Sail Date: November 2014
I just got back from a cruise on the Norwegian Epic and I must say I enjoyed just about every second if it. This was my second cruise on the Epic. The first was in June in the Western Med. It is interesting how you can be on the same ship, ... Read More
I just got back from a cruise on the Norwegian Epic and I must say I enjoyed just about every second if it. This was my second cruise on the Epic. The first was in June in the Western Med. It is interesting how you can be on the same ship, but have different ship experiences. There was only one sea day on the Med cruise and there ended up being 5 sea days on this cruise after the port was closed in Grand Caymen the day we were scheduled to arrive ( Thanksgiving Day). This time I went with my 75 & 80 yr old parents and we all shared one stateroom. My dad walks with a cane and was worried that he wouldn't be able to get around and would have to stay on the ship during port days, so I convinced my parents to get spa passes. They loved the thermal spa and said that was one of the best choices they made for this vacation. They aren't much for laying in the sun, although they did go up to the Quiet Zone on deck 18 a couple of times. But they did go to the spa for a few hours every day. They loved how quiet and peaceful it was after seeing how chaotic the main pool area is with the smokers, kids, and constantly moving groups of people. We had an aft balcony and loved sitting on the balcony listening to the waterfall (waves created by ship engines). The steward brought us a third chair that first day and we spent many hours out there. My dad has to get up and go to the bathroom often at night and I chose a room where the bed was closer to the bathroom so my dad would have a short distance to go. Plus, since I was sleeping on the sofa bed, I didn't want him to stumble over me. I was worried about the three adults in one cabin, but it worked out well for us. The sofa bed was actually comfortable. It pulled out from the back until it was a full twin. We usually worked out a couple of hours of quiet time for each person and didn't have many issues. Although, I must say, we tended to use the showers in the locker rooms instead of the stateroom since we had the spa passes. We ate in the main dining rooms for dinner every night (twice in Manhattan) and the remainder in Taste as my dad like wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt to dinner instead of long pants. I made reservations for most nights in Manhattan or Taste before the cruise, but we only needed to use the reservations twice - First night craziness and Thanksgiving Dinner. All other nights we walked in and were seated within five minutes regardless of the reservation time. But it was nice, on those two nights, to avoid the long lines and get seated immediately. We went to O Sheehans, Taste, and Garden cafe for lunches and enjoyed all. My dad found the buffet a little hard to manage with his cane, so we ended up at Taste more mornings than the buffet. Entertainment: We did more shows than I had on the previous cruse including Mystery lunch, second city, legends, Blue Man Group, Manhattan band, the Blues group in Fat Cats. The entertainment was so good, but I am just not a Blue Man Group fan. I don't get them at all. I agree it is the same as the show in Vegas, but I didn't get it when I saw them here either. However the kids in front of me ate it up and were glued to the stage. Ports: Jamaica - my mom and I did the river tubing. It was fun. We went in flip flops and they tried to sell us water shoes before the ride, but we wore our flip flops and had no issues. It was very scenic with a few mini rapids. Two guides per group to help if you get stuck in still water and to monitor you as yo go thru the rapids. No one flipped over in my tour. Just saw some red marks on the arms from rubbing against the raft/rope as you go thru the tour. Grand Caymen - ship didn't stop and had rough waters that whole day. Excursion tickets were automatically refunded the same day Cozumel - ship docked at 7ish instead of 10 am. I had booked a snorkeling excursion, but it was cancelled because the sea was still too rough and it was windy. We did a little shopping, then went back to the ship and hung out in the spa, which we had to ourselves. I took a deck of cards with me - my family loves pinochle and we played many of games on those long sea days at the library/Maltings bar. It is amazing how something so simple can help you enjoy your cruise. My dad is already talking about booking the next cruise. He enjoyed it way more than he ever thought he would.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2014
After seeing all the bad reviews of this ship, I have to write my review as we had a marvelous time. We had The Haven Spa Suite 14151 on the Epic embarking March 9. Embarkation Process: There was quite a line at the pier. Since we were in ... Read More
