Norwegian Epic emerged from a three-week dry dock in October 2015 with significant enhancements to its already impressive nightlife and entertainment line-up.
The 19-deck mega-ship now boasts the all-new "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" show and the Cavern Club, a nostalgic recreation of The Beatles' former haunt. Passengers are given the flexibility to dine when and where they please at more than 20 different dining options and food is available around the clock.
The facelift included renovations to the existing Moderno Churrascaria, Cagney's, La Cucina, Le Bistro, Garden Cafe, Manhattan Room and Taste restaurants (new carpeting, reupholstered furniture and refreshed decor). Elsewhere, there is an all-new photo gallery, library and family SplashGolf attraction in the Aqua Park. Other improvements were carried out in the theater, spa, Bliss Ultra Lounge nightclub, casino and the exclusive Haven suite complex.
Although there is plenty of signage, a ship that's 1,081 feet long can take a bit of getting used to. Epic doesn't feature the helpful carpets found on some other Norwegian ships, where fish point the way forward and aft. As a result, passengers can initially spend a lot of time on endless walks trying to locate cabins. The layout of public areas is generally very good, aside from having to always walk through the huge midship casino to reach the bars, entertainment and dining venues clustered on Deck 6.
With so much going on, Epic has a broad appeal, and with no supplements for its single studio cabins, it's a standout vessel for solo cruisers. Even passengers searching for peace and quiet could stay in the Haven and never set foot outside. One thing that is guaranteed is that you won't leave this ship feeling hungry or bored.
Splitting its time between the U.S. -- with a homeport in Port Canaveral from November 2016 -- and Barcelona from March to October, Epic sails the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and on transatlantic crossings.
Epic is primarily a kids' ship (at least during school holidays). The revamped, complimentary children's and teen's program, with age-appropriate play, sports and activities for tiny cruisers aged from six months to 17 years (plus the fantastic onboard water park), means Epic is a natural pick for families; you'll see plenty of youngsters during school vacation. Outside of that time, expect adults in their 30s to 50s, with a smaller number at the opposite ends of that age spectrum.
Casual attire is part of the Norwegian experience, so you can leave the ball gowns and tuxedos at home. During the day, cruise casual is the way to go, with shorts, Capri pants, jeans, t-shirts and sundresses for women, and for men: shorts, jeans, polo shirts and so forth. For the evening, there's not a great deal of change as far as Norwegian's recommendations go, with casual dresses, skirts, pants and blouses, summer dresses and "tasteful" jeans (no rips, cut-offs, acid washed etc.) suggested for ladies, and casual slacks, "nice" shorts (pressed, longer in length), polo, sports or button-down shirts for men. The only attire not recommended in the main dining area is beach-style shorts, although children under 12 can wear the aforementioned "nice" shorts in any dining venue.
That said, on our cruise quite a few passengers upped the sartorial ante after sunset, especially at the specialty restaurants. There are no official formal nights, but every evening one dining venue is designated "optional formal" and you might even spot the occasional tux and long dress. Typically, you will more likely see a jacket, shirt (with or without neckties), dress slacks and closed-toed shoes for the men, with women favoring cocktail dresses, elegant skirts, pantsuits and blouses over evening gowns. Cruisers might also want to pack an all-white ensemble for Epic's weekly White Hot party in the Bliss Lounge.
A prepaid $12.95 ($14.95 for suites) per person, per day gratuity is automatically billed prior to sailing. This is distributed to crew members including restaurant staff, stateroom stewards and behind-the-scenes support staff. Tipping also applies to children aged three and over. Passengers have the option to arrange for the charge to be added to their onboard account; however this must be requested at the time of booking or up to two weeks prior to departure. In addition, a gratuity of 18 percent on drink bills, for-fee dining options, spa and salon bills is automatically charged to your onboard account. Additional tipping is discretionary. If you are unsatisfied with the service, and Norwegian can't resolve the issue, the charge can be adjusted and you must apply for a refund after returning home by writing to the guest relations department. The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar and your account can be paid in cash, with credit/debit cards or traveler's checks. For cash and traveler's checks, a deposit of $150 per person (up to six-night cruise), $300 per person (seven-night cruise), or $450 (cruise of eight nights and more) is required at check-in.