Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by nw_man
- Sail Date: May 2012
- Destination: Western Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Inside
A little background to start with. 3 adults traveled this time, myself, my better half and my elderly mother. My mum has never cruised before, so we chose Epic as she has a lot of studio cabins for solo travellers.
We flew into Barcelona and straight to the ship ( taxi, 35 Euro from airport to port ). Embarkation was very good indeed, on board by noon ish and cabins available by 1.30pm.
First impressions were very good.
After eating at O Sheehans following advice from cruise critic that the Garden Cafe would be horrendous ( great advice ), we went to our cabin. Here is the start of why the Epic is anything but.
Where to start ? OK, I read beforehand that the Epics cabins did not have separate bathrooms, to be honest I was wondering what the fuss was about.Let me explain. A ' normal ' cabin has a bathroom right ? Epic has a toilet, in the cabin, behind a frosted glass screen. You can see your fellow cruiser sitting there and hear everthing...
A ' normal ' cabin has a shower in the bathroom, right ? Epic has a shower in your cabin with frosted glass. You can see your fellow cruiser showering in there ! Now I must say that was an advantage to me, hahaha, but come on NCL ! All joking aside, the comedy value diminishes somewhat when you realise that to actually dry yourself, you get out of the shower and step into the cabin, water is on the cabin floor, privacy = zero. They do actually have a curtain that can be pulled, so you pull it, water is still everywhere on the floor and you find yourself standing behind a curtain about 1 inch from the cabin door !
The entire cabin has been designed by someone who obviously has never cruised but has some Harvard degree in 21 st century BS grand design ! You open the wardrobe door, guess what it does ? It BLOCKS the room ! There are reading lights that have little blue circles of light on the switches, they cannot be turned off . EVER ! So, you turn off the lights but those little blue lights stay on just calling out your name all night lol.. there is light on the aircon switch, it cannot be turned off ! It calls your name all night !!
Our cabin steward ( excellent by the way ) must think we are crazy. We had face cloths wrapped around those crazy little annoying lights in the vain attempt to actually make it DARK ! Our cunning plan failed.
Did I mention the unbelievable tiny sink ? Yes, its in your room ! That grand designer strikes again. You know the guy, he never cruises, he just tweaks stuff and makes it worse. He is the guy that is responsible for you splashing water allover the place ! The same guy that puts the only 2 electric sockets under a shelf that is nowhere near a mirror so ladies cannot do their hair nor their make up. That guy !
Oh yes, I almost forgot. Don't forget to take your boots with you. You see, you will need your boots to stop you stubbing your toe on the footstool that sticks out into the already garbage cabin !
OK, fair enough, the cabin is aesthetically pleasing. But functional ? My dog could have designed a more functional room, trust me.
So, we love cruising as you get to meet some really interesting people and make friends. We have friends from literally all over the world because of cruises.
The Epic is the most anti social ship we have ever cruised on. And it is NCL's fault !
Firstly, the entertainment. You have to pre book or it is full. This is not conducive to meeting with new friends and arranging to go to the theatre together, you cant do this. Why ? Because they are already booked in for a show, say on Tuesday, but you are booked in for it on Wednesday, and so on.
Onto one of our biggest gripes about this ship, and it is about this ship as we know for a fact that this does not happen on other NCL ships. The sharing, or lack of sharing, of tables at dinner.
Epic is set up with mainly tables for 2, 4, 6 or more dinner guests in its 2 main restaurants, Manhattan and Taste.
Often time there are long lines at the Manhattan. So, when you eventually get in there, what do you see ? Two guests sitting at a table for four, 3 guests at a table for 6 and WORST OF ALL !!! ONE GUEST sitting at a table for two. The poor lonely single traveler, does Epic not actually advertise SINGLE cabins ? YES ! We met a lovely chap and he told us that he had dined alone most nights. Disgraceful Epic dining staff. Can they not at least attempt to get people to share tables ?
We specifically asked to share on several occasions, it was like asking a caveman for directions to the moon. Forget it. Blank looks all round. Yes, the dining room staff smile politely and tell you they will ask, so you sit there, the three of you on a table for six, and sit there, and sit there. All the time the dining room staff bring in couples and sit them at tables for four. The same couples who sit there staring into space and do not speak to each other... all they need are some new friends !! All we wanted were some new friends ! Pathetic Epic staff, pathetic.
One night we decided to see how far we could push the dining room staff. We arrive, ask to share a table. The staff say yes, yes, we will ask. Do they ask ? Erm, not a chance. Same old same old. I went to the bathroom and en route ( some 100 metres at most ) I counted 11 tables, all under occupied. Yet outside a massive wait line !!! So, coming back I ask for the manager and explain that some of us actually like to chat to other cruisers, it makes for an entirely lovely evening. After him looking at me strangely for a few minutes and me not prepared to move on my position, lo and behold up pops a delightful couple onto our table and we remained friends the whole cruise. They were pleasantly surprised to be asked they told us ! Oh my word is all I can politely say here.....
