1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Norwegian Epic
We selected the Epic based on our work schedule and the ship’s itinerary. It was a 10-day cruise out of San Juan with stops in Bonaire, Aruba, St. Lucia, Antigua, Tortola, Barbados, and St. Thomas. It included ‘extras’ Beverage, 4 specialty dinners, 250 Wi-Fi minutes and $50 shore excursion reductions per port packages. The total cost for 2 was $4,500 including gratuity for a Category B5 Family Balcony. We spent $600 for shore excursions in 5 ports. See later what we did. We booked the cruise within 4 weeks of the sailing date. Based on feedback on this site, we knew the ship was large. We still did it. The first 4 days, we were extremely disappointed. Too often it was difficult to get a drink. Not knowing better, we were not able to secure a reservation for certain shows. There was a line for that, we did not want to wait and did not feel like we should be planning our daily schedule in advance. The specialty restaurants were the same. Prior to boarding, we secured two restaurant reservations between 5:30 and 7:30. On board our choices were very limited for these times. Cagney’s had availability only after 9PM. We did secure two reservations, but honestly not on the days we wanted, we had to be flexible and then committed to those times. Once we understood this, they did open more shows toward the end of the cruise, I now understood I could book through my room’s TV and I was successful. We went back everyday to see if there was a cancellation at Cagney’s at a reasonable time and we lucked out. In summary, for specialty dining and shows requiring reservations make them as soon as you can from home or once onboard. How did we enjoy the ship? The pools are limited, there is a waterslide that is nice, but it took space away for an additional pool. Sea days, tough to get a seat, but that is true of any ship. Sea Day 1 we did not know better and went up at 11, there was no available seats. Day 2 my wife saved seats at 8:30, she said that 75% of chairs already taken. The adult pool area seating has no shade. The lounges were OK. The chairs were not comfortable and heavy to move. One lounge missing was an Observation lounge. We find that it is desirable to getting drink prior to and after dinner and look at the sea. No lounge had any natural light except for the Shakers on Deck 7, but near the windows are the lifeboats. The bar staff I felt bad for as when their lounge got crowded, some passengers became rude. Not the bar staff fault at all. The worst seemed to be on the pool deck. At Sea Days, not much else to do than drink and the natives get restless for their drink. Most staff work hard and are sincere to provide a positive experience. The food was of low quality, taste and selection at the Garden Café. An alternative is O’Sheeans, but at crowded times like lunch, it takes too long. The Main Dining and Shanghai had tasty offerings and a very solid level of food quality. These were good Dinner alternatives, but lunch on days in port, the main dining room was not available. The specialty dining offerings were very good quality with great taste. (It would be nice if they offered this in the main dining room.) For us, too much food was available, and I could not get desert, otherwise I would feel beyond stuffed. I never I had the nerve to ask for a doggy bag, but the food would had been great to have the next day. We ate at the Italian, Brazilian, Steakhouse and French. My favorite was the Brazilian. I liked the slower pace of eating small portions multiple times. The main shows are of higher quality than other cruises. They were more challenging to get into since you needed a reservation or people lined up 45 minutes before the comedy and dueling piano shows. During the trip talking to other passengers, I did not come across anyone who really liked the Epic, the highest compliment received was acceptable. I asked if anyone had been on a similar size passenger ship and a couple people said yes and they really liked the NCL Joy. While we will travel on NCL in the future, I don’t know if I ever could do a 4,000-passenger ship again. We have been on older NCL ships like the Gem, Spirit and Sun which are cozy with 2,000 passengers. Even the newer Celebrity Reflection and Silhouette with 3,000 passengers was very enjoyable. We base the cruise on our work schedule and itinerary. I hope NCL does not provide that combination for us in the future on the Epic.

Too many people, great ports

Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by Stancruiser

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2020
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Family Balcony
We selected the Epic based on our work schedule and the ship’s itinerary. It was a 10-day cruise out of San Juan with stops in Bonaire, Aruba, St. Lucia, Antigua, Tortola, Barbados, and St. Thomas. It included ‘extras’ Beverage, 4 specialty dinners, 250 Wi-Fi minutes and $50 shore excursion reductions per port packages. The total cost for 2 was $4,500 including gratuity for a Category B5 Family Balcony. We spent $600 for shore excursions in 5 ports. See later what we did. We booked the cruise within 4 weeks of the sailing date.

Based on feedback on this site, we knew the ship was large. We still did it. The first 4 days, we were extremely disappointed. Too often it was difficult to get a drink. Not knowing better, we were not able to secure a reservation for certain shows. There was a line for that, we did not want to wait and did not feel like we should be planning our daily schedule in advance. The specialty restaurants were the same. Prior to boarding, we secured two restaurant reservations between 5:30 and 7:30. On board our choices were very limited for these times. Cagney’s had availability only after 9PM. We did secure two reservations, but honestly not on the days we wanted, we had to be flexible and then committed to those times.

Once we understood this, they did open more shows toward the end of the cruise, I now understood I could book through my room’s TV and I was successful. We went back everyday to see if there was a cancellation at Cagney’s at a reasonable time and we lucked out.

In summary, for specialty dining and shows requiring reservations make them as soon as you can from home or once onboard.

How did we enjoy the ship?

The pools are limited, there is a waterslide that is nice, but it took space away for an additional pool. Sea days, tough to get a seat, but that is true of any ship. Sea Day 1 we did not know better and went up at 11, there was no available seats. Day 2 my wife saved seats at 8:30, she said that 75% of chairs already taken. The adult pool area seating has no shade.

