4 Miami to Caribbean - Southern Norwegian Epic Cruise Reviews

Just finished a 7 day cruise on the Epic with 15 friends and family. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the stability of the ship was great!! This was our 8th cruise and we have been on various cruise lines, so I was super excited to ... Read More
Just finished a 7 day cruise on the Epic with 15 friends and family. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the stability of the ship was great!! This was our 8th cruise and we have been on various cruise lines, so I was super excited to go on an NCL cruise and be on a big ship!! The embarkation process was flawless, from the people to the boarding process!! It's when we got on the ship that the mediocrity set in. The staff (much of them) had just turned over so were just getting on the ship and many had just ended their time segment. While I wouldn't expect that to be of issue, it was!! Our cabin was dirty, and barely touched before we got released to our cabin. The balcony was filthy, the floors inside were dirty and the sheets were actually stained....ick!! Once we got that cleared up our steward was helpful - our blow drier went out and a few other things, but in general he was good!! The food - well, unless we went to a paid dining experience it was SLOW at best and the food was either cool or simply boring!! The specialty dining was much better in both respects!! I like the freestyle approach and the martini bar (Shakers) was our favorite bar, the BEST food on the ship is at O'Sheehans and the casino is SMOKY!!! I loved the fact that one of the craps tables is smoke free, except it doesn't open until after 9pm.... :-( LINES LINES LINES - on and off the ship and I anticipate that is because the number of cruisers is disproportionate to the crew size. So, no pool side lounges unless you get up at the butt crack of dawn to put your towel on it to reserve, the buffet food is good. In general - I likely won't do another NCL cruise simply because it was underwehelming at best. Entertainment - Legends show - ELvis was great - other 2 mediocre - when did Katy Perry become a "legend"? Finally, I have always enjoyed using the sauna after walking or using fitness equipment - it is NOW a charge!! PAHLEEZ!!!! The cleanliness of this ship was outstanding!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We just came back from our 1 week trip with the Epic from Dec 7th to Dec 14th. We were on the Norwegian Pearl in Dec 2011 which was a great trip and we were hooked on Cruising so we had high expectation for the Norwegian Epic. On the Epic, ... Read More
We just came back from our 1 week trip with the Epic from Dec 7th to Dec 14th. We were on the Norwegian Pearl in Dec 2011 which was a great trip and we were hooked on Cruising so we had high expectation for the Norwegian Epic. On the Epic, we stayed in the Mini Suite and had a balcony on Deck 12, which gave me excellent opportunities to take many great photos of the Ports. Unfortunately this ship did not live up to the standards the Norwegian Pearl had set... The Ship: The ship capacity is 4500 passengers, it is designed to maximize the carrying capacity and maximum balcony options on the ship, the ship is boxy in design. When we were docking on the 3 ports that were visited, I saw some other ships which were longer in length and or bigger in size from other cruise lines (Royal carribbean and Disney) but had less passenger capacity, then I noticed that these ships had lower decks where you can walks around the ship and enjoy your views where the Epic did not except on deck 15 where the pool and buffet is located (which all other ships had as well). One thing I really missed from the Norwegian Pearl was being able to walk around the lower decks and enjoying the views with my family, unfortunately this was not an option on the Epic... You can forget about doing this on Deck 15 as there is not much walking room for a leisurely stroll with all the hustle and bustle of people sunbathing/eating or having a drink, it was always busy. Swimming/Sunbath is located on Deck 15, they have a shallow splash area for small children, 2 small pools which is not really long enough for swimming and a few hot tubs as well as 4 shower stalls outside. The highlight of the pool area is the large water slide which gives you a great ride with a great view while your sliding down. One annoying part of this deck is that sometimes you can smell sewage near the back near the engine exhaust pipes area, I noticed this many times so I can conclude this is an ongoing issue. One other note about the sewage smell, my father who was staying in a Studio room had a sewing smell coming from the vent in his washroom, he couldn't sleep the first night because of the smell. The next day, he taped it up during the night and it helped. Food/dining options: Garden Café: this is where