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This was our first ever Christmas Cruise, and a return to NCL after 22 years sailing Disney and Holland America. Departure and return port was San Juan. We had a great vacation, but would not sail this ship again and this experience makes us question booking NCL. It was also our first megaship, and we will most likely go back to mid-size in the future. The dates and origin port made this a very Latin cruise, dominating the entertainment. It was FULL: 4800+ passengers embarked. We arranged all port excursions independently. There are many reasons no one has built another ship in the Epic class, and the NCL staff freely admit it is a "weird design." Things that do not work well in the ship layout: 1. Only two sets of slow, hot, elevators in the ship. We have been on much smaller ships with three sets. 2. The main thoroughfare on deck 6 between restaurants and entertainment is through the smoky casino which stretches for half the ship. 3. No separate bathroom within staterooms. I get the concept of space utilization, but it felt like showering and using the toilet in an RV. 4. Very limited free in room entertainment. On other ships we have had lots of on-demand movie choices. On Epic it is $10 a movie. Overall service was much worse than our experience on other lines. It was not terrible, but certainly much less than we were used to from other cruises. Our impression was that the boat was understaffed for the number of passengers. 1. Hard to get a drink on the pool deck without going to the bar. Floating waiters were very scarce. 2. Multiple pool deck bars ran out of mint (mojitos) and pina colada makings on the first full day. How does that happen? 3. Breakfast in the main dining room was consistently extremely slow, to the point of frustration. 4. Had to ask the cabin steward for things multiple times. Never had to do that on other lines. 5. Asked for a vegetable substitution for an entree in the main dining room. Was acknowledged twice, never happened. Food quality was excellent in the specialty restaurants, good in the main dining room and at O'Sheehans, and mediocre to poor on the topside buffets. Scheduling was OK, but prime time was always crowded and not much of a Freestyle option really so we ate early or late. We ate in the French, Italian and Brazilian restaurants. All were excellent. In theory NCL allows 18-21 years olds to consume beer and wine aboard ship. In practice this is a huge hassle for a young adult. Our 19 year old had consistent trouble getting bartenders to accept his card. Multiple trips to the front desk did not solve the problem. When they did not want to serve him they just said he did not look like his picture. Port call timing was surprise. We would arrive and be able to disembark by about 0830, with all-aboard at 1630. This seemed unusual. No evenings in any ports. We could not tell if this was driven by local port staff or a desire to get the casino running each day. It was not needed for our itinerary. Sailing from Tortola to St. Thomas we literally sailed in circles to make the times work. There were a number of things we missed on this cruise that seemed pretty standard on others. Almost all of them are trivial but add to our sense of a cruise. 1. No sail away parties. Since the ship tossed its lines at 1730 daily, there was plenty of opportunity. 2. Never saw peel and eat shrimp of the buffet. Kind of a standard for us. 3. If there was a lobster night in the main dining room we missed it. 4. No bedtime mints or towel animals. These are certainly not a deal breaker but an indicator of the lack of attention to detail that we saw. Both Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Burn the Floor were great shows. For me the best was the ad hoc Christmas show the entertainers did. It felt like their own. Other positives: amazing fitness center, good comms app for the phones ($10 per), super easy embarkation and disembarkation.

Enjoyed our cruise in spite of the ship

Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by Bob_plus_Four

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2019
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony
This was our first ever Christmas Cruise, and a return to NCL after 22 years sailing Disney and Holland America. Departure and return port was San Juan. We had a great vacation, but would not sail this ship again and this experience makes us question booking NCL. It was also our first megaship, and we will most likely go back to mid-size in the future. The dates and origin port made this a very Latin cruise, dominating the entertainment. It was FULL: 4800+ passengers embarked. We arranged all port excursions independently.

There are many reasons no one has built another ship in the Epic class, and the NCL staff freely admit it is a "weird design." Things that do not work well in the ship layout:

1. Only two sets of slow, hot, elevators in the ship. We have been on much smaller ships with three sets.

2. The main thoroughfare on deck 6 between restaurants and entertainment is through the smoky casino which stretches for half the ship.

3. No separate bathroom within staterooms. I get the concept of space utilization, but it felt like showering and using the toilet in an RV.

4. Very limited free in room entertainment. On other ships we have had lots of on-demand movie choices. On Epic it is $10 a movie.

Overall service was much worse than our experience on other lines. It was not terrible, but certainly much less than we were used to from other cruises. Our impression was that the boat was understaffed for the number of passengers.

1. Hard to get a drink on the pool deck without going to the bar. Floating waiters were very scarce.

2. Multiple pool deck bars ran out of mint (mojitos) and pina colada makings on the first full day. How does that happen?

3. Breakfast in the main dining room was consistently extremely slow, to the point of frustration.

4. Had to ask the cabin steward for things multiple times. Never had to do that on other lines.

5. Asked for a vegetable substitution for an entree in the main dining room. Was acknowledged twice, never happened.

Food quality was excellent in the specialty restaurants, good in the main dining room and at O'Sheehans, and mediocre to poor on the topside buffets. Scheduling was OK, but prime time was always crowded and not much of a Freestyle option really so we ate early or late. We ate in the French, Italian and Brazilian restaurants. All were excellent.

In theory NCL allows 18-21 years olds to consume beer and wine aboard ship. In practice this is a huge hassle for a young adult. Our 19 year old had consistent trouble getting bartenders to accept his card. Multiple trips to the front desk did not solve the problem. When they did not want to serve him they just said he did not look like his picture.

Port call timing was surprise. We would arrive and be able to disembark by about 0830, with all-aboard at 1630. This seemed unusual. No evenings in any ports. We could not tell if this was driven by local port staff or a desire to get the casino running each day. It was not needed for our itinerary. Sailing from Tortola to St. Thomas we literally sailed in circles to make the times work.

There were a number of things we missed on this cruise that seemed pretty standard on others. Almost all of them are trivial but add to our sense of a cruise.

1. No sail away parties. Since the ship tossed its lines at 1730 daily, there was plenty of opportunity.

2. Never saw peel and eat shrimp of the buffet. Kind of a standard for us.

3. If there was a lobster night in the main dining room we missed it.

4. No bedtime mints or towel animals. These are certainly not a deal breaker but an indicator of the lack of attention to detail that we saw.

Both Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Burn the Floor were great shows. For me the best was the ad hoc Christmas show the entertainers did. It felt like their own.

Other positives: amazing fitness center, good comms app for the phones ($10 per), super easy embarkation and disembarkation.
Bob_plus_Four’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 16+
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Balcony
Cabin BB
Strange layout but OK for us. Nice balcony. Plenty of storage. Smallish beds.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

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