39 Norwegian Epic Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Caribbean - Southern

This was my second cruise experience. My first experience was on a Carnival Cruise out of Tampa. There was a wide variety of age groups on this ship for Thanksgiving including lots of families, young adults, and /older people in their ... Read More
This was my second cruise experience. My first experience was on a Carnival Cruise out of Tampa. There was a wide variety of age groups on this ship for Thanksgiving including lots of families, young adults, and /older people in their 60's and 70's. Embarkation: The drive down to Orlando from Atlanta took about 7 hours. We traveled through many toll roads that cost money, we should have gotten the pass. We parked at a lot and took a shuttle to the port. There was a long line but it moved fast. Ship: The ship itself is massive and huge, I believe there were over 4,000 passengers on board. It never felt like it was overly packed until we went on the pool deck/Deck 15 and it was pretty packed. The layout of the ship and elevators are a little confusing. Make sure you know if you are in the front, middle, or back of the boat and take the appropriate elevator to get to your room otherwise you're gonna be walking for a little while to get to your room. Sometimes the elevators were packed full of people so we took the stairs often. Room: We had an inside cabin. It was small but it fit our needs. The shower was separate from the bathroom and the sink. There was plenty of storage underneath the beds and in the closet. Our room steward did a great job. I would definitely pick a balcony on the next cruise so I can chill in the room on sea days and not be stuck in an inside cabin. Entertainment: We went to the Cirque Dreams show ($) and the Burn the Floor dance show. Both were great shows and we really enjoyed them! We made reservations ahead of time before we boarded the ship. We heard from others that Priscilla Queen of the Dance Floor was long and boring. We did not do any comedy shows. Gambling: We did the quarter machine and also played a few games of slots. We didn't spend much time gambling but there are plenty of machines to choose from as well as craps tables. A lot of the elderly people were gambling from sun up to sun down. Food: I thought the food was pretty decent. We always found something to eat in the Garden Cafe buffet on Deck 15. We always ate lunch and breakfast at the Garden Cafe. There was a selection of pizza, hot dogs, chicken, burgers, pasta, sandwiches, salad bar, etc. Dinner service at the Manhattan Room and Taste was slow and dinner could take upwards of 1.5-2 hours for appetizers, main course, and desert. We did not care for the Irish pub O'Sheehan's and Shanghi's was an hour long wait. Bars: The pool bars were always packed, I felt bad for the bartenders. We found the service to be better at Spice H2O in the back of the ship. The bars were also busy by deck 5 near the atrium. Mixed drinks were from $10-$12, and beers were $5-$6, thank god we went with someone who bought the drink package because we were able to get free drinks the entire cruise. Otherwise, our bill would have been astronomical!! Ports: Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, Grand Cayman Island, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexcio. My favorite port was Cozumel, the people were nice, friendly, and I enjoyed the shopping. You could always bargain with them. We did not book any excursions for Grand Cayman and it seemed like all they had to offer was diamond shopping. The people in Jamaica are very aggressive when you're shopping, I always told them no and kept on going. A lot of people on the ship complained about Jamaica and said they didn't like the pushy/aggressive people trying to get you to buy things. Bahamas was nice and the water was cold, we went to Norwegian's little private owned island and by noon it was packed. Disembarkation: We chose to carry our own luggage. We left around 7:30 and went through customs/immigration and ended up getting to the parking lot around 9:00. There was a long line to get through customs but it moved and all you had to do was show your passport and off you went! Nickle & diming: I felt like Norwegian tries to nickle and dime you for everything. I didn't feel this way when I went on Carnival. From the daily gratuities, to the 20% charge on literally everything (drinks, mini-bar, etc.) It was $10 to rent a movie on on your TV. $7 to bowl at the bowling ally. Then they are pushing photo packages and packages for you to deposit money and sail on a future cruise. We drank a few sodas and water from the mini-bar (no alcohol) and somehow our mini-bar tab was $69. Be sure to check your bill at the end of the cruise. Quiet time: If you prefer to lounge around and look at the ocean, head up to Deck 18 (near the great outdoors buffet on deck 15 and take the elevator to deck 18) it was very quiet, relaxing, and no kids. Overall, we had a good time and the weather was fantastic. It never felt like there were 4,000 people on the ship. We also enjoyed the ports and the excursions. The wait times at the bars need to improve or they need more staff members. It would also be nice if they offered lobster or crab one night at dinner time but this was never offered. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
7 day get-a-way. Food, in 95%, was great, Foods service was great, except for an poorly trained waitress in The Manhattan Room. She was overwhelmed about the group size (11), and table was poorly set up from the start. Blame should ... Read More
7 day get-a-way. Food, in 95%, was great, Foods service was great, except for an poorly trained waitress in The Manhattan Room. She was overwhelmed about the group size (11), and table was poorly set up from the start. Blame should be reflected on Dinning Management, for watching and not giving support or assigning help. She was truly in the wrong place. Each shore excursion started off and ended (debarking/ embarking) entering/exit the ship itself was good, but no ground support, or directions or signs to which line one should be in a close proxamtion to the excurtion you were headed to.. 3000 people heading to double set of doors and not knowing where to go. Tenders, Long line down the middle of the boat, then sit for another 45 minutes in the Epic room, to await on a boat. Returning to the ship.. No signs on where the line starts, lines crossing other lines. and very long. Could see Norwiegian crew staff standing around, but not trying to help. Each shore excursion, we planned, was great, once you got into the correct line... The cruise depends on yourself. Want to have a great time, you can, and will. It's what you make it... My advise to Norwegian staff, We are your employers during the trip. Keep your attitude in your cabin. Keep you options to yourself. Smile when you hate it, If you don't know the question/ answer, state that you don't understand, don't lie, or give false information. Your jobs are tough and your hours are long, we commend your services. Many people will work a whole year just to have a week of peaceful time. Don't make their hard effort's go to waste, That's you jobs, if you can't do it, get another job. There are thousands more waiting to have your job, and, without attitude... Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Different itinerary for my family and hubby is a Bob Marley fan. Had on-boarding issue with our birth certificates not from us but with the computer system caused about a 30 min delay for us. Would recommend using passports as they had no ... Read More
Different itinerary for my family and hubby is a Bob Marley fan. Had on-boarding issue with our birth certificates not from us but with the computer system caused about a 30 min delay for us. Would recommend using passports as they had no issues. Our Room Steward never introduced him/herself to us so we have no idea who they were and I was not a fan of this even though I am sure some folks are. I will say our room was always kept clean, towels were fresh, and ice container was always full so overall not a deal breaker. Only major issue we had was during our Thanksgiving dinner. A very large (30+) group was seated near us for dinner and the amount of noise they generated was intolerable. In fact we did not linger like we normally would have and chose to enjoy coffee and tea on the deck instead. Wish they had designated quieter areas for those diners that prefer it to the absolute bedlam we were seated near. After that I noticed that almost all meals in Taste were very loud occasions. Not the same in Manhattan but it is only open for dinner. I will say this is our 2nd time on this ship. First time with a 10 + size group this time only 6 and being seated was never a major issue only minimal waits. However at Shanghai they actually encourage you to make a reservations now to avoid any delays so be aware. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Boyfriend’s mom booked cruise barely a week before we set sail. From booking to disembarkation, everything was out of this world! Food was phenomenal, customer service was outstanding! Not a single thing I could complain about and the ... Read More
