining. Yes the bathroom setup was a little strange at first but having a separate shower area from the actual toilet was a good idea and there was no problem with privacy or floors getting wet. They do provide plenty of towels everyday and we used one on the floor outside the shower stall. The actual toilet was the size of an airplane toilet and I can't imagine how very large people managed in that tight squeeze. The washing sink on the counter outside was no problem at all. No splashing on the floor. The bed was comfortable, clean and yes, because the end is rounded corners, could have been a problem for guests over 6 feet tall. We did not have a problem with it.
The pools were smaller than on most ships but still plenty of room to enjoy them. There were lots of lounges available but not always near the pools. No line ups on the slides but perhaps because the boat was not at full capacity as many families with children were back at school. We always travel during hurricane season and never have any bad weather, rough seas or crowds. Plus you get the best prices that time of year.
Only really negative thing to say was the smoking. I have allergies and I do not like to be around smokers. They have a non-smoking side on the open deck 15 and the staff do make sure it is maintained. But, the adult only pool area at the back of the deck should have been a side for non-smokers and it was never enforced. So I stayed away from that area of the boat. No big deal.
The Casino was huge and it ran practically the entire length of deck 6. Unfortunately a lot of the venues ran off the main hallway of that deck and you were forced to walk through the smoking area to reach them. I simply covered my nose and mouth with a tissue while navigating through this area but perhaps NCL should think about making the slot machines in this area a non-smoking section. It would be healthier for everyone and young kids who have to negotiate this hallway to get to other parts of the ship.
After all is said, I would recommend NCL to my friends and would go back on the Epic if the price was right.
So don't listen to all the exaggerated bad reviews with any ship. Make your own decision and choices.