15 Norwegian Epic Cruise Reviews for Cruises for the Disabled Cruises to Caribbean - Western

Three of us, ages ranging from 42-75, traveled on the Epic for a 5 day cruise (Cozumel and Great Stirrup Cay). We had done our research ahead of time which really paid off! Here are our take aways: EMBARKATION: Easy but long lines. ... Read More
Three of us, ages ranging from 42-75, traveled on the Epic for a 5 day cruise (Cozumel and Great Stirrup Cay). We had done our research ahead of time which really paid off! Here are our take aways: EMBARKATION: Easy but long lines. Lucky for us, we were traveling with someone who was on a knee scooter so we were able to use the elevator and not wait in the line for the escalator. We arrived at 11:30am and were on the ship by 12:45pm. CABIN: We were in a handicap accessible cabin (8188) which was much bigger than most balcony cabins. There was plenty of storage, drawers, hangers, etc. Definitely bring an adaptor because there are only 2 plugs (one European and one American). Our only issue was with the bathroom. The water did not fully drain after showers so there was still water on the floor in the bathroom which made it difficult for people to use the toilet without getting their feet wet. DINING: We took advantage of the "free" 3 night specialty dining plan. We ate at Cagneys (OK) and Le Bistro (AMAZING! So much so, that we went back a second time). Cagneys did not blow us away like we thought it would (our steaks were overcooked). However, at Le Bistro , all of our meals were amazing! The Frisse salad, Scallop appetizer, Mushroom soup, Onion soup, Escargot, Filet, Scallops (main course), Veal, the vegetable puff pastry dish and every single dessert we had were wonderful. The only complaint we had was that it is situated under Cirque so sometimes you would hear a huge BOOM!, and it was the acrobats on the deck above us. We also dined at Taste one evening and Manhattan one evening. Both were good but not nearly as good as the Specialty restaurants. We ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch, and the food was fine. The coffee at the buffet, by the way, was as good as the specialty coffee shop. Don't waste your money. ENTERTAINMENT: Pricilla and the dance show were both very good but definitely not appropriate for kids. I was surprised at how many people brought their young kids to these shows. Mandy who was our cruise director, the Dailies, etc did a great job of warning parents of the content of the shows. The talent of these dancers, singers and actors was amazing. We were unable to get into Howl at the Moon, etc. If you didn't line up 45 mins ahead of time, you couldn't get in (they didn't take reservations). FREESTYLE CRUISING: Norwegian likes to pride itself on its Freestyle Cruising but it really isn't true Freestyle Cruising. We had done our research ahead of time and knew that if you didn't make dinner and show reservations before you boarded, you probably weren't getting in. Example: We waited to book the Cirque show until we got on the ship, and it was too late. We also went to the Spa at around 3pm on embarkation day to book massages and the only day we could get in was a port day in the afternoon. Sea days were already booked. We met people who didn't book anything until they got onboard and they didn't get to eat all of their 3 specialty dining restaurants nights because they couldn't get in anywhere. My suggestion would be to book everything you can weeks before you board. EXCURSIONS: We did the Dolphin Encounter at Cozumel which was nice but not as nice as the one at Atlantis in the Bahamas. We also did the Stingray excursion on Great Stirrup Cay. That was amazing! Our guides were so knowledgable and helpful. I would highly recommend it. SPRING BREAK: We went during college Spring Break so we were prepared for utter mayhem. And it was! The pool deck was beyond capacity, as was the pool bar. Even though we are early birds, we rarely got a lounger at the pool (deck 18-non Haven side was Ok the first 2 days but then everyone else caught on). All the bars on deck 6 were packed all day long. Deck 7 bars were much more manageable, especially during the day. SERVICE: We had read horror stories about service on the Epic and how none of the employees were happy, etc. We had a totally different experience thank goodness! Our room stewart was so friendly, everyone we passed in the hallways said hello to us, the bartenders (although very over worked) were friendly, and all the servers in the restaurants were very nice and helpful. I think if you have a positive outlook, smile and are friendly to the employees, they will be friendly to you. DEBARKATION: Super easy. We walked off with our luggage at 7:45am and were on the bus at 8am. Side note: we highly recommend Go Port Canaveral for either a Park and Ride or Stay and Ride package. We flew into Orlando Airport, stayed at the Embassy Suites Airport and were picked up the next morning but the Go Port Canaveral bus at 10:30am. The same bus drove us back to the airport after the cruise. All of that was included for one price (~$100 per person). Overall, we had a great time on the Epic. Yes, it was crowded and yes it was crazy with the Spring Breakers, but we had fun! The one thing we missed from other cruises (RC and Disney) is the outdoor decks. The Epic is very dark and closed off. There is no place to walk outside to get away on the Epic (unless you go to the pool deck which is always crazy). The Epic also has very small theaters, etc. The Headliners club should have been built much bigger, etc. Would we go again? Probably but we would definitely try a different Norwegian ship first. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
soup to nuts the best experience i've ever had regarding a true "dont lift a finger" vacation. Had a little bit of a problem with an attitude of a booking agent and i almost cancelled after being in tears. So incredibly glad ... Read More
soup to nuts the best experience i've ever had regarding a true "dont lift a finger" vacation. Had a little bit of a problem with an attitude of a booking agent and i almost cancelled after being in tears. So incredibly glad i didnt! From the point of getting to the port and throughout the entire trip i was made to feel welcome and special. Kudos to the crew and staff of Norwegian, I cant say enough about such a wonderful experience. Please keep up the good work at helping people to make such great memories. the attention to detail and anticipating what makes people happy is an amazing accomplishment. i hope to cruise again with Norweigian as soon as i can. I highly reccomend anyone on the fence about taking a cruise to do it and do it with NCL. just make sure your booking agents arent dropping the ball though. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
This was the first time ever and the last time I will ever travel NCL. Fro the minute we got on the ship till we got off the ship - we were nickle and dime for everything. - I have been on over 20 cruises from RCCL to Carnival but have ... Read More
This was the first time ever and the last time I will ever travel NCL. Fro the minute we got on the ship till we got off the ship - we were nickle and dime for everything. - I have been on over 20 cruises from RCCL to Carnival but have never experience this before. You pay extra to go to get specialty dinning and then you pay even more or pay surcharges on top of that for certain menu items...What???....You pay surcharges for entertainment shows..What???....You pay surcharges for room service..What the heck???....You pay extra to enjoy a spa like a indoor hot tub...What is up with this???....So, many things I notice and will never happen to me again....So, if your thinking NCL - Don't do it!!! - Avoid all there ships like the plague especially EPIC unless you want to pay for something that should be included with the orginal ticket passage price. :-( Also, There were no excursions for the handicap in St. Thomas, Tortula or Great stirrup cay and if there was - when we checked with the excursion desk on our sailing - they indicated that it was sold out or not available because the vehicles that were contracted by the cruise excursion desk where not handicap equipped. That's just poor planing and discriminating against the elderly and the disabled. We were told to just stay on the ship and enjoy the amenties that were provided without NCL Surcharges. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
My disabled husband and I took our annual cruise. Since he can't fly, we are fortunate to have options in Florida to drive to. Wanting to take a bigger ship, so the Norwegian Epic out of Canaveral was a good pick. Parking, Embarking, ... Read More
My disabled husband and I took our annual cruise. Since he can't fly, we are fortunate to have options in Florida to drive to. Wanting to take a bigger ship, so the Norwegian Epic out of Canaveral was a good pick. Parking, Embarking, and Disembarking was a breeze. We got to the port at 11:15 and were having lunch at 12:15. Using a porter to disembark is the way to go. They get you through the customs queue very quickly. Our scheduled time to get off was 9:30, but the called our color early and we were on the road back to Orlando at 9:45. I had read many reviews about crowded elevators. Although they said the ship was near full at 4,900 passengers, we did not have that problem getting on any even with a wheelchair. Our biggest problem was the elevators in the aft didn't go to the 5th floor (Atrium and Taste). Going to the 15th (Buffet) we had to walk zigzag through the pool area if we used our elevators or go to the other set in the front to get up there. The last elevator problem was going to La Cacina we had to use a cabin floor and go past about 40 cabins and steward doing there evening rounds with carts. Not an enjoyable trip getting there. We ate many times at O'sheehan's and wonderful every time (except for the noise when the bowling alley was open) Nachos, Fish and Chips, Reuben, and Wings, wings, wings!! All the specialty dining was great. Cagneys was the best. The buffet was mediocre. Same old breakfast things and cold food. Fortunately they had designated disabled seating. Entertainment was very good. We loved the mini concerts spread around the ship. Cirque was fantastic, but remind me not to eat dinner at 9:30 again. Priscilla was a surprise. I was expecting some R rated show, but it was actually pretty mild and we loved the music. The room was very accessible except the shower floor flooded every morning. Very irritating. Loved the large balcony and more storage than we knew what to do with. All in all, it was a very good cruise, but I think we will go back to a little smaller ship. With a wheelchair it was a bit too much ground to cover. Already researching for 2017!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