Boyfriend’s mom booked cruise barely a week before we set sail. From booking to disembarkation, everything was out of this world! Food was phenomenal, customer service was outstanding! Not a single thing I could complain about and the family agrees! Staff was knowledgeable and friendly. The food was consistently delicious and always different. Never had an issue with too many children although it was kid friendly. They had their own section as did the adults so crossing paths was never overwhelming or distracting. The on board shows were super entertaining and the main attraction cirque de solel precormanxe was insane! Unbelievable talent and poise from the performers with just the right amount of comic relief. Throw in a little audience participation and one of the best prepared meals we had on board and you have a night for success. Needless to say, we are planning next years Norwegian adventure already! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The ship was large and in good condition. The unusual bathroom layout wasn't a problem for us as it was just me and my daughter and it allowed us space to get ready in separate spaces. We dined mostly in the main dining rooms ... Read More
The ship was large and in good condition. The unusual bathroom layout wasn't a problem for us as it was just me and my daughter and it allowed us space to get ready in separate spaces. We dined mostly in the main dining rooms and there was always something that we liked. We have had specialty dining on prior cruises, and I thought I would get bored with the options, the it was fine. It was Thanksgiving week and the ship was full. Luckily, we had booked reservations for the main dining rooms and shows online prior to departure. I think it really helped this time. I preferred eating in the main dining rooms because they are less hectic. Our steward, Gabriel, was the best we've ever had, and this was our 4th cruise. I have found that the steward can really make or break your experience. I can say enough about how welcome he made us feel and how well he took care of us. The onboard entertainment was fun, particularly Priscilla Queen of the desert and Burn the Floor. It was hard to get my teenage daughter to leave the Entourage teen club she liked it so much! Embarkation, got through security and check-in quickly, but then had to wait much longer than in the past to board. Latitudes category didn't seem to help. Disembarkation was not managed well enough for those doing walk off. Many of us lined up early, then there were really rude people trying to cut line. In future, the cruise members should set up ropes and manage the crowd better. Enjoyed all the ports, including Great Stirrup Cay. Teenage daughter particularly liked the Reggae Party Boat and Dunn River Falls climb in Jamaica. Most of all enjoyed peacefully having my coffee and continental breakfast delivered to our stateroom on my balcony! I would overall give the cruise an A, and any complaints above are merely blips. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The Epic was EPIC I loved this ship I had been on it the prior year and will again this April. The crew is wonderful the food is excellent and ez to get around we took an excursion off ship in jam with know jamacia they picked the ... Read More
The Epic was EPIC I loved this ship I had been on it the prior year and will again this April. The crew is wonderful the food is excellent and ez to get around we took an excursion off ship in jam with know jamacia they picked the 5 of us up at the port and took us to the Blue Hole, to a one man ceramic artist, lunch with the island flare and to around the island. the trip tp grand cayman was well grand cayman went snorkeling lunch, rented a jeep in Cozumel and had a great beach day at the caye, I will never tire of the Epic. I hope u enjoy relax eat drink and be so very merry! if you go try the sushi bar, the speciality resturants, the ice bar The cirque, burn the floor was amazing. All the different bars and lounges were great also ENJOY! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We chose to sail again over New Years and wanting to give Norwegian a try due to the water slides and activities for the kids. Boarding-Went fine although the time slot doesn't appear to be really managed. I was hoping for a ... Read More
We chose to sail again over New Years and wanting to give Norwegian a try due to the water slides and activities for the kids. Boarding-Went fine although the time slot doesn't appear to be really managed. I was hoping for a smoother process. Not that big of a deal. Room-Pretty nice. Very clean. Our cabin steward was a good guy that took care of the room nicely. He was the nicest person on the boat. Entertainment-It's really geared to adults. I mean the adults that have been getting social security checks for a decade. There was a few kids stuff although it was very hit and miss. Really nothing that my wife and I enjoyed. We walked out of a few shows due to being bored. Casino-OK. Not that bad when it comes to the smoke. Drink Package-Very good. No issues. You get popped for the 18% tip on each drink which tends to look like .59 to .99 on your bill. It makes for a very long receipt with 2 people drinking on it. Getting a drink wasn't really a problem. Had a couple of issues. Nothing to really complain about because any bar can get a rush. Food-It was fine for 6 nights. Here we go everyone. We had our entire table get sick eating at the Manhatten on the second to the last night. I mean 6 people got sick within 30-60 minutes of eating. I mean as sick as you can possibly imagine. One person with our party said it was the worst night of her life. We tried to call the medical number at 4 AM but it was "discontinued". I discussed this with guest services and never got a response back from them. We tried to figure out what foods we had in common and nothing matched up. We later started to put the puzzle together. That a number of cabins (all of ours-not next to each other) didn't have hot water until late in the day. They didn't have enough towels at the pool that day. We think that the dishes that we ate off of had some bacteria on them because they weren't washed with hot water. 6 people don't get the flu bug in a matter an hour. Staff-75% were good. 25% were flat terrible. Smart ass responses back at questions or whatever. It just wasn't a good experience. We had said that prior to getting sick. We laughed because we had some tickets to get a free cruise at the raffle. I wouldn't go again with these clowns if it was free. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I’ve cruised about 15 times. This was my first NCL cruise and my last. It was my 20 yr old 3rd cousin’s first cruise and she has sworn off cruises thanks to the Epic. It was my 1st cousin’s 2nd cruise with NCL and though she has not ... Read More
I’ve cruised about 15 times. This was my first NCL cruise and my last. It was my 20 yr old 3rd cousin’s first cruise and she has sworn off cruises thanks to the Epic. It was my 1st cousin’s 2nd cruise with NCL and though she has not sworn off cruises, NCL is no longer on her list. Entertainment: The free shows Blue Man Group and Legends in Concert are fine and very well done. The Epic Theatre is very comfortable and all seats are great. But that’s it for unpaid nightly live entertainment unless bad karaoke, repeated trips to Second City, or lounge singers are your thing. The $ Circus of Dreams was well worth the cost for some amazing performances (though the constant blowing of whistles is a bit much). But the show needs to be re-named so folks do not think they are getting a Cirque de Soleil experience. It’s more reminiscent of a small traveling European circus troupe. Pay the $39 for preferred seating because the up-close-and personal feel is what makes this show very special. Since you are sitting at long dining tables, get there early to request sitting closer to the action. Sit further back, and you may have a lot of heads blocking your view unless it’s an aerial act. It was quite thrilling to feel the wind hit you that’s generated from the spinning roller skating couple! The surf and turf food is okay here, nothing special, so don’t go for the food. Second City is fun but in a terrible locale where posts block the view. Also, you sit in high chairs and the performers onstage are lower than you. Thus, you are blocked by a lot of heads. There are TV monitors, but they are pretty useless as they are along the walls and impossible to see thanks to the high chairs and bodies that fill them. And after 2 nights of Second City it got old. The public movies shown are from the 80s. Groundhog Day? Please! They are also shown at the oddest times like 7pm when folks are at dinner or a show. The free in-room movies are better and newer (like Gravity), but no time schedule is provided, so catch-as-catch-can. Activities: Maybe I’ve been on too many cruises, but I wasn’t interested in any of the daily activities. Usually, there’s something that piques my interest. Except for a talk with the performers in Blue Man Group, nothing floated my boat. Also, we had bad weather on the trip and there was no contingency plan for cancelled outdoor activities. Bad weather = less activities on Epic. Lack of Rule Enforcement: Advance reservations for Second City are a joke: Friends bring friends at the last minute and the hostess does not cancel reservations 10 minutes before curtain as stated. Thus, standbys don’t get in until a few minutes before the show. Spice H2O (the adults only outdoor section of the ship) allowed a couple with their infant child (in a stroller) and their other small child into the area. The dad then proceeded to smoke (it’s not a designated smoking area). Staff didn’t say a word. Fortunately, the kids didn’t go into the pool or Jacuzzis, and stayed close to their parents. They did turn folks away who wore shorts to the Manhattan Room. Ship Design: Main outdoor pools are wading pools with fountains, appealing to kids (and there were LOTS of kids on this cruise). The Spice H2O adults only area has a deeper pool but it’s more of a rather large soaking tub. The latter does have 2 jacuzzis. And there’s no shade at H20 for adults like me who want to be outdoors with adults only but want to be in the shade. Finding a quiet place on the ship is difficult. There