My husband and myself wanted to trying something different for our honeymoon, neither of us enjoy sunbathing and just a city trip seemed boring, so we thought a cruise travelling around Italy would be something to remember, and it certainly was!
The day of embarkation was super easy, plenty of staff around to help with check-in, went onto the ship around 11.30am. The biggest shame was no-one telling you where to go or that free drinks were available outside of the restaurants, it took me a day or two to realise there was free tea, iced tea, coffee and water on deck 15 next to the pool.
We were pleasantly surprised by the room, plenty of storage space and the bathroom layout wasn't a problem for us but may be if you're sharing with just a friend as there's no privacy whatsoever! Balcony was nice, but I was disappointed that it was one of the few without a roof! If I'd known this in advance I would have chosen a specific room number to avoid being overlooked.
You can organise your trips, dinner and shows on the TV which I thought was a great idea.
The ship is very stunning inside and I would compare it to a 5* hotel, very luxurious and very very clean.
POOL / PUBLIC AREAS:
Most of our spare time was spent at Spice H20 as it was adults only and there was always plenty of space in the pool and hot tubs. Loungers do get full quite quickly but we always found somewhere to sit. The water slides were great fun too. The main pool area was very busy and loud, but there are spaces on an upper level that are more calm.
We often took a mid morning break from the pool to visit the fitness centre, and I thought it was great to be on the equipment over looking the sea, never too busy. Water fountains, towels and cold flannels were provided which were all free.
Unlike most reviews we thought the food was excellent, both Taste and Manhattan served lovely dinners and we were always saying how tasty the meals were. The buffet at the Garden Cafe was rather hectic, but at lunch time they opened La Cucina so you could take your food downstairs to find a seat. My advice would be to eat early for lunch and dinner, 12pm & 7pm. Cagney's was fantastic, but we thought the meat served in Moderno was very greasy.
Drinks were expensive and little choice for the British, they ran out of Stella, Fosters and White Zinfandel wine which is all we drink other than Cider which they only served in tiny bottles. So we worked our way through the cocktail menu instead which was yummy!
Service is fantastic at the bars and restaurants - I really didn't mind paying a $12 per day charge but fail to understand why there is then a further 15% charge on drinks?! I think that to apply both of these charges is extortionate. We would have drank a lot less if we weren't celebrating our honeymoon.
I did find asking for anything else very difficult, breakfast room service was half an hour late one day (we nearly had to cancel as we had an excursion to catch) there was no apology or explanation as to why it was late. And they didn't understand what I wanted when I asked for tea, the milk was delivered in children's drink cartons! And if you had any general questions the queue for guest services was huge, much easier to ring from your room instead.
The shows were OK, but we failed to see the big fuss about the Blue Man Group, we didn't get the humour and walked out before the end as we were hungry - be warned it's 1.5 hours long, there's a lot of audience participation which we're not keen on. We preferred watching musical shows such at the Beatles tribute act and Howl at the Moon were very good and adult karaoke in the Bliss lounge was great fun.
Ice Bar - this cost $20 per person and included two drinks, we enjoyed it and you only need to go once, nice opportunity for some fun photos and the drinks are nice and strong!
The NCL excursions were very very expensive (unless you just want a lift into the town). We just couldn't afford the full tours which we had our hearts set on. Luckily I had joined Cruise Critic before I booked anything, and other people on our roll call were setting up private tours. This probably made our trip extra special, private guides to take us round Rome, Florence, Pisa, Positano, Sorrento and Pompeii were all taken in an 8 seater with All Around Italy. Our driver was called Pepe, and he was just fantastic, our travel companions were two groups from America and were all lovely. Much better value if you can get your own group together.
I would definitely recommend the Norwegian Epic - we liked that it's freestyle and can do your own thing and eat when you want, there's a great fun atmosphere, very lively.