the buffet is located the area is open for breakfast lunch and dinner, there are 4 corners with basically the same food. The food is a hit and a miss, there is variety but not really much quality, I have worked in the restaurant business before and from the way the food was prepared, the staff were probably poorly trained or plain lazy. The food was similar to the Norwegian Pearl, but on the Pearl, the food tasted better. The staff seems disengaged, and slow moving, or they usually just stand there, you can see that most of them are not happy to be there especially the wait staff, on the Norwegian Pearl, almost every staff member had a big smile and were enthusiastic about doing their job and making your stay enjoyable. I noticed on the Epic, for the most part, the staff usually just stand around, sometimes chit chatting with each other, slow to clear the tables, then all of the sudden I see an increase in their movement when a senior staff passes by (usually in the white uniforms) then they slow down again when the coast is clear. The tables are usually not very clean because they do such a poor job of wiping the tables. I did notice staff members who offered exceptional service but those were few and far in between... the Manhatten room: We ate there twice for Dinner, the first time was on the first night aboard the ship, it took us about an hour to get a table(they told us half hour wait), then it took more than an hour to get the main course meal, by then my children fell asleep at the table and my wife had to take them back to the room to sleep. Our waiter did apologize for the wait, I guess it was quite hectic the first day, the food was tasty. We ate at the Manhatten room the second night, the wait was shorter, only about half an hour to get our table and another hour for the main course. they put us in the left side of the dining area, there was a strong mildew smell, I don't remember much about the food because it ruined my appetite, suffice to say that was the last time we went to dine there. Taste: We went there twice, once for lunch and once for dinner. for lunch, our waiter didn't really speak English well and got one of the appetizers wrong but immediately got it corrected and it came out quickly. For dinner, we went early so there was no wait time and we got our food out quickly as well. The staff was professional and courteous. Teppenyaki: The chef was funny and engaging, the portions were generous, but the taste was lacking. The staff was fast and efficient. le Bistro: We made reservations for 8:30, so there was no wait for the table, the wait for the food was long, about an hour. The staff were busy, I see them moving around constantly doing something. The bread was cold, the food we ordered were cooked perfectly. One note about the bread, I did notice all bread got during all the dinners were always cold, on the Pearl, it was always warm or hot when we it came out. Cirque Dreams Dinner: There's no option for food, everybody got the same meal. we didn't get an option for how the filet mignon would be cooked, most of ours came out well done. The show was great and a must see, it makes up for the mediocre dinner. The Casino is located on the 6th floor, elevators on the aft of the ship only goes to the 6th floor and missing the 5th floor and the stairs are blocked off from the 6th floor to the 5th floor, to get to most the dining rooms, theatre, bars etc, you would have to pass by the casino. In the middle of the ship, the 6th floor opens up to the 5th and 7th floor, there are stairs from 6th to 7th and escalators from 5th to 6th, all conveniently bringing you to the casino on the 6th floor. I think the ship is designed this way to maximize the number of people gambling, If you have a gambling issue, this ship is not for you as you will pass by the casino or hear it on the 5th, 6th and 7th floor. I have 2 young children and I had to think of many detours that would not take me across or near the casino (the smoking being my biggest concern), suffice to say, after analyzing the many options, the ship is designed to take you through the casino or at least near it on many of your dining/shopping/drinking options. Housekeeping: Our Steward for housekeeping was very clean and efficient and always did a good job with our messy rooms, with 3 and 1 year old, the room was always a mess, we got our rooms cleaned 3-4 times a day. We had many valuables lying around and nothing was ever missing, our safe was also unlocked at one point and we had about $3k in cash and it was all there when we came back. We had also tipped our steward a few times as well for doing such an excellent job. Safe: We noticed that our safe did become unlocked twice during our trip and our combination reset, once was after a power outage, the second time was in the morning so we don't know if there was a power outage, nothing was missing but it's doesn't give me much trust in those safes. I would give our stay a 6 out of 10, whereas our previous stay with the Pearl I would give a 9. Suffice to say we will not going to be going back to the Epic.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
