So this was our first ever cruise and what a great introduction, I can recommend the Norwegian Epic for families and couples. I was travelling with my wife and 12 year old son.
First impressions are the enormous size of the ship, its impressive. The water slides add further interest to the ship. Check in was busy but smooth running and we quickly got our luggage handed over and our key cards.
We weren't allowed on the ship until 11.30AM a bit of a pain as we had landed at 9AM and were tired from the travelling. Once on the ship we explored it and had lunch in the buffet garden restaurant, unfortunately we could not get into the cabin until 2.30PM and luggage arrived about 1 hour later.
The cabin was very nice, all of the outside rooms have a balcony with chairs and a table. The room had sat TV, phone, mini bar, separate toilet cubicle and shower cubicle with a curtain that can be pulled to separate from the sleeping area. I was concerned when booking the cruise that the room would be noisy with the AC and sea noise, but I had no problems sleeping thru the entire cruise.
The Cabin had a pull out sofa which turned into a 3rd bed which my son slept on, but any older than 12 and he would have struggled to fit onto it.
Inside the boat the public areas are well fitted out and very impressive, the ship boasts 20 restaurants, many bars, a casino, spa and fitness centre, all very impressive.
\my son was registered at the 'Tweens' club and had a great time with eh activities and PS3/Wii's, being 12 he could sign himself in and out (after 2 hours) So the adults could enjoy the Casino and bars.
We ate at O'sheehans and taste for breakfast, garden cafe for lunch, and for dinner we ate at The Manhattan Room, Taste both inclusive and Cagneys steakhouse, Shanghai, Teppanyaki, and dinner at the Cirque all with a modest cover charge, I can report that the food is excellent however the included restaurants could get a little busy at certain times with a pager system for those who wanted to wait. I would recommend booking in advance for the speciality dining particularly the teppanyaki which was busy most of the time.
The entertainment on the boat was first class I would have paid extra to see the Blue Man Group, they were superb. However, we found that we were running out of options towards the end of the week.
The only negatives I have are:
The pools are very small for a boat of this size, the sun deck (15) area is taken up by the water slides meaning I guess they had to compromise with the swimming pool. The water slides are fantastic though.
On sea days, the sun decks were very busy this was exacerbated by people who would reserve beds with their towels and not use them, the company had a policy of removing towel if people had not used them after 30 minutes but this NEVER happened and needs to be enforces when the sundeck is busy. We managed to find beds in the quiet area on Deck 18 on both sea days and enjoyed the peace and quiet.
Drinks were expensive $10 for a cocktail $6 for a beer, my beer from the mini bar each evening sat on the balcony was $8. We had the soft drinks package for the week where our soft drinks were inclusive. Bringing you own drinks on board is strictly forbidden and they were confiscated and given back at the end of the cruise.
At the end of the cruise we had to leave the boat before 9AM. We arranged to tour Barcelona on our last day and grabbed a taxi. You can leave your luggage at the Central station, for reference left luggage in Spanish is 'Consignia', this will help you if your Taxi driver doesn't speak English (ours did not).
If you flying out of Barcelona just make sure you don't go through passport control until your flight is called, once you go through passport control you can't go back to the main retail area and their is little to do near the gate.
So. Highlights of the cruise (for me) were:
Seeing a whale on the first morning.
Blue Man Group
As a first cruise it was a great introduction and we intend to cruise again next year for our wedding anniversary.