We travelled on the Epic in February, 2011. Twenty-something travelers without children. This is our second cruise and first with Norwegian. We made all our reservations for entertainment and specialty dining prior to boarding. Ship was sailing at full capacity.
Overall, the experience was better than expected. Many of the complaints you hear about in these reviews are true, but the ship does redeem itself in several ways. Except the flaws, enjoy the cruise and just complain about improvements.
Embarkation was straight forward and efficient boarding the ship in under twenty minutes.
No grandiose entrance aboard this ship. Immediately one is in the casino upon boarding. This deck will remain congested throughout one's stay. The ship is very poorly designed with plenty of wasted space.
Cabins were small as expected but adequate for two people. The shower/toilet issues were not a problem. Some previous reviewers have complained about using the key card to activate in-room lighting. If this is challenging to understand one shouldn't be traveling.
Food service and quality was below average in the complimentary dining rooms but food was always hot on arrival. Ate one meal at Le Bistro ($20 cover charge gets one as much food as desired but some restaurants have two cover charges for premium items). Service was average and food was above average. Room service and room service food were both average. Staff in the buffet were always helpful and greeting passengers at every meal. This area of the ship shines. Bizarre how there was no lemonade on this cruise line but drinking only water for a week is a great way to detox!
Complimentary liquids include: Coffee, tea, orange juice (morning only), water, and milk (morning).
The spa and the gym are among the best areas of the ship (and largest at sea). The couples spa pass is a good value. Take the tour on the first day and buy it for $199 or buy a single pass for $119 and just share it with your friend/spouse on entry. This pass will get one access for the duration of the cruise, closing at 10pm daily. Only 60 couples passes are allotted for the voyage, so get it early.
Entertainment was average but the clubs were above average. This is definitely a young party oriented cruise line. Don't forget your white pants and white shirt for the whiteparty!!
Slides waits were between ten and thirty minutes at peak times. Go early or late to avoid the queues. Green slide rocks! Climbing walls (for beginners) and rappelling (lame) are open daily. "Extreme" climbing is open from 5-8 on port days only and allows more challenging climbs (good fun).
If the rum runners were forgotten on this trip, buy wine at a 20% discount in the atrium cafe (6 bottles or more) and remember the runners next time. Confiscation will occur if placed in carry on baggage. Checked bags only, people! Room staff will empty the fridge so it can be stocked with one's own goodies.
Near the forward end of the ship is a small 'freestyle' deck for nudists. Hard to find and very secluded.
Up-selling on this ship was rife but appears to be an industry-wide practice. None of these up-sells are necessary for memorable cruising.
Overall, there are so many ships and cruise lines to explore. We probably would not travel on this ship again but would travel with Norwegian aboard a future and presumably improved ship.
Hope this review is helpful.