34 Norwegian Epic Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Mediterranean

I have always had reservations regarding cruising as I like to do my own thing on holiday and explore hidden gems , however my husband has always wanted to cruise so that's what we did along with some of his family which included 2 ... Read More
I have always had reservations regarding cruising as I like to do my own thing on holiday and explore hidden gems , however my husband has always wanted to cruise so that's what we did along with some of his family which included 2 children. We were unable to get a stateroom with balcony however we were promised a "virtual " window which never materialised , and as the boat was full to capacity there was no option to upgrade , the safe and one of the lights didn't work either but our steward soon had it fixed , however even with all lights on the room was still very dark oh well we thought we will hardly spend any time in the room apart from changing and sleeping so it wasn't such a big deal . Embarkation day proved all my worst nightmares were real !! people were being herded like sheep on shearing day and were grabbing as much food and drink as they could carry back to crowded tables , it all seemed a bit excessive ! This being the first day I thought people will calm down once they get into it . This never happened and thank god we went for the food and drinks package as a bottle of still water cost $5, The "free" internet connection wasn't although this was not an issue for us as we were on holiday , it may have been for some . We decided to order room service one morning as we wanted an early start and thought this would avoid the queues for breakfast which could be horrendous , however a wee hidden cost , in VERY small print was my husband's omelette which turned out to cost $8 , this resulted in my on board card for drinks being stopped ! and when I went to pay it nobody really seemed to know what was going on , we found this many times with conflicting information being given many times . It gets better , my brother in law gave his kids his card with $10 on it to play arcade games , however when the credit ran out they were allowed to carry on playing , racking up a huge $400 bill before his card was stopped ? There were around 3,000 passengers on board and 3 what can only be described as paddling pools for swimming , 9 times out of 10 they were filled with kids throwing balls , and inflatables of various kinds so that actual swimming was most times impossible , twice one of the pools was closed "for maintenance " which made the whole situation worse . On the plus side , some of the dining was exceptional , and the staff always seemed happy and helpful ,more helpful , more tip ? We took none of the offered excursions as the prices were really prohibitive , I had wanted to visit Capri but in the end we didn't as everyone we asked about it gave us conflicting information . Would I choose a cruise again ? possibly , but on a much smaller ship , this is what I was advised by a seasoned cruiser but unfortunately I was already on this one , lesson learned Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Two days before our cruise we were informed we had been upgraded to a two bedroom courtyard villa in the "haven". This made all the difference as being in a regular cabin everything seemed to circulate around queuing and extra ... Read More
Two days before our cruise we were informed we had been upgraded to a two bedroom courtyard villa in the "haven". This made all the difference as being in a regular cabin everything seemed to circulate around queuing and extra charges. 4000 guests and 1700 crew on this ship makes it crowded and i can only liken the experience trying to get through the ship in the evenings to being in a large shopping centre the last weekend before Christmas. The pool deck we used was exclusive to us however it still got busy on occasions, the main deck for majority of cabins was so crowded i think i would have suffered from claustraphobia if i had had to use it on sea days or after being ashore. The excursions are extremely pricey and as everything on the ship is in US $$$ it makes it very expensive for Europeans with the weak currency exchange. The Butler and Housekeeper were very pleasant and helpful as were the Haven Concierge guys but this was probably because they were expecting us to pay their wages at the end of the cruise with a huge tip, we paid 70 Euro's to the Butler and the same to the concierge and Room attendant. The shows were great, you must go and see Priscilla Queen of the Desert, it's superb, don't take kids or stay away if easily offended as there is a few F words used but it was an amazing show. Burn the Floor also received a standing ovasion, a show about the eras of Dance. The Haven restaurant was indeed that, a "haven" away from the pushing and shoving in the Garden Cafe buffet restaurant, i am not sure how much people eat at home but if it is as much as they consume on the ship they will be 300KGS in no time. Years ago when we used NCL there were free shuttles to take you into town, now they charge $15 each per person. The speciality restaurants have a huge price tag on them, probably busy with people trying to escape the mayhem in the free restaurants. The best meal and show is the Cirque and dinner... its incredible and a must, the acrobats jugglers and other speciality acts are well rehearsed and very entertaining. Embarking and disembarking were seamless but that was mainly because we got the Haven treatment, i am unsure how it was for others queuing for regular cabins. Elevators are not plentiful for 4000 passengers and if you manage to get into one you will stop on every level especially for us as we were deck 17, if you feel like you want to burn off some calories use the stairs, it could be quicker! Not sure i am keen on music blasting out at all times by the pool as it would be nice just to relax and for a ship this size it is lacking in swimming pools with two small pools situated together at the bottom of the slide for everyone in regular cabins, we had our our tiny pool and two jacuzzis in the courtyard area which was an escape. Le Bistro, great food. Moderno, meat meat meat meat and they keep coming with more meat! Cirque and dinner in the Spiegel tent, no choice of Starter, main course or dessert, everyone gets the same and watches the show at the same time. If you are not into audience participation don't sit near the front. We paid $20 each to go into the Ice bar, the temperature is around -7 to -10, they give you a thermal pancho type coat to wear and gloves so make sure you have long trousers and socks on or you will freeze, we also took wooly hats which kept our ears warm. You get two free drinks each, mostly Vodka cocktails serves in ice glasses, there is a non alcoholic alternative if you do not drink. Your maximum stay is 45 minutes, good luck, we managed 35 minutes and that was an effort. There are ice sculptures in there of a viking and a polar bear and ice benches to sit on. The bar man keeps vanishing to stay warm but i don't blame him. The casino area is huge, too huge but i guess this is where they make their money, hundreds of slot machines, black jack tables, poker tables, roulettes tables. It was a great cruise in areas if you managed to escape the masses, there were no nightly shows as the theatre only seats 700 so they are repeated over and over as the cruise goes on, you also have to reserve a seat in the venues otherwise you will not be guaranteed entry, if you are Haven you can ask concierge to book all the shows and restaurant venues for you, they escort you to the theatre so you do not have to queue and there is reserved seating for Haven Guests up to 10 minutes before the show starts then they are released to those who did not book. We have cruised 12 times and sometimes you want to take the service from Cunard, the shows from NCL, the food from Seabourne and the cabins from Silverseas, put them all together to make the perfect cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This is our 4th cruise second time with NCL I'm writing this review because I was disappointed with certain things: 1)Room with a balcony is what we thought we was having,no it was a extended port hole which was not nice at all, it ... Read More
This is our 4th cruise second time with NCL I'm writing this review because I was disappointed with certain things: 1)Room with a balcony is what we thought we was having,no it was a extended port hole which was not nice at all, it felt you was in a tunnel very noisy, our room was at the front of the ship on the 9th floor, I think you should be told this is what you are getting. And it was not very clean. 2)Every time we docked the cabin shook and everything in the cabin would fall off off the tops crashing on the floor, nice wake up call at 6am or earlier when you are on holiday. 3)The cabin staff hovering at 7am outside your cabin banging your door. 4)our cabin door you couldn't open very easy from the inside and outside, it was reported at the start of the holiday but was not sorted so had to shoulder barge it open. 5)sent food back every evening back it was cold. The positive things are 1) good entertainment 2)nice bar staff 3)good shore excursion to Florance Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We travelled from Dubai to Barcelona to be part of this cruise. We had 2 balcony rooms which were better than I had imagined. My mom read many cruise trips before packing for our cruise on the Epic and as she was a little paranoid, she ... Read More
We travelled from Dubai to Barcelona to be part of this cruise. We had 2 balcony rooms which were better than I had imagined. My mom read many cruise trips before packing for our cruise on the Epic and as she was a little paranoid, she packed towels, hangers and toilet rolls as recommended, all of this was useless since our room had all of this. We were 3 in a room and the make shift sofa-bed can accompany a child or a skinny person easily. The entertainment and staff on the cruise was very good, although the taste of the food could have been better. Another issue we faced was not having access to halal food. With the large amount of muslim travellers on this ship, and even after notifying our travel agent, there was no halal food. It would be nice if one of the dinning halls had a small corner just like they had for Indian food. I do recommend taking detergent and dental items with you as well as planning your shore excursions on your own since the ones the cruise offered were highly priced. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We selected this cruise because of the dates and the ports in visited, which were very good ones (except for Marseilles). We were very disappointed by the pool area on the ship which was extremely crowded almost all of the time. It was ... Read More
We selected this cruise because of the dates and the ports in visited, which were very good ones (except for Marseilles). We were very disappointed by the pool area on the ship which was extremely crowded almost all of the time. It was very difficult to find a place to sit near the pool. The amount of pool seating is disproportionately small for the number of people on this ship. The ship has a very large amount of Casino space, because it is a money making area, as opposed to a pool. We felt nickel and dimmed on this cruise in comparison to others we have been on. For example, in the main dining rooms all but one steak option have a surcharge on them. that is really not acceptable in my opinion. We ate at the A La Carte restaurant - Le Bistro, where we found the food to be quite poor quality. We had hoped it would be better than the main dining room which was very poor. The Shanghai restaurant had some good menu options, but most were not good either. Overall food was pretty poor and disappointing on this cruise. It was also difficult to find a seat in the buffet area in the morning, again too little space for the large number of passengers on this ship. We went to a couple of shows at night which were alright, a bit crowded, you had to prebook tickets in advance. We felt our balcony room was very nice and were quite satisfied for the value of it. I will not book another cruise on Norwegian. I have been more satisfied with Royal Caribbean and Princess. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Mine and my cousins first time cruising! We flew from Birmingham to Barcelona (a city we have had the pleasure of a 3 day city break so didn't explore further, we wanted to see our Epic ship!) on Ryanair- not an ounce of ... Read More
