My family and I just did a New Year's Cruise on board the Norwegian EPIC. This was an all around amazing experience. We flew into Fort Lauderdale on December 30th, 2011 and stayed at the Airport Hilton. Great pre-cruise hotel if you fly into Fort Lauderdale! We sailed out on December 31st, 2011. We used Millennium Limo to get from the hotel to Port of Miami. Great service and the limos were in great condition. Should you choose to book Millennium Limo, be aware the price they give you usually does not include taxes, tips and port fees. Once arriving in port, it was really a "holy crap" moments! Let me just say now, the EPIC looks a lot bigger in real life!The pictures of the ship make it look small! As follows is a step-by-step "report card" of the EPIC
EMBARKATION: Embarkation was a breeze! We arrived around 11:20PM. As soon as we offloaded our luggage from the limo, porters took them and put them on carts for us. Even with 4709 people needing to get aboard, security and check-in took only about 15 minutes! Before we knew it, we were smiling for the camera and walking through the glass gangway and into the ship! We were welcomed by singing and dancing crew, we felt so welcome, that my grandfather who can barely walk had to dance a bit when he came aboard!! (Grade: A+)
CABINS: After a nice lunch at Garden Cafe, and roaming around the ship, at 2:00, the call came that our cabins were ready. My family was split up around the ship, and I was the first to reach our cabin. It was small!!!! Walking beside the couch was okay, but passing someone at the endo of the bed is difficult. Be prepared to hop the bed. Despite it's size however, it was very comfortable and functional. My Cabin was 13067 (B2 Family Balcony). This was a great stateroom that I'd HIGHLY recommend. it is right by the elevators, two decks below the buffet and pool, and the balcony is HUMUNGOUS!! The balcony must have been at least 10 ft. deep! We didn't mind the bathroom setup. We liked the extra space that came out of it. There is LOTS of storage space, so ask your cabin steward to give you a little tour (GRADE: A-)
DINING: The restaurants were all AMAZING!! We ate at Moderno Chrriscarria once, Cirque Dreams once, Taste three times, Manhattan Room once and La Cucina once. All restaurants were superb! At Moderno, come hungry! There is lots of food! If you can, request the table in the front half of the restaurant, starboard side. Cirque Dreams has no bad seats, but get there first so you can be seated at the "front". At Taste, request tables 84 or 85. They are booths right under the chandelier and beside the piano player. At Manhattan Room, request a table near the back of the restaurant on Day 4, it is nice to see the lights of St. Maarten disappear behind the ship. At La Cucina, request the table right over the port side bridge wing it is a really cool view as you leave Nassau. O'Sheehans and Garden Cafe is great for lunch (GRADE: A+++)
ENTERTAINMENT: There is not much to say about the entertainment...except it was totally AMAZING!!!! Blue Man Group is awesome, sit in the front row for best effect. I was truly APPALLED at the Cirque Dreams show. The performers were excellent, and funny too! The Second City comedians were so good, we saw them twice. Legends in Concert felt real. The Steven Tyler impersonator could have been the real thing! Howl at the Moon and Slam Allen are two great walk-in shows. Also, Michael Finney the comedy magician was hilarious and his tricks were awesome, although I do not think he is on the EPIC anymore:(
Also, go see Deal or no Deal, even if you don't buy a card it is fun to watch! Dancing with the EPIC stars is fun, too! (GRADE: A+++++)
ONBOARD ACTIVITIES: There is so much to do, that you will never get bored! The slides are a lot of fun, Epic Plunge is the best, but expect a line. The Green slide is full of twists and turns, and The Purple Slide is for those who just want a leisurely ride. Go on the slides at night too, it is quite an experience.
Bowling is a lot of fun! There is an employee who works bowling, Jergen, who is truly awesome! He let us play one game, then started another game so he could play with us! Rock climbing and rappelling walls are awesome! EVERYBODY should do these activities on your cruise. The bungee trampoline is awesome, too! Take part in poolside games, the Newlywed Game, FABBA, and Family Dodgeball Games (GRADE: A+)
POOLS: Pretty small, but big enough to wade. Lots of hot tubs and a wading pool in one of the main pools. Spice H2O's pool is a bathtub! (GRADE: B)
DECKCHAIRS: Even with 4709 people aboard, you could always find a chair. I recommend getting up early and reserving some though. (GRADE: A-)
CLEANLINESS: The ship was always very clean. (GRADE: A+)
ST. MAARTEN: St. Maarten was a blast! We went to Maho beach and watched planes land at Princess Julianna Airport. What an experience! If you need a cab, look for Kevin if you want a really funny guy who tells you the ins and outs of St. Maarten. He is without a doubt the coolest guy in St. Maarten! (GRADE: A+)
ST. THOMAS: St. Thomas, along with St. Maarten had amazing shopping! We did the St. Thomas Skyride as well. This is a really a fun ride with breathtaking views of the island and the port. Didn't go to Meghan's Bay, but I'd still recommend it. While we were there, it was bad weather. (GRADE: A)
NASSAU: Just plain scary! Downtown Nassau is without a doubt the scariest place I've ever been to! Not amazing shopping either... I still like Nassau because of Atlantis, where we had vacationed a year earlier. My recommendation is go to Atlantis (GRADE: B+)
I guarantee you that there is one thing that everyone will hate: this is disembarkation. Don't get me wrong, it is a very easy process, in which you can use the easy walk-off, where you just walk off with your luggage, or the traditional colour coordinated disembarkation. The part that you will hate is actually having to leave the EPIC. For those of you who actually read this entire review, thank you! I know it was quite long, but it is truly impossible to summarize the EPIC in just a few short paragraphs. If you have any questions, or just want to see my recommendations, please do not hesitate to contact me through cruise critic. Have fun on your cruise.