Spent several days at the Port of Miami Holiday Inn on Bayside, as we had not visited Miami before. Very convenient for sightseeing and comfortable. Short taxi ride to the port .Embarkation in Miami was simple & efficient. In all, about 30 minutes & we were walking aboard at 1pm.
Cheerful welcome from the crew & we had our first meal in Taste.
Staterooms were available after 1.30
We had a Mini Suite ( MC), on deck 10 starboard aft.
Very pleased with the layout, plenty of storage, nice layout with bed next to balcony, bath & shower, deep balcony, safe, bathrobes, coffee maker, flat screen TV, etc It appeared to be very clean & smelt new. Our stateroom attendant introduced himself and looked after us for the whole cruise with great service, & with a cheerful smile.
We enjoyed our stateroom, it became our home.
Slept well & the powershower & bath were a real bonus.
Fantastic departure from Miami, sun was shining, two Celebrity ships left before us, and from deck 18, we had a great view of Miami Beach.
This deck was great for relaxation and hardly used at all.
First impressions of the ship were its size, how new everything appeared, spotlessly clean with smiling, friendly staff.
Easy to navigate round, as most of the activities and services were located on deck 5, 6 & 7., or up on 14 & 15.
With lift or stair access only forward or aft, I can imagine that some would have found the extra walking a little tedious, although there were stairs & an escalator connecting 5,6 & 7 midships.
Breakfast & Lunch. We ate each day in the Garden Cafe & found the choice extensive , well presented & very tasty. The salad bar was fantastic, curries superb, and just about every combination of food you could possibly want. Again staff were cheerful, and the chefs loved receiving compliments. (who wouldn't ?)!
The added bonus are the views, as its located on deck 15 right at the front of the ship.
Never had a problem getting a window seat. La Cucina on deck 14, just underneath the Garden Cafe and reached via a staircase, was open with additional seating. One tip, eat down here at least once for an amazing grandstand view. You really feel as if you are flying over the waves!!
O'Sheehan's Bar and Grill on deck 6 for 24 hour comfort food. Good choice, & the chicken wings I loved. Again, great views of the sea just above wave height.
Taste Restaurant on deck 5, one of two main dining rooms. Never experienced any delay in getting a table, service was prompt, & the menu contained a daily and permanent selection of choices. Meals were served promptly with plates warmed, & was well presented & cooked.
Room Service. Ordered a continental style breakfast twice. Delivered promptly, & made a nice change, especially on the port day and disembarkation.
We love the concept of being able to dine at different restaurants, sampling a variety of cuisine, so we did use some of the Speciality Restaurants, for a small supplement.
All part of a holiday experience.
La Cucina Italian Restaurant. Located on deck 14. Ask for a window table, wow.
Attentive service, lovely menu, & carafes of Chianti on the wine list at 18$.
Moderno Churrascaria on deck 7 is an experience. Superb salad bar followed by a choice of beef, pork, chicken, & lamb cuts, plus various sausages, served at the table.
One tip, get plenty of sea air before dining here to build up an appetite.
Shanghai's Chinese Restaurant. Deck 6 Loved it ! Good menu selection, service, presentation & tasty food.
Le Bistro French Restaurant. Deck 5 An NCL classic, & always make a beeline for it.
Wonderful selection, the mushroom soup being a favourite, followed by tenderloin.
Washed down with a good wine, and Tiramisu to end.
Extensive choice of bars. Our favourites were Shakers & Maltings Beer & Whisky bar.
Got to know the barman & serving staff. Always a cheerful welcome.
Prices were not unreasonable. (Besides it's a holiday !)
Vast choice, & something really for everyone.
Personally loved the Blue Man Group. Very talented actors & a rather wacky show, but great fun. Can understand some not liking it, as it's a love/hate thing.(But why display bad manners by walking out disturbing those that like it....sorry just a personal gripe)
Fat Cats, with Slam Allen. Spent many an hour in here. Wonderful music & interaction with the audience
Dueling Pianos in Headliners, again great fun, with some fantastic improvised music. Had the audience with them all the way.
Hypnosis. Thought the daytime seminars on various subjects were very good.
Personally wasn't so keen on the evening show, that obviously centred around entertainment.
And of course music everywhere from classical to guitar.
Retail therapy consisted of a good selection of shopping, & various sales during the cruise.
Stand clear when they are about to start, total madness !!
Sports up on deck 17
Played some soccer, organised at various times & basketball.
Good for meeting people, getting some much needed exercise & lots of sea air.
Views & Fresh air
Deck 18 Forward, accessed via a lift from the Great Outdoors, or via the forward starboard lift to deck 17 then stairs. Plenty of sunbeds, & underused.
Deck 16 sundeck, above the pools. Great views & numerous sunbeds.
Deck 17 Sports deck, again wonderful views.
The weather was really good for the first few days out of Miami, but got cooler as we sailed east. A couple of days either side of the Azores saw a swell build up, which the ship handled well. We took a daily sea sickness tablet as a precaution & did not have a problem. With the strong winds there were days when you needed to hold on to your hat.!
Unfortunately there is no wrap around Promenade deck, a fault in my opinion on Epic. (We were told there will be on the new ships)
Nevertheless, on deck 7, you can walk & jog the length of the ship, both sides, although views are restricted by the lifeboats, & its two-way traffic..
There is a small library on deck 7, next to Shakers bar, and paperbacks were being left here for exchange as well.
The Internet Cafe was useful, although obviously connection times were slower.
The Casino was a hive of activity, & we didn't notice a smell of smoke, or were not aware of it as we walked through. Not an issue really.
Our one port of call was Porta Delgada on the Azores.
A morning arrival with low cloud, & a first sight of land for nearly 7 days. Two other cruise ships were in port, so it led to a lively atmosphere.
Many locals out to watch the ship arrive, & bands played later on the promenade.
Viewing our arrival from deck 16, you felt so high up.
Later I was able to photograph Epic from landside & it is pretty impressive.
Took an NCL excursion, & visited the east of the island seeing volcanoes, hot water lakes, steam from fissures, magnificent coastal & mountain scenery.
(my only gripe is that boring wait in the theatre before excursions are called, does it really need to be that tedious & slow)
Disembarkation at Barcelona was simple & quick. Off the ship at 8.30, having had room service, plenty of taxis available, & arrival at the airport at 9.30
Overall, a fantastic cruise. Loved the Epic & NCL's freestyle concept.
Sure there were small problems, but you cannot fault the vast choice of entertainment, food, drink, & staterooms, plus a friendly crew, & overall value for hard earned money.
I work in the hospitality industry & have exacting standards, but am always impressed with the attitude of staff on these ships, with of course the odd exception. Its great to chat with them, to compliment or return a smile.
Plus our attitude is we are on holiday, so chill out.
We would cruise again on Epic, as we will the mid size ships.
Also looking forward to the new vessels.
Hope this is helpful