The first part of this review is for the Gluten Free and/or those with food issues... If this does not apply to you please scroll down for the ship review....
My husband and I cruise because it is the most care free way to travel with my issues with food. For years after discovering my intolerance to gluten we did not travel because it was so difficult to coordinate meals without getting sick. Having tried several cruise lines I must say that so far Norwegian was the best. That being said, it was very difficult in the beginning to get a straight answer on how the menu would be handled. Prior to the cruise I was told that I must fill out a form indicating my issues and then an order form would be sent so certain foods would be tagged to my room number and available upon my requests. After filing the forms and waiting several weeks with no answer I called to obtain my order form. At that time I was put on hold in order to see if it could be faxed or emailed because we were only a few weeks til our sail date. When my hold time was finally over I was told that they no longer do the order forms and food items would be available on the ship. However, when I inquired as to what these consisted of they could not say. They told me the list was too long to state. When I researched on CruiseCritic I did discover that a few people still filled out the form!!! I went through several different avenues of inquiry and was told that there were no longer forms but confusion abound!!!
Upon arriving on the ship we met a gentleman at the buffet, a Matre' D named Deepak Gonsalves. This gentleman was my key to a worry free vacation. I found the best place to eat most days and nights (and afternoons) was the Garden Buffet. There were gluten free bagels, cookies, pizza, cake - all for the asking! For someone who doesn't get this fare, even at home, it was heaven!!!! And by the way the french fries and morning hash browns are gluten free (yay)! In all of the restaurants they do try to accommodate for the allergy but I found the ease of the buffet the best for our schedule. If you would like to dine at a specialty restaurant please try Moderno. The salad bar was beautiful and all of the meat skewers are gluten free and absolutely delicious!!!!
Having said all that PLEASE BEWARE THE SPEIGEL TENT! I went there twice and got glutened twice... At first it was very difficult to get someone to confirm my reservation for Cirque Dreams as gluten free. At the CruiseCritic meet and greet the staffers gave us the phone numbers of the managers of each area of the ship and I had to call the Food and Beverage manager in order to get a confirmation on my meals. The woman in charge of the food there (Rebecca) called to ask how I would like to handle the food. We went over the menu and decided just to keep it simple and omit the gravy from the filet, substitute the au gratin potatoes for a baked and creme brule' instead of the cupcakes. Which I did request because in the restaurants they give you a fruit plate at the end of EVERY meal if they do not have a prepared gluten free desert. I had also gone over the menu for the Murder Mystery as we were booked for that too. That evening I got a filet without gravy and au gratin potatoes with a fruit plate...gluten and a disappointing desert! What more can I say. When I saw Rebecca I let her know what happened and that I was told at our meet and greet to let them know before they heard about it on the boards. She immediately got upset and stated that I was going to write what I was going to write anyway. (WOW!) I was immediately taken aback. That evening after having drinks with my husband we went back to the room to discover a message from Rebecca apologizing for the mix up and state that she sent a creme brule' to my room and said to call her if I needed anything. -- Now for the second instance... The Murder Mystery. We showed up and Rebecca came over and asked why I hadn't called her back.? I really didn't know I was supposed to. She did buy me a drink and told me they had creme brule' for my desert then as well. Then the salad came out and I was told the dressing was not safe so I had oil and vinegar. When I looked at the salad there were olives that had traces of the dressing on it! I tilted my bowl to give the olives to my husband to discover the bottom of the bowl with watery dressing in it. Pass. Thankfully I had not eaten the salad so I did not get ill but it was a disappointment. I ate cautiously and did not confront Rebecca at the end of the show. Another altercation on my lovely vacation was not needed and as she said... I will write about it here.
After all that we ended up having snacks later at the buffet so all was not lost.
******* Here is the Ship/Vacation Review for those not concerned w/Allergies********
First of all we loved our vacation... Embarkation was tough but after we got on the ship it was a breeze. Do yourself a favor and do not arrive at the cruise dock before noon. We waited over an hour after we checked in to board. The ship was a bit confusing and I found there were not enough maps due to the fact that the layout was quite unconventional. There was tons of entertainment and always something to do. We danced in the wading area of the pool at sail away and met some lovely people who we partied with on and off throughout the cruise.
Fat Cats was awesome the blues band that played there were phenomenal - unfortunately I can not remember their name due to the fact that most of the week martini's here were two for one...
Howl at the Moon! This is a must see!!!! The humor and talent found there was quite entertaining. They even had the violin player from the Cirque show play and it was a great time (he even did it without his shirt after being tipped to do so -- what great abs!!!)
The Cirque show was awesome. The feats of strength were amazing and I enjoyed the show despite the meal. You can always eat after the show. I do agree with other Critics, this should be a show only and the food should be left for the restaurant venues.
Second City was very funny and they did deal with all of the crazy suggestions sent their way. The only disappointment was to short... it was only 45 mins.
The Legends show was good. Michael Jackson was by far the best impersonator. Rod Stuart was good but I felt his energy was too high for what the real Rod Stuart is (he may be younger and that might be the reason.) The Britney that appeared was ok. She was more like a girl in a Britney wig performing than an impersonator but it was still entertaining.
The Ice Bar was crazy!!!! We went in with 18 other CruiseCritics and the time flew by so quickly I didn't even get cold! It was a great experience with the ice benches and 2 ice sculptures.
Blue Man was the best! I have seen them in Boston and they do the full length show on this ship. No mini version here. I won't spoil it but the percussion and antics are in full swing. You will love it.
We went to St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Nassau. There was still a lot of flooding from recent rain in St. Maarten but we did enjoy our tour. However, my favorites were the other two. I highly suggest the best of St. Thomas tour. You get to go to Magen's Bay for a couple hours, they take you to places to take pictures and to Blackbeard's Castle with the amber museum. This is my favorite because there is a rum factory, a place to relax, pool and of course gift stores. There is a dinosaur that comes out on your way in to the amber museum... kinda cheesy but funny nonetheless. And for my all time favorite.... Segue tour of Nassau!!!! I love the Segue! I want to go again! The guides were so much fun and let you play on the segue on a field after the tour was done. I highly recommend it!
That is my view of the Epic based on what was not covered by other reviews. I tried to reinforce only the things I felt needed it (who needs another person stating the casino was smokey)... YOU make your vacation special. Don't sweat the small stuff!!!