Though the ship holds over 4,400 passengers, last week there were only about 3,000 guests on board so we never had the feeling we were crowded or surrounded by masses of people.
I was a little hesitant about the EPIC because I had read many mixed reviews. Fortunately, I was able to find a friend to travel with and we decided to splurge and book a courtyard suite with two bedrooms. It was beautiful and worked great for two friends who do not want to share a bed or bath.
As a suite passenger (I have never been in a suite and have become so spoiled that it's going to be tough to return to non-suite sailing), I even had access to a Concierge AND a Butler. Both were totally amazing! I've never had a Concierge or Butler looking after me before and oh-my-gosh, was that nice!
Ruth, Concierge, personally took care of setting up everything for us - - restaurant reservations, entertainment seating, shore excursions, etc. Everything we wanted to do outside of our cabin, Ruth made sure it happened flawlessly. She was always available, never obtrusive, and had the most wonderful can-do attitude. No request was too big or too small for Ruth. If you are ever fortunate enough to meet her, you are in for a treat!
Arnoldo, our Butler, became like a friend to us. He checked in every day and personally assured everything we needed as far as in the cabin (a meal served in our room, additional sodas in our mini-bar, clothes sent out to be laundered, etc.) or wanted was handled.
Ronald, our Room Steward, made sure our suite was immaculate! We are late sleepers so I know Ronald was having to clean our room at odd times - - but he was always cheerful and eager to make sure we were comfortable.
We are small-money slot machine players, so we also met our Casino Hostess, Christina. She was a delight! Aside from not being able to make the slots pay me the big-bucks -- Christina made sure I was at least having fun if not winning money!
Dennis, the Hotel Director, was always present around the public areas of the ship, watching its operation, greeting passengers and making sure the EPIC and her wonderful staff were providing a stellar experience for all of us lucky enough to be on board.
WOW - - these people worked hard, day and night! They were always around, always available, always pleasant, always smiling and concerned. I am in awe of their talents and attitudes!
The entertainment venues on board offered something for everyone, as did the dining choices.
Overall, there's only one thing I would change if I were NCL - - and that's the set dinner menu in the Cirque show. The food was terrible - - overcooked and over salted (and I like salt). The acrobatics of the show were superb - - but far too much time wasted on silly comedic action (probably to allow the performers to prepare off-site). The Ice Bar was wonderful. And Moderno was my favorite a la carte restaurant - - we went twice during the week!
All activities are basically located on four decks - - so getting around was easy. All the other decks are passenger cabins.
The Xplor shore excursion (Cozumel) was a blast!
All staff were cheerful and very hospitable, even when simply passing you in a hallway.
I will highly recommend my friends who cruise or who want to cruise to check out the EPIC. But beware - - I was able to check out a non-suite cabin and the bathroom setup is as weird as everyone reports.
There is NO bathroom - - just two frosted-glass "pods" across from each other - - one for toilet and one for shower. You can pull a curtain between the bed and the pods, but still, there is a very awkward-feel there. Also, the sink is actually next to the bed - - so if one of you got in to the cabin after the other had gone to bed (or was napping), you'd wake up your room-mate just washing your face or brushing your teeth.
I've heard NCL will NOT be duplicating that concept on its two new ships - - wisely as far as I'm concerned!
I loved my week aboard the EPIC -- and I am in sold on the whole "freestyle" cruising style. NCL has won me over with that. They invented it and they do it better than any other cruise line.