Our family of five includes my father, a clearly disabled 86-year-old man (walks with a cane, very bent over from osteoporosis) and a young lady with epilepsy. The very overcrowded elevators, sun deck and buffet line were nearly impossible to navigate. There was virtually no chivalry; in seven days only three people gave up a seat or allowed my father to board the elevator in front of them. He was almost knocked down on multiple occasions by unsupervised children or drunk adults. Disabled seating in shows was difficult to access, and required waiting for long periods for a manager to open special areas and lead us down darkened back hallways.
The muster drill was unsafe: we waited for 20 minutes to board an elevator as able-bodied passengers pushed ahead (they were supposed to be using the stairs). When I asked the crew member in the area for assistance, she just told me to wait (but she did smile sweetly and call me "madam" as did everyone else on board). I spoke the safety More
officer afterwards, and he said that in a real emergency we should stay in our stateroom. There was no such information provided to disabled passengers. In an emergency, we would not have known what to do.
The staff is almost completely from the Phillipines and India. Their English proficiency is poor. Expect to be misunderstood and therefore be misdirected or served the wrong food. Their hospitality training is not very good; they do not resolve problems but rather just smile and say, "I don't know Madam. Go to Guest Services." Don't try to call any on the departments listed on your stateroom phone; only the operator answers. The other numbers ring for 10 minutes and no one ever answers.
The staterooms are large and have lots of storage space. We had two connecting balcony staterooms. Do not waste money on a balcony unless you like smoke and greasy cooking smells. It seemed like there was always someone smoking on a nearby balcony, and the kitchen smells of onion and deep frying really bothered us after a few days. We would have liked to enjoy the fresh ocean air, but it was not possible.
On a positive note, the food is fantastic. We ate in the two main dining rooms and did not have one dish that was not beautifully prepared and delicious. However, the servers were slow and unhelpful. This might be due to their poor language skills. They also make no effort to ensure a civil atmosphere. One morning at breakfast, a nearby female passenger was relating an incident regarding a fight with another passenger to her husband. Her loud five minute tirade included many, many swear words. We were shocked that two waiters stood at attention no further than five feet from her and smiled demurely, saying nothing. We got up and left. Another example of lack of staff intervention is the dance floor at the formal Manhattan dining room, or what should be renamed the playground. One evening we had the misfortune of being seated next to the dance floor, which we expected to enjoy. However, within a few minutes it was filled with at least 20 rowdy and unsupervised children who were leaping up and down, yelling and banging into our chairs. This happened every night. When we complained, the head waiter said that other passengers were upset also. His solution was not to ask the children to be seated, but rather to ask us to sit in a far corner of the dining room.
The theme of the sun/pool deck is "kill or be killed". On sea days, if you arrive later than 8am you will not get a chair. Even though printed information says deck chairs may only be held for 30 minutes, people brag about arriving at 6am and saving seats for the entire day with towels and shoes; they are away most of the day at other activities. Arguments break out and security needs to be called. Very unpleasant. And no one would give my 86-year-old disabled father a seat.
All the shows and excursions were terrific. However, many passengers were complaining loudly about not getting into any shows because they did not book them prior to sailing. There is simply not enough capacity in the common areas of the ship (restaurants, theaters, sun/pool decks) for everyone on board.
Summary: If you are able-bodied, willing to fight for a seat or for an elevator, speak Tagalog or Hindi and like an unruly atmosphere/passengers, you will surely enjoy the Epic. Less