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Norwegian Epic Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
4,228 Reviews

Overcrowded, Where is the Staff?

Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by tripcruise

1 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Mar 2018
  • Destination: the Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: Balcony

We went on the Norwegian Epic in March 2018, and it really wasn't great, not even sure if I would rate it good. It is one of the bigger ships in the fleet, and it was clean and well-maintained. My biggest issue was the lack of service and staff throughout the entire cruise. We apparently made the mistake of sailing during part of the spring break times, and the service was terrible. The ship was close, if not at capacity, and there did not appear to be adequate staff to deal with the numbers.

The line is marketing "Free at Sea" which includes a drink package. The ship/line knows how many people sign up for the package, but don't staff for it. For the entire cruise, it took a minimum of 20 minutes to get an alcoholic beverage no matter where we went. All the bars (pool-side, clubs, and entertainment) always had at least 5-6 people deep waiting for a bartender to wait on them. At each restaurant, it took over 20 minutes to get alcoholic beverages. At Great Stirrup Cay, they let 3,000+ people off the boat and were serviced by two bars (total) and four bartenders. For the entire day, there was a 30 minute line.

And there were very few roaming bartenders working the various areas. For the "adult only" pool at the back of the boat, they had one server waiting on over 100 people and taking drink orders. It was pitiful. I have never had such poor service consistently for 4 days. I don't understand why there wasn't sufficient staff for the amount of people. The previous cruises we've gone on had about half of the passenger capacity as the Epic, but I feel like they had more staff available than the Epic.

Over and over, the only way to get a server or bartender to wait on you was to literally flash cash. If there was not money in hand during the ordering, they would not even wait on you. You pay for Free at Sea and for the gratuities, and a service charge for each day of the drink package, but can't be waited on without tipping up front. I am happy to tip, but it shouldn't be a prerequisite to getting service. While at O'Sheehans, we had been sitting for some time and unable to get anyone to stop at the table. I held a $20 bill in the air and, no joke, in less than 15 seconds, a waiter appeared at my elbow. It was like watching a B-movie comedy, but it actually happened in real life.

And then on to the food. Other than our dinner at Cagney's, I am not sure I ate a single meal that was above room-temperature. The main buffet seemed to leave food out indefinitely hoping for it to move, regardless of how cold it had gotten. We also tried the upgraded dining, and that food was cold too.

All of the entertainment activities were always packed to capacity and more. We tried each night to get into Howl at the Moon, and it was standing room only. We tried the British Invasion pub, standing room only. It seemed like everywhere we went there was another line or another long wait for something that should be simple and quick. They crammed more people into the ship, but didn't seem to care if they could be accommodated.

And the cabins. How small can they be? We got a balcony because they tend to be a little bigger, but there was only a minimal amount of walking space. The Couch, which was used to hold our suitcases, seems to take up half the room and is never used since the television is lined up with the bed. What is the couch for...to look at the closet? Or the sink? Maybe the toilet and shower that aren't separated from the rest of the suite?

I won't be sailing on Norwegian again. They aren't the cheapest, and they definitely are NOT the best. They need to work harder on the service part if they want to cram 4000+ people onto a boat.

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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Great Stirrup Cay

Where are the waitstaff? Where are the bars? Why are there only 2 bars and 4 bartenders when you off load thousands of people? During spring break no less?

Dolphin Encounter

Never made it. The guide showed up at the port 30 minutes late. They we waited another 30+ minutes at the ferry dock while passengers from a Carnival cruise joined our group. They were trying to cram hundreds of people onto the ferry and we were over an hour late. I got a bad feeling about it all and canceled. Great choice!

View All 158 Dolphin Encounter Reviews

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