Our Epic vacation..
Let me start out by saying that many negative reviews made us a bit nervous before embarking on our Epic vacation and let me say they were all false.
To start our adventure we used SAS transportation to get us to (and from the port). If you need transportation I would highly recommend them.
What a breeze. We arrived at the port of Miami and from the moment we arrived there was someone to help you go in the correct direction. NCL has reps outside making sure you are going to the correct terminal. We had arrived at the port at approx 12pm and very quickly went through check in. When checking in we were provided with maps of the ship. You may take as many as you would like. There is no shortage of them.
From there we were brought upstairs to the holding room, which empties out as quickly as it is filled. You are directed where to sit and they call people to board by rows. Very organized and quick. We then took our coming aboard photo (It happened to be the best coming aboard photo we have taken to date!) Then.....ON TO THE SHIP(by 12:30.) We were greeted by multiple members of the staff with big smiles, maps and the first freestyle daily. They answered any questions you may have and pointed us in the right direction. We did board into the casino but then took a couple of steps in and saw our favorite chandelier! Much prettier in person than in all the pictures we had seen previous to the cruise. We then made our way to the Garden Cafe...We loved how clean and bright it was. When you get there they have more staff members with ear pieces that enabled them to talk to each other so they would know where there were free tables. They pointed us in the right direction and there was a table for 2 right by the window. We then decided to go check out the buffet! We were surprised how good the food was for a buffet. This was our first hint we were off to a good start. Everything in the Garden Cafe everyday was fresh and hot. I personally loved the pasta station, omelet station, specialties/wok station. Check out their fried rice! There pork fried rice was always so fresh and our favorite.
Rooms are ready
Once the rooms were ready (promptly at 2pm) we headed down to check out our cabin. We had booked an interior as is normal for us. We were surprised at all the storage. There was so much storage that our stuff was never out. It was always put away and counters clean. We did take a small power cord as recommended by previous cruisers...it was a great suggestion as it made it easier to plug things in because the plugs are located under the counter. Now for the bathroom set up. We loved it! One of us could take a shower and the other had the use of the toilet and sink area. When we first got to our room we were like two kids and did the "you get in the toilet area and close the door and let me see what I can make out"...and for those that have yet to go you have no worries. All you can make out is that there is a person in there; it looks like a tall blob. You cannot make out any body parts. The shower never overflowed! It drained well and NCL provided a bath matt/towel for when you get out. The water temp was never a problem we always had perfect temp water all the time. Also provided in the showers are dispensers of shampoo and shower gel. There is also an area in the shower that you can put your toiletries as well. However we did bring a shower caddy and because I bring so much we needed it! The shower is a normal size cruise ship shower. At first it may appear small because it does have walls instead of the normal shower curtain but there was plenty of room. Ladies there was no problems shaving legs at all! As for the sink, news flash small sink, tall spout..Don't turn the water on all the way! We never had a problem with the sink at all. Could it be a bit bigger? Yes but it wasn't a big deal. Leave your hairdryers at home! The hairdryers on board are the best and this is coming from someone who does not travel without their own hairdryer. I was amazed and now my "great" hairdryer that I don't travel without does not seem that great. The beds are the most comfortable we have ever had on vacation never mind just on a cruise ship. We slept like babies! Even the pillows were great. NCL did a great job with the rooms.
Now this is an area where No cruise ship has ever compared. There was something to do all the time. We took advantage of as much as we could. Blue Man Group is not to be missed. Definitely a heart pumping time! And ohh the toilet paper!! Legends was a great show, our favorite was Madonna! But all the performers did a wonderful job. The Cirque Dinner show itself was great. We sat upstairs as we requested and had wonderful seats. Most of the night we were eye level with many of the performers. And don't think just because you sit upstairs you won't be brought into the action...you will! The food at Cirque was our only bad meal of the entire week but as I have read NCL has already changed that menu. Howl at the moon was one of our favorite things to do at night. We had Tommy, Charlie and Eddie who are very talented guys but the only suggestion I would have is that they (Tommy) shouldn't beg for tips that much. It tends to take away from the show. Jeff Hobson was awesome. We saw him twice. Once in the Spiegel tent and again in the main theater a few days later. Wow..Again another great show! Just "watch" out!! Second City was a good show but the 18+ show was much better than the regular show because no holds bar. Slam Allen was awesome as well as Bernie Martini! Even the Caribbean band on deck was great. We could have listened to them all day. The duo that performed in the atrium was very talented. They did a great job on the Beatles tribute. All in all we could not have asked for better entertainment. There is much more to do on this ship and we just scratched the surface. We preferred to make our reservations for the main shows early so that we could take advantage of the other nighttime entertainment each night. We were never and I mean never bored.