are very few quiet nooks. The library area is small and right outside the humidor room and next to a bar with entertainment. So you get smoke and noise there. The closest I found to quiet was on the 15th floor, outdoors but covered, with padded chairs, but you had to deal with ping pong players. There are simply not enough elevators on this ship! I’ve never had to wait so long on any ship to find an elevator that wasn’t packed with bodies. Disembarkation Day was the worst. It took 15 minutes to finally find an elevator the three of us could squeeze onto (with luggage as we chose early disembarkation) only to take us to the 7th floor. You then had to get off to take another elevator to the 6th floor. I got my 2 cousins on with their luggage. I gave up and lugged mine down a flight of stairs. I’ve never seen so many people on any ship doing the same--and several just gave up entirely and lugged theirs down several flights. But once on the the disembarkation deck, things moved quickly. There are some beautiful areas on the ship, but they are few and far between. It does not have the overall, consistent style of Celebrity Equinox (hands down my favorite ship and cruising experience). Food/Dining Experience Overall, food was okay. Ask for a medium rare steak and expect to get a medium. Very disappointed in desserts. I’m a chocoholic and Epic insists serving a lot of chocolate mixed with fruit desserts. Yuck. The best dessert I had was NY cheesecake which was only available through room service! Manhattan Room is lovely, very reminiscent of fine dining in a NY ballroom setting. Taste offers the same food but is less crowded. I think it’s because of the design of Taste. It is a mishmash of styles with claustrophobic low ceilings. I felt I was eating in the cargo area of a schooner. The Manhattan Room initially told us we had a 30 minute wait to get in, and suggested we dine at Taste. But we chose to wait. I then noticed the greeter was telling all guest the wait was 30 minutes and suggesting Taste instead. We were the only ones who waited and were in the Manhattan Room within 10 minutes. Clearly, Epic is also aware of Taste’s problem and this is the solution to fill it. Yes, there are a lot more dining options. But you have to pay for them. We did eat a la carte at the reasonably priced Wasabi Sushi Bar. I’m not a sushi fan, but this was one of the best dining experiences I had on the ship. Another fun place (and the only time I truly forgot I was on a ship) was O’Sheehan’s Bar and Grill (go for lunch as dinner can be crowded and noisy). I had fish and chips and yes they had malt vinegar! Gym: I went to the gym every morning. One of the largest gyms I’ve ever been in, but the least cared for: Broken equipment with no signs on them, I saw one guest explain to a staff member what was wrong with one of the lifecycles. Staff smiled, listened but did nothing. The lifecycle remained broken (with no sign on it) for the entire 7-day cruise. My first day in the gym, staff played the same 3 songs the entire time I was there! Fortunately, this was not the case the remaining days, though they leaned towards rock music so loud that it was impossible to drown it out with personal headphones. Staff: Except for the gym staff, the staff onboard was very attentive and friendly (our room attendant Melody was a hoot!). Our ship was completely booked but that never seemed to be a problem with service whether it be cleaning rooms, busing tables, keeping the ship clean, or being served in the dining areas.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We just came back from our 1 week trip with the Epic from Dec 7th to Dec 14th. We were on the Norwegian Pearl in Dec 2011 which was a great trip and we were hooked on Cruising so we had high expectation for the Norwegian Epic. On the Epic, ... Read More
We just came back from our 1 week trip with the Epic from Dec 7th to Dec 14th. We were on the Norwegian Pearl in Dec 2011 which was a great trip and we were hooked on Cruising so we had high expectation for the Norwegian Epic. On the Epic, we stayed in the Mini Suite and had a balcony on Deck 12, which gave me excellent opportunities to take many great photos of the Ports. Unfortunately this ship did not live up to the standards the Norwegian Pearl had set... The Ship: The ship capacity is 4500 passengers, it is designed to maximize the carrying capacity and maximum balcony options on the ship, the ship is boxy in design. When we were docking on the 3 ports that were visited, I saw some other ships which were longer in length and or bigger in size from other cruise lines (Royal carribbean and Disney) but had less passenger capacity, then I noticed that these ships had lower decks where you can walks around the ship and enjoy your views where the Epic did not except on deck 15 where the pool and buffet is located (which all other ships had as well). One thing I really missed from the Norwegian Pearl was being able to walk around the lower decks and enjoying the views with my family, unfortunately this was not an option on the Epic... You can forget about doing this on Deck 15 as there is not much walking room for a leisurely stroll with all the hustle and bustle of people sunbathing/eating or having a drink, it was always busy. Swimming/Sunbath is located on Deck 15, they have a shallow splash area for small children, 2 small pools which is not really long enough for swimming and a few hot tubs as well as 4 shower stalls outside. The highlight of the pool area is the large water slide which gives you a great ride with a great view while your sliding down. One annoying part of this deck is that sometimes you can smell sewage near the back near the engine exhaust pipes area, I noticed this many times so I can conclude this is an ongoing issue. One other note about the sewage smell, my father who was staying in a Studio room had a sewing smell coming from the vent in his washroom, he couldn't sleep the first night because of the smell. The next day, he taped it up during the night and it helped. Food/dining options: Garden Café: this is where the buffet is located the area is open for breakfast lunch and dinner, there are 4 corners with basically the same food. The food is a hit and a miss, there is variety but not really much quality, I have worked in the restaurant business before and from the way the food was prepared, the staff were probably poorly trained or plain lazy. The food was similar to the Norwegian Pearl, but on the Pearl, the food tasted better. The staff seems disengaged, and slow moving, or they usually just stand there, you can see that most of them are not happy to be there especially the wait staff, on the Norwegian Pearl, almost every staff member had a big smile and were enthusiastic about doing their job and making your stay enjoyable. I noticed on the Epic, for the most part, the staff usually just stand around, sometimes chit chatting with each other, slow to clear the tables, then all of the sudden I see an increase in their movement when a senior staff passes by (usually in the white uniforms) then they slow down again when the coast is clear. The tables are usually not very clean because they do such a poor job of wiping the tables. I did notice staff members who offered exceptional service but those were few and far in between... the Manhatten room: We ate there twice for Dinner, the first time was on the first night aboard the ship, it took us about an hour to get a table(they told us half hour wait), then it took more than an hour to get the main course meal, by then my children fell asleep at the table and my wife had to take them back to the room to sleep. Our waiter did apologize for the wait, I guess it was quite hectic the first day, the food was tasty. We ate at the Manhatten room the second night, the wait was shorter, only about half an hour to get our table and another hour for the main course. they put us in the left side of the dining area, there was a strong mildew smell, I don't remember much about the food because it ruined my appetite, suffice to say that was the last time we went to dine there. Taste: We went there twice, once for lunch and once for dinner. for lunch, our waiter didn't really speak English well and got one of the appetizers wrong but immediately got it corrected and it came out quickly. For dinner, we went early so there was no wait time and we got our food out quickly as well. The staff was professional and courteous. Teppenyaki: The chef was funny and engaging, the portions were generous, but the taste was lacking. The staff was fast and efficient. le Bistro: We made reservations for 8:30, so there was no wait for the table, the wait for the food was long, about an hour. The staff were busy, I see them moving around constantly doing something. The bread was cold, the food we ordered were cooked perfectly. One note about the bread, I did notice all bread got during all the dinners were always cold, on the Pearl, it was always warm or hot when we it came out. Cirque Dreams Dinner: There's no option for food, everybody got the same meal. we didn't get an option for how the filet mignon would be cooked, most of ours came out well done. The show was great and a must see, it makes up for the mediocre dinner. The Casino is located on the 6th floor, elevators on the aft of the ship only goes to the 6th floor and missing the 5th floor and the stairs are blocked off from the 6th floor to the 5th floor, to get to most the dining rooms, theatre, bars etc, you would have to pass by the casino. In the middle of the ship, the 6th floor opens up to the 5th and 7th floor, there are stairs from 6th to 7th and escalators from 5th to 6th, all conveniently bringing you to the casino on the 6th floor. I think the ship is designed this way to maximize the number of people gambling, If you have a gambling issue, this ship is not for you as you will pass by the casino or hear it on the 5th, 6th and 7th floor. I have 2 young children and I had to think of many detours that would not take me across or near the casino (the smoking being my biggest concern), suffice to say, after analyzing the many options, the ship is designed to take you through the casino or at least near it on many of your dining/shopping/drinking options. Housekeeping: Our Steward for housekeeping was very clean and efficient and always did a good job with our messy rooms, with 3 and 1 year old, the room was always a mess, we got our rooms cleaned 3-4 times a day. We had many valuables lying around and nothing was ever missing, our safe was also unlocked at one point and we had about $3k in cash and it was all there when we came back. We had also tipped our steward a few times as well for doing such an excellent job. Safe: We noticed that our safe did become unlocked twice during our trip and our combination reset, once was after a power outage, the second time was in the morning so we don't know if there was a power outage, nothing was missing but it's doesn't give me much trust in those safes. I would give our stay a 6 out of 10, whereas our previous stay with the Pearl I would give a 9. Suffice to say we will not going to be going back to the Epic.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
