EPIC LIVES UP TO AND SURPASSES THE HYPE!
My wife and I, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and 2 grandchildren just returned from a trip to the Western Caribbean aboard the Epic. Based on what we had read and seen about the Epic, our expectations were very high when we boarded the ship. But I can honestly say that they were largely surpassed. I have now cruised 8 times, and the cruise aboard the Epic is my most memorable. We dined at 6 specialty restaurants (Teppenyaki, La Cucina, Shanghai's, Cirque & Dreams, Le Bistro, and Cagney's) and the food, service, and appearance of each were all outstanding, as was the food offered at O'Sheehan's, the Garden Cafe buffet, and by room service. At the specialty restaurants we often ordered multiple appetizers and desserts, and sometimes even multiple entrees, and were always accommodated without a complaint or second guess. Sushi was excellent, and the performance of our Teppenyaki chef was humorous and the most entertaining I have experienced to date.
The shipboard entertainment was very professional and of the highest caliber. Blue Man Group and Cirque Dreams & Dinner featured eye-popping visual displays and incredible feats of skill. The legends sounded like the legendary singers they portrayed, with the Aretha Franklin performer possibly outdoing the real Aretha with her high and extended vocal range and riffs. Slam Allen and the Slam Allen Blues Band were soulful and bluesy in the best sense. The Howl at the Moon performers were not just very capable pianists; they were accomplished singers who also played the drums and guitar. The Apollo Duo sang melodic, very danceable songs enhanced by portraits of famous geographical sites projected on the big screen behind them in the Atrium. And, the Caribbean Vibes leant an authentic touch to the Caribbean Theme Party with their fine renditions of regional songs. Though fun, this event was excelled by the FABBA party and NCL's White Hot Party held on deck at Spice H20 and ably facilitated by cruise director Paul Scally and his cruise staff. Later in the cruise, cruise director Scally showed that he is a very funny comedian in his own right, focusing on eerily realistic sketches of passengers who are overindulgent diners and undiscriminating travel photographers. And, featured performer Dana Daniels displayed spellbinding magic laced with hilarious comedy.
The spa was the best I have yet beheld at sea, with 9 ceramic lounges and 6 outdoor lounges overlooking the ocean 14 decks up at the ship's stern; 2 saunas with a view of the sea; steam and aromatherapy rooms; an aqua center that features a hot community spa, hydrotherapy nook, individual spas, cascading jets of water, and bubbling metal rails to lounge on; and over 12 massage treatment rooms featuring unusual massages like the Thai Herbal Poultice Massage, which featured deep tissue techniques, applied heat, and application of warm oils for 75 or 90 minutes by well trained and very proficient masseuses from around the world.
Staterooms were fashionable and very comfortable, with ample storage space. Soundproofing had to be excellent, because I never heard anything beyond our walls. Service by our room steward was impeccable, as it was by other service providers. Room service arrived in 20 minutes after I placed a lunch order; and a supervisor arrived to correct reported problems in the Video Arcade within 3 minutes of a call that tickets failed to dispense for my grandson from a machine, and that a prize failed to drop for my granddaughter. Extra tickets were provided, and the desired prize was quickly supplied before any disappointment had a chance to set in.
The water park exceeded already high expectations, with three somewhat scary but enjoyable water slides, each different in style and trajectory. And, the casino truly is the biggest at sea, where one can play poker with a live dealer. Factor in the Ice Bar, and this is one cool ship!
I have been informed that NCL is working to offer at least 4 specialty restaurants on its other ships. This will be a welcome development that will undoubtedly lure me back to another NCL ship or to Epic again in the near future. I have already placed an onboard deposit to that end.
Perhaps my son summed up the trip best as we were parting at the airport: "This was a trip of a lifetime!"