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Norwegian Epic

Itinerary

Port Canaveral, in the center of Florida's east coast, is not only the surfing capital of the Atlantic. It is also home to rocket and shuttle launches, the largest sea turtle nesting area in the country, the largest scallop fishery on the planet and a national refuge with more endangered species than any other.

Even with all of these superlatives, most cruise passengers associate Port Canaveral with Orlando, just 45 miles west -- and with Walt Disney World, Universal theme parks and SeaWorld so close, it would be difficult to find a cruise port anywhere that offers access to more theme parks and family-friendly tourist attractions. But, for those who've already had (or care to pass up) the Orlando experience, Port Canaveral is definitely worth a pre- or post-cruise visit.

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  • Day 2
  • Day 3

Editor's note: Due to damage sustained from Hurricane Irma, the Port of Tortola is currently closed to cruise passengers.

Tortola and most of the British Virgin Islands are mountainous, and while they boast verdant-green hills, the climate and vegetation are much drier than many Caribbean isles. In Tortola, cactus and succulents are more common than ferns, and rushing streams and waterfalls are virtually nonexistent. The dry climate of the islands has a beneficial side effect: because of the lack of runoff, the water clarity is dependably higher than many other places in the Caribbean.

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If you cruise regularly to the Caribbean, chances are you'll end up in St. Thomas. Its popularity as one of the world's most heavily trafficked cruise ports is well-earned. The island offers something for just about everyone and has the infrastructure that can accommodate a huge daily population influx. In addition to a duty-free shopping scene that's virtually unparalleled, other on-the-beaten-track sites include the world-famous beach at Magens Bay and a scenic tram ride to a mountaintop.

Nearly every ship sailing an Eastern Caribbean itinerary includes St. Thomas as a port of call, as do many Southern Caribbean voyages. You'll even see St. Thomas on Panama Canal and South American itineraries (when a Florida port such as Fort Lauderdale or Miami serves as a port of embarkation or debarkation). It's not uncommon, particularly during the Caribbean's winter high season, to see six ships or more docked or anchored in a day -- and that can mean an extra 20,000 people mixing into a population hovering in the mid-50,000s.

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  • Day 6

Perhaps the most famous occupant of Great Stirrup Cay -- located in the Bahamas' Berry Island chain, 130 nautical miles due east of Fort Lauderdale -- was Captain Bertram of the British Navy. But Native Americans, pirates, and members of the Spanish and American armed forces have also inhabited the cay throughout its history.

Norwegian Cruise Line purchased the 250-acre island in 1977 and has invested in several significant updates throughout the years. More recently the island has undergone a major makeover. Its restaurants, bars, cabanas and beaches have all been revamped and enlarged, with an investment of more than $1 million dedicated just to new landscaping. Other additions include an underwater sculpture garden for snorkelers, as well as a top-notch medical center. Thanks to the introduction of new (and plentiful) palm trees, there's now lots more natural shade from the Bahamian sun, a godsend in the height of summer.

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Port Canaveral, in the center of Florida's east coast, is not only the surfing capital of the Atlantic. It is also home to rocket and shuttle launches, the largest sea turtle nesting area in the country, the largest scallop fishery on the planet and a national refuge with more endangered species than any other.

Even with all of these superlatives, most cruise passengers associate Port Canaveral with Orlando, just 45 miles west -- and with Walt Disney World, Universal theme parks and SeaWorld so close, it would be difficult to find a cruise port anywhere that offers access to more theme parks and family-friendly tourist attractions. But, for those who've already had (or care to pass up) the Orlando experience, Port Canaveral is definitely worth a pre- or post-cruise visit.

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Cruise Critic Editor Rating:
4.5
3,032 reviews
Why Choose Norwegian Epic?

Pro

Jam-packed with 24/7 entertainment for singles, couples, families and groups

Con

Confusing corridors and congested main decks

Bottom line

Fun, fun, fun for everyone

Norwegian Epic Overview

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.

