If Epic stands out in one particular area, it's in the cabin design. For starters, every outside cabin has a balcony, an industry first when the vessel launched in 2010. It also made a big splash with its 128 Studios, a two-deck complex of inside accommodations for solo cruises, accessible by key card and topped off with an exclusive lounge area.
A funky "new wave" design features in the majority of other staterooms (with the exception of inside cabins, villas and some suites) and provoked plenty of comments when it was first unveiled. Think curvy walls, recessed ceilings, rounded queen-size beds and arched sofas. The revolutionary bathrooms -- which split the toilet and shower into two separate units -- got most tongues wagging with much talk about the "see through" doors. In reality, the doors are translucent and couples and traveling companions of a nervous disposition can pull across a drape that effectively shuts off the bathroom area from the rest of the cabin; aside from the stand-alone wash basin that is situated at the foot of the bed.
While very tall passengers might find their feet sticking over the edge of the bed, the cabins are very pleasant overall. Kitted out in earth tones and dark wood -- with tiling over the sink and scatter cushions providing splashes of color -- the cabins feature a range of lovely lighting effects, including concealed LEDs and back lights. These can appear baffling to begin with, so check the helpful information card placed in every cabin.
Staterooms are divided into six categories: The Haven; Mini-Suites; Spa Suites; Balcony; Studio; and Inside. The Haven is a "ship-within-a-ship" complex and an oasis of calm away from the hustle and bustle of the main decks. Located on decks 16 and 17, the space also includes a private pool, two whirlpools, a gym, a sun deck and a private restaurant. The 60 staterooms include impressive family suites with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and separate living and dining areas.
Other options for families include Balcony and Deluxe Balcony cabins (many can interconnect), which are located close to the Splash Academy.
Epic has 42 wheelchair-accessible staterooms that include collapsible shower stools, toilets with arm guards, and lowered sinks.
Standard amenities in all cabins include daily steward service and evening turndown, air-conditioning, a TV, a radio, a telephone, a roomy safe, a good quality hair dryer, a coffee maker, a vanity/writing desk and a stool. There is ample wardrobe and storage space, along with plenty of mirrors. Bathrooms feature fixed dispensers filled with liquid soap and combined shampoo/conditioner. The informative Freestyle Daily newsletter is left in cabins each evening.
Nifty design touches include a wonderfully intuitive phone that simplifies setting alarms, making reservations and ordering room service, and a concealed basket for used towels beneath the sink (so well hidden that it took us a couple of days to discover it; so it's worth asking the room steward for room tips on arrival). Similarly, plugs are in a cupboard beneath the desk/vanity unit, and once located, they are useful for charging devices out of sight and/or keeping the cabin neat and tidy and free from trailing cords. Suite passengers have additional benefits, including enhanced toiletries, a bathrobe and slippers, Champagne on arrival and priority embarkation and disembarkation.
All staterooms have 220V and 110V electrical outlets with U.S. and European sockets.
Interior: The inside cabins all measure 128 square feet and can be made up as twins or as a queen-size bed. Family inside cabins are located on decks 13 and 14, near the children's area, and also include two pull-down beds.
Ocean View: All ocean-view (outside) cabins feature a balcony. These cabins measure 188 to 251 square feet and can accommodate up to four people. They have panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows leading to balconies that range in size from 37 to 100 square feet. Particularly attractive are the aft cabins with views over the ship's wake.
Mini-suite: These cabins measure 241 to 245 square feet, with balconies measuring 52 to 56 square feet. They feature a luxury bathroom with shower or tub, and a drape can be drawn to separate the sleeping and living areas
Studio: The funky single cabins are located on decks 11 and 12 and measure 100 square feet. The key card access-only cabins have a full-size bed for one passenger, a separate bathroom and a window view to the corridor.
Spa: Situated on Deck 14, the balcony spa cabins measure 203 to 230 square feet, with 52- to 79- square-foot balconies. Mini-suite spa staterooms are 241 to 245 square feet, with 52- to 56- square-foot balconies. Both of these cabin categories can accommodate up to three people, but it should be noted that passengers under the age of 18 are not allowed in the thermal suites. At 322 square feet, the Haven spa suites are the largest spa cabins and accommodate two passengers. They feature a queen-size circular bed, an ensuite hot tub, tranquil decor and free entry to the thermal suites. Additional benefits include butler and concierge service and access to the Haven's private pool, lounge, restaurant and bar.
The Haven: The vessel's "ship within a ship" is situated on decks 16 and 17. The ultimate splurge is the Owner's Suite, which accommodates up to four people and measures 852 square feet with a balcony of 121 square feet. It features a separate bedroom with a king-size bed, a living room, a separate dining area and a bathroom with a separate shower and a whirlpool tub. Two-bedroom Family Villas (504 square feet) come with two bathrooms, a living room and a dining area and can accommodate up to six. The balcony measures 54 square feet. Courtyard Penthouse suites are for two passengers and are 319 to 322 square feet, with a balcony measuring 81 to 84 square feet. All Haven passengers benefit from butler service and private amenities including a pool, a sun deck, a lounge, a restaurant, a bar and a gym.