The Epic ship has been an epic disappointment. After a ton of research, time and talking to other cruise going friends and an NCL rep, we finally decided to plan our honeymoon with NCL. We were very excited about this trip, planning and ... Read More
The Epic ship has been an epic disappointment. After a ton of research, time and talking to other cruise going friends and an NCL rep, we finally decided to plan our honeymoon with NCL. We were very excited about this trip, planning and saving our money to make this happen even before we put a deposit down, so you can see we came in with a positive and excited mindset that got systematically crushed by your ship and staff.
Our day started fine, the flights and transportation to the airport uneventful and nothing special. We got through the port and check-in and into our room without anything to note happening. This was a good start in our books. However, this was where everything took a turn for the worse. We quickly realized how inadequate the beverage package we got was and called the operator to see if we can upgrade to the Premium Plus Beverage Package. They told us we can go to any bar to upgrade it. I asked them if they can do it right there over the phone since they already have my credit card information. They said no. This struck us as odd. We went to the nearest bar and they told us we had to go to yet another bar. Eventually, after visiting several bars, we arrived at the Atrium on the 5th deck where we were blatantly ignored for 10-15 minutes and were told to go to YET ANOTHER place to sign up for this premium plus package. So we go down to a table near the Le Bistro and we go buy this upgrade. However, we cannot buy the premium plus package here we just get a piece of paper saying we are going to buy it. Surprise! Yet another waste of time but we are committed to having a blast and this minor event will not hold us back. So we go to the Guest Services line now which was extremely long. After waiting in line for over an hour, we finally see the end in sight. I love wasting my precious time on our honeymoon to get mislead and waiting in lines. There were about 5 more parties ahead of us when the ship's intercom notified us we had a ship safety presentation that will be conducted soon and we had to go to our designated rally point. We stayed in line but were quickly told we had to leave the line and go right away. Ok, fine, can we get a number or something that reserved our place in line? We waited over an hour just to get denied any resolution. They blatantly made it clear they did not care and told all of us to leave. I asked them to just charge my card and be done with it but again no, we had to come back later. By now the tension, frustration, and anger among the passengers were quite visible to us, adding to our discomfort. We have not even left port yet and the people were unhappy wherever we went. We went to our rally point, where things continued to get worst. Our rally point was the Manhattan Room which for whatever reason was closed. So we had this large group of people (all the 'J' people) just waiting outside the rally point. Clear and obvious frustration was on everyone's faces as we waited 10 or so minutes to enter. Finally the doors open and we had to endure the pushing and cursing of over a hundred people trying to get to the rally point but could not due to the terrible funneling of the doorway. My poor wife had to deal with rude and angry people pushing her and stepping on her feet this whole time and to add to this the heat was near unbearable. I was not even sure the ship even had A/C at this point. To be brutally honest, I've been to airports in Afghanistan that was more comfortable in terms of people and organization. This is no honeymoon I want to be on and my wife agrees. Once we finally checked in and found someplace to sit we had to wait an additional 30 odd minutes for the presentation to even start. I told my wife that we should get our money back and just get off this ship. We did not even want to be there anymore. So I asked someone who I can talk to about that. I was told to talk to Guest Service. Deflated we went back to sit down and wait for the safety brief to start. Once it was over we had to fight our way to get out of this dining room and rush to get back into the Guest Service line.
By this point, I will like to point out that Carnival by far outperforms NCL at this point. We had no trouble at all with Carnival and the whole experience was pleasant from start to end. If they had a cruise that we wanted for the timeframe we wanted to go we would not have looked at any other cruise. Since that was not the case we did our due diligence and NCL seemed to be the best option. People spoke highly of NCL cruises and again I want to emphasize we were so excited about this cruise and our honeymoon! We do not have any brand loyalty yet and we are open-minded about all cruise lines at this point!
