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We first sailed on the Epic nearly 5 years ago when she was new. After spending 3 weeks in dry dock, she is young and new once again! This was a 6 day Iberian Peninsula repositioning cruise from Southampton to Barcelona calling at Vigo Spain, Lisbon Portugal, Cartagena Spain, and Barcelona Spain. Embarkation: Southampton is not a normal embarkation port for NCL. This, combined with the ship coming out of dry dock, resulted in a few glitches in the check-in process. There was no one in the terminal to help and direct guests. When we arrived, there was a line of several hundred crew members waiting to check in (which got us worried that a new crew would be unfamiliar with the ship). At the check-in counter, stateroom keys for Havens guests were not available. Butlers where walking through the terminal searching for Havens guest to get them their keys until just prior to boarding. Embarkation was “interesting” since the NCL had not arranged for the use of the terminal boarding gangways. Instead, passengers where led through a maze of crew luggage carts in the baggage hall and across a loading zone where fork lifts were busy provisioning the ship. We went up a narrow, steep gangway with stairs, up into Deck 5. We only had small handcarries, but it would have been a chore if you had to carry a suitcase up the steps. Crew greeting passengers indicated that staterooms were already ready for guests, which was not an accurate statement. And there was no real escort for Havens guests, we just wandered up to the Haven Lounge. This single dock-side gangway was a problem when the 4000 passengers disembarked in Southampton prior to the ship going into dry dock (3 weeks prior), and the cruise line did nothing to resolve the problem for the passengers returning to Barcelona. The Epic: This was our 4th voyage on the Epic (the last time in October 2014). The ship felt new and clean with new carpets and fresh paint in the public areas. Many of the public areas had been torn apart and rebuilt during the dry dock refurbishments. While everything looked familiar, there were many physical changes throughout the ship. All for the better! One of the biggest changes was that Fat Cats had been transformed to the Cavern Club. For this first cruise, the tribute band from the “real” Cavern Club in Liverpool preformed to standing room only crowds. Entertainment: Priscilla: We were at opening night of Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical (replacing Blue Man Group). The cast did a wonderful job and the staging was great. The number of costume changes during the show was amazing. The show played to a packed house and received a standing ovation at the end of the show. There were multiple announcements in both English and Spanish that the subject matter of the show was of an adult nature and not intended for children and sensitive adults. It really wasn’t too bad. And the ship had the Priscilla movie playing on stateroom TVs. Burn the Floor: Another high energy, dance show. Burn the Floor is new to the Epic (replacing Legends in Concert). This version of the show was different that those on the Getaway and Breakaway. Slightly more diverse dancing styles from ballroom to Latin. But great fun! Cirque Dreams: We attended the early show on the first night of the cruise. This was the first performance in over 3 weeks with a few new cast members. It played to a less-than-full house. High energy, amazing acrobatics and balancing on a moving ship! The show was fun and entertaining. Dining: We ate at the Main Dining Room, Specialty Restaurants, Cirque Dreams, and the Haven Restaurant. Service and food at Cagney’s, Le Bistro, and Monderno was excellent. Great food. Great service. Great experience. Food and service at the Cirque was o.k. – we were there for the show which was great. Service: Overall the service on the Epic was good. There were many new crew members on this voyage. The crew was still getting organized and accustomed to the ship. At the same time, it was a repositioning cruise, so some of the more “routine” activities like port talks, port maps, basic information on what the protocol at the ports were lacking. And we were told “this is not our normal cruise, so we are not going to do xxx or yyy” was a far too common excuse.

Great Fun on a Newly Refurbished Ship!

Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by BirdTravels

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Trip Details
We first sailed on the Epic nearly 5 years ago when she was new. After spending 3 weeks in dry dock, she is young and new once again! This was a 6 day Iberian Peninsula repositioning cruise from Southampton to Barcelona calling at Vigo Spain, Lisbon Portugal, Cartagena Spain, and Barcelona Spain.

Embarkation: Southampton is not a normal embarkation port for NCL. This, combined with the ship coming out of dry dock, resulted in a few glitches in the check-in process. There was no one in the terminal to help and direct guests. When we arrived, there was a line of several hundred crew members waiting to check in (which got us worried that a new crew would be unfamiliar with the ship). At the check-in counter, stateroom keys for Havens guests were not available. Butlers where walking through the terminal searching for Havens guest to get them their keys until just prior to boarding.

