I’d say it’s more that the mistakes NCL made with the EPIC have such an impact that they tend to overshadow all of the really good things. I will get the bad out of the way first so that I can move on to the positive.
The EPIC’s issues have been discussed at length so I will just mention them quickly. It’s a bad thing for any non-smoker or guests with respiratory issues to have a smoke friendly open air casino in the middle of the Atrium. When the gamblers were in full force, the Atrium and other public areas were definitely impacted by the smoke. Of course, there is the ever popular frosted plastic toilet enclosure. It was like a very clean, slightly see through Spot-a-Pot…without the privacy afforded by a traditional Spot-a-Pot. The running/jogging/walking deck (or the 2 way Landing Strip as we affectionately called it) was just not a pleasant place to exercise outdoors. The runners were trying to weave back & worth between fast and slow walkers all while the exhaust from the vents and machinery made for a warm sticky walk. The selling opportunities and shopping talks were are definitely over the top but I think that NCL probably isn’t alone with making you think the only place to shop in any port is Diamond or Tanzanite International. Last thing…a WARNING for anyone paying the premium to have an AFT Balcony- be prepared for a great deal of noise and vibration upon arrival or departure of ports. It was like having your own mini-earthquake! ? (And thanks to the nightly cigar chain smoker on the next balcony, we didn’t get to use our balcony very much anyway) OK…now the GOOD STUFF!!!
SHIP & CABIN: It is a beautiful ship. The photos of the Atrium chandelier do not do it justice –it’s more gorgeous in person. You definitely get a workout if you use the stairwells! (How else can you work off the yummy food?!!) It did seem to have things close together causing some choke points with too many people trying to get through a section at the same time. The cabin wave design does cause the cabin to feel a bit smaller and, again, cause several choke points but overall it was fine for the 2 of us. The amount of storage space is amazing. I actually liked having the shower, toilet and sink all separated. (Yes…the sink isn’t the best design in the world but it’s workable.)
ENTERTAINMENT: AWESOME!!! You have SO MANY choices!! The Blue Man group is not to be missed. Top notch musicians on the ship especially Kurt Hunter and the Slam Alley Blues band.
FOOD: I’ve always liked NCL’s food and this cruise was no exception. Lots of choices free and otherwise – you just can’t try them all in 1 week.
GARDEN CAFE – love the new arrangement. Instead of 1 big buffet dining room, it is sectioned off to feel more like a series of smaller dining areas. The buffet had a great variety. I found it hard to tear myself away from the salad bar & the daily Indian food offerings. We ended up eating here most of the week for B/L/D. 1 exception …skip the Pizza! The heat lamps do not do it any favors.
LeBISTRO- the food and service was EXCELLENT! Judy and Harold, our wait service team, were stellar! I could eat the mussels in the Pernod broth and the Coq au Vin every day.
LaCUCINA – Visually it’s a beautiful restaurant. We had a table of 10 so between us we practically ordered almost every dish on the menu. Not a disappointment to be found.
WASABI –Excellent sushi and Yakitori.
SPA & FITNESS ROOM: We spent quite a bit of time in both of these areas. If you want a place to escape from the crowds, I definitely encourage buying the optional spa pass. Yes, there will always be deck chair hogs (even in the spa) but for the most part I didn’t have a problem finding a comfy place to relax. The gym did have it’s busy times but I was always able to find a free treadmill. The gym is definitely the solution to the ill conceived walking deck.
Overall, we had a great vacation. We did find that the EPIC is missing some of the extra attention to details that we have found on other NCL ships. EPIC does a really great job of providing kid activities & zones which left other places available for adults to get away. LOVED dancing under the stars at Spice H20 – hopefully that is a design model NCL will keep!!! I would say for anyone nervous that they made a mistake by booking a trip on the EPIC – DON’T BE. This ship has something for everyone. Ignore the stuff you don’t like because a cruise is what you make it! Ultimately, I still think I prefer the smaller Jewel class ships for all of the little touches and personal service. For those looking for a ton of activities, entertainment and food options – this is your ship!!