We have now completed 5 cruises, all with NCL and have always enjoyed the Freestyle cruising they offer. However, this was to be our first cruise with our daughter (14 months old) and the first not to have left from an USA port, so we were nervous with anticipation. We chose this cruise because we were keen to go on the Epic and try the Med for the first time.
The Plus Points:
1. The embarkation and disembarkation was the quickest and smoothest process ever. Very slick and no fuss.
2. The ship is beautiful and clean and the army of staff are always on hand to keep it so.
3. The food was always excellent, although we generally ate in the Garden Cafe (buffet) with our baby. Great choice and hot.
4. The Nickleodean At Sea was excellent and the staff worked very hard to include all the children in this.
The Minus Points:
1. The lifts are horrendously busy at all times. We don't usually use them, but had little choice with the stroller.
2. Pools very small and have splashing water at all times coming from water features.
3. The shore excursions were extortinate. The Ultimate Rome trip was $400pp and a helicopter trip was nearly $800! I have always found shore excursions to be more expensive than independent travel but these prices were ridiculous.
My Personal Foibles:
1. The ship is so big that it felt very impersonal. We rarely saw the Cruise Director and never heard the Captain address the ship.
2. Having to book seats to see shows meant that you felt obliged to attend (although there was no charge to do so, you still had to go to the box office to book in)
3. There was no view from the front or the rear of the ship, with the jogging and walking tracks being on one side of the ship only, doing circular laps next to the lifeboats, with no overboard views at all. And on the jogging side, the smell from one of the kitchens was very overpowering/bad. This was very hard when we had to use the track to wheel the baby round to try and settle for sleep.
4. There were no quiet bars or areas. Altough it was never my intention to stay up late with the baby, once she had fell asleep (usually by around 22.00h) I had to take her back to the cabin because all public areas were crowded, noisy and unsuitable for little ones.
All in all, it was probably more underwhelming than disappointing, but we will cruise again and I'm not entirely off NCL either.