We decided to book with NCL again after having a great experience on the Pearl last March on our Western Caribbean cruise. Previous to that we tried a Carnival Cruise and although we had a decent experience Carnival sums up the "you get what you pay for" adage. We decided on the EPIC as we really wanted to see the Eastern Caribbean ports and thought the itinerary was fantastic (3 full days at sea).
Just like our previous cruise with NCL embarkation was seamless and we literally walked onto the ship at about 12:30PM. We were able to get into our stateroom about 2 hours later and our luggage arrive shortly after.
I have read many reviews on about how much people dislike the cabin layout/style on the EPIC and it boggles my mind. We booked a balcony and were upgraded to a mid-ship balcony stateroom. I was cruising with my girlfriend and we thought the size/layout (even the space capsule toilet and shower) were great for helping us get ready efficiently. If you are cruising with friends maybe it's a bit intrusive but just pull the curtain and you are all set. I slept like a baby on the cruise and thought the bed was super comfortable. I am fairly short so it accommodated me well but can see how a taller person could have problems. There was plenty of storage and were able to store our luggage under the bed. The balcony was beautiful and we enjoyed relaxing/reading/napping out there.
Our room steward Wilbur was fantastic and responded very quickly to all of our needs and requests. He kept our room very clean and went the extra mile to ensure we had the best time possible.
The ship itself is humongous and it takes a bit to get your barrings. I liked the fact that most of the bars/restaurants are clustered together so even if you were lost you could figure it out pretty quickly. Something that didn't work was the fact that most of the entertainment venues were all in one spot and the lines for some of the shows got confusing at times. The entertainment on the ship overall was very good. We saw Blue Man (awesome), Legends in Concert, 2nd City and the comedian/magician. We hung out at Howl at the Moon one night and had a blast.
We do enjoy gambling and didn't mind that the casino was in the middle of the ship. Contrary to other reviews I didn't feel like the smoke was any worse than the other ships we been on. We had a great time playing blackjack and all the staff in the casino was great (other than the dealers that took our money)!
We are not huge fans of laying out with the masses so the Spice H20 section at the back of the ship was perfect for us. Absolutely love that they can accommodate those of us without children as it makes the whole cruise more enjoyable. The water slides, Jacuzzis and pool areas were all great.
We took advantage of just about all the dining options aboard the ship. We paid extra to partake in the Brazilian Steak House, The Noodle Bar and Cagney's. They were all well worth the extra charge although I beg NCL to redo their Lobster Bisque in Cagney's (it was awful). We choose to eat at Taste for our main dining hall option and thought the food was good. The buffet was also good with plenty of variety to suit both of us. One of the really cool things on the ship is the $5 24/7 pizza delivery to your room. We got back from port one day and decided we wanted to eat on our balcony so we ordered a pizza and it was delivered piping hot to our stateroom! We also really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of O'Sheehans and could get good comfort food at any hour there.
It amazes me that people complain so much about every little thing that they run across on a vacation. We like so many other people wait with anticipation all year to go on our cruise to relax and unplug from our everyday lives. Cruises are not cheap and of course we have a level of expectation that comes with shelling out our hard earned dollars. Sure there were a few instances on the ship where we had a bit of slow service or our drinks weren't refilled fast enough....but it never impeded our fun. We are always amazed at how hard the staff members on the NCL ships work and mostly do it with smiles on their faces. We go out of our way to be extremely kind and patient with the staff as in the end they are just trying to make us happy. It gets truly annoying to listen to various people complain/whine/bitch about everything. I bet none of you our there have ever had a bad day at work and had a hard time hiding it.
Overall bravo to NCL and the EPIC for making our cruise with them fabulous. We are very brand loyal people and at this point we will be looking to book our next adventure with NCL!