Embarkation was “interesting” since the NCL had not arranged for the use of the terminal boarding gangways. Instead, passengers where led through a maze of crew luggage carts in the baggage hall and across a loading zone where fork lifts were busy provisioning the ship. We went up a narrow, steep gangway with stairs, up into Deck 5. We only had small handcarries, but it would have been a chore if you had to carry a suitcase up the steps. Crew greeting passengers indicated that staterooms were already ready for guests, which was not an accurate statement. And there was no real escort for Havens guests, we just wandered up to the Haven Lounge. This single dock-side gangway was a problem when the 4000 passengers disembarked in Southampton prior to the ship going into dry dock (3 weeks prior), and the cruise line did nothing to resolve the problem for the passengers returning to Barcelona.

The Epic:

This was our 4th voyage on the Epic (the last time in October 2014). The ship felt new and clean with new carpets and fresh paint in the public areas. Many of the public areas had been torn apart and rebuilt during the dry dock refurbishments. While everything looked familiar, there were many physical changes throughout the ship. All for the better! One of the biggest changes was that Fat Cats had been transformed to the Cavern Club. For this first cruise, the tribute band from the “real” Cavern Club in Liverpool preformed to standing room only crowds.

Entertainment:

Priscilla: We were at opening night of Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical (replacing Blue Man Group). The cast did a wonderful job and the staging was great. The number of costume changes during the show was amazing. The show played to a packed house and received a standing ovation at the end of the show. There were multiple announcements in both English and Spanish that the subject matter of the show was of an adult nature and not intended for children and sensitive adults. It really wasn’t too bad. And the ship had the Priscilla movie playing on stateroom TVs.

Burn the Floor: Another high energy, dance show. Burn the Floor is new to the Epic (replacing Legends in Concert). This version of the show was different that those on the Getaway and Breakaway. Slightly more diverse dancing styles from ballroom to Latin. But great fun!

Cirque Dreams: We attended the early show on the first night of the cruise. This was the first performance in over 3 weeks with a few new cast members. It played to a less-than-full house. High energy, amazing acrobatics and balancing on a moving ship! The show was fun and entertaining.

Dining:

We ate at the Main Dining Room, Specialty Restaurants, Cirque Dreams, and the Haven Restaurant. Service and food at Cagney’s, Le Bistro, and Monderno was excellent. Great food. Great service. Great experience. Food and service at the Cirque was o.k. – we were there for the show which was great.

Service:

Overall the service on the Epic was good. There were many new crew members on this voyage. The crew was still getting organized and accustomed to the ship. At the same time, it was a repositioning cruise, so some of the more “routine” activities like port talks, port maps, basic information on what the protocol at the ports were lacking. And we were told “this is not our normal cruise, so we are not going to do xxx or yyy” was a far too common excuse.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Pena Palace
    While, the sights and sounds of Lisbon, Pena Palace, and Sintra were historic and beautiful, the tour operator let NCL down.

    We started the day in a full size motor coach. We toured the city of Lisbon learning about the people and culture of Portugal. Pena Palace is perched high on top of a hilltop above the city of Lisbon. At the base of the mountain, we transferred to minibuses for the trip up the winding roads to the hilltop palace. The transfer to the minibuses was a bit disorganized (insufficient minibuses and it took a lot longer than required to get the whole group to the Palace). Once inside the entry gates of the Palace, the tour operator elected to make the group hike up the hill versus using the shuttle bus up the steep hill (which was hard for the older guests).

    Once we finally got to the palace, it was magnificent. We enjoyed the medieval Palace designed by King Fernando II (pictured). We enjoyed the walking tour of the public rooms and the history brought back to life. The views from the spires all around the Palace were grand. After the walking tour of the Palace, there was a short break for a snack at the Palace café.

    The trip from the Palace down to Sintra was disorganized, again. The motor coach was stuck in traffic, so the group was split up between three minibuses with the tour guide in only one of the buses. So, without any narration or guidance, we were dropped off at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sintra. Sintra was a quaint village. We walked around the Palacio Nacional de Sintra (National Palace – Pictured) and the views of Lisbon below. We walked through the streets and into the quaint shops. There was time for lunch at one of the street side cafes, and sample the local desserts at one of the local bakeries.
    View All 4 Pena Palace Reviews