10 Norwegian Epic Cruise Reviews for Gay & Lesbian Cruises to Europe - Western Mediterranean

About the Reviewer: I’m a mid-30s male who sailed in a balcony stateroom on the NCL Epic from Rome on 6/12 to 6/19/2019. This was my 26th NCL cruise (including charters) and my 46th cruise overall. My prior cruise history includes ... Read More
About the Reviewer: I’m a mid-30s male who sailed in a balcony stateroom on the NCL Epic from Rome on 6/12 to 6/19/2019. This was my 26th NCL cruise (including charters) and my 46th cruise overall. My prior cruise history includes sailing on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival and MSC. In 2018, I took a break from NCL and sailed with Royal Caribbean and MSC with MSC Seaside being my last cruise. Pre-Cruise I met up with friends in Rome, Italy for a few days prior to the cruise. It was nice to explore the sights at a more leisurely pace than what you can do with it being a ship’s port of call. I flew into FCO (Rome airport) and transferred with a private company versus taking the train to Termini Station. I stayed at a hotel close to Termini Station in Rome and Termini is a great focal point for which to travel regionally as well as within Rome on the public transit system. I purchased the Roma Pass and with the ability to get into attractions cheaply and the use of the public transit system for 48 hours, it was a very wise investment. NCL EPIC CRUISE – Roundtrip Rome DAY 1 – ROME, ITALY Embarkation: The most cost-efficient way to get to the cruise port from Rome city is by train. I booked the Intercity 510 on TrenItalia arriving at the Civitavecchia port just before 11AM on 6/12. Unfortunately, the elevators on the platform at the train station were not working and you had to take the luggage up and down two flights of stairs to get to the outside. Minor inconvenience. Once outside, you need to purchase a ticket for 2 EU for the red bus to take you to the port entrance. Fair enough, but the line for the bus was disorganized and not all cultures understood the need for a proper queue when the bus arrived. It was rather chaotic. I would’ve just walked it and if you’re able-bodied to do so, you might as well as it’s not too far to the port entrance and with city traffic on port days, it would be easier to do so. At the port entrance, since there were 6 ships at least doing embarkations during this date, you had to get into a queue for a bus to take you to the designated terminal. How kind of the bus driver to allow us to load our own luggage under the bus and then tell us the bus for the NCL Epic only had one working compartment versus the other side for Holland America which had two. We were going to the same terminal so it didn’t matter what compartment it went into. How silly and disorganized. Upon arrival to the terminal, the bus unloaded for both ships and we were split up once inside the terminal. Luggage was taken finally and check in was upstairs further over. Latitudes members didn’t have a separate check-in line, however, the main check in line was moving swiftly so it didn’t matter too much. Once checked in, we were told to proceed to the gangway which was down the escalators. When we got to the bottom, there was another bus waiting to take us to the ship! Good grief already. The ship was a short walk down the pier from where the terminal was. Holland America had the gangways in use for their embark that was in the terminal. The bus was hot and stuffy and by this point, I just wanted to walk to the ship to get it over with. Crew were walking to the terminal so it wasn’t unsafe for passengers to do so as well. We had to wait for the bus to fill before we were driven an absurdly short distance to board the ship. All told from arrival at the train station to when we got on the ship and had drinks at Spice H2O, it was two hours. NEVER AGAIN!! A complete and utter mess with 2 transfers within the cruise port to get on the ship. Stateroom Balcony GTY: Room 13039 I’ve sailed on the Epic three times and all the other times were in a studio room. This was the first time I sailed in a balcony. I booked a guarantee and was put into this family room at the ships first bump out. The room had a very large angled balcony which I loved. I could see why this stateroom configuration wouldn’t work unless sailing with a spouse. The layout is funky and while it mirrors the studios design, storage was in the most random of places – including within the sofa! The electrical outlets are hidden under the counter by the coffee maker. The phone in the room also didn’t have a working voicemail button, it would take you to the voicemail and delete it instantly. I learned a trick to bypass it by mid-cruise. Charlton was my incredible stateroom steward. He did a wonderful job looking after any small request the entire cruise and for making sure everything was perfect. He even provided me with towel animals daily without request despite NCLs announcement they were getting rid of them on future sailings a couple months back. After unpacking rather quickly, it was time to head off to the theater for a joint muster drill for all stations embarking in Rome. It was mandatory for all guests who embarked and some didn’t like it that they were shut off from their alcohol until they attended. Rome embarking guests had purple cards so that’s how ship’s crew knew to stop serving you for the mandatory drill. After that, I went to the solos gathering with Julianna hosting for this portion of the cruise and then the LGBT meet up. A group of solos went to dinner at 7PM and we joined them in Manhattan Room. It was a leisurely dinner service since we were a big table and it took over 2 hours to dine but the company made up for the gaps between courses. The ship was supposed to sail at 7PM but some “scheduled maintenance” wasn’t completed in time and the ship would be delayed sailing until 10PM. After dinner was done, I headed back to the room to relax and it was getting close to 10PM. The ship didn’t sail at 10PM. I fell asleep on the balcony waiting for it to sail and when I awoke after midnight we were finally moving. DAY 2 – FLORENCE, ITALY The previous day’s delayed departure caused the Epic to arrive two hours late to Florence, Italy. The tour provider stated they would work with delayed arrivals so I wasn’t worried but there was a mass upheaval in the atrium where guests demanded to use the phone to contact their individual tour companies. The Epic staff caved in and did allow for usage of the phone for people to contact tour companies about the delayed arrival. We arrived in Florence at 9AM instead of 7AM. PRIVATE TOUR: Best of Florence and Pisa by ItalyTours.EU As