Here is my take on the EPIC!
Embarkation: Arrived at the Pier at 11:55 AM, via the Latitudes line, seemed like it was going to be a breeze, but had to wait a bit just before boarding. They were taking priority folks on board first. On the ship around 12:30. First time in 24 cruises that we had to wait for our stateroom to be ready, but headed for lunch at the Garden Buffet and had no trouble finding a table for the 8 of us that boarded together.
Stateroom: We were in Deluxe Family Balcony # 14038, EXCELLENT location for us, very close to the elevator and "Recess", the kids club, and only one flight below the pools and buffet. Could not think of a more perfect location. Did not see too much of Randy, our cabin attendant, but he kept the room spic and span took care of all of our needs, and made some really cute towel animals, penguin was my favorite. Hey, where were the chocolates on the bed every night? LOL Really better without them or the 3 year old would have had one every night before bed!! We really had NO PROBLEM at all with the bathroom situation. Even the kids did not flood the sink, and our shower was really big, plenty of room to hose off both boys at once and then some!! I am thinking a different material should have been used on the bathroom cabinetry though, it has already started to show some wear!! The cabin had TONS of storage space, I mean tons. We are a family of 4 and had to bring clothes for a wedding and another hotel night after the cruise and we still had closets and drawers we never used!! Randy must have sent somebody up because someone was there the 2nd day working on the electric, he said he had adjusted the lights so we did not need to leave the keycard in, that was great. My 5 year old loved the little blue lights above the bunk bed and the flexible reading lights were great! Balcony was nice, 2 chairs and a table, and plenty of room for us all. TV in staterooms needs help!! Same reel of shows over and over again, if I had to watch Fresh Beat Band, "Freeze Dance" once more time I would have jumped overboard!!
Entertainment: Embarrassing to say, but we did not get to enjoy much of this, were too busy with the kids! Did go to Cirque Dreams, really fun show, and the acrobats were great. The kids enjoyed it as well, the performers came over and gave hi-5's to my boys. The appetizer plate was really good, and the dinner was tasty, grilled shrimp and sirloin. Portions were small, but enough for me, and I do not need the extra calories anyway. Besides, the dessert plate was YUMMY and would not have wanted to be too full to enjoy it. Went to see Blue Man Group, they are too much!! Really enjoyed it and even the 3 year old did! Breakfast with Nick was a hoot for the kids. Actual breakfast meal...well...perfect for the kids, and I am not a big breakfast person, so perfect for me. But, if you are into a big breakfast, head to the buffet before the show! Slime Time Live was fun, my 5 year old was picked to go up on stage and was very excited. Very disappointed though they did not slime us all. Maybe a little more slime folks?? LOL
Enjoyed many of the bars (did not make the Icebar!!) the martinis and margaritas were a hit! Great service, especially in Spice H20, Juan Luis was awesome! Gotta do something about the "Window Channel" on the big screen guys!
Kids Club, Recess: My guys and their cousin LOVED the kids club. They went every night from about 7'ish to 10 or 10:30. They were all in the 2-5 year old group and they just adored the counselors, "Coconut, Smush, Cheesey, Apple Jacks and Meow" I think I also heard about someone named "Pepperoni and maybe Ravioli", but not sure if I just dreamed that!! LOL We did not "make them go" they wanted to go and they had a ball!
Pools/Sports: Pools were kind of small but fine for our sailing. My 5 year old loves slides, but not ones that are enclosed at all, so he would not do them this time. He did enjoy the Rock Climbing Wall and the Spider Web Cage. I goofed on the times, he wanted to do the EPIC Bounce too, but we were not able to. I would not want to sail at a time the kids are off and the ship at full capacity. Very hard to get chairs near the main pool. First day no chance at all. After two days I did what everyone else did even though you are not supposed to. Got up early, put our stuff on two chairs (some people held 4,6,8, etc) and went to breakfast, then came back for them. I guess there is so much on the ship, not anymore room for more deck space and lunge chairs. Almost forgot, the kids enjoyed the big screen WI too!
Ports/Excursions" I love St Thomas and St Martin and have been there many times. We did the Butterfly Farm and Le Gallion Beach on St Martin on our own. Love Le Gallion, perfect for families with kids, water warm and shallow, always it seems! In St Thomas, headed to Coral World for the Swim with the Sea Lions. Wanted to book directly with NCL but could not, they said 8 was the minimum age. Booked directly and there was no minimum age, just a weight requirement which both boys met. It was AWESOME!!!!! Issued with the cab ride there, guy picked up a bunch of people going in all different directions and we were next to last to get off. Had no time for a swim at Coki Beach before the Sea Lions. Bahamas....I hate getting in at noon to a port, same thing for San Juan all the time. The excursion to Blue Lagoon left rather late. Booked that excursion thought NCL, $59 adults, $39 kids. The beach is beautiful and had it been sunny would have been an awesome day. Lunch could use some help and the staff was not very communicative. Almost had a riot when they finally told us our boat back would not leave until 5:30. We had to be back on board at 6:30. I spoke to a manager there (we needed to get to town for more pull-ups for Trevor!!) and we were all allowed to get on the 5 PM boat instead.
Photos: Bought a few, they took some great ones. Price for the CD is outrageous, could see it if there were 40 of us on a reunion or something, but not for us!
Garden Cafe, it is a buffet, like on most ships (I think only Disney does a good one!!) almost all of the same food all of the time, very few changes. Perfect for breakfast, quick snacks, dessert, etc. Had to have dinner there a few times because of the kids, was not thrilled at all. Food was all fresh and plentiful, just need to change it up a bit. Like I said, pretty typical
O'Sheehans: Yummy, perfect for pub type food and the kids liked the late night ice cream.
Spice H20: Loved the spicy appetizers!
Room Service: UGH! The potato chips were really good!!!! Kids Peanut Butter and Jelly almost always on stale bread. BLT was so soggy and the bacon really soft. Soup bland and cold. Chicken Caesar Salad, salad was good and fresh but the chicken in it was rubbery.
Main Diningroom: Taste. We enjoyed everything in Taste and the service was excellent. Odd thing about the menu. Same standard menu every day but then 3 additional starters, entrees and desserts. All good though! Did not hit the Manhattan Club.
Specialty Restaurants: This time around, we only did three!
Cagneys: Really good as usual, and great service.
Shanghai: Very pretty, good service, but food was just so-so. To me, not worth paying extra for, have Chinese at home before you go. We thoroughly enjoyed the Asian restaurant on the Spirit and would pay to do that gain, but this one missed the mark.
Moderno: Fantastic!! If you choose only one specialty restaurant this has to be it!! Atmosphere casual and fun, not rushed at all. salad bar extensive and awesome. Meats plentiful, full of flavor and tender, sides and desserts great as well. Service was excellent! Hope Moderno winds up on other NCL ships. We are sailing the Pride of America in 08/11, think you can add Moderno's NCL???
Debarkation: No complaints here, no big lines, no tripping over anyone in the hallways with luggage, LOVED it! Well, except that it meant the cruise was finished!
Had some 1st time cruisers with us and they all had a blast, was a great trip!