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

This was planned well in advance with 4 couples and 2 adult children. This is our 11th cruise and this one would rate only about 3.5 stars to us. Food was excellent, staff we encountered were excellent, room was well kept. Now the ... Read More
This was planned well in advance with 4 couples and 2 adult children. This is our 11th cruise and this one would rate only about 3.5 stars to us. Food was excellent, staff we encountered were excellent, room was well kept. Now the downside. We went 12-15-2018 to 12-22-2018, the ship was packed. Not sure you could have shoehorned another person on board. Many of the activities you had to either wait in line a long time or miss out completely (escape room) . We spent a lot of time just waiting in lines, shows, food, disembarking at ports, activities at the atrium. Just a lot of people. We didn't care how the casino was laid out, very crowded. The casino point system is worthless, my wife played all cruise and when it came time to collect rewards she had amassed a grand total of approximately $4. No $5 black jack. No incentive to play . When it came time to leave it took us over 2 1/2 hrs to disembark and leave the terminal on the bus. Because of weather we missed one port, but that's not their fault, better safe than sorry, but we were suppose to have a $50 credit at each port and didn't see where they credited us that amount. Sometimes bigger isn't always better. Special thank you to NiJonie, and Darwin, our waitstaff, they were excellent and made dining so enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Recommended by family to choose NCL. Scary and long check-in to board the ship in Orlando, it took over 3 hours. There was no organization at all and at times the public became verbally abusive to others cutting in the line-ups. In ... Read More
Recommended by family to choose NCL. Scary and long check-in to board the ship in Orlando, it took over 3 hours. There was no organization at all and at times the public became verbally abusive to others cutting in the line-ups. In fact, it was very scary at times! Once on board, our room a mini-suite was incredible. Very spacious with plenty of storage. However, I fear that there may be mold nestling under the carpets in the rooms due to the very humid climates. I am very allergic to mold and developed a serious sore throat and terrible cough which was always worse when I was in my cabin at night. The staff, food, entertainment I would rate as excellent! Some improvements need to be made with regard to the lack of space on sea days on deck 15 around the main pool area. The pools are much too small and not enough sun-beds around the pool for everybody. Pools could also be added to deck 18 on the sun decks to increase the number of pools for everybody to use. Making dinner reservations for a la carte restaurants was a nightmare!!! We paid for the additional 3 meals, impossible to choose the meal times you wanted!! This is not acceptable when you have paid extra for these restaurants! Also, if you do not have the alcohol package two glasses of house wine is over $20 USD which is absolutely ridiculous!! Also NCL add 18% gratuity onto everything, so don't tip extra!! NCL NEED to lower the alcohol drink prices this is a rip-off! Overall we had a fabulous vacation and I am just giving you and NCL an honest opinion. We will sail with them again but making sure we choose the all-inclusive beverage package and I will avoid the small port in Orlando to board the ship. I might even choose a smaller ship which better pools. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Overall, the trip was nice it was my first time cruising on Norwegian. Main purpose of booking this cruise was for the ports, which were AMAZING!! The only complaint I have regarding the ports were that 2 of the stops you needed to book a ... Read More
Overall, the trip was nice it was my first time cruising on Norwegian. Main purpose of booking this cruise was for the ports, which were AMAZING!! The only complaint I have regarding the ports were that 2 of the stops you needed to book a tendering time which wasn't told to us until hours before reaching the first destination, so be sure to check on that when you first embark the ship. The cabin was nice. It served its purpose (to sleep) we had a balcony room which was more than enough room for 2 people. Dining was ok nothing great. Towards the end of the cruise the grand buffet area was shut down earlier than the times listed on the daily papers that were given out each morning. We did eat at the Manhattan and Taste restaurant a couple of times. The food was eatable nothing grand. Be sure that they direct you in the correct lines; we had reservations and many people who didn't were sat before us because of course they had us in the reservation line! Entertainment and activities on the ship is AMAZING!! From Burn the Floor, Priscilla, The Beatles Show, comedy,etc. everything was great. Be sure to be in line 30-45 before the showtime if you want seats. Book reservations for Burn the Floor and Priscilla before boarding the ship they are reservation only shows and once everyone gets on the ship they start booking everything. Service on the ship was the absolute worst I've ever experienced. In guest services you have maybe 2/3 people that weren't hostile, listened to your concerns, and actually knew what they were talking about. Cabin Key Cards are the absolute worse way to spend money on any ship (not just Epic). One situation, we chose cash as a payment type thinking maybe it would be like carnival where you can just add money on the card and thats that, well thats not the case my fiance's card went into the negative $9 and it was paid right back off, but due to their "rules" (that of course you cant find anywhere) after the 4th day if you don't have the drink package or put at least $50 back on the account you CANNOT open that account up! Very confusing and nobody could explain this to me so we just used my card for expenses. We accidentally left a $4.00 voucher on the vanity area came back it was gone I'm not sure if the steward took it or what but make sure you double check behind yourselves and use the safe! I would definitely book another cruise with Norwegian the pros outweighed the cons just be sure if you haven't cruise Norwegian do your homework ask around because they are a lot of unknowns. Read Less
Sail Date December 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
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
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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