I really didn't know what to expect from this cruise, at all! I had perused the NCL website and semi familiarized myself with some of the amenities the ship had to offer. I had cruised on the Pearl a few years ago (the second voyage! amazing.) and I absolutely LOVED it. It seemed that this ship while being significantly bigger and boosting more restaurants/better entertainment, still mirrored the Pearl in some ways. So I was hopeful!
I wasn't disappointed but I wasn't floored. Epic? Sorta. It's HUGE. Towards the end of the trip it was fatiguingly huge. As in, I'm in the aft of the ship but I need to run and get something from the forward where my room is. Yeah, see you in twenty! While being very impressive by the sheer mass of the ship, the novelty wears off. You start to notice how many empty common areas there are... Decks of unused pool chairs in the quiet area... Our ship was almost full but those areas were predominantly empty. It was like they just built them for bragging rights about the square footage. Unwise use of space.
We were in the family balcony and overall I was very pleased. Wasn't crazy about the wave shape of the room as it doesn't allow two people to pass through the space between the bed and cabinet. It felt like between my husband, two year old and I, something was always in the way. The sink being basically in the middle of the room wasn't very convenient either. The beds were VERY comfortable and we slept great. Balcony was roomy and WELL worth the extra $$. Our steward was exceptional. TV wasn't so great. The same things play over and over. But that's really not what you cruise for. Not a deal breaker. Loved the concept of your room key activating the lights.
Moving to the food portion of our trip. Highs and lows. Garden Buffet is satisfying and plentiful. There were a lot of healthy options. We ate there for breakfast and lunch everyday. Also fed the kiddos there at night. The only complaint was the amount of people. Overwhelming. But that's what you get when you are on a ship that fits 4000+ people. We ate at Taste and Manhattan Room which are no extra charge. The starters were great but the entrees didn't rock my world. It was very wedding/catering for the masses type food. Not horrible, not outstanding. The Churrascaria was delicious, sushi was so so and Le Bistro was OUTSTANDING. Amazing. Spice h20 makes some VERY yummy appetizers late at night. O Sheehans wings rocked my world! The dinner included with Cirque was pretty good. The alcohol was pricey but not outrageous. 2 for 1 martinis every night but the locations vary. Check your daily itinerary for specifics.
Entertainment- Cirque? Amazing. Blue Man Group? Loved it. Second City? Laughed till I cried. Bliss Lounge was a blast! Legends was iffy. I really want to know who deemed Britney Spears as a legend? Rod Stewart was great and Michael Jackson was down right creepy. Sounded and looked just like him!!! Lots of fun games and always something to do. Downside? The karaoke list of songs seriously leaves A LOT to be desired. They have the most amazing set up but the shortest list of songs you've ever seen.
Pool Area- Small but efficient. Slides were a blast. The kiddie pool was so fun and has a small slide of its own. The music was loud but festive. It can get busy during at sea days so get your seat early!
Amenities for Kids- This ship is kid friendly! There are a TON of activities throughout the day! We did the Nick character breakfast and our son loved it. The recess area is amazing and the counselors were fabulous! Make sure you get there the first day so you can tour it b/c after that, no parents allowed. I do wish that there was a dry area for parents to play with their children. If there is inclement weather, if your kid decides recess is from the devil (as mine did) or if you are just simply DONE with the pool, you don't really have a whole lot of options. Recess does charge for certains time of the day. I felt very safe leaving my son there and my nephews never wanted to leave the place. Oh and load up on apple juice during breakfast at the garden cafe b/c if you order it any other time of the day? That'll be $2.25.
Spa/Fitness Center- The spa employees were downright rude. I spent close to five hundred dollars and still didn't really feel like they wanted me there. They acted as if the unisex hydrotherapy/relaxation room was sacred and not to be enjoyed, no matter how much you spent. And it was empty! I was overall pleased with my treatments but not the service. The fitness center was awesome! LOVED it.
Things I wasn't crazy about- This ship offers SO many things to do. The downside? You pay extra for it all. Example-Ice Bar is $20 per person for EXTREMELY watered down drinks. It's a little underwhelming. Bowling? Sure! For five dollars. Spin Class? You can cycle your legs off for 20 dollars. The rooms were a tad cramped but we didn't really spend that much time hanging out in there. I didn't like Costa Maya or Honduras. Cozumel was nice. However, I don't think I'll do that itinerary again.
Things i loved- Overall most of the staff are extremely hospitable and make you feel so welcome. Germ freak that I am, I was very happy with all the sanitizing machines outside all the restaurant and bars. The ship as a whole is VERY clean. Getting on and off the ship was seamless. There is always something to do. The ship has a very festive yet relaxed feel.
So that all being said, this is was an overall enjoyable cruising experience. There were things that were Epic and not so Epic. The things that are, you WILL pay for. You just have to decide if they are worth it!