Mine and my cousins first time cruising! We flew from Birmingham to Barcelona (a city we have had the pleasure of a 3 day city break so didn't explore further, we wanted to see our Epic ship!) on Ryanair- not an ounce of turbulence and plenty of leg room!- We arrived at the airport and was kept waiting for our cruise rep who arrived after 30 minutes, we were unfortunately kept waiting a further 1 hour for our coach which was running late and was then a further 2 hours till we arrived at the port waiting for other passengers at other terminals due to delayed flights. When we arrived we were greeted with a mass of people in a modern style airport hanger being divided up into number groups to be called up to queue at our allocated reception (we found a pop up bar type thing and got a Pepsi and a pastry and was promptly called) a further 20 minutes queuing and we were greeted by a friendly polite lady who explained embarkation, took photos, wanted credit card details and gave us our on board cards etc to us novice cruisers. At last we were on the ship!!! It was worth the wait! excitement overload, walking up the gantry being greeted by friendly crew checking our cards and scanning hand luggage (for security) and pointed to the correct lift, blue side and red side! The Cabin!!! Fab-u-lous. up there with the loveliest hotel rooms iv stayed in around the world, dark wood, nice shower with shampoo conditioner and shower gel, pleasant toilet (similar to airplane toilet-same suction so a loud noise when you flush), a curtain dividing sleeping area and bathroom area ( i can understand some people moaning but wasn't an issue for us, your sharing a room with someone for a week there isn't much your going to be able to keep private and modest!! get over it!!) the sink area kitted out in hand wash soap and hand cream, over head mirrored cabinet, a big plastic bin which i thought was the sick bucket but my cousin later pointed out was the used towel bin lol! tea coffee making facilities (get used to UHT cream as they cant keep milk fresh on a ship, not going to taste like your moms brew, so get over it and no biscuits) large dressing table with mirror lighting and leather stool with hairdryer, an absolute pleasure to get ready every night, large sofa, safe, storage ,wardrobes, loads of hangers and storage for your suitcases with life jackets and pool towels provided. The balcony was my only moan it was bland and dirty and your over looked, my concerns were proved right. People on the above decks were smoking and flicking there buts over their balcony the buts falling short and landing on our balcony, im not anti smoking and miss smoking in pubs my gripe is put a cover over the balcony then if someones sick or chucks something over board it wont fall short land on our balcony? or common sense dont throw stuff over the balcony! Room attendant!!! Mohammed, he was soooo cute friendly and appeasing, there is a note pad and pen provided and i asked him 2 things in a week, please keep us stocked of tea coffee milk and sugar and clean our balcony of tissue bird muck and fag ends to which he did -hassle free. Legend!!! he made the cabin up and did our turn down service. Public areas!! spotless, casino, restaurants, bars, pool, spa, toilets, shops, theater, cirque tent, corridors and the viewing deck all easy to find and move around baring in mind there were 6000 souls on board to capacity. Restaurants!! did not have a bad meal, i suffer with IBS and iv never felt better, hand sanitiser provided everywhere, i recommend everywhere to eat particular the Manhattan for steak. Never queued, never waited for a table but then again never ate later than 8.30, people seemed to queue from 9pm on wards. Entertainment!! Made the holiday, first class Broadway shows with Burn the floor and Priscilla queen of the desert- you were warned 4 times before show there's swearing and adult content so was annoyed at family's getting up 10 mins into show dragging kids out in disgust, no sympathy your own fault leave the adults to enjoy the show thank you. Howl at the moon and the Soul Sensations were the best for music not to mention the Beatles tribute in the freezing cold cavern club- aircon to cold, take a cardi or jumper- there was something different every night so you wont be board, just plan you meal times around your entertainment that way you'll avoid queuing and sit where you want on both accounts. The pool!! Adults only pool small but i just wanted a dip to cool off, too small to swim and kids area i have no idea about, i dont have children and dont want to hear or see them on holiday so stayed in the adults only section more peaceful and relaxed to what looked like mayhem walking through the kids pools to the restaurants lol! the open air cinema is in the adults only section so that was nice being shown different cities on the screen whilst relaxing and also watched the Euro's live-great atmosphere! if you didn't like football it was tough. Activities and excursions!! never took part in any activities- if i wasn't off the ship discovering new places i was on a sun lounger or in the spa but that's my holiday. your given a new itinerary every night for the following day with a full list of on shore or on board activities starting with yoga at 6am every day. the "treble is the new double" proper Malibu and Pepsi put paid to any rising before 9.30am apart from Rome day. We visited Naples, Rome, Florence, Cannes and Marseilles all very stunning and beautiful. Cannes i shall be re visiting again. simply divine. Summary!! It is an American ship "Vegas on water" is how we described it. the currency on board is US dollars and predominantly American passengers. No one told us and we took euros to which NCL wanted 9 euro with every transaction for not paying in dollars so was forced to hand over a credit card to pay for on board shopping, shows, spa treatments, room service and supplemented food and drink. they charge you 27 dollars per cabin a day service charge but if your like me and prefer to tip as you go ask for a form and it will get deducted that saves you 170 dollars a week before you've started. You get a 9.30 Ding Dong from cruise director Monica every day and the odd message from the captain- very HI-DE-HI! 24 hour English film channel sports channel and news channel. on board medical center and guest services so always somewhere to go for help. Would definitely go in the ship gain and recommend for a first time cruise!! Elemis Spa ans would recommend........ if you've booked have a fab time!! and if you haven't....why not??? Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
I'm not a cruise lover so take that into consideration with my 3 Things I really liked: Kids Splash Academy. My 8 year old loved it! I saw a few parents I thought took advantage. I saw a little girl with a disability who was there ... Read More
I'm not a cruise lover so take that into consideration with my 3 Things I really liked: Kids Splash Academy. My 8 year old loved it! I saw a few parents I thought took advantage. I saw a little girl with a disability who was there ALL the time and required one on one attention. It seemed like they took excellent care of her but I think that's a lot to ask of the staff. I know the parents need a break but wow. As a parent of an autistic adult I would have never dumped him in a cruise play area. then again if I'd left my kid there the staff would have been calling me begging me to come back! We traveled with lots of kids there were 8 total. Lots of cousins. The first day my son said he didn't want to go back the next day he loved it. He spent at least an hour there every day. Really great staff. The buffet was huge. Really huge. Good selection and spread out but still crowded at times "Washy, washy" there are people with hand sanitizer everywhere spraying your hands and saying "Washy, washy" I think it's great the cruise line is making a really effort to stop the spread of disease in buffets and on the ship in general. We didn't book shore excursions through the cruise. I think that's a really expensive way of doing it and we always book in advance via the internet through personal sites and not cruise. We did leaning tower of pisa with transportation and everything for 90 per person and through the ship it was close to $300. I recommend doing your home work in advance. Embarking and disembarking was seamless. LOVED IT! I've been on other cruises where you wait for hours to disembark. There was one day with tenders that was kind of a joke but other days getting off for shore was easy. Loved sitting on our balcony. Kids loved the waterslide and sports area. They played a lot of soccer on the top of the ship I did think it strange how they had to go through an adult bar to get to the sports area. Our cabin was nice enough, decent storage. The ship was not "gaudy" like some others. Easy to get around, lots of elevators. Loved visiting 3 countries that I hadn't previously visited. That's why we went (that and my niece wanted to go and she is very persuasive!) Things I'm not sure about: I kind of liked the specialty restaurants (we had the meal package upgrade) but I also kind of missed having the same waiters every night and really looking forward to dinner. The specialty meals were good though. Cagney's steak house: GREAT, the Italian restaurant at the front of the ship, EXCELLENT and what a view. We pre paid our tip but I think they should just add it to the price of the cruise. Our room steward was nice but seemed Really overworked. He got our room made up and turned down really late. I told him he should just turn it down at 6 instead of making it up at 4 and turning it down at 9. We went to bed early. I can't say we got bad service but it wasn't great. My niece was 2 doors down and she had a different steward and he was always in the hall. Sometimes I would just ask him if I needed something. Things I didn't like: I paid $75 for 100 minutes of internet and got to do about 10 minutes of work. Their internet seriously sucked. I MEAN DON'T think you can use internet on the ship cause you really can't. The entertainment. We didn't go to anything. There were none of the normal shows like I've attended on other ships. Days at sea, I hate days at sea. That's why I don't like cruises. I seriously get so claustrophobic I could scream. I stay in my cabin and sit on the balcony so I'm not surrounded by 4000 people. Sometimes I felt like people didn't know what the heck was going on like the day there was a tender to get off the ship. They told you you had to have a tender time then they were behind. We finally just got inline and got off the ship and we didn't even have a tender time. They kept shifting people from line to line, total crap. You should download an app to use on the ship but they don't tell you that before you get on the ship and you can't download it once you are on the ship, total crap! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
There were three of us on the cruise; myself, wife and 4 year old daughter. We boarded at Marseilles and there were very few people getting on. Check in was quick and easy (only 20-30 people getting on when we were there). Likewise, ... Read More
There were three of us on the cruise; myself, wife and 4 year old daughter. We boarded at Marseilles and there were very few people getting on. Check in was quick and easy (only 20-30 people getting on when we were there). Likewise, disembarking was easy due to limited number of people leaving. We had a mini suite on deck 8 and it was nice. This was our first time on Norwegian and thus our first time on the Epic. Storage!!! Cupboard/shelves everywhere! The bathroom was kind of weird. As you walk in, the toilet was on the left, the shower on the right, and the enclosure was a translucent white. The balcony was very nice. deeper than we have experienced before though not as wide. I think I preferred this one since it was easier to arrange when two people were on the balcony. We used many of the specialty restaurants which were nice but there are upcharges for everything. $20 per person just to go into the Ice Bar (even for my 4 year old daughter) which sucked. Rude service in the Moderno (sp?). Great service in the sushi restaurant (they made whatever my daughter wanted; very kid friendly and great attitude) Ship had lots to do. My daughter loved the pool, slides, and splash area. Kids club was outstanding. So good my daughter didn't want to leave and the staff was great. Selection of bars was outstanding as was the choice of food (paid and otherwise). Overall we had a good time (hard not to on a cruise right?) but sadly I don't think we will cruise Norwegian again. Good time yes, but way too many problems and poor service. The price paid for what we got wasn't worth it. Where to start? Internet. I booked internet and of course it didn't work. Stand in line forever at guest service. get to front and am told I have to go see the internet manager. Another line with 30 people because noone else's works either. Turns out they have a single point of failure for the entire ship; the internet manager. He is only available at certain hours and was mobbed. Day 1, internet not fixed. Day 2, still not fixed (waited in line again). Said something was sent to my room (it wasn't). Finally got it fixed and it was really bad. Slow, disconnected alot. Waste of money. We really only needed it to stay in contact due to a family issue and it barely met that requirement (I paid for it though so it should have worked). Stopped working again on Day 4. Internet manager line again. Very frustrating. Spa: Booked my wife a massage before we left. We received the letter in the cabin the day before confirming time and everything. She goes up there and they say they double booked. She is out of luck and she cannot have her money back (Guess they haven't heard of a stop payment on a credit card...but I digress). Finally able to get her in at a convenient time but it was another screwup. Massage was good though. Our room wasn't made up the first day. We asked the room steward and she said she wasn't feeling well....I empathize but get another person then! First stop at Barcelona I go down and ask guest services if there is a euro ATM on the boat. No, but go up to the casino and get dollars from the ATM and we will switch it for you. OK, no problem. I go get money, come back down and ask to switch it and I am informed they cannot switch it for me until 2 pm...It's 0930 and that doesn't exactly help me (not to mention I just used my withdrawal limit for the day on that debit card). I asked to speak to a supervisor and was refused. I gave them some choice words... The whole cruise followed this pattern. I don't want to make the impression that we had a bad time because we didn't. The boat had lots to do, was clean, and we had an all you can drink package which tends to make most problems go away... The stops were good and they were pretty organized getting people on and off. The point is we had far less hassle on other cruise lines and when we did have the occasional problem on the other lines it was taken care of. The price was definitely not worth it either. Glad we tried out the Epic and the cruise line but there is little chance we will go back. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We just returned from a fabulous week on Epic! The staff were all amazing and deserve praise. Embarkation and disembarkation went quickly. Our spa mini suite was just as expected, and the bathroom set-up not really a problem. The spa is ... Read More