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Cruise Reviews

Sail Date: December 2017
We came to Orlando a day before the cruise since it's winter and have unpredictable wintry weather! We took a shuttle to the port from our hotel that we booked. Our driver was helpful to tell where to go. If we didn't ask, we wouldn't have ... Read More
We came to Orlando a day before the cruise since it's winter and have unpredictable wintry weather! We took a shuttle to the port from our hotel that we booked. Our driver was helpful to tell where to go. If we didn't ask, we wouldn't have had a smooth embarkation. There wasn't much signage exactly where to go after you drop off your luggage. I want to note that if you didn't print off your tags, I'm not exactly sure if there were extra by the porters. Don't forget to tip them, the tip was a wide range some people gave $10 and others gave over $20. I travelled with my son and his father. The ship itself was easy to find different places, there were maps before you into the elevators which was helpful. There were people to help you to find places. Our inside cabin was small and we were at the front. As a first time cruiser, it was terrible, I had severe sea/motion sickness. Our steward Lee was excellent, he remembered all of our names on embarkation day and he was very friendly and helpful. He cleaned our room wonderful and was always respectful if you put the DND sign. The Garden Cafe/Terrace was helpful if you wanted to grab a quick snack which was served buffet style. Having only 3 options for breakfast: Garden Cafe/Terrace, O'Sheehan's and Taste (the 2 latter opened a little later). Garden Cafe breakfast was good but got mundane if you wanted other things to eat. Again lunch was the same and you had Taste as another option. Again a bit mundane if you go to the Garden Cafe for lunch (same types of items) day in day out. Dinner at the complimentary restaurants were great. We had a NYE dinner menu by Manhattan Room, my beef was best I have had! We only went to the complimentary restaurants for dinner. If you want to go to Shanghai, make sure you reserve or else you will end up waiting for a long time! Being on a tight budget, we didn't go to anything extra whether it be restaurants, entertainment or drinks. We attempted to go to the first Bingo session they had and walked out immediately because it was too expensive to play and wait a 1 or 2 for special Bingo time (which cost less) to play. It was our first time playing Bingo and enjoyed it! The complimentary shows didn't seem so appealing and we didn't go to any comedy shows or anything at the Cavern Club. We eventually saw Joel Meyers (magician) perform a matinee and night show. It was so good that we went to his matinee show (both his shows were in different venues at the ship). We didn't know at the beginning that playing along with trivia (enrichment activities) would earn us some prizes so half way of the cruise we started collecting stamps on our card. Our first time we play we didn't get a card which I think they should always have extra copies of. I really enjoyed it because you learn something new! They also have themed trivia which was fun as well. They also offered during port days how to make animal towels and napkin folding which is something unique and fun to learn (at least for me). I got to know more of the staff when doing activities like this and building rapport. Unfortunately, we couldn't attend any NYE events, due to my motion sickness but I talked to others and they say it was fun. In general, the restaurants, wait staff and activities staff were great. I found that all you had to do was ask and staff was willingly to help out. Some wait staff were more friendlier and go the extra mile than others and I think that sets them apart and which I think they deserve more tips (we tipped extra on top of service fees already paid).We like to acknowledge that and let them know with gratitude as a thank you for making our time more enjoyable. We ended up getting photos and they were pricey. I wish they were more environmentally more friendly by not printing out all the pictures they have taken of all the people on the cruise. Of course, you could say no thank you and you won't have photos of you. However, some photos they printed weren't great. We ended up getting the smallest package of 10. If you pick more than 5 pictures, then you might as well get the package. Different photos have different prices. The ports were scheduled to be Nassau, Falmouth, Georgetown (Grand Cayman) and Great Stirrup Cay. Unfortunately, due to rough waters we could not port at Great Stirrup Cay which is their private island (looking at the itinerary, it looked like a lot of fun!). We ended up going back to Nassau again. We didn't book any excursions with NCL because again being on a budget, we took a risk and booked it ourselves on all ports. The risk was worth it, we still go back on time and being careful to book excursions that wouldn't put us in tough position. My son claims Splash Academy wasn't fun because he was limited on what he could do in the centre. But he did enjoy some activities that they were doing. I would check what activities they are doing and judge whether or not to go or not. Disembarkation was OK, you had to wait for your turn to get off the ship. You had to line up and line curved everywhere on Deck 6. The only unclear thing was if your colour was orange (ours was) and there were a few colours was on the other side of the port. We ended up going through the customs line and luckily we were directed to our bags and go back to the customs line without going all the way to the end. I would go again but choosing a mid ship cabin. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
