Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze. Got to the Port at about 10:30 AM, stood in line for about 30 minutes before check in began. Once check in began it took about 5 minutes for security and the check in process. Sat in terminal for 30 minutes before boarding, on the ship around 11:45 AM. Disembarkation was quick and easy with Express Walk-off, we were off the ship at 7:30 AM.
Entertainment was even better than we expected. Blue Man Group put on an excellent show. My wife did not think she would enjoy it, but they surprised her and she had a great time. Our recommendation is to get in line early and sit up front, it definitely enhances the experience. The band for the Blue Man Group is really good. We loved the Legends, and highly recommend you attend both Legends Unplugged in the Manhattan Dining Room in addition to Legends in Concert in the Epic Theatre. During the Unplugged sessions you get a chance to see how great the back up singers are as individual entertainers, where In Concert the focus is on the Headliners. The Legends will change again in January, but for our trip Michael Jackson was tremendous. Rod Stewart and Brittany Spears were also great, but Michael was our favorite. Cirque Dreams dinner theatre was so diverse and so entertaining. All of the performers are really great and will keep you on the edge of your seat. The food was much better than has been reported on the boards. We had a small Fillet, large shrimp, and scalloped potatoes. The salad course was also good in that we had Satay Chicken skewer and a nice salad. Howl at the Moon was a great time, get ready to drink and sing along with the talented entertainers. Second City is always fun, we sat in the front row and it felt really close and personal. Other entertainers were good as well, we liked listening to Apollo Duo, Pianists, Solo Guitarists, Pool Band, and Manhattan Band.
Cabins were not as bad as people have reported. We had a BG balcony which was a balcony guarantee mid-ship deck 8, cabin 8133. It was right above the aft gangway and just above the Teppanyaki Restaurant on deck 7. The wave cabin was fine, we have had them on the Celebrity Solstice and Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas. The cabin is a bit smaller than the other ships, but not so small it was a problem. The balcony size was very good and much better than we have had on Princess ships. The bed is a bit short on the edges due to the rounded corners, however, I am 6' 4" and the only time my feet hung off the edge is when I slept right at the edge of the bed. The length of the bed never interfered with my sleep and was a non issue. The sink in the room was not a problem, we could not get it to splash on the floor as others have reported no matter how hard we tried. The shower and toilet arrangement are not our favorites, but with the curtain pulled between this area and the room privacy was certainly adequate for a couple. If we were travelling with other family members or children we might have found it to be more of a problem. The storage in the cabin is excellent, we could not use all of the closets and storage areas, we had plenty left over. Our cabin arrangement was bed near the bath area with sofa at the balcony. This is our preferred arrangement having had it a few times.
Food was good in the main dining room. In fact, the Seafood Extravaganza on Wednesday was much better than the Lobster night on the Oasis in October. NCL gave us 2 Lobster Tails, a few Large Shrimp, 2 Mussels, and a nice Fillet of Fish in addition to the excellent pasta, sauce, and vegetables. We ate at 4 Specialty Restaurants Cirque Dreams (covered above in entertainment), Moderno Brazilian, Noodle Bar, and Teppanyaki. Save up your appetite for Moderno and Teppanyaki, there is no way you can go away hungry. We talked to some folks who had just done the Brazilian on the Allure, and they liked Moderno better. I am happy to report that NCL will be rolling Moderno out to the rest of the fleet and will be replacing the Tex-Mex with Moderno. Having done both, there is no comparison, Moderno wins hands down. The Noodle Bar was a great place for a light lunch during sea days. The Spring Rolls, Pot Stickers, and Noodles Dishes were all excellent. O'Sheehans was a great place for lunch, the Chicken Pot Pie and Fish and Chips were very good. We did not try the Burgers, so we cannot report on them. Taste Dining Room is a great place for a peaceful breakfast and beats going to the Garden Cafe. The Garden Cafe always had something being carved each day in addition to the usual buffet items you have come to expect. The Pizza and Pasta stations were always busy and quite good. The Omelette and Egg stations were good and the lines were short. At dinner time they always have the Crepe Stations going, Crepes with fruit and ice cream were a great desert when the dining room did not have something of interest. Also, do not miss the Ice Bar, it is a real treat. Unlike the reports about the drinks being small, we did not find this to be accurate. The ice glasses had plenty for us to drink, and in fact as we got to our 2ND drink, we had trouble finishing it. I would not call them small, or large, in fact I think the quantity is just right for the experience.
Ship was tastefully decorated and beautiful. We did not have heavy Cigarette Smoke as others have reported as we traversed the Casino on Deck 6 or the Shops on Deck 7. Even with people smoking in the Casino, and us being hypersensitive to Cigarette Smoke, it did not bother us. The Gym and Mandara Spa were large and beautiful. The pool area and water slides were great, everyone from 5 to 75 years old was enjoying the slides. We did not do the Rock Wall or Play Basketball on the NCAA Regulation court. However, we did talk with some teens who loved all the sports facilities as well as the Teen Club. The only problem we really saw with the ship was the traffic pattern on Deck 6 near the Epic Theatre, Cirque Dreams Dinner Theatre, and the Headliners Club. As people lined up for the Cirque Dreams Dinner Theatre it put a pinch in the traffic flow in the area. I am sure NCL will learn from this experience and adjust their design on the next ships they build. Also, we are quite sure NCL will be changing the cabin design on the next class of ships under construction regarding the cabin and bathroom layout from our discussion with the Officers.
Would we sail the Epic again? Yes, no problem for us we love the entertainment and the vast variety that large ships offer. We will be back on the Epic, just like we will be back on the Oasis and Allure. We will also sail the Jewel Class ships without problem. However, these ships cannot offer the entertainment options that you find on the large ships.
A little background about us for those of you wondering how accurate this review might be? We are a mid-50's couple who cruise 6-7 times per year and have cruised > 40 times. We like NCL, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity these days and are now passing on Princess and Carnival due to their lack of great entertainment. If you like to cruise for the entertainment and like to stay up past 8:00 PM the NCL Epic is a great choice.