I had hoped, but not really expected, a better experience on the Epic. I have to say up front there were some things done great. First and Foremost, Ray the bartender. He was AWESOME! I never needed to look around for someone to bring me a drink. He had great personality. We saw him in various areas of the ship and he made an effort to greet us by name and offer us our drink of choice, which he knew, every time. Can not say enough about this guy. We also liked Spice H2O, always got chairs, never bothered by young children. Casino was fine, not smoke filled as I'd feared it would be. The Blue Man Group was EPIC, and we enjoyed the magician/comedy act. We loved Slam Allen - Great Show! The FABBA night was lots of fun. So there were some things done well.
Unfortunately, we did not love the cruise for many of the reasons you've heard in other reviews. The food was God Awful!!! By the second day I refused to eat at the buffet. They had no variety. Same things everyday. Not cooked well. We ate at Taste and Manhattan for all of our dinners. Taste did a better job on service. The food was consistently served cool. And the steaks were awful. I do have to give them credit on the Lobster Tail. That was done well.
My husband got food poisoning the first night. He spent 24 hours very ill in the cabin and then we had to take him to the ship's hospital for IV fluid due to dehydration. This was NOT seasickness. He had food poisoning. The doctor was sweet and helpful. The male nurse, Brian, was a bit of a jerk and really irritated the whole situation. They charged us $124 for the medicine, but not for the medical care. I actually thought to push back on the charge since it was definitely their food that caused the issue. He became ill about 3 hours after eating meat sauce and it lasted 24 hours. Nobody else in our group exposed to him became ill. So that was pretty evident. But... they did help him and honestly, not worth the effort to argue over. They did ask him to remain in the cabin for 24 hours and he obliged them, mainly because he was too ill to do anything anyway. Brian the nurse called to check on him and he was sleeping. Since he didn't answer Brian left a very nasty message on the phone about his not being allowed to leave the cabin. My husband didn't even realize he called. I came in to check on my husband, saw the light flashing and checked the message. I was appalled at the way this man spoke to my sick husband on the message. He was accusatory and rude. I called him right back (within 15 minutes of his message) and told him my husband never left. He then began to shoot questions at me about where was he and why didn't he answer the phone. I was astounded. I told him, he's sick, he's asleep. He hung up on me. Unbelievable.
Husband got better and we did enjoy some of the cruise. The WHP was ruined, but that was due to a downpour. They did the best they could, wiped up the deck and chairs and the party started. So I have to give them credit for pulling it together. But it was too wet and not so much fun. Maybe we're just old.
The Legends show was a big disappointment. We saw three acts. Janet Jackson, Neil Diamond and Aretha Franklin. Janet was just dumb and looked nothing like the real deal. Neil was very good, but I hate Neil Diamond. And Aretha was awesome. So when she was on I kept thinking, finally, this is getting good. Then it was over. I was shocked it was only three acts. But whatever.
The cabin was not great. Looked nice. The bathroom was horrible. Yes you can see whatever any is doing. Yes there is a curtain that can be pulled. It got caught in the sliding bathroom door all the time. A pain. The drawers are very narrow and shallow and did not do well at storing anything but undies and socks. We put shorts and t-shirts in the drawers under the sofa, but the trim on the sofa got in the way and it was a constant pain. Not that it was a big deal, just an irritation.
Our Stewart, Raphael, was horrible. He never once changed my sheets which got nasty as the week went on. We had sand in the bed, my husband had been sick. I called guest services and asked for fresh sheets. Never got them. I left posties asking for fresh sheets everywhere. Never got them. I asked Raphael and he said okay. Never got them. Finally, on the last night, he tucked some sheets in the storage area behind the sofa. I found them and changed the damned sheets myself. Finally, fresh sheets. They weren't meant for us. But I used them anyway.
Same was true with beach towels. We could take them up to the towel exchange each day. But our Stewart would not change them if we requested. I didn't know this and left the wet damp towels on the floor the first night thinking he'd change them out. He folded the same wet towels and set them on the sofa. I had a magazine on the sofa and the wet towel soaked through the pages.
I never really saw him much. He did not clean the sink. I had to clean it everyday. He never took used wine glasses that were dirty out of the room. Finally I started to set them out in the hall and then he would take them. So I was unimpressed with him.
I had a few encounters with very rude staff. The second day at the buffet I was choosing a dessert and a staff member behind the counter made a smart comment about how hard his wife worked baking the stuff just for people like me. I wasn't sure what that was about. Maybe he thought I was fat. I'm not terribly overweight, but we women get sensitive about these things. We had a bad encounter with the manager of Cagney's being very rude to our group when we went to change a reservation. He was just really nasty and then they got the reservation wrong and booked us into Le Bistro. I had a bar tender roll his eyes when I told him my pino was warm, but he did give me a different glass. The girl at the excursion desk snapped at my sister and I when we went to ask a question about St. Thomas, I think they were closing and we detained her. She was really rude. The general feel was that the staff did not want to be bothered by us.
We booked their shuttle back to Ft Lauder dale on the last day. I had a really bad encounter with their person running that fiasco. We had no instructions. We had a porter take our bags on a cart with us in tow to the bus. We walked up to the ladies checking us in and this lady named Barbara started to yell at the porter that we were responsible for our luggage. I wasn't sure what she was saying and so I asked her what she needed and tried to show her our tickets. She looked me right in the face and said "this isn't right" and I asked what isn't right. She yelled at me that we could not just cut in line. Well... there was no line. So I had no idea what she was saying and I asked what line. She then repeated that things weren't right. I got fed up at this point in dealing with rude cruise line people and so I yelled back for the first time that week and told her that they give poor directions and if she would kindly answer our questions or explain what she needed we'd be only too happy to comply but seeing that I just needed to get on the bus, I wasn't sure how complicated it had to get. Then she made us wait as another couple approached the bus and then we got on. I was really irritated. It's not like it was a matter of not enough seats. They sold us two seats and besides, the bus was only half full. She was just really rude. So on the shuttle the bus driver announces that we have to go to South Beach first and it wasn't his fault because the cruise line agreed to allow a customer to make a quick stop and if it was up to him we'd be going straight to the airport and he was sorry. Then for the next hour we had to hear his twisted theory on life and if we didn't like it we could "sit on top of the bus". It was bizarre.
I think that this could have been a great cruise if they had served hot, decent food and if they had provided customer service with a friendly attitude. The cabin issues did not ruin our time, the employees nearly did.