We flew into Miami the night before and stayed in Hampton Inn & Suites Miami Airport South Blue Lagoon for $109 per night. Which included free hot breakfast, free shuttle to the port of Miami, Free pick up from the Airport and for those of you who are driving free parking for 7 days. Hotel is located outside the Airport Terminal. Publix grocery store, McDonalds, Burger King, a great Cuban restaurant, CVS and Walgreens is across the street from the hotel. Very good value, very good deal.
Our cabin number was 11242...Hated the toilet and shower setup/location; I have been married 20 years and I had to ask my spouse to leave the room every time I had to go to the bathroom.
Our room was shaking/vibrating 5 out of 7 days; very, very annoying when you're trying to sleep. We were told the noise was the engine "revving" up, and we were given an option of moving to another room to sleep every night, which we gladly took!
There were a total of 37 people in our group, everyone that had 3 or more people in the room complained that the rooms were too small and there was no privacy for the bathroom. The toilet flushing noise was too loud, you cannot use bathroom in the middle of the night for fear of waking everyone up! The toilets and showers in the fitness center had more privacy!
My biggest complaints:
Because of the low ceiling in the casino the smoke was quite intrusive, even with the air purifiers setup every where, there was too much second hand smoke.
Promenade was blocked by lifeboats, they have decided to park the life boats outside the ship to make more room for the retail space, which blocks the whole view of the ocean. Walking the promenade in the morning and sunset and after dinner have always been my favorite part of cruising; the "promenade" does not even go around the whole ship. It seems they have gone out of their way to block some of the best views of the ocean, for example back of the ship is blocked by a huge LED screen which shows pictures of the tropical islands and the other decks have "viewing" glass that reflects (can't take a decent picture anywhere)!
This would be a good cruise with family of small children. High guard rails, nonexistent clear views of the ocean. Fort Knox on the ocean. Future ship designers please take notes as how NOT to make the next generation of ships.
There is no WOW! Factor to this ship, all the empty space has been converted to retail space.
Food quality and selection of their Buffett was really very good. Lots of variety and good quality food. In the USA you would expect to pay around $12 per person for breakfast buffet, for Lunch it would be $14 and dinner $20 per person. 2 free restaurants; Taste and Manhattan room were not as impressive. They both lacked flavor, food tasted and looked like first class air plane food - which is not a compliment.
Best part about this ship was its staff, from room steward Louisa to food director Mr. Mustafa Gulbahar. All staff members were very helpful and eager to do what was needed to correct any issues/problems.
Honorable mention on excursions: Flying Cloud (Catamaran Sailing) in the Bahamas. We cancelled at the last minute - the weather was not as warm as we were expecting - and they were very accommodating and understanding when we cancelled, in fact they did not charge us. I would recommend their services to everyone, their staff was very polite and professional. Here is Michelle's email firstname.lastname@example.org
I will cruise NCL again, but not the EPIC. I like the Jewel class ships.