An Anticlimactic Letdown
A couple of years ago we took a transatlantic cruise on the Norwegian Jewel in the Courtyard Villa suite. Out of over a dozen past cruises, it was by far the nicest, most pleasant, and delightful cruise we have ever taken. So we looked forward to a crossing on the Epic in what gave the impression online as the same setup – a wonderfully luxurious, four room, butler attended, pampered trip.
But what had been top grade luxury had been Walmarted. The rooms were smaller – the Jewel bedroom was roomy, the Epic bedroom was so narrow that I had to get out of the bed sideways – the walls were about six inches from the bed. The Jewel drawers in the bedroom were abundant – the Epic had a clumsy set of shelves situated in the corner that was almost too dark in which to see things and had doors that made it difficult to get access. The bathroom, large with lots of shelf space on the Jewel, was cramped. The second bedroom had one lonely light in the ceiling that lit only a small part of the bed and left the rest of the room in bleak darkness.
The courtyard, which on the Jewel was simply and nicely fitted and roomy, was instead crowded with rows of deck chairs, no different than what could be found on the rest of the ship. The Jewel offered coffee and light breakfast in the courtyard – nothing at all on the Epic. Most dismaying was the fact that, although the Jewel courtyard has a sliding roof that could be, and was, closed when the weather was windy or wet, the Epic was open to the sky - most if our days at sea were too windy for us to use it. The Jewel offered butler served dinners in the evening in the courtyard and in the rooms – on the Epic it was not offered in the courtyard (hardly enough room amongst the deckchairs) and although it was vaguely suggested that we could have it in the room, the butler was obviously unenthusiastic, and the room was so cramped, and the table so small, as to discourage such meals.
The Epic brags about its size – but as far as we could discover it has no more activities or amenities than smaller ships – just lots more bedrooms – floors and floors of them. It seems to have blown all its entertainment money on the Blue Man group – they gave many (identical) performances, but the other times were devoted to simple, unimaginative one-man shows. None of the spectacle – dancing, singing, nite-clubby shows that are the staple of most cruise ships. There was a circus show in “a tent!!,” but it cost extra, and many in the audience walked out before it was over.
The staff in the “private” dining room was the friendliest, warmest, and helpful we have ever experienced. There were tears in their and our eyes when we left the ship. In general the staff all over the ship was helpful, friendly, and nice. But the luxury for which we had paid ( a LOT) was second class compared to the Jewel.