We just returned from a fabulous week on Epic! The staff were all amazing and deserve praise. Embarkation and disembarkation went quickly. Our spa mini suite was just as expected, and the bathroom set-up not really a problem. The spa is very nice and all of the treatments were top notch! The food overall was good, especially in the specialty restaurants. There are many options for entertainment so you will never be bored! Burn the Floor and Cirque were are favorites - Priscilla was not for our taste. The weather was absolutely perfect which made every port so enjoyable. Be sure to see La Sagrada Familia Basilica while in Barcelona and get your tickets prior. So very beautiful! I highly recommend Lorenzo with Best Tour of Italy as your tour guide while in Italy. He was fantastic and met us in each port. Very knowledgeable and will take very good care. You must visit the Amalfi coast and Positano while docked in Naples along with Pompeii. Rome was beautiful and Vatican City is breathtaking. It's a busy city not to be missed! We loved Pisa, the Chianti wine region and Florence. I could see myself returning for a visit. Cannes and Marseille were beautiful, as well, but we were spoiled after having Lorenzo throughout Italy. As you can tell, we had such a good experience and met some sweet friends along the way. The itinerary is tiring but oh so very worth it!Please do not hesitate to book this ship! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was our 13th cruise 2nd on NCL. We originally booked a minisuite but decided, after getting a price quote for an upgrade, to go Haven!! We had a 2 bedroom villa on deck 16 and were naturally extremely pleased with it! The facilities ... Read More
This was our 13th cruise 2nd on NCL. We originally booked a minisuite but decided, after getting a price quote for an upgrade, to go Haven!! We had a 2 bedroom villa on deck 16 and were naturally extremely pleased with it! The facilities in the Haven are excellent and we had a great time - helped by the concierge Elvina, our butler Marvin and steward Andros who looked after us very well. Unfortunately there were some aspects of the ship/cruise not totally to our liking. What went wrong with the priority boarding in Barcelona? - we had to queue for nearly an hour to board and there was much unrest among our fellow Haven guests. After that no complaints about the service we received in the Haven. We dining in 5 of the speciality restaurants with mixed results - most were excellent but the Italian, La Cucina was only OK. The ship could be very crowded - apparently about 4900 passengers on board - and the lifts could be a pain. Most large cruise ships have 3 sets of lifts and stairs - only front and back on the Epic. And although Priscilla and Burn the Floor were excellent shows there were no talks/lectures on interesting topics - only ship excursion propaganda. We had one really good ship excursion to Loro Parque on Tenerife but we opted for a excursion to Granada/Alhambra with Spain Day Tours which was much cheaper than the ship one - and it was excellent - very good guide on the coach and just as good showing us round the Alhambra. Overall a very good cruise - but will ever want to cruise in an ordinary cabin again?? Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We travelled o a back-to-back cruise over Christmas and New Year period. The first part was 9 days from Barcelona to the Canary Islands and back to Barcelona, the second part was from Barcelona to Italy and back finally again to ... Read More
We travelled o a back-to-back cruise over Christmas and New Year period. The first part was 9 days from Barcelona to the Canary Islands and back to Barcelona, the second part was from Barcelona to Italy and back finally again to Barcelona. We have cruised previously with Princess and we preferred the cabins on the Epic as there was so much storage space and the separate large shower were superb. The food in both the included main restaurants Taste and Manhattan was first class and very varies over the whole 15 days. The staff were great especially our housekeeping lady and the guy at the Bar outside of the Manhattan Restaurant who worked his socks off. We booked the Cirque Dreams dinner show as a special night out. This was fantastic and the show is amazing and literally happens about 10 feet from your table. The main shows were great too particularly Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Burn the Floor and Christian Miro the ventroloquist/magician were excellent. The Ultimate Beverage Package was included in our package which was a bonus, especially as wine was about $10 per glass if you paid for it separately. The Epic is also well up to date with free Wifi that you access your account and planned events on board, this included booking seats at the free shows as well as booking trips,speciality restaurants. The professional photography system is arranged so the each Stateroom gets a folder so that you do not have to hunt through hundreds of photos to find yours. Great idea and saves space compared to the Princess method. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Inside cabins Category l1, Room 13262 On November 22-29, 2015, my wife, 9 year old daughter, 6 year old son and I sailed on NCL Epic out of Barcelona. This was my 17th cruise, and I have sailed on RCCL, Princess, Disney, and NCL ... Read More
Inside cabins Category l1, Room 13262 On November 22-29, 2015, my wife, 9 year old daughter, 6 year old son and I sailed on NCL Epic out of Barcelona. This was my 17th cruise, and I have sailed on RCCL, Princess, Disney, and NCL previously. Most of the people on this cruise were from Europe, although there were a fair number of Americans onboard. We are now Gold on NCL. Barcelona airport taxi thieves- At the airport I knew what the taxi should cost to our hotel, but the driver at the airport wanted 70 Euros, TWICE the amount the hotel stated. I said NO to the rip-off driver and found another who took us for less than 30 Euros! The taxi thief could not believe I said “No” to him. Obviously he was used to getting away with his theft! Watch out for these taxi thieves as they are in the line at the airport. Sadly, the taxi line attendant there directing the tourists was of no help to me as he watched this thief attempt to rip me off. Ask your hotel before your trip what the estimated cost should be so you know when you are being ripped off. I will learn the Spanish word for “thief” in preparation for our next trip to this wonderful city. Barcelona- We arrived 2 days early so we could enjoy the city with our children. We had been here 2 years ago, so we knew what we wanted to do with our children. The subways are great and we highly recommend them if you are not walking between the sites. We needed help with buying tickets and a local helped us- the locals are VERY friendly and helpful, which we found to be true on our last visit as well. The weather was cool (50’s and 60’s), but sunny, which was perfect for our walking around the city. Embarkation: We arrived around noon and while there were lines, we were on the ship in a short time. Luggage arrived early to the room. Disembarkation: We had the 9:45 am departure on Lufthansa and the ship arrived around 5:30 am. We walked off the ship around 7 am, and arrived at the airport by 7:30am. Taxi fare of 39 Euros is fixed from the port so you don’t have to worry about being ripped off. Ship: Our first time on the NCL Epic. Although fairly new, we were not impressed with the ship’s design. We were disappointed with the lobby as there was no grand staircase. Low ceiling are the norm. The casino occupied what should have been a mall walkway with shops on the sides. Try to find a public bathroom and you won’t. Try to get an elevator with room and you will have a hard time. The elevator banks are on each side of the ship rather than shared by the same floor, and there is an absence of cut-throughs to stairwells and elevators. What would have been cut-throughs are now blocked by cabins. As a result, you feel trapped on your side of the ship, walking a long winding corridor just to make it to your cabin. This bothered me so much which is why I mention it here. The designers here made sure they used every inch for revenue, and the result shows in the customer’s dissatisfaction. You cannot even compare the Epic design to that of the Allure of the Seas, which in our opinion is the Cadillac of designs. NCL needs to talk to the designers at RCCL on this one. Although much older, we prefer the NCL Spirit and NCL Star by far over the Epic’s design. The negatives of the Epic outweigh the positives here. Like the former NCL freighter “the Wind” we will be avoiding this ship in the future. Cabin Negatives: We had (1) inside cabin for the (4) four of us, and this was the smallest cabin we have ever had on a cruise. At 128 sq. feet it was not easy but we had to make it work. Other reviews complained about the room design, and now we understand why. Closet was smaller in size. They eliminated what would have been a bathroom wall. So the shower and the toilet each exit directly into your room. All privacy has been lost, as well as that space. The only saving grace of this design is the curtain I could pull across the area to hide myself from my children when I got out of the shower. And the shower is not bigger than other ships with a curved shower door. When you use the sink the water spills onto the counter, which doubles as your desk. Imagine all your paperwork getting wet just because you washed your hands. Perhaps the customer would have felt somewhat better about this design had NCL given them back the extra space lost from what would have been a bathroom. However, NCL did not give any extra space back in the room- it is tighter than ever in my opinion. The NCL Spirit bathroom design was brilliant. When you walked in you faced the sink, and to the left was a shower with a sliding door. To the right was a toilet with a sliding door. 3 rooms in one, and we had only a basic inside cabin there as well! Cabin Positives: Beds were very comfortable. Refrigerator helped store some snacks. Hair dryer in room. Awkward mirror set up with too short a cord for the hairdryer makes hair drying an issue. Dryer turned off when using with heat, and room attendant said to push the “cool” button when drying. How is that going to help the hair dry? Dryer should have been replaced. I requested and was given extra hangers. Finally a clock in the room on the phone! This was one feature that impressed me. There were two 110 outlets and two 220 outlets in the room. Pools- Our kids enjoyed the slides on the first day at sea. The water for them was heated enough to make them enjoyable. But the swimming pools were not heated, and rarely had anyone in them. One day I noticed that one of the main pools across from the towel return may have had some heating but the others were always cold to me. The hot tubs were usually occupied but the pools were empty because of the water temperature. Some of the other posters said the pools were heated but I have to disagree, except for the slides and hot tubs. The air temperature during our cruise was mostly in the 50’s,60’s. Sports with the kids: A nice basketball court on the top deck, and my son and I enjoyed the experience. We played soccer there as well. Also there was the Epic bounce which our children really enjoyed. Finally the spider mountain was a clear hit for the kids. These made up the most impressive collection for kids’ play we have seen on a ship. Kids Club- similar to our experiences on other ships. They divide the kids by age. The kids club is very flexible- their hours are not the same every day so check the schedule. We would take our kids early to eat dinner, and then drop them off at the club while we went to dinner. You pay for the club to take them to a meal if they are there during mealtime. What to do with the kids when you go ashore- You can leave your kids at the kids club while you go ashore. Some days our children went with us, and some days they stayed on the ship. Everyone could be happy! Entertainment- Cirque dreams was excellent- even my 6 year old son enjoyed it! Burn the floor was also good. However, my wife and I walked out of Pricilla Queen of the Desert, and we were surprised that NCL would have such a show on our ship. Naples- We took CBM tours which took us to Sorrento, the Amalfi coast and then to Pompei for $187 euros for 2 adults and one child. What a bargain compared to NCL prices! I had been to all of these sites before, and wanted to take my family this time. You get about 2 hours in Sorrento, and you only see a part of the Amalfi coast. Finally you are in Pompeii only several hours. You have to pay for Pompeii tickets separately but CBM will get them for you without your having to wait. Some did not want to go inside Pompeii so they were not charged. The tour lasts the entire day, but the experience was worth it. Vince and Ellen with CBM were hilarious! CBM is professional and uses the same modern buses the expensive choices use. You won’t be disappointed. Rome- We were so impressed with CBM tours that we used them again in Rome. Previously my wife and I booked Rome through NCL, paying about $100 each just to be transported to and from the port. Once in Rome we were then on our own. With CBM, however, they took us by train from the port to the Coliseum, and got us tickets to get inside without delay, then they took us to Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Spanish steps and finally to the Vatican and St. Peters again all without delays. Valentina with CBM was EXCELLENT! You are given a headset the entire journey as she speaks. A lot of walking but what better way to see the city? Cost for CBM was about 80 Euros each, plus Colosseum tickets 14 euros each, Vatican tickets adults 21 euros each. Livorno- We have been to Florence but wanted to see Pisa. We discovered that you could take the train easily and more cheaply on your own. It is very easy. NCL wanted $50 each for this- save your money. Take the bus from the port to the train station ($10 roundtrip for the 3 of us). Trains to Pisa leave several times an hour. Cost about 13 euros each round trip, and the ride is only about 20 minutes. On the bus it is over an hour. We walked from the train station to the leaning tower which is a hike but very doable even with our 6 year old. You have wonderful shops along the way. We were back at the ship in several hours, and didn’t feel rushed. Cannes-Tender port. Just walk this beautiful town! Palma- Walk this scenic port! Weather- We were very fortunate to have mostly sunny and cool weather our entire cruise. It only rained once and that was only briefly in Sorrento. Overall - We enjoyed our cruise and would certainly go again, but the Epic will not be the reason that makes us return. We much prefer the older NCL Spirit and the NCL Star over this ship. Given a choice we will be avoiding this type of ship design. I think that’s why they sent this one to Europe where something like this may work. Now I see they are repositioning this ship to our neighborhood, where pricing is in the Oasis/Allure range. Who are they kidding? We look forward to returning to NCL in the future, just not necessarily on the Epic. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
