We are huge RCCL fans, so we were a little skeptical about going on this cruise.
My family takes turns each year to choose our Spring Break Vacation. This year, it was our (15yr) son's turn to pick the big vacation. Well, you guessed it; he chose The Epic. We tried to discourage him by showing him other RCCL Cruises or anything that we could think of to change his way of thinking, but we failed.
Y'all who have teenagers, can feel our pain; when he stubbornly refused to change his mind.:)
A few days later, I reluctantly proceeded to book the trip. I thought to myself, "I really don't want to be on this ship", so I will make the best of it and a grin came over my face as I booked a two bedroom suite.:)
We ended up having the best vacation! We were treated like VIPs. Prior to the main doors opening for the shows, we were escorted by our concierge, using priority elevators and utilized the crew members only entrance.
We had a choice of any seat in the house that our hearts desired: front row, balcony couches, or anywhere! You'll never guess where we chose....In the very back of the Epic Theater there are about 4 bar-stools right next to the bar. Perfect, in my opinion. :)
FYI, you will want to get a couple of drinks before the show starts. They close down the bar during the shows.
If you are in a suite, or if you purchased a wrist band that allows you to enter the Haven, there is a sundeck up there, that is a must-see. Go up the stairs that are toward the rear of the private gym. It looks like nothing more than a few lounge chairs, but don't give up just yet. Turn and go down that hallway(solid white metal walls) that looks like its for crew members only. Don't worry keep going and it will turn one more time. Then open the door and be prepared to be amazed!!
The suites also contain small individual bottles of Elemis shampoo, soap, conditioner, lotion, bath salts, cotton balls, qtips, and shower caps. The entire supply would be refreshed daily.
If anyone enjoys watching airplanes, you must go to Maho Beach in St. Maarten. We sat at the Sunset Bar (great burgers, wings, and beer) and were amazed at how the planes came in to land. We are pretty easy to entertain though. :) If y'all get a chance, google: "Maho Beach Pictures". When the larger planes (about 1pm or 2pm) take-off, some of the people that were enjoying the beach, are blown into the ocean, our son included! My husband and I stayed with our burgers, and laughed hysterically as I took pictures of hats and beach items and people getting blown into the water. Caution; our son said, "once was enough", the jet blast was extremely hot and it did hurt. We did NOT pre book any excursions. Just get off the boat and take a taxi.
For the golfers out there (which is not me, I was the photographer), please look into Ocean Club in Nassau. I had called the resort and they stated that we had to have a room booked with either them or Atlantis in order to use their golf course. So I decided to call the Pro Shop directly, and they made us a tee time, about 2 months in advance. I made it for 1pm, to give us an hour after we get to the port. We were at the course by 12:20pm. Again, we just took a taxi on our own, we did NOT book this through the ship. The cost was $375 each golfer including clubs. Our son was the only one who brought his own clubs, which gave way to his Dad's many excuses(for bad shots) for having to use the rental clubs, even though they were Callaway Diablos!:) They waived my fee of $25 for non-golfers, and gave me a golf cart too. I know it was expensive and we almost decided against it, but how often do you get to golf practically on the ocean with views of The Atlantis and yachts sailing by?
I really want to convey to all of the readers who are anxiously counting down the days until it's their turn, that you will have a great time! Do not take the negative reviews too seriously. If you do your research well in advance, your trip will be much more enjoyable because of it. Reserve your shows and your suppers online, starting 45 days in advance!!! This will relieve 99.99% of all stress. So please, I can't stress that enough. Print out a copy(or two) of your personal daily itinerary and leave a copy of it in your cabin where all family members can see it. Or use a dry erase marker and write on a mirror, shower wall or sliding glass door. Remind everyone each morning what the show or meal is for that day. (Our son would still forget, but what can you do??) ha ha
Remember to tip, tip, tip. Even though you have already prepaid your tips, tip some more. It can make or break the service that you receive.
OK, OK, I am almost finished. I wasn't sure about mentioning this, because I didn't want anyone to get too upset at me. For starters, I know better than to play slot machines on cruise ships because I have read so many negative reviews about the casinos and I have lost a fair amount of money over the years on international waters. You know where this is going don't you.....Yep, you guessed it. It finally happened to me! I put in my last $20, playing a $5 slot machine, and hit a jackpot!! And that's not all..Hubby won a jackpot too and cashed in a such a substantial amount at the blackjack table that they had to add his winnings to my check! They can only pay so much in cash and the rest goes on a check. Yes, you do have to sign a W-2G, even in international waters; Rats! But we didn't mind, heck they were giving us so many free drinks that we are still trying to sober up! haha It was a once in a lifetime, amazing day!
If you want to view the ships that will be in Port with you, go to: www.cruisett.com/index.php
This site may help you determine which excursions you may wish to choose. For example we had only 2 ships in port at Nassau, so you may decide that it wouldn't be too crowded to go to the water park at Atlantis.
We stayed at Grand Beach Resort one night prior to embarkation. It was very clean and quiet with amazing views of the ocean.
We ate at Cagney's on the first night, which spoiled me for the rest of the cruise. I ordered steak late one night for room service and our butler brought a steak from Cagney's! I also had a side of penne alfredo and he brought that from La Cucina!
Try to make an early reservation for La Cucina so that you will be able to view the sunset as you dine. What an amazing view!
Teppanyaki's was so much fun and delicious! The chef's put on a top-notch show!
Posh has good Tuna Burgers and onion rings. Actually, everything at Posh, Epic Club or the entire Haven area was delicious.
They will try to please you the best they can. They will even surprise you by doing more than you asked for!
This ship has the best food of any cruise ship! I miss it so much!
My hubby's advice: If you are bored, you're boring.:)
It's up to you to make it a fun trip. Enjoy it!