This was our first NCL cruise and I would compare the service and food with the more expensive Celebrity. Two members of our party required wheelchair assistance to embark & disembark and the process was the smoothest ever. Service ... Read More
This was our first NCL cruise and I would compare the service and food with the more expensive Celebrity. Two members of our party required wheelchair assistance to embark & disembark and the process was the smoothest ever. Service was first rate from their Call Center to the people at the terminal to the entire ship staff. We ate most of our meals in the buffet and the Great Outdoors and I was impressed by the variety of selections and the quality of the food. The ship is huge but they kept the food hot and fresh. In addition, the alcoholic drinks were awesome - you could actually TASTE the alcohol, Now for the downside, the ship. First, this size ship is way to big for my taste: common areas, restaurants, and elevators are way too congested. Meals in any of the restaurants and all shows must be booked well in advance or be prepared to wait for a possible "no show". I like to be spontaneous while cruising but that doesn't work on this ship. Second major complaint, the cabin. We had balcony #10104. The cabins are TINY and the weird shape only make matters worse. If you have any privacy concerns I'd consider another ship. The toilet and the shower are separated by the entranceway and both are fairly translucent. They are separated from the main cabin by a flimsy curtain. Only sitting on the balcony with the blackout curtain closed provided any privacy for the cabinmate. We've already booked another NCL cruise (on the Jade) but will never sail on the Epic again (even if the price was affordable for each of us to have our own cabin). Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We really enjoy cruising and we have always, repeat, always enjoyed NCL cruises. But this was our first cruise on a mega ship, and you should know that I use both a wheelchair and a scooter. Whoever designed the Epic knew nothing about ... Read More
We really enjoy cruising and we have always, repeat, always enjoyed NCL cruises. But this was our first cruise on a mega ship, and you should know that I use both a wheelchair and a scooter. Whoever designed the Epic knew nothing about people with disabilities. This is definitely a "do not go near it" vessel. I say this recognizing that our accessible cabin was quite large. But come on, in this day and age of CPAPs, electric scooters and other medical devices, one outlet in a room is ridiculous. My wife went to guest services and got an extension cord at no charge, but once she was back to the room it would not reach the CPAP. And when two cords were attached, the scooter plug would not fit into the remaining outlet on the cord. At least the steward was able to tape the cords to the floor so I would not trip on them. Then there is getting to where you want to eat. We like the venues that are included in the price as our budget is very limited. We were toward the aft of the ship and were near the elevators. But we could not go down to the fifth deck without getting out at 6, going to the midship elevators, then down to five to go to the one non-dress up MDR. Or, to go up to the Garden Cafe, one had to maneuver a obstacle course and ask people to get up from their poolside lounge chairs so I could get by on the scooter. At least the Garden Cafe had two accessible seating areas. These were nice, but were always filled with people who did not need to sit there. And then, one had to wait and wait on tables to be cleared, and wait some more to get clean silverware. It was obvious that staff size has been reduced. I also want to add that a disabled person can forget about using deck 7, where O Sheehans and the casino are located. There is no room for walkers, wheelchairs or scooters in O Sheehans. And the casino has no one available to assist you in getting near a machine to play. And since the non smoking machines are down the center aisle, well, expect nasty comments when people try to get past you. It is a disaster waiting to happen. I liked the itinerary. I also appreciated that the tender crew helping us on and off the boat. But as I have shared, I will not take the Epic again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
February Northeast School Vacation Week On this cruise our group consisted of myself (44), my husband (53), our daughter (9), my parents (86 and 81), my brother and his wife. We are all experienced cruisers. I myself have previously ... Read More
February Northeast School Vacation Week On this cruise our group consisted of myself (44), my husband (53), our daughter (9), my parents (86 and 81), my brother and his wife. We are all experienced cruisers. I myself have previously sailed Carnival twice, HAL once, Princess twice, RCCL three times, and NCL three times, so I do not consider myself a cheerleader for any particular cruise line. We specifically chose the Epic for the following reasons: 1) Ship's amenities 2) Suite availability and attractive pricing/rewards 3) Itinerary 4) Proximity of port to my parents’ home (driving distance - 3 hours) In this instance, reasons 2 and 4 were the driving factor. We wanted a Florida departure port, and we wanted a ship with good suites (my parents have mobility issues so spend a lot of time in-cabin – so the cabin had to be nice). We also got some incredible incentives to book this itinerary – at the time we booked, all included, we got the UBP, the UDP, $300/cabin OBC, $200 shore excursion credit PER PERSON, and a whole bunch of other extras – 20 free photos PER PERSON (120 total for our group!), bottle of wine per person, 250 min internet package ($99 value) PER PERSON (never thought I’d see the day when we COULDN’T use up all our internet minutes, even at the ridiculously slow Wi-Fi speed onboard), 3 free bingo games ($39 value) per person, chocolate strawberries, and several other smaller things. I am going to summarize our experiences on the ship in the following categories: Embarkation/Disembarkation: As I already stated, we were fortunate to book suites on this trip. One of the benefits of being in the Haven is priority embarkation/disembarkation, both initially and at ports along the way. I had also booked wheelchair assistance for my parents for embarkation. Unfortunately there are some problems here for the mobility-impaired: first and most importantly, the wheelchair assistants aren’t able to come outside to collect people. It is inside the building only. Second, the building is large – add to that being misdirected to the wrong door twice, and my Dad, who needs a walker to walk, was really unable to cover this amount of ground. We might still be walking if my husband hadn’t somehow managed to locate an abandoned wheelchair somewhere, bring it outside himself (which is probably not allowed), and get my dad into the building. SO, this was a lesson learned for me – this is not like the airport, where you book wheelchair assistance and you are met out on the curb with a wheelchair. You really need to either be able to walk a good distance on your own, OR you need to bring your own wheelchair. I’m sure this is not an NCL thing, it’s a Port of Miami regulations thing, BUT, it would be nice to have known this info going in, as it certainly didn’t meet with my expectations which were that I could get him out of a taxi and into a wheelchair immediately. So now I know, and hopefully other people traveling with the mobility-impaired will now know as well! We arrived shortly before 11am. After dropping our bags, navigating the wheelchair nightmare above, locating the Haven check-in and lounge, and completing the required health docs and getting our cards, we were all set before 11:30am. We were taken to the priority lounge to await embarkation. (One of the wheelchair attendants waited there with us but the other disappeared! Fortunately my husband took over pushing duties again). There were juices and sandwiches in the lounge. We began boarding promptly at 11:45. We were escorted directly to the 16th floor to the Epic Club lounge (the Haven), where we were asked to make ourselves comfortable while we waited for an announcement from the concierge. Waiters were circulating with small plates of sandwiches or sliders and fries. The concierge, David Contreras, gave a little introduction about himself and offered a tour of the Haven. Then we were loosed to do our own thing. Our cabins weren’t quite ready but we were invited to drop our things in them – when we did, we were assured they were now ready (it was around 1pm). We also took advantage of the priority disembarkation at the ports we visited – both our excursions met on the pier so it was nice to be able to get off without waiting in a large group in one of the lounges or the theater. Lastly, disembarkation on the final day of the cruise was excellent. David had the wheelchairs meet us in the Haven lounge after breakfast, took us directly to the priority elevator, whisked us straight to the gangplank, and off we went. The wheelchair attendants had to leave us in the luggage collection area (that whole “out of the building thing” again), but I have to say, we got a FABULOUS porter who, without being asked, flagged down two OTHER