We traveled with another couple who used Celebrity as their other cruise options in the past. This is my first on NCL and the EPIC. I was taken aback by the bad press this ship has received and had second thoughts. I am sure glad we went.
First, two days before we sailed, I called NCL and told them the cabin next to ours, 10324 was now on sale for 250.00 less per person. Without hesitation, We were upgraded to 11261, family balcony. We stayed at the Marriott Biscayne Bay and were a 5 minute bus ride to the ship. A nice hotel with plenty of dining options within in walking distance.
We arrived at the ship at 1 pm and were on within 20 minutes. There is No need to be at the ship any sooner as you are just fighting everyone else. Once on board, we met the friendliest crew. For the entire week, every person working on the ship said hello to us. I found out there were only about 3000 people on board. The prior week had 5000 so I could see how there would be problems with that many people on board.
Our rooms were ready by 2pm and we set sail. The life boat drill was a breeze and over in 5 minutes. Now the meat and potatoes on board this week.
We made 3 dinner and two show reservations prior to boarding 45 days out. With 3000 people on board, it wasnt necessary. We saw the Blue Man group(excellent) and the Legends(excellent). We walked into the Comedy/Magician Jeff Hobson who is a must see. He has the Las Vegas style and was outstanding. We had no problems getting in.
Cagneys if you like steaks, this is a five star dining. The food is outstanding and one of the best ribeyes I have ever had.
Modernos Excellent. you must go in hungry and prepared to eat...
La Cucina very good. Went on last night and probably had foot overload.
Manhattan very good with great entertainment while dining.
Taste very good same menu without entertainment.
Garden Buffet very good with different items every day.. just search for them as there is so much food here with many station.
Now remember, we went on this ship with only 3000 passengers. I could see a problem if you add 1000 more people. Plus you may actually be eating next to some of the performers or Officers of the ship.
Cabin. I am 6ft3 235lbs and we had zero problems. The water comes out of the faucet so slow, it doesn't spray all over. The toilet and shower glass provide ample coverage and you cannot see what the person is doing.. way overblown. The bed was very comfortable and cabin is nicely decorated.
Ports. Costa Maya had a dolphin excursion that was new and not listed. I walked into the port and found it, returned to ship, got the wife, and we did the dolphin excursion. great little spot for drinks and fun right off the pier.
Roatan, could do without..not much there.
Cozumel. fun place lots to do and see if you wish.
Aboard the EPIC. purchased the spa package for 199 a couple This is a must do if you want to enjoy a relaxing trip. They have a very large gym with nice equipment and experts if you need help or have questions.
Nickle and dime. Not. you only pay for things you pay for on other ships. Drinks and sodas are not included. There is so much to do on the ship its amazing and most of its free. Minus excursions, spa and built in tips, we spent about 400 dollars. that included souvenirs on board.
Casino and smoke. Take about 10 minutes to walk around the ship and you can get to anywhere on the ship and avoid the casino and smoke. Just walk down to one end of the ship or the other and take those elevators to your destinations and avoid the casino all together. There are electronic maps all over. Just press where you want to go and the map will tell you. there might be one or two locations or bars where you might have to pass thru the casino.. take your time and learn the ship.
I would have no problem going on this ship again. I just would avoid peak times or weeks . I do not believe there is any ship that can accomodate 5000 passengers and not have problems.