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As our first time on a ship designed to carry 4,000+ people on board for a week, we drove the five hours from our home to the port with a certain level of excitement. This soon dissolved upon arrival at the port when the driver from the extended parking lot announced that we could either sit in the van or we could unload and stand in line for an hour or more. We all chose the latter. Once in the unloading bay, the driver cheerfully asked that we all stay inside until our luggage was unloaded from the trailer. Some left the van early only to be corralled by the porters until their work was done. Then everyone was cleared to leave the van. The porter then announced: “Who wants to show their appreciation for the porters please step forward and identify your luggage” What? This classic shakedown is usually reserved for correctional institutions. I stepped forward while pushing my four-wheel trunk with a small token saying to my new luggage “I hope to see you again”. Couple hours later we were reunited, so the tip worked. Then we were off to find the end of the line, which happens to be two serpentine columns of humanity over and down to reach the social end of the line. The social end is defined as the far end, an absence of cutting, and cheating-in where most reasonable people go to join the queue. A shout out goes to the majority of the people that respected this social norm. However, a small minority used brazen cutting and a subtle move that was straight out of Oceans Eleven. Feinting to need the restroom they jumped on the elevator away from view to be transported well ahead of the masses below. To say the process was a joke would be an insult to bad jokes. Getting to the ship was a mix of super bowl madness and animal house. Some lines were a simple “L” shaped right to the counters, while another serpentine throughout the too small terminal. For an experiment, I approached one of the line keepers and said: “We are in the Owner’s suite, is there a different line?” He replied, “No, that doesn’t make a difference here”. So, we waited and waited, 120 minutes in all. In it together vibe and positive attitudes of the passengers, we endured together with a shrug and a smile. NCL really needs to look at this as it’s on the cutting edge of their experience. Made our way to Guests Services immediately upon making it onboard. In search of the holy *Posh Pass …the CSR walking the line nearly burst out laughing when we asked if we could. “Purchase a Posh Pass?” She replied, “Oh no, we only had 20 and they sold out with the first hour”. Ok. Off we went to gather some food, it’s now 2:45 pm, and venues begin to close at 3:00 pm. O’Sheehans is the closest and we head there for a Ruben sandwich and fish and chips. Long wait, good service, pedestrian food. Finally, off to the room, a mini-suite, not really, just a matchbox stood on its side. Curved walls, curved bed, the curved couch, with semi-opaque glass encased toilet on the immediate right after entry. The shower is directly across from the toilet. One word on the toilet area, small. If you are over 6-foot-tall, you’ll be qualified for Cirque du Soleil at the end of your business. Thank goodness for a strategically placed handhold. A small dimly lighted sink is located next to the too short bed. We waited for the polite knock on the door to meet our steward/stewardess, uh? Nowhere to be found, no quick hello or here’s how to reach me. Enjoy your cruise. No turn down the first night and after morning breakfast was tucked in we roamed the ship for 3 hours. The room should be made up by now don’t you think? Ahhh, no. Had to wait until well after 3:00 pm to have the room looked after. Finally visited guest services after this became a reoccurring theme. Ronnie told us this was the person’s first solo run as a steward. No tip adjustments needed (though offered), everyone deserves a second chance and an opportunity to improve. Management was gracious with a nice bottle of wine and some chocolate dipped strawberries. Expected service and marked improvement after our visit. The “Free-Style” dining is a bit of a pain if you are just a couple. They don’t take reservations for couples. We tried, only to be told to visit the desk down the way, to be told, “we don’t make a reservation for two” you have to get in line and they hand out clickers that ping when seats are available. The lines or mobs at both main dining rooms were incredible with 90-minute wait times. Of course, you could always go to the $peciality dining restaurants or the buffet, or O’Sheeans (bar food), Noodle Bar, or Chinese restaurant. Not our cup of tea. If you want a nice sit-down meal be prepared to sit around like you were in the Outback waiting for your ding-ding. Update: Fourth day of freestyle cruising and since half the ship complained about the draconian procedures, NCL’s came off their high horse and “allowed” couples to make dinner reservations via phone. How thoughtful. On the sixth night when we were able to secure a rezzy at Taste (6:45p), a floor supervisor stopped by for a chat. “How are you enjoying the freestyle dining experience?” she said smiling. My wife and I