NCL port workers (I know they weren’t on-ship employees, they work in the port building but do work for NCL), and convinced them to push the wheelchairs not only outside but all the way to the parking garage!! SO much less stressful than our arrival. Food/Restaurants: With the UDP for the first time, I was able to try a couple of restaurants I have always wanted to try but never wanted to pay for. We tried all of the specialty restaurants, with the exception of Moderno (which I have been to before on Dawn, but I’m not a huge meat person so it’s sort of wasted on me). La Cucina gave me a great salad, but not-so-great chicken parmesan (weird, rubbery texture to the chicken). Le Bistro was AMAZING – French onion soup, pork tenderloin with apples and Calvados cream, and then the chocolate fondue pot with fruit for dipping – my daughter is still raving about that one. Cagney’s was much better than I remember it being on Breakaway. My filet was absolutely perfectly cooked and tender, and the rest of the meal met the same high standard (although the much-raved about raspberry crème brulee did nothing for me. My daughter’s Oreo cheesecake, on the other hand – that’s worth getting). Shanghai’s was another first for me – and I really enjoyed it. Everything I ate there had great flavor (although I wished the lettuce cups had not been quite so unmanageable, because they tasted GREAT). Teppanyaki was excellent as always – chicken and steak, the fried rice, the vegetables. (Although, I ordered chicken and filet and noted that I was most definitely not given filet – the steak was not nearly as nice as when they do it with filet, and I tasted my dad’s filet to confirm my suspicion that I just got the regular strip steak.) The Haven restaurant had nice lunch and dinner menus, and we had several lunches and one dinner there. I will reiterate my complaint about the Haven that I made on Breakaway – the menu offerings in this venue DO NOT CHANGE. So the perk of having this great, quiet place to eat are kind of lost unless you feel like choosing from the same 5 things every day. I’m not sure why the Haven can’t just offer the MDR menus in addition to “specials” in the Haven. We ate in Taste one day for lunch and the Manhattan Room one day for dinner, just because they had SO MANY more interesting options. I know they say they will bring you “anything” in the Haven, but if you don’t know what’s on the MDR menus that night, how do you know what to ask for if they don’t offer it to you to see? (They do offer the MDR “special” of the night in the Haven. But not the MDR standard dishes.) I just see this as a huge weakness in the Haven restaurant. A rotating menu, or at least a look at the MDR menu, would be a huge improvement. We also tried O'Sheehan's once, so that my other family members could bowl while my parents and I watched. It’s just not my thing. I got a chef’s salad because I really remember not liking O’Sheehan’s on Breakaway. It was “fine”. That’s the best I can do. How was the buffet? Well, we ate at the buffet this trip only once for breakfast, and never for lunch or dinner, although I did go through the buffet at dinner time a couple of times to pick up "to-go" for my daughter on nights she wasn't joining us to eat. They had plenty of offerings and I liked the layout of the buffet. At the times I visited, it was never overly crowded. The food I tried there was good. :-) Service/Staff: I have nothing but good things to say about all the service crew of the Epic. I never met one staff member who didn’t have a smile and a “good morning” for us. We had some hard-to-please next-door neighbors, who I believe are responsible for the “relocation” of our original room steward after Day 2. We had no problems with him, nor with his replacement. (I heard the lady refer to our former steward, Larry, as “the other one”, like the two men were interchangeable. Nice.) Our butler, Gaurav, was ALWAYS around, literally every time I left my room. He delivered treats to our suite every day (I know, I know -- "it's his job" -- but it's still nice and the service doesn't have to come with a smile, and yet it always did). He went way above the call of duty, even delivering my parents’ breakfast to them IN BED the day the sea was very rough and made for difficult walking (and then he just continued to deliver it there because he could tell they liked it). He was amazing, just a lovely person. The concierge, David, or one of his staff was available at the concierge desk every time we walked through the Haven lounge, except for after 11 or so at night. David was extremely courteous and helpful. The restaurant staff, in all venues, was uniformly excellent. I loved the cruise director Armen – he was very personable and went out of his way to have a whole conversation with my daughter. His staff was also fun and engaging. Onboard Activities: Without the ropes course or golf course, this ship has slightly less in the way of physical activities than the Breakaway did. However the Epic Plunge (funnel waterslide) was AWESOME for kids and parents alike. The Epic Bounce, which my daughter was excited to do, was closed the last 3 days due to high winds so unfortunately we didn’t get to do it (lesson: do all outdoor activities any time you have nice weather!). Unfortunately the water slides were also closed the last several days because of these winds. Thankfully we DID experience those early in the week. The pools themselves, as can be expected on a ship with 4,000 people on a school vacation week, were massively crowded, with every available lounge chair on the lower and upper decks near the pool "taken" on the nice sea days. (And by "taken" I mean someone's towel was enjoying a nice relaxing day in the sun while they were nowhere to be found.) I much appreciated the Haven courtyard and pool (as small as it was), if only for the uncrowded hot tubs and the nice, plush loungers. And it should be noted that bowling about the Epic, unlike on Breakaway, takes place in a full-size lane, and with “big balls”, not candlepins. It’s a little pricier too – I think $7 per person per game. Splash Academy: My big pet-peeve on Breakaway was that Splash Academy drop-off/pick-up was a ZOO and could cost you easily 20+ minutes waiting in line, either arriving or departing. Despite being a school vacation week, we had no problems with this on Epic. My daughter enjoyed the activities (pretty much the same activities they do on every ship on every cruise) and made some friends – that said, I think she’s looking forward to moving up to being a “Dolphin” on our next cruise, maybe for some new activities. Entertainment: Even before boarding Epic, I felt like the “big show” entertainment was on the light side. There is Blue Man Group, and … well, that’s it. No, seriously, they consider “Legends in Concert” a big show, although it’s not and is just some lookalike-singers impersonating the likes of Aretha Franklin or Michael Jackson. And of course they have Cirque Dreams (which the staff often refer to as Cirque du Soleil, although the shows are NOT affiliated and I doubt Cirque du Soleil would be happy to hear their name bandied around). We didn’t see Cirque Dreams b/c I don’t see the point in paying for a dinner show when I don’t want the dinner. I wish they offered this as just a SHOW, and maybe I’d go. I did go in the Spiegel Tent where it is held though and was surprised at how SMALL the venue is. Anyway, Blue Man Group was fun, but I’ve seen them before, so nothing new (new for my daughter though, so that was something). NCL seems to be becoming somewhat overly reliant on Second City throughout their fleet. I almost yearn for the days of having just a regular stand-up comedian who has a couple of shows during the week. I’ve seen Second City so many times on my NCL cruises, and they offer the shows so many times during the week. A little more variety might be nice. I’ll also say that most of the fun shows I used to enjoy on cruises, like the not-so-Newlywed game or what have you, were ALL scheduled at 8:30pm, which directly conflicted with my family’s preferred mealtime, so we saw none of them this week. Can't finish the entertainment review without a huge-shout out to our favorite entertainment of the week: Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos in Headliners. They were SO GOOD and it was so much fun, with lots of crowd participation and just a good, fun time, that we went THREE TIMES. (This paragraph is directly cribbed from my Breakaway review because it was ALL TRUE for this Epic cruise as well. ) The Haven: The perks and amenities that come along with having a suite in the Haven were well worth the upcharge from a normal balcony stateroom, for us. Particularly we loved the Haven courtyard, and this time our rooms were forward-facing 2-family suites (and my parents were in the Deluxe Owners’ Suite), so it was very convenient to be right in the heart of the Haven. We enjoyed the afternoon treats that were delivered daily to our cabin, and we enjoyed breakfast in our room nearly every day. And of course we really liked the extra space that the Haven suite provided, which I will describe separately. Cabin/Suite: We were on Deck 16, cabin 16000, which is a 2-bedroom Family Suite. We specifically chose this suite because it was supposed to connect to the Deluxe Owner’s Suite, # 16002. It doesn’t. Or, better said, it COULD, but only if you ALSO are the owners of Suite # 16004 on the port side. Buyer beware on this one, as we were definitely sold a “connecting” cabin but were unable to use it. I think it would really behoove NCL to make this clear on their deck plans, and honestly, to make more connecting cabins in general. We liked the décor of the suite. Some have described Epic’s overall decorating scheme as gaudy in places, but it didn’t bother me at all. I liked the pink accents on the bedding pillows and the pink glow on the light over the bed. The 2 BR family suites have a living room with a sofa, cube table, and chair, a small dining table with 4 chairs, a bar with refrigerator and coffee maker (no sink), a “master” bedroom