Later that week, on sitting in headliners club, we get chatting to a couple from the USA who tell us that if only they could find some table mates to share a table with... ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
This situation is entirely down to the wait staff on Epic. On NCL Dawn and on NCL Jade no such issues occur.
I am going to end this review now by saying that contrary to what you may think, we did enjoy the cruise. Its tough to NOT enjoy a cruise.
But NCL have tried their best with Epic to make it the least enjoyable cruise we have ever done.
Will we cruise with NCL again ? Most definitely.
Will we cruise Epic again. Not until I am crowned King of All England and England hasn't had a King Steven in about a thousand years...not to mention I am a proud pleb and about 56 millionth in line to the throne lol
P.S. The ship has hardly any sea views, fancy a walk around deck ? Forget about it. It ain't happening. Because you cant actually do the circumference of the deck !
P.P.S. Dont take NCL excursions ! They rip you off people ! You can do it yourself with some homework for a fraction of the price.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
CannesCannes, in the beautiful south of France. It rained. Hard.View All 408 Cannes Cruise Port Reviews
Cannes is a tender port, or it was for us. Tenders were frequent and easy and once on dry land you find that there is a land train conveniently placed about 200 metres from the tender area.
The little train was 10 Euro each and gave us a guided tour of the area. The film festival was on and another large cruise ship in port so the town was very full.
To be honest, we didn't like it too much, seemed to be a town with expensive shops, expensive yachts and a lot of crowds with little else.
View Cruise Critic's Cannes Cruise Port Review
Florence (Livorno)Livorno, gateway to Florence and Pisa. Absolutely no walking off from this industrial port allowed. Shuttle or taxi only.View All 932 Florence (Livorno) Cruise Port Reviews
Once again, no rip off ship tour for us. We met some fellow cruisers and got a group of 8 together and got a taxi to take us to Pisa first then Florence. 320 Euros, worked out at 40 each, bargain !
View Cruise Critic's Florence (Livorno) Cruise Port Review
MarseilleMarseille : NCL want $20 US per person just to get you out of the port !View All 649 Marseille Cruise Port Reviews
No way I was thinking until I tried to haggle a taxi driver and he would not budge from 25 euros one way into town. My haggling skills have never let me down before this lol
So, regretfully we took the shuttle, even though I always prefer to put money into the pockets of local people instead of multi national cruise lines..
To be fair, this is one seriously large port. Massive in fact.
Marseille itself is a big city, lovely harbour area and another little land train which we took for a bargain 7 euro per person. This gave us an over view of the area and included a delightful stop off at Notre Dame De La Garde, a very impressive cathedral / church.
The old town was quaint too.
View Cruise Critic's Marseille Cruise Port Review
NaplesNaples, easy to walk into the city.View All 1,231 Naples Cruise Port Reviews
Lots of taxis available.
Grabbed a taxi to Herculaneum for 80 Euro ( 4 of us sharing ) as we have done Pompeii many times before. Then we hired a personal guide for 50 euro, he was excellent indeed. I calculate that we saved at least 50 % on the ship excursion price to the same place.
Hop on hop off bus available just outside the port ( walking distance ), however a little steep price wise at 22 euro per person.
After Herculaneum we had a great look around the Royal Palace, 4 Euro entry ! Bargain !
View Cruise Critic's Naples Cruise Port Review
Rome (Civitavecchia)Rome, Shuttles are laid on tO get you to the port entrance as it is a long way from where the ship docks. Its a little chaotic getting a shuttle though with thousands all trying to get on.View All 1,881 Rome (Civitavecchia) Cruise Port Reviews
Why oh why people insist on taking seriously expensive ships tours to Rome is beyond me. As an example, this time NCL wanted $99 US per person just to take you to Rome, no guide, no nothing. Take you and drop you and return you back. Scandalous.
Previously we have taken the train ( easy ), but this time we stuck our necks out and went with a new company, smartcruisetours.com who have a number of options, including a fast train service, a Rome on your own ( same as NCL ), or a guided bus tour.
Rome on your own involved getting a coach and being taken from Civitavecchia to Rome centre and then you doing it yourself. Remember the NCL price, $99 per person ? Smartcruisetours.com price ? 19.50 Euros !!!!!!!!!
For personal reasons we opted for the guided tour of Rome by bus, this was an absolutely fantastic trip, cost ? 29.50 Euros !
We boarded the bus, had a little information en route to Rome and then just outside St Peters square a Roman tour guide got on board and introduced herself. She then took us on a 2 hour walking tour of Rome, visiting the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Piazza Navona before we jumped back on the bus and went round some other ancient sites and onto the Coliseum where we had a 20 min stop, not really enough time and certainly not enough to get into the Coliseum itself, but of course we only had one day.
And the final excellent thing ! We once again got off the bus and the guide took us into St Peters Basilica and gave us a guided tour.
I simply cannot find a fault with this tour, the price is utterly outstanding for what we got.
View Cruise Critic's Rome (Civitavecchia) Cruise Port Review