We arrived at Guest Services and not to our surprise the line was even longer now then it was when we first got there. My wife was nearly in tears looking at it and her face failed to hide her frustration. This is not the honeymoon we envisioned with NCL. I told her to just head to the room and see if our luggage made it there and if so unpack and try to relax. She does not deserve to have to endure this dilemma. So I waited alone now in this line that went on forever. I watch as people slowly went to the desk and unleashing their complaints, their faces showing their emotions clearly. Passengers were becoming rude quite frequently to each other and the staff. To describe the guest service line, it went past the Le Bistro restaurant the first time I stood in it, and even further the second time clogging up the hallway. It would have been helpful if the staff seen standing around had helped to create a line behind each customer service rep instead of just one line clogging up the atrium and hallway. After a couple of hours of standing in this dreaded line, it was finally my turn to talk to guest services. Never in my life have I had to work so hard to give a company my money. The actual process to get the premium plus drink package took a minute but I requested a formal complaint be filed about this very incident. By now I’d spent half the day in a line in one form or another and this is what set the tone for our honeymoon.
Now I do not have all day to write about EVERY bad thing about our experience with NCL, so I will hit on some of the bigger events and things that need to be addressed.
The first thing was the premium plus drink package. After being disappointed with the process of purchasing the premium beverage package, we then found out the beverages provided in the room were not included, which made no sense to us. These were the same beverages provided in our drink package. So we decided to use the premium plus beverage package at a bar we had worked so hard to acquire, at which time we were told items weren’t included. This was before the bartenders/staff even looked at our key cards! Every time we ordered the premium package item we were denied until we pointed out to them that we were premium plus package members and asked them to re-examine our cards. This was VERY frustrating. At the end of the night, we examined our account on our TV and it showed that we racked up a $2500.00 tab from drinks all included in the premium plus beverage package. Meaning that even though we reminded staff over and over we were premium plus members, they had STILL charged us. I had to get back down to guest services just to get it to fix and by now, we know how I feel about guest services. The rest of the cruise the inaccurate charges subsided, but I had to monitor my account continuously day in and day out to confirm. Initially, we were told only the premium plus package could be purchased for myself only since my wife does not drink anything that would require the Premium Plus package. Later we were told she had to purchase the package as well, doubling the cost. Yet another thing that made us feel that NCL was trying their best to gouge us for every dollar. It was frustrating that the staff was not sharing information and providing us with misinformation at every step. Also, the taxation simply felt so petty and cheap when we had the Premium Plus Beverage Packages. Nowhere did it say we will have to pay taxes on everything when in U.S. waters and if it did the print was so small it escaped our eyes. Got to love seeing all these small charges on our account, and the fact we stayed on the port the first night in Puerto Rico till after 1 AM meant we paid taxes on every drink after the reported 930PM departure time. It felt so cheap that the NCL would not even cover the taxes after you spent so much money on the Premium Plus Beverage Package. The only positives that came from this, was that we made friends through voicing our mutual disappointments waiting for our beverages. We heard people having the same struggles and it brought us together and made us form friendships. Let us just say, we made a lot of new friends throughout the cruise.
The second string of events I wanted to address was the complimentary dining (the Manhattan Room and the Taste in particular). The food was served often lukewarm or straight out cold. I know I am not the only one that experienced this as we watch other tables complain loudly in the dining rooms about this very thing. Service was an insult to us. Nearly every time we decided to eat at the Taste, or the ONE time we went to Manhattan Room we waited much longer than is acceptable anywhere else in the world. We would sit at our table and had to wait for 20 some minutes to just get water. Then we would get our menus and we will be ready to order but we had to once again wait for 20 odd minutes to order. Now if the place was packed or extremely busy I can be understanding but less then half the room would have people seated. Every time we go there was staff standing around and just not working. Once we went to breakfast and we saw one man working very hard to get clean and set up tables for people then turn around to the lazy staff members and loudly condemn and reprimand their actions in front of the passengers. It was truly a sad sight to witness but even that other staff would slowly work and the first chance they get they would slink off to somewhere. Going back to the wait times in these restaurants, it took an average of 1 hour to get our food from the moment we sat down. My wife asked for ketchup once for her hashbrowns as it came and we waited for 30 minutes before we decided to just leave Taste. The waitress in question we did not see again after she got us our food. We asked every server for ketchup after the first waitress failed to show up in 10 minutes. There were maybe 12 tables with people in the entire dining area.