was mentioned in the confirmation for the tour booking, ItalyTours waited for the arrival of our ship and when I disembarked, I found my name being held by the driver almost immediately. When he rounded up the rest of the guests, we left the port and headed for Florence. Once in Florence we met up with the tour guide from Vox who walked us around the city and took us inside the museum to see the Michelangelo statue. The tour guide provided us with insights about what we were seeing and the history as we walked around. The driver recommended a lunch pizzeria and took some of us there. After gathering the rest of the guests, we went to a scenic overlook of Florence before heading for Pisa. Upon arrival in Pisa, we had a small amount of time which was actually fine to see the sights before heading back to the ship. The tour accomplished everything it stated it would do, even with the time delay. I would highly recommend this tour provider for tours in Italy (they also have tours for Naples and Rome). The tour size is much smaller than what NCL offers (van with Italy Tours versus bus with NCL) and the cost is cheaper than what NCL charges. NCL’s shore excursion prices have skyrocketed since the introduction of the Free at Sea promo. If you take the shore excursion discount, you’re still paying what you’d be paying if you didn’t even bother booking with NCL. ItalyTours guarantees your arrival back to the ship prior to sailing or will get to you the next port for the ship at their own expense. You don’t see any private tour companies really offering such a guarantee! Back on the ship it was a quick change to get to the solo’s gathering in the studio lounge and then off to the LGBT gathering before a Platinum Plus Latitudes perk – Dinner with an Officer. Either there weren’t a lot of Platinum plus cruisers on this sailing or they weren’t interested in dining with an officer. I was the only person to sign up and had dinner with Brett, the Ship’s Training Specialist. It was a nice dinner and we talked about cruising past and present while enjoying dinner in Taste Restaurant. Grace, the Hotel Director’s assistant, arranged the dinner for us. It was a nice time and very well done! It was one of the highlights of the cruise. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert The major production show on the NCL Epic is Priscilla, QOTD. I had seen the show just after it was loaded on the Epic back in 2015 so it was nice to see it again. It is definitely a PG-16 or higher rated show. Leave the kids in Splash Academy! It’s a good time to follow the gang to the Australian outback for their show. Lots of good dance numbers and a good storyline. The show has evolved a bit since it was first brought to the Epic but the overall production was enjoyable. I was surprised to see some of the original cast from the first loaded show still doing it nearly four years on! After the show completed, it was time to give Bliss Lounge a try. When we arrived, it was already busy and it wasn’t possible to get into the bar to order so the supervisor sent a bar waitress over to take our order. The service was incredibly slow in there but we did notice one bartender going faster than the others and that’s why people were queueing for him. It took forever for our first round to arrive. It wasn’t until the next day that I discovered I was charged for the round of drinks. I did NOT have the beverage package and was shocked when I got the check for $20 for one drink. The last time I sailed on NCL in 2017, the cost was just shy of $12 having gone up from $10 for a Grey Goose and soda. A nearly 100% increase in drink cost? NCL you’ve gone mad. I don’t drink much and with the ridiculously measured pour you did for this $20 drink; you should be ashamed of yourself. You’re not Vegas and with all the nickel and diming lately to justify the CEO’s salary, you should be doing much better instead of getting worse. The drink included an increased gratuity I’m sure the bartenders weren’t getting and an additional $1.50 for a port tax. Trying to fix this error at guest services later would result in the transfer of the $1.50 to the other person’s account. When that person complained about the $1.50 charge, it was reversed back to me with the full charge of the drink I didn’t have. Lesson learned… the waitstaff in Bliss were incompetent. Order directly from the bar staff to avoid this screw up, especially if you don’t have the package and are ordering with people who do. DAY 3 – CANNES, FRANCE I went to a highly-rated beach club from TripAdvisor on the Cannes beachfront. Riviera Beach Club was not far from the ship and for a small fee, you could have a lounger in front and have bar service. It was sunny when we arrived but became more overcast as the day wore on. The wind was kicked up so the sand from the beach was blowing on us. We had a few drinks and then returned to the ship. We did so just in time as the wind had kicked up quite a bit slowing tender service down. When we got in queue, it was just at the guard shack and after that, it was all the way up to the street. It was reported by some guests that it took two hours to get back onboard. Naturally, we sailed late again from Cannes towards Mallorca. Tonight, we had the solos gathering where we met Michael, the Filipino bartender who was dancing in Bliss the prior night and constantly had a line for service. He was very fast, efficient and remembered what you were drinking for all my friends and water for me as I wasn’t drinking. If he saw an empty glass he would ask if the person wanted another one. His energy was amazing and we became fans of his for the rest of the cruise in Bliss or finding him at Howl at the Moon. It was sometimes much faster to go to Howl at the Moon to get a drink than it was to get one from the rest of the bartenders in Bliss. The other bartenders in Bliss just didn’t seem to have the same energy or motivation Michael had. SPECIALTY DINNER: Le Bistro Tonight, we had the first of two specialty dinners given to Latitudes members Platinum or higher. We had a 9PM seating meaning most of the restaurant was just about finished their dinner when we came in. I had the duck which was nice along with escargot and crème brulee. The service was nice and our waitress had to leave after the main course to work in another restaurant. We finished up eating shortly before 11PM. It was a good dinner. You had to chose a main course less than $20 which meant four main courses to choose from – duck, chicken and two fish dishes. