Our group consisted of five women ranging in age from 21 to 74.
Let me begin with the arrival at the Port of Miami. We took the shuttle from our hotel and were dropped off between the two entrances for check in. We found our entrance and walked into the VIP lounge where we were given our room keys, and took care of the business part of our cruise. It took us about five-ten minutes before our escort asked us to follow her. My mother has a medical condition that doesn't allow her to walk very fast and our escort did a very good job at not trying to rush us along. We bypassed all the long lines for checkin and to get on the ship. From the time we arrived at the port to boarding and being escorted to the Epic Lounge took no more than 15 minutes. It was a wonderful beginning to our cruise.
Once at the Epic Lounge, we waited for a few more people to arrive, then we were taken on a tour of The Haven. They showed us the concierge area, pool and jacuzzis, gym, massage room, and Posh. We were escorted back to the Epic Club to have our first, delicious lunch onboard. After lunch, we were allowed to go to our stateroom, 17021. Our stateroom was a two bedroom Villa that easily accommodated five adults, although the smaller bedroom is usually called the kid's room. We were able to store all of our luggage under the bed in the master bedroom so the bags were out of the way during the cruise. Also, having two bathrooms with five women worked out well.
The concierge, Adrian, was wonderful. We had pre-booked the Blue Man Group, Legends in Concert and the Second City before the cruise, but found that we booked Blue Man on lobster night, so Adiran was able to move us to the late showing without a problem. A great perk in The Haven is that we could go into the Blue Man and Legends shows early which allowed us to choose great seats. We were able to get front row seats at Legends!!
My Mother and I only ate at one surcharge restaurant, Moderno, and the others in our group at at Teppanyaki and Moderno. Both restaurants had good food, although the night we at at Moderno, the servers seemed to ignore the two of us to take care of larger tables. We were a little disappointed in the service, but the food more than made up for it. As for the Epic Club, we were never disappointed with either the food or the service. I was also impressed with how they learned our names and desires so quickly. We tried the main dining room, The Manhatten Room, one night to see the difference and we all agreed we liked the intimacy of The Epic Club. We only ate in the buffet once or twice but I found the layout of the buffet to flow easily and we really didn't have to wait in any lines to get our food. As for the food, it was tasty and fresh. We ate at O'Sheehans twice and enjoyed the food. My Mother enjoyed the chicken pot pie so much, she had it both times.
We got to know the Epic very well with three sea days. It was easy to get around once we figured out that starboard had blue carpet and port had orange and that entertainment was forward. Trying to find the spa was not that easy coming from the 17th deck but once we found it, it was easy to return. The promonade deck, where the stores were located, was easy to find. it was easy to find the casino, pub, and other public areas of the ship. We did, at times, find the casino to be somewhat smokey, but we stayed in the areas that were designated as non-smoking (some smokers didn't care) as there was little or no smoke. We did find out, after the fact, that there were over 700 casino guests on our sailing, which explained why the casino was always so packed! We loved that while we were cruising, each day there were more Christmas decorations in the public areas.
Our ports were St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Nassau. We took a Jeep Safari, booked through an outside agency, around St. Maarten. Since it was just our group of five, the tour guide didn't stick to the same old tour. She customized it to us. And, since we were early, we were able to get our jeeps and head out before any organized tours were even on the buses. She took us to the Sunset Bar and Grill at the end of the runway where we had lunch, played on the beach and took lots of beautiful pictures. We made a loop around the island and visited other places that didn't have any tourists. She made out tour very personal which helped us enjoy it even more. I think we may do this tour again when we return.
My Mother and friend, took the Blackbeard's tour off the ship. I have to say that if you have someone in your party that cannot climb up into a tour bus with a very high step, this is not the tour for them. My Mother had difficulty getting up into the tour bus and consequently, had pain in her arms from pulling herself up. They did enjoy the tour of the "castle" and rum factory as well as the tour around the island, though. They ended up at Senor Frogs before they got back on the ship. As for me and the other two ladies, we took advantage of everyone being off the ship and played in the water park onboard. We were like little children on the slides. We did all three of the slides at least five times each. It was a fun time!
After we finished playing on the tubes, we cleaned up and headed off the ship for the tram, which was a short walking distance from the ship. Cost was about $21, but was worth it when you see the beautiful views from atop the mountain. There was a little nature trail where they had rabbits, goats, birds, and other critters. There was a restaurant and an area with little shops.
Something else we liked was the computers at the photo gallery. All you do is put your key card in and your pictures show up on the screen. It was much easier than searching countless walls looking for your likeness. They also had binders with photos listed by your stateroom number.
Our last port was Nassau. My Mother and friend got off the ship and did a little shopping they got back on. The rest of us took a snorkeling excursion and harbor cruise. Although it was a little cool and breezy, we enjoyed snorkeling. We all enjoyed our day in Nassau. There were four other ships docked while we were there, so there were a lot of people in port that day.
In summary, we decided our cruise rating was 9.5 our of 10. The Epic is fantastic and is a destination in itself. The food was very good. The entertainment is the best I've seen on a cruise. We liked our cruise so much, we booked for next year!