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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.