My wife and I sailed from Miami on the Epic to Phillipsburg, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. This was our first time on the Epic. Previously, we have sailed on the Dawn, Jewel, Pearl, Star and Breakaway. As a one off ship for NCL, the ... Read More
My wife and I sailed from Miami on the Epic to Phillipsburg, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. This was our first time on the Epic. Previously, we have sailed on the Dawn, Jewel, Pearl, Star and Breakaway. As a one off ship for NCL, the Epic is a little different from all of the above ships. Although a large ship, we found it easy to get around the decks. We had a mini-suite on the eight floor behind the front elevators. This proved to be an excellent location. We were in a small corridor with little traffic. We never heard any elevator noise during our cruise. Although we usually take the stairs, when we needed the elevators, they were readily available and often empty. The room itself was nice. On prior cruises with our kids, we stayed in full suites, but the mini-suite had ample room for two adults. There is storage everywhere in this room. The bed is a bit small head to toe, but fortunately, we are not tall people. I liked the much discussed bathrooms. There is a curtain dividing the living space and bath space. With the curtain drawn, the bathroom had good privacy. The shower was large for a mini-suite. I found the independent sink to be useful. One person could shower, while another person shaved without being in each other's way. The balcony was covered with a nice view. The lifeboats on seven did not obstruct the sea view. Overall a very good room for two people. Dining was very good. We are NCL platinum so we had two free specialty dinners each from NCL. We dined at Le Bistro twice, La Cucina, Taste, the Manhattan room twice and O'Sheehans. The specialty restaurants were excellent. Taste and O'Sheehans were very good. The Manhattan room was a bit disappointing. Twice we were promised the band at dinner, and twice they failed to show up. Most of our breakfast and lunch stops were in the Garden Cafe. Food was always good and fresh. As early risers we had lots of room to dine, but around 10 a.m. the Cafe is wall to wall people. Entertainment was a disappointment. The Blue Man Group and Legends were both excellent shows (but please replace the Katy Perry impersonator). However, after you see those shows, the rest of the week is pretty dull entertainment wise. We went to Second City, but it was a very short show with mostly cruise humor, or lack thereof as the case may be. The main theater is small. Therefore, in order to accommodate everyone that wishes to see Blue Man and Legends, those shows monopolize the theater the entire cruise. It also appears, NCL devotes most of the entertainment budget to these shows. Therefore, the rest of the entertainment is low budget. Our stops were fun. We did the rum, perfume and cooking demo tour in Phillipsburg. Entertaining and informative. In the Virgin Islands, we did Megan Beach and shopping. Megan Beach is a great beach. Much nicer than Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda which is typically rated higher than Megan. As this was our first trip to both islands, both tours in addition to their stops, gave a nice overall tour of each island. Embarkation and Disembarkation went smoothly. We arrived at 10:30 a.m. in Miami and we were lunching at Taste by noon. We did the walk off leaving the ship. We were off the ship by 7:30 a.m. Overall, the Epic is a good ship. For a large ship, we never felt crowded. The mini-suite was a very nice room for two (it would be tight for four). My only issue was the entertainment on the ship. The big budget shows are very good, but once you have seen those shows, there is a dearth of main stage entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Would not recommend this cruise to anyone. Went on the ship with a group of 56. All of us had the same experience so it did not VARY at all in terms of quality, service or expectations. We had first time cruisers and experienced cruisers ... Read More
Would not recommend this cruise to anyone. Went on the ship with a group of 56. All of us had the same experience so it did not VARY at all in terms of quality, service or expectations. We had first time cruisers and experienced cruisers and all felt the same disappointment. I have extremely low expectation and am very easy to please, but this cruise couldn't even cut it. Having cruised on NCL, RCI, Canirval and Celebrity, NCL now ranks at the bottom of my list and will never cruise again. Where to begin... Will try to do point form to make it easier and faster to read the important details Embarkation: Checking in took quite a while, very unorganized. - There were 2 lines, one for lattitude (past cruisers) and another line for everyone else. - We have cruised NCL before so we were put in the supposedly faster latitudes member line. This ended up taking double the time as the regular line as our other group members who went to the regular line were long gone way before us. It came to a point where our line was still backed up while the regular line was completely empty. No one there to direct people either so it was chaotic. Rooms: - Were smaller than average cruises, our fridge had some half empty pop and water left from previous guests. No complaint there, mistakes happen. - The sink is extremely small, and water splashes everywhere, I already read many reviews regarding this so I expected it. The bubbling floors goes to show the effect on it LOL. Ship Layout: - TERRIBLE, the main attraction on this ship is the CASINO!!!. You pretty much have to go thru the casino to get to almost everything. I tried what other reviewers mentioned by going the floor above or floor below and thats just plain waste of effort.  The smoke is terrible but is worse when you have to take your 1 year old through it. - This ship is designed for Casino players only. Or partyers. Even the partying is poorly organized because they put it at the back of the ship in the Spice H2o which is such a small area and can barely fit anyone. Too overcrowded. - Too much wasted space on the ship - Trust me when i say this, THEY WILL Nickle and dime you on every attraction or I should say EVERYTHING on the ship - Heard from another guest onboard that the ship was designed like a sail boat and every little wave causes some major nauseating action. Guess it was true, lots of people were seasick and there weren't many waves or windy conditions. For a ship this size, it rocked like crazy. Infant & Toddler Room: - They call it the GUPPIES club. It's basically a hidden room in the end of the ship behind a brown door with a bunch of toys for them to play, nothing special. It's located at the worst part of the ship if you have any sort of waves + the ship being prone to rocking you will get sea sick for sure. Water Slides: Long lineups, the toilet bowl ride was the best. Try to go on them during port days as the line ups are shorter. Don't bother on sea days. Restaurant: - LONG LINE UPS for everything - We tried the 2 freestyle restaurants offered (at no charge). First one is called the Taste. First night we waited about 1.5 hours for our food. Was told that it was extra busy because it was the first night and not to worry it will be faster. We didn't make it to desert, had to walk out after our main course, Table of 14 First night out was Surf and turf. The steak itself was terrible, was a very small portion, the size of a loonie. Asked for medium rare. Was told they dont cook steaks to preference. Only well done. Accepted it. 2nd night, Went to The Manhattan this time, same thing but this time it was 2 hours before our food came out, we didn't make it to desert, had to walk out after our main course. Table of 8 3rd afternoon we tried to do lunch, figured less people, there was practically no one in the restaurant so w were a bit more enthusiastic. Waited another 1.5 hours, no bread to start (server forgot it). Table of 4 + table of 8 (we split it up this time to make it easier on them). Never had out water's refilled. Food was terrible, your better off at the buffet. Never tasted food so bland. Had to walk out before desert as it was taking way to much time out of our vacation. Gave up on the restaurant. Then we decided to try it one last time