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Norwegian Epic

Itinerary

The capital city in the land of Leonardo, Michelangelo and the popes is today a living museum with gorgeous artwork, amazing architecture and inspiring ancient sites. At the same time, it's alive and vibrant in a 21st-century way. It's an unforgettable city to visit, and we'll warn you right now that once you've experienced it, you'll want to go back for more.

One of our favorite things to do there is walk and ogle. On a recent visit, we took one day to do the route from Vatican City and St. Peter's Basilica -- with its jaw-dropping art, statuary, and religious significance -- to Via del Corso, where our quest for the latest Italian fashions was more than fulfilled amidst the well-dressed crowd of Roman shoppers. The next day, we went on an ancient history quest past ruins and columns, traversing the same streets Julius Caesar strode (and rode) to the Colosseum, where gladiators once battled. Walking on, we were awed by the Pantheon, the well-preserved ancient symbol of Rome and now a great hangout spot.

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On any Western Mediterranean itinerary, Florence is an absolute highlight -- the gem of the early Italian Renaissance. In the 15th century, when great artists like Giotto, Ghiberti, Brunelleschi and Michelangelo worked there, they created magnificent examples of painting and sculpture that today still fill Florentine churches, civic buildings, grand palazzi and world-class museums like the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia. Architecture prospered in Florence, too. The city's signature work of art is the masterful Brunelleschi-designed dome of its cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as the Duomo.

No question, Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. However, for cruise travelers with just one precious day on a six-hour port of call, it's impossible to see it all.

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Poor Cannes, so underappreciated.

Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland, California: "There's no there there." Cannes, sadly, seems to suffer from a similar character flaw. Consider this arch comment from travelmeister Rick Steves: "Cannes has nothing unique to offer the traveler, except a mostly off-limits film festival. You can buy an ice cream cone at the train station and see everything before you've had your last lick."

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Palma de Mallorca, a major port city on the island of Mallorca and the capital of Spain's Balearic Islands, has a delightful cross of influences, reflecting its checkered past of African and European control. It is the largest city on Mallorca -- a big, bustling place, with most of the tourist action in the old part of town around the landmark cathedral that dominates the oceanfront.

The architecture of this ancient Mediterranean port blends Gothic, Moorish and Renaissance styles. Palma's winding streets make way to grand churches, yacht harbors, beaches, fountains and old castles. Because there is so much history so close together, it's a perfect port to explore on foot. The snaking, narrow streets hold many surprises -- including the occasional dead end, especially passages around the cathedral.

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The capital of Spain's Catalonia region is one of the country's -- maybe even Europe's -- most beautiful and vibrant places. A city of contrasts, it is like no other in Spain; this is most evident in its architecture, a marriage of Gothic spikes and modern curves. (One name to keep an eye out for is Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona's most famous architect.)

Barcelona is also a city of distinct neighborhoods. The old city -- Ciutat Vella -- is the heart of everything, with museums, shopping and cafes. Then there's the port area, Port Vell, which features bars, restaurants, shops, an IMAX theater and the largest aquarium in Europe. (Port Vell is different to the working port area where cruise ships dock, but it's not too far away.) Enchanting and ancient, the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) is the center of the old city and brings together the best of Barcelona in a series of narrow streets, shops, cafes and magical corridors.

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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