Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by BgRoFan
- Sail Date: December 2017
- Destination: Western Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony
I have gone on about 15 cruises and this was our second with NCL. The last NCL we were on was the NCL Dawn 10 years ago. A lot had changed in those 10 years.
Embarkation: We departed out of Cape Canveral, Florida. It was by far the worst embarkation process ever. We literally took about 2 hours and 20 minutes from first getting in line to getting on the ship. That is unacceptable to me. We were at the port at 12:20pm. The line was the longest I had ever seen. If that wasn't bad enough there was no one manning the line - or directionals for the line - so even though the majority of people were waiting in the line properly, there were several people who literally just cut the line. There was no one to stop them. It was highly unorganized. Also fairly hot out. It did not bode well for the first introduction to the ship. We asked one of the Port Agents if it was always like this and he said that it was. That NCL's building was the worst run at Cape Caneveral and that the RC ship which has about 6,500 getting on and off before the 4300 people get situated on NCL. Once we finally got on the ship - we had very little time to eat (the food closed at 3pm due to the mandatory life boat drills at 4pm. We also had to wait in line to get dinner reservations and purchase water for the room. It did all work out in the end but it was a quite chaotic start.
We also found that you could ask one person a question and get a completely different answer from another person. For instance, we wanted to sign up for our 3 specialty restaurants as soon as we got on board. (We had missed out on our opportunity to do this online before we left.) One of the dining agents told us that instead of waiting in line, we could do all of this online at one of the screens located throughout the ship. EVERY restaurant we looked at had NO times. He told us it would be the same thing if we waited in line. We waited anyway and found that he was completely wrong. We were able to get reservations for all our the speciality restaurants. I am glad that we ended up waiting.
Food: I am not a huge fan of having to sign up for dinner the second you get onboard. You have no idea when/where the shows are and what you would want to see. Also, we had to sign up for shows as well. That is a huge red flag for me. Unless you have all the information in front of you at the beginning, it is hard to know when you will want to see see a show, let alone have dinner. NCL boasts about being a "freestyle" cruise - however - you have to make a reservation for just about everything. That is not "freestyle" to me. If you tried to go to the main dining room at 7 or 7:30 you had a 30- 40 minute wait for a table. In no way does that speak "freestyle".
However, even though I had complaints about these items we had a great time. The food for the most part on the ship was delicious. The service was not the fastest but we did find since we were on a Xmas cruise that a lot of the regular staff was not there. That might have been the reason why it was a little slow. At one point we had the water slide guy seating us and he told us it was his first time working in the dining room. We only had one bad dining experience (The Taste Restaurant for a sit down breakfast). It took 2 hours to get our food and when we got it, the food was wrong. In the end we took off part of our tip for that day but made sure we made it up to others we found much more deserving on the cruise.
We at at three specialty restaurants: Teppanyaki - outstanding, Moderna (Brazilian Steakhouse) - food was really good but overall this as not my favorite, and Cagneys (the Steakhouse). My filet was excellent. Again service was a bit slow but it really didn't matter in this case. The main dining room food was really good. The buffets for breakfast were quite good but quite crowded. Once we were able to find a table everyone enjoyed their breakfast. For snacks they had some really delicious cookies and scones. One of our favorite treats was the crepe station. The girl that was working that station was amazing and the crepes were delicious. Our group enjoyed the nutella crepe and apple crepes.
Spa: I had a facial and massage in the Mandara Spa and the girl who did this was excellent. Her name was Nicole from South Africa. She did an amazing job and did not do a hard sell at the end to get me to buy products.
Fitness Center: I actually used the elliptical machines 5 out of the 6 days I could have used them. In the end I only gained 3.5 pounds on the cruise so I am thrilled that I was able to work out every day. It was a huge exercise room and the view is amazing when you work out. I did not do any classes but they had some to do if you wanted to.
Shows: All of the shows we saw were great except for one comedian. (Magic Bryan - was kinda a dumb show.) Unfortunately the chairs were so comfortable in the Epic theater that I fell asleep a few times! The Beatles show was fun. They also perform in the Cavern Club other nights on the ship. Pricilla Queen of the Desert had fun music. Def. not for children under the teenage age. Howl and the Moon and a great dueling piano team. We also did Escape under the Big Top - which is an escape game. We thought they did a great job with this since you weren't actually in a room - it was several teams competing at the same time in the Cavern Club. It was really well done and fun.
Casino: I love going to Vegas and usually I am not a big fan of casinos on cruises. This was the best casino on any of the ships that I have been on. My daughter played a lot of black jack and loved all the dealers. The machines were good. Some days they were looser than others but it was still fun.
Cabin: This was perhaps the smallest balcony cabin that we had ever had. We were in room 8100 (midship balcony) and had no obstructed view. We didn't like the fact that the balcony was open so everyone above you could look down and see you. We didn't spend a ton of time on our balcony but might have if it was more private. I was worried about the bathroom situation before we got on the ship but found we had no problem with it at all. I actually liked having the shower and toilet area separate. I also liked having shower doors instead of a curtain. Our room had a weird storage area. Our drawers were only about 8 inches deep. You could not even put a t-shirt in there. My friends in other cabins did not have this situation so I would say it is probably not like this throughout the boat. We did find space for everything we had and it wasn't really a problem. We had one of the best cabin stewards we had in a long time. His name was Jin. He was actually a "relief" steward as the regular person for our room was on vacation. Our guy was excellent and got to know us a little bit. We gave him an extra tip before we left. We did have a problem with the bathroom sliding door breaking at one point. It took several days to get it fixed. They ended up giving us a $100 onboard credit for the delay but it was a little bit annoying when it happened.
On the other hand my daughter had a solo room and we couldn't have been more impressed with these cabins if we tried. They were a perfect size for one person. They are modern with funky lighting and they have their own lounge with treats and drinks. She did not participate in their gatherings (she basically just hung out with us). She is 27 and said most of the singles were in their 40's or above. She would totally use this room again though.
Sunbathing: We found a great area to lay out in the sun. It was not near any pools but it was the quiet area on the 18th floor. Most people could not find this area until the last day or so. So glad we had found it right away. There is an elevator from the 15th floor only - outside by the pool) and it takes you up to 18. We headed all the way to the front of the ship. There were very comfortable padded lounge chairs. The rest of the ship just had the regular lounge chairs without padding - which are fine - but these were great. It was very quiet up there. We rarely saw a child up there and although they were allowed up there - there was no reason for them to be there. No pools or anything - so they just generally weren't there.
Debarkation: We did our own debarkation. We took our luggage down when we were ready. It was an excellent system. We had to wait a few extra minutes for an elevator but I would do this again in a heartbeat. Waiting for our rental car bus at the end was a bit of a night mare. That was Budget rent a car's fault - not NCL. I would rent from Alamo if I was renting in Cape Canaveral.
In the end I would recommend this ship. Were their inconveniences? Sure. But the good ended up outweighing the bad. I will probably try another cruise line before I will go back on NCL but I would not rule this out.
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