The lounges were OK. The chairs were not comfortable and heavy to move. One lounge missing was an Observation lounge. We find that it is desirable to getting drink prior to and after dinner and look at the sea. No lounge had any natural light except for the Shakers on Deck 7, but near the windows are the lifeboats.

The bar staff I felt bad for as when their lounge got crowded, some passengers became rude. Not the bar staff fault at all. The worst seemed to be on the pool deck. At Sea Days, not much else to do than drink and the natives get restless for their drink.

Most staff work hard and are sincere to provide a positive experience.

The food was of low quality, taste and selection at the Garden Café. An alternative is O’Sheeans, but at crowded times like lunch, it takes too long. The Main Dining and Shanghai had tasty offerings and a very solid level of food quality. These were good Dinner alternatives, but lunch on days in port, the main dining room was not available.

The specialty dining offerings were very good quality with great taste. (It would be nice if they offered this in the main dining room.) For us, too much food was available, and I could not get desert, otherwise I would feel beyond stuffed. I never I had the nerve to ask for a doggy bag, but the food would had been great to have the next day. We ate at the Italian, Brazilian, Steakhouse and French. My favorite was the Brazilian. I liked the slower pace of eating small portions multiple times.

The main shows are of higher quality than other cruises. They were more challenging to get into since you needed a reservation or people lined up 45 minutes before the comedy and dueling piano shows.

During the trip talking to other passengers, I did not come across anyone who really liked the Epic, the highest compliment received was acceptable. I asked if anyone had been on a similar size passenger ship and a couple people said yes and they really liked the NCL Joy. While we will travel on NCL in the future, I don’t know if I ever could do a 4,000-passenger ship again. We have been on older NCL ships like the Gem, Spirit and Sun which are cozy with 2,000 passengers. Even the newer Celebrity Reflection and Silhouette with 3,000 passengers was very enjoyable. We base the cruise on our work schedule and itinerary. I hope NCL does not provide that combination for us in the future on the Epic.
Stancruiser’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Norwegian Epic price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Cabin Review

Family Balcony
Cabin B5
We were in Cabin 12048, B5 Family balcony located in the front of the ship. I was unsure of getting a Family balcony since Families could be nosy, but in each direction, there were two adults in the room, and it was fine. Also, as others mentioned on this site being in the front, you did not have the engine vibrations if you had a cabin in the back of the ship.
The cabin steward worked hard and rarely interacted, but that was OK. I see that they have stopped doing towel animals which is fine for me, but I do miss the robes which would had been nice to have on the balcony. One very useful tip I saw on a video was to get a travel power cord with multiple USB ports. The room is provided with two outlets, using the travel power cord with 3 USB port worked well for our devices. I got the travel cord on amazon for under $15.
The room layout, same complaint’s others have made on the site. The room size was reasonable for 2 adults, I cannot see how additional people even children could be accommodated.
The balcony was perfect, before I booked, I called NCL and they said this room had a 52 sq. ft balcony, it was the perfect size for two. It is also nice that NCL does not have a cabin service charge when ordering coffee, rolls and fruit in the morning for these items, all other times of the day it is a $10 charge. One of the best things to have a balcony for is to enjoy breakfast or a late afternoon cocktail.
Deck 12 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Catamaran Sail
    Antigua by Sea. We had never been to Antigua before. The scenery was pretty and the beach nice. The big downside that if I knew I would not had done this tour. After we got on, the staff made another stop at a resort area and several more people got on. The boat was full. As we go out for a while, the crew said everyone needs to sit and do not leave any bags on the floor. The water would be rough for the next 15 to 25 minutes, it felt much longer. The water from waves kept on splashing on the deck. I had a towel it was useless when I got to the beach. My stomach was not happy either. The staff had to get one woman who was on the outside and bring her in, I felt bad she was scared, I would had been also where she was sitting. After the beach break, we went around the rest of the island and it became a drink as much you can. The tour description said nothing about rough waters and mentioned a drink or two would be available. The crew said this outing they considered it average rough waters, other time it is worse. I loved Antigua, I wish I had more time, I would fine a different tour, one that does not go around the eastern part of the island by boat.
    View All 107 Catamaran Sail Reviews
  • Aruba
    Did on our own. Got a city bus ($5 each r/t) to the beach and rented chairs. Only sad thing the sidewalks near the terminal and bus stop are not even and we saw two people fall and hurt themselves.
    View All 1,710 Aruba Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Aruba Cruise Port Review
  • Island Tour
    Best of Bonaire. We had not explored this island before; it gave an informative tour of the salt mines and pretty scenery.
    View All 95 Island Tour Reviews
  • Island Tour
    Soufriere by Land and Sea Great tour. The sea portion was first which include a tour around part of the island and beach stop. We had lunch at a plantation which I did not care for and a ride on some the most up and down and side to side roads. Overall, it was good.
    View All 273 Island Tour Reviews
  • St. John Tour
    Took a tour around St john island. Required to take a ferry to St John and then a drive around the island. It was interesting. I did not realize how devastated the US Virgin Islands, in addition to Puerto Rico, were from the hurricanes in 2017. Once the tour ended, we went downtown St Thomas where there was a long block of shipping for watches, jewelry and electronics. Always very busy previous times there. Half the block shut down with For Sale signs, very sad.
    View All 182 St. John Tour Reviews
  • Virgin Gorda
    The second tine we have gone to Virgin Gorda. I like the first time; this time was not as nice. There did not seem to be as much water in the Baths. If you never been here, a must see.
    View All 231 Virgin Gorda Reviews