We loved the Epic, especially the modern feel of the ship. Our balcony cabin was very well laid out. I thought the 2 closets on opposite sides of the cabin worked really well. We could get dressed without tripping over each other. The medicine cabinet over the sink was also great for storage. No need for the shoe holder to store toiletries. Our bed was closer to the balcony allowing more space when you entered the cabin. Our cabin steward Patrick was great. We loved the separate toilet and shower.
Prior to our cruise we spent 2 nights at the W Barcelona, and would highly recommend this hotel. It was one of the most amazing 5 star hotels I've ever stayed in. The beach here is so clean and the water is crystal clear. We were able to walk to a hop on hop off bus to see the beautiful sites of Barcelona. Make sure you ask prior to getting on the bus whether it goes to the east or west sites ( red or green line) the bus looked exactly the same. We ended up going on the wrong bus taking us far away from the hotel. The taxi ride from the W to the port was about 18 euros for 2 people and 3 bags.
Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at 1130 am and we didn't wait in any lines to board the ship. We went right to the lobby desk to purchase our posh passes for the week, and had them in minutes. The posh passes cost $59 per person per week. This allowed us access to 2 levels of comfy sun beds and padded lounge chairs where no children are allowed. There was a misting pipe to cool off under, a private bar, and bathroom. We loved it! We didn't have to get up early on sea days to reserve a deck chair. We were able to have a relaxing breakfast in Taste ,and then go to the gym and work out before lounging in the sun in great chairs without the crowds.
The water slides are a lot of fun. The yellow one with the tube was great. I wouldn't wear any loose jewelry though, since someone on our cruise lost their wedding ring on the slide.
For breakfast and lunch we dined in Taste and the garden cafe. The food and selection was great in both locations. It was a little better in Taste since it was cooked to order and not as crowded as the garden cafe.
For dinner we dined in Taste, La cucina, Le Bistro, Cagney's and Moderno. Our favorites were Cagney's and La cucina. The filet Mignon at Cagney's was wonderful. We also asked if we could go to Moderno's salad bar when we went to Cagney's. The salad bar at Modernos was the best part of that restaurant. We felt the meat at Modernos was way too much to eat and it was overcooked and very salty. They also save the best meats like the filet Mignon and lamb to the end of the meal when you feel like you can't eat anymore meat.
La Cucina had a great view, delicious anti pasta, Chianti by the liter, and wonderful pasta dishes. I also loved the pana cotta dessert.
At Le bistro the lamb, escargot, and the creme brulee were our favorites.
The dinner we had in Taste wasn't bad, but nowhere near the quality of the pay restaurants. On other NCL ships we found the quality of the food to be better in the main dining room than on the Epic.
The service was great in all of the restaurants, but especially great in Cagney's. The manager of the restaurant came by both times we dined there and was very friendly asking if everything was great.
In Livorno we stayed on board and enjoyed a very quiet ship since we had recently spent a week in Florence.
Civitavecchia: We took the train into Rome for 9 euros round trip. We managed to be on the first bus out of the port into town. This is a free service. The train station is an easy walk along the water a few blocks down. You will see it across the road. Follow all of the other passengers and crew members. We took the 745 am train into Rome Termini. This train made lots of stops and took 1 1/2 hrs to reach the Rome Termini. The train was very crowded, but we were able to get seats. I think it would probably be better to take the fast express train that left later and arrived it Rome termini around the same time. There isn't any air conditioning on the train, so less time on board would have been better. We purchased Roma passes online before we left home for the date we would be there. We had to pick them up at Roma termini. It was a little tricky finding the office to pick them up. Everyone kept saying the Roma passes were sold out for that day, but we had prepaid. We found the office for the passes about halfway down platform 24 in the information office. We were really glad to have the passes because they saved us valuable time. These passes allow you free entry to 2 sites without standing in any lines as well as free use of public transportation including buses and the metro. We used the passes to skip the really long lines at the colosseum and the Forum. We also saw the Pantheon and visited the Trevi fountain. There is an awesome gelato place right by the fountain. We then headed back to catch the 3:40pm train back to the ship. We didn't want to chance taking the last train back. We wished we had more time to enjoy Rome. There is so much to see.
Naples: We arranged an excursion on line touring the Amalfi coast with share a shore excursion in Italy. I found out about this through the roll call message board for our cruise. This was the best excursion ever! Thanks to Winnie and Alex for starting the group! We spent the day stopping in towns along the Amalfi coast including Ravello, Amalfi, and Positano. In Ravello, our driver gave us time on own to explore. We went to Villa Rufolo. This place had the most amazing flower gardens and dramatic sea views. If you stop in Amalfi, make sure you walk out on the jetty. We got some of our best photos from that jetty. In Positano we took many more breathtaking photos and had lunch at a restaurant called Tagliatelle. The food and wine was to die for. There were several anti pasta items to try and then 5 pasta dishes and several desserts. The meal also included wine red and white made locally and bottled water. The cost was 25 euros per person and was a steal for the quality of food we had. We really enjoyed talking with the 2 other couples in our group over lunch. After lunch we walked around the shops of Positano and down to the beach. This area is so pretty it doesn't look real. It was truly a day that we will never forget. Our driver from Rome in limo was great. He was very friendly, informative, and had nerves of steel to be able to drive on those roads.
Palma: We took the hop on hop off bus that left right outside the port for 15 euros. You pay when you get on the bus and then show your receipt each time you board the bus. The bus takes 1 1/2 hrs to go completely around without getting off. We decided to stay on the bus the 1st time all the way around, since we had some great seats on the upper deck. Then we went back and got off at the cathedral, shopping areas and the castle. The views are great from the castle and should not be missed. Bear in mind that you might have to wait 20 minutes for another bus to pick you up at a stop along the way. We also saw others who took the public bus for 1 euro into the center of town to see the cathedral.
The restaurant manager from Cagney's told us not to miss the pizza in Palma, and he was right it was fabulous as was the gelato.
Disembarkation: We found this to be great as well. We were independent travelers with a 1030 am flight, so we arranged a car service to pick us up at the ship. We prepaid online through Viator. After reading about long taxi lines, we thought we better arrange for a car. A very nice man was holding a sign with our name on it, and took us to the airport in a beautiful Mercedes sedan.
Overall, we thought it was a fabulous cruise. We only had the energy to attend the Blue man group, and the Spanish Ballet shows. They were both really good.
We are thinking of booking another cruise on the Epic for next year, since we loved it so much.