on the last night. Finally did a table 4, service was good from the one waiter but the food was lacking. I ordered a chip and dip and got 3 tiny pieces of chips on 1 plate, portions are very strange. - One of our other members asked for a table for 5 instead of a table of 4 and was told they had to wait another 1.5 hours again. No comment there. - OSheenhan's Bar & Grill (no-fee restaurant) had better food than the other 2 freestyle dining options. Chicken wings were the smallest little chicken wings I have ever seen. Only 1 flavor, buffalo style LOL. - We ordered pot pie but they didn't give us the PIE? was told they ran out and were cooking them for tonight. Whats the point of giving us pot pie if you are just going to give us the soup? LOL I didn't understand their logic. At least tell us before we order, the server didn't even realize it was missing. It was just the pie filling. Unbelievable. Takes about 30-45 minutes to get a seat (never had to wait this long on any other cruise line). -Spice H2o at the back of of the ship had the best food. Mostly asian / thai food, some sort of pad thai, deep fried wontons, chicken fritters etc. -Garden Cafe Buffet is decent food, pretty much ate here most of the time because food quality was acceptable and it's help yourself so no need to suffer from the terrible service. Fitness Center: Probably the nicest thing they have. Found the THX thing was a waste of space. Entertainment: Blue Man Group - Was very good, we enjoyed it, our 15 month daughter enjoyed it as well. Get there early to pick a good seat. The ending was a blast. Cirque of Dreams - was also very good but the service was HORRIBLE. Person directing us in was so rude, we had lots of complications getting in because the person at the door wasn't competent enough to put my group together. We paid for premium seats but the seats are right beside the standard seats. So basically, dont pay for the premium, its pretty much the same. The show was very good, I was picked to be one of the volunteers so that was a bonus. If you are on the premium seats they will usually pick 6-8 from the audience to participate. Legends in Concert was good. We had an Elvis, Katy Parry and a rock fella (i forgot his name) impersonators. They were very good and entertained the crowd Other than the shows, there was absolutely not entertainment on this ship. Compared to RCI this ship was lacking a lot. Or you had to have deep pockets to make use of the pricey stuff. Shopping on Board: pushy sales people, but expected. However we did buy some NCL memorabilia and was told that we would get 10% off for being a lattitudes member. So we enquired when purchasing and was told we had to be a PLATINUM member to get 10% off. So we told the cashier that we got a letter in the room stating any past NCL guest or lattitude member gets it. Instead he rudely told us to prove it to him and show him the letter (Which we threw out). I wasn't going to argue with someone over 10% (waste of my time). So we went to guest services to verify dispite the small discount we didn't need. They also argued with us and told us it was only for platinum members, so what real benefit did you have being a past guest? NONE AT ALL LOL. Longer line ups and no real discount or benefit. Then we found another cashier who stated anyone with lattitude on their guest card gets it!. WOW, either poor training or very very bad service in general. Arcade: Sad as well, we had to call guest services because one of the games (teddy bear claw game) failed to drop the toy after winning. Had to wait about 30 minutes for someone to come down to fix it. Disembarkation: Worst I have ever seen on any cruise, we asked for some luggage tags and was rudely told (whatever is there) in the tray basically. We needed more but they were holding back on them. After we left and came back, they restocked them. - Got sick on the last night. Noticed a lot of people coughing all over the buffet food so that probably explains it. Another member of my group also got sick on the ship. Not the ships fault but I guess because its November, a lot of people were sick going on. My recommendation: RCI Oasis or Allure. They know how to manage a ship of this size. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
My initial interest in this cruise was in seeing the Blue man group, and trying out the "mega" ship experience. I read many of the reviews on Cruise critic. There were A LOT of pro's and con's, but the overriding ... Read More
My initial interest in this cruise was in seeing the Blue man group, and trying out the "mega" ship experience. I read many of the reviews on Cruise critic. There were A LOT of pro's and con's, but the overriding thought that was expressed was a cruise was like anything else in life, it is what you make it. We arrived to the terminal early, before 11AM. We were checked in, were issued our room key cards, and given group entry cards. We were group 16. This process was very well handled by NCL, and we were on board and heading up to the buffet in less than 30 minutes. They had a nice variety of items on the buffet, and before we were done eating they announced all the cabins were ready. WOO HOO, this is looking better by the minute. THE GOOD: Entertainment: Overall, I would say the entertainment on this cruise was the best we have ever experienced, and we didn't get to see it all. Second City was very good. The show we saw poked fun at life aboard a cruise ship. Some of their jokes I was surprised got past NCL "censors". Like the one about greasing each other down, and squeezing each other tight, now we can get around in our cabin. Legends in Concert: Was very good. The guy who did Jimmy Buffett really looked the part. The Michael Jackson guy did a great job, as well as the gal who did Whoopi Goldberg, and Donna Summer. Blue Man Group: A bit abstract at times, but EXCELLENT non the less. You just didn't know what to expect next. The audience participation really added to it. The little old lady they chose for our show REALLY added to the performance. Circue Dreams: INCREDIBLE, best we have ever seen. I didn't know the human body could be bent into those contortions. The performers just absolutely hit it out of the park. We opted for the premium seating. The one disappointment was the food. Their version of Surf and turf at this venue is a medallion of beef the size of a silver dollar, and TWO large coconut shrimp. They also seemed to be experiencing some service issues, as our table didn't get served until most everyone else was done. The comedian in the Epic theater was VERY good. Actually kept it G rated, and used an 8 year old boy from the audience. Both unusual I thought for an 11 PM performance, but very good non the less. He asked a couple times, so, anybody winning in the casino? Finally TWO people raised their hands. I was talking with someone in the elevator who was mad that after he won and decided to leave the casino, there was nobody to cash him out. He had to take his winnings on his ship card. Food: Overall, I would rate good, to very good. BUT, NO COMPARISON to others we have been on. The Crew absolutely are there for you. All ranks being friendly and courteous when you walk past, and the dining rooms staff, and room stewards are VERY attentive to your every need or desire. We were at the buffet one morning when a 5 or 6 year old lost his breakfast. The crew immediately swung into action, cordoning off the table with chairs, and they had a special team there in minutes with a special cart loaded with cleaning supplies to sanitize the area. THE NOT SO GOOD: First night out was lobster night in the Manhattan main dining room. Actually, surf and turf they called it, with a steak. The steak itself was VERY good, but it was a very small portion, again the size and shape of a large coin. My lobster was border line under cooked. My wife's was not edible. She sent it back, and the replacement was no better. In years past, each time, we left an NCL boat, it was with the impression of finally being "released" from the non stop assault on our wallets, this time was no different. Granted, ALL the cruise lines are there to make money, and sell you as much of everything as they can while they have you captive. But, NCL has refined this into an art form. From cheaping out on the balcony furniture, to trying to steer you to buy at the most over priced stores in port (which they get a cut of), to microscopic steak portions, to constantly pushing their excursions, the casino, shopping on board, future cruise bookings, bingo, specialty restaurants, drinks, to each time you changed the channel on the TV you had to endure some stupid little 10 second delay with a commercial for something else they were trying to sell you, etc, etc. The casino seemed to be everywhere. I believe it was on three decks in the middle of the ship. There were ALWAYS slot machines, even at a bar in the middle of an atrium. I half expected to see a slot machine attached to inside of the public toilet stall doors. This ship didn't seem to have the formal main lobby area, the long flowing polished staircases, the atrium with glass elevators etc. That area was all taken up by casino. The Epic's design is all about crammin as many cabins as possible on board. Looking at the ship's overall silhouette, it looks like a shoe box turned on its side with a point stuck on the front of it for a bow. All the other ships out there have their decks sloped inward as they rise. I can only imagine how much of a handful the Epic would be to control in heavy winds with that boxy profile. Maybe that was why it DID seem to take longer than normal for the ship to dock using its noisey side thrusters, maybe because of the wind resistance? Regardless, the thrusters turns out to be an alarm clock each morning