After seeing all the bad reviews of this ship, I have to write my review as we had a marvelous time. We had The Haven Spa Suite 14151 on the Epic embarking March 9. Embarkation Process: There was quite a line at the pier. Since we were in a suite I had thought there would be a line for suite guests, but all go through the same security line. It was long, but as the weather was nice, standing in line was OK - although I miss the much easier embarkation that we experienced for the Jade in Barcelona on two occasions. Unfortunately, right after security, no one checks to find out if you are in a suite to direct you to the VIP area, so, not realizing there was a VIP area, we went to the regular lines to check in. There was hardly any line in this area and the check in lady took us to the VIP suite area where we were escorted onboard - much better. The Spa Suites are lovely. 14151 has a gigantic balcony. There were already 2 chaise lounges and 2 chairs along with 2 tables on the balcony. PERFECT! We went to The Epic Club for lunch which was great. After lunch, we explored the ship and my husband signed up for the Texas Hold-em Poker tournament the next day. We had dinner at Shanghai's - really great spicy Chinese food - don't know why anyone would complain about these dishes. Shanghai's acts as overflow for the Manhattan Room - don't know why NCL allows that as it negatively impacts the experience for paying guests in Shanghai's. Fortunately we were almost done with dinner. This did create an interesting discussion between me and my husband about the issue of capacity planning for this ship. It is much larger than other NCL ships, so based on previous ships, NCL would really just be guessing as to how many would go to the specialty restaurants as opposed to the free MDR and buffet. Once the ship is built, they are stuck. If demand for the MDR outweighed demand for the other restaurants, what do they do? That night, I noticed that the tub in our room was leaking. As it was near midnight I didn't want to bother our cabin steward, so we mopped up the water, put the towels in the tub and went to bed. The next day, I explained to our cabin steward that it appeared to me that one of the pipes must be loose (based on where the water was coming from.) She had only begun working in this area on this cruise as the regular steward was on vacation. She filled the tub and after about 30 minutes, there was water everywhere and she wiped up the floor and contacted a plumber who came and took our tub apart and found a disconnected pipe, just as I had said. I told our cabin steward that between the two of us, we'd have cabin 14151 in the best shape it had ever been in! I subsequently found a few other problems, which she was quick to have fixed. All I can think is that the previous occupants of the suite never told their steward that light bulbs were out or that the tub was leaking. One of the surprises of the room is that the headboard actually has 2 pullout extensions with drop down tables that turn into nightstands! I had not noticed these until the 3rd night - at which time, I found out one of the extensions was stuck - another minor repair. None of these issues detracted from our stay in the cabin as the needed repairs were all immediately organized by our cabin steward. Our cabin steward did such an outstanding job on organizing the repairs, I gave her an extra $40 on top of her regular tip at the end of the week. She was so thrilled she hugged me and thanked my husband profusely. But, in fact, she deserved the extra money. She was always cheerful, always positive and always did the utmost to help and I repaid her by finding every issue that needed to be resolved in our suite and also monetarily for her excellent work in getting the issues solved. The first morning we discovered how absolutely great the shower was! This was possibly the best shower we have experienced in an NCL suite! We also enjoyed the use of the DVD player. I had brought along several movies and TV series for us to watch. My husband attended Blue Man group. He said it was a good show, although, he thought he had seen this particular show before. We both went to Cirque and really enjoyed that show. The dinner was so-so with only one choice (steak and overly salty shrimp) but the show was amazing. I"m not sure why they serve food in this show because, honestly, it was so good, it was hard to eat because I wanted to just focus on the show. We went to the ice bar. It is 10F in there. Of course we had to go to the first ice bar at sea. It was fun, but oh so cold - as expected. Apparently some Canadian spent more than 3 hours in there without a coat! in Jamaica, we went zip lining and the tubing on the river. I have been zip lining before, but not where you had to self brake. I've got no talent for the braking at all. We went on to the river tubing which was excellent. The water is crystal clear and cool and the tubes are very safe. There are areas where the tubes go through some small rapids which makes the ride a lot of fun. I would do the tubing again in a heartbeat! We had sushi that evening, which was OK but the offerings are rather routine and boring. I think that if NCL would do some more exciting roles such as those without rice - rolled in cucumber and rice paper, they would have a much busier sushi restaurant. I would hope NCL might look at the menu at edokusushi.com - especially the Maki rolls to get some better ideas about what people who really like sushi and sashimi expect from a sushi restaurant. Again, the sushi they did have was fresh, but rather average sushi rolls are the biggest thing holding back the