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Glow Party This was originally supposed to be up at Spice H2O but when we went up there after dinner, it wasn’t up there. It was down in Bliss Lounge. This is always the featured nightclub night of the voyage. Since Mallorca is a late arrival, the ship put the party on this night. This was the ONLY night of the voyage where the party was scheduled for Spice H2O. When the ship is in the Caribbean or Canary Islands as it had been in the past, Spice H2O was used more frequently. I didn’t feel compelled to go on the dance floor as the music just didn’t move me. It was hard to move anyone since the DJ was mixing in and out of songs so fast you couldn’t dance to one. While it shows a good DJ to mix smoothly, let a song play a bit more. I actually ordered two drinks tonight and it was accurately billed since I ordered it directly at the bar. It was an ok night but definitely not the greatest Glow (formerly White) Party I’ve attended on NCL. DAY 4 – PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN Our delayed departure from Cannes caused a delayed arrival into Mallorca. We arrived just before 3PM when we were supposed to be in by 1PM. This caused a mad rush when the ship arrived for people to get off. I went for an independent Hop On, Hop Off excursion. I walked one bus stop up as the line at the port was a bit crazy so I could get a spot on the bus. It worked as the next stop down was the port and the bus filled without clearing the queue. I took the whole circuit which didn’t take too long and then got off in town by the church to see the cathedral closer up. On Saturdays, the cathedral might not be available for viewing as it can be used for weddings. It was closed this day to the public because of a wedding. It was reported by people who had a shore excursion they received a credit for it. The artisan markets strewn about the area had all sorts of interesting wares for sale, from food to crafts. Save yourself the hassle and see Mallorca for 18 EU on the Hop On, Hop Off bus. Back on the ship we dined with the solos we had made friends with during the voyage so far but were disembarking in Barcelona the next day. Tonight, we dined in the Manhattan dining room and I had the Prime Rib which was amazing. Dinner was leisurely as we had a big group and we watched the ship sail from there. I had a 9:30PM reservation for Burn the Floor but because dinner went longer, I missed it. DAY 5 – BARCELONA, SPAIN This is the main turn around day for the ship so guests were being told to disembark the ship. Surprisingly, I expected the ship to have more announcements than it did in the early morning hours. My friends and I headed off the ship to find some churros around 9AM to avoid any more announcements and to get off the ship before the new folks showed up to embark. We ventured up to the churros place, took the transit up to Parc Guell and discovered you now needed a ticket to enter it. The last time I was there in 2003, you didn’t need to have a ticket to enter. They were sold out for the day already so I headed for Palau Guell and my friend headed back to the ship. Along the way, I headed to Starbucks for a caffeine fix the ship doesn’t offer. Back on the ship, it was interesting to come on the ship as an in-transit guest. When I arrived to the terminal, I had to go through security in the terminal but then just bypassed everything else and went up the escalator back onto the ship. Very easy to do! Embarkation was well underway at that point for the new cruisers. During the ship’s lifeboat drill, I enjoyed working out in the quiet gym. Since I had done the drill on embark day in Rome, I didn’t have to do this one. It was a great time to use the ship’s services in peace and quiet. I met up with the solos and went to the LGBT meet up to meet the new cruisers. SPECIALTY DINNER: Moderno Churriscaria We had a dinner reservation for 7:15PM in Moderno. We figured it would be easier to dine specialty the first night where everyone was so new and getting their bearings. It was a nice dinner where the passador were fast and efficient at bringing all the meats. We were asked for what else we wanted. The waiter was attentive to my friend’s alcohol requests throughout the dinner service as well. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Beattlemania Show The band who usually is setup in the Cavern Club was in the theater. I do know Beattles hits despite my age and decided to take in a bit of the show. It was just as you’d expect for the Beattles. The singers were really good in the band. The show was well attended. I went to Bliss Lounge afterward and hung out there for a short bit before strolling the ship. Bliss didn’t get all the kids out of it by 11PM like usual and so there were kids in there trying to get drinks off adults who had the beverage package. The crowd who embarked during Barcelona was decidedly younger than the crowd who was on the first leg of our voyage. Security was slow in removing the minors as well. We ventured to Howl at the Moon and then onto Cavern Club where Fire and Ice were playing. Not finding our groove anywhere, we decided to call it a night. DAY 6 – SEA DAY Finally, a full day at sea! It was nice to head up on deck and go to the quiet zone up front before most of the cruise passengers discovered it was there. I found a lounger immediately and setup shop for hours. It was nice and quiet to read and snooze while the room was being made up. I left for a late lunch at Taste with my friends before returning to my room and sitting on the balcony which was also in the sunlight. We passed through the Strait of Bonifacio around 1PM and had the land masses of Sardinia and Corsica between us. It was nice to be on the balcony for the last part of the transit. Tonight, we dined with some solos from the studio lounge in the Manhattan Dining Room before heading off to the 9:30PM showing of Burn the Floor. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Burn the Floor I couldn’t figure out why I disliked this show so much before. The dancers are so elegant to watch and technically proficient in their movements but the story is lacking. The dances don’t progress from one genre to a more upbeat genre, they hop around with no rhyme or reason. There’s no story that links them and the singers with this cast were horribly bad, especially the male vocalist. I stayed for about 50 minutes before giving up and leaving. I’ve seen Burn the Floor on other ships but this production just doesn’t make sense or have a flow to it. If Priscilla isn’t your cup of tea, this is the only other show on the ship you’ve got. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Norwegian’s Night Out Party This party was well attended and for a change, the DJ let a song play out. I finally got out on the dancefloor for the first time this voyage. The vibe was finally right to do so or at least early on it was. As the night progressed, the music changed again and just made me stay at the bar with my friends more while they drank. Michael, the Filipino bartender, had to come up and help get my friends drinks because the other bar staff couldn’t keep up. He was dancing around while he did so and having a good time on his own while still offering faster service than the rest of the bar staff who were stationed there. DAY 7 – NAPLES, ITALY We made it to the port ON-TIME! Hurray! The only problem was, I didn’t need to get off the ship early so it didn’t matter. However, I felt with the way this cruise had gone so far, a bravo to the Epic for an on-time arrival is warranted. After having a room service breakfast on the balcony, I went ashore and walked around Naples center for a bit. There’s a not-so-helpful tourist desk setup in the cruise terminal. Just walk out of the terminal and you’ll be hit up by taxi drivers offering tours. You’ll also have options from the Hop On, Hop Off Tour provider just at the end of the drive way to the terminal. It was here I discovered my grave mistake of booking a tour through NCL for Herculaneum for $100 USD when it would have cost 28 EU for the trip out there on my own and then admission cost at the site. NCL SHORE EXCURSION: Herculaneum In 2004 when I returned to the Med, I was supposed to visit Herculaneum but skipped the tour and went to Capri with newly made cruise friends instead. This trip allowed me to redeem this and go. Since I didn’t have the logistics worked out before sailing, I booked with NCL. Since I am Platinum Plus, I went to the shore excursion desk to get the discount for booking. You can’t get the discount unless you go there and mention it. The tour started with a bus ride from the terminal at 1PM towards Herculaneum. It was a standard sized tour bus but it wasn’t full of passengers. Upon arrival to the ancient site, we waited while the tour guide purchased the tickets for our entry. She guided us around the site describing things we were seeing using a single earbud setup. The group was too large to fit into some spaces while she was talking so you had to go in afterward or squeeze in together. This is why small group tours were more advantageous. After we completed our summary visit to Herculaneum, we boarded the bus to head to a cameo factory. This is where I really dislike NCL’s tactics. The cameo factory and “teaching you how they do it” is a total joke. They put a video on and have you stare at someone who is sitting at a table near the TV and then take you around back to their showroom where you are expected to buy something from which not only does the vendor make money but NCL gets a kick back from. We could’ve spent more time at Herculaneum and seen more of the sites there versus needing this waste of time. It was when we stopped there that I remembered why I have steered clear of NCL excursions lately. My recommendation is you do the same. You can easily go to Herculaneum on your own for much less than what this tour cost and they have audio guides available at the site. Save your money and do it yourself. Just go earlier to get back and avoid all the port traffic. When we returned to the port, so many tours were returning at the same time that it was chaos for traffic with the containers and trucks coming in and going. It would’ve been faster to walk but we stayed on the bus for over a half hour just to get from the port entrance to the terminal building! Tonight, we dined with a large group of solos, some of whom were with us from Rome, in the Taste Dining Room. It was a fun dinner service after the solos gathering where Michael was bartending at. Service was surprising efficient given our table size. Our dinner moved right along and we were done by 9:30PM. I had time to return to see Priscilla at 10PM for one final time. I loved the production, so I wanted to catch it again on standby. I had no problems grabbing a decent seat. Afterward, it was the 70s dance party in Bliss. I stayed for a bit but was so exhausted from the tour in the hot sun, I called it a night at midnight. DAY 8 – ROME, ITALY Disembarkation was much smoother than embarkation for two reasons. We called the driver who picked us up from the airport to the hotel in Rome to see if he could pick us up at the terminal. He did at 9:30AM. The ship’s transfer option to the airport was to leave at 7AM and cost $60USD. For three of us with a taxi at a more convenient time it was 50EU per person and had door to door service. We disembarked the ship shortly after 8:30AM. You do have to be out of your room by 8AM so people were hanging out in public spaces and not leaving the ship at their assigned times. It caused the lifts to get backed up but we had our trick to get one and got off when we were supposed to. The terminal we were at wasn’t the same one we embarked at and had limited facilities. It was also quite hot outside so we waited in a semi air-conditioned area for the taxi. If you were taking the train, you’d have to go through the bus transfer to the port entrance and then pick up the city bus to head to the train station. I customarily close out my reviews by thanking those on the ship who provided exceptional service. This cruise, only two people stood out for me. The first was my stateroom steward, Charlton from the Philippines. His attentive service and his friendly nature from the first day’s greeting to me and to subsequent chats in the hallway were much appreciated and never forced. The nightly towel animals were a nice touch and the towel body one day was a new one for me after all these sailings! The other person who stood out was Michael Misargano (last name might be misspelled) who was a bartender with salt and pepper hair from the Philippines in the solos lounge, Bliss and Howl at the Moon. This man is to be commended for his energy and quick ability to sling drinks. He was incredibly friendly to those who got to know him and he knew everyone’s drinks without having to ask them for it, only if they wanted a refill. I’m not sure how NCL stole him away from Princess but he could do well training some of his peers to be faster and have more fun while doing so! Special thanks to Brett, Training Officer, for the officer’s dinner and making it interesting. All in all, the Epic isn’t the ship I remembered her to be from previous sailings. The room costs have gone up, the on-ship alcohol prices have gone up, everything has gone up exponentially on NCL. Originally, due to NCLs inflated pricing for their promos, I was booked on the MSC Seaview which