My Wife and I (with our 3 year old daughter) just got off the NCL Epic. We left April 30th and went on the 7 day Western Caribbean cruise. Our stops were Costa Maya, Mexico - Roatan, Honduras - Cozumel, Mexico. We stayed in a Deluxe balcony suite. You can get a deluxe balcony suite with a Shower only or one with a bathtub/shower combo. We needed one with a bathtub for our 3 year old.
Although there were a couple disappointments, we cannot say enough good things about this ship. The positives far outweigh the negatives.
The Epic was amazing....The size, the quality and the service were the high points. We have been on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL. In our minds, NCL is the best in all categories. We have never been disappointed in the food on NCL (3rd cruise on NCL).
The ship....Being NCL's biggest ship, it is a sight to see without even stepping foot onboard.
Epic is unlike most cruise ships with its design. One thing lacking with the EPIC is the boardwalk (usually on deck 5 or 6) where you can walk the perimeter of the ship from the outside.
Epic also does not have the impressive multi level Atrium most ships have when you first walk on. Just think of the Epic as a glamorous hotel on a boat.
The Service....Once again, this is where NCL excels over other cruislines we have been on.
Although Carnival and Royal Caribbean for the most part have great service, we have had some problems with certain employees. I cannot think of one instance where an NCL employee, in any job category, has let us down. Certain individuals seem to go out of their way to go above and beyond there call of duty.
The Food/Dining...The dinner in the main dining hall for dinner was very good. The selection was not the best but overall we were happy. We traveled with 4 others from my family and never did we have a problem waiting for a table. The buffet on the Epic is the best buffet of all the cruises we have been on. There was so much variety on the buffet, but my 3 year old stuck to pizza, hot dogs and chicken nuggets which were offered every day.
My wife read a lot of the reviews before our cruise and a lot of people complain about the "extra" costs on the Epic. They do have 12+ pay restaurants. My advice, don't go...you do not have to..For us it was nice to pay $20 for a nice sit down dinner. We tried Cagney's (steak) and Moderno (Brazilian steakhouse) for dinner. Both were very nice.
If you want to try Tappenyaki but get it half price, watch out for the deal the offer at lunch typically on days at sea. A good place to stop for those late night hunger pains is O'Sheehans. This is the 24 hour Irish pub. The different selections they had on the menu could get you to come back every night and get something different. The brownie dessert at O'Sheehans is the best on the ship.
The Activites....NCL typically does not have as many planned activities as other cruise lines.
Some may say that is a negative, but that wasn't a dealbreaker for me.. Part of cruising is the relaxing portion. There is so much to do on the ship that we didn't get to everything.
We wanted to try bowling but couldn't find the time. My wife and my mother found Bingo to be a fun activity. One of the positives on the Epic is the Recess Kids club. This is the place kids could go to play Wii, watch animated movies or just do arts and crafts. Our 3 year old loved the Kids club. Certain nights she didn't want to leave. If you have kids, the Kids club is a major plus. The NCL staff will not feed your kids, so you do have to pick them up for meals. What the Epic is missing in pools is made up by the 3 waterslides and the waterworks surrounding the pool area. There is a kids area where the water is only 6 inches deep and a small slide perfectly set for our daughter who of course was not tall enough to go on the large waterslides.
NCL has over and over impressed my wife and I, so much in fact that we booked our next cruise already in November on the NCL Pearl…oh and we booked it the day after we got back from getting off the Epic.