The Manhattan Room was so disappointing that we never went back. We went there for Christmas dinner. The first thing was the crowd outside the restaurant that all seemed bitter and blue. It is Christmas and this was the mood. This was not a good sign. We go to the reservation table and tried to ignore the mood. We were grateful for a nice window seat near the corner of the dining room as we did not have to deal with the crowds much, giving us some hope about dinner. However, that hope was quickly dashed. Water and bread came out in a timely matter as did the menus. The waiter got our food orders and we felt some relief as this by far has been the best experience with the complimentary dining. We ordered wine and enjoyed our time together. This is when I started to notice something was odd. The table next to us ordered their food as we were sitting down, ate their food and left as did some of the other tables around us. Those same tables left were cleaned and had new parties seated. We finished our wine and we still have not seen our waiter. Now that similar feeling of dread came over us. Those new tables that got seated well after we did, started to get served their dinners. At this point (after an hour and 3 minutes, I timed it and wrote it down. It became my new hobby on this ship to write start and end times) I had to leave the table and go to one of the dining room managers asked what is the problem with our orders? We picked things off the menu with no changes. We have no special needs or allergies. The woman apologized off handly and to make a point I asked for another bottle of wine (indicating we had more than enough time to finish 1 bottle). We got our food as the new tables got their desserts and our 2nd bottle of wine was running low. At this point, we wanted to just leave but it was Christmas and we paid for this cruise. We asked, as our food came out (appetizers and main course came out together. I had a soggy salad and my wife was served something cold), for the dessert menu. During this time 2 dining room managers, 1 assistant dining room manager, and 3 waiters kept coming to our table to ask if our food was alright or if we needed anything. 6 separate people came to talk to us from receiving our food and before the dessert menus were delivered. We then felt bombarded. If you can see we are eating hungrily in our formal clothing, why would you continuously bother us when the hour prior we did not even matter? My wife, bless her soul, was very patient this whole cruise and refrained me from causing any scene even when she was so distraught this whole cruise. Our honeymoon has been thoroughly ruined by NCL and the Epic crew. Once we got our dessert we quickly exited the Manhattan Room. Again there was so much more to bring up but I think this covers the major issues we have had with the complimentary dining. Specialty dining was by far the best in comparison.
The next complaint we had was the fact the shore excursions did not have the weight limits somewhere visible or if so, noticeable, for us, the passengers trying to spend money, to know what we can and cannot do which would have reduced the time customers stood at the counter asking questions about each excursion. I am a large male (300lbs and 6 foot 5 inches) and it would have been great to know ahead of time that most adventure activities had a weight limit. We had to go to the Shore Excursions desk to confirm the weight limit of the activities. Another line. Good thing we been treated so badly that we decided to double-check everything. The excursion we chose was fun once we got on the boat, but also started with too much WAITING and seemed poorly organized. What is the point of gathering people for excursions in the theater early where we just have to wait roughly 45 minutes to be told what zone we are going to once we got on the port? That information could have been easily been put onto our excursion tickets or told to us the day prior on paper with our FreeStyle paperwork they deliver to our rooms every night or just have some of the crew meet us on our way out to tell us what zone we need to meet at so we weren’t waiting to disembark while 20 other excursions meeting locations were announced. This also brings up another point about the general lack of care by the crew was when one of the passengers dropped a glass cup on the ground and it broke. The woman upfront asked multiple times for someone to come clean it up and the whole time we sat there no one came up to clean it up. Just another thing in the sea of problems that could have been done better.
We meet an older couple that has gone on 11 or so NCL cruises and they tried to tell us this was an isolated experience. They told us how great every other cruise they’d been on with NCL had been and their experiences on the Epic have been so underwhelming and disappointing in comparison, that they might have to look elsewhere for their next cruise. No one on this ship seemed to care about how poorly they were getting treated. Even the people in the Haven that we have met and befriended complained about how the Haven has fallen far from the standard Haven experience on the other ships they been on with NCL. This gives us no hope with future NCLs cruises. Things like the Thermal Room running out of water for hours even when told by multiple people it was depleted or the level of visible corrosion in the hot tubs in the Thermal Room made everything about the cruise feel so unkempt. We even witnessed crew members nearly going to blows, arguing loudly on the 9th deck by the elevators in clear view for us and the other passengers showing a lack of unity among the staff. A large majority of the passengers did not have a good time for the whole duration of the cruise. The 2 saving grace of this entire cruise was that the destinations were simply wonderful and that the final disembarkment back in Puerto Rico was painless. Never had we been on a vacation where we wanted to be home after the first day. We would have gladly paid double if any other cruise line had the same itinerary had we known how poorly NCL runs their cruises and how badly we would be treated on the Epic. Read Less