My group and I, two couples total, traveled on a 17-day cruise on the Norwegian Epic to the central and Western Mediterranean in Nov/Dec 2015 departing from Barcelona. It was a 7-day and 10-day cruise that we purchased online at ... Read More
My group and I, two couples total, traveled on a 17-day cruise on the Norwegian Epic to the central and Western Mediterranean in Nov/Dec 2015 departing from Barcelona. It was a 7-day and 10-day cruise that we purchased online at www.ncl.com on a combined 17-day itinerary. Our ports of call were Naples (Sorrento & Amalfi Coast), Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Florence), Cannes, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, Tangier, Las Palmas, Tenerife, Madeira (Funchal), and Malaga, with five sea days scattered througout, before disembarking back in Barcelona. I have personally been on the Epic in the past, so was eager and exited about cruising on her again. What I experienced though was not as great as I had expected. Throughout the entire 17-days aboard I felt that many little things had fallen by the wayside on the ship. The crew didn't feel the same as before (I sailed on her back in Sept 2011). They weren't as happy as I had remembered them. Many times over I encountered crew members who didn't know specific information - like which deck or exit to use for disembarking at a particular port of call. They would send us one way when in fact we had to go the exact opposite way. They were guessing answers instead of knowing answers. On this trip we had a balcony stateroom which included complimentary alcoholic beverages under $15. Soft drinks, beers, frozen drinks, and most cocktails were included, though specialty coffees were not. During the first few days the bar staff would make us sign receipts showing the value of our alcoholic drink purchase. They couldn't tell us why they needed us to sign the receipts, but assured us the charges would not be added to our bill. Indeed, they never did. The bar staff eventually got to a point in their procedures where they wouldn't bother to even give us a receipt for drinks - just swipe our room card and give us the drinks. Our balcony stateroom was 10031 on Deck 10 Forward. I found the interior space somewhat tight for a 17-day trip. The little toilet room is way too small also. The metal piece on top of the toilet paper dispenser is so heavy that when you pull to get more squares, the roll rips immediately. Doesn't anyone else need more than 1 square like me? There's no need for a metal piece to cover the paper... just annoying. The shower doesn't stay consistent in terms of temperature. The sink was absurdly tiny. I had trouble keeping the counter dry when washing my teeth or my face, let along shaving. The lighting throughout the stateroom - above the sink, in the little toilet room, in the shower, and in the cabin overall - wasn't nearly adequate. In fact, it was pretty poor, especially in the toilet room and above the sink. Easily fixable for NCL, and very annoying. Our stateroom attendant, Christine, was absolutely fabulous. She was on top of things and extremely personable. She made sure, every time we ran into her, to ask us what she could do for us to make us happy and/or more comfortable. She was really great at making towel animals for our stateroom as well. The food on the ship overall was pretty disappointing. I mean everywhere on the ship - from the buffet, the Manhatten Restaurant, Taste Restaurant, Asian restaurant, O'Sheehans, etc. I also mean for every meal - breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between... pretty disappointing. Most of the food had zero taste... like they had just cooked too much of it and it was flavorless. We took advantage of the onboard laundry service. It certainly saved us on clothing, but I'd be careful what items of clothing you give them to wash. Every item of clothing is tagged with with a pink sticker stamped with the date and cabin number. The sticker is tough to remove once your clothes are returned. The sticker is so strong that it ripped some of the fabric on a couple of polos. I would not give them anything too expensive or fancy to wash. We had a couple of occassions where someone from our group offered suggestions to the crew from our observations. And the responses were completely opposite from each other. The first observation came when returning to the ship in Tangier, Morocco. Once inside Port Tanger, we had to walk through a long stretch of asphalt that was completely - literally completely - covered with bird droppings. As we walked through it, we talked about how bad it would be to walk on ship, and in our cabins, with all of ours shoes having walked through at least 200 yards worth of bird pooped asphalt. Also, it appeared that the city dump was on fire, causing the air quality to be unbearable. The haze and smell engulfed the ship the entire stay and most likely caused a large number of the guests to become ill. Head colds and respitory ailments were observed throughout. In this regard, it became apparent that measures were being taken to slow the spread of the sickness. Workers were stationed near food stations in the Garden Lounge to coach passengers into using the tongs, instead of hands, when selecting food. More glass shields would prevent the sneezes from reaching the desserts. The general conduct of certain groups of passengers was abhorrent. A total lack of respect and indifference towards others was appalling. I am sure this took its toll on the crew as well. Back on th ship, one of our group members waved down a ship officer while we were in the buffet area. He brought up the subject of the asphalt walkway covered in bird droppings and the potential danger to the ship's cleanliness as well as the passengers' health, and they went to look at it from the pool deck window. This ship officer, who was in charge of the operation of the buffet area and galley, took the info we shared with him all the way to the ship's captain. Afterwards, when running into the same officer later that same day, he mentioned to our group member that they took measures to address the potential hazard of bird droppings being brought on board by the 4,000 guests coming back aboard the ship. That's an excellent example of being engaged with your guests and taking suggestions seriously. The 2nd example came at the very end of our cruise - on disembarkation day. We encountered some difficulties finding a relatively empty elevator for our group, with luggage, to make it down 3 decks to leave the ship. After waiting for quite some time, half of our group made it onto an elevator going up from our Deck 10 to eventually take it all the way down to Deck 7. The other half eventually found a somewhat empty elevator to make the trip down to 7, where we waited for the others to make it down. Once they did, they shared with us that while their elevator was jam-packed, another guest with coffee squeezed his way onto the elevator, spilling all of his coffee on another guest. This guest yelled and screamed at the person who spilled coffee on them, and a bit of a yelling match ensued on the elevator ride up and down. Once off, my wife, who was one of the ones from our group on that elevator, mentioned to a crew member what had happened and suggested they have crew members man the elevators to avoid more problems like that during disembarkation. This crew member just laughed as if to brush her off. She reiterated the problem a second time, and again he laughed. A bad customer engagement experience left her with a bad taste in her mouth after an amazing 17-days in Italy, Spain, France, Monaco, Portugal and Morocco. So instead of walking off the ship remembering all the great things we experienced during the trip, she left upset that the crew members had laughed to her face after she offered only a suggestion to improve the experience of other guests moving forward. Clearly, this is not the way to handle a customer suggestion. All in all, the vacation was marvelous in spite of the shortcomings of the Norwegian Epic and its food and some crew. It may be the end of my NCL days moving forward. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Just OK. The cruise ship is very large and holds 4,100 passengers. Elevators are horrible, always waiting. During busy times (disembarking), there are two elevators "locked" that don't work and elevators skip floors. ... Read More
Just OK. The cruise ship is very large and holds 4,100 passengers. Elevators are horrible, always waiting. During busy times (disembarking), there are two elevators "locked" that don't work and elevators skip floors. Once an elevator finally shows up, it's too crowded to enter. Food in the restaurants was mediocre. The up-charge restaurants were good, but you have to pay the up-charge. The Garden Cafe buffet food was just OK. Sometimes cold and stale bread. Some of the service staff were great, but most of them seemed to have very low morale. The entertainment was very good, but you had to make reservations well in advance (so much for freestyle cruising). Without reservations, you had to wait in a long line to get in. Embarking and Disembarking went smoothly. No complaints (except for the elevators not in service and having to take the stairs). I would not go on a cruise ship this large again as I feel it impacts the service and overall atmosphere. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
The Epic is a lovely ship. Obviously designed by a very talented artist.... who has never been on a cruise. Let me start by saying I would recommend the Epic and would go again but I would also like to share a few thoughts which may ... Read More
The Epic is a lovely ship. Obviously designed by a very talented artist.... who has never been on a cruise. Let me start by saying I would recommend the Epic and would go again but I would also like to share a few thoughts which may influence your decisions. The ship is designed around a theme of 'curves' which whilst aesthetically pleasing are really not very practical. For instance the Bliss entrance has several chain mail curve structures with dead space behind them. The cabin we were in (balcony 8098) had a curved shower screen (great), curved toilet door (fine), but the wash basin was in the bedroom with only about 15 inches between it and the bed. The hair dryer had a stool which I could not pull out as again the bed was there. The curved sofa bed setee was just a complete waste of space, to use it you would have had to pull out the sofa and then you have no room at all in the cabin. The wardrobe and drawer space was immense, too much in fact for most cruisers, personally I would have liked a little more space in the bedroom and straight line designs. The flat screen TV was fixed on to a box which made it stick out from the wall about 8 inches. Having said that the cabin was beautiful to look at. The lifeboats were stuck out at the side of the ship and I would question how many balcony cabins had a clear view of the sea without overlooking either lifeboats or other balconies? The food was as good as ever and the service fine on the whole. I do think the number of passengers (4000+) compromised the level of service the exellent staff was able to provide. The entertainment was awesome. Teppenyaki was the only premium restaurant we tried and it was great fun. Embarkation and disembarkation were both smooth. There was noise leak between the casino and the Maltings bar which could have been avoided if the mezzanine was not there. The O'Shehans bar overlooked the atrium and the noise level was sometimes too much for me. On the whole excellent value for money and the above points would certainly not stop us going again on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We had a lovely 7 day cruise on the epic with our boys ages 6 and 7. It was our first time cruising so I wasn't sure what to expect but we had a really relaxing and enjoyable holiday. I found it a little difficult to get specific ... Read More