with vanity and stool, a large master bath with big tub, huge shower with a “view”, and then a smaller bedroom with its own vanity, bed that is supposed to sleep two (we only had 1 so I can’t say how small the room will be if they fold that bed out at all), and a small bathroom in that bedroom (toilet/sink/shower). There are TV’s in both bedrooms and the living room. Almost forgot the balcony! The balcony was an OK size (I got spoiled by my aft-facing balcony last year so the size will never seem adequate after that!), but being in a front-facing room, while I loved the view, really spoiled the balcony experience for me. There is no “leaning on the railings” here. There are full windows around the balcony and, while we were fortunate to have two small sliding windows to open and let some of the breeze in, the reality is it does not feel like a real balcony. So keep that in mind if you enjoy a lot of time on your own balcony. This cabin also has PLENTY of storage, with a large closet in the master, a smaller corner cupboard, lots of drawers in the bathroom, and then all the closet space in the second bedroom. Ports/Excursions: Ocho Rios: We did the NCL excursion that went to Bobsled Jamaica and then Dunn’s River Falls. It was a great excursion and I would definitely recommend it. The most unexpected and pleasant part of the excursion was the chair-lift (Sky Explorer?) ride to the top of the mountain for the bobsled experience. It was about a 20 minute ride, so peaceful, amazing views – I loved it! (My sister-in-law, who is terrified of heights yet somehow wound up on this excursion with us, did not. So if you have a paralyzing fear of heights, probably best to skip it.) The bobsled ride had a bit of a line so we had to wait maybe 20-30 minutes before getting a “sled”. There was a beautiful infinity pool right next to where you load into the bobsleds, and it had a water slide as well, but no one ever suggested we could use the pool or the slide (although the NCL literature does speak about these features as though they are included). In any case the bobsled ride was much more fun than I expected – I thought I would be pushing the handbrake (you can control your own speed) the entire ride, but it turned out it was fun to let it go a little bit. It was like a make-your-own roller coaster. At the bottom the track pulls you onto a cable and then all the way back up the mountain again (picture the long uphill climb on a roller coaster). At the top of the mountain, you leave your sled and there is (of course) a gift shop and some artisans there, as well as some barbecue. You board the chairlift again to descend the mountain, and while it’s much less scenic than the climb (it’s a lot lower and sort of shaded by trees), it’s a lot cooler because of the shade! Next we were sent to buses that took us up the street (less than a few minutes) to Dunn’s River Falls. We were assigned a woman who took us into the site, got our wristbands, gave some instructions about lockers and such, and then turned us over to the line where we waited to be put together with our guide. The guide is the one who leads a large group of people (15-20, I’d say) up the falls. Typically they want everyone to hold hands. Side note, the sign by the lockers says NO personal effects, including cameras, on the falls, but when we got down to the bottom, everyone had their waterproof cameras with them, so I guess that should be noted as a SUGGESTION (I was very disappointed to have followed the “rules” only to find I could have brought it along). The lockers cost $8, $3 of which they give back when you return the key. I don’t recommend carrying anything else as it’s a fairly strenuous activity! Oh, and BRING WATER SHOES or you will have to buy them there. You can’t climb without them. I wasn’t sure I’d make it all the way up – I’m not in anything resembling good physical shape. The guide was very helpful and after the initial part of the climb, which was somewhat grueling, I inquired about departing and walking up the stairs that go alongside the falls. He assured me that the hardest part was over and that he would get me up! And he did. It took about an hour to climb the falls. All told this excursion is listed at like 3.5 hours but I think it took a bit longer, and could take longer still if you did much in the way of shopping in the markets. (Yes, the vendors at the artisans market after the falls are “pushy”, in the sense that they want you to buy stuff, but most were perfectly fine with a “no thank you” as you kept walking by. The sad thing is they all sell the same stuff.) Grand Cayman: Unfortunately, our stop here was cancelled due to weather.  In this case, this was not the Captain’s decision, the Port of George Town actually CLOSED that day due to flooding, but as this is a tendering port I imagine it is not unusual to miss this stop. Cozumel: We did the NCL excursion on the Fury Catamaran – Snorkeling and Beach break. We still had windy weather, which made the air temperature somewhat coolish, but it turned out the water was very nice and the wind didn’t really make the snorkeling much more difficult. The main way we were affected was by the wind once we were wet – chilly! We snorkeled only about 20 minutes, I think – this is the downside of this excursion if you are choosing it for snorkeling. If you want a longer snorkeling experience, choose something else. This is great if you just want a taste of snorkeling and then some fun on the beach. Their private beach has lots of water slides, kayaks, paddle boards, etc., as well as a bar and grill. For us, with a young daughter, the amount of snorkeling was fine, but I just want people to be aware of the actual time spent doing it. Summary: We had a great week aboard the Epic. Having read previous reviews I know people either love or hate the ship, but we found nothing to hate here. Décor was different, service was stellar, entertainment was maybe lacking a “wow” act, food was consistently good. For the most part I liked the ship’s layout although I did think there was a lack of outdoor walking space on lower decks. I would not hesitate to book on Epic again however if it is has the right itinerary and the right price! (Sounds like I’ll have to go to Europe to do that in future.)   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
This was out 81st cruise (12/14 Norwegian Epic sailing) and we did not have very high expectations. This was not the most luxurious cruise we have ever taken but one of the most satisfying. The crew is the friendliest and most helpful we ... Read More
This was out 81st cruise (12/14 Norwegian Epic sailing) and we did not have very high expectations. This was not the most luxurious cruise we have ever taken but one of the most satisfying. The crew is the friendliest and most helpful we have encountered including those on upper scale lines like Crystal, Celebrity, Holland, Radisson etc.etc. We had a handicapped balcony cabin at the rear of deck 13 and this was the most accommodating cabin we have ever had with more than ample room to manuver the mobility scooter. The bathroom was very large with wonderful shower facilities. The sink in the main part of the room was different but not a problem. One small suggestion would be to place the sink next to a counter with an opening underneath for a chair since some handicapped passengers cannot stand to use the sink. There also was not a chair or couch in the room but we brought one in from the balcony and it worked fine for my husband. The room was VERY clean and the bed was exceedingly comfortable. If you like firm or semi-firm pillows consider bringing your own as theirs are very soft - not a problem for us though.There is an immense amount of storage in the room. The carpeting did need to be replaced but the rest of the cabin was pristine (and I am a cleanliness nut) so I notice everything. I fell in the middle of the night (my fault totally) and my husband could not help me get up and had to call for help. Four security officers responded and were kind as well as concerned and got me off the floor and back in bed - no easy task. A medic accompanied them but the only damage done was to my pride. The ship responded immediately and the staff could not have been more helpful. We ate in a different specialty restaurant every evening and all were beautifully appointed. La Cucina and Cagney's were our favorites but the food in Shanghai's was great. Le Bistro is elegant and the food was very good. We did not like Moderno but that may have been just a result of our palates.The Manager at Cagney's, Daniel O., was outstanding; we saw him in other food venues and he was always very friendly remembering our names and tastes. We observed him handle some sticky situations (no fault of Norwegian) with some very difficult passengers with supreme grace and patience. If we still had our business, we would have tried to hire him to work for us. We did not eat in the main dining room but did have lunch in Taste (smaller DR) several times and it was excellent. We ate in O'Sheahan's several times and the food there is edible (barely), but the service is friendly and professional - just a limited menu of poorly prepared food. The Garden Cafe buffet was fine, no better or worse than most. Room Service was prompt with personable and helpful servers. Embarkation and disembarkation was easy and well organized. Entertainment is a matter of taste so we will not address that. What really impressed us was the quality of the staff at all levels. I do not know if this is true on all Norwegian ships, but we found this crew to be extraordinarily well trained and friendly. I avoid buffets since I am scooter-bound but, on the one occasion I did go to the Garden Cafe, I was bombarded with offers of help. Even the ship's officers stopped frequently to speak with passengers. This was our fourth Norwegian sailing (the others were a long time ago) and we booked since the Epic is now leaving the US permanently. We will soon book on the GETAWAY and can only hope the crew there is near the same level as Epic's. I cannot stress enough the high caliber of this crew and we know the difference given the number of cruises we have taken. Congratulations to the Captain and to the Training Manager - exceptional service by a crew with wonderful attitudes, a rarity on many cruise lines these days. P>S> The elevators are dark and depressing, particularly for those with elevator issues......lighten them up when refurbishing. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I was truly disappointed in this vacation. The high prices and low service was jaw dropping. We had a horrible time with embarkation. Huge lines, no attendants and the system would go down. Took us over 2 hours of standing in line to get ... Read More
