You know there are those opportunities that look back upon and think, Wow am I glad that I did not miss that one. That was our experience on the NCL Epic last week. We meet our college aged son after his study abroad in Spain and booked the NCL Epic cruise as an afterthought for a family vacation. It was our first European vacation and we wanted those Christmas card moments with the three of us, well this cruise did not disappoint.
NCL Epic has really "upped their game" with this ship. We traveled in a balcony room on the eighth level and we were very comfortable. There is plenty of storage space for all three of us and well designed to keep the clutter to a minimum. The new bathroom design was not a problem for our family, I am sure that our RV camping preparations helped and previous cruises provided a level of expectation for us. The room service and all the amenities were very good.
The itinerary and the sailing dates were our primary considerations and the two sea days were perfectly timed between busy travel to Barcelona, three very energetic ports, Livornio, Rome, and Naples, then travel in Spain before returning to the US. The port day in Palma was a completely unexpected surprise. We loved the island and our trip to Valdemossa was so pleasant and served as a wonder exclamation point to the week. We utilized private guides at all of the ports so I can't speak to the shore excursion experience, but the itinerary certainly ensured a wonderful week of activity.
The front desk staff was very helpful with questions and the embarkation and free style walk off on the disembarkation process was very good. We have not cruised in a few years and it seems that NCL has really addressed the "downside" aspects or perceptions of cruising. The more casual dining experiences were welcomed because the luggage space required for more formal dress was not required, yet the dining experiences were very friendly and we returned to the Taste restaurant and were seated with the same wait staff each night. The disembarkation process was wonderful with the walk off option so that we controlled our schedule and did not have to be concerned about catching our train. This is a big ship but we quickly established our "quick routes" and had no problem navigating the ship. We found the eighth level was good because it was close enough to walk down the stairs to the gangways and restaurants and avoided the frustrations of waiting on elevators at peak times when schedules are rushed. We enjoyed the Spice H2O area as our sail away location and quieter adult pool. But the families with kids were having a great time with many swim options. Now if someone can just figure out how to have enough lounge chairs in exactly the perfect place for sunning and relaxing, everything would be perfect.