We had a lovely 7 day cruise on the epic with our boys ages 6 and 7. It was our first time cruising so I wasn't sure what to expect but we had a really relaxing and enjoyable holiday. I found it a little difficult to get specific information on shore excursions with kids similar in age to ours so here is what we got up to: Rome embarkation: We flew into Ciampino airport that morning and arranged a transfer directly to the ship with Anthony Cagnoli and sons. The driver was there to meet us and dropped us right at the check in area. It cost €150 so there are certainly cheaper options but it was easy and smooth and the journey is quite long so I can understand the cost. It was raining really heavily in Rome and embarkation was just through one gangway. Queue time was around 15 minutes to check in and then we went through security etc. As first time cruisers we weren't told the location of our stateroom or where to go once we got on board and security was a little manic with day trippers re-embarking the ship at the same time so we were a bit confused at first but we found our room and settled in. Most passengers get on at Barcelona so for eg. we missed out on things like the laundry bag deal as this was offered on our first day, the dailies refer to day 1 as the Barcelona day. Other than that it didn't really matter that we got on in Rome. Day 2 Livorno: We got the ship shuttle to the train station $15 dollars return for adults and $10 for kids. We asked about this on the ship but no info was available and it wasn't mentioned in the daily, then we queued for the wrong bus for a while at the port but the bus is actually towards the end of a line of buses and there is an NCL staff member taking names and room numbers, the fare gets charged to your room. We decided to take the train to Pisa. There was a long line for tickets but nobody was using the self serve machines, they were easy to use and we got our tickets there, very cheap I think less than €4 for adults and €1.50 for kids to Pisa. We were unlucky on the train as the driver didn't turn up so after sitting on it for an hour we had to get off (announcements were only made in Italian but almost everyone in our carriage was from the ship and didn't speak Italian). We then had to get the next train which ended up being incredibly overcrowded, all a bit of a nightmare with kids but all was forgotten when we got the Pisa. We walked to the leaning tower of pisa from the train station, around 15-20 minutes and a nice walk. Ours were too young to climb it but enjoyed walking around and taking pics. There is a public toilet behind the cathedral .50cents for adults free for kids (I always think it is good to know were the public toilets are with kids:)) After the tower we went for the most incredible pizza in Quarto D'Ora Italiano. Fresh buffalo mozzarella and parma ham, a jug of delicious local wine and the kids loved their Margarita pizzas. We then walked to La Bottega del gelato for amazing ice cream. The walk between these two places is really nice, passed the university, through a fruit and veg market and through winding streets and alleyways. Then we walked back to the train for a smooth journey back to the station. The shuttle bus to the ship runs from there every half hour. Day 3 Cannes We booked the tender boat for 9:15 the day before, this was great fun. As soon as you get off the boat, at the pier the little train tour leaves so we did this, it is a good way to see the whole city if a little long for the kids. There is a shorter version at the main embarkation point near the beach that might be more suitable. If you turn right on the croisette from the place where the boat docks and walk for 15 minutes you will get to a nice free beach. Ours went swimming in the sea, built sand sculptures and we had ice cream then back on the boat for lunch. Day 4 Palma The boys wanted to stay on the ship this day so I went on my own to centro commercial ponto pi for some retail therapy which is around a 5-10 minute walk from the ship. There is a good thai manicure salon in the bottom floor of the shopping centre if you fancy a low cost manicure or pedicure. Didn't see a whole lot of Palma I'm afraid but getting on and off the ship was super easy and the kids loved having the swimming pool to themselves. Day 5 Barcelona I work for a Spanish company so I met some of my Spanish work colleagues in Barcelona. We got the public shuttle to the commercial port and walked to the Cathedral. My son and husband went to see a cool magic show at http://www.elreydelamagia.com/teatre/ while my other son came with my friends and I for a wander and to visit the toy store in El Corte Ingles. We went for the most incredible tapas but sorry I don't know the name of the place! then we got a cab back to the ship which cost €11. Day 6 at sea Day 7 Napoli We decided to to Capri and do the boat trip to the blue caves. When you disembark there are no signs to the Molo Beverello ferry dock, we ended up turning right and walking approx 1-2km in the wrong direction, we asked for directions but they told us to keep going as there is another ferry port with boats to Capri along this side. We googled and realised our mistake so be sure to turn left when you get off the ship! There are three different companies with ferry's to Capri and you just buy one way tickets so you can choose what time to come back later. It took around 40 minutes and was very pleasant. We then got the bus to Annacapri where we had some refreshments and then another bus to the blue cave. The blue cave tour was definitely a highlight for all 4 of us and well worth the trip. You can also get a boat right where the ferry docks and transfer to a smaller boat at the cave. In hindsight this might have been easier as we had to wait quite a long time for a bus back to Marina Grande from Annacapri on the way back. We had pizza and I had lovely Spaghetti with clams in L'approdo restaurant right on the marina, very nice house wine in a carafe. The last ferry we could get to get back on the boat in time was 3:25 pm. Day 8 Disembarkation in Rome. We carried our own luggage as we traveled with one check in bag and three 10kg trolly bags. all was very easy and our driver met us again and brought us back to Fiumuciono this time for our flight home. General comments about the ship with kids: We had hear that Nikelodean had been discontinued and there was no visible replacement. The kids activities are not listed on the main daily, they are displayed on a wall outside the splash academy but this had not been changed for the first two days we were on board and there was always a queue when we went there so we didn't hang around to ask. On the third day we registered our two with Splash but our youngest didn't want to go in so he stayed with us. Our oldest didn't really enjoy it so they didn't use it again for the rest of the trip. We did attend one family Halloween event together and that was good. There was a family activity most days at 7pm but that is the time we tend to eat at so we didn't go to any others. The one thing we really missed was any kind of play area, inside or out the kids could use with us with them. At night there was very much an adult vibe everywhere apart from the buffet. We went twice to the Japanese sushi a la carte and they loved it. I did hate having to walk them through the casino every time we wanted to go through deck 6 or 7, I would have thought it should be more enclosed. We ate at Taste, Manhattan Dining Room, Shanghai Chinese, O'Sheahans, the Garden Cafe and the Wasabi Japanese A La Carte. Food was good everywhere, the chicken pot pie and the country soup were great in O'sheahans. The port dumplings in the chinese were really good and the aforementioned sushi, the kids loved the yakitori and Miso in the Japanese. They absolutely loved the aqua park and a major plus was that one of the outdoor pools was heated and really nice to swim in even when the outdoor weather wasn't great. We had the UDP, with the kids with us all the time we didn't tend to use it so much, a glass or two of wine with dinner, one at lunch and sometimes one other drink during the day. We did find it hard to get a second glass of wine with dinner at times. Once I asked at the end of my starter in Taste, the waitress was clearing away the mains when she told me it was coming but I told her to cancel it as the kids were getting restless at that stage. We did occasionally use our cards to get soda's for the kids and that was no problem. All in all we had an amazing family holiday. We went to Burn the floor one night and all four of us loved it. I really wanted to see Priscilla but it wasn't child friendly and there was no way they were going back to the kids club! We thought overall the level of service was excellent and enjoyed the cruising experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I have cruised several times when younger with my family and it seems like cruising has gone way downhill from my memories. I was very excited about this trip, and though overall it was ok, I was hoping to have a spectacular or even ... Read More
I have cruised several times when younger with my family and it seems like cruising has gone way downhill from my memories. I was very excited about this trip, and though overall it was ok, I was hoping to have a spectacular or even excellent or good cruise. I would say fair or ok was my overall experience. I did massive amounts of research but didn't anticipate to be so underwhelmed. FOOD: The food really was the biggest disappointment. If you are vegetarian or even pescitarian there really aren't many options. Most nights the menu had little variety, the starters changed but the main entrees, maybe 8 of them were often repeated or similar with a different fish, also almost always in cream sauce, yuck. There were also 6 standard things you could always get on the menu too, which I never ordered once. The addition of so much pasta also left little to be desired for me in the MDRs. Many of our meals were boring, or overdone, or sometimes lukewarm, or chewy fish. On the average the starter was the best part of the meal and the soups were always well crafted. The desserts were also very blah- i'm a baker and I, hands down had the worst apple pie ever on this boat. All in all the food was like cafeteria quality in the MDRs. I was also told by a few people who did the dining packages that food was the same in those restaurants. My one saving grace was that I luckily was on a cruise with 600 indian passengers so, in the Garden Buffet there was ALWAYS excellent indian food options, which were 80-90% vegetarian. They were always the best meals I had on the boat. We had every breakfast in the Garden Buffet and that was always pretty consistant, with hot good food prepared well. The only fault was the scrambled eggs, STEAR CLEAR! Worst scrambled eggs I have had in my life. They were hard, obviously from powder and I don't understand how one person ate them. My mother ate in O'Sheeans tavern one night and got sick, I read other reviews about the place before going that were similar. I also overheard two ladies in the bathroom saying their husbands spent a night on the toilet from there. Sorry, kinda gross. Beverage service in the MDR was also very spotty. The first night we got our drinks after our starter, my dad was quite upset. Also many of our waiters were difficult to understand, often they had thick accents and felt like they were very new waiters. I didnt always feel super confident asking them questions about items because of the sometimes language barier. I most definitely prefer the old school style of having the same waiter and set dining time after trying freestyle cruising. Better service and attention. Im on a cruise to be taken care of and pampered, it did not feel like we were made to feel special really at all, or taken care of. One last note, the Manhattan was billed as a speakeasy. We asked several waiters and staff when the piano player was coming, they all were stumped. None of them had ever seen one, even thought there was a full set up in the mdr for dancing and music. The whole cruise the Manhattan room band was advertised in the daily as playing in various locations on board, but not once in the dining room. We were very disappointed by this the whole cruise. BARS: Often the bars had good cocktails, but if you sat at a bar we found that the bartender would ignore you for about 2 minutes. Yet if you sat at a table, a cocktail waitress would arrive within seconds. Drinks on the whole were made well and were good. The lavender martini was excellent and the tempernillo wine was a very delicious selection. ROOM: When we arrived in our balcony spa suite we found several things wrong with the room. A broken ac, broken drawer, not enough towels, no spa robes, toiletries and a dirty coffee stained sheet they didnt change till we asked them to on day 3. We also had specifically asked for a bathtub room, which we were deeply disappointed not to find. It took 3 days for our ac to be fixed and when it was it was so cold the first two days we asked for extra blankets. Finally the last days it worked normal. The extra bed i.e. the couch was for the third person, which I slept on. Thank goodness I am small because anyone over 5.4 would not fit here. They did not make any effort to create this into a bed either, just slapped on some sheets and no padding, it wasn't very comfortable to be honest. I eventually used the first "duvet" they gave me as padding so it was a bit more comfortable than sleeping on a ribbed couch with a sheet. At one point our TV stopped working, and we had to get it fixed, but we never watched it, only used it to access our account and look at the menus to see if we could find something to eat for dinner. The balcony was nice and we asked immediately for a lounge chair (do this!) it made it a most excellent place for the three of us to chill out