Well the late Easter holidays merging into the May day holiday made the timing ideal to experience the Epic in the Caribbean for guaranteed sunshine after an awful winter and avoiding the hurricane season when we normally take our annual holiday.
We chose to take the fly cruise option with NCL as we didn't think we would be able to get a cheaper transatlantic flight and they included a pre cruise hotel night and transfers. The outward flights worked fine with a domestic connection but homeward we were delayed 2 hours out of Miami and so missed our connection flight to our local airport resulting in 6 hours to hang around in Heathrow airport-aggh!
However back to the start
As DH has walking difficulties we requested wheelchair assistance which made it much easier getting through the airports-in fact we've never got through American immigration so quickly!
The airport hotel was the Sofitel which was surprisingly nice-breakfast was not included but we had a snack at the coffee bar next morning having woken at an early hour due to jet lag.
Transfer to the port was easy and so was embarkation.
There are 2 possible entrances onto the ship.One is aft which is more picturesque and leads into a small atrium with chandelier.The other entrance sends you straight into the casino-that is big!
We headed straight for O Sheehans for fish and chips having been warned in previous reviews to avoid the overcrowded garden cafe at this time.
Then it was off to guest services to purchase a posh pass for the week[$59 for the week-a bargain-more on this later]
A tour of the spa persuaded me to purchase a couples pass for $190 for the week-I was sold on the open lounge area facing over the back of the ship-however I found that this area was pretty full each time I visited.
Rooms were ready at 2 so we headed up there
We'd booked a balcony cabin on deck 8 and were a bit concerned having heard about uncovered balconies and heat reflected off life boats immediately below.
However our cabin 8190 had a covered balcony and was at the end of the row of lifeboats so we could see directly to the sea below.Most balconies actually were covered but we noticed that the deck 9 cabin immediately above us was uncovered.
plenty has already been said about the bathroom set up-my only issue was that the sink was absolutely useless to wash anything out such as swimming costumes-we did make use of the $25 all you can fit in the laundry bag promotion but remember to fill out the laundry slip- our cabin stewardess reminded me I needed to do this in the nick of time-sat outside the cabin sorting through the laundry with 10 minutes to pick up time-duh how else can they check off the contents if you haven't listed how many of each item-excuse is I was on holiday-brain not functioning!
I also purchased the wine package-you can order 6-8 bottles at a 20% discount which can be delivered to your stateroom.You can take them to the restaurant or bars where they will open them and then you can take the remainder with you around to other bars or back to your cabin-nice to enjoy a glass on your balcony listening to the sound of the waves.
We headed to posh for the sailaway from Miami-unfortunately it had rained so all the padded loungers were soaked.This area is accessible to those in the courtyard area but can be purchased for $59 on first come first served basis
At sailaway the area was crowded and there were several misbehaving children.However after that I was up there most days to enjoy the comfortable loungers and never had problems finding a seat.waiters to spray you down provide ice water cold towels and complimentary fresh fruit-heaven!
Our meet and greet was at 11am the first sea day-this time is set by the ship and was poorly attended-the lure of the sun was obviously too much.Thanks to those of you who turned up-it was nice to meet you.
Several crew members turned up and provided their phone numbers however other meet and greets reported extras such as tours of the bridge-unfortunately this didn't happen on the Epic.
The main issue with the size of the Epic was that it was very easy to miss people-we didn't bump into people at the meet and greet again very often if at all-in hindsight should have swapped cabin numbers to arrange a catch up
We went to howl at the moon a couple of times and enjoyed
Most nights we listened to the guitarist Kurt Hunter who was based in the Maltings bar.However the area immediately behind him opened to the Atrium below from which the annoying chime of slot machines was very distracting
Come on NCL give the guy a break and remove those bank of slot machines-the casino is big enough and those machines chimed even when no one was playing on them!
We went to see Blue Man Group and were glad we didn't pay for it!
The musical parts were very entertaining but the 'comedy' was puerile. Spitting popcorn and regurgitating marshmallows?!!!
The ice bar seemed popular but we came for hot weather to avoid the memory of a long cold winter so this didn't appeal!
And now on to the port reviews