locked eyes and I could see that “Oh, Noooo…” look in hers. I suggested the reservation procedures for couples should be revisited, what if someone had plans or a show to see, only to be told it would be a 90+ minute wait for a table? How does that translate to convenience? What’s the message, travel in a group or be prepared to stand in line, or visit the bar for a $10 cocktail? The floor supervisor listened attentively and wrote down my feedback, which was very good. She promised to forward our concerns to her superiors. We were awarded a glass of wine for our honesty. The food in Taste was good; service was appropriate for the churn of guests pouring through dinner service. This was our first and last foray into the large ship category (4,000+) expect lines for everything, elevators, food, shows. The battle for the pool chairs was being played at its highest level. People after breakfast clipped their towels and close the chairs not to return until high noon. This selfish practice is not reserved for NCL it’s practiced among passengers from all cruise lines to the inconvenience of those that chose to play by the “encouraged” sailing etiquettes. How do you police rudeness? Well, I’m not saying whom, but after scoping the field out for an hour or so you might just move the ships towels off the saved lounges and move in for some sun and fun. If the scoundrel's return play dumb and enjoy your seats. The waiters are interested in selling and delivering drinks not enforcing social rules. I mention this because 4,000 people put a hell of a strain on the overall ship amenities. Oh almost forgot, to those of you that purchased the drink package, guess what they charge full tip (18-20%) on your libations. What a great deal! There is an adult pool (Spice.H2O) aft that has NO children squealing and splashing it up. Wasn’t a problem to get a couple chairs. A good place to sun and read. One note on service, well maybe a couple notes, floor officers were very cordial and smiling when encountered, however, the frontline service personnel had well-worn looks on their face and acted as if this was the last sailing on their contract before going home. The normal short happy engagement from all levels we experienced on other cruise lines was noticeably absent. Most especially noticed restaurant gatekeepers at all complimentary venues. Neutral to stern looks abound with the occasional “your card please” with the flavor of checking ones’ papers. Off-putting. One bonus is the photo-group in much tamer than on other lines, a simple wave of the hand will call them off. You don’t have to hunt for your pictures, as the binder is marked on your keycard and you can quickly check them on a computer station in the photo area. Maybe it has to do with the size of the ship, 4,000 are a lot to handle for a week. When you consider the level of difficulty to secure couples reservations at either of the main venues, maybe it’s contrived to push you towards either the pay to eat places or shuttle you to the cheaper buffet option. Money saved no servers, just cooks, busboys/girls over waiters. Serve the same type of food you can purchase at your local Kroger’s deli department. Even the “specialty” restaurants push the drinks, as the margins on alcohol are ridiculous. But hey, free ice cream! Running neck-and-neck for first place annoyance is the price of goods and services. A bottle of water is $4.45. Most cocktails and beer is in $15-$5-dollar range. You cannot bring your own bottled water onboard, the “Quarantine” bins were full of half-empty water bottles collected prior to carryon inspection. Spa costs are crazy. The cost to gamble is up with a minimum of $10 at all table games. Lots of empty tables with dealers bored out of their minds. How they survive without tips is beyond me. The slots were the tightest we’ve ever seen; the casino supervisor did make a big win announcement of $25.00 win on a penny machine. Smoking is allowed in the casino and not policed in the “non-smoking” areas. Which like the restaurants of the late 80’s and early 90’s would have non-smokers immediately adjacent to smokers without barriers. Second-hand smoke and smelly clothes are guaranteed. Yuck. In summary, the trip was pleasant, not over the top. Room was neat and clean (when it got done), plenty of hot water. The storage in the room was many and varied in place and shape. The boarding process is broken beyond belief and needs immediate attention to streamline. Additionally, NCL should have an observer to monitor the porter’s shakedown for tips scheme. Crew disposition needs a bit of inspiration, especially the almost supervisor types that seemed to be bothered at the slightest request (our perception). With 4,000 plus, be prepared to WAIT in lines. The feeding frenzy at the garden buffet is something you have to experience for yourself. The highlight is the “washy washy, happy happy” girl that sprays germ killer on your hands as you enter the Garden Buffet. The disembarking walk-off was an absolute breeze when compared to the death march when boarding. Again, no more ‘freestyling” for us, 4,000+ passenger ships, and sadly; no more bookings on NCL in the future. Bon Voyage folks.

