This is now my favorite ship! My wife and I and our two boys ages 10 and 6 spent a fantastic week on the NCL Epic on its Western Caribbean itinerary. The ship has so many entertainment options. By the end of the week we couldn’t believe how much we did, and there still things that we didn’t try! Kudos to NCL on a revolutionary ship!
This is where the ship really shines. Everyone enjoyed Blue Man Group – so good, and so funny! Best show I’ve ever seen at sea. My wife and I also enjoyed the other Las Vegas quality show “Legends in Concert”. We had Janet Jackson, Neil Diamond, and Aretha Franklin for our show and the impersonators all did a great job. Another good show was the Cirque Dreams & Dinner. At times it was a bit cheesy, but it had some great acts (how did that couple do those costume changes so quickly?!). The kids were thoroughly entertained by it. There was a plenty of good music to be found every night. We really enjoyed Kurt Hunter in the Maltese Whisky Bar. He played great cover songs and he threw in some of his own music which we enjoyed too. The dueling pianos in “Howling at the Moon” were very entertaining, as was the Jazz/Blues band at Fat Cats. There was still more evening activities, including a visit to the Ice Bar, pool and bowling at O’Sheehans Pub, and karaoke at Bliss. My favorite evening activity was the two ship-sponsored pub crawls. Eddie “Spaghetti” was a great host, and we met so many wonderful people during our pub tour around the ship. This was a big highlight and something unique that NCL does. Oh, and the kids really liked the kids club on this ship. There were lots of fun games and activities and plenty of video games to go around.
Lots of family fun to be had in the daytime as well. The water slides were a big hit. During sea days the lines were a bit long (the Epic Plunge always had the longest line), but during port time, it was only minutes between rides down the purple and green slides. They were quite fast – it took my 6 year old 3 days to work up the courage to try them, but once he did, he loved them! We did the slides on 4 days of our 7 day cruise. I appreciated that the slides were open for much of the day (11am-7pm port days, 9am-7pm sea days). They also had a kids aqua zone that my younger son enjoyed. Only negative was that the 2 pools were very small, especially considering the size of the ship. Other things we did with the kids during the days were bowling in Bliss, the Eurojumper trampoline, the spider web climbing cage, the rock wall, the repelling wall, board games in the library, and the large chess board. Additionally, we went to the Nickelodeon Slime Time Live show which was very good and had lots of audience participation. Normally, I don’t like 7 day cruises that have 3 sea days, but with this ship, we needed the 3 sea days to do everything that we wanted.
I thought the dining was very good. Because there was so much to do each night, along with different show times, I really enjoyed the flexibility of any time dining. The best part was that we never had to wait to get seated during any of meals (amazing with a ship with 4000+ passengers!). I thought the food was much improved in the main dining rooms compared to what we had on the NCL Pearl last year. Our dinner in Cagney’s Steakhouse was wonderful. My wife enjoyed her lobster tails and I enjoyed the Alaskan king crab legs and fillet mignon. The Cirque Dreams food was good but not great. We had a few lunches in O’Sheehans and those were good too, as were the buffet breakfasts at the Great Outdoors. Really, the only area of dining that was disappointing to me was the room service menu. They were missing the snacks/appetizers from the Pearl that we liked to order for evening sailaways. Also, the breakfast items were skimpy for room service too – not as good as other cruise lines for sure!
We had a family balcony stateroom, cabin 11076 to be specific. This particular cabin had a very large balcony, with 4 chairs and room for lounger which our cabin steward gracefully brought down for us. Now what I really liked about this balcony is how it is angled. This allowed me to sit along the railing, toward the back, and look completely forward towards the bridge. I LOVED this because I could feel the warm breeze on me while sitting there. As for the cabin itself, the décor was very nice and a nice large TV screen. However, it was too narrow! It was very difficult for the 4 of us to move around the cabin. Once the Pullman bed was pulled down, it got really difficult to get out to the balcony. Plus, the bathroom design is very poor, as many people have commented on. So overall, great balcony but disappointing cabin.
Service was very good, as has been the case on all my cruises. We only had a couple of servers who disappointed us, mostly because they were not friendly and were more focused on just being efficient. It’s a small thing, but I do enjoy the little chit-chat that you get on cruise ship restaurants that is different from land-based restaurants. Cabin steward was great and was always quick to make up our stateroom.
The itinerary was rather poor, as we visited Costa Maya, Roatan, and Cozumel. With only 3 ports, I don’t expect 2 of them to visit the same country (Mexico). I wish NCL had more diversity here; perhaps Cozumel should be substituted with Belize City or Grand Cayman for some variety. With that said, we did enjoy our time in each of the 3 ports.
As I said in the introduction, this is my new favorite ship. An EPIC time was had by all!