sails the same day from Rome, Italy and also embarks there. I switched when after final payment NCL finally came down to be reasonably close (without perks) to what MSC was charging and to be with my friends. MSC is privately owned and while they’re struggling with service issues of their own, the NCL Epic minus the people mentioned above was no different in its service struggles. Cruise lines are expanding too fast and now that NCL is publicly traded, it’s all about squeezing the cruiser to make the investors happy. This cruise couldn’t have been more in your face about it. It’s sad because it’s not the NCL I’ve come to know over the years. While I do have two CruiseNext deposits to return in the future, I won’t be in a rush to use them. I will only sail from the Rome port again with flying in directly and using a NCL transfer directly from airport to cruiseport. It’s sad how every new CEO since Colin Veitch has come to NCL and cheapened the product by so much and yet commanded passengers pay so much more for it. Frank del Rio, CEO of NCLH, should be ashamed of what he’s turned this company into. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This was my first cruise and my partner's fourth cruise, but first on Norwegian. I had expectations of a crowded buffet with flavor similar to that of Golden Coral. I was pleasantly surprised to find the food at the buffet (Garden ... Read More
This was my first cruise and my partner's fourth cruise, but first on Norwegian. I had expectations of a crowded buffet with flavor similar to that of Golden Coral. I was pleasantly surprised to find the food at the buffet (Garden Cafe) as well as their main dining rooms (Taste and Manhattan Room) were excellent. Each day their food choices were new, everything was fresh and had great flavor. The entertainment on board was excellent. The cruise director was awesome and fostered an environment of fun and relaxation. The room was clean, well laid out and well decorated. The fitness center had so much equipment and the view was amazing! The shows on board were excellent, they offered a circus, a musical, a comedy magic show, a ballroom dance performance, dueling pianos and many many more live options. The itinerary included, Naples, Rome, Pisa, Cannes and Palma Majorca and Barcelona as well as one sea day. Honestly, the sea day was one of my favorite days because we had so much fun on board the ship. The only areas were I would offer some ideas to improve are: 1) a bigger pool. The Epic has three water slides which were really fun, but the pools on board a smaller. 2) I wish there had been clearer instructions on how far the ports were from the train stations and transportation if guests were not participating in excursions. I give Norwegian's staff 5/5 stars, the food 5/5, and the entertainment 5/5. Really excellent trip. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We chose this ship for the itinerary. We were pleasantly surprised by all the amenities and activities on board. The cruise director was awesome and he deserves due credit. I hope the next time we cruise, Scott is our cruise director ... Read More
We chose this ship for the itinerary. We were pleasantly surprised by all the amenities and activities on board. The cruise director was awesome and he deserves due credit. I hope the next time we cruise, Scott is our cruise director again. He was amazing. So glad that NCL kept the LGBTQ+ community in mind and made sure we were included. Everything worked, and the crew couldn't have been nicer. The dining was good and great selection of food. Service was acceptable, although the buffet seems chaotic in the mornings and some people should not have been on board the way they were coughing. We ended up with a cold but not until after we departed and our last day in Barcelona so at least we held out well until then. A great time meeting new friends. Cannot wait to go on another one. The ship is massive but managed to feel cozy. Wish we could have went around one more time. We definitely would go again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
The Haven is spectacular. It really is a place away from the ship's crowds and din. They immediately remember you name and preferences, the concierge was super attentive to us and our children, escorted us directly out and onto our ... Read More
The Haven is spectacular. It really is a place away from the ship's crowds and din. They immediately remember you name and preferences, the concierge was super attentive to us and our children, escorted us directly out and onto our various tour buses when needed. Made endless changes to our dinner and show reservations without a single mishap, and fixed anything that was wrong. The Epic restaurant in the Haven is the best one on the ship. (We tried four of the specialty restaurants, the best was probably Le Bistro but still not as good as Epic restaurant in the Haven). Plus in the Haven you had a super formal setting but you didn't have to dress up--come as you are and the food really was outstanding. We additionally ate at the buffet a couple of times with a friend not traveling in Haven: it was just plain gross compared to the Haven in truth. Our Butler Maria is outstanding, and the bartender in Haven club never missed a beat. In fact when we were elsewhere on the ship as well and showed our Haven card our service was stepped up a notch. It really is noticeable. Yes, you have to tip your concierge and your butler and bartenders. But they make a big difference on your trip and work diligently the whole cruise. We will travel again on Norwegian, but only in the Haven. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
My husband and I decided that we wanted to take a cruise this year to celebrate my 50th birthday. We found a small gay group online that had this ship and itinerary and this being our first cruise, we thought it would be better to go with ... Read More