when we liked. The main bed was nice my parents said and they slept well on it. There was also tons of storage, so much so that we had many empty cabinets. I wish very much the storage under the couch was used to make it into a more comfortable bed, or into a proper bed. The shower was quite large and I like that the toilet was separate. The frosted glass did not bother us at all. I wanted the privacy curtain though to cover the sink too, only because we all got in at different times and would have to turn on lights and disturb those who were sleeping. Bring a sleep mask, it is helpful if you are light sensitive. Our room was steps from the spa on the 14th deck and at a dead end hallway so very minimal foot traffic ever came by our door. We chose this room because of that factor and were very pleased with not having hundreds of people walk by our door all day. SPA: The spa was my favorite thing on the ship and I 100% used it. The views were spectacular, the steam room I went to almost every day, sometimes twice. Three sauna and the pools were great too, wonderful water massage in them. The warm loungers were nice, there was always water and tea for you and the best part was the outside aft deck. I had the most GLORIOUS full moon evening alone in the spa and I sat outside relishing the full moon on the water as it passed through clouds and cast shadows on the sea. This truly was my favorite night, and there was only one other person in the spa that night besides me, truly blissful! As for the spa services I did not participate, I found them to be highly overpriced, but my mother got an over priced manicure and teeth whitening. She also got a little tiny fortune telling bonus, which she loved and was not at all something most customers would get (or want) but she loved it. She dropped $500 btw on a manicure, face cream and teeth whitening. For her she loved it, and I guess that is all that really matters. FYI massages are $160 when the ship isn't moving and a little over $200 when the ship is moving. The last day they do a $119 special, take advantage, cause that is the going rate at any Burke Williams, these do not include spa access btw. ENTERTAINMENT: Let me start by saying i'm a performer, and my parents are musicians, so we know good entertainment. The first night we stumbled upon Howl at the Moon, which is two dueling pianos. Ive seen this before, but these guys were quite incredible. It was of course helpful that one of them was the spitting image of my high school sweetheart- but biased aside, they were most excellent. Great voices, personality, easy actually fun audience participation, they were just a blast. The best thing I saw on the boat by far. We came back around and saw them a second night, they were still quite good, but a dash or two of their sparkle was not there. Maybe they just needed a few more drinks, yeah, ill chalk it up to that, because they were still just delightful. Next best thing I saw was Burn the Floor, a dance show. The performers were excellent and broadway caliber for the most part. The costumes were great, some of the singing was a little cheesy in song choice, but their dancing over shadowed any of that. My family all had our favorite dancers and surprisingly they were all the same, such excellent talent. We randomly saw them all again at the Manhattan room where they performed a swing and ballroom type act, it was even better than the show. The martini lounge had an equally cheesy piano player, who was kinda mediocre and boring IMO. Not in a cool retro way, but in a kinda sad way. Another bar had a girl always playing covers who was fine, but this also felt kinda sad to me, she seemed bored. I don't blame her, I think I would have been too. The Soul Satisfaction was a hit with my parents, and they had good harmonies, but I could tell from a performer point of view, they were bored. The Beatles band was really awful, out of tune and bad IMO. Those harmonies need to be tight and they just weren't, and I stayed for two songs and left. Karaoke was fun, because I got to sing, and I love supporting people singing. But we found the same people there the two times we went singing the same songs. I guess this was their little shot at fame, and bless their hearts I am so glad they had fun. The manhattan band, whom I guess was the one in the middle of the ship near the big screens was always so off key to me, that I couldn't even stay for half a song. Maybe that was why they weren't in the dining room, maybe the real band wasn't on this cruise. I didn't catch Priscilla, but I was too disappointed already to give it shot, plus the show times were always too late. I had to get to sleep for my excursions the next day. DECOR & LAYOUT: A bit too vegas for my taste. It felt more fake plastic spectacular, than genuine beautiful or artful. The whole ship seemed to always funnel you through the casino, which was filled with smokers- ew! I was hoping for something more grand but overall it felt more vegas tacky/flashy then nicely designed. The Manhattan room was nicely done and I popped into the Haven lounge which felt classy and nicely done compartevly to the rest of the boat. EXCURSIONS: BEWARE! I never took an NCL excursion but they are highly overpriced. I did a rome in a day in a private cab with 2 other couples and it was gloriously cheap. $100 euros compared to almost $400 dollars on the same NCL excursion. Almost every excursion was extremely overpriced and others I talked to who went on them, said they left you alone a lot in drop off points, which could be ok, or not, depending on the experience you are looking for. Also there were many hidden transpo issues with getting into the main port. Often a $5-$15 euro bus was needed to get into town. I wish that NCL would communicate this more clearly to you. Many budget minded cruisers were upset, and many in general thought of it as a ripoff. I am highly satisfied for cruise critic helping me find a great way to see what I wanted at a reasonable price. SO happy to have found this community! OVERALL: I feel that NCL has many hidden fees to the freestyle cruising, it really feels like they just want to keep milking you for this or that. I have tried this type of cruising and now know that all inclusive is for me. Im sure that NCL intentions are well, but it feels pretty middle of the road first timer entry cruise line. The glamour, attention, pampered, and luxurious is not really experienced on this type of cruise line. The food was incredibly disappointing but at least the spa made me feel like I was on a special adventure. All in all I give a c grade to this line. I advise you to do your research, and read many reviews to see if this is the right line for you. Best of luck and thanks for reading! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This is the first time on Norwegian and we were travelling with a large family party to celebrate a special birthday. We arrived in Barcelona in good spirits and embarkation was good and quick and the cabins were ready and clean. We had ... Read More
This is the first time on Norwegian and we were travelling with a large family party to celebrate a special birthday. We arrived in Barcelona in good spirits and embarkation was good and quick and the cabins were ready and clean. We had several inside cabins and a studio and all were clean and surprisingly spacious. Unfortunately things did not continue problem free. The first thing we all noticed was the generally unfriendly staff, very few smiles or greetings, no one offering to help, in fact some staff were rude. When you asked directions staff did not seem to know the answer or just pointed in a direction. Bar service was very poor, we were generally ignored or waited ages to order a drink. No one came up to our table to take orders in any of the bars and and long waits just to get a drink was the norm. There were few smiles of "Good Mornings", Guest Services were poorly informed and we were given contrasting information continually. When our credit facility was stopped due to their error - we were told to ring our credit card company which we did only to find out it was a problem with the Finance Department - there was no apology for the inconvenience just "its sorted now". On one port day there was a drill around 9am. We were at Breakfast in the Taste Restaurant, we were served coffee had orders taken and then the waitress said "I have to run I have a drill" - that was the last time we saw her or in fact any waiting staff. It was truly farcical, there were two waiters serving coffee in the vast restaurant and no other staff to be seen. All tables were just left and when asked if we could speak to a manager we were told "he is in the kitchen making eggs." We never saw his efforts because after one and a half hours we left and then had to queue in the buffet for food which conveniently had half closed due to said drill. The restaurant manager eventually did apologise when I complained later to Guest Services but thought that he was doing his bit (cooking eggs) and didn't seem to find it strange that his staff had disappeared. The general disorganisation was everywhere. Theatre closed for refurbishment but no further seating in the Atrium for demonstrations, shows etc. Lack of shows was such a disappointment although the Cirque show was free due to the lack of other shows but I am still amazed that the theatre was closed with such a full ship and no prior warning, we did feel cheated. Disorganisation at Malaga meant that the queue to disembark snaked round and round the ship, no organisation, no information until one person explained there was another exit and we departed with no delay leaving others to wait for hours in the long queue. Disorganisation at the Customs check on board, apparently it was fine in morning but by the time my deck went at 2pm the queue was no longer under control with people queuing in wrong queue or just going to the front and pushing in. After waiting 90 minutes the card readers broke and we were told to come back. Where were the senior management; it was truly a fiasco. The food in the restaurants was poor, it was cold when served and there were long waits. The buffet was crowded and lacked organisation, no one came round to fill drinks like on other cruise lines. The two meals in the speciality restaurants were lovely in comparison but these do mean paying a premium. The Chinese restaurant was free and all my party said the staff were exceptional and could not praise them enough, so they were doing something right but this needed to be across the board. Then disembarkation at Southampton. Richard the Director blamed it on the British not being able so sort the gangway and that may have been the case however it was farcical and the lack of organisation reared its ugly head again. No staff in sight and thousands of people trying to cram off one small 45 degree angle gangplank; disabled, elderly all pushing on high decks to go down with suitcases, passengers dragging suitcases down the stairs and chaos everywhere. Lifts were not going to the lower floors so staircases were jammed, people missing flights and connections and this was before the luggage tags had been called. I cannot even begin to try and explain what the chaos was like and I have never departed a ship before with my suitcases down a gangway at such an angle. I have no idea how my 80 year old mother managed it and thought of all the poor people left behind in the chaos, many in wheelchairs. We had a enjoyable week due to the Cirque show which was free and excellent, the two meals in speciality restaurants Cucina and Cagneys, the Supremes and Burn the Floor shows. However we left disappointed at the general chaos we left behind, the unhappy staff, and the poor management of the ship and the restaurants. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We are from Philadelphia. My husband and I traveled with our 2 teenaged daughters. This was our first trip to Europe, and we chose a cruise in order to see as much as possible in our 11-day vacation. We started our trip with a few nights ... Read More
We are from Philadelphia. My husband and I traveled with our 2 teenaged daughters. This was our first trip to Europe, and we chose a cruise in order to see as much as possible in our 11-day vacation. We started our trip with a few nights in Barcelona, then boarded the Epic for a 7-day cruise to ports in Italy, France, and Spain. With a different port nearly everyday, it was a lot like being on a floating hotel. We actually didn't partake of many of the shipboard activities. We were busy it ports all day and tired by night. So a good meal and a glass of wine was all we really wanted. The ship was well designed and very clean and comfortable. The beds were luxurious and we slept very well. We enjoyed the balcony where we could have coffee or drinks and watch as we traveled the beautiful coastline. The house and wait staff were all excellent. Very attentive. The Spice H2o club was awesome. What little time we were on the ship was spent here. In the day it's not over crowded and we could relax on the deck and soak up some sun while enjoying great mojitos. At night it became a dance party we attended a few times. The crew made it fun. We ate in the main dining rooms mostly. After experience the amazing foods of Barcelona a no Italy, who needs to partake of expensive upgraded dining aboard the ship. But it's there if you want it. Being professionals from a major city, we eat out a lot a nice restaurants. The food in the main dining rooms, while not to die for, but it was flavorful and properly cooked. The one negative was the coffee. It was weak and tasted like a cheap grocery store brand. First stop at every port was an espresso! Despite other complaints of the ship being smokey in the center near the casinos, I didn't smell smoke aboard ship at all. The air was fresh! Embark and debarked was always easy and fast. The ports were amazing! We invested in private tours through EasyItaly tours at every Italian port and it was well worth it. The driver picked us up at the ship and we wasted no time trying to navigate on our own. They took to the best dining and shopping, and we bought tickets ahead for the sites we wanted to see. They even provided private guides for the sites as well. They always got us back to the ship in time. This cruise was perfect for our goals. We were all very satisfied with the experience and the quality. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
