2 Norwegian Epic Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Caribbean - Southern

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
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
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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