Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by david_sobe: Epic Courtyard Penthouse Christmas cruise
Overall Member Rating
Epic Courtyard Penthouse Christmas cruise
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
I booked this cruise almost a full year prior to sailing. Epic was still under construction when I booked. For a full year, I became an Epic addict and tried to obtain Epic photos, reviews, and videos prior to sailing.
Embarkation was painless but it was a full cruise. The wait and line for suites to check in was much longer than the regular check in. This did not bother me but it just is funny. There are so many suites on Epic that it should come as no surprise.
The penthouse on Epic is very small. It is probably the smallest penthouse at sea. But for lack of size, it made up for style and beauty. I think it is a common complaint on Epic about the cabins. In the penthouse we did not have a toilet door but a curtain. The penthouse is the only suite on Epic without a separate tub or shower. The penthouse on Epic is half the size of the penthouse on the Sky (NCL's oldest ship). This suite also had a solarium. It was beautiful with great views off deck 17, hanging off More the front of the ship. It was like a private glass room with a view. I did miss hearing the ocean at night. But being in the front of the ship was great. To see the sea and waves coming directly at you almost made you dizzy until you got used to it.
Blue Man was great. Cirque Dreams was the best. The food portions were small but it was very good. Legends was really good too (Michael Jackson, Rod Steward, and Brittany Spears). Second City is great and a talented bunch. Murder Mystery was ok and the food was not very good. Howl at the Moon was a great way to spend time before shows or before bed with a drink and a sing along. We went there three times. I missed the magician and did not have time to bowl. The FABBA show was ok but really fun if you like Abba. There is too much to see and do on this ship and even on a 7 night cruise, you cannot see or do it all. Spent Christmas eve at the Ice Bar. I loved it and i was very fun. Had the northern lights drink. Very good!
We tried mostly pay restaurants since we tried to see and "taste" it all. The Epic club was top notch. We ate there every morning and for one dinner. The food is good but the best part of the club and restaurant is the people that work there. It is not an act but they have a genuine interest in seeing you everyday. I miss them already.
We never ate at the Manhattan room and Taste (the free ones). Shanghais was our favorite speciality restaurant. I am not a huge Chinese fan but this place was delicious. Moderno was very good but go hungry. Cagneys always is a hit but they changed the fries since my last NCL cruise. The buffet looked stocked very good. One good thing of Epic is the buffet and Garden Cafe. Some of the best views from the ship are from the Garden Cafe (front of ship). There is definitely something for everyone and I found the food pretty even and good all over the ship. O'Sheehans is a great place and the fish N Chips are very good and the chicken pot pie is just ok. Great place. La Cucina is very romantic and very rustic. Very good pizza but the pasta is just ok. the bread is extremely good though. Very good service too.
This is where I am probably in the minority with Epic reviewers. I thought the layout was extremely good and it was fairly easy to get to the entertainment decks. I was surprised to find myself liking the fact there are no mid-ship elevators. Why? Because it really had an open flow that worked really good. It almost seemed you were walking in a giant shopping mall. People don't like how the life boats hand off the ship and ruin some of the view on some decks. But the use of space on Epic is quite good (thus the tiny cabins). From no mid-ship elevators, the life boats off the ship, and the tiny cabins makes room for a very large area for people go to and walk.
The best deal is the couples pass. Get them first thing on board because I think there are only 60 available. The thermal pools are awesome, the saunas and steam rooms are also quite good. Even on a Christmas week, the spa was not crowded. We enjoyed the spa at least 4 days. Best times to go are on port days, early mornings or late evenings.
Pools and slides
The slides are quite fun and with over 1100 kids on board, there was not much of a wait for the slides (except Epic Plunge). The green slide is the best and the purple is fun too. The Epic Plunge is ok, but not worth the wait for a tube and then the wait for the slide. It looks much more fun that is really is. Yes the pools are small but I was surprised how well they worked. In fact, with such a large ship, deck space is important. Anymore pool space would sacrifice deck space and that would not be a good thing. Even on a busy sea day, there were deck chairs available. No, they were not near the pool but I saw chairs. I was surprised at this because I never saw that on a cruise ship before.