My initial interest in this cruise was in seeing the Blue man group, and trying out the "mega" ship experience. I read many of the reviews on Cruise critic. There were A LOT of pro's and con's, but the overriding ... Read More
My initial interest in this cruise was in seeing the Blue man group, and trying out the "mega" ship experience. I read many of the reviews on Cruise critic. There were A LOT of pro's and con's, but the overriding thought that was expressed was a cruise was like anything else in life, it is what you make it. We arrived to the terminal early, before 11AM. We were checked in, were issued our room key cards, and given group entry cards. We were group 16. This process was very well handled by NCL, and we were on board and heading up to the buffet in less than 30 minutes. They had a nice variety of items on the buffet, and before we were done eating they announced all the cabins were ready. WOO HOO, this is looking better by the minute. THE GOOD: Entertainment: Overall, I would say the entertainment on this cruise was the best we have ever experienced, and we didn't get to see it all. Second City was very good. The show we saw poked fun at life aboard a cruise ship. Some of their jokes I was surprised got past NCL "censors". Like the one about greasing each other down, and squeezing each other tight, now we can get around in our cabin. Legends in Concert: Was very good. The guy who did Jimmy Buffett really looked the part. The Michael Jackson guy did a great job, as well as the gal who did Whoopi Goldberg, and Donna Summer. Blue Man Group: A bit abstract at times, but EXCELLENT non the less. You just didn't know what to expect next. The audience participation really added to it. The little old lady they chose for our show REALLY added to the performance. Circue Dreams: INCREDIBLE, best we have ever seen. I didn't know the human body could be bent into those contortions. The performers just absolutely hit it out of the park. We opted for the premium seating. The one disappointment was the food. Their version of Surf and turf at this venue is a medallion of beef the size of a silver dollar, and TWO large coconut shrimp. They also seemed to be experiencing some service issues, as our table didn't get served until most everyone else was done. The comedian in the Epic theater was VERY good. Actually kept it G rated, and used an 8 year old boy from the audience. Both unusual I thought for an 11 PM performance, but very good non the less. He asked a couple times, so, anybody winning in the casino? Finally TWO people raised their hands. I was talking with someone in the elevator who was mad that after he won and decided to leave the casino, there was nobody to cash him out. He had to take his winnings on his ship card. Food: Overall, I would rate good, to very good. BUT, NO COMPARISON to others we have been on. The Crew absolutely are there for you. All ranks being friendly and courteous when you walk past, and the dining rooms staff, and room stewards are VERY attentive to your every need or desire. We were at the buffet one morning when a 5 or 6 year old lost his breakfast. The crew immediately swung into action, cordoning off the table with chairs, and they had a special team there in minutes with a special cart loaded with cleaning supplies to sanitize the area. THE NOT SO GOOD: First night out was lobster night in the Manhattan main dining room. Actually, surf and turf they called it, with a steak. The steak itself was VERY good, but it was a very small portion, again the size and shape of a large coin. My lobster was border line under cooked. My wife's was not edible. She sent it back, and the replacement was no better. In years past, each time, we left an NCL boat, it was with the impression of finally being "released" from the non stop assault on our wallets, this time was no different. Granted, ALL the cruise lines are there to make money, and sell you as much of everything as they can while they have you captive. But, NCL has refined this into an art form. From cheaping out on the balcony furniture, to trying to steer you to buy at the most over priced stores in port (which they get a cut of), to microscopic steak portions, to constantly pushing their excursions, the casino, shopping on board, future cruise bookings, bingo, specialty restaurants, drinks, to each time you changed the channel on the TV you had to endure some stupid little 10 second delay with a commercial for something else they were trying to sell you, etc, etc. The casino seemed to be everywhere. I believe it was on three decks in the middle of the ship. There were ALWAYS