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Norwegian Epic Review

67% of cruisers loved it
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Why Choose Norwegian Epic?

  • Dedicated Studio cabins and lounge for solos
  • Blue Man Group leads outstanding show choices
  • Aqua Park among best pool complexes at sea

Norwegian Epic Overview

By John Deiner, Cruise Critic contributor
Editor Rating

Editor's Note: As of October 2015, the Nickelodeon program will no longer be offered on Norwegian Epic.

When Epic debuted in June 2010, it strutted its new-to-cruising innovations proudly. The first solo studio cabins at sea! The first ice bar at sea! The first Blue Man Group show at sea! The first "new wave" cabins at sea! The first translucent bathrooms at sea! (Ok, maybe it should have stopped at its innovative curved-wall cabin design, as the howls continue over the see-through loos.)

NCL's revolutionary Norwegian Epic is big, brassy, bold and ballsy. And while opinions are mixed over the success of Epic overall, even the most jaded travelers admit the ship is a 19-deck wonder, with enough bells and whistles to keep passengers satisfied for a week (the Nickelodeon offerings alone mesmerize the little ones).

Some quick kudos and catcalls from a recent weeklong sail on Epic:

Thumb's up... for the game-changing Studio staterooms geared toward solo travelers. Add in the Living Room, a swanky communal gathering place, and you have one of the coolest, funkiest, most-welcoming spots afloat. No wonder they sell out faster than any other Epic cabin class.

Thumb's up... for the entertainment. Epic does away with cruising's familiar multi-tiered mega-theater in favor of a plethora of distinctive venues scattered around the ship. The result? Even the 681-seat Epic Theater -- home to Blue Man Group and the pulse-quickening, surprisingly sharp Legends in Concert -- seemed more intimate than expected.

Thumb's down... for the smokiness. It's a common complaint among Epic passengers, and you'll hear no defense here. The sprawling casino lies squarely in the center of the mid-ship, three-story atrium comprising most dining and entertainment venues, and you can't shake the stench if you're in the area. I noticed air purifiers scattered about, but they do little good when the casino is crowded -- which is often.

Thumb's up... for the eats. With more than 20 freestyle-dining restaurants (an NCL signature), there's a different place to chow down every morning, noon and night on Epic. Happily, even the Garden Café buffet measures up for the masses, and who wouldn't want pizza delivered anytime -- and anywhere?

Thumb's down... for the endless winding corridors. The ship is 1,081 feet long, and it'll seem as if you're traversing every inch of it when making your way back to your cabin. It took me the better part of the week to remember that red carpeting signaled the even-numbered cabins and blue carpeting the odd. Plus, I was struck by the absence of cut-throughs to stairwells and elevators. Bottom line: Go in the right direction the first time or you'll be doing a lot of walking. Still, I have to give a...

Thumb's up... for the general layout. As big as Epic is, I never felt disoriented (after the first few hours, that is). The fact that most of the restaurants and entertainment digs are clustered together certainly helped, though the Mandara Spa's awkward location on Deck 14 aft necessitated a long, long walk down a corridor lined with staterooms. The pool complex and Aqua Park is a marvel of twisting water flumes, spraying fountains and clearly delineated paths to get you through the morass of screaming kids, noshing adults and sea of lounge chairs.

Thumb's down... to that spa. Sure, it's 31,000 square feet (making it one of the industry's largest), but its hydrotherapy and thermal suite, outdoor sun deck and locker rooms were frequently so crowded that I needed to get away from it to feel relaxed.

Thumb's up... for the service. I'm always amazed at the consistently high level of service on a cruise ship, but Epic seemed to take it a step higher, even with all those people onboard. I ate alone several times and always felt as if I were being given extra attention; at one breakfast, a server brought me an extra pastry because I "still looked hungry."

Thumb's up and down... to those controversial bathrooms. I'm a fan: I love the openness and extra space (in the large-for-a-ship showers in particular). But others seem to be split 50-50 for and against this innovation, which probably won't see the light of day again anytime soon.

So, overall, it's a mixed bag. You'll either love this hulking innovator-on-water or you'll fret that it doesn't match your expectations. One thing you won't do is go hungry, get bored or go home without a strong opinion one way or the other.

Norwegian Epic Fellow Passengers

Since I was on the ship in the fall -- off-season and deep into the school year -- I was surrounded by adults, most in their 30s to 50s. But with Nickelodeon activities aplenty, free kids' programs, the teen club and an onboard waterpark that ranks among the industry's best, Epic is a natural for families. That vibe is reinforced by the plethora of connecting and family-specific cabins. Still, Spice H20 and numerous other venues (Fat Cats, Le Bistro, etc.) lend an air of sophistication to the ship, while more adventurous types will dig the climbing and rappelling walls. Even Blue Man Group seems more geared to Mom and Dad than Junior, but the fact that Disney flicks like "Wall-E" and "The Princess and the Frog" were screened late at night on the atrium's giant video screen give credence to the fact that families will find plenty to enjoy onboard.

Norwegian Epic Dress Code

Casual dress will easily get you through a seven-night sail on Epic, as it's what freestyle cruising is all about. Though passengers are encouraged to "dress up" one night (read: suits for men, cocktail dresses for women) for pictures, few actually do. On my trip, khakis and polo or cabana shirts were de rigueur for men at night, while sun dresses or skirts with blouses did the trick for women. True, shorts are also common once the sun sets, but resort-casual attire is the norm at posher restaurants like Le Bistro and Cagney's.

Norwegian Epic Gratuity

Each passenger is automatically billed $13.50 per person, per day in all cabin categories up to and including a mini suite. Suite guests will be charged $15.50 per person, per day. This gratuity supports an incentive program for the service staff. If a passenger is unsatisfied with service and the line can't resolve the issue, he/she can adjust the service charges. An 18 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar drinks, and 18 percent is added to spa and salon services. All specialty and entertainment dining carries an 18 percent auto-gratuity. For passengers using concierge and butler service, Norwegian recommends a gratuity "commensurate with the services rendered." The bill can be paid in cash or with credit/debit cards and traveler's checks.

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Norwegian Epic Member Reviews

We struggled at first with the size of the ship but after a couple of days we had acclimatized to it. When everyone was on the top deck it was crowded. However, the food was excellent, we dined in the Chinese restaurant, O'Sheen's bar and the ... Read more
Check in at Barcelona quick and smooth. Stateroom was ready by 12.00 Balcony Stateroom 8012 was narrow meaning that two people could not get dressed at the same time without bumping into each other. Restaurants. Went to Garden Café ... Read more
We (two well-travelled Canadian seniors) did a back-to-back cruise leaving Barcelona Jan. 3 and disembarking Jan. 24. We would travel with Norwegian again, but would avoid the Epic if possible. 4100 passengers is too many. Elevators were ... Read more
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Norwegian Epic Ratings

Editor Rating 4.0 Member Rating
Public Rooms
Spa & Fitness
Family & Children
Shore Excursions

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Ship Stats
June 2010
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