The food on the Epic was by far the best food we have ever had on a cruise ship..Ever! We loved O'Sheehans. It was comfort food at its best and we loved the atmosphere. Every venue on this ship has its own look and feel to it! It was wonderful. We ate at the Manhattan room many times during the cruise as well and loved the live band. It really did bring back a feel of times past. It was great watching those couples dance across the floor. We also ate at Le Bistro, the French onion soup was wonderful and the deserts are not to be missed! La Cucina was one of our favorite restaurants. You really forget where you are for a second. We love Italian food so this was one restaurant we really wanted to try and we were not disappointed. Moderno was a meat buffet!! I could not believe all the meat selections that were carved right onto our plates. The servers do have you try a little bit of everything. Anything you like and would like more of they were more than happy to go back and get it and carve it again for you! The Garden Cafe was by far the best buffet I have even eaten at. There really was something for everyone. However we did miss some of the offerings up there..Which we didn't even realize were there until after the cruise when one of our friends told us what they had found. Will not miss it next time we are on the ship. As for making reservations we never had problems. We only made reservations for La Cucina (the night before) and Moderno (afternoon of the same day we went.) Le Bistro we walked in when they opened and were seated. In talking to others no one had problems making or breaking reservations. Many restaurants if you go early or late you do not even need reservations.
My husband nor I could not get over the crew and how exceptional the service was. Every crew member we encountered made eye contact and greeted us no matter where we were on the ship. From our room steward (Made) to every server, bar staff and customer service personnel. They all went above and beyond every day. Now I know some reviews had complained about the room stewards just walking into their rooms but when ever our room steward needed to contact us he never knocked on the door, instead he used his cell phone to call the room. He wanted to make sure he did not disturb us. Matter of fact we were also impressed that he called to check on us one day when we were not feeling well and wanted to know if there was anything he could do or get us. Which again we were impressed by. We really felt like royalty the way we were treated on this ship. Silas Cook our cruise director was incredible. We often joked that he had cloned himself or at least that he was a twin. We would be at one end of the ship and see or speak to him then walk to the other side of the ship and there he was again and sometimes had seemed to have done a wardrobe change! From what we personally experienced Silas really cared about how everyone's cruise was going. Making sure everyone was having a good time and wanted to know if there was anything we had seen or experienced that needed attention. It seemed like everywhere we went we saw Silas over and over again..Silas..Do you sleep?
We had the best time on the best ship with the best food, entertainment and service we have ever experienced. One of our favorite things to do on deck was the epic plunge! The crew working the slides by the end knew us and would laugh every time we went down the slide...we did go down over 50 times!!! What fun!! The pools could have been bigger however we did not use them that often. We only went in the one in Spice H2O once and the main pool once. We were too busy on the water slides! Spice H2O was very quiet, for us too quiet so we stuck to the main deck after that. On deck we never had a problem getting our deck chairs. We never saw any "saving" of seats on deck nor in any of the entertainment venues. After hearing many people say they wanted nothing to do with getting dressed for dinner on the boards we were nervous people would dress like we had seen on our previous cruises on another cruise line but we were impressed by how many people did dress for dinner. It was so nice to see. After this cruise we don't want to go back to the way we "used" to cruise. NCL has definitely converted us to Freestyle. We did not think it would be so important to us but after being able to eat where and when we wanted. Attend the shows we wanted, when we wanted, we do not want to go back to being herded to dinner and to "A" show. We tried to get in as much as we could on our week on board but could not see everything. We will book the EPIC again. We have never wanted to go back on a ship we have cruised on previously but we cannot say that with the Epic. It really feels like when we go back it will be like going home again!