Ship Design - either you love it or hate it. the interior design was sophisticated modern. creams, beige's, with bold colors different then most other ships.
ship design/layout_very easy to navigate if you have ever been to a hotel or mall. you exit the elevator proceed through rooms to arrive at your destination or encounter another elevator on the other end. Not very confusing and the benefit was each floor was "open concept" with all the restaurants, shops, casinos open for guests to pass through...no long side corridors with the guest areas boxed off..No strong smoke in the casino permeating all the guest areas. No over crowding in the restaurants.
Cabin Designs: A lotta drama on the boards for nothing. things could be improved for American travelers but after a day or two you adapt. Sink faucet was inconvenient but learned they are making changes. Shower is larger and a better improvement. It also has great water pressure. Toilet stall has a curtain to pull across room for additional privacy. plenty of storage in cabin.
Entertainment- Hands down the best on any cruise line that i have seen. Blue man group, Cirque, etc. All very professional highly talented and wide enough range something for everyone. Recommend BMG, Cirque, Second City, etc..
Yes, easier if you make reservations...never arrived before show more than twenty minutes. always got a relatively good seat..main theater has good seats with no obstructed views.
Spiegel Cirque..great show...hands down worth the price..you will pay nearly three times that rate to see a Cirque du Soliel show without any meal on land. Yes, seat selection is important and does impact viewing...arrived 20 minutes earlier with reserved premium and had choice of seats. Seating is very close but its a small and intimate space..at times you are inches from the action. Worth it.
Dining/Food: Top choices Moderno..excellent..attended twice...once made reservations in advance, the second time during the cruise..worth the price..wouldn't be surprised to see this increase to $25..at 18 its a bargain.
All restaurants where beautifully deigned and decorated. Service was superior at all pay and free dining rooms..food menu did appear limited from other NCL menus but there was plenty of choices. Service was better to excellent with an occasional disinterested waitstaff in one or two of the smaller eating venues.
Buffet: Everyone favorite area to criticize but most ship goers don't understand the ship is trying to please 3500 individual tastes. almost impossible. However i think NCL does this very well. Always had the basics on hand, pizza, hamburgers etc with the usual sides. Always had a carving station, a daily vegetarian section, two sections with variety of entrees and sides. food was presented well. Always clean and always fresh until the end of the night. Not every item was prepared perfectly or to my taste but their was other selections always available. The dessert station was lacking on imagination and quality however i don't think NCL has every been associated with fine baked items..besides it appears the ship goers prefer the crepes which where mighty tasty and filling after a meal.
Never encountered a situation where we were not able to find seating in the buffet area unlike on other Caribbean cruises. Nor did any of the passengers form long ques at the food station. this can all be attributed to the large cafe and the design of the buffet stations which deter queuing
Nickel and Dimed comments: My philosophy is nothing is free in this world or on a cruise ship. That being said my traveling group didn't feel hounded, pressured, coerced, lied, cheated, forced to purchase anything we didn't want. Bar staff tended to be the most aggressive on the pool deck mid day or in the night club in the late evenings for obvious reasons but that is to be expected. After a few NO's the staff leaves you alone. No invasive wine stewards at your table every night pitching wine. No pressure to order drinks in the restaurants. All additional costs are clearly marked so no one should be surprised when they are given a bill. NO bar service during any of the major shows. NO bingo selling before the shows. No constant overhead announcements about bingo, tanzinite, cruise packages, art shows by the pool or on the outside theater screens..Announcement made when activity was taking place but not continuously each day as I have encountered other ships in the Caribbean.
Service: The upfront tipping fees are substantial but overall seem fair compared to the amount of services you receive from a variety of areas over the entire ship. I thought service was good to excellent and if something was not too my liking it was easily resolved by asking.
My travel group all agreed we would sail on the Epic again and would recommend it to others.