We booked our 1st Cruise on the NCL - Epic sailing from Barcelona to Florence, Rome, Naples, Palma and back to Barcelona. We liked the idea of "Free Style Cruising", eat when you want do what you want and no formal attire. The biggest thing we had heard about was the food and how good it was aboard cruise ships, we were disappointed to say the least. We ate in four (4) of the "Specialty" restaurants and paid extra which was bogus. Other than Cagney's Steakhouse, the French, Italian and Brazilian were ordinary to say the least, not worth the up charge.
Our first morning we went to the Garden Cafe Buffet and I asked for a couple of eggs over medium, the cook butchered those and I didn't eat them....he couldn't cook eggs? I tried a second time in the buffet for breakfast and the omelet was no better, basic cooking in my book.
We also ate at Manhattan and were looking forward to that, upscale NY style steakhouse, sounded good. I had to wear long pants and dress shoes and thought OK sounds reasonable. We arrived at the restaurant around 9:30 to find it full of loud, screaming families with kids running wild all over the place. It was like a cafeteria with classy furniture, nothing high end about this place. The food was institutional at best.
Other than the food being very poor, I also didn't care for the "free for all" style of the other patrons. I guess it's acceptable in Europe (Italy) for people to walk right in front of you at the buffet, the Italians don't seem to know what a line is or why they have to go to the back of it.
While I room was comfortable and our attendant (Putu) very good, nothing about the Epic would make me want to book again. I heard from several passengers that Royal Caribbean was far better for food and service.
The ship itself is something to see, however if you want to spend your entire vacation with kids running wild, people yelling at the top of there voice as they rudely cut in front of you the Epic may be your cut of tea.