My husband and I decided that we wanted to take a cruise this year to celebrate my 50th birthday. We found a small gay group online that had this ship and itinerary and this being our first cruise, we thought it would be better to go with a group of people that while we did not know, we would be familiar with. We initially were in a mini suite with balcony, but about 45 days before departure, received an email to bid for an upgrade. As this was a big birthday, we decided to bid and bid on 3 rooms, aft penthouse suite, deluxe owner's suite and spa suite. While I won't tell you the amount of the bids, we bid in the lower part of the suggested bid pricing. To our amazement, we got the owner's suite! The final cost was approximately twice what our original cabin cost was. As I am a total nerd, I read this forum and others to find out about Norwegian as well as the ship. I admit at first I was a bit concerned because of quite a bit of negative reviews and feedback about this ship, food, staffing, etc. I will tell you about our experience from the moment we arrived at the docks in Barcelona: Firstly, since we were in the Haven, we went through security along with all of the passengers, but it was quick and did not take much time. We arrived at about 11:45am so there were quite a lot of people embarking. Once we were through security, we presented our confirmation slips and were escorted right to the Haven check-in. I should go back a few days; we were called by the concierge desk at Norwegian as we were headed to the airport. We spoke with a lovely agent who asked us what type of pillows we would like (firm, soft, temp control, down, etc), then asked what type of liquor we would like (we got 3 complimentary bottles of our choosing), as well as what type of snacks we would like when we arrived. Such a pleasant surprise. Once we were checked in (there was no one in front of us), we were escorted to a holding room for less than 5 minutes before we were taken aboard the ship. We were taken to a priority elevator and went right up to the 16th floor. We went into the Epic Lounge for a few moments before then getting a tour of the Haven and all of the amenities, private pool & decks, bars, restaurant, gym, etc. We then had lunch in the Epic Dining Room. We simply presented our room keys and everything was taken care of. Our first meat was quite impressive, as was the service and the room was very elegant. After lunch we were taken to our stateroom. What an impresson! We were in 17004 and it was literally at the top front of the ship with a double balcony on the side. I am uploading photos and will provide a link once done. We met our butler, Maria and cabin steward, Michael and both were pleasant and gracious. As this was our first cruise, I can say we set the bar very high! We had more storage than even we could use (and we packed heavy because we believe in dressing appropriately for dinners out and evening wear). Since there were hardly anyone else on the ship at this point, we explored it with hardly seeing anyone. There are other forums here to see about the shops, pool, etc, so I won't go into much detail. As far as food, we ate most of our meals in the Epic Dining Room. The service and food quality was absolutely top notch and we found it to be the best on the ship. We did eat at Cagney's Steakhouse and had a very good meat there. We also ate at the French bistro and it was just ok. We ate at the Teppenyaki room once also and again, just ok. We found the boat was crowded outside of the Haven, but not too crushing. We did not eat at any buffets (just not our thing), but heard some stories that would not encourage us to try them. We did have a group dinner in the Manhattan Room one night and it was not nearly as good as the Haven, both from a food quality as well as service perspective. We had fun in the Casino and won a slot tourney! We went to Burn the Floor and it was outstanding! Honestly, with the shore excursions and fun we met with new friends we did not have enough time to do everything that was offered! Our concierge had no problem getting us seats in any restaurant or show that we wanted to go to. We also did take advantage of priority embark/disembark on and off the ship. Big plus! Also found that our key card could call an elevator and give us priority to our floor (we opted to wait with others using the elevator as we found once we used our card, the other floors were removed) kinda cool though in a rockstar kinda way. The Haven bartenders on the top deck, Andy & Nelson were awesome! Knew our names day one (as did almost all of the staff) and remembered our drink preferences as soon as we arrived and kept the glasses full the entire time. Also passed out fresh fruit skewers and would spray us with water while laying on the sunbeds. Sweet! The Haven never felt crowded or full at all and contrary to other reviews, children were not a problem and for the most part well behaved the entire time. We had breakfast in our cabin on days with shore excursions (we did these privately, not through the ship) and ordered from the Epic dining room menu (except one day) and it was perfect to eat while getting up early and ready to start the day. We did order pizza one night after the club and that was yummy too. Our butler,Maria was awesome! On the first day she asked us our preferences for mid day and evening appetizers and we requested: fresh brewed iced tea with lemon cheese and sausage fruit M&M's from that day on, we had these (and usually 2-3 other things) waiting for us when we came back to the room. We also had guests over to our room a few nights and Maria brought us additional passed snacks, additional ice, glassware and whatever else we needed. This has compared with some of the best hotels we have stayed in from a service perspective. Also, the room was cleaned spotless twice a day. We tipped Maria, Michael and Andy and Nelson on day one ($40 and $20 each), then another $80 for Maria and Michael and $20 each for Andy and Nelson on the last day. Also $60 for the concierge. The service was flawless. We had a great time overall and the Epic was truly Epic in many ways. Our Haven experience made all the difference and we have already booked a trip on the new Bliss for next year and will only travel Haven from now on. We work hard in our careers and have no problem paying a bit extra for the enhanced service and food. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
I just loved my cruise, always so many people that are negative, but I had a great time onboard. And the ports on this is just so interesting.. We had booked excursions in almost every port, and they wore great.. the only thing that was a ... Read More
I just loved my cruise, always so many people that are negative, but I had a great time onboard. And the ports on this is just so interesting.. We had booked excursions in almost every port, and they wore great.. the only thing that was a little down, was the queueing to get the sticker, but as soon as you got that, it took no time to get out of the ship and to the waiting bus. The food was good, and I did like the Manhattan room best for dinner, I dont like the atmosphere at Taste. The noodle bare is also very good for a quick bite, and I love the Italian.. the view from there is so nice. I did found th staff to be very nice, just talk to them and be like a normal person, and they will smile and give you super service, ( I always see so many demanding and rude persons, and if you are one you dont deserve good service) Entertainmetn onboard was sooo good, I love Pricilla, and I saw that 3 times, it is way better onboard that on Westend. Burn the floor is amazing as well, the dancers wore fantastic. waites I always got bar service quick and waiters was around always to serve you drinks. This was my second time on the Epic, I like this ship, and I cant wait to go bat on the TA in November. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
