This was cruise #28 for my husband and me and a way higher number for the other couple that travels with us, so our thoughts on the EPIC come based on plenty of cruising experience. Also, in our group there was a variety of ages, 20's, 50's, 60's and all of us, regardless of what we each like to do thought the EPIC was fantastic.
As with any review offered, there needs to be negatives, as well as positives to make it effective and true to form. Nothing is ever perfect. The negatives on the EPIC are so few and so inconsequential they did not affect our cruising experience in the least. There were mainly a couple of issues that could use improvement as NCL builds their next two ships:
(1). The pools. They are small....very small! And there was no reason really to make them that small. There was plenty room on the deck to make them bigger, but the designers probably chose beauty of size and they accomplished it. The pool deck is gorgeous, but perhaps in designing their next pool decks, they may want to take away some of the unnecessary showers and water spouts and make their pools a lot wider. Unless you went into the pools early or on a port day where mostly everyone was off the ship, the pools became cloudy and not very welcoming!
(2). The sinks in the cabin. Not the bathroom set-up...just the sinks. In fact, we felt the bathroom set-up was actually quite nice, giving each person in the room their space to do whatever....but the sinks are a problem. They are very modern looking, as is the entire cabin, but not very deep and the faucet is placed to the side instead of facing you and no matter how hard you try, you will splash water all over the place. I was constantly having to take a towel and dry around it. If you happen to be one of the unlucky guests whose cabin's layout has the bed near the sink, instead of near the balcony door, your bed will get wet! The designers need to stick with the more traditional (deeper) type of sinks and place the faucet in it's traditional location, instead of the side (like a water fountain knob).
(3). The third and final issue
That's it. The rest was spectacular, and I suspect that NCL is already very aware of these two issues and will most likely correct them on their next two new ships recently ordered.
The service all-around was spectacular. The cabin steward was fantastic, very quick to make up our cabin in the mornings and quick to turn it down at night. As is usually our norm, we tipped him extra several times a week for a job well done. There was never one single issue that we had to remind him of or repeat a second time.
Dining was excellent, all meals at the Manhattan Room, Taste, O'Sheehans, Garden Buffet were excellent. The only specialty restaurant we attended was Teppenyaki and that was beyond spectacular, the food, the show, the preparation -- all of it was excellent. O'Sheehans was a favorite of ours and an incredible intelligent idea to have this pub-type of a restaurant mid-ship, 24/7, where we could go for breakfast, or a quick snack upon returning from shore. The environment was fun, casual and the food was very good. We loved it!
The casino, despite what others have said, was not horribly smoky or to the degree that a non-smoker could not spend any large amount of time in it. All six of us are non-smokers and we spent LOTS of time in the casino. The tables are fun, the slots are all new and of high quality.
The shows were ok, but I am not really a show person, I basically attend them on all cruises because my husband loves them and I just accompany him. Blue Man Group was good, but long, after a while it gets a little tedious. Legends had great singers and although none of really understood the Janet Jackson need as she is not your mainstream type of favorite, we did enjoy Aretha Franklin and Neil Diamond (well not necessarily the two 20 year olds who knew very little about them -- but that's not a talent issue, that's a generational issue).
The cabins were funky looking with the whole wave bit, but were beautifully designed, with very pretty dark wood. They were spacious enough so long as you do not over pack. We always tend to over pack and it took some maneuvering to figure out where to put everything, but our cabin steward placed a couple of shelves next to the dresser and that solved the problem. Incidentally, the ship had not sailed yet and the shelves were already in place. He was really good and fast! Beside the sink issue which I already mentioned, we loved the split bathroom, the fact that the shower had a glass door (as opposed to a shower curtain that sticks to your body as you are trying to bathe), and the separate shower for privacy and space. The wave design made it a little difficult for both of us to get through, but not enough of a problem. We managed well. The balcony was spacious and we enjoyed sitting out there and just relaxing. The others in my group also used it to read and/or just chill! We loved the cabins!
The ports: We visited Costa Maya, Roatan and Cozumel. All three islands are beautiful. The weather was perfect and we had a great time at all of them. In Cosa Maya we did the Pez Quadro Day Pass, which included beach chairs, umbrellas and open bar -- we had a fantastic time. Great service, great drinks, beautiful clear blue ocean! In Roatan we did the West Bay Beach Break. Our tour included a drink and beach chairs. Perhaps with the exception of Megans' Bay in St. Thomas, this is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean! Also had a great time. And finally in Cozumel we did the Cozumel Beach Break at Nachi Cocom, which included beach chairs, straw huts, 4-course lunch and an open bar. It was fantastic. This is where we celebrated Cinco de Mayo, although I have to admit, we Americans celebrate for the Mexicans, but the entire island of Cozumel was very subdued on this expected celebratory day. I think we were expecting a "Fourth of July" type of celebration, but it was far from it. In fact, we saw no celebration at all. But this tour is highly recommended, we had a blast!
Finally, in all fairness to NCL, I give them a lot of credit for really doing an incredible job on the EPIC. They really outdid themselves with this ship. Truth be told, until a few more recent sailings, NCL was one of my least favorite of all the cruise lines I have sailed. As with the EPIC, I had a beautiful experiences on the Pride of America in Hawaii, and the Sky on a 3-day Bahamas cruise, but I also had two very mediocre [at best} experiences on the Sun, one a 11-night sailing in the Mexican Riviera, and the other a 7-night Caribbean cruise. Those two sailings left a bit of a sour taste for NCL and it wasn't until we went to Hawaii and sailed the POA that things started to change for us in the way we viewed NCL and decided to once again give them a try. We are very happy we did and, in fact, purchased Future Cruise Certificates aboard the EPIC. They have truly made a remarkable improvement and it is quite clear to see that management has made a very dedicated effort to compete in such a competitive market, especially here in South Florida. Would I sail NCL or the EPIC again? Tomorrow, if I could. Kudos to you, NCL!