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

Spring Break Not So Fun

Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by lconklin

1 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Mar 2019
  • Destination: the Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony

We choose this cruise because it coincided with my stepdaughter's Spring Break and she really wanted to go to the Bahamas. We had been to Bermuda aboard the Norwegian Breakaway two years prior and really loved it - Splash Academy (the kids program), the dining, the ship amenities, the staff...great. This is the review I tried to send Norwegian for this cruise's experience:

If this was my only experience with Norwegian, I would definitely not cruise with Norwegian again. Having had a good experience on our prior cruise, I still think I would probably strongly consider another cruise line. When I initially booked my cruise, things were fine. Then, I called in to talk about free at sea offers, of which we were entitled to two per room (we had two rooms, which had to be handled as separate reservations, which was a problem several times, as well). In addition to having to hold for excessive amounts of time (45 minutes to an hour), I then had to deal with a bored sounding not very nice person before eventually getting that straightened out. Wifi is worthless and the gratuities on other options make "free" a bit of a misnomer. We decided to book excursions at 2 out of 3 of our ports. Could not complete this online. Had to call in. Another lengthy wait. They were able to see the excursions in my cart, but the payments wouldn't process online, had to do over the phone. Had to go through entire process twice to get both rooms signed up. Later decided to book Cirque experience. Glad we did, as it was one of the most fun things on the cruise. However, even booking in advance of the cruise (another lengthy phone wait), the early showing was sold out and we had to opt for the later showing which was rough on our daughter. I was transferred from excursions to restaurant reservations because I had decided to make a reservation for the first night for the Manhattan Room because we had enjoyed it so much the first time we cruised on Norwegian. I made a reservation which I was able to see on NCL.com and in the app, until the day of the cruise when I couldn't see anything on either because everything reset. Likewise, the Manhattan Room had no record of our reservation. And, like everything else, once on the ship, no reservations were available for anything. The only times we could do specialty dining were noon on port days or 10pm on other days. 10pm does not work for people cruising with children who are in bed at this time. I tried this literally as soon as the touch screens were working. I don't know why you bothered having people advertise the restaurants since there were no convenient reservations to be had. Thankfully, we learned that the way to get in to Taste and the Manhattan Room was to get there half an hour before they opened. Otherwise, it was 45 minute + wait times with beepers - if I wanted to go to the Olive Garden, I wouldn't have spent money on a cruise. We had several very good restaurant service people (Denny and Jefferson in the Manhattan Room were the best), but we had a lot of mediocre service too. The whole experience of the cruise was crowded with tired-seeming, overworked, uncaring staff. The Splash Academy staff were good and helped our daughter have a good time on the cruise, but even that, the lines were insane and if you didn't get everywhere and stand in line forever, you got bumped out. In terms of shows, we had already signed up for Cirque, but had wanted to do Escape the Big Top. Completely sold out by the first evening, and that was something we couldn't pre-book. They added sessions for the sea day for our third port being cancelled due to weather, but the first one was at 10:00, wasn't available on the touch screens or in room system, and when I called guest services, they said to book with the box office, which didn't open until 10:00. Super helpful. Instead, my daughter and I went to the painting in Headliners. We were the second people out and waiting, and almost got locked out of it, because there was no signage or staff member or note in the Freestyle Daily to note that you had to sign up ahead of time! We were literally the last two people to get in to the session. Pretty ridiculous. Speaking of Headliners, one of the things we loved on our first cruise on the Breakaway was the Second City Improv - I think we went four different times. The comedians this week in Headliners were chuckle inducing, but...not anything to write home about. The cruise director was missing in action most of the time except photo and video ops. Disembarkation was a complete disaster. We did self-assist/independent/carry our own luggage and were ready to exit the ship promptly in the morning. We stood in confusing lines for over an hour with no staff directing the process or even just being a friendly face. There was one person helping those in wheelchairs, and that is literally the only staff member we saw until we were at the keycard checkpoint by the gangway. Ridiculous. I understand that this was a Spring Break week and the ship was at capacity, but really, it should be staffed appropriately. If you can't handle this volume, build smaller ships and focus on doing things well.

I would have added that this ship does not have a great layout. For example, the Spa is on the same level as Splash Academy, but getting between these areas is challenging - minimal signage/maps, only one hallway that works. The bathrooms in the staterooms are not meant for anyone tall/fuller figured. And the frosted glass on them and the shower is better than nothing, but isn't ideal for adults sharing rooms with children or non-intimate partners. Oh, and my 6'5" husband's feet well overhung the end of our bed. And having two separate beds for my mom and stepdaughter in our other room? Made up separately, yes, but with a gap of four inches, maybe, between them.

lconklin's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Balcony
Cabin BB 9188

Balcony was nice - nice to be able to sit out on it on sea days and relax and unwind. As mentioned above in the main review - bed and bathroom not good for bigger people. Frosted glass not walls on bathroom and shower (separate). Decent amount of storage. We had two rooms for our party (non-adjoining), same category, and we each had room problems. They had a light that wouldn't turn off despite no key card in/switches off, and we had one that didn't turn on by the mirror of the sink.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Port Canaveral (Orlando)

Easy parking experience (on site, not cheap, but not crazy). Good setup for embarkation. Horrible disembarkation from ship but customs/etc. once off ship fine.

We did a two hour bus tour of the island that we found once we arrived. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly, and we stopped several times for pictures/bathroom break/distillery view. It was $20/person, and very enjoyable.

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Coral World Tour

Staff was nice and knowledgable. Self-guided tour. Dolphin experience new to the facility, so the actual show and tell was mainly a tell, but the staff members were great at this. The underwater tanks were nice. Have been to more elaborate aquariums elsewhere, but nice enough.

View All 86 Coral World Tour Reviews
Great Stirrup Cay

We were scheduled to do the Marine Eco Boat Tour and were looking very forward to it, but due to rough seas and near gale winds, this port stop was cancelled.

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