Not so EPIC vacation

Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by K-Ski

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2018
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
As our first time on a ship designed to carry 4,000+ people on board for a week, we drove the five hours from our home to the port with a certain level of excitement. This soon dissolved upon arrival at the port when the driver from the extended parking lot announced that we could either sit in the van or we could unload and stand in line for an hour or more. We all chose the latter.

Once in the unloading bay, the driver cheerfully asked that we all stay inside until our luggage was unloaded from the trailer. Some left the van early only to be corralled by the porters until their work was done. Then everyone was cleared to leave the van. The porter then announced: “Who wants to show their appreciation for the porters please step forward and identify your luggage” What? This classic shakedown is usually reserved for correctional institutions. I stepped forward while pushing my four-wheel trunk with a small token saying to my new luggage “I hope to see you again”. Couple hours later we were reunited, so the tip worked.

Then we were off to find the end of the line, which happens to be two serpentine columns of humanity over and down to reach the social end of the line. The social end is defined as the far end, an absence of cutting, and cheating-in where most reasonable people go to join the queue. A shout out goes to the majority of the people that respected this social norm. However, a small minority used brazen cutting and a subtle move that was straight out of Oceans Eleven. Feinting to need the restroom they jumped on the elevator away from view to be transported well ahead of the masses below. To say the process was a joke would be an insult to bad jokes. Getting to the ship was a mix of super bowl madness and animal house. Some lines were a simple “L” shaped right to the counters, while another serpentine throughout the too small terminal. For an experiment, I approached one of the line keepers and said: “We are in the Owner’s suite, is there a different line?” He replied, “No, that doesn’t make a difference here”. So, we waited and waited, 120 minutes in all. In it together vibe and positive attitudes of the passengers, we endured together with a shrug and a smile. NCL really needs to look at this as it’s on the cutting edge of their experience.

Made our way to Guests Services immediately upon making it onboard. In search of the holy *Posh Pass …the CSR walking the line nearly burst out laughing when we asked if we could. “Purchase a Posh Pass?” She replied, “Oh no, we only had 20 and they sold out with the first hour”. Ok. Off we went to gather some food, it’s now 2:45 pm, and venues begin to close at 3:00 pm. O’Sheehans is the closest and we head there for a Ruben sandwich and fish and chips. Long wait, good service, pedestrian food.

Finally, off to the room, a mini-suite, not really, just a matchbox stood on its side. Curved walls, curved bed, the curved couch, with semi-opaque glass encased toilet on the immediate right after entry. The shower is directly across from the toilet. One word on the toilet area, small. If you are over 6-foot-tall, you’ll be qualified for Cirque du Soleil at the end of your business. Thank goodness for a strategically placed handhold. A small dimly lighted sink is located next to the too short bed.

We waited for the polite knock on the door to meet our steward/stewardess, uh? Nowhere to be found, no quick hello or here’s how to reach me. Enjoy your cruise. No turn down the first night and after morning breakfast was tucked in we roamed the ship for 3 hours. The room should be made up by now don’t you think? Ahhh, no. Had to wait until well after 3:00 pm to have the room looked after. Finally visited guest services after this became a reoccurring theme. Ronnie told us this was the person’s first solo run as a steward. No tip adjustments needed (though offered), everyone deserves a second chance and an opportunity to improve. Management was gracious with a nice bottle of wine and some chocolate dipped strawberries. Expected service and marked improvement after our visit.

The “Free-Style” dining is a bit of a pain if you are just a couple. They don’t take reservations for couples. We tried, only to be told to visit the desk down the way, to be told, “we don’t make a reservation for two” you have to get in line and they hand out clickers that ping when seats are available. The lines or mobs at both main dining rooms were incredible with 90-minute wait times. Of course, you could always go to the $peciality dining restaurants or the buffet, or O’Sheeans (bar food), Noodle Bar, or Chinese restaurant. Not our cup of tea. If you want a nice sit-down meal be prepared to sit around like you were in the Outback waiting for your ding-ding. Update: Fourth day of freestyle cruising and since half the ship complained about the draconian procedures, NCL’s came off their high horse and “allowed” couples to make dinner reservations via phone. How thoughtful. On the sixth night when we were able to secure a rezzy at Taste (6:45p), a floor supervisor stopped by for a chat. “How are you enjoying the freestyle dining experience?” she said smiling. My wife and I locked eyes and I could see that “Oh, Noooo…” look in hers. I suggested the reservation procedures for couples should be revisited, what if someone had plans or a show to see, only to be told it would be a 90+ minute wait for a table? How does that translate to convenience? What’s the message, travel in a group or be prepared to stand in line, or visit the bar for a $10 cocktail? The floor supervisor listened attentively and wrote down my feedback, which was very good. She promised to forward our concerns to her superiors. We were awarded a glass of wine for our honesty. The food in Taste was good; service was appropriate for the churn of guests pouring through dinner service.

