Where do I begin? My last experience with Norwegian was on the SKY and I left never wanting to return, however, the Epic has changed my mind and I must say the Epic is worth all of the hype.
This was a seven day Eastern Carib. cruise it left on 11/26/2011 and returned on 12/3/2011. The ports of call were St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Nassau, Bahamas. We were travelling for a family members birthday and in total there were 8 of us. However, obviously everyone was split into rooms with there spouses or friends that accompanied them.
The Ship: The Epic was quite big but well organized in many ways. A positive was that if you had even number rooms you were on one side with one set of elevators and if you were in odd number rooms you had your own side with corresponding elevators. However a negative was that there was only a forward and aft set of elevators and nothing in the middle so you would have to walk really far to get to the other side. The elevators were also always full and took quite a while to come unless you were at the bottom (5) or the top (15). The ship had a nice feel to it and even though it had 4,000 people on it did not feel overwhelming except for at the elevators. The large TV in the middle was a nice touch and many games and movies were displayed throughout the course of the week. The ship had many common areas and the deck on 15 was always happening. There was plenty of seating and it was always easy to get a drink from the bar. It was also easy to get food on Deck 15.
The Room: We had a large balcony room and it was forward on floor 9. The room was very nice. The curvy walls were such a nice touch and the floor to ceiling glass was great. Also the separate shower and toilet did not bother us. We thought it was a better use of space and this was the first time I actually enjoyed taking a shower on a cruise ship. The TV did not have many choices and I would have been happier with some local abc, cbs, nbc, fox action because I tend to be in my room during early evening as I get ready for partying later that night. There was lots of storage in the room and space to fit your luggage under the bed. Having a large balcony made sitting out and enjoying the ocean much more enjoyable.
The Entertainment: The entertainment was awesome. I have never been on a ship that nailed entertainment the way the EPIC has. The Blue Man group was excellent and the show kept everyone entertained. I like that you have to reserve your seats because it made attending the show no nonsense. Cirque Du Dreams was also an awesome show and was worth the up-charge of 30 dollars for premium seating. In fact I even got selected from the audience. Other shows included, a magic comedy show, Second City which is free but with reservations and various other shows and events. There was always something to do and it was all top notch.
The Casino: The Casino was large and open and took up the middle of the 6th deck. It was fun however, I wish it was maybe aft instead of the whole middle because I just think it would have flowed better that way. The casino does have every game you can imagine and tons of slots so if you are into gambling you can really enjoy yourself.
Food: Taste and the Manhattan room are the main freestyle dining rooms. They serve the same menu but give you a different ambiance. Manhattan room is like a supper club. Taste is very modern but trending towards upscale. I found my food tasted better in Taste. However, that is a minor difference as the food was consistently good all over the ship. For breakfast I mostly ate on deck 15 and found the buffet to be great. However I wish they had more non pork breakfast meats on 15, that aren't fish! The 24/7 Pizza is great but you have to get it delivered outside of the times it was available on deck 15. The delivery has a 5 dollar surcharge and the Pizza I had delivered came in bad shape. It tastes decent, however, Carnival has better pizza. The plus about the delivery is they will deliver wherever you are on board the ship, and not just to your stateroom. The specialty restaurants are a real treat. We went to Cagney's and the steak with pepper sauce was delicious. I was disappointed in the desert selection generally aboard the ship. It seemed all very basic.
Service: I find Norwegian employees to be rude and unapologetic most of the time. This ship was no exception. Many employees seemed to be disinterested with service and were not generally friendly they seemed to force themselves to say hello. In contrast on Carnival I find employees friendly and attentive and if there is one area where EPIC and Norwegian continue to fail it is in the service department. I will say the Entertainment staff was generally friendly and many of the wait staff were friendly even if they got your orders consistently wrong or could not explain the menu.
Over all I would say that the EPIC is a great ship and I really must try and stick to these type of super big premium ships for my future cruises because the experience was excellent.