EMBARKATION: My wife and I arrived by 10 A.M. and was checked in by 10:30. The early check-ins were left in two rooms, till it was time to board. The problem came at 12 noon, the terminal was over crowded, so instead of boarding the early arrivals, they boarded the people as they arrived, no matter what their cabin was or their latitude status, the early arrivals were not only forgotten but totally ignored. We finally boarded @12:45 P.M. without any type of apology, instead the NCL terminal staff made jokes about it. Being our first NCL cruise, this was an ominous start to our cruise. This was our worst embarkation experience. Just a side note we had a couple of other minor problems on our first day on the Epic, so
obviously we were a bit negative of our first NCL cruise. BUT please read on.
CABIN: We had the balcony room 11140, mid ship. When we got to our cabin, we found "baby's first cabin". Though we had plenty of storage room, only one person could walk the cabin at a time. The bed was very comfortable and the balcony was roomy. Now we come to the infamous "bathroom" or what NCL considers a bathroom. When you open the door to the cabin the toilet is in a stall to your right, the shower stall is on your left and the baby sink is in the cabin attached to the desk/table. There is a curtain that seperates the cabin from the "bathroom" Blocks some view but not the sounds. During the week NCL did replace all the sink faucets, ours was changed on Sunday, this did help prevent splashing.
DINING: This ship had 8 specialty restaurants, we tried 5 of them:
1) Le Bistro, a french restaurant,
2) La Cuchina, a italian restaurant,
3) Moderno Churrascaria, a brazilian restaurant, and
4) The Noodle Bar.
We had no problems getting reservations for these restaurants, they were all very good and the service was excellent. The Noodle Bar you just walk to the hostess and she sits you. The food was good and inexpensive ( we paid $9.00 for the 2 of us), more for a midnight snack, as a dinner. We also went to the Spiegel Tent, I'll talk about under shows.
We ate at the main dining room, The Manhattan Room, more like a supper club, with a band and dancing, food and service was excellent, gets crowded after 6:30 P.M.
The Garden Cafe, the buffet, though they didn't change the menu much during the cruise, all 3 meals had a good variety and the food was good. During lunch they have a pasta bar, where they make a pasta dish for you, is better than many italian restaurants and mind you I'm a New Yorker.
The room service, which on all my cruises we use almost daily, we used only once, promised delivery in an ½ hour took 1 ½ hours, no joke, and the soup and coffee( that is all we ordered) was cold, plus had to put tray on bed (baby's first cabin).
Last and certainly least O'Sheehan's food was ok but service was very bad.
SHOWS: The Spiegel Tent - Cirque Dreams & Dinner, was a funny, enjoyable show, we sat in standard seats upstairs, and we saw fine, only a very small part we had trouble seeing. Dinner though good was very skimpy, later that night we went to the Noodle Bar.
The Blue Man Group, was strange, scary and we laughed from beginning to the end, don't miss.
The Legends in Concert was fantastic, we saw Rod Steward, Brittany Spears, & Michael Jackson, though we don't like Brittany Spears, all 3 were excellent and felt like we were watching the originals.
The howling pianos took the piano bar to the next level, very entertaining and fun.
The Jazz Bar was like being in New Orleans.
SERVICE: Except for O'Sheehan's every member of the Epic's staff from the Captain to the maintainance staff, were friendly, helpful, and went out of their way to make your cruise "epic."
DISEMBARKATION: Based on our boarding experience, we were a bit concerned on what we were going to face. Since we were not in a hurry, we let them take our luggage and we chose, yes. you choose what time you want to leave, we chose 9:30. We went to the casino area at 9:07 and was in our car, out of the port by 9:40, no muss no fuss, great.
SUMMARY: The ship though big feels more like a resort hotel. Very beautiful, easy to navigate, though no lobby, they have an atrium with a huge movie screen, which was nice. The main problem with the ship is the cabin, especially the bathroom. The Epic rates as one of our best cruises. This was our first and definitely not our last NCL cruise.