Trip to Miami:
In the interests of saving money, we took a rather complicated route to get to the Port of Miami. Rather than flying from Toronto to Miami as we did on our Norwegian Getaway cruise (you can read that review here: http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=263339), we instead decided to fly from Buffalo to Fort Lauderdale. This meant leaving Toronto at 2:00am to drive down to Buffalo. The drive itself was pleasant enough considering we were driving to Buffalo in February, and we got through the border with no trouble at all and parked in the economy lot at Buffalo. There was a shuttle bus already at the lot when we got there and the driver followed us to our parking spot and picked us up right from there. The shuttle dropped us off right in front of the JetBlue entrance to the terminal. We had completed pre-check-in online, so we headed right to security where we breezed right through (I love how much faster it is at smaller airports). We had a few hours to spare, which is unfortunate in a small airport like Buffalo but overall it was a pleasant start to our trip. Our JetBlue flight left on time and we arrived in Fort Lauderdale just slightly ahead of schedule. Because it was a domestic flight, we didn’t have to deal with customs.
Ground Transportation to Ship:
We were in room 11041. Deck 11, forward, starboard side. We were in an inside stateroom, and I have to say I was impressed with the layout. I found the felt larger and the layout was much more intuitive than on other ships I’ve cruised on. The room provided ample storage space (more than I’ve ever had on a cruise), and of course, the bathroom so infamous on the Epic. When you entered the room, rather than the whole bathroom being on one side of the door, the shower was on one side and the toilet was on the other. Both of these enclosures was surrounded by translucent frosted glass instead of a solid wall, however the section of the room housing these two enclosures can be separated from the rest of the room by a retractable curtain. The sink is located in the room proper instead of the bathroom area. While I know reviews are mixed on this layout, I personally preferred it. It allowed the shower to be larger, and the separation of each feature allowed greater efficiency. I think this feature would be especially useful for families as the sink is still accessible if someone is using the washroom. The bed was formatted as two twins when we arrived, but after a quick call to our steward, it was put together as one bed later the same day. The room steward introduced himself to us on the first day and showed genuine interest as he asked us questions about where we were from, etc.
As a sign of (silent and only symbolic) political protest, we didn’t get off the Epic in Jamaica. Jamaica has terrible human rights violations against the LGBTQ community (members of the LGBTQ community can be imprisoned for up to 10 years) and I didn’t want to support a government like that. We enjoyed our day on board as it was significantly less crowded.
In Georgetown, Cayman Islands we didn't book an organized shore excursion. Instead we walked to the famous Seven Mile Beach - a 10-15 minute walk. We had a fun time at the beach, finding that if you keep walking until you get to the resorts, the beach is much nicer.