This cruise was for my husband's 40th birthday and we traveled with his two sisters (25 and 45) and another couple in their 40s. Having been on Commadore Cruise lines about 16 years ago with one sister, this was by far a extraordinary ship! Unfortunately we encountered the same thing we did 16 years ago as we passed right by Nassau due to the high winds and the Captain's decision to be on the safe side and forego this island. On top of that our St. John trip was also cancelled due to weather. Thank goodness we were on an active ship with lots to do.
Well, now for my ship review. The ship is beautiful, the rooms are great as far as looks go and the bathroom set up was no problem at all. My shower didn't work for a day and a half as it was scalding or freezing. On day two they finally fixed the lines that were crossed. Now everyone's complaints about the walking room between the bed and the wall is totally true! I would have to wait off to the side while my husband walked by. Having been on several Carnival ships in the past, they by far, have the room sizes right. Storage is great-we didn't even know about the two drawers that pulled out under the sofa until the second day. The balcony was very spacious-too bad there wasn't a lounger, but otherwise my coffee cup fit just fine in the little table. Having a coffee maker in the room is also a fantastic thing. On other ships I had to dress and walk up to get coffee every morning.
The dining rooms were good, we ate at Taste once, The Manhattan Room 2-3 times and the buffet many times. My only complaint is as everyone else complains about-variety. My big complaint is the desserts-same thing every single night-Carnival has won that hands down. No creme brulee, whah! As far as specialty restaurants we ate many times at the sushi bar (fantastic!). I had a few appetizers from O'Sheehan's and they were good but I didn't get to try the favorites. Moderno was excellent-the best salad bar I've ever had! To top it off, La Cucina was by far my favorite. Due to my husband's complaints about the non-working shower, we were given a complimentary pass for La Cucina on the last night-too bad we didn't go sooner....it's well worth twice the price of $10.
We saw the Blue Men and Legends in Concert-both fantastic!!!!!!! Howl at the Moon is also good, but of the two men that played one was by far a professional, excellent and the other was horrible! I think they need a replacement-sorry to say.
Overall my raves: The Epic has it hands down when it comes to entertainment (Princess has to be the most boring cruise ships I have ever sailed). Carnival is a ton of fun, but after multiple cruises there are only so many Men's Hairy Chest contests you can watch. We like the assigned dining better than freestyle but the food on the Epic was probably a notch above Carnival. I haven't been on any of the new RCCL ships so I can't comment as it's been about 10 years since I was on the 4 day cruise to the Bahamas on the older ships.
My only complaints: the weather which was nobody's fault and the wave rooms, I think a standard wall would give you the room needed. My biggest complaint of all are the chair hogs! There would be tons of empty chairs with towels for hours! There was even a fight wherein an officer had to be called! The pool layout is not very good for the number of passengers. Finally after a few days we found the quiet zone-take the elevators up to level 18 and go out the door opposite the private area. SMOKING!!!!!! Everything is smoky and your clothes will all have to be washed when you get home!
NCL had the easiest boarding and disembarking process I ever encountered-probably less than 10 minutes both ways!
I would recommend this ship to people who like Carnival over Princess. It's a ton of fun and not stuffy!! The staff are by far some of the friendliest I've encountered and the food is very good....really no need to pay for the specialty restaurants and if you want to, try the sushi bar and La Cucina.