slot machines, even at a bar in the middle of an atrium. I half expected to see a slot machine attached to inside of the public toilet stall doors. This ship didn't seem to have the formal main lobby area, the long flowing polished staircases, the atrium with glass elevators etc. That area was all taken up by casino. The Epic's design is all about crammin as many cabins as possible on board. Looking at the ship's overall silhouette, it looks like a shoe box turned on its side with a point stuck on the front of it for a bow. All the other ships out there have their decks sloped inward as they rise. I can only imagine how much of a handful the Epic would be to control in heavy winds with that boxy profile. Maybe that was why it DID seem to take longer than normal for the ship to dock using its noisey side thrusters, maybe because of the wind resistance? Regardless, the thrusters turns out to be an alarm clock each morning when docking. The cabins are pathetically small, at least the entry level balcony rooms. There is NO way two people can pass between the bed and the cabinets. Normally a room like this will have a small desk top area and a chair, for doing make up, or writing, or computer work, or? Our room had a tiny counter top space and a small stool. I had read a number of reviews about the layout of the bath facilities, and quite frankly didn't know what to expect. When I walked into the cabin for the first time I was shocked. There is NO bathROOM!!!! When you open the door, there is a small shower stall on one side of the door, and a small toilet area on the other side. Each with half round sliding doors. These are separated from the "main" cabin by nothing more than a drape. The sink, about the size and shape of a football, is in the main cabin area at the end of the bed. What they did in the design of this ship is to take EVERY possible inch of deck space they could from wherever they could to add more cabins. The room walls are curved. This is so the areas that REQUIRE space (bed length, walkway, cabinets) can have it, but yet they can "take back" some of that floor space in the sitting area. That is why the ship is shaped like a huge shoe box. That is why all the compromises in the cabin "amenities". On their own TV recorded sales pitch for future cruise sales the gal even pointed out that all future NCL ships were being built with BATHROOMS. We were disappointed with our balcony. We were in room 8195, and it has some sort of a drain pipe coming down from the above decks that stops over a drain flange in the floor of the balcony of this room. It makes a rather loud gurgling noise all the time. We have come to enjoy at least one breakfast on the balcony on each cruise. I have shoulder issues, and end up having to get up out of bed and go back to sleep in a recliner at home. On numerous occasions of other cruises I was able to fall asleep on the balcony in a recliner, or the chair in the sitting area, niether of which this ship had. The deck furniture was disappointing. Two small chairs, and a tiny table that might be suitable to hold two drinks and muffin. NO WAY to order a tray of breakfast, or to recline on your balcony like on most other ships. I went to the fitness center (deck 14 aft) several times. I use a recumbant bike, but it was different from what I was used to. After much frustration with setting the resistance level, I finally went up and asked for help. Realize, I'm there for free, not buying spa stuff, or anything else, just using an excercise machine. No tip potential, but the staff went out of there way to show how to use this machine. Also, much to my delight, they showed me a "locker room" area WITH a real sized shower. I found myself timing my workouts to late afternoon (before dinner etc). When done, I used the full size shower and toilet facilities and found myself grinning like I had gotten away with something LOL. They did not have any rating forms like other cruise lines almost REQUIRE you to fill out before you disembark. If they did, overall, I would give this cruise a 5 or maybe a 6 at best, saved by the wow of the entertainment. I'm not usually to hard to please, but, I do expect certain things. One of which is a BATHROOM, a useable balcony would be nice, and over the top food is always good. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
The ship was late in returning to Miami because of Hurricane Tomas, so the embarkation process was both delayed and somewhat confused. But, once aboard, we found our cabin easily. We were dismayed to find that all the negative observations ... Read More
