NCL Epic Review-Mar.26-Apr.2, 2011—Cruised from Miami
Cabins 13034, 40, 42, & 56
We are frequent cruisers(our 10th cruise--4th on NCL) who took our kids and grandkids. Our friends who were in our wedding 45 years ago cruised with us(13total). This was a new experience for our grandkids(5) ages 7-11 and they loved every minute.We read many reviews before booking and cruising, so had some idea of what to expect from the Epic. Being a new ship, we realize that there are issues and that is why we are sharing our experiences.
Embarkation was VERY EASY! 6 of us are Lattitudes members, so that may have helped the process. We all traveled to Miami on Friday...we highly recommend going a day early because of airline schedules. We stayed at LaQuinta and ate at Bennegans, just across the parking lot from the motel...in the morning the bus(included) took us to the ship..we arrived around 11am and were on board by 11:30. We went to Recess to register the kids(no lines)..in case they would want to go there. Kids only went a couple times because of the other activities on the ship...the water slides, pool, climbing wall, repelling wall, spider(climbing rubber bands).dodge ball(both families played), bowling(extra $5pp per game).
We ate at the Garden Cafe and were off to the water park. We highly recommend going on embarkation day because the lines were shorter. Never had a wait for the hot tubs...there are 4 by the slides and 2 in H2O that we went to. Our luggage came by the time we got back from the water park. Reserve deck chairs by 8:30am...otherwise they were all taken.
As far as the cabins...13056 was very small for 2 people..between the bed and counter, it was impossible for 2 people to walk there. The balcony was larger than the other cabins..& had 2 chairs and a lounge. The other cabins...13034, 40, & 42 were side by side.. we opened the balcony doors so the kids could go between our cabin and their cousins cabin. When we booked, NCL told us that was not possible to open the doors. We asked the steward and he said he would open them, but didn't, so we did. There were only 2 chairs for our cabins which held from 3-4 people..there was a small table also.
There was lots of storage..more than we could use..it was so confusing where we put things...the 'cubbies' were not very deep, so some went unused...we moved the life preservers from one, so I could put my folded t-shirts on a shelf. We didn't use the lower rod because it was impossible to hang anything on it..it would have been laying on the bottom! NCL also told us that none of our cabins had a tub(for the kids?), but were surprised to have a tub in our cabin(13040). It was hard for me(5'3")to get in and out of it to use the shower..took me awhile to figure out the handles to turn on the water too. The other cabins all had showers only. No bar soap was provided..just soap & shampoo dispenser on the wall...very difficult if you wanted to take a bath. The hot/cold water at the sink was reversed from what we have at home. Lighting was terrible..the small hallogen lights by the sink and mirror were very dim and eventho I am short, I could not style my hair standing up...had to sit down to see the mirror and use the hair dryer...something I am not used to doing at home...besides, if anyone wanted to walk by me, I would have to get up...then down and continue. Hair dryer was mounted below the counter...awkward. Bring a power strip to charge your camera, phone, or hair iron. Bathrobes were in our rooms because we asked for them ahead(no x charge) The outlet in the medicine cabinet by the sink might not fit your plug..we couldn't use it.
We had different room stewards and had very little problems. Our oldest son came back from dinner two nites and their room wasn't turned down yet..so the family had to sit in the hall until the steward was done(pulling down their bed) so the kids could go to bed. We are thinking that someone turned the lever outside their door to DO NOT DISTURB...we had that happen to our cabin one day too...so our cabin wasn't turned down. We all loved the towel animals each nite...cute!
We highly recommend booking shows and excursions as soon as you can before the cruise...we did it 45 days before we sailed..otherwise you might not get a seat! Blue Man was #1 on our list..went on Sat. nite. Kids were in the front row and grandparents in 2nd...all of us got ponchos...but didn't get wet. Howl at the Moon was great! Legends was so-so—was far too loud! Slime Time Live was super and Second City ok, but Jeff Hobson(Magician/Comedian) was great. See Him!
If you don't plan an excursion for Nassau, take a cab to the public beach next to Atlantis($4pp). It had perfect white sand, waves, crystal clear water. The parasailing excursion was canceled because of high winds. It would have been nice to be notified sooner of the cancellation.
Because we booked the cruise 8months in advance, the price decreased...but NCL took away some of our onboard credit. We did not purchse any ship photos...far too expensive! If NCL offered smaller photos at a package price, more of us would purchase them. We uploaded our digitals to Walgreens.
Hand Sanitizer was all over the ship...there was no sickness among us. I usually take a generic motion sickness(from WalMart-cheaper than Dramamine) pill each morning. But there was little need for it on the Epic..we felt very little movement.
Garden Cafe(buffet) was so easy to get around in...lots of different stations...never had to wait long to fill our plates. They had the buffet in the pool area open during the day and later at nite so you could get food without going inside. We liked Taste better than Manhattan.(service slow) With 13 of us, we made reservations during the day for the evening meal...but seemed that they never were ready for us. Selection of food was not as good as we experienced on Princess. The kids loved it tho...had mac&cheese, burgers, fries,& pizza available all the time...and of course ice cream(hard & soft) was available all the time in Garden Cafe. The Pizza 24/7 button on the phone really worked...even for breakfast..a 30 minute wait tho.The Casino noise was loud in Taste. We brought pop with us instead of purchasing a pop card...far too expensive for the couple times we drank pop. I missed the food selections we had on NCL previously...no filet, cold soup, & lack of desert variety in main dining rooms. We did not go to any of the specialty dining areas...our experience is that it isn't better quality there.
The library is right next to the cigar room, so is full of smoke. Also, there were no childrens or young peoples books in the very small library. We used the customer service desk several times and had a good experiences there... NCL had the wrong cruise listing on our cards. Since we are not drinkers, and were given wine, we asked for Pepsi instead...and we got it.
Disembarkation was so EASY! We took our luggage off by ourselves because our flights left early..around noon. Walked right off..crew told us where to go...no problem with customs...so much easier than letting the ship take your luggage the nite before...then you have to find it in a large room..then stand in line for customs. There were many taxis waiting for us..we paid $24 to go to Miami airport.