This cruise was absolutely amazing! Last year we sailed on the Norwegian Star and it was not a good experience but we decided to give the exciting Epic a try. Embarkation at Barcelona was a total breeze. They had it organized and we didn't have to wait long. We ate lunch at the buffet and found it to be very good. My son couldn't wait to go bowling so he hit that first in O'Sheehans.
My husband, 17 year old son and I were very comfortable in our balcony stateroom. There was ample storage space for us to put our clothes and we particularly liked the set up of the bathroom. The shower was on one side surrounded by frosted glass and the toilet was on the other side with the same frosted glass. In addition, there was a curtain to separate the bathroom area from the rest of the stateroom. The first night we saw The Blue Man Group and it was fantastic. The second day we were at sea so we took advantage of the water slides and I also spent time reading my book on the balcony. We ate at the Teppanyaki Restaurant and it was excellent. We saw the Stephen Sorrento comedy show and we thoroughly enjoyed that.
On Tuesday, we took a tour we had booked online to Florence. There was so much to see and do. It was a long drive but our tour took us to the Statue of David, then we went to the square in Florence. After that we visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa. That evening, we ate at the Taste Restaurant and the service was superior and the food was very good. We saw Legends in Concert and was a bit disappointed. The performers for Elton John and Whitney Houston were entertaining but the Shakira performer was terrible. Later that night we went to Howl at the Moon and we loved it! They got the crowd involved in their performance and it was so much fun that we went back 2 more nights later in the week.
Wednesday was our visit to Rome and it was so overwhelming. This was my favorite day in Italy. We had a driving tour which took us to all the main sites. Unfortunately, there's so much to see and do that we did not have time to go into the Coliseum or inside of the Vatican. We had also booked this tour online and our tour guide was amazing and very personable. We ate dinner at Taste Restaurant and later had a brownie sundae at O'Sheehan's.
On Thursday, we visited the Almafi Coast and then went to Pompeii, which was another full day. We had eaten a late lunch so we opted for a snack and relaxation at O'Sheehans. The entertainment that evening was Los Locos. This show was absolutely stupid and not funny at all. We had seats near the front and we were so bored with it and didn't feel like wasting our time, so we quietly got up and left.
We were at sea on Friday so we slept in and went swimming. The one disappointing thing on the ship were the pools. They were very small for the many people on board. Also, we expected to walk around the deck periodically and the way they built this ship, there are no open decks, only the Lido deck. That evening we had reservations at the Cirque dinner show. We were one of the first in line for the standard seating. I specifically asked to sit in the balcony and the hostess encouraged me to sit in a booth, which was clear in the back and the view of the show was partially blocked. The people in the balcony had a perfect view so I was very disappointed with that. Looking back, I should have insisted that we sit in the balcony. The last ones in line sat in the balcony and had the better seats. The dinner was just okay but the show was exceptional. Note: make reservations for the shows as soon as you can because they fill up. One nice thing was that we could schedule our entertainment from our stateroom.
Many announcements occurred over the PA system but we were never able to hear them while we were on the balcony or in our stateroom. I also thought they could have had a few more available channels on the TV.
We did not get off the ship at the last port but took advantage of the fitness center, bowling and simply relaxing on the balcony. The last evening we had reservations at Moderno and we really thought that was exceptionally good. They fully explained how they prepare their meat and it was some of the best filet I have ever tasted.
Some other things we did....I went to the fitness center 3 times and found it to be very clean and plenty of machines for everyone. It was very peaceful to work out and look into the sea. The gift shops were well displayed and the staff was helpful. I did buy some beautiful amber jewelry! We made out well at the casino and found the slot machines actually paid back. Their drink prices were expensive but it's the same on every ship. We tried to get a one-day soda pass for my son later in the week but they told us that was not possible and that we would have to buy it the first day. I didn't think that was right because they never mentioned that we could not purchase a one day soda card later in the week. I felt the service charges of $12 per day were fair for all of the hard work the crew does to pamper you.
Disembarkation was a total breeze! They asked for everyone to be out of their staterooms by 8:30. We had a quick breakfast and we opted to carry our own luggage off. We walked right off and got a taxi to the airport without waiting in line. I felt that it was very organized. The taxi fare back to the airport was around 37 Euro.
We did opt for the Cruise Reward Program. If you put $250 down on a future cruise, they give you $100 to spend immediately and also a 2 for 1 voucher at a specialty restaurant. Even though we had a terrible experience on the Norwegian Star in Alaska, we found this ship to be superior and it was a memorable vacation. We are looking forward to our next Norwegian cruise and hope it is accommodating as the Epic was.