My wife spotted this deal on one of the major cruise TV shows and the price was good considering it included flights and transfers, but what really swung it was the inclusion of NCL's extremely expensive Ultimate Beverage Package as a ... Read More
My wife spotted this deal on one of the major cruise TV shows and the price was good considering it included flights and transfers, but what really swung it was the inclusion of NCL's extremely expensive Ultimate Beverage Package as a freebie. We ended up as a party of seven, My wife, daughter, daughter - in - law and myself had all cruised with NCL previously. My mother - in - law and her husband had cruised before but not with NCL and my mother was a first time cruiser. Between us we had a range of staterooms from an inside through a solo cabin and up to a couple of balcony cabins. The layout of the cabins took some getting used to with the toilet, the shower and the sink not being closed off in a separate bathroom. It quickly became obvious why NCL had done this as it gave the staterooms a feeling of having more space. As usual the staterooms were kept clean and supplied constantly with coffee etc. My daughter is still mystified as to why NCL do not supply a coffee maker in the Inside staterooms. My wife and I were equally mystified as to why there were no dressing gowns in the balcony staterooms, as they had been supplied last year in our balcony stateroom on The Gem. The solo cabin and facilities that come with it are excellent, and my mother didn't have to far for her morning fix of coffee. Overall everyone was very pleased with the staterooms. The Epic is huge, although in Barcelona it was dwarfed by RCL's Harmony of the Seas which was moored next to us at the pier. Having previously cruised on the Gem (twice) and Fred Olsens Braemar, which has less than 1000 passengers, we were all a bit worried that the Epic might be too big. This was not the case, in the end you could've been on any of NCL's ships just with a few extras, like the Ice Bar and Spice H2O thrown in. Dining as usual on NCL was very good. We only dined once in the Manhattan Restaurant but considering we were a table of seven the whole thing was handled and timed really well and the food was good. My wife and others also dined in Taste which they said was also very good. The main dining option for the rest was the Garden Buffet which has some really great food and so many options. For all the excellence of the dining, it was this that also led to a couple of disappointments, the first was a late night meal at O'Sheehans which was poor and the other was the new practice of charging for certain items in the main complimentary restaurants. I was looking forward to the Surf and Turf until one of our party noted that this would actually cost me around $25, this was the same for another couple of dishes, mostly involving Lobster from Maine. My advice to NCL is to either source your lobster from Europe (on this particular cruise) or don't have the dish on the menu in the complimentary dining options. We were entertained very well. The main show on the cruise was a very professional and very good Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. My mother also took in the Cirque Dreams show which she said was amazing but again let down by poor food, which considering the whole thing came to around $30 is a bit much. The quizzes and general entertainment such as parties was great and well done. The bars on board were as usual very well staffed and run. The itinerary was good, the trouble is if you wanted a full day anywhere it meant getting up extremely early, something I try to avoid when on holiday. As slightly more experienced cruisers we decided to DIY most of the ports as yet again NCL's excursions were extremely pricey. In Naples we went to Pompeii we hired a taxi at the port, this took us to Pompeii, waited 3 hours, visited a very nice Limoncello emporium then gave us a tour around the back streets of Naples for about 30 Euros and we paid 12 Euros entry to Pompeii. For Rome we jumped o the free shuttle to the port gates, the 2 Euros for a bus to Civitavecchia rail station. There we bought a return ticket and a ticket for a Hop on Hop off tourist bus in Rome. We saw everything we wanted for 47 euros each. In Livorno we hired a minibus at the dockside to take us to Pisa and wait a couple of hours. We didn't feel we had time to do Florence although there were drivers prepared to do both Pisa and Florence and wait in both places for 400 euros, which for the seven of us would have been about 58 euros each. Cannes and Marseille were just a couple of hours ashore, although in Marseille we had to catch the NCL shuttle at $15 each return. Embarkation was quick and easy with no distinction made between latitudes members and non members. Disembarkation was different as somebody accidentally took one of our bags and left there own. NCL were brilliant, they tracked down the person and bag at the airport and by the time we arrived on our shuttle our bag was waiting for us. Overall impressions. Well the cruise would have got 5 stars if it wasn't for NCL trying to squeeze more and more money from people. Charging for food in the complimentary restaurants, charging for most room service, the Ultimate Beverage Package does not cover all beverages only those to a value of $15 and there were quite a few drinks that were over that value, OK I got it free but if I'd paid £440 for it I'd have been pretty narked and lastly the cost of the excursions was almost prohibitive. On the plus side the service, stateroom, entertainment and most of the food was excellent, the itinerary is also good but personally I'd maybe cut one stop out and add an extra sea day. Would I go on this cruise again. Yes. Would I sail with NCL again Yes they're my favourite cruise line, but they can stop trying to squeeze money from me. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
All in all for the price the cruise was really good! I didn't pay too much at all so the things that might have bothered me otherwise didn't. I was in the Solo Cabin so I also believe my experience was different from the non ... Read More
