Just to clarify, My wife and I are in our upper 30's and we have 3 kids. Every so often we take a trip just the 2 of us in order to have some alone time and rekindle the fire. We have taken several "land based" all inclusive resort vacations and after talking with the travel agents had pretty high expectations going into the cruise. The Epic had a lot of hype being NCL's premier vessel and we were looking forward to the experience. We knew that there were additional fees for Alcohol and the service charge (TIP) for the staff so this was no surprise, other things were surprising however.
To start, the check in and boarding of the ship were without event. Very easy and straight forward. Considering we had 3400 adults and 1200 kids on this cruise, it did not seem overly crowded when we boarded. We ate lunch in the Garden Cafe on Deck 15, pretty much where you eat all your meals unless you are going to a specialty restaurant and hung out in the Spice H2O area. This is supposedly the adults only area, only problem was it was crawling with youngsters. By about 1:45pm the announcement came to go to your state room. Upon arrival, we discovered our room had not been cleaned. There was toothpaste stuck in the drinking glasses, hair in the beds, stains on the pillows, or to put it mildly, a disgusting mess. We called housekeeping and they were there in a hour to clean up the room, needless to say this was not a good sign of things to come.
The Specialty restaurants charge you a "cover charge" to get in. You are not apparently paying for the food, but the "atmosphere". So we decided to eat at the premier restaurant on board the EPIC, Cagney's. This turned out to be a huge mistake. The wait staff was rude and argumentative, constantly trying to up sell me to a bottle of wine when all I wanted was a glass. Asking if I had overheard their conversation with other tables, like I would be listening in to what other people are talking about. The food was cold, not cooked properly and overall disappointing. Desert was a great disappointment also being poorly prepared.
We went back to our room to find it properly cleaned after our messy beginning. The days at sea were not filled with fun but with noisy kids running around the adults only areas and waiters who were inattentive because we were drinking soda rather than alcohol. FYI to Drink soda is a extra charge and bottled water is extremely expensive and not included with the soda. Even coffee comes at a extra price unless you just want a std cup of Joe.
We did really enjoy the shows, Blue Man group was good and the Cirque dinner show is well worth the money. Also the Murder Mystery lunch was worth the cost. Then again, why are they charging for food that you already paid for? So not all entertainment is free. Where is the All Inclusive? Service in General everywhere on the ship was poor. Unless you were throwing money around you will not get good service. Which is what you expect at a regular resort, but not all inclusive resorts.
Overall the disappointing service, the extra costs everywhere and the fact that you are trapped on a ship with very little to do made this not such a good trip to remember.
Value for the Dollar is just not there. You get far more on land than you will ever get at see, at least from what we experienced. I heard other ships are different so maybe we'll risk it with another cruise company, but I know we will not be on the Epic again.