I was truly disappointed in this vacation. The high prices and low service was jaw dropping. We had a horrible time with embarkation. Huge lines, no attendants and the system would go down. Took us over 2 hours of standing in line to get onto the ship. The rooms were cramped and space was at a premium. Had to crawl over luggage because they did not fit into the closet. Had to walk sideways between the bed and the wall. Our room stewards was horrible. Did not clean the room for two days until I call the Housekeeping Supervisor and he just stared at me like I was crazy for wanting clean towels. Ovoid at all cost "The Taste" Dinning Room. Go to The Manhattan. The Taste Dinning Room has the worst servers and speak very bad english. Always messed up our orders and the Maitre d's were very unhelpful. The entertainment was great if you can get into the venue and the spa was very nice. Overall, this cruise was an Epic Failure in service, quality and price. I have taken 12 cruises in my life and this was the worst one. Use your hard earned money on another ship or ship line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My mom has reduced mobility. She uses a walker most places and needs an accessible restroom. This was really her vacation, I was mostly along to take care of her, although I had a good time. It was a good experience for the most part, NCL ... Read More
My mom has reduced mobility. She uses a walker most places and needs an accessible restroom. This was really her vacation, I was mostly along to take care of her, although I had a good time. It was a good experience for the most part, NCL has clearly put some thought into accessibility (although there's always room for improvement). I'm writing this review (mostly) from the perspective of someone traveling with someone with limited mobility and I hope it's helpful to other in my situation. Getting on and off the ship in Miami was a reasonable experience. They had lines cleared for people with mobility issues and elevators in the terminal. Getting off on the way back we used the chair service they offered, it was great, we just had to wait for it. Our luggage was delivered to our room and back to the terminal. We had trouble at Miami International Airport, but that's another company and another review. The ship was built to be accessible. There was almost nowhere on the ship mom couldn't go. The restaurants and theaters are either all on one level or have entry level seating. There aren't enough handicapped bathrooms (when are there?) and too many people use them for young children who could use the adult restrooms. The Spa is accessible, and the staff there were very helpful to mom. The biggest single problem is that, while the corridors on the "hotel" decks are nice and wide, house keeping parks the laundry/cleaning carts outside the rooms much of the day. This leaves the corridors impassible for a walker or chair. I got quite practiced at moving the carts out of mom's way, although if one of the housekeeping staff saw us they would immediately move to help. What really made the vacation was our steward. "Bryson" (probably not what his mother calls him) who was extremely helpful and attentive once he found out about mom's condition. Mom needed a lot of down time and he not only rearranged his cleaning schedule based on her needs, got the cabin rearranged on the first day when a mix up had it set for a single bed, and did most of the above mentioned rushing to help with the carts, he would call mom from the hall to let her know he was going off shift and ask if there was anything she needed before he did. We were not paying enough for that kind of service to be standard and I can not sing his praises highly enough. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I just got back from a cruise on the Norwegian Epic and I must say I enjoyed just about every second if it. This was my second cruise on the Epic. The first was in June in the Western Med. It is interesting how you can be on the same ship, ... Read More
I just got back from a cruise on the Norwegian Epic and I must say I enjoyed just about every second if it. This was my second cruise on the Epic. The first was in June in the Western Med. It is interesting how you can be on the same ship, but have different ship experiences. There was only one sea day on the Med cruise and there ended up being 5 sea days on this cruise after the port was closed in Grand Caymen the day we were scheduled to arrive ( Thanksgiving Day). This time I went with my 75 & 80 yr old parents and we all shared one stateroom. My dad walks with a cane and was worried that he wouldn't be able to get around and would have to stay on the ship during port days, so I convinced my parents to get spa passes. They loved the thermal spa and said that was one of the best choices they made for this vacation. They aren't much for laying in the sun, although they did go up to the Quiet Zone on deck 18 a couple of times. But they did go to the spa for a few hours every day. They loved how quiet and peaceful it was after seeing how chaotic the main pool area is with the smokers, kids, and constantly moving groups of people. We had an aft balcony and loved sitting on the balcony listening to the waterfall (waves created by ship engines). The steward brought us a third chair that first day and we spent many hours out there. My dad has to get up and go to the bathroom often at night and I chose a room where the bed was closer to the bathroom so my dad would have a short distance to go. Plus, since I was sleeping on the sofa bed, I didn't want him to stumble over me. I was worried about the three adults in one cabin, but it worked out well for us. The sofa bed was actually comfortable. It pulled out from the back until it was a full twin. We usually worked out a couple of hours of quiet time for each person and didn't have many issues. Although, I must say, we tended to use the showers in the locker rooms instead of the stateroom since we had the spa passes. We ate in the main dining rooms for dinner every night (twice in Manhattan) and the remainder in Taste as my dad like wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt to dinner instead of long pants. I made reservations for most nights in Manhattan or Taste before the cruise, but we only needed to use the reservations twice - First night craziness and Thanksgiving Dinner. All other nights we walked in and were seated within five minutes regardless of the reservation time. But it was nice, on those two nights, to avoid the long lines and get seated immediately. We went to O Sheehans, Taste, and Garden cafe for lunches and enjoyed all. My dad found the buffet a little hard to manage with his cane, so we ended up at Taste more mornings than the buffet. Entertainment: We did more shows than I had on the previous cruse including Mystery lunch, second city, legends, Blue Man Group, Manhattan band, the Blues group in Fat Cats. The entertainment was so good, but I am just not a Blue Man Group fan. I don't get them at all. I agree it is the same as the show in Vegas, but I didn't get it when I saw them here either. However the kids in front of me ate it up and were glued to the stage. Ports: Jamaica - my mom and I did the river tubing. It was fun. We went in flip flops and they tried to sell us water shoes before the ride, but we wore our flip flops and had no issues. It was very scenic with a few mini rapids. Two guides per group to help if you get stuck in still water and to monitor you as yo go thru the rapids. No one flipped over in my tour. Just saw some red marks on the arms from rubbing against the raft/rope as you go thru the tour. Grand Caymen - ship didn't stop and had rough waters that whole day. Excursion tickets were automatically refunded the same day Cozumel - ship docked at 7ish instead of 10 am. I had booked a snorkeling excursion, but it was cancelled because the sea was still too rough and it was windy. We did a little shopping, then went back to the ship and hung out in the spa, which we had to ourselves. I took a deck of cards with me - my family loves pinochle and we played many of games on those long sea days at the library/Maltings bar. It is amazing how something so simple can help you enjoy your cruise. My dad is already talking about booking the next cruise. He enjoyed it way more than he ever thought he would.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Since we have sailed on the Epic during her Caribbean inaugural season 2010, we were prepared for this gargantuan ship. Yes, she is another one of those megaships which require passengers to move around a lot; however, at the same time she ... Read More
