We cruised on the Epic from 30/05/23 to 08/06/23 from 'Rome' to 'Rome', stopping in Naples, Palma (Mallorca), Ibiza, Barcelona, Cannes and Livorno. We had previously cruised on the Epic transatlantic from Lisbon to NYC in December, and I had not planned to review this cruise. However, this cruise ended up differing quite a lot because of the changes brought forward by Norwegian in-between cruises which have been essentially cost-cutting, or cost recouping, measures. To Norwegian's credit, the majority of measures that seem to have been implemented from January onwards have been relatively minor or cosmetic. This contrasts from what I've heard from previous cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, who I've been reliably informed have been much more dramatic (and much worse!). With that said, I did notice these changes and some were bigger than others!
We flew in from the UK to Rome Ciampino on the 30th, making it in good time despite a two hour flight delay due to a change in aircraft being needed. Arriving into Civitavecchia just before 2pm it was really quiet and check-in was a breeze; if unlike us you have a choice in the matter then I would recommend getting onto the boat around this time, and a little after the rush hours of early morning and midday, especially if it's a port you'd like to explore. We skipped the buffet, which is so often packed on embarkation day, and headed straight to O'Sheehans. The buffalo wings and the reuben sandwich were rock solid, although we were disappointed with the lack of beverage options. Multiple beer and cider options were unavailable, which ended up being somewhat confusing as the ship had regular provisions brought in throughout the cruise given the multitude of stops. Indeed, it was explained it was due to a lack of stock which would be rectified that afternoon, but the issue persisted when we visited again a few days later. The food remained solid, but we were disappointed in O'Sheehans as it was excellent for drinks throughout our transatlantic cruise last year. The Main Dining Room (MDR) for dinner on embarkation day was also packed and I must say service was very slow, although it did as expected rebound well over the course of the cruise.
The first thing to note is the make-up room service has been scrapped, at least as a standard option - in December we had two room turnovers which has become one (outside of the first day following embarkation, it seemed nobody had one). This wasn't communicated by Norwegian beforehand at all as far as I am aware; while personally I am not fussed by this, I have never got fully making up the room to turn it down again hours later, but it would have been nice to know beforehand. Ultimately the housekeeping staff (and all others!) on cruises work tremendously hard and I have no issue in their daily workload being lowered. With that said, I did find out following the cruise that Norwegian have also reduced the number of housekeeping staff to compensate for this change, which is frankly disappointing.
I stayed in a studio throughout my stay. My grandmother was also in a studio and my parents in a mini-suite on the eighth floor. I stayed on my cruise on the Epic in December and, as expected, there was nothing different or unexpected. The double bed was fantastic and having such a big bed in a 100 square foot room is an achievement - it is very well designed with sliding wardrobe doors and wall-mounted shelves. The decision to put the toilet in a separate cubicle on one side and the shower on the other is a bit weird, but not in a bad way, and there is still a solid amount of room for one person. My only critiques are the lack of a mini fridge and that there's a lack of table or counter space which means getting a kettle, or an ice bucket for example, are not especially practical. In December on the transatlantic cruise, the conditions did raise a lot more issues with the studio cabin such as the sliding wardrobe doors constantly flying open, but on this cruise this was simply not an issue
This was my grandmother's first experience of a studio and she also really enjoyed it, particularly the bed and the overall good design. My parents mini-suite sounded fine, although it was essentially just a bit bigger balcony cabin, and nothing particularly special on top of that. I will say that a big shout out to my room attendant Arvin, who also happened to be my attendant on the December cruise, who kept both my studio and my grandmothers cabin spotless and did a great job looking after the Studio Lounge and the studio corridors as well!