This ship has been designed with one thing in mind, maximising passengers and potential revenue.
When you board the Epic, it is big, new and modern. You feel an instant connection with the vessel which promised you a wonderful cruise just like the brochure or website promised.
For inexperienced cruisers, it takes them a day or two to work things out but for veterans of cruising; they know too well how to handle things. Like for instance, there was no information given to me that you could book activities even before you boarded the vessel. This could have changed my EPIC experience from a bad one to a great one, keep reading on.
The sheer volume of passengers on board causing over-crowded elevators cues, sold out signs for activities and yes I will say it, shopping tours with kickbacks as I discovered. I bought a set of Carriloah bed sheets from Bamboo material which is wonderfully soft for a king bed at a discounted price of $189 from $199. Imagine my surprise when I took the discounted sticker off the sheets and noticed the original price was actually $160.00. Bump up Price or is it just the cruise ships are in town? Be careful about the information given to you about shopping, it is all about what kickbacks they actually receive, not that they will admit to it.
One passenger commented in conversation that he was annoyed that the elevators have the faintest ding noise when they arrive and you miss half the time, and during peak times on the ship, you will be calling on the stairs for exercise on more than one occasion during your vacation.
What they have done with the EPIC is created the illusion of bigger staterooms with balconies to increase the number of passengers it can take. If you know anything about space, real-estate on board a ship is a premium. The bathroom layout can only be described as interesting.
The rooms are a modern design with the majority of staterooms having balconies which is nice touch not to mention the bath tub in the stateroom, but when it comes to the on board entertainment, book even before you arrive on the cruise. No one had informed me you could do this which is not good communication. To top it off, they advertise that they have the BLUE MAN GROUP AT SEA performing two shows a night for three nights only, all sold out and if you miss it, well tuff luck.
This is not the only show sold out during my cruise, the Spiegel tent sold out on the second night of the seven day cruise that is ridiculous! This forces you to choose the left overs of the entertainment which was I have to admit OK. The freedom of choice is a nice thing though!
This ship has demonstrated that it is far too big for its own passengers. A great example was the last day of the cruise in the Bahamas, the tour not only was delayed by more than 30 minutes and they make you wait in the theatre while they try to disembark all of the other passengers, left me wondering why I was forced to wait where I have paid for a shore tour. Then the tour guides were disorganised and well to say, I wasted first half of the day.
The dining options on board also highlight this. Many people choose cruise ships because all meals are included. On the EPIC, there are more choices than in any other ship I have been on. This comes at a price, of course a cover charge. More choice equals more pay. Another reason that this ship leaves you waiting sometimes up to 45 minutes or more in some of the dining options which you have paid for. So what is the solution, pay some money and you will not wait at all? Could this be part of some plot? (Remember too many passengers not enough .......)
I am trying to portray a fair and balanced view on the ship, it is a lovely designed and modern ship equipped with bowling alleys, a huge casino and very little mid-ship area compared to some of the other vessels I have been on.
In a nut shell, the Epic has been designed to fit as many staterooms as they could handle, (this is reflected in the cleaver room designs). I was left cheated by this cruise and would recommend some of the smaller vessels in the market to any person considering a cruise in the Caribbean.
If you are a first time cruiser, the EPIC might suit your needs, the more experienced ones, avoid it at all costs and travel on the old and faithful ships you are used to where you are made to feel like a guest and not a number on board.
If the powers to be at NCL are reading guests comments on cruise critic, most have expressed that they would not return and for good reason. Epic carries too many passengers and not enough on board to cater for them. Your EPIC Theatre needs to be at least 25% larger in capacity and space. Look at the design of some of the older cruise ships which has gigantic theatres with multi levels to cater for peoples attractions. I normally do pay the service fees associated with cruises because the staff work hard for the gratuity but this experience forced me to rethink on this occasion to only pay half the service fee which they reluctantly reversed from my bill as both my wife and I felt cheated with the lack of the entertainment and shore excursion experience from this cruise.