This was our fourth NCL cruise. I have liked NCL in the past as I thought they offered good value for the money, and the freestyle option was nice in its own way, although it does make it hard to socialize with folks you might not know. For reference, we have travelled previously on the Pearl, Sun, and Star.
Booked the EPIC expecting 'more' from its size, and unfortunately, got less.
Here's the executive summary: EPIC seems like a ship designed in the throes of the energy spike a few years back where a bunch of six sigma trained MBA's and focus group marketers got together... Let's give them a water park... and pack them in... let's eliminate the need for a fuel surcharge... we can lose extra weight by losing the pool... when we have a captive audience, we can boost profit by 'a la carte' options... hey, maybe we can be more like carnival?
Staterooms: Family balcony very small for a balcony room - there was barely enough room to maneuver around the room for 3 people. Large balcony with two small chairs? Seriously crippled storage space - almost had to keep clothing in suitcase under the bed. One closet for all your clothes folks - that's it. No drawers. Sink was fine, as were shower and bathroom, although countertop space insufficient.
Dining rooms: Main Dining room (Manhattan room) was hit-or-miss. One night service was so bad and we had waited so long we just stood up and left and went to the buffet. Really. Other night things went fine, but this was the last night of the cruise and the specialty restaurants were packed. Ate in taste twice and it was fine.
Specialty Restaurants: Cagney's (steakhouse) only so-so for the cover charge. Cxl'ed 2nd night there for something else. Moderno (Brazilian steakhouse) very good and best meat of the cruise. Teppanyaki great fun and tasty too. Le Bistro - you can order escargot AND foie gras. Yum! Good meal there - don't know why some complain.
Buffet: quite good. If you don't care about presentation, food quality is no worse and perhaps better than main restaurants. Wonderful pretzel rolls.
Entertainment: somewhat geared to a Vegas-type crowd. If that's your thing you'll love it. Chain-type entertainment.
Kid's club - WONDERFUL. Best part about the ship. Take advantage of it fully! Great counselors there.
Character breakfast: somewhat low on entertainment value.
The overall tenor of 'nickel and diming' was pervasive and detracted from our enjoyment of the ship.
Too mass market for me. Seems like NCL is trying to compete with carnival and offering low cruising prices but many hidden fees. I cruise with NCL due to my percieved value - which has just gone out the window. So, perhaps I should try RCL or go back to celebrity next time?