Let me begin by saying that the Epic is a truly remarkable ship that offers some of the best entertainment at sea. The staff is nothing short of remarkable and we were always greeted with a hello and a smile. One thing we did miss on this ship however, was the grand foyer that that greets you as you embark. It was kind of awkward at first, to have family photos taken around the same stairwell with the same chandelier that was located near the casino. But, once we quickly got past this very minor point, we found the ship to be both innovative and exciting. Everything is really centered around decks 5,6,7 and 15. Keeping this in mind will make things much simpler.
We opted for an inside mid ship cabin and yes the room was small, especially for 2 adults and 2 kids. We had two twin beds with two bed that came down from the ceiling. The cabin steward would unlock them nightly and put them back up in the am. the beds were very comfortable and we had plenty of pillows. We had the cabin steward Michael remove the items from the room bar on the first night, so we could put in our own drinks. We actually liked the shower and separate toilet set up. For more privacy you could simply use the curtain that separates the bathroom areas from the rest of the cabin. The storage capabilities of the room were such that you never felt like you were tripping over your things,because there was a place for everything. The beds are also high enough so you can place your suitcases under your bed for more storage. We actually could fit 4 suitcases there. One tip, the vanity mirror is actually a cabinet, for even more storage. The room did feel a bit cramped, but we're a close family and quickly got used to it. We were located mid ship on the 13th deck, relatively near the elevators and felt no movement or heard any noise. One note, the kids TV shows are very limited and the same show is shown over and over again. NCL should def try to do something about this, especially since kids need down time too and diff tv shows would help with that.
For paid restaurants we did Moderno's and found the service to be very good, but the food to be rather bland. if you do not like your meat on the rare side, be certain to notify your waiter so they can cook it to order. The Cirque de Dreams meal was good as was the entertainment. I did find the narrator to be rather annoying after a while, especially with his cackling laugh. But it was still enjoyable to see all of the acrobatic talent. We did pay for premium seats and showed up 30 min earlier and were seated in a decent spot. We did notice people in the booths with standard seating craning their necks to see, so keep this in mind when booking. The upper floor would've afford them a better view of the show. We had booked all of our entertainment 45 days prior to sailing and were glad we did. You are able to book while on board, but this entails wasting precious time in line instead of enjoying the ship. By early to mid week alot of the more popular shows were actually booked. They have screens all over the ship to alert you as to what's going on each day and where. They also have monitors near food venues listing what specialty restaurants were available and which ones were booking up fast. Throughout the week you can make reservations to the shows at the kiosk outside of the Epic Theater. We've seen Blue man Group before, but it was still fun the second time around. Be sure to catch the informal meet and greet with the BMG at the atrium area. This was very interesting since they answered most of the audience's questions. And yes, they were out of costume. The Murder Mystery Lunch was well worth the extra money, simply for the entertainment value. The food was just fine. Second City Improv (which is the same group as the Murder Mystery) were good for a few laughs, just not laugh out loud, knee slapping funny. Howl at the Moon, the music was very good. We could have done without the constant 'request for tips or else your song doesn't get played.' Weakest Link Game Show was entertaining, especially since my DH won a Tanzanite necklace :) The kids loved Slime Time Live. Try to get there early and sit in the aisle seats, this is where they pick the contestants from. This too gets sold out, and they only offered it twice. So book early. Lobster Night was on Tuesday night as was the dress up if you wish night. The lobster was pretty good, and yes you can ask for seconds or thirds. The same goes for the desserts and appetizers. We found the food here more than adequate, so we cancelled the rest of our specialty dining reservations. The buffet was very good, especially the carved meats and the pretzel bread. Also, don't miss the banana bread and vanilla pound cake, simply delicious. These can be found at the buffet in Garden Cafe and the Atrium Cafe. The pizza was actually better at the buffet than it was with room service. When at any dining venue,be sure to ask for a kids meal if your child is not so enchanted with the menu. They were more than accommodating with us. Again, a great example of the excellent service provided on this ship! A good alternative for breakfast on debarkation day is to go to O'Sheehan's (sp). It was quiet and seats were plentiful. The breakfast menu was limited but still good. Better than fighting your way through the buffet line with the masses. One stand out food venue as the Sushi Bar, located at Teppenyaki...in a word AWESOME! This was probably the best sushi we've ever had and the cheapest at about $4 per roll. We did try the Chinese Restaurant and this too was very good and the service was prompt and very friendly.
One more side note on the entertainment, we did do the Ice Bar, which can only be booked while on board. I rec. booking this as soon as you board. Kids are welcome in the ice bar, and they are obviously given virgin drinks. It's not a typical 'bar' per say, more like an interesting place to visit. Make sure you wear long pants, shoes and socks if you plan on staying there longer than 10 minutes. They do provide you with a parka and gloves. Have the waiter take pictures instead of paying for them later. The strawberry flavored drinks were the tastiest and yes you can take them with you if you don't finish them. They will put them in a plastic cup for you, ice and all.
Now for the million dollar question, would we cruise the Epic again? The answer is maybe. We love the ship but once you've done all of the entertainment, it all becomes so repetitive. We would def. sail her if they were to change up the entertainment venues. Maybe NCL could rotate shows every year or so, that way it's something different each year. Just my humble opinion and I welcome any questions.