I will start off by saying that I was not a fan of NCL cruises,before this cruise. My wife and I decided to give the new Epic a chance to change our minds. We cruisde with our two best friends out of Miami. We chose to get our own flight out of CT and transportation to the pier. Embarkation went smoothly. We arrived at the port at 11:30 and were on board by 12:15. We were directed to deck 15 for lunch. We were told that our cabin would be ready at 2:00 pm. I found the buffet cafe very large and easy to navigate with a large crowd eating. The food was good, especially the hamburgers that were cooked to order. I also enjoyed the fresh salads French baquettes daily.
For our anytime dinner we tried to eat at Manhatten but found the wait to be 45 minutes that first night. we were directed to another free restaurant called Tastes, which serves the identical menu. This restaurant is more informal then the Manhattan there was no waiting to get in. I ordered rib eye steak and found it OK. The menus at the free restaurants are the same every night with the exception of one new item in each category.
The Epic is a very large ship. One would expect to find large public rooms with tall ceiling like the Voyager class of Royal Caribbean. This is not the case at all. No large and tall atrium. No two floor dining room with curve stairways. No fancy elevators. Where is all the space of a 155,0000 ton ship? Its used up by all the pay- as -you -go restaurants! Its where the specialty foods I expect on a cruises, like fillet Mignon, rack of lamb, shrimp cocktail, escargot can be had, for a price. We ate at the Manhattan Rest. 3 times and I was disappointed every time. Poor selection and poor presentation of the food. Also I noticed that all the servers we had were inexperienced and had no personalities. If you want the best food and waiters, it's going to cost you. There are approx. 10 pay restaurants, on board.
One night we opted to eat at Le Bistro Rest and found the food very good at a price of $20 per person. The large Fillet Mignon was excellent however the rest of the meal was of the same or lower quality I found on my last cruise on the Carnival Miracle.
The shows were good. Our favorite was the Blue Men that was free and Jeff Hobson the comedian. He made us cry laughing. Cirque de so lei was ok. I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. The food was adequate for the price of $20 per person. The show Legends is worth seeing. Michael Jackson was good but Rod Stewart was better. Brittany Spears was ok.
In conclusion, my over-all experience on the Epic was not very good. I would rate the ship 5 over all on a scale of 10. if you plan to sail on the Epic, be prepared to pay for lots of extras that you normally don't pay for on a cruise ship. I will end by saying that my favorite cruise line for food is Carnival and for the ships themselves, Princess. I am an experienced cruiser and have noticed through the years that our views of ships and lines evolve with time.