when docking. The cabins are pathetically small, at least the entry level balcony rooms. There is NO way two people can pass between the bed and the cabinets. Normally a room like this will have a small desk top area and a chair, for doing make up, or writing, or computer work, or? Our room had a tiny counter top space and a small stool. I had read a number of reviews about the layout of the bath facilities, and quite frankly didn't know what to expect. When I walked into the cabin for the first time I was shocked. There is NO bathROOM!!!! When you open the door, there is a small shower stall on one side of the door, and a small toilet area on the other side. Each with half round sliding doors. These are separated from the "main" cabin by nothing more than a drape. The sink, about the size and shape of a football, is in the main cabin area at the end of the bed. What they did in the design of this ship is to take EVERY possible inch of deck space they could from wherever they could to add more cabins. The room walls are curved. This is so the areas that REQUIRE space (bed length, walkway, cabinets) can have it, but yet they can "take back" some of that floor space in the sitting area. That is why the ship is shaped like a huge shoe box. That is why all the compromises in the cabin "amenities". On their own TV recorded sales pitch for future cruise sales the gal even pointed out that all future NCL ships were being built with BATHROOMS. We were disappointed with our balcony. We were in room 8195, and it has some sort of a drain pipe coming down from the above decks that stops over a drain flange in the floor of the balcony of this room. It makes a rather loud gurgling noise all the time. We have come to enjoy at least one breakfast on the balcony on each cruise. I have shoulder issues, and end up having to get up out of bed and go back to sleep in a recliner at home. On numerous occasions of other cruises I was able to fall asleep on the balcony in a recliner, or the chair in the sitting area, niether of which this ship had. The deck furniture was disappointing. Two small chairs, and a tiny table that might be suitable to hold two drinks and muffin. NO WAY to order a tray of breakfast, or to recline on your balcony like on most other ships. I went to the fitness center (deck 14 aft) several times. I use a recumbant bike, but it was different from what I was used to. After much frustration with setting the resistance level, I finally went up and asked for help. Realize, I'm there for free, not buying spa stuff, or anything else, just using an excercise machine. No tip potential, but the staff went out of there way to show how to use this machine. Also, much to my delight, they showed me a "locker room" area WITH a real sized shower. I found myself timing my workouts to late afternoon (before dinner etc). When done, I used the full size shower and toilet facilities and found myself grinning like I had gotten away with something LOL. They did not have any rating forms like other cruise lines almost REQUIRE you to fill out before you disembark. If they did, overall, I would give this cruise a 5 or maybe a 6 at best, saved by the wow of the entertainment. I'm not usually to hard to please, but, I do expect certain things. One of which is a BATHROOM, a useable balcony would be nice, and over the top food is always good. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
I am not going to get into alot of depth that some reviewers do as I am wanting to hit the highlights of our trip and offer some advice for parents with a child who has autism so that they can maximize family enjoyment. My family who ... Read More
I am not going to get into alot of depth that some reviewers do as I am wanting to hit the highlights of our trip and offer some advice for parents with a child who has autism so that they can maximize family enjoyment. My family who cruised on the Epic over Thanksgiving on Eastern Caribbean which included my mom and stepdad (in 60s), my single aunt (50s), hubby and myself (30s), our 2 kids - 13 yr old girl and 10 yr old son with asperger's syndrome (mild), and my 3 nephews - ages 14,12,9. We also had another family we are great friends with join us (in their 40s) with 12 yr old son. Now on with the show... Embarkation was very smooth. We stayed in a hotel in Tamarac night before cruise and used Premier Cruise Parking Port of Miami. My hubby and stepdad dropped off the women and kids with luggage while they parked and caught the shuttle back to the port. This was smart to do as it helped them to get on first shuttle while other families not wanting to get split up had to wait for one with room for all. We waited in the comfy chairs at the port until they went through security to join back up with us - took about 30 min tops. Got on boat before noon. Bought soda packages for kids at the bar in front of Taste first thing and went in Taste to eat our first meal - restaurant was nowhere full, plenty of open seating. Dining Room summary -I now have to comment that service providers were very nice but SLOW, embarkation day lunch was our first "taste" of how slow each night would be in main dining rooms and after cruising with at least 5 different lines I can say this was the slowest I have ever experienced. Food was usually very good so I almost hate to add this comment in, but families with kids should know in order to plan accordingly. It was ROUGH trying to get to early shows (7pm ones). We thought being in line ready to walk into restaurant at 5:30 would be ok, but we learned quickly that we had to either buffet it on a show night or skip dessert in the mdr. The kids got bored with sitting and we had to stay on top of them to keep good behavior which takes away from the whole fancy dining experience. My son was particularly well-behaved despite the wait times and we used this time as practice for encouraging eye contact with wait staff while he ordered and to stretch his conversational skills. Vacation is one of the best times to help him grow in this area. AND FYI lobster night is the first night of dining and they were VERY tasty. Lots of folks missed out on it and it was only this one night. And a final comment, the dessert was not too great. Cookies and ice cream are a homeroom but not too much else. Carnival's choc melting cake is the winner in my book. Shows/Entertainment - I LOVED the entertainment. My fav was the cirque dinner - great steak and the actors/performers were awesome. I like a variety act so it was my cup of tea. The volume was a nice level so my son could enjoy it too but he did begin to grow bored after about 45 min into the show (pretty good for him) but I was able to convince him to stay. Also, I bought premium seating and got there early to sit up top. He enjoyed the distance and not being too close to action (however they pack in the folks VERY TIGHT so expect to know your neighbor well up there). Now the Blue Man Group is another story. Holy smokes...while entertaining to most adults and kids (nephews and friend had a blast) to asperger child it was a nightmare. The sounds were too loud for him even with his earplugs and when the act started interacting with the audience when the strobe light part of the routine began (and blowing toilet paper roll over audience) it was a major meltdown. I had to grab him because he was about to take off like a rocket out of there. It was far too dangerous though for him to try to walk up steps with the light effect and moving ship so I hung onto him until that part was over and then let him go to the room (yes, I give my children some freedom to walk about ship without me every second judge if you want to but they have been responsible with it). I should have listened to my instincts to not make him try to attend but I hoped their silly slap-stick humor would win him over. Epic fail on my part and a warning to parents with kids who have sensory difficulties. I didnt even attempt to take him to Legends though myself and the other kids enjoyed that as well. The volume is very high so keep that in mind! The Nick Slime Time show was somewhat enjoyable to him since we sat at the vary back of the theater and there was no chance he would be picked for participation. My 13 yr old daughter loved the dance parties onboard and especially Murder Mystery Lunch that we attended. None of our kids would go to kids' club - no fault of NCl they just have their own little group so they wanted to aggravate each other. And the bowling was pretty fun too -our kids were terrible and it was so funny to watch. Like sitting inside the Irish pub and watching them roll gutters,lol! Also liked the movie outside under the stars on the big screen. Popping popcorn for movie-goers was a nice touch Ncl! Water slides - Awesome. I didnt ride as I can NOT take closed in tubes but son and hubby rode off a layer of plastic,lol The best time was a night party they had and the slides were wide open. I sat in the hot tubs and watched them run around getting on it. The pool is too small IMHO but it seems none of the ships have larger pools for amount of guests. The kids swam mostly at evening to have it freed up from crowds. And at least one adult from our group made sure to be hanging around them to ensure safety. Room - We were able to find a deal for small rooms on Expedia where the cost of 2 rooms with 2 in each of them was less expensive than all 4 of us in a single room ;) We enjoyed that and so did the kids. We did have to keep dropping by to ensure clothes were picked up and son wasn't spending all of his time on tablet games. He enjoyed slipping off the buffet a good bit to nibble as he felt hungry and then return to room or meeting place that we designated. Our room steward was awesome and we appreciated Rita looking after kids and letting