I'm a pretty picky person; usually. But I went with an open mind on my Epic cruise. And I was not disappointed. I'll break it down for you.
Boarding: Quick and easy. My cruise started off on a welcoming note when about 8 crew members greeted me with their smiling faces and a hearty "welcome aboard". I thought, "wow, what a great way to start a vacation". I proceeded to TASTE restaurant for lunch. No problems getting a table and getting service.
In no time at all, there was an announcement that the rooms were ready for occupancy.
Rooms - Cabin Steward: I was in a Studio. Small, yes, but something about the way it was laid out made it feel just the right size. The bed was ultra-comfortable. Antonio my cabin steward was the best I've ever had on NCL. I was coming down the hall to find my cabin and someone yelled out "heeeeeey Sandra" - and it was Antonio. "How did he know it was me" I thought? He was top notch and friendly the entire cruise. xoxoxoxo Antonio.
Food/Restaurants/Buffet - Everything was so freshly prepared! Produce tasted fresh-picked. Again, remember, I'm a very picky person. How they feed the large number of passengers in a manner that everything is prepared just for that ONE passenger boggles the mind - but they manage to do that. I mostly ate in TASTE, and looked forward to it every night. The times I ate in Manahattan were great as well. The Garden Buffet was amazing. Never a wait - and so many stations that there was never an issue getting food. It never, not even once felt "cafeteria-ish" which is a big reason I usually hate buffets. I didn't intend to share this with anyone, but okay I will; the turkeyburgers are the best on the planet! Seriously - ask them to prepare you one; they're orgasmic!
For my birthday, I ate at LeBistro. I was treated like I was the only person in the restaurant - and the most important person on the ship. The service was very attentive without being overwhelming and the food was, OMG, ridiculously good. Most restaurants had no waiting times - but if you wanted to dine after an earlier show, I did notice a line - but isn't that to be expected? Of course! You could get into the "additional pay" restaurants even if you didn't have reservations. I did not go to "Moderno" - but I can confirm that it was extremely popular and worth the up-charge.
Ports - Lots of ship excursions to choose from and several safe, reputable, private tours as well. Roatan is the biggest challenge. Zip lining at Clip n' Zip (Mahogany Bay) via Victor Bodden tours was one of the most exciting things I've ever done - in life!
Onboard entertainment - Make reservations ahead of time! Blue Man Group is good. But if you've already seen that show in another venue, it doesn't offer anything you've not seen before. But what the heck, see it anyway! The Comedy Magic of Jeff Hobson was priceless! Second City did not disappoint either. Legends in Concert was just okay; although the Michael Jackson tribute was jaw-dropping. The cruise director and his staff went above and beyond every moment of the day and night to make sure that their events were high energy. They interacted with people of all ages; complete vested in making sure that everyone had a good time! During previous NCL cruises on other NCL ships, the staff would make an "appearance" and then leave shortly after - but not this staff - they were there the whole time; interacting with all the passengers and making sure that each and everyone had a good time.
Additional costs aka "nickle and diming" - Huh? Seriously? Did you read your Freestyle Daily? There was so much to do that didn't cost anything extra! And whoever planned the activities did a great job in the scheduling.
Staff - Norwegian Epic; listen up, you have the friendliest staff I have ever experienced on any ship of any line (other NCL ships should take note!). I was walking back from Spice H20 toward the Garden Cafe and there was a staff member polishing the railing - he actually stopped and said to me "hello ma'am, I hope you are enjoying your day"! That was indicative of my experience the entire week - no matter where onboard the Epic I was. I cannot compliment the Staff Captain appropriately. Most impressive was that the Epic's Captain made an announcement explaining the circumstances of various announcements made (i.e., if there was someone who needed medical aid and a code was announced - the Captain was right there to explain what had happened and how it was resolved).
Other Venues - Fat Cats; oooooooooh yeah - experience that Jazz fans! Howl at the Moon - not to be missed!
Bars - Great bartenders; 2-1 drinks? worth the wait!
Miscellaneous - This review wouldn't be complete without mentioning Meaghan from the cruise director's staff. Meaghan so wonderfully took care of those of us in the Studio cabins. I kept thinking "I'm not a V.I.P., how come I feel like one"? Please pass on to Meaghan our thanks for her love and caring on the 1/8 - 1/15 sailing. She's fantastic!
In conclusion, you can't go wrong choosing this ship. See and do as much as you can - there was obviously a lot of thought and work put into the activities.
I purposely chose not to cram everything in this cruise - it was evident when I came on board that I'd definitely be back again - there's more to do - next time.