This was the first time that we decided which ship we were going and then picked the itinerary. Luckily the EPIC visited a few ports that we have not been to yet. We usually like to get on ship early, check out our stateroom, eat lunch, and then get ready to hit the pool for the sail away party (after the fire drill or course). We got to the port around 11:30 and thought that boarding was starting around 12. They were already processing passengers so we thought we were getting on early. They have many lines for checking people in and the process is pretty quick. Then they put everyone in one room and start to let people board based on where they are sitting one row at a time. As more people enter the room they just get in the line and go while the rest of sit and wait as requested. I think they need a more orderly system for this part of the embarkation. As soon as we board the ship we are told that the staterooms will not be ready until 2pm which is OK because we have time to eat lunch in the dining room and explore the ship a little. The life boat drill was short and sweet and you don't need to carry your life jacket, but all of the stations are close together and some are in the middle of the walkways so it is very crowded trying to get to your station. This was probably the only time the whole week that I felt the effect of being on a large ship and in a big crowd.
Our cabin was pretty small. There was only about 2 feet in between the bed and the wall on each side. The shower and the bathroom are separate which is nice, but the set up is strange the sink is in the room on the desk so you have to be careful not to splash water on your things, because this desk is the only flat surface except for 2 small nightstands. One of the jokes that Second City told during the Murder Mystery lunch was about the cabin size and the sink location. We opted for a mid ship cabin and it was a long walk to the cabin from the stair wells, but the ship was very easy to get around on. All of the main public areas were on 5, 6, 7, (or out by the pool) so you just took the elevator to the floor you wanted and then could walk easily to wherever you were going no crazy work arounds like some ships have.
The entertainment on the ship was excellent. We enjoyed the variety of shows and being able to do something different each night. We did make reservations prior to boarding, but then realized that we wanted to change the dates or times and this was not a problem at all. We also went to the optional Spiegel tent for Cirque dreams and dinner and the second city murder mystery lunch. We enjoyed both the entertainment and the service was excellent. We did wish the menu was a little for both we paid $20.00 per person and the food was OK, but probably just as good in the dining room we just looked at it as paying for the great entertainment. We also enjoyed the free entertainment: Blue Man Group, Legends in Concert, Second City (for all and 18+), Roadside Lois and the Dusters (in Fat Cats), Even the other musicians through the ship were great there was a guitar man, a piano man, and the Epic band played in the Manhattan dining room for dinner each night we ate there almost every night so we could listen to the band. We are not usually out all night, but we stayed out late most nights because we just couldn't leave Howl at the Moon it was so funny. We also enjoyed the parties that cruise staff hosted: the white hot party, the ABBA party, ....
We enjoyed most of the food that we ate on the ship. We went to O'sheehan's neighborhood bar and grill for breakfast, lunch, and late night snacks. We went to one of the main dining rooms Taste for a few breakfast and lunches, and ate most of our dinners in the other main dining room the Manhattan room. The food was good. There was a wide variety. I sometimes felt like I wanted a few more choices. On lobster night it was lobster tail and grouper. We were served ½ a lobster tail and the grouper was a little bigger of course we could have asked for more, but my husband wasn't overly impressed with the lobster portion, but it was delicious and the grouper was probably the best fish that I had on the ship. A lot of the menu is repeated every day with a few new choices on the left hand side of the menu each day this wasn't explained to us on the first evening so we figured it out on day two. The menu for breakfast and lunch is always the same and of course there are many specialty restaurants to choose from. We never waited in line to seated for any meal in the main dining rooms we ate at around 7 - -8:30 each evening and were not asked to sit at another table (which we do not usually want to do sorry traditional cruises, but am on the cruise to spend time with my family).
We also enjoyed spending time by the pool. We rode the waterslides on the first and last day had to wait in a little but rode all three in about 30 minutes each time. We also enjoyed the adult only area Spice H20 which becomes a night club at night. There are two hot tubs a pool and a bar. Although there weren't really a lot of kids on the ship that I felt like I needed to be in the adult area I did like it because they played smoothing music in the back ground it was a nice place to relax. We also spent a lot of time in the gym. There was a wide variety of fitness equipment and a lot of it. I don't think anyone had to wait and if they did it wasn't for long. There were also a few free classes offered that we participated in when it fit into our day. They also had classes that you could pay for: boot camp, tour de France a few others I think they were around $140.00 for the week (a little pricey for me).
Overall we had a great time. We enjoyed the ship especially the entertainment. We always like the entertainment on Norwegian it the was the first ship were we saw different types of productions at sea like Smokey Joe's cafe in Hawaii. This ship really brought it to a whole new level. Can't wait to do it again!