us know when 2 of our nephews were cutting up and ended up losing some freedom as a result. Passengers Onboard - Some of you may laugh at this but here goes...The kids onboard were 100% politer than the adults. The kids would hold elevator doors, smile, and involved us with some of their youth games (scavenger and dare) while adults would break in front of you in any and every line you could think of. I was shocked as I expected the opposite. I have taught school for almost 20 years so I am no stranger to kid behavior in different settings and what I saw was very complimentary to the next generation of our country. Shame on the adults that would cut in line at the elevators, gripe about silly things at dinner, etc... Just my 2 cents.. Casino - Lots of fun but no big winners in our crew. My mom and aunt had a great time walking around and people watching as they played. My hubby loved the quarter game and we met some nice folks who had their own strategies for winning (none seemed to be enough for big winnings) but we did win a bottle of bubbly,lol! The kids were dying to play and the crew politely kicked them out. I totally understand but don't really see how we gamble is much diff than the arcade where they gamble for prices...hmmm...lol Ports- St Maarten was awesome - loved our tour guide Dennis with Amigo Tours. Enjoyed an air-conditioned customized Chevy van for our family of 10. He took us all over and made sure to stop for beach time. Warning alert - Maho Beach was a great time with airplanes so close to you and rough surf for older daredevil boys. I should have known better to bring earplugs but son insisted he didn't want to wear them. He goes through spells when differences bother him and he wanted to try to overcome noise sensitivity. However, this is NOT the place to experiment! The smaller planes didn't bother him but when a big one was roaring for take-off - Good Grief!! It took myself and middle nephew to grab him to calm him down or he probably would have run straight up bank into the road. I almost dropped my camera in the whole process and ended up soaking wet in the ocean. After that one had passed, my son quickly calmed down and went back to swimming and having a great time. Children with more severe forms of autism probably would not have bounced back at all. I am so thankful our day wasn't ruined by that as it could have. It shows that my son is growing in his ability to soothe and roll with the punches and I also learned that I need to follow my gut and over-prepare to be safe. St Thomas was ok. It was about to rain so it was very muggy and my son was aggravated at how uncomfortable and thirsty he was. We went to Senor Frogs and he did fair, we have gone before so he knew the noise level to expect and we ate outside so it was more tolerable there. The food was good but service was sooo slow. The kids and adults loved the balloon hats, it is fun to act silly sometimes and the cool drinks coupled with the fun helped to pep up the fun again. Disembarkation - It was fine. Breakfast was so good and relaxing to eat at a later time since we drove. We did have to wait in line for about 20 min to walk off ship (and yes we had our bags taken off so no self-assist but we weren't in a rush either) so that had my son acting up some. He still struggles with change and instead of talking about feeling different it results in him making some strange looking faces and flapping of his arm to show he is not dealing well with change. He also wanted to act a bit extra neg toward his sister who in turn gave it right back to him so we had to put out that fire. We were happy to see the porter who quickly gathered our bags once off ship and had them walked outside for hubby and stepdad to get car from parking garage. Summary - A fantastic time. Lots of GREAT entertainment, fun conversations, beautiful island scenery, and relaxation. And all in all my son had a great time and grew more in learning to overcome the obstacles that he faces socially. The Epic is a great boat to vacation on and make memories. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
I'll apologize up front for what will likely be a lengthy review. Just returned from the 28 August EPIC sailing which was diverted because of what became Hurricane Earl. This was my first time on Norwegian, and I will admit that I was ... Read More
I'll apologize up front for what will likely be a lengthy review. Just returned from the 28 August EPIC sailing which was diverted because of what became Hurricane Earl. This was my first time on Norwegian, and I will admit that I was VERY psyched to see and experience EPIC, in particular, and Norwegian in general. It was only my 10-year-old daughter and I, and for the first time, I booked an inside cabin. Comments on that later, but I have to say that the insides do not suffer from much of the problems well documented in the balcony staterooms. I give NCL kudos for calling the night before the cruise, to advise that Earl might force a change in itinerary. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and we used SAS Transportation (recommended on the CruiseCritic boards) and it all went very smoothly. Our van was full of Carnival travelers, and they all spoke with envy as we were dropped off outside EPIC. Check-in was well handled, and they handed out a letter explaining our revised "Earl-proof" itinerary when we arrived. They dropped St. Maarten and St. John, and substituted Cozumel and Roatan, Honduras; we still hit Nassau as scheduled, but had an additional five hours, which was nice. We waited a short while in the terminal before our area was boarded, but it was efficient and we were on board before noon. Walking on was non-eventful and very anti-climatic. No welcome, no maps....nothing, really. We had lunch in Taste, and it was quite good. We had time to explore and register for Kids Club, and the rooms were ready exactly as scheduled, at 2:00pm. Our cabin was what I expected, but nice. The inside cabins have straight walls, but share the separate shower/stall set-up of the outsides. The set-up is odd, and admittedly not ideal, but by using the curtain, you have a pretty good area for showering and dressing. I did LOVE the shower. Largest I've had a sea on any line, and the shower head is great. You do, however, need to request extra towels and use them copiously on the floor. The sink is poorly designed, but if you don't turn it on full force, you'll be fine. The inside cabins do not share the flaw of having the sink directly next to a bed, so a big plus there. The beds are very comfortable, but they ARE short. Our cabin was very quiet -- we never heard neighbors or even noise in the hallways -- and the climate control worked very well. We had lots of storage, most of it very well designed. On the downside, the TV is very small and the quality of the workmanship is poor in several areas. The trim on both our bathroom and shower doors was already separated at the bottom, and the bars in our closet were already bent. Further on the TV (and I KNOW we're on a cruise, not there to watch the boob tube), but the number of channels is small, and aside from the news stations, they rerun the same programs all week. And for some reason, there is no CNN. I also wish they had a "free" movie channel. Other lines will often show the feature films which ran in the ship theater on the TV a day later or such. NCL, instead, offers a large selection of pay movies, including lots of adult titles (????....luckily, you can block them out, but act quick...before kids start to channel surf). I also have to hit my head to see they want $14.95 for a regular movie. I also wish they had camera views available from each side of the ship, rather than the single "captain's view" they have. Holland America and Princess both offer four different views, which I couldn't really appreciate until I was in an inside cabin. The I-TV did work well -- their interactive system through the TV to review your bill, book shows, and check your schedule. It even allows you to book shore excursions, which was very helpful, as with our change in itinerary everyone was booking from scratch. As I said, this was my first experience with NCL. As far as service, etc., I have to give them strong marks. Our cabin steward was very nice, and I'm glad to see NCL still "does" towel animals. We missed them on Princess last summer in Alaska. All in all service was good -- notch above Princess, but below Holland America. They were, admittedly, a little overwhelmed with the last-minute itinerary change, as on embarkation day, the lines at the shore excursion and front desk areas were ugly, with lots of confused people. To add to the mayhem, our sailing was completely sold out. Rather than go through a daily run down, I'll summarize the highs and lows for me. Highs first: 1) ENTERTAINMENT! Wow! EPIC rules in this regard. We saw Blue Man Group twice, and absolutely loved it both times. Surprisingly, it was not "sold out" either time we went, which was a shame, as the show is amazing. You do, however, have to arrive early and line up for events, even if you pre-booked -- if you want a premium seat. Not horrible....just be aware. Also very much enjoyed Second City, and would have liked to have seen a second show. The same SC crew performs the Murder Mystery lunch, which was very enjoyable. They inject a good dose of improvisation, and each show is a little different. We also really enjoyed Legends in Concert (Tina Turner, Madonna, and Elvis for our sailing), as well as Howl at the Moon. "Slime Time Live" was also enjoyable, and my 10-year-old ate it up -- though surprisingly, we got splattered at Blue Man rather than Slime Time. We also did Cirque Dreams, and I'm surprised that some reviewers have given it a thumbs down. Perhaps it was out great table (table for two, RIGHT on the edge of the performance area), but this was a true highlight for us. I think you'd have to have seen another Cirque production to appreciate that it's not a "circus, circus," but we loved it. 2) Garden Cafe' Hate to say it, but about the only top-notch design feature on EPIC has to be the Garden Cafe' (buffet). It was the best layout of any I've seen, and even with a full ship, it never felt maddening and the food quality was consistently good. Even finding a table was never a problem, and we usually had a large selection. Real kudos to NCL on this. Anyone looking for a lousy layout should try the Coral Princess... 