All in all for the price the cruise was really good! I didn't pay too much at all so the things that might have bothered me otherwise didn't. I was in the Solo Cabin so I also believe my experience was different from the non solo. The biggest issue I have is with the men in the solo cabins (not all!) but a lot of them seem to be on the cruise for one reason and many of the ladies in the solo cabins felt it and when I polled them they said they would not do the solo cruise again because of this reason. Norwegian can't really control that. The food in the specialty dining was amazing! But the service was quite slow. The food in the buffet was great but I didn't like the pizza at all. Horrible. I loved the smoked salmon and capers for breakfast. Yummy!!! All the staff were really friendly and helpful except for just one or two. Embarkment is a mess. I didn't like that process what so ever. They also don't warn you that you will have to do a safety drill in the afternoon after boarding in Barcelona. Flying from the USA I had not been to sleep and wanted to nap. It was not a great experience. The drinks are amazing!! The espresso martini in the martini bar is DY-NO-MITE!! I had about 10 lol. The bushwacker is also amazing!!! All drinks were really good and not watered down at ALL so beware lol The ship is noisier than I expected. Most mornings around 7am have announcements. I didn't sleep in once. The pools are small and filled with kids. Even the pool on the H2o adult spice area is tiny and people stated it was hot like bath water. I WILL DO THIS AGAIN!!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We had a blast, 4 professional women. Everything , the food, staff, venues were awesome, the staff was very attentive, the ship was clean. Our room was great. Used the Spa everyday, had private tours on shore. Our entertainment for ... Read More
We had a blast, 4 professional women. Everything , the food, staff, venues were awesome, the staff was very attentive, the ship was clean. Our room was great. Used the Spa everyday, had private tours on shore. Our entertainment for the week was the rude , loud, pushy Chinese tourists. They knew no boundaries and had no manners. A well documented phenomenon . All in all we had a spectacular week on the Epic and can't wait to go again. I would recommend private tours with small groups on shore, other wise you are on the big buses . We had the dining and spa packages, well worth it. The one thing I would change is : they need to have bottled water readily available. I ended up drinking tap water when I was thirsty. There were no clocks ( like Vegas), Phone service was poor, non existent , the only time we had wi fi was in our tour van. This was after purchasing the A TT plan and smart phone app. We loved this cruise and we had such an awesome time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My partner and I booked our 3rd Norwegian Cruise (but our first on the Epic) out of Barcelona in July 2015. I had heard about the EPIC since 2009 and was excited to be booked on that ship. Within minutes of stepping on board, we smelled ... Read More
My partner and I booked our 3rd Norwegian Cruise (but our first on the Epic) out of Barcelona in July 2015. I had heard about the EPIC since 2009 and was excited to be booked on that ship. Within minutes of stepping on board, we smelled the mustiness of the carpets and when we entered the EPIC Theatre, the smoke from the chairs and carpets grabbed us in the throat -- we never saw any full show in that theatre. The smell of smoke permeated much of the lower levels of the ship where the bars and restaurants were. We asked to move tables in TASTE restaurant due to the smoke smell. The ship needs a complete overhaul -- which I learned that it was getting in October. We are not big gamblers -- and unfortunately, smoke from the casino (on Deck 6 - midship -wafts everywhere on Decks 5,6, and 7 -- The rooms were clean, the service was great for the most part, the people were friendly. The food was very good, overall -- we ate our dinners in the Manhattan Room -- which was great. We only ate at the Buffet in the early mornings as we had 4 early morning excursions in a row -- the excursions were great. Go see Cirque dreams -- the show is AMAZING -- the meal is very good and the experience is worth the premium price. The entertainment shows were great -- we enjoyed the BEATLES show (twice) -- the venue is not great -- Fat Cats Lounge -- chairs are awkwardly arranged -- tables would be better -- but I understand why -- they need to get as many people in as possible. Most of the venues were "packed-in" -- when you have 4200 people on board -- you understand why. Dueling pianos was o.k., the magician was great -- very funny and skillful. The Graffiti Classics String Quartet Show was very entertaining. We did not see Burn the Floor -- we did not attend as it was in the EPIC Theatre -- in fact we only went in there one time for the Magician -- and my partner left due to the smoke. The bars looked great -- I didn't get a chance to go bowling -- but it's great you can do it. Overall -- there are a lot of shows -- something for everyone on the EPIC. We were disappointed with the pool -- very hard to swim in such a small pool -- and it was very busy -- we went in the early morning when we were at sea -- the time we did go. We used the SPA -- and enjoyed the whirl pool -- which was great -- I did talk to the attendant(s) about some "black guck" that I found in the whirl pool - I think it was a lubricant -- on the metal roll bars. When I went to show another attendant where it was - it was gone (I had mentioned it to one other person earlier -- so it was cleaned up). We chose a tour in every port -- which were all EARLY tours -- which was fine -- all of the tours were great -- well paced and produced -- good value for the money. We enjoyed the "off the Beaten path" tour out of Civitavechia -- as we had seen Rome before. and we loved the Spectacular Scenery and Flavours tour in Mallorca. Cinque Terra was wonderful -- we lucked out and had a TERRIFIC tour guide named Luca -- he was among the best tour guides we had ever experienced . . . . and ANNA who was our Tour Guide for our Amalfi Coast/Pompeii tour was delightful -- a very good tour as well. The ship was bit of a disappointment -- nowhere near as nice as the Norwegian Star or the Norwegian Jewel from our earlier cruises -- but we did enjoy our cruise. We will probably not do another MEGA ship. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
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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