Back home just last week from my first Norwegian cruise aboard the Epic. I had an amazing holiday thanks to the lovely, friendly people that I met on board. Would I cruise again with the Epic though? Don’t think so.
I’ll start by mentioning the positive points about the ship that made my trip enjoyable.
The ship is clean, well maintained and the decor is sublime.
Very hard working crew. Also, very friendly when they’re allowed to be.
Some great entertainment.
Friendly/fun atmosphere with guests of all ages (mostly Americans)
Freedom with dining times and tables in the restaurants.
If you’re a solo traveller, you will love the private solo lounge and the studio, as well as the solo gathering (meet-up). I got to meet some amazing people!
Now, the negative points that will definitely stop me from booking another cruise with Norwegian:
If you’re a foodie person like myself and enjoy fine dining, the Epic is not for you. The complimentary dinner restaurants like the Manhattan and Taste serve similar dishes and the menu is the same every day with only one or two changes if you’re lucky. The dishes are extremely poor quality/presentation - it’s basically similar to what you would get served in a Wetherspoons. I found that a lot of the food was too salty to eat. You’ll also notice that some dishes have lost their original flavour due to being defrosted and not prepared fresh. The buffet in the evening has better quality and variety but stays the same for the most part. You might be impressed the first and second day but after that you’ll be bored of eating the same thing over and over again.
The drinks package is not worth it unless you just want to get drunk and don’t care about the options or quality of what you’re drinking. The wine, cocktails, soft drinks are all the cheap, non-branded stuff. If you want good wine you’ll have to pay extra. A fresh squeezed orange juice or even bottle of water costs extra too, which I thought was a joke.
The crew seem to be under a lot of stress and sometimes it’s like they can’t breathe. I’m quite friendly and love chatting to people who work on board even for just a few seconds. I’m aware they have plenty to do but it just shows some appreciation and it can help to break up their day by even asking them how are they. The problem is they don’t seem to be allowed to make small talk with guests! I noticed crew members seemingly looking distracted a few times and it turned out that they were looking around in case their manager caught them talking to me. It really put me off that the crew are treated very poorly, especially compared with staff members who are separate and do seem to have a bit more freedom. It actually upset me when I asked a couple of staff members why they couldn’t talk and the suggestion was they were working under military rules and could get fired any minute. No wonder they hire a lot of people from developing countries!
Managers on the cruise lied to me! I wanted to stay an extra 4 days on board as I had a swollen ankle and didn’t want to travel on it. I was given a price which I was happy with but then told the next day that no rooms were available. I tried to say that I didn’t mind which room I stayed in and that I’d be happy to pay extra money but the answer was still a no. Imagine my surprise then, when I saw on the website that rooms were available! I was truly disappointed and felt like I was chasing them to take my money. In the end, despite knowing I could actually book through their website and stay I decided to keep my money and endure the pain of a 5-6 hour journey home with my ankle still swollen.
For me, those are the main points, although some more would be:
Poor medical centre service when my ankle got swollen.
The Internet doesn’t work at all so don’t even bother buying it.
A lot of extreme loud alarms go off every single morning!
Toilets not flushing seemed to be a common problem.
If you order room service, bear in mind you’ll have to wait 1 hour even if it’s just for a bottle of water.
The entertainment is good but was very repetitive. Entertainment at the atrium and pool was poor.
Tiny, shallow swimming pools.
The lady who works at the second Manhattan restaurant desk and looks for an available table for you was truly unhelpful and cheeky.
Overall, if it wasn’t for the hard-working crew and some amazing people on board I would’ve definitely had the worst time ever. Basically, once they have your money, they don’t care if you’re coming back or not, or if you’re happy or unhappy.
So if you’re young, don’t care about fine dining and just want to party, this cruise might be for you. However, if you’re a foodie person and love variety in your meals, good wine, a good chat with people (even those who who work onboard) and enjoy different shows/music, this cruise is definitely a no.
Day 1 on the Epic: This is amazing!! I’m booking my second cruise the second I get home.
Last day: Never gonna be back!
Back home: Booked 2 cruises for next year….with P&O!