Epic - so-so: Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by MJ from PA

Norwegian Epic 4
MJ from PA
Member Since 2009

Overall Member Rating

Epic - so-so

Sail Date: September 2012
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Other
I took a very similar NCL cruise in 2009 and was so pleased that I wanted to do it again in order to see more of the Western Mediterranean. I also took a Southern Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean last year. I prefer NCL because of the meal situation. (I don't like being forced to have a dinner reservation, eat with strangers, or dress up while on vacation.) Apart from that, I would say the two cruise lines are quite similar in terms of quality and service. This cruise did not measure up to the 2009 NCL Western Mediterranean cruise we took on the Gem. NCL books three cruises in the space of two weeks now, with people embarking and debarking in both Rome and Barcelona. We embarked in Rome. There was no welcome drink because people coming from excursions were also re-boarding the ship. There was no one to tell us if our room was ready or where to have lunch. (We stayed the night before the cruise and the night after the cruise at the Rome Hilton Airport (booked the rooms and More transfers through NCL) in order to have more time in Rome. The hotel was fine, and provided free transportation to and from the city center.) We finally found someone who told us we could go to our cabins, and we found the cabins to be fine. No one minded the split-up bathroom, in fact it seemed very reasonable to me.
The ship itself is so huge,crowded and loud, that I found myself preferring to remain in my room after dinner most nights. That's OK - I don't party much anymore but there seemed to be many people on the ship who did. The casino stretches through the entire sixth deck, and each night they served free champagne to people who would participate in an art auction. It was not possible to find a quiet place.
We ate at Le Bistro, which was very good and the Italian restaurant that was not very good. Other nights we ate at the regular dining rooms and found the food and service to be very good (none of us are picky eaters). My sense of direction is not great, but I never did learn my way around the huge ship - luckily, there were signs by each stairwell and elevator. Oh, forget about using the elevators unless you are very very patient.
The younger people in our group loved the Blue Men Group, which was a free show. We all really loved the La Cirque dinner show - the athletes were just incredible. It was well worth the admission price. The Ice Bar was smaller than I expected - kind of like a meat locker with a couple ice statues and bar. You get two free drinks for the admission price of $20, so it wasn't too bad. It looks like all the cruise lines are using their huge ships for the Western Mediterranean market. This must be why all of the ports are so crowded now. Next time in Europe, I'll stay out of the cruise ship ports. Less

Published 09/30/12

Cabin review: IB11215 Mid-Ship Inside

I had an inside cabin. I was staying by myself, so it was very adequate for me. The toilet and shower are in separate areas and the sink is in the middle of the room. I think this is a good plan. The fittings in the cabin seemed cheaper than other cruise ships I've been on. The shower doors have to curve and are plastic, and are difficult to open and close. The closet and drawers were very adequate, even for two people. It was the first time I didn't have a balcony room and I desperately missed seeing the water. It was almost impossible to see from the pool deck, since there are plastic walls about ten feet high. The ship was way too crowded and chaotic for my taste, but my room was OK. Also liked the fact that there was a library, since there weren't any TV channels in English except CNBC and BBC.

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Port and Shore Excursions

City Tour

Booked City Highlights of Barcelona. The tour guide was good and we saw some of the facilities used when the Olympics was held there. The city seems to have declined since I was there a few years ago - more dirty and stinky than I remember. But we decided to stay in the city instead of returning to the ship and walked down Las Rambles toward the port until we found a good restaurant. We enjoyed tapas, paella and sangria for lunch on our own.

Nice Walking Tour

We booked Highlights of Monaco and Nice - DO NOT BOOK THIS TOUR! Our tour guide was hideous, but the tour itself is impossible. We had about ten minutes in each of three stops: Nice, Monaco and Monte Carlo. All three were full of tourists and did not have the facilities to handle them. It was the worst day of our cruise.

Florence Walking Tour

Our tour guide, Jon, did a fantastic job of advising us what to do and see as we drove from the port to Florence. It's a beautiful city, not as beautiful as Rome but not as crowded either. We spent the day shopping (leather and gold are good buys here), had a fantastic lunch, and saw some of the tourist hot spots (duomo and ponte vecchio). Good time.

Avignon Walking Tour

We booked Avignon & Aix En Provence and loved it. Our tour guide was excellent, and we stopped first in Aix for a short walking tour of historical sites and then had plenty of free time to visit the open air markets and shops in this beautiful town. There weren't thousands of other tourists, so it was an authentic experience. We then boarded the bus for Avignon, where we had another short introduction and time for lunch and shopping on our own. The palace of the popes is here, a very impressive building. A great day.

Rome is my favorite city in the world. Unfortunately, 800 billion other people feel the same way. It was extremely crowded. It's an easy city to see on your own. Decide what you want to see, get a map, and use taxis to get from point to point. I wanted the others on our trip to see the Vatican, but it was so hot and crowded when we were there that it was miserable. There was a line snaking around St Peter's square to get into the basilica, so we didn't even get to see it. If I ever go back to Rome, it will be in the dead of winter.

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MJ from PA
Member Since 2009
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