We are in our late 50's, early risers, non gamblers, and enjoy tanning in the sun, finding quiet cafe's with great views where we can read and drink coffee or tea, go to the shows, and I can put a jacket on to meet new people at dinner. I like walking on the deck at dawn,in the peace and cool morning air; she likes going to the comedy clubs and shows. We would rather go to a park or hike than go shopping at a mall. The splendor and majesty of the sea, warm weather, turquoise water, clean beaches, new locations every day, and a 24 hour availability of food is what makes us consistent cruisers since 2004.
I have to hand it to NCL for experimentation, Eating when you please, not at a set time is a great concept. we enjoyed it on the Norwegian Sun in 2006 and find it quite useful after a shore day, when the adventures of the day can leave you off the set dinner schedule. We decided to go on the Epic, because it was a new ship, had the Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil; a better class of entertainment. What we found on the Epic was an experience of "Free Style Cruising" we will not do again, two hours of entertainment does not compensate for failings in ship design, food quality, and passenger comfort.
I think what has transpired at the NCL board room, was to let it the accountants take a good concept,(Eating when you please); and squeeze every last penny out of the idea to fatten the bottom line. They did it with the ship design and layout, and the quality and choices of food at the free restaurants. I will begin with the ship, if you look at pictures of it, your first impression is correct, it is an ill designed top heavy floating apartment building that could just as well have been a barge tugged out to sea. They have taken the good things about being on a ship and did there best to privatize all they thought they could get away with and minimize the free public space. The inside cabins are small, 125 sq. Ft., 20 to 40 percent smaller than other ships. The hall ways, table arrangements, lounge chairs are tight spaces; 40" halls that you can not walk down and encounter another passenger coming the other way, and slip past. To accommodate the quantity of passengers desire for deck space, all the lounges fill up by 8AM with towels acting as "reserved" cards and they too are jammed together, most times 4 abreast without nickel's thickness separating them. You can not move about this ship without feeling channeled and crowded. It is the largest ship I have been on and have never felt so confined!