'Nuff said. 3) Kids Club. Very large areas and tons of counselors. We were told there were 700 children (under 18) on our sailing, and that this was "less than half" of what they'd been seeing. Things worked well, but my daughter ended up not attended as often as I had expected. I fear the ship's size was to blame. On other ships, the numbers of children were smaller and you consistently saw the same group of kids at the center. On EPIC, there are just so many kids, and so many "kid-friendly" venues outside the club, that kids float in and out, which simply changes the dynamic. Not really a plus or minus....just an observation. 4) The "regular" restaurants: On this sailing, we ate at the Garden Cafe', Taste, O'Sheehans, and the Manhattan Room (all free), as well as Cirque and Dinner, Murder Mystery, Tepanaki, the Sushi Bar, Moderno, and Il Cuccina. The food at the free venues was actually better than all the pay restaurants. In fact, my favorite meal of the cruise was at Manhattan, which is a beautiful room, with live music and great views. All the pay venues were okay, but none were worth the extra expense. I now lament the sizable amount I spent on the "extra" restaurants. I also have to give NCL huge props for how they handle seating at the restaurants. They were incredible efficient at seating people at Taste and Manhattan Room, and the lines were never long (that I saw). I was very impressed with their efficiency, and overall, the restaurant service was quite good. The Lows: 1) The Design: We should all be happy that no EPIC-based ships will follow. The ship is -- simply put -- design-flawed. I fear that there will be (if it hasn't already happened) a huge lessons-learned session at NCL on how NOT to design a ship. Where to begin...? a) Balcony Cabins: As stated, I did not have a balcony cabin, but I can say that I lost count of the conversations I had or overheard with people complaining about the "wavy cabin" design. The Second City troupe (to their credit) even make tons of jokes about the design problems in their show. Most people stated they were simply too narrow, and the sofas are unusable as seats and misery on which to sleep. b) No promenade. The ships is designed such that there is no "promenade deck," on which you can walk around the ship. On one deck (6 or 7) you can go out on either side and walk most of the length of each side, but aside from a small stretch in the middle, the area is enclosed by life boats and you can't even see the water or feel a breeze. Without this, you have to go to the top of the boat to see the ocean, and here there are numerous design flaws....see below. c) Level 14 -- Aaaargh. I spent a lot of time on deck 14, home to the spa, fitness club, and kids club. Alas, the only way to get from the spa/gym side to the kids club, is to walk down a VERY long corridor of "family staterooms." Even though the two areas abut, there is no cut through, so instead there is a steady stream of people walking the halls between the two. I feel very sorry for anyone who had a cabin on deck 14, as the traffic simply has to be maddening. d) The Pool and Sun Deck: It has been written about by many other people, so I won't belabor, but the pools are tiny and, frankly, a joke for a ship of this size. The two main pools are wholly inadequate and it was usually standing room only (really...I am not exaggerating). There is another small pool in the back -- at Spice H20 -- but it is adults only and was covered up the few times I checked out that area. As for the sun deck, it is NO exaggeration that you WILL burn your feet if you do not wear shoes. At first it was somewhat comical to watch people hop and jump, trying to get their bare feet off the sun deck, but after seeing so many adults and children distressed, it simply became disturbing. In addition, the areas of the deck which are wet (and at least bearable on your feet) are incredibly slippery. I slipped several times, and saw two people fall. e) SMOKING. Good grief, and I hate to sound prudish, but the smoking was a huge detractor for me on this cruise. There is pretty clear guidance on where smoking is allowed on the ship, but it was UNIVERSALLY ignored and not once, did I see any employees telling people they could not light up. The table of cigar smokers next to the pool was especially offensive. There were, admittedly, a HUGE number of European travelers on this cruise (lots of Italian, Russians, Spaniards, and Germans), and that might explain much of the smoking, but the fact that there were few places on the ship where you did not encounter smoke which made it a huge problem...at least for me. f) The Casino. NCL is quick to advertise that EPIC has the largest casino at sea. Well, they do, and much of that is attributable to the fact that the casino spills out across a huge portion of Deck 6. This is the only ship on which I've sailed on which it is impossible to not walk through the casino. Most ships do not even allow children into the casino, whereas on EPIC, EVERYONE has to walk through it on Deck 6. Aside from the blaringly tacky and invariable smoky atmosphere, it simply isn't pleasant to have that area occupying so much room. Even though it is confined to Deck 6, the slots go all the way to the atrium, so even on Decks 5 and 7 (the primary food and entertainment decks) you are never away from the sound and smoke. In fact, if you sit in Taste, anywhere near the middle, you hear the slots throughout your meal, as they're directly above you. This design "feature" to me screams of "revenue enhancer" for NCL, and this is confirmed (again, to me at least) by their decision to put three gambling stations on the main sun deck, directly next to one of the pools. There is already a huge problem getting lounge chairs near the pool, but NCL decides to eat up a very large area with poker tables?! At a minimum, why not put them back at Spice H20, which is adult only AND very underutilized. I'm dumbfounded at that decision. g) Elevators. Okay folks....let's put more than 4,000 guests and almost 1,500 staff onto a ship and let's have 16 elevators for everyone. Ugh! Another huge design flaw for me is the lack of a mid-ship elevator bank. EPIC, instead, has a forward and rear set of elevators (four on each side of the ship). It was a standing joke (also repeated by Second City) that your cruise could be over before an elevator arrived. There simply are not enough elevators for the sheer number of people. A set of mid-ship elevators (or even an accessible stairwell, mid-ship) would have alleviated so much traffic and delay. Alas, that would have meant fewer cabins and -- gasp -- less revenue. On two port days, we spent a lot of time on ship, and it was SO nice to have easy elevator access and actually be able to get in the pool without touching people all around you. The difference on sea days was incredible, and I ended up using stairs most of the time on those days, as I got very tired of waiting and waiting, and then having full elevator after full elevator arrive. h) Spice H20. Another head scratcher here. What were they thinking? This adults-only area takes up the entire rear, open deck area of the ship. With its stadium like set up and huge video screen, it effectively blocks any view over the rear of the ship. Why?! In addition, the area was literally deserted every time I visited -- a huge waste of space. In another design flaw, the only way to access the sports deck (Deck 16) is via staircases at the entrance to Spice H20, so you have to walk up and past the bar areas (invariably hosting a few smokers) in order to get to Deck 16. As you can imagine, many children go to the Sports Deck, so they have to walk through an adults only area (and a bar) to get there. Once up top, they are free to look down at Spice, and if an "adult oriented" video or movie is playing, all the kids up top can watch. I know this review will read as overly negative, and I do regret that, as my daughter and I did in fact have a wonderful vacation. I write much of this to help others make a decision as to whether you want to try EPIC, or not, and hopefully offer a few tips for those who do choose to sail on her. I simply have to sum up EPIC, however, as a collection of design flaws. I am anxious to try a different NCL ship -- in fact, I signed up on board for a future cruise credit -- but I will in all likelihood not be returning to EPIC. Based on my own experience and what I heard from many fellow guests (a large portion of whom were loyal NCL customers), once the "new-ness factor" wears off, NCL will be heavily discounting EPIC cruises to fill her up, as many will choose to not sail her again and her itineraries are simply not unique enough to attract many repeater cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Norwegian Epic Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.7
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 5.0 4.0
Public Rooms 4.0 3.8
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 5.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 3.8
Value For Money 4.0 3.5
Rates 4.0 3.7

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