We began our cruise adventure with a wonderful TA she kept us as informed as humanly possible throughout the changes that were taking place. We booked three nights in Rome before the cruise and one night after. NCL put us up at the Golden Tulip it was a lovely old hotel not too far from the train station. Everything was very clean and the staff were great. We also purchased all of our shuttles through NCL as well as the affair. Everything that could have been foreseen was handled beautifully. Embarkation and Disembarkation were all smooth.
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We were not excited by the configuration of the Epic and after the trip we were even less so. To begin with a positive and it is major, the ship was immaculate and very well staffed. We had no issues with lines at all. Also with the exception of one person (employee) out of the hundreds we saw everyone was extremely pleasant.
To descend into the negatives on board, they were constantly running out of beverages. We were not allowed to take a can of soda from the bar. Beer yes. But not soda or seltzer. The buffet was much more limited that I have ever seen. One example no smoked salmon at breakfast. If you wanted smoked salmon you were required to go to the restaurant. Food in the included restaurants was subpar. It was made worse by the fact that you couldn’t get a sharp knife to cut your beef. There were four of us and this is not a fussy group. We ate at O’Sheehan’s twice and both times the food was tasty but not even close to temperature. At times in all restaurants service was slow but that is to be expected. We went to LeBistro, Cagney, Moderno and Cucina and they were all spectacular!
The cabin configuration is the worst. As you can read everywhere, the bathroom on the Epic balcony rooms is divided into three separate pieces. The sink and vanity is in the cabin. No problems with that. There also also to pods/closets with frosted glass doors, one for the toilet and one for the shower. They are see through, especially if the light is on. We knew about it in advance and weren’t looking forward to it but hated it more than I would have thought. Additionally we were put in a connecting room with meant that our room had a doorway instead of a bank of shelves or drawers like the other rooms. The only positive about the cabin again is that it was immaculate.
In Rome we hired an amazing guide. Giovanni Musella www.giovannimusella.com. Gianni, as he is known asked what we were interested in seeing and then tailored an itinerary to our exact wishes. This was done well in advance of the trip. His English was very good and he took us to places that we had never even read about. In addition of course to all of the places we had requested. At the last second Tivoli Gardens were closed the day of our visit. Without missing a step, before he even picked us up Gianni had arranged for us to go to the Pope’s summer estate. He hired a licensed guide for us at the Vatican. She too was extremely professional. Gianni also took us to a tiny restaurant we’re Mama cooked for us. No menu. It was amazing.
Instead of going into Naples we hired Giovanni Castaldo from Sorrento Tours to pick us up at the pier and take us to Sorrento and Positano. Giovanni was a knowledgeable gentleman with excellent English. He picked us up at the port on time and drove beautifully. All along the drive he would point out local points of interest and give us history. When we got to the outskirts of Positano he stopped at a popular photo location and took lovely photos of us. Directing us just where to stand for the best shots. I would highly recommend his services.