The ship was late in returning to Miami because of Hurricane Tomas, so the embarkation process was both delayed and somewhat confused. But, once aboard, we found our cabin easily. We were dismayed to find that all the negative observations we'd read earlier were more than justified. Whoever designed and approved this cabin should be made to spend a week in one. It was pretty, but cramped. A sofa, which could accommodate a third person, faced a blank wall, rather than the flat screen television. The toilet might as well have been in the center of the cabin, and the shower, out in the hallway. Kiss privacy goodbye. The balcony was spacious enough, though the two chairs were less than comfortable. The temperature controls worked very well. Simply on the basis of the cabin, I would never, under any circumstance, book another cruise on the Epic. And there are plenty of other reasons, as well. We enjoyed a pleasant lunch in the Taste restaurant (one of the two main dining rooms). Later in the cruise, we would have dinner in the Manhattan Room, the other main room, where the ambiance was marred by a band who apparently were playing several different musical selections at once, in keys chosen at random. The food in both dining rooms was fine, certainly not distinguished, but well prepared and well served. We ate many meals in the Garden Cafe. Breakfasts offered a wide but unchanging selection, including made to order omelets and eggs. Lunches, too, included a wide variety of hot and cold foods, usually quite good. But, oh, the noise! Add to the huge number of people, all chattering away, the relentless and inescapable "music" played at high volume over the p a system. It was of the "hey, baby, doncha wanna do me, hey, baby, hey, yeah" variety. I thought if I heard Enrique Iglesias wail "baby I LIIIIKE it!" one more time I would do serious damage to myself or others. Come to think of it, there was virtually no place on the ship that offered a quiet spot to think, read, or relax. The so-called "library" on the ship was, in fact, a single shelf of books in random order, in the Bliss Ultra lounge, locked up for all but a few hours apparently kept jealously secret. We patronized a few of the upcharge restaurants. La Cucina: worst chicken parmesan I've ever had. Cagney's: upcharge for the restaurant, further upcharge for adding lobster; cold filet, 1/2 cold lobster tail; not even close to the food and service in other Cagney's on other NCL ships. Noodle bar: reasonable a la carte prices, excellent food prepared while you watch. Teppanyaki: delicious, fun, highly recommended. Room Service, by the way, offered FREE pizza, but only if you paid a $5 delivery fee; there was no provision for one to drop by and pick it up, gratis. The Blue Man Group was quite the best entertainment I've ever enjoyed aboard a ship. Legends in Concert was okay, if you like competent imitations--I mean "tributes"--to performers of somewhat iffy talent even in person. Britney Spears? Deliver me. The in-cabin television offerings left much to be desired. Aside from the predictable ship information and shopping channels, one could choose MSNBC, ESPN, Fox News (fair and balanced!), or three-count them, three--Nickelodeon channels. In the evenings, one of those latter three offered reruns of old television programs such as "Law and Order," "New Adventures of Old Christine," "Big Bang Theory," and, oddly enough, the long-ago-cancelled "Whose Line Is It Anyway." These reruns were often repeated, to the point that I sometimes found myself speaking the dialogue along with the players. Do you want a movie? Prepare to pony up $9.95. Not even a freebie of "It Happened One Night," or "All About Eve." You could, of course, go see something really current like "Mamma Mia" (?!) on the big screen in the Atrium, or maybe "Beyonce's Concert Tour," but I'd already had enough Beyonce on the loudspeakers in the Garden Cafe. And, Oh, the art auctions! I never cease to wonder how, years after their deaths, Picasso and Rembrandt continue to churn out masterpieces. And surely there are enough Peter Max's in the world so that every single human being planet should have at least two. It saddened me to watch folks fork over good money for bad art. Years from now hundreds will be disappointed as they drag this stuff to Antiques Roadshow only to learn that they've acquired schlock. Shame on NCL. Not much to be said for the ports of call. St. Thomas and St. Maarten are wall to wall diamond stores (are diamonds really scarce and precious?). We missed Nassau because of high winds--the compensatory "extra activities" we were promised never materialized. Conclusion: never again. I haven't given up on NCL, on which I've enjoyed many cruises, but I'll not sail on the Epic again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Norwegian Epic Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.7
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 5.0 4.0
Public Rooms 4.0 3.8
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 5.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 3.8
Value For Money 4.0 3.5
Rates 4.0 3.7

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