We sailed in early July with our two teenagers, ages 14 and 18. We had a spectacular vacation! We stayed in the Haven, which gave the four of us all the space and privacy we needed and then some.
We flew into Rome two days early. There's a quick train from Rome to the port city of Civitavecchia. We had no trouble getting around and made it to the ship in plenty of time. Civitavecchia has many restaurants and gelato places close by to stop at before boarding. Embarkation was a breeze.
If you can swing the Haven, it's absolutely the way to go. Our room had two private bedrooms, a spacious living area, and two full bathrooms. The main bathroom shower had room for a small village of people! There was plenty of storage space and the niceties like robes and slippers and upgraded toiletries. The Haven comes with a butler and he was wonderful. He brought us snacks each afternoon and also handles room service if you desire. Our room was equipped with an espresso machine and a minibar. The Haven also has it's own restaurant and cocktail lounge; both are outstanding as well as its own small pool and jacuzzi.
Our cabin was 16003 which is a forward cabin. Our bathroom had floor to ceiling windows in the showers (with shades for when you're actually showering) and provide a gorgeous view out the front of the ship. We had the same view as the bridge, which was kind of neat.
Dining is "freestyle", so you decide where and when you want to eat. There is the usual cruise buffet, as well as two more formal dining rooms. Buffets are not my thing, but as far as they go, this one had plenty of options including Indian food, hamburgers/hot dogs, and themed hot entrees and was a nice break for my younger teen who just wanted to eat in his swimsuit and be done with it. The other two dining rooms, Taste and Manhattan were both top notch with typical cruise fares - starter, meat/fish, starch, veggies, and dessert. The wine lists were extensive and reasonably priced. There is also a pub which services quick burgers, sandwiches, and the like which has extended hours. The pub also had pool tables and other arcade games.
You can also do specialty dining - some is an extra charge, some is included, but all need reservations to assure your spot. They included a French restaurant, teppanyaki, noodle bar, and a traditional American steakhouse. The French restaurant, Le Bistro, requires (no exceptions) long pants for everyone over 12. My one son ate dinner in his pajama pants, which was not a problem for the maitre'd. All the other restaurants are generally relaxed on dress code - some people were all dressed up and others were in shorts and tshirts.
There is also a coffee bar to get espressos and blended coffee drinks for an additional charge. Definitely get the beverage package so you don't have to think about it. The ship will serve your 18 year old beer and wine if they have your permission. In port, people offered our 18 year old booze consistently. Not a problem for us, but be mindful if this is a concern for you. In fact, in Rome, they served our 14 year old lemoncello. He was not a fan.....
We loved the live music; there's a Beatles tribute band, a sing along Elton John show, and themed shows featuring music of Stevie Wonder and others. We didn't attend either of the two main shows which require reservations - we just didn't get to it and our kids weren't super interested in either. They also have a dueling piano show - it was very popular. Not our favorite, but just a matter of personal taste.
During the "at sea" day, they had an "escape room" type activity which we really enjoyed as a family. The main lounge midship, The Atrium, often had games like "Deal or No Deal" and bingo for an additional charge. We aren't gamblers, but the casino was hopping and seemed very popular. Smoking is allowed there, and there is an actual cigar lounge/smoking lounge as well.
There is a three lane bowling alley, along with the pool, water slides, rock climbing wall, and sport court. Our 14 year old went to the teen club, which he mostly enjoyed. There are a lot of organized activities, and he was hoping for more "free play" time where he could come and hang out and play video games. That said, he enjoyed the activities (trivia, charades, game shows) that he participated in. It was kind of a bummer that our (newly) 18 year old couldn't participate with his brother there, but we get it.
Since we embarked in Civitavecchia, our ports were Florence (Livorno), Cannes, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, Day at Sea, Naples, and then back to Civitavecchia. I actually think this itinerary lay out is better than boarding in Barcelona. Florence is a slog - it's quite a distance from the port - maybe 90 minutes - so after that and then rapid fire action, we were grateful for the day at sea. I wouldn't have wanted to have that right on the front end of the cruise.
In Livorno, we did Pisa/Florence "on your own" which basically provides transportation and then some tour information but mostly you just explore. It was ridiculously hot and there is a lot of walking from the bus to the actual sites, so be prepared. Pisa was magnificent and I'm so glad we didn't skip it. Florence was super crowded and oppressively hot. Pace yourself!
In Cannes, we needed an easy day after Florence, so we took the tender from the boat and just wandered through downtown. You can do tours to Monaco or Monte Carlo, but we found a place along the waterfront for lunch, explored the streets, had french desserts, and headed back to the ship. The tender process is easy, but you do need reservations if you want to get an early start.
Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona were our two favorite days and we are already talking about a separate trip to Spain. We went on foot both days and found outstanding tapas restaurants in both. Mallorca was wonderful just to explore and walk around the city. In Barcelona, we went to the Pablo Picasso museum and then went to the arch and Citadel Park. There were some great tours, but we had made reservations for the museum and had to work around that. Sundays are free at the museum, but you have to make reservations ahead.
In Naples, we struggled because there were so many choices; Sorrento, Amalfi coast, Capri, and Pompeii. We ended up walking into Naples which is right at the port and found a tiny little pizza restaurant and had a pizza we're still talking about. We took the cruise's tour to Pompeii in the afternoon; they have two, "Pompeii excavations" and "Pompeii on your own". I highly recommend excavations. Pompeii is a huge area and is a maze. We really benefited from having someone to walk us around inside and show us the highlights. If we had gone by ourselves, we might still be finding our way out.
Debarkation, although EARLY, was a breeze. We walked right off without problem and collected our bags at the port. There is a free bus that will take you from the ship to the entry to the port. From there, you can take a bus for 2 Euro to the train station in Civitavecchia. There is an express train that will get you into the main terminal in Rome in about 45 minutes.
We spent three more days in Rome after the cruise before heading home. After 14 days, we were ready to get back, but it was an absolutely wonderful trip. We will sail Norwegian again and would absolutely go on the Epic again. Bon voyage!
The Picasso museum was spectacular. Sundays are free, but you need advance reservations.
The tour guide and transportation were great. It was a slog of a day, though. Be prepared for substantial walking from the bus into the actual sites (Pisa and Florence) and pay attention to the projected temperature. We were unprepared. :(View All 274 Florence & Pisa Tour Reviews
Use the ship's tender and walk along the waterfront. There are many cafes and restaurants to choose from and the scenery is gorgeous.
Tapas and wine!
Tour was great; be prepared for the amount of walking and the weather. Very little shade and lots of uneven paths. An amazing feat but pace yourself!View All 505 Pompeii Walking Tour Reviews