sushi bar from being one of the busiest specialty restaurants on the ship. We ate at Teppanyaki one night and noticed the family sitting with us had come in with someone with a soy allergy. I'm not sure why they would have chosen Teppanyaki with the edamame and Miso soup with tofu and the soy sauce in the stir fry. But they did. Teppanyaki was your typical Teppanyaki experience. The chefs have a script they work from and do a good job of entertaining the diners. The food was typical Teppanyaki food. This was the first time I'd gone to Teppanyaki on NCL. That's probably enough for us. I wanted to try it and my husband reluctantly agreed to go along. We tried it and that's enough. Kind of like Benihana - you go once and that's enough. We did have fun talking with the other people at the table. On one side of us was a young couple on their first cruise. Then the family on the other side with the person with the soy allergy - they were very nice and it was nice to hear that they were all enjoying their cruise. I had meant to go see the action on Lobster night in the buffet. I didn't want lobster - I just wanted to see how the buffet handled that. I had visions of masses of people grabbing 6 or more lobsters at a time. This is the largest buffet I've ever seen on a ship and most of the time, when I went to observe the operation, it was under control and seemed well managed. However, the previous reviews indicate that lobster night was out of control. Unfortunately, I never made it to the buffet to see what was going on that night. It probably would have been very interesting to observe. One day we did a cabin crawl. We saw everything from a Studio to the Owner's Suite. ALL of the cabins were extremely nice. If I were alone, I would definitely cruise in a Studio because they set up group events - such as group dinners, where you eat with others from the studios. In some cases, some of the studio residents were married couples who like to sleep in their own room at home - so each had their own studio! The rest of the studio residents ranged from 20-somethings to retirement age traveling alone. I really think the Studios are a great idea! As to the controversial bathroom setup, well, it is what it is. Some people like it, some hate it but for me, the way I look at it, I don't own this ship, so it's not like I have to live with this forever. I find it different but it doesn't really affect me personally as it is not my property. It just is what it is. The Spa area - the thalisotherapy pool, saunas and so on were fantastic. My husband has only experienced this type of thing once at Hotel 1898 in Barcelona. He was reluctant to try it, but I managed to talk him into going based on his experience at Hotel 1898 and lo and behold, he loved the thalisotherapy pool! So much so, he wanted to go everyday for at least an hour. It was NEVER crowded in there, and we looked forward to it greatly each day. We also ate dinner at the Epic Club - really great. There were various shops on the ship, but nothing I needed. Still, they were a step up from the shop on the Jade! I think one issue was that the duty free liquor store only offered lower end products - no Louis XIII cognac, nothing to tempt a higher end buyer. Our last dinner was in Le Bistro and was outstanding. At any rate, the entire cruise was very relaxing. The food was good to excellent. We lounged on our balcony and our butler, Juan, brought us anything we wanted. We enjoyed peace and quiet and the lovely Epic Club for breakfast and lunch. Overall, it was an absolutely wonderful cruise. For suite guests, debarkation is arranged by the concierge so that you don't have to wait in line. Unfortunately, when we were sent down in the elevator, the concierge had disappeared and none of the employees knew where Haven guests were supposed to go. Next thing we knew, we were pushed into a general debarkation line with a few other Haven guests, including a 91 year old man. When we reached the main dining room, I noticed one employee had a cellphone and asked her to please call the concierge for us and asked for a chair for the 91 year old man, which she immediately provided. The concierge came to us and took us through service passageways and elevators to get us off the ship without a line - much better. Along the way, a ship employee spontaneously grabbed my luggage and pulled it for me all the way to the exit of the ship, where he had to stop. Debarkation after that point was swift and easy with literally no wait for a taxi. All in all, the only two glitches in our cruise really were the embarkation process (not being sent to the VIP line immediately after security) and the debarkation process where we got separated from the concierge and no other employees knew what we were supposed to do. In both cases, employees did their best to resolve the problem. It was overall a really great and relaxing cruise and I'd definitely sail on the Epic again. I loved the spa suite, even though I'm not a fan of the bathroom design - it was fine - after all, I don't own it - and having the access to the spa overrides the value of actually being in a suite in The Haven. I would choose a spa suite over any suite in The Haven just because of the included spa access. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
