I've just returned from a 7-day Eastern Caribbean Christmas cruise on the Epic. I was very excited to check out this ship, as its less than 2 years old, and living in Miami I had heard all the hype from its launch. While there are some really cool features of the ship, it definitely lacks a certain something that great ships have.
-The food was great. Especially the Sushi bar, which I ate at a total of 6 times in one week. I wish every ship had a sushi bar like this. The rest of the food was great, if the only down side was it was slightly repetitive.
-Adults only area. We were all adults traveling over Christmas, so there were tons of kids on the ship, so having an adults only area was very nice. However The pool chair situation is detailed below in the cons
-Fitness Center. It was excellent with great equipment. It could have used a few fans to cool the area down, but it was nice to get a great workout while at sea.
-Cirque Dreams. Simply amazing. By far the best entertainment I've seen at sea. There are too many great parts of this show to mention, and well worth the money. The food was forgettable, and we all commented that they could make this a "show only" thing and still command sold-out audiences.
-Embarkation. a TOTAL nightmare. I get that 4000+ people have to check in, but we waiting in slow moving lines for over an hour. that is TOTALLY unacceptable, and was the worst way to start our vacation. The whole process should be streamlined... what's the point of checking in online if you still have to wait though this. And having the attendant have to go fetch each key card is ridiculous. Other cruise lines do this WAY better.
H20 - Adults only pool - This area smelled of sewage for most of the trip. I don't know why, but it was disgusting and made the first day hardly enjoyable. I hope this was a one time indecent and not typical.
-Pool Chairs. Apparently there is a rule that you can only save a pool chair for one hour, however this is never enforced. I woke up one morning at 8AM and went to H20 relax with a cup of coffee and look out at sea (I'm not much of a sun person), and low & behold...the entire area was reserved with towels tied together to the chairs, and only about 3 people up there... Its's so annoying that they seem to do nothing to enforce this rule, and a few people seem to ruin this for everyone... it shouldn't be that hard to find a place to sit down at 8AM.
-Service. All around we encountered bad service. We had to ask three times to have our beds rearranged into one single bed (vs two twins). Finally we ended up just moving the furniture ourselves. Calls to Room Service and Housekeeping simply rang and rang, with nobody ever picking up. The waiter in the back bar messed up my drink order repeatedly, and did not know what a Vodka Soda was... he finally brought a vodka with Coca Cola, and proceed to argued with me that that was what I had said... that is one of the simplest drinks in the book. seriously?
-Ship Announcements - the PA system on the epic is complete crap. I don't know how a new ship could have such a poor public announcement system. For starters, the sound is horrible and its so loud you can't understand what anyone is saying... it sounds like they are talking into a tin can. Second, the cruise director ALWAYS seemed to make announcements and the most inopportune time. Right as the sun is setting and you are enjoying a romantic moment, BAM... here comes a long-winded announcement you can't even understand.
-Bingo & Deal or No Deal - don't waste your money. They are a total rip off, with very low prizes. We felt conned when we bought played bingo partly for the raffle tickets, only to be told after we purchased them that the drawing was four days later, and we had to be present to win. We felt totally scammed.
-Freestyle Cruising. I don't mind paying a little extra for a specialty restaurant. The lines were so long for the "free" restaurants, that we ended up going to pay extra just to eat. I'm sure that is intentional on NCL's part, but we felt it was shady.
-Lack of amenities -
There seemed to be a lack of outdoor sitting space. It was easy to feel trapped inside.
Not having a promenade deck was a big miss... I don't know why they didn't include this.
We had a good time, but I don't think we would ever sail on the EPIC again... Maybe NCL, but I think I prefer the other lines