Since we have sailed on the Epic during her Caribbean inaugural season 2010, we were prepared for this gargantuan ship. Yes, she is another one of those megaships which require passengers to move around a lot; however, at the same time she offers a myriad of opportunities for enjoyment. Some examples of first at sea unique features are the three separate corkscrew water slides, two bowling alleys (in Bliss Ultra Lounges and in O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar) and the Svedka Ice Bar, the ultimate Norge treat not to be missed. Our return aboard was made very enjoyable thanks to Hotel Director Steven Jacobsen. EMBARKATION On Sunday at 11:00 a.m., on the way to the Port of Miami, we found some traffic on I-95; not as much as on weekdays, so in about 45 minutes we were at the pier. After dropping off the baggage, we got wheelchair assistance and went through check-in very fast. We were aboard after a harrowing experience through the unnecessarily steep gangway, where Vincent got stuck twice and needed assistance and Mary had to stop for folding her wheelchair pedals to prevent breaking them. THE SHIP Since we have already published a detailed description of the Epic after our first cruise on this ship, we refer the reader to our review posted in October 2010 on this web site. The Epic is a mega cruise ship, one of the few gargantuan afloat until now. The gross tonnage is 155.873; her overall length is 1081 ft., her beam is 133 ft. and her draft is 28.5 ft.. She is powered by Diesel Electric engines and her cruising speed is 22 knots. She accommodates 4,100 passengers and has a crew of 1743, thus with a good passenger to crew ratio of about 2.4. The Epic has more than 20 dining venues, with 8 Upscale Restaurants including French, Italian and Asian cuisine. The “Anytime Dining” offers more flexibility for when and where to dine each night. During this week each night we dined in a different restaurant, thus it would take back-to-back cruises to try most of the available dining venues. Excellent! CABIN Our wheelchair accessible mini suite, number 8187, is a spacious and beautiful one. When entering, on the left there is a unit consisting of a lot of shelves for personal toiletry, the sink and a safe. Then there is a triple armoire, all three for hanging clothes. One of these sections has a very high crossbar dowel, with a lever to lower it for facilitating the disabled passenger in reaching his/hers clothes. This is a well thought out feature. Next, there is a unit with a mini refrigerator in the bottom and a TV on top, followed by a desk and a cabinet with four deep drawers, finally, two more cabinets with shelves. There is plenty of storage room to satisfy the most exigent cruisers. When entering on the right is a large bathroom with a curved frosted glass door; inside there are safety rails all around the commode, which is too low for disabled cruisers, and a fold-up rail, not stable when raised, which is dangerous, since it falls down just with a minor ship’s vibration. The shower was sufficiently spacious, with a fold down seat and a wrap around curtain. Next to the bathroom there is a sofa which can be used for a third person occupancy; but in our case it was much too low to sit on and expect to be able to stand up again. The other alternative for us to sit was a stuffed chair also a bit too low and without the necessary arms which would help us to stand up. Thus, we ended up on our wheelchair or going out on the balcony to sit on one of two metal chairs with support arms. Next, there is a queen size bed a bit too high for Mary to easily climb on from her wheelchair. We asked our steward Willie to remove from the bed the stuffed quilt which made climbing on the bed a little easier; however, it was still stressful for her. There is a rule of thumb in designing the furnishings for a wheelchair accessible cabin: The height of bed, chairs, commode, shower stool, etc. should be similar to that of the wheelchair seat. The far wall has a large sliding door to a very spacious balcony which had two metal chairs, an armless and low chaise lounge and a useless tiny table, which thanks to the Assistant Executive Housekeeper Elmoth Everson was replaced by a nice larger table that allowed us to have morning breakfast on the balcony. Thank you, Elmoth for your visits to our cabin and for continuously trying to satisfy our needs. The cushions you sent to elevate the sofa were used by Vincent to make useful the chaise lounge on the balcony, where he spent many hours lulled to complete relaxation by the sound of the waves. The cabin’s walls are beige and the furniture is mahogany colored. There are two night lights on the wall and two low night stands flanking the bed. The head board for the bed is “Roll & Tuck” beige leather; the drapes and the dust ruffle on the bed are red; the carpet is beige with a sand dune effect; the only wall decorations are three rectangular glass plates, with brown twig designs. The whole effect of the cabin is nicely simple and restful. The Group Service Coordinators Shirlee Magnino and M. M. Segovia contacted each stateroom to reinforce that “Special Requests/Arrangements” were in place to assist us while on board. Our steward Willie was always prompt to assist us whenever we needed. FOOD & SERVICE The service aboard is sharp and very cordial all over. Due to the availability of “Anytime Dining” we departed from our usual arrangements of a fixed table in the main dining room at the same time each evening with the same waiters, etc. This dining style frees the passengers to try many venues, while sampling a variety of cuisines. We utilized Room Service for breakfast. Rather than hanging out the menu each evening, we made a standing order of coffee, hot chocolate, eggs, bacon, toast sweet rolls and juice. All to be delivered at 7:00am each day and we ate on the balcony. Excellent! Several days we ate lunch at O’Sheehan’s Irish Pub: Irish stew, meat loaf, chicken pot pie, fish’n’ chips, hot wings etc.. Tall beers and rocking desserts --- apple pie, banana bread, ice cream sundaes and so forth. Unfortunately, they no longer have the pretzel rolls, but we found them in the buffet! We dined at Le Bistro with its charming French atmosphere and art work. We tried the following: Escargot, onion soup, coq a vin, and with dessert the wonderful French Press coffee made at the table, delightful! We also dined at La Cucina, where we found the fare much improved over last time. For those in a wheelchair, getting there is still a bit like going through a maze. It is either the double deck stair case or the forward elevators to deck 15, and then down to Deck 14, and then through the cabin corridor to the back door to La Cucina. We recommend the gnocchi, and the osso buco. There is also a wine list for complimentary Latitude Rewards with one of Vincent’s favorite, the terrific Barbera d’ Asti. The next up scale restaurant we dined in was Cagney’s Chicago style steak house. The meat is the best, the most tender filet mignon and all the classic sides. Forget the pea soup, it’s not up to New England snuff. The last venue we tried was Shanghai, where we enjoyed the quiet ambiance and the excellent service. The Spiegel Tent with a circus show while dining was a venue we missed, since this must be booked before sailing or soon after boarding. ENTERTAINMENT The Freestyle Daily lists all activities on board. Epic has the long running “Legends in Concert” (impersonations) Show. We were lucky to see the Elvis Presley impersonator, sorry we don’t have his name. We had front row seats; he is great looking (no make up) and has all the Presley moves and intonation. We thought he was terrific and so did the rest of the audience. He impersonated a young Presley, with a loud sports coat and sang with gusto with his terrific voice. His “It’s Now or Never”, sang to the tune of “O Sole Mio”, ended on a powerful note that shook the rafters. However, the Mick Jagger impersonation left something to be desired and the sound volume was much too loud, especially for us in front row, where the seats for the disabled were located. The Second City Troup puts on “Presumed Murdered” during Sea Days, a luncheon with a murder mystery --- which the passengers help to solve --- excellent fun! This group every evening at the Headliner’s Comedy Club offers comedy shows at various times in the evening (7:00 and 9:15pm, spontaneous and improvisational comedy -- PG13) and at 11:00 a naughty, adult/friendly comedy for grown-ups. There were many other interesting shows throughout the week, such as the “Blue Man Group”, the “Fabba”, bringing back the fabulous songs of the Abba Group, famous in the seventies, the “Comedy Magician Levent”, etc..., which we did not attend, since either we had seen them before or we preferred more rest and relaxation. Naturally, if we were younger and healthy we would have participated in “Dancing with the Epic Stars” and other shows or activities, but now our style of cruising has changed according to our limitations; however, we still love cruising! There is an Entertainment Box Office on Deck 6 which provides all the information and helps with booking. There is also Art & Craft, plus all the usual on board activities. PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Miami, FL USA Depart 5:00 pm Day 2. At Sea Day 3. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive 9:00 am Depart 5:00 pm Day 4. At Sea Day 5. Costa Maya, Mexico Arrive 8:00 am Depart 5:00 pm Day 6. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:00 am Depart 5:00 pm Day 7. At Sea Day 8. Miami, FL USA Debarkation 8:00 am DEBARKATION At seven o’clock in the morning we had breakfast in the cabin; as far as we know, this is the only cruise line where passengers can ask for room service even on debarkation morning. We asked for wheelchair assistance from our cabin, since we had a walker/rollator in addition to our motorized wheelchair and scooter. At 8:00 o’clock an assistant accompanied us to the Bliss Lounge, the waiting area for disabled passengers, then we proceeded through the steep gangway, where we had the same problem as we did on embarkation. Once over this obstacle, it was all smooth to luggage pick-up and through customs. By 9:00 o’clock we were on our way home. CONCLUSION With the exception of the gangway problem we had a relatively smooth sailing, both literally for the calm sea and figuratively for riding the scooter and wheelchair around the ship. As we reported in our first review of the Epic, we had many problems with the high thresholds around the ship; however, there must have been some corrective action, since now we had a smoother ride around the ship. Although some access to certain areas could be improved by installing more automatic door openers (i.e., promenade on deck 7), the progress toward a more wheelchair friendly ship is significant. Definitely, we had a great cruise, better than the previous one. Certainly, the fact that on this cruise we have achieved Platinum status in the Latitude Rewards, with all the perks and benefits that come at this level, it has surely contributed to make this a five star cruise. We have already purchased aboard a future cruise on this line, with a yet to be decided destination. Now, we look forward to the cruise with our grandchildren on March 15th aboard the MSC Divina. Happy Cruising!   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
