I have spent many hours reading reviews before cruises , but never posted , so here is my take on our Epic Trip.
Please note im going to try and make this more , hints , tips and manly FACTS, things to consider - the facts about our trip , rather than a step by step guide of every detail I did all week
Background - Me, Wife and Infant (11 months) , we had cruised twice before (NCL and RCCL) , Plus 4 family members who had never cruised before.
Embarkation - Was ok , I had read everyone saying how fantastic it was but I didn't find it any different to the other times , relatively pain free , took about 40 mins to get through and onto ship. There was a few members of staff around welcoming you onto the ship , but no drinks or information and where to go , etc. Also a bit strange stepping straight into the casino.
First impressions - Casino is HUGE , an entire floor - Some people will like this , other not so much , personally I was not a massive fan of it taking up the entire main floor , I would have preffered it to be separate BUT - People need to realise that the casino is the business model of the ship , its what brings in the $$$£££ !!! They make so much money from the casino that where all the profit is , therefore the reason you can cruise at such a reasonable price , If they didn't have a casino to make the $£ , then cruising would be 10 times the price. ( Therefore Im willing to accept it as all those blowing mega bucks as subsidising my trip - Thank you ? )
Muster was the best we have ever had , organised , quick and no life jackets . Done within 5/10mins. Fantastic.
We had read before that the slides had big waits during the week , so we went straight on as soon as they opened , immediately after the muster - We went on all 3 slides 4/5 times each no wait - rest of the week the lines seemed quite long. Green slide is superb, main slide with the tubes is not worth the wait , you get stuck and is really nothing special, certainly glad I didn't ever wait for it.
Rooms - We had inside staterooms , 100's of reviews about the bathroom layout , It doesn't work but there isn't really a lot NCL can do about it now , its to late so you just get on with it ( Note - I doubt It would be a problem for most families but if it's a brother sister room , or friends , etc then It could be quite strange. - They did change our tap on one of the days and I noticed them doing so on many rooms across the week , so there trying to sort it , but it would be better in the traditional layout.
The inside staterooms didn't suffer with many of the other issues people have been quoting on CC. to be honest , I think there seemed more room in the inside that the opposite balcony wave rooms ! On another note the toilet is VERY LOUD , just like an aeroplane. Was pleased with the inside room overall , clean , modern and effective.
Top deck - We didn't like how the top outer 'ring' that's on most ships is very short on this ship , it stops because of the villas at the front of the ship and the sportcourt / H2O at the rear. The pools are small HOWEVER there are lots of sprays and jets around the 'wet area' which is actually quite big , I personally though this was very good , as they cooled you off better than jumping in the pool. Your never really going to be able to do much proper swimming on a cruise ship so this was a nice idea.
Sail away - Very different to what we had before , No band as such but 2 different Dj's playing dance and club music, atmosphere was quite good , but I would have preferred the band that were around the rest of the week to have been playing. (more Caribbean style music )
Ship - Is very new , so of course looks fantastic . I missed the larger atrium in the middle of most other ships , the big screen was ok though.
Entertainment - We managed to get around all entertainment - Overall very good , I still think They should have a different show in the epic theatre every night , with the other current shows as extras. Blue man I had seen before and was the same show , but enjoyable , Legends was fantastic , comedy Magic show was very good, Howl at the Moon was Brilliant very, very Funny. Second city were Ok. BUT ...... CIRQUE , Just doesn't work, Ignoring the fact that its an upcharge for the worst food and worst show, The costumes are good , some of the acts , including the fiddler player are obviously very talented, but the venue is terrible. We had a booth on the ground floor - what was one of the better tables , but everyone in there looked uncomfortable , upstairs couldn't see half the stuff below and vice versa. It is not worth the money , I had read many people before hand warning me about this and ignored it. We also had the 'improved menu' which is fixed , no choice and poor. NCL should put the cirque show on the main stage and it would be 100 times better. Admit they got it wrong and use the venue for something else.
Food overall was good, no complaints with any meal ( apart from cirque ) Loads of choice and good quality , The Manhatton room was good with the live music , and taste was fantastic for breakfast. We ate at Moderno which was superb , well worth the $£ , Osheehans is a great concept and I imagine it will soon be on most other ships.
Service - Overall very good , did have 2 occasions where wait staff got confussed but nothing major and its understandably new system for them as well. 1 minor issue we had was when eating in Osheeans , on both nights they brought all courses out together ! Strange ! all staff around the ship was very friendly and willing to help , cabin steward Leo was probably the best we have had , very friendly and did a good job. NOTE - we brought the soda package on day one , although there are loads of wait staff around the pool area, as soon as they see the sticker , they lose interest ! I understand that they make more money from the other drinks , but I should receive the same level of service , It got to the point that if I wanted a drink I was asking 4 or 5 wait staff and 1 of them would bring me a drink , eventually. something I never had a problem with on previous cruises.
OVERALL - I cant see how you can go on a cruise and not have a great time , your on holiday , there's staff all around you waiting on your every need, good food, good entertainment and good people (well, mostly)
The 'nickel and dimeing' , this is clear to see , I spent double what I normally do without even realising it , and that was even with avoiding stupid prices such as $350 for the photo CD !! If your going on this trip , budget what you think , double it , then theres no suprises !
The music round the pool areas is very loud ( we are in our 20's ! ) didn't really bother us but It was enough for us to notice , may be a problem for other guests , However the band around the pool were very good.
The area at the back of the ship is a crying shame, I went for a walk up there 2/3 times a day at different times and at night , never more than half full , little to no atmosphere. Could defiantly do with rethinking and being used more effectively. ( would make a great 'general show' venue on a night.
The ship is unusual , the layout different , I have no made my mind up yet if this was good or bad , there was a lot of things on the ship , which was good , but they also seem a little crammed in , which isn't great.
Our honest opinion of EPIC is , We had a brilliant time , no regrets , and are gutted that's its come to an end. There was a lot we Loved , and a few bits we thought we had preferred on other ships. If your planning a Trip on Epic, be prepared for something a little bit different. And Well done NCL for trying out new things , We came to the conclusion that maybe they had 200 different ideas that they wanted to try out on ships , so put them all together and created Epic , maybe there just sitting back and seeing what does and does not work, in order to improve in the future. We will defiantly sail NCL again , as for Epic , I would rush back but never say never.