I hadn't been on a cruise in 25 years, so I didn't really know what to expect. Some things were so much better than expected. Others were a disappointment. Room: Mini suite rooms were spacious enough for our family of 3. ... Read More
I hadn't been on a cruise in 25 years, so I didn't really know what to expect. Some things were so much better than expected. Others were a disappointment. Room: Mini suite rooms were spacious enough for our family of 3. Bathroom set up was different but didn't bug us at all. TONS of storage. The "bed" for our son (looks like a sofa) was hard as a rock. Loved the balcony and twice sitting out there saw dolphins jumping in the sea. Ship: Huge! Didn't feel motion at all except when departing from a port. Lots of people smoking that you had to walk past to get places. General ship décor was a bit tacky. Slides were fun for our son but there really isn't any decent size pool at all. Two VERY small rectangular pools. 15th floor where the main buffet was located was often completely packed, took a long time to get anything and then there was no place to sit and eat. We had the drink package for drinks and soda but had to wait in long lines to get anything. The morning we left we tried to get a soda and they very sharply refused. Very "no soup for you" attitude. All bar areas were understaffed (never more than 1 person at the buffet bar for an incredible number of people). Service: mixed bag. Cabin steward was great. The pay additional restaurant staff was consistently good as were managers in each. I never saw a bartender smile - probably because they are understaffed. Food: The food was really very good. The additional cost restaurants were amazing. In particular we loved the Brazilian restaurant. Coffee throughout the ship was pretty bad except in the one place you had to pay for it even if you had the drink package. Even the buffet had a decent selection and good food if you could get food without it becoming cold as you go through lines and could find a seat to eat. Entertainment: Amazing! loved cirque show!!! Even the silly game type shows they did were hysterical. Howl at the moon was fun for the whole family too. Miscellaneous: they did a great job with hand sanitizer everywhere. Excursions were well executed. The logistics were remarkable - getting that many people on and off the boat every day seems like quite a feat. Big and well appointed gym. End verdict: Glad we did it once. Probably wouldn't do it again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
OK – let me start with a full disclosure. My family has taken 6 Disney cruises and loved every one of them. We only took Norwegian because we wanted to begin our summer vacation with the convenience of a cruise while we visited Spain, ... Read More
OK – let me start with a full disclosure. My family has taken 6 Disney cruises and loved every one of them. We only took Norwegian because we wanted to begin our summer vacation with the convenience of a cruise while we visited Spain, Italy, and France. So, if you sense a bias, there probably is one, but I’m trying to be as objective as I can. It’s tough not to compare the two cruise lines. As a family we tried our best to discourage each other from making comparisons – positive or negative – to Disney. Norwegian and Disney are two different cruise lines with two different approaches to cruising, and we recognized that. Overall, our impression was two-fold: First, there are a LOT of people on this ship. The site says that it has a capacity of 4100 passengers and 1753 crew (2.34 passengers to 1 crew), but my comments below seem to not reflect this. I have read elsewhere that children under a certain age are not considered to be passengers. Second, we believe the crew and the ship itself are just “tired”. Again, the specifics below seem to support this. Here’s the specifics for Norwegian from our Mediterranean cruise in mid-June 2015: FOOD: • Overall, the food quality was good. I would rate it as “standard” cruise fare – nothing stand out. • In the “Moderno” Brazilian restaurant, some of the meats were overdone and chewy. The chicken was dry. The sides were lackluster, and the desserts didn’t seem to be appetizing to us. • “Cagney’s” steakhouse restaurant was pretty good. A couple of us had the filet that was done to our liking, but, again, it was dry. • The teppanyaki restaurant was OK. The scallops were exceptionally good. • “Le Bistro” French restaurant was probably our favorite specialty restaurant. The escargot were great, and the rest of the food was better than any other specialty restaurant we had. • The “Garden Café” buffet lines were OK, too. Again, pretty much standard cruise fare with no particular standouts. INSIDER TIP: At the very front of the ship there is a seating area for the Garden Café that is often overlooked. But it has stunning views and is away from the serving lines. Check this out early in the morning for your own private retreat. • “O’Sheehan’s” (say it a couple of times and you’ll get the nautical pun) was a great little place to have a meal. The menu is very limited, but what a great place to just hang out with no extra charges and have a burger, breakfast, or a cup of coffee. • “Wasabi” – sushi bar. Average tasting sushi - not bad, but nothing exceptional. • INSIDER TIP: The “Ultimate Dining Package” is a good value if you want to visit the specialty restaurants. When you add up your price to visit one or two of the specialty restaurants, you’ll see that it’s worth it. FOOD SERVICE: • Here’s where we can’t help but compare Norwegian and Disney – because they are so different. Norwegian has the “freestyle” cruising concept where you can show up to any of their “complimentary” restaurants at any time and eat. That certainly allows for great flexibility – especially for families. Disney has a “rotational” dining schedule where you are assigned a seating time in a certain restaurant each night (you can choose between an early or late seating time). On either ship, you can choose to opt out of eating in a restaurant and just doing the buffet if you wish. • Hands down the best serving staff we encountered was at O’Sheehans – the little 24 hour Irish pub/snack bar on deck 6. They seemed happy, worked as a team, and were very attentive to us even when we were in a rush and opted to have their “express” breakfast. I made sure to make a positive comment to the officer that was there as well. But, again, they had more than enough servers to handle the amount of people that were there. That counted for a lot, too. • This is where the contrast becomes specifically evident. The trade-off you make with the flexibility on Norwegian is the quality of service. With Disney (and I think with other cruise lines), you have a waiter team (we had a waiter and assistant waiter on Disney) that goes with you from restaurant to restaurant. We so appreciated the relationship we established with our team over the week knowing what we liked, didn’t like, and the kids really looked forward to seeing their “friends” each night. • Again, the wait staff and restaurant on the Norwegian Epic seemed to be non-committal on whether we were there or not. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they were rude, but as I said before, the sheer numbers of people may have made this a far less “personalized” experience than we’ve experienced elsewhere. No one called us by name, and I was never asked by an officer or staff member how our meal was going. On a visit to the sushi bar, we noticed a server for the Teppanyaki bar come outside the restaurant, cough directly into their hands, then return back in and start serving guests. Rarely did a wait staff come and ask us how we liked our food. It seemed that we were just cattle and they were going through the motions of getting us fed and watered. • We did observe that the clear majority of the serving staff were from the Philippines. Coming from a country that employs many Southeast Asian people as workers, we know the strong work ethic of the Pilipino people. We also know that coming from such a poor country where wages are low and unemployment is high results in people willing to find work for sub-standard wages. While Disney had its share of Southeast Asian serving staff, they also had British, American, European, Indian, and other nationalities. This isn’t a reflection on any particular culture - it’s just a difference worth noting. CABIN: • Our cabin was #12145 – mid-ships, near the top of the ship, with a balcony. • We are the type of family who doesn’t spend a lot of time in the cabin. When we come back from excursions or hectic times at the pool, it was a great retreat for some solitude and quiet (see below). • One thing we have to say right off is that our cabin was QUIET! Wow. They must have done something because we heard NOTHING from cabins on either side of us, on top or underneath. It was truly a haven away from what can otherwise be a cruise with a lot of sensory overload. Even on Disney, we didn’t experience this level of quiet. There was no door slamming, kids running down the hallway screaming, toilets flushing, or anything. Even with our door open at night to hear the waves, we weren’t aware of parties and music from 3 decks above. We may have just been lucky, but were greatly impressed with this feature. • Storage was another plus with these cabins. They have really designed these cabins to find all kinds of areas to tuck away things. There’s plenty of room to hang long dresses (if that’s your thing) and even a medicine cabinet to put your toiletries. Wonderful. • I like the idea of the separate shower and toilet. We never used both spaces at once, but with a larger family, it might be nice. Some people online were not thrilled with the translucent quality of the doors, but since you could draw a curtain it didn’t matter. The sink is separate from the shower and toilet, so that was convenient. You could hear someone going to the bathroom, so just be aware of that…. • Beds were firm - which is how we like them – so that is a plus. Pillows were also comfortable. • The walking space is compromised by the storage and nice size beds, so just don’t expect that you’ll have strolling space in the cabin. I would go to O’Sheehans while the girls got ready in the morning just to get one less body in there, and that worked out fine. • On the downside, the cabin did seem worn. The laminate counter was peeling up, there were scratches near the refrigerator, the sealer on the shower door was not secure, the carpets were worn and faded, there was rust and stains on the balcony, and the medicine cabinet mirror had chipped edges. Let me be clear – there was nothing that compromised the health or safety of a guest. In general, it had the quality of a Ramada vs. a Marriott hotel room. Not bad, but not what you’d expect from a hotel room costing you hundreds of dollars a night. It’s ready for a dry dock stint – which is what may be in the cards for the Epic as the Escape is launched this fall. ROOM STEWARD: • Jimmy was great. I can’t give an overall rating for the ship in this area, because there are so many possibilities for a range of quality. However, Jimmy was never late with a turn down service, made really cute animals from towels (a cruise favorite for us), and always provided us with a smile and a warm greeting from the moment we arrived on the ship. • We left Jimmy notes of thanks each night. We can only imagine the lack of respect that stewards must get and the messes they have to clean up. We try to make their life a little nicer by offering a special note of thanks. We will also buy an international calling card at our last port and leave it for him. Nice guy. KIDS ACTIVITIES: • Again, this isn’t Disney, so we didn’t expect the level of quality or offerings that Disney had. Having said that, our 12 year old checked out the activities and area for the 10-12 year old set, and gave it a thumbs down. And she doesn’t give a thumbs down a lot. When she went in to see what they were doing, they were getting ready for a circus performance by spinning plates on top of poles. She said the kids looked totally bored and the area was decorated and designed for kids much younger. She never went to any of the kid’s activities or areas. Based on her reviews, I can’t say that I blame her. It might be different for younger or older kids, though. Your kid’s experience may vary! DECKS: • This is where we really noticed that the ship and crew were tired and too few in quantity. The inside decks seemed clean enough, but the outside decks bordered on being dirty. Spills on the floor, food items left lying around, glass full of fingerprints, rust on the metal surfaces, and tables casually – not thoroughly – wiped – and more. All of these led us to make sure that we cleaned our table, re-sanitized our hands, and find an area that looked relatively clean. • Again, the sheer numbers of people on this ship leads one to believe that it’s a monumental task to keep areas clean and maintained. And maybe someone who doesn’t mind that problem wouldn’t really care. But we are paying a lot of money to have a quality experience. This was a major down side of this cruise for me. The outside decks just need more crew on them to pick up after the large numbers of passengers. • The waterslides – at least on the day we tested them – were FRIGID. We’re used to cold water and actually like it because that provides a bit more protection from bacteria, but this was absolutely cold. The water was probably just refreshed before we used them, and maybe we’ll try them again on our last day, but it was so cold that we just couldn’t use them. • The pools are SMALL! There are a variety of small pools on the main decks. The two for families to use are probably 7 meters by 20 meters each. There are other smaller wading and splash pools for the younger ones. But you have to time your use of them so that you don’t end up with people soup. It didn’t help that one of the pools was constantly closed due to cleaning after an accident – but the cruise line can’t do anything about that. SHOWS: • By far, the shows were the highlight of the cruise. We were impressed, and this is saying a lot with our experience on Disney which has won many cruise line awards for their shows. The quality overall was exceptional and whoever hired and coordinated the talent should be congratulated. • “Cirque Dreams and Dinner” was absolutely stunning. It’s an additional price - $29.95 for “standard” seating and $39.95 for “premium” seating. The latter just means that you’re seated first with your first choice of where you would like to sit. You’re seated with others based on the size of your group, so be prepared for that. INSIDER TIP: I’d go for the premium seating and get to the line to get into the show about 50-60 minutes before the show start. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to go for a seat that is in near the center ring in front of the tech booth on the right as you come in. It seems most of the action faced that way, but honestly, there’s not a bad seat in the house. You have a set menu of prosciutto ham, steak and shrimp, and then a trio of desserts that are acceptable, but you’re required to eat them during the show which is difficult with the stunning acts you’ll experience. Bring the family. NOTE: If you have family members who are especially sensitive to constant visual or auditory stimuli, they’ll have a hard time with this. The music is pulsing, the lights and costumes are flashy, and there is not a break for the whole time you are there. • The rest of the shows are just as high a quality. We saw pretty much all of them, but if we had the chance, we’d go to Cirque again on the cruise – it was just that good. • The times for the shows are somewhat scattered and it’s tough to make the schedule work with dinner reservations at the specialty restaurants and getting to see the shows. Actually, this is somewhat of a problem with the “freestyle” type of schedule. It’s too flexible in my opinion – so much so that it gets to be a problem with trying to fit things in that you want to do. With the traditional “fixed” schedule, you have an early dinner and a late show or vice versa. EXCURSIONS • This area is so much about personal preference that it’s hard to review. And the quality of the excursions vary so much on the tour operator, time of year, guide, and other factors that you just have to look at the description, pick those that seem of interest to you and go for it. Just know that you’re not the only cruise ship in town, so you’ll be rubbing elbows, shoulders, and backpacks with the rest of the world, too. • While my wife and daughter headed to Mt. Vesuvius in Pompeii, I elected to just go into town in Napoli, get lost on a side street, find a café where no one spoke English, get my email with the Wi-Fi, and have the locals laugh at my attempts at Italian for a couple of hours. I didn’t see another cruiser for that whole time, and I really enjoyed just people-watching and relaxing away from the hustle and bustle. OVERALL: • My ratings reflect an overall “good” experience and, again, reflect a bias towards the extremely high quality (and accompanying high prices) of the Disney line. I didn’t expect and didn’t want luxury cruising. I did expect clean decks, well-maintained cabins, and an attentive, personal staff. Sometimes, we got that, but most of the time we did not. • In case anyone from Norwegian sees this, here’s some suggestions: o Make your daily schedule more readable in a grid format so that you can look down a specific time and see what’s going on around the ship. o It might cut into profits, but reduce the crew:passenger ratio. It’s affecting your quality of service. o Let the passengers know when the photographers are available with what backgrounds at the start of each cruise or on the schedule. We missed out on the white background that our family was looking for because we didn’t know the opportunity had already happened. o Do more management by walking around. Rather than standing in the corner having officers talk to each other, have them talk to the passengers and get immediate, detailed feedback. You might learn a lot prior to the feedback survey at the end of the cruise. o Put server staff where they want to be. It seemed that some of your staff really didn’t want to work in a particular restaurant (or in a restaurant at all), so maybe find out and then quietly “secret shopper” the staff to see if it’s a good fit. o Give better descriptions of youth activities. Simply putting “Wacky Tacky Party” in the schedule doesn’t say what the activity is. o Freshen up your staff and ship. Show your teppanyaki chefs some videos of other chefs for new ideas on how to entertain guests, model for your servers how to never go by a table without delivering, picking up, or refreshing something at the table, demonstrate the difference between a lackluster host/hostess greeting and a greeting that makes every guest feel like you were waiting just for them at your restaurants. o If you’re going to continue to build ships larger, don’t do it at the sacrifice of your crew:passenger ratios. That’s about it. We had a good time, and we saw all the places we wanted to see. If we consider that the cruise was just a means of having a place to eat, sleep, and transport us to the Mediterranean locations, then it was a success. We just wish it was a bit more than that. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We have cruised on Carnival so many times And decided to try Norwegian since we wanted a European cruise. Everything from embarkation to the service was so much better than Carnival. The food, in my view and also my daughter's, was ... Read More
We have cruised on Carnival so many times And decided to try Norwegian since we wanted a European cruise. Everything from embarkation to the service was so much better than Carnival. The food, in my view and also my daughter's, was great and I am a foodie who knows good food. The Brazilian restaurant was fantastic and the same with the steak house. I also found the organization of the tours was much better. The way only tour we were not too impressed with was Palma in depth. On Mallorca. We will be doing Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We are NOT career cruisers. We have enjoyed our 4 cruises (1 x Carnival, 2 x Royal Caribbean and 1 x Norwegian). All in all the EPIC was a fine ship. Our 13 year old daughter had a blast with the youth group Entourage. It was difficult ... Read More
We are NOT career cruisers. We have enjoyed our 4 cruises (1 x Carnival, 2 x Royal Caribbean and 1 x Norwegian). All in all the EPIC was a fine ship. Our 13 year old daughter had a blast with the youth group Entourage. It was difficult keeping track of her and her desire to close the place down each night. Its a very large ship and that was somewhat nerve wracking. 3 of the girls in the group lost their phones, our daughter was one, but it was found poolside and turned in. The youth director needs to educate the kids on curfew better. They tended to just close and let the kids hang out. They need instead to firmly send the kids to their cabins. We were on the verge of filling out a missing persons report one night. Norwegian as a phone app that for 8 bucks a phone allows shipboard texting and calling. I got this for my phone and my daughter's phone, but the voice part never worked (sorry we are having technical difficulties) and the text part sometimes worked and sometimes did not). This is a great idea that needs to be bulletproof on larger ships. Next time we will do what one set of parents did and require hourly call ins using ship phones. Norwegian had a sale when we bought our tickets and we got the premier dining experience. That was nice. What was not nice was that it was practically impossible to get reservations. So out of 7 nights we only could use it twice. The bistro and Cagneys was great, the rest of the meals were average cruise fare. I missed having a quiet place to relax on the ship. Its busy and loud everywhere till midnight. We could only relax in our cabin (deck 8 with balcony) but the seating in the cabins is uncomfortable. No chairs, just a weird sofa that became our daughter's bed. The bathroom arrangement like pretty much everyone comments on is stupid. Lets just leave it at that. I expected it so we counted it as part of the reason we got a pretty good deal on the cruise. We got very quickly on and off arriving and department at each port. That was a surprise. The staff was friendly enough. We think we are ready to get away from the hustle of ports of calls with the fear of missing the ship and start staying in an area we want to visit and savor it more. There will be other cruises I'm sure but for the most part we no longer really like this style of travel. We enjoyed our 3 day stay in Barcelona much more than the cruise itself. We did not take in any of the shows, nothing to write home about so no real need to attend. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
A short review, most things are mentioned before. + (Dis)embarkation; 15 minutes work. Ship; big bigger biggest but beautiful. Haven; beautiful, nice restaurant, nice swimming pool and small gym and sauna. Used it so many times, to be ... Read More
A short review, most things are mentioned before. + (Dis)embarkation; 15 minutes work. Ship; big bigger biggest but beautiful. Haven; beautiful, nice restaurant, nice swimming pool and small gym and sauna. Used it so many times, to be away from the crowds. Food; the specialty restaurants. The French we lliked the best. Itinerary; The Mediterranean was so beautiful in October and the weather could not have been better. Swimingpool; slides at the pool, kids used them a lot. Shows; seen them all, liked Blue Man Group. Cabin/Suite; very nice especially the bathroom with a view. Staff; the butler and room steward. Could not think off any body else. - Overall: Too crowded, people were very loud. The MDR; food, waiters and level off noise. The swimming pool area; over crowded, amount off noise was making you crazy. The staff overall, but also in the Haven area, waiters, concierge etc. never had worse staff on any cruise. The elevators; too many people for the amount off elevators. The Garden restaurant; people were loud and rude.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
A very large ship, full to capacity given the holiday season.  We travelled with our two grandchildren 8 and 11, the third time we have taken them on a cruise but our first time with NCL. Overall we enjoyed our holiday as with all ... Read More
A very large ship, full to capacity given the holiday season.  We travelled with our two grandchildren 8 and 11, the third time we have taken them on a cruise but our first time with NCL. Overall we enjoyed our holiday as with all cruises there are good and not so good. We did not do any excursions, but did leave the ship to sample the local sights, but much of our time was on the ship which was very quiet during the day in contrast to the heaving mass in the evenings. This allowed our grandchildren to enjoy the slides and pool with little queuing for the most of the day. Other attractions such as the rock climbing were only open for limited periods which was disappointing. The 9 year old went to the kids club and loved it, the older one did his own thing and had a wonderful time. We read mixed reviews about the food and it is true that the staff are not very good at keeping the food hot, but generally we were pleased with both variety and quality. Staff were generally excellent. The drinks package for children is unbelievably good value which contrasted against the adults package which we felt was overpriced as were the drinks on the ship. The 15% gratuity seemed to follow us every where and guests must be mindful that the prices of most goods and services had a charge or tax (sometimes over 20%) that was not readily advertised and can add considerably to your bill. For this reason I declined to pay the $12.00 a day per person which is a sizeable chunk to the cost of the holiday. This simply entails filling out a form at reception no questions asked. The state rooms seem to generate varied reviews. The positives for us that it was located in a quiet part of the ship and we had little noise to contend with. Whilst the design of the cabin is different with the curved wall it was not for us. The curved settee which was supposed to ‘convert’ to a bed simply had a sheet and a duvet placed on it and was barely two feet wide in the middle. The bunk bed was better but severely restricted access to the balcony. The unusual bathroom setup of separate shower, toilet and basin was for us a disaster area and whilst some reviews have been positive, the almost total lack of privacy means that we will not travel on this ship again and I think that NCL will find that future repeat bookings will be hugely influenced by this unsatisfactory layout. Over all an enjoyable cruise pity about the room layout. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
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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