NORWEGIAN EPIC Western Caribbean Oct. 2-9, 2010 By Mary & Vincent Finelli We had booked the Epic's maiden voyage across the Atlantic for last June, but the old adage "God willing" popped up and we had to ... Read More
NORWEGIAN EPIC Western Caribbean Oct. 2-9, 2010 By Mary & Vincent Finelli We had booked the Epic's maiden voyage across the Atlantic for last June, but the old adage "God willing" popped up and we had to cancel for health reasons. So to finally sail aboard this magnificent ship was a distinct pleasure. As soon as we saw that Captain Hakan Svedung was at the helm (our third cruise with him) we were content. Also on board was our old friend Hotel Director Denis Prguda, who made our cruise a wonderful one. This trip we made a new friend Staff Captain Martin Tobias Akesson whose courtesy was outstanding. He saw a need and he filled it (more on this later). EMBARKATION Saturday Oct. 10, 2010, I-95 was not congested --- Boca Raton to Miami was a 55 minute ride. Baggage drop off was easy, and we were in line for check-in only10 minutes at 1:00pm. After 15 minutes, we had assistance to Deck 12, but the rooms were not ready until 2:00pm; however, our Steward Richard took our walker and placed it in our room for us. THE SHIP The Epic is a truly magnificent ship of epic proportions and deserves a back to back booking in order to fully enjoy it all. She was started in 2007 at STX Europe Shipyard in St. Nazaire, France, and sea trials began in Feb. 2010 and were completed in June just before delivery. This ship has 19 passenger decks, many with balconied cabins. Her gross tonnage is 153,000; overall length is 1,080 ft. and beam is 133 ft. Draft is only 28.5 ft. She is powered by Diesel Electric engines and cruises at 22 knots. Her guest capacity is 4,100 double occupancy; her crew numbers 1,730 --- a very nice crew to passenger ratio. The Epic has a series of Studios, inside cabins for one passenger, on Decks 11 and Deck 12, a very innovative idea which allows solo passengers to book at convenient prices. At boarding, we were given a compact pocket guide to the Epic which came in very handy. The major drawback to getting around was the exceptionally high thresholds. They created a problem for the wheelchair and the scooter. The crew was already at work correcting the situation. Decks 1 through 4 are for crew only. Deck 5 forward has the Epic Theater with wheelchair access and reserved seating. There is an excellent view of the stage from every seat --- not a pole in the house. Midship is the Photo Gallery and Internet Cafe` starboard. Port side is Le Bistro French cuisine, excellent ($20 fee). Also here are the Guest Service, Shore Excursion and Cruise Consultant Desks. At aft is Taste Restaurant with fine dining, where even shorts are allowed at dinner. Deck 6 forward is the balcony of the Epic theater. Midship is the Headliners Comedy Show Bar and Spiegel Tent featuring "Cirque Dreams" ($20/30 fee) a dinner show that is very popular --- book it as soon as possible, even before you get on board, or you'll miss it! All the servers and the Maitre D' have entertainment skills and contribute to the fun. Mid ship is also O'Sheehan's Pub with great food and informal dining (Fish and Chips, Shepherd's pie, pretzel rolls, etc...). This is the largest Pub afloat and there is a great view of the super size screen visible from Decks 5, 6 and 7. Football fans covet the specific barstools where they can watch the games, drink beer and eat the terrific pub food, simultaneously. The atmosphere was FANtastic. Midship is also the huge Casino. Toward aft is Shanghai's Chinese Restaurant and Noodle Bar with lots of stools. Next, is the "Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club", one of the many entertainment venues, smooth. All the way aft is the main dining room Manhattan with a small live combo with a great singer and dancing every night. Deck 7 forward is Bliss Lounge with plush seating and the Bowling Alleys. The Library is also located here with very limited hours and books. This ship is very new and we are sure that some of the odd placement of areas will be corrected swiftly. Getting around in a wheelchair sometimes means going to one floor and then going down by elevator and then going back again; i.e. La cucina is accessible by going to Deck 15 and taking an elevator back to Deck 14. Awkward, but we made it. Then, there is also an escalator midship between Decks 5 & 6, which, for wheelchairs means going the length of the ship and back again to get to Passenger Services. There are only forward and rear elevators, but no central ones. All of these logistics take a bit of time to get use to, not to mention patience. Midship are the Trade Winds Shops on board. Also located here are "Teppanyaki" and the Sushi Bar "Wasabi." Next are two more bars "Shakers," a martini bar, and "Maltings," a whiskey bar. There are over twenty bars on board so "bar hopping" can be very possible. There is a Barber Shop and the Humidor for fine cigars. Aft are two more alternative restaurants: Cagney's Steakhouse ($25 fee) and Moderno, a South American Churrascaria ($18 fee). Both are excellent dining options among more than 20 venues. Deck 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, & 13 are mostly staterooms and studios. Deck 14 has La Cucina Italian Restaurant ($10 fee); midship is "Recess" for kids and toward aft is "Pulse," the fitness center, and all the way aft is "Mandara," the spa and salon. Deck 15 forward has the Garden Cafe` with buffet dining, then the kids "Aqua Park" with the "Epic Plunge" water slide --- HUGE. Aft are the "Video Arcade" and "Spice H2O" with a small pool, bar and two whirlpools. Deck 16 forward has the Suites, "Epic Club and Courtyard Grill" for fine dining, the "Courtyards Pool and Spa." Midship there is the "Climbing Wall." Toward aft is "Entourage," the teen club, and all the way aft are the Spice H2O "Pool Grill" and "Pool Bar." Deck 17 forward are more suites and aft is the sports complex. Deck 18 has the Courtyard Sundeck, "Posh Beach Club," and the "Public Sundeck." Deck 19 has the upper levels of the Posh and Freestyle Sundecks. This is a huge beautiful ship with a sparkling central atrium chandelier three decks high in the configuration of six rings of various sizes of lighted crystals. Very unique and lovely. FOOD & SERVICE The food is much improved over our last Norwegian cruise, and there are so many more venues to choose from in Freestyle. First night on we went to "Taste" on Deck 5: Vincent didn't even have to change out of his shorts in order to have a sit down meal! Although the menu is sparse, there are enough selections and variety to have a good meal. We ate at Le Bistro and thoroughly enjoyed the escargot, the pate` fois gras terrine with apples and the frisee salad with duck breast confit. Mary had a delicious coq au vin and Vincent a perfectly broiled filet mignon. French roast coffee, made at the table in a French press percolator, was excellent with the profiteroles. The Bistro is decorated with millions of dollars of 20th century artwork by famous artists. Our first day on board we discovered that getting around the Epic was difficult. Mary's foot rest on the wheelchair was jammed and bent at the exit to the Garden Cafe`. Maitre D' Boris Kojic was very concerned and he and his staff were extremely helpful as were all the crew members we encountered. We met Staff Captain Akesson and he sent ship's mechanic Herme Tenestrante to our cabin; he took the wheel chair overnight, fixed the foot pedal and returned it the next morning at 9:00am. He and his assistant Bernardo Bautista were a Godsend. Many thanks to Staff Captain Akesson, who made our cruise most enjoyable. We also met Captain Hakan Svedung and know why service is so great: it is common knowledge that excellent service filters down from the top. He and H.D. Denis Prguda met with us and assured us the the door jambs are a high priority with NCL, since they are already being replaced as fast as possible. Denis' assistant Rashida Faustino took us on a private tour of the "Ice Bar". It was fantastic, like being in an igloo (-17 degrees Fahrenheit)! We met Chief Engineer Tore Johansson who showed us the compressed ice blocks, made in the U.S.A. The pressurized ice is so crystal clear that the designs inside are perfectly visible. There are two larger than life sculptures: a polar bear and a Viking warrior with a horned helmet. We now know why people don't freeze stuck to the seats; they are covered with woolly sheepskin pelts! Very Cool! There is a $20 fee for about a twenty minute stay and two Vodka shots are included. We dined in "La Cucina" and the Italian food was much improved, but alas the pizza dough tasted like cardboard. The pastas were excellent and so was the osso buco. Dessert was a creamy ricotta cheese pie and panna cotta. We recommend it, the dEcor is lovely, and the view at the prow of the ship is wonderful. We found the food much improved, and the service to be excellent. CABIN Cabin #12267 has a unique design. When entering, on the left is a single sink with wheel chair access, a quadruple armoire with two wardrobes with hangers (one which can be lowered easily with a pull pole) and two with shelves and a personal safe. Next there is a refrigerator, a TV and a long shelf with four large drawers. When entering on the right, there is a circular bathroom with a 4'x4' shower with a fold away seat and the commode to which our excellent steward Richard Espino added a riser. There