We went on the Epic's New Year's cruise and found little positive to review. The Good: 1. Thermal Spa -- We paid additional for in and out use of the thermal spa for the duration of the cruise. This was by far the best part of ... Read More
We went on the Epic's New Year's cruise and found little positive to review. The Good: 1. Thermal Spa -- We paid additional for in and out use of the thermal spa for the duration of the cruise. This was by far the best part of our cruise experience. Very relaxing, wonderful hot tub, incredible therapy pool. Best was the eucalyptus steam room! The desk staff (Uros) was great, called us by first name every day when coming off the elevator, made us feel welcome. They limit the number of "memberships" in order to keep the area less crowded. This was worth the additional expense and highly recommended! 2. Moderno -- This was the best specialty restaurant on the ship. We had tried Le Bistro and La Cucina and both were miserable. More on that later. 3. Large Balcony -- we paid extra for a large balcony, room 11246. The additional outdoor space was great. We started all of our evenings on the balcony with a bottle of wine. It was nice to stretch out with the lounge chair and larger table we had ordered for the balcony. The Bad: 1. The staff -- most were unfriendly and unhelpful. When we arrived on the ship we stopped at Maltings to order a bottle of wine for our first night. While making our selection from the wine list, the bartender wandered two stools down to talk to the women who were seated there. He knew we were ready to order and chose to ignore us. 2. Food -- worst food we've ever had on a cruise. The first night we ordered room service (pizza). It didn't show for over 2 hours from when the order was placed. When we opened the box, the pizza was literally thrown into a pile. The pizza itself was undercooked and doughy. It was not even edible. The French and Italian restaurants were terrible. Dover sole swimming in butter. Lasagna which was dry as a bone. 3. Ports -- The straw markets and downtown areas are shady. To get a private cab was near impossible and you're directed to vans/buses which will not leave until completely full. 4. Room design -- the bathroom is open to the cabin area and sectioned off by a curtain. The sink is in the cabin so there is no privacy when cleaning up. The lighting is dim. The design does not allow 2 people to maneuver around each other well. 5. Debarking -- We had to debark on 5. The mid elevators don't go to 5 so we had to exit starting on 6. When you walk through the casino you then find the escalator taking you down to 5. The line getting to the escalator was enormous. When you get to 5 the line snakes across the dance floor, into a back hallway you don't even know exists, back out into the main hall, then through and around the photo area, back to the main hall, then to the gangway. 6. Too many people - It's a huge boat with a large number of people who seem to have little patience. People cut in line and are oblivious to their surroundings. We were looking forward to this cruise and having an amazing time. With the number of people, staff demeanor, poor food quality, we don't see a return on NCL coming anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
Singles cruise and my 74th cruise overall. Not thinking I just thought a NYE cruise with some football on the ships tv's would be fun. Many on board very unhappy to have only two sports to watch the whole week. Cricket and Soccer. Paid ... Read More
Singles cruise and my 74th cruise overall. Not thinking I just thought a NYE cruise with some football on the ships tv's would be fun. Many on board very unhappy to have only two sports to watch the whole week. Cricket and Soccer. Paid extra for internet to only be very disappointed in the coverage and signal. No more NCL for this frequent cruiser. I will be canceling my cruise on the Bliss in October for Halloween.Have booked Celebrity. I was in Haven owners suite so my room was nice and service was excellent. I noticed even though being told reservations not available many of the themed restaurants had many empty tables at all hours. On chilly days of which there where three I think some of the interior bars should have been opened. Needed some aspirin after giving the ones I had to a friend and guess what....the ship had not had aspirin on board for retail purchase for two weeks. This was straight from the young lady working in the shops on board. They markup everything so tell be how hard it would be for a shore bound employee to go to a Walgreens and bring some to the ship? Read Less