This was our first and last foray into the large ship category (4,000+) expect lines for everything, elevators, food, shows. The battle for the pool chairs was being played at its highest level. People after breakfast clipped their towels and close the chairs not to return until high noon. This selfish practice is not reserved for NCL it’s practiced among passengers from all cruise lines to the inconvenience of those that chose to play by the “encouraged” sailing etiquettes. How do you police rudeness? Well, I’m not saying whom, but after scoping the field out for an hour or so you might just move the ships towels off the saved lounges and move in for some sun and fun. If the scoundrel's return play dumb and enjoy your seats. The waiters are interested in selling and delivering drinks not enforcing social rules. I mention this because 4,000 people put a hell of a strain on the overall ship amenities. Oh almost forgot, to those of you that purchased the drink package, guess what they charge full tip (18-20%) on your libations. What a great deal! There is an adult pool (Spice.H2O) aft that has NO children squealing and splashing it up. Wasn’t a problem to get a couple chairs. A good place to sun and read.

One note on service, well maybe a couple notes, floor officers were very cordial and smiling when encountered, however, the frontline service personnel had well-worn looks on their face and acted as if this was the last sailing on their contract before going home. The normal short happy engagement from all levels we experienced on other cruise lines was noticeably absent. Most especially noticed restaurant gatekeepers at all complimentary venues. Neutral to stern looks abound with the occasional “your card please” with the flavor of checking ones’ papers. Off-putting. One bonus is the photo-group in much tamer than on other lines, a simple wave of the hand will call them off. You don’t have to hunt for your pictures, as the binder is marked on your keycard and you can quickly check them on a computer station in the photo area. Maybe it has to do with the size of the ship, 4,000 are a lot to handle for a week. When you consider the level of difficulty to secure couples reservations at either of the main venues, maybe it’s contrived to push you towards either the pay to eat places or shuttle you to the cheaper buffet option. Money saved no servers, just cooks, busboys/girls over waiters. Serve the same type of food you can purchase at your local Kroger’s deli department. Even the “specialty” restaurants push the drinks, as the margins on alcohol are ridiculous. But hey, free ice cream!

Running neck-and-neck for first place annoyance is the price of goods and services. A bottle of water is $4.45. Most cocktails and beer is in $15-$5-dollar range. You cannot bring your own bottled water onboard, the “Quarantine” bins were full of half-empty water bottles collected prior to carryon inspection. Spa costs are crazy. The cost to gamble is up with a minimum of $10 at all table games. Lots of empty tables with dealers bored out of their minds. How they survive without tips is beyond me. The slots were the tightest we’ve ever seen; the casino supervisor did make a big win announcement of $25.00 win on a penny machine. Smoking is allowed in the casino and not policed in the “non-smoking” areas. Which like the restaurants of the late 80’s and early 90’s would have non-smokers immediately adjacent to smokers without barriers. Second-hand smoke and smelly clothes are guaranteed. Yuck.

In summary, the trip was pleasant, not over the top. Room was neat and clean (when it got done), plenty of hot water. The storage in the room was many and varied in place and shape. The boarding process is broken beyond belief and needs immediate attention to streamline. Additionally, NCL should have an observer to monitor the porter’s shakedown for tips scheme. Crew disposition needs a bit of inspiration, especially the almost supervisor types that seemed to be bothered at the slightest request (our perception). With 4,000 plus, be prepared to WAIT in lines. The feeding frenzy at the garden buffet is something you have to experience for yourself. The highlight is the “washy washy, happy happy” girl that sprays germ killer on your hands as you enter the Garden Buffet. The disembarking walk-off was an absolute breeze when compared to the death march when boarding. Again, no more ‘freestyling” for us, 4,000+ passenger ships, and sadly; no more bookings on NCL in the future. Bon Voyage folks.
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