This is the best place to hang out on a sea day. It was a suite perk for us but definitely worth the week pass if you can get it. Posh has the best views from deck 18, private bar, private waiter, and they serve you fresh fruit, water and have misters. The chairs are extremely comfortable with heavily padded sun beds and loungers. The upper section was for adults only. There is nothing going on at Posh at night and the bar is closed. But it is a good place to escape for private time with someone special.
This was the surprise hidden gem of the ship. It is an adults only pool area during the day and at night sort of a night club. At night the pool may be closed but the hot tubs are open. It was fun to see people soaking in the hot tubs at the back of the ship while watching the show FABBA. On the night we left St Maarten, there was a full moon. I was shocked to see no one in the hot tubs and not many enjoying this great and peaceful area. They host the white party in this area and it is very fun but very few use this area. Strange.
Very big casino and you are always walking through the casino to get somewhere. I guess Las Vegas has taught them something.
The service is very good all over the ship. Epic club has outstanding service.
The gym is amazing. It is so large, great views, new machines. It is superior to the gym in the courtyard. They also have a ton of classes if you are interested.
I did not find the courtyard a private hidden oasis. There were tons of teenagers in the hot tubs and kids playing in the pool. There are not many chairs and it is a place hard to get sun because it is not open like a pool deck and is surrounded by walls. The gym and sauna are much better in the main parts of the ship.
This area you can surf the net for .75 per minute and look at the cruise photos. They are organized on a computer and in a book for your room. Very modern and cool. But even modern technology has flaws. Many pictures the ship photographer took of us never made it to the computer or book. Thus we did not buy the photo CD.
Drink prices - very fair, actually cheaper than my hometown (Miami)
Green water slide
Crique Dreams - found both the show and acrobats very entertaining.
Fish N Chips at O'Sheehans
Posh on sea days
Spa and gym
11pm Second City show
Epic club and restaurant
Pictures by the chandelier
Movies at the atrium. Cant hear, everyone says shhhhhh. Too noisy for movies
Lots of up charges for restaurants
Menus at Taste and Manhattan never change
The food at Murder Mystery
Pizza delivery - worst pizza I had in my life (no joke)
On a sad note, we had a medical rescue on this cruise with a Coast Guard helicopter landing on the ship. It was very sad and disappointing to see many passengers not honoring the family's respect and privacy. They kept taking pictures and trying to zoom in with cameras and video equipment.
Loved St Maarten, St Thomas, and St John. But I don't like how early the ship leaves St Thomas and then gets to Nassau so late. We did not arrive at Nassau until 1230. There was such a mad rush to get off the ship and Epic parks next to Carnival Dream and other huge ships. There are 20,000 people just overflowing the dock. There is no time for a real excursion. Take my advice and stay on the ship. I wish I did.
Epic is a very fun ship. I booked a suite and spent a ton of money. But this is the ship you don't need a suite. It is unfortunate that NCL only has 2 bedroom cabins in the expensive Villas for families that travel. You don't need to spend that kind of money to enjoy Epic. If I sail Epic again, I will book the most inexpensive cabin but also book all the goodies like Posh, spa, and as many pay restaurants I can find. On a big ship like this, you are never bored and spend little time in your room. The Villa penthouse is the most expensive suite on Epic per square foot. It is 80% the price of an owners suite but has 35% of the space. Not a fair deal at all. NCL really needs to adjust what they do with these kinds of cabins and deals. The courtyard is nice but not worth the money. In addition, there are so many suites on board, things can get crowded there.
Happy sailing! Less
Read more Norwegian Epic cruise reviews >>
Read Cruise Critic's Norwegian Epic Review >>
Cabin review: H517005 Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony
Read All Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony (H5) Reviews >>
Port and Shore Excursions
Stay on the ship in Nassau
You get what you pay for - it'...
Too large and bureaucratic
NCL get your act together.
Too large and bureaucratic
The lines were.......Epic.