Since the Epic began it's journey, I've followed the reviews closely. Obviously, not all cruisers have the same expectations. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to find I didn't agree with all the naysayers. NCL is NCL and it's not Celebrity, not Princess or other like cruise lines. From my experience, NCL was more like RCCL, but less formal.
My wife and I were very happy with NCL and the Epic and would sail on her again. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. We got to the terminal about 10:30am and boarding began 11:30. The cabins weren't available until 2pm, but the Garden Cafe was open and this also gave us a chance to walk the ship. We selected 9:30am to disembark, but we ended-up getting off a little earlier and at the most it took us 15 minutes to disembark,get our luggage, go through Customs and be on our way to the airport. That was fast!!!!
We had a deluxe balcony and found them a little narrower then other cabins we've had, but that could be an illusion because of the curvy walls. The cabin was appointed very nicely. Plenty of storage but shelf widths were narrow so for instance, you could lay shorts out, but had to fold them in half. The sink, toilet and shower are fine. We liked it because they were separate. For instance while my wife showered, I was able to shave. This worked out very well. The balcony was a bit small, but it worked. There's a coffee maker in the room so that was nice as well. There's only 2 electrical outlets, so if you have a need, bring a power strip.
The staff was very accommodating. The only complaint we had was with bar wait staff being too over bearing. You got hit up constantly for drinks by all the wait staff.
The entertainment was excellent. Blue Man, Legends, Second City, Howl at the Moon and Fat Cats was excellent. There was also an excellent duo in the Atrium most nights. The biggest complaint was walking through the Casino where you almost needed a gas mask to avoid the smoking. This ship allowed more smoking in more areas than other ships we've been on.
Food was OK. The Garden Cafe provided a good variety and its set-up was excellent because of the numerous food stations and the large size of the area. We ate at La Cucina and it was OK. Wasabi was good for Sushi. Taste was ok but bland. The french onion soup I had tasted like brown water. O'Sheehans was good as well. We never left hungry anywhere we ate, but we never said that was the best meal we ever ate either. But we did like Freestyle and for us it met our needs.
We liked the Spice/H2O section during the day because it was adults only. In the main area of the deck that housed the water slides, there always seemed to be kids and adults running around. Do try the slides, they are a lot of fun.
It's a difficult clarification to find online with NCL, but you can bring wine on board, but it's a $15 corkage fee per bottle. We knew about that before we cruised, so we expected it.
Overall, we had a great time on the Epic and would do it again. We like the Freestyle approach which we think applies not only to the dining options, but also to the general attitude of NCL. Not stuffy...not formal, but very relaxing. This was probably our most relaxing cruise to date. We approached it as being a floating resort and it didn't disappoint. So if you're thinking about sailing on the Epic, don't get hung-up on the the little things, just enjoy it for what it is and you'll have a great time.