were several hooks for clothes appropriately placed, both high and low. After, there is a desk/vanity with lighted mirror and six drawers. Next, there is a high king sized, very firm bed, with a beige leather roll and tuck head board, flanked by reading lamps and a phone in easy reach. The carpeting simulates sand dunes; the woodwork is dark mahogany. The draperies and coverlet are teal blue. The walls have a series of three plexiglas rectangles with sketched elm leaves, very interesting. Our steward Richard was terrific, he added a table to the oversized balcony (about 150 sq. ft.), so we could have breakfast and lunch outside, overlooking the ocean. We ordered breakfast from room service where Christopher always handled our order promptly. Our steward's assistant was the excellent Sheran Stewart-Bent. Everyone treated us wonderfully. ENTERTAINMENT We were truly amazed at the many venues and entertainment possibilities; sports, exercise programs, swimming, trivia (with the bright Aisha from Boston), Casino games and contests and finally the terrific Vegas style shows. We saw the "Blue Men" and laughed ourselves silly. "Legends in Concert" was amazing; the Michael Jackson impersonator was so spot on that the girls next to us were screaming "Michael Lives!" He wowed the crowd with his dancing and costumes. Rod Stewart's "Legs" was a well choreographed production which brought the audience to its feet. The Second City Improvisation Group was on board, and we heard good things about them. All in all we say 4 Stars for entertainment. The children's Nickelodeon at sea program is well organized and popular. PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Miami, FL Sail Away 4:00pm Day 2. Sea Day Day 3. Costa Maya, Mexico Arrive 8:00am Depart 6:00pm Day 4. Roatan, Honduras Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Day 5. Sea Day Day 6. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:00am Depart 6:00pm Day 7. Sea Day Day 8. Miami, FL Arrive 6:00am Debarkation 8:00 DEBARKATION Considering that over 4,000 passengers were disembarking, it was a very orderly and speedy process. We had assistance with the wheelchair off the ship, to baggage pickup and through passport and customs and were outside on the curb awaiting our son Marcello in less than twenty minutes. Excellent! CONCLUSION This was our seventh cruise on a NCL ship, but our 87th cruise overall. There have been a lot of changes in cruising since Vincent's first transatlantic sailing in 1956 on the Greek Line's Olympia, a 22,000 gross tons liner carrying 1300 passengers. And changes have occurred not only in the size of the ships, but mainly in the activities and entertainments available to the passengers. The Epic, at 153,000 tons, is about seven times bigger than the Olympia and she offers so many types of activities, dining and entertainment that makes the comparison to the old ship mind-boggling. On the Olympia and other ships of that time, we can recall how the days were spent: Morning walk on the promenade; breakfast, lunch and dinner in the same dining room; during the day, skeet shooting in the rear of the ship, shuffle board and ping-pong on the promenade; sunning, reading a book, or relaxing on a chase lounge on the sun deck; and ending the day listening and dancing to the music and songs by a combo group. By now-a-day standards that might seem boring, but in those days we were happy to enjoy the worry-free life of relaxation and the pleasure of being pampered, as we say in Italian the joy of "dolce far niente" (sweet do nothing)! We can still do this on the Epic and much more: Freestyle Cruising gives the cruisers many choices of activities, entertainments, shore excursions and dining. There is so much to do on this ship that a one week cruise is not enough to do all of the available alternatives, especially in dining (15 or more dining options). Perhaps, a two-week back-to-back cruise will be sufficient to experience all of what this ship offers. We have already booked a future cruise while aboard the Epic (yet to be selected). Our next cruises will be on the Crown Princess, Nov. 6-13, Western Caribbean, Allure of the Seas, Nov. 23-26, cruise-to-nowhere and Jan. 23-30, Eastern Caribbean. Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Me and Hope went on the NCL Epic Sept. 18-25. I'm disabled, so we rec'd. a cabin that was handi-friendly...walk in/out shower, large room & balcony. I know you've read reviews "to death", so I'll be ... Read More
Me and Hope went on the NCL Epic Sept. 18-25. I'm disabled, so we rec'd. a cabin that was handi-friendly...walk in/out shower, large room & balcony. I know you've read reviews "to death", so I'll be brief. Ship was awesome..Taste & Manhattan and O'Sheehans was good (pub food), casino was huge...very handicapped friendly...Le Bistro was best, La Cucina was ehhh...Moderno meat fest was huge...I gained 5 lbs. in 7 days!! Costa Maya - Maya Chan beach was awesome!! Feel at home..homemade lunch, all you can drink... Roatan was professional re: excursions...Tabyana beach and Dolphin Encounter...really fun "playing "with the dolphins. Cozumel was really Walt Disney World...Hit the pier and walk North down waterfront St...the same thing, but cheap...Dollar was strong regarding the Peso.Ate at Poncho's Backyard...Authentic. On board, we saw Blue man Group, Legends in Concert, Second City..Saw Slam Allen...the crew was amazing...a smile and "hello" from everyone!! I met Klaus (the one in the one hour video), and he sent us a complimentary Wine bottle...talk about class!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
My partner and I are both wheelchair users and approached this holiday with some trepidation. Our major concerns were that we travelled alone and I suffer from sea sickness - we needn't have worried. We were checked in as a ... Read More
My partner and I are both wheelchair users and approached this holiday with some trepidation. Our major concerns were that we travelled alone and I suffer from sea sickness - we needn't have worried. We were checked in as a priority (as all people with "special needs" were) and it was fairly straight forward, it did however still take about an hour to get on board which we were told by other seasoned cruisers was fairly normal. We arrived on the casino deck and were confronted by a table with cocktails on which we quickly discovered were NOT COMPLIMENTARY ($12 EACH if memory serves!) and a lot of people were saying other cruise companies give the first drink free. We had pre-booked an "unlimited sodas" package for $6.25 per person per day and were so thankful we had. We collected that as soon as we could having found out that sodas were normally $4 EACH!! For someone who needs to drink plenty due to disability the sodas package was a godsend as it would have cost a fortune if we hadn't - one afternoon we drank 4 drinks each in an hour because of the heat! We arrived in our room shortly after 2pm (the time we were told the cabin would be ready) to discover that part of the anniversary/birthday packages we had booked for 5 days into our trip were already in our room - thankfully NOT the perishables. The room was fairly large, though not the size we expected from a wheelchair accessible room. There was enough room down one side of the bed(s) to get a wheelchair down, but not the other. It took till the night before we disembarked that we discovered we could have moved the bed, but it took another passenger to tell us that - the steward saw us on a number of occasions and had plenty of opportunity to tell us. The other major problem was the ramp into the bathroom being steep and so close to the beds it made it difficult to get into the bathroom as you could get a "run up". The big problem on the accommodation decks was when the maids were cleaning the rooms - there was no room to pass their trolley in a wheelchair and we had to either shout to get them moved or find a maid to allow us to get passed. The fire drill was an experience, most people around us insisted on spending this time talking at the top of their voice so the announcement was barely audible. There was absolutely NO mention of what special needs passengers should do in the event (our accommodation was on a different deck to our mustering station) of an emergency and nothing in the rooms either. We asked a member of the crew who did tell us but otherwise we would not have known We had breakfast in the garden cafe every morning and the staff there cannot be faulted for service. Every day, without fail, as soon as we were spotted by the greeter we had a waiter/waitress hovering round us with a tray who followed us round getting absolutely everything we wanted and coming to our table several times to ensure we had everything we needed. We ate at the "free" restaurants most days. The only exceptions being one night at "Cirque Dreams" which we would NEVER do again - the show was nothing special and the food atrocious, definitely NOT worth the extra cost - and 9th September when we ate in "Le Bistro" as we had paid for the anniversary package. The food at Le Bistro was what we would expect from a premium restaurant. The staff were great and left us to enjoy a romantic evening, only approaching to clear plates, refill glasses and at the end to sing happy birthday to my husband. The only other entertainment we saw was "Legends in Concert" - as someone else said, is Britney Spears really a legend and non american Madonna was an experience! - and nightly a two piece called "Wildfire" who were superb. Our major complaint (and it was fairly major) was the carpets on the main decks. These were thick pile which made it very difficult to push a chair on. My husband, who is fairly fit, even found the carpet tough going PLEASE PLEASE NCL remove a 3ft wide strip of carpet along one side of the ship on every deck! It would make life for an independent wheelchair user and those pushing a wheelchair/child's buggy a whole lot easier. Read Less
Sail Date September 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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