Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by HiramAbif: EPIC vacation...Loved it!
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EPIC vacation...Loved it!
Destination: Western Caribbean
We loved our EPIC B2B cruise. We had the Western Caribbean itinerary first followed by the Eastern. Carol was a little under the weather for a couple days at the beginning of the cruise but she's a trouper and bounced back with gusto.
We absolutely loved the ship. What's not to love! (though not better or worse than the Norwegian Pearl, Jewel, or Dawn - just different and every bit enjoyable).
The crew was commendable not only for how well they perform their duties but also for the level of warmth & friendliness they gave us - from our cabin stewards (we had a different one each week), to the restaurant & bar wait staff, to Paul Scally (cruise directer) & his staff. We were treated like royalty on every one of our Norwegian Cruise Line cruises to date and this was no exception. Be sure to order some drinks from Remo, Darryl, Domingo, Richard, & Virginia from the pool deck on sea days. Remo can be found all over the ship at night. Domingo also works More the martini bar, Virginia in Bliss Lounge, Richard at the "fresh squeezed" juice bar in the Garden Cafe in the AM.
The entertainment was A-1 as promised Be sure to see it all - don't miss ANY of it including the couple surcharged venues. Make reservations online before you cruise so you can be sure to see it all around your own schedule instead of picking from what's left.
The food on NCL never disappoints. Unless you are on a budget, I recommend eating in each specialty restaurant at least once. Don't miss the crabcakes, collosal shrimp coctail, Alaskan king crab-legs, Truffle fries, & raspberry creme brulee in Cagney's. Moderno, a "Brazillian/Argentinian" style steakhouse was an unanticipated other favorite of our group. That's not to say that the food in the main dining room is anything less than superb. I could go on all day about the food and I'm not overweight - or at least I wasn't before getting on the ship. To keep it short: If you like to eat, you'll love EPIC. I do recommend eating in the Garden Cafe for breakfast and lunch so you can enjoy more of you day at the pool deck or sleep an hour later on excursion days.
The Gym is the "largest at sea" and there are plenty of state of the art cardio and weight lifting machines. You're gonna need them as I did after eating all that rich food.
The Casino is huge compared to other Norwegian ships, at least it seemed that way to us. Carol just kept winning at the penny slots - a few bills her, a few bills there, up over a grand before all was said & done. Way to go girl!
As far as all the complaints I've seen on the various boards & blogs about the bathrooms in the cabins, I really don't know what the big deal is. The sink doesn't splash unless you use it inappropriately and the separate commode & shower areas are a great idea and time saver when two (or more) people are trying to get ready at the same time. Neither the commode, nor the shower stalls are in any way "see-through" as some have said. We landed an upsell from an inside cabin to a balcony for $100 pp for the second week (small price to pay for the upgrade). The bathroom facilities more than adequate in both. Obviously the balcony cabin is better & more spacious accommodations (bigger cabin and more closet room).
As far as ports of call go we feel we made some good choices.
In Costa Maya we recommend Maya Chan Beach resort. It's all inclusive including your own Palapa, bar drinks, a delicious lunch, kayaks, snorkle gear, and bikes and it was the prettiest beach spot we saw. Look 'em up on the internet & contact Mark there (He's American.)
In Roatan, we endorse Upachaya (hope I spelled that right) for a guided snorkeling tour at the world's second largest reef. Beer & lunch are included and the snorkeling is the best I've seen. It seems that most snorkeling tours are more about the booze (nothing wrong with that) but the spotlight on this one was the fantastic snorkling. Look em up online. The owners are also American.
In Cozumel our excursion with Isle de Passion was canceled due to choppy seas and high winds so we (5 of us) grabbed a taxi van for the day for about hundred bucks with a well spoken cabbie who brought us to a gas station to buy a case of beer, ice & coolers and gave us a tour of the other side of the island's gorgeous beaches & beach bars where surprisingly we could bring our own beers with us & sit at their tables, chaises, & under their umbrellas for free and that was all fine with them. When we got back to the pier side of the island only "Mr. Sanchos" where we stopped for some grub asked us to leave our beers in the van.
In St. Martin we took a taxi to Orient Beach where $7 got us each a padded beach lounge chair, umbrella, & a choice of drink. We ate lunch at a wonderful bar/restaurant right on the beach owned by Oliver but I don't remember the name. It was kind of a cool rainy day but we had a good time and made the most of it. The sun came out in the afternoon and we walked down to the "clothing optional" side of the beach to do a little people peeping. Some people there (not all) should maybe consider leaving their bathing suits on. Just a suggestion.
In St. Thomas we snorkeled with the sea turtles aboard the Fury. That's the name of the ship. It docks right next to the Epic's pier and the snorkeling was guided & fabulous. Open bar after snorkeling & snacks are included. Google it and contact Captain Mike.
Lastly in Nassau We recommend Atlantis if you are able to do waterpark rides. If you book it through Majestic Tours you can save a bundle of money over the ship's identical excursion. You can take a taxi for about $4 per person each way, get dropped off on the doorstop and get there faster than taking the ferry which leaves you with a very long walk to Atlantis.
We recommend the Holiday Inn Express Miami Springs Miami Airport for a pre-cruise hotel. Its around $100 per night, It's very clean and rooms have 2 double beds, free shuttle from/to the airport and withing a mile or so radius to any restaurant or shopping in the area. There's an IHOP and a sports bar next door. Breakfast at the Hotel is included (and/or discount at IHOP) and there's a shuttle right to the cruise port terminal of your chice for $10 pp. All prices quoted are at the time this review is being written.
We recommend the (Crown) Ocean-Z all-suite hotel at South Beach for a Post cruise indulgence. A roof top terrace if you can swing it. Its a very posh boutique style hotel with a superb location right between Collins & Ocean Dr.. The Front Porch which is located at the Hotel is the very best place (& reasonably priced) for breakfast & lunch @ Sobe and has been for very many years. They used to be at the Penguin Hotel but moved to the Z (Bigger venue). I don't know how they consistently can get their tomatoes so ripe. Their food is amazing, they have fresh squeezed juice, and a full bar. The Ocean-Z also has a very cool pool on the second floor. The cool part is that there are windows in the floor of the pool that you can see up into from the first floor lobby sitting area.
Well, hope you find this review helpful. Sorry its so long - but I guess I had a lot to say. If you choose Norwegian EPIC, I wish for you to have every bit as enjoyable time as we did.
Dennis & Carol Less
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