I wrote a review on our first cruise, this same itinerary on this same ship but in 2012, a few days apart from this one. We felt on that cruise that we had missed out on some of the entertainment and decided we'd rebook, along with ... Read More
I wrote a review on our first cruise, this same itinerary on this same ship but in 2012, a few days apart from this one. We felt on that cruise that we had missed out on some of the entertainment and decided we'd rebook, along with some friends we'd made on the ship. Well I'm glad to report that not only are we happy with this decision, we made many new friends and enjoyed the time we spent with the friends we'd made the previous year. My partner and I are a gay couple, not particularly flamboyant, just a couple of guys who happen to be gay. We aren't the type to only hang around with gay people. Straight people can't help being straight and we actually really like them. Some of our best friends are straight and we support them in all their endeavors, including straight marriage and equal rights. We are both friendly people and we really like the Norwegian anytime dining aspect of cruising. As long as we make our reservations and have dinner at some vaguely dinner-ish hour, there's no problem with eating in most places. The only exception for us was one night when we wanted sushi but had to make the Legends show. It was a sea day and the sushi place was packed with a good long wait. Even though we rushed to the noodle bar and asked for a quick meal due to our show reservations, we had to rush with 45 mins before the show and didn't get to finish. I suppose that's our fault for bad planning though. The quality of some of the food seems to have diminished. In particular the buffet food seemed less enticing than last year. We tended to eat in Moderno, Cagneys, O'Sheehans or one of the main dining rooms where the food was really good on the first night and slightly less enticing than last year's menu. I know this whole review is a bit out of chronological order. I will try to leave a good, honest, thorough review, but the cost of that for me is less emphasis on the order and more details on the aspect of the cruise I'm reviewing. When we arrived, I'd been pestering Jose to get down to the port ASAP. We'd left from our South Florida home about 1/2 hour later than we intended and all I could think of was the lines to board growing longer and longer by the second while we mosied on down the road behind somebody who thought it was a good day to take in the air at about 15 below the speed limit. Despite all that, we arrived to a seamless, streamlined and almost joyous boarding procedure with no issues whatsoever. I've got 8 bad discs and migraines and athsma and a few other medical issues which sometimes make travel a bit trying. When we arrived at the port, we drove to where the porters or stevedores or whatever they're called take your luggage away to be checked for prohibited items and delivered to the stateroom, which on this trip was a balcony midship, room 12177, the same room we'd had the year before. Anyway it's a good idea to tip this guy, he's picking up and moving lots of heavy bags. We tipped him $5 and he seemed happy with that. Jose jumped out because one of our rolling luggages was big and the luggage guy took our stuff away with a smile. We drove to the parking garage and we were early but the garage was getting pretty full. We found a spot conveniently located within view of the elevators after going up a couple of levels and off we went. The line for us was extremely small. The group in front of us said that it was a long wait before someone came over, but she was there and just about finished with them, and we had no real wait of more than a minute. I think it was the handicapped and/or latitudes line. We were eligible for all of the lines so opted for the shortest. We provided our e-docs and our passports along with a credit card and were given new room cards with our freshly taken pictures on them. For new cruisers, the card is your everything card on the ship. You can use it for all purchases up to your credit limit, including cash advances in the casino and for the different novelty machines on the ship. It's a power which can be easily corrupted. It's very easy on a cruise with a couple of drinks in you to swipe that card for everything. I bring a cash budget for the casino and since I am a casinos at sea member we also get free casino drink cards, which we take full advantage of in order to minimize our expenses and enjoy the benefits losing your money at the casino gets you. Anyway, we get past the signing in and paying and all that and move along to an area right next to the ship where we will board in groups of people separated into probably 4 groups. Because I had the cane with me, we were called up as one of the first groups to go on the ship. Which was nice that they went around and got us all individually instead of giving us numbers which would make it obvious that the handicapped people were all in one group. We had still arrived to that area a little after 11 and had to wait till about noon to board. I think they had some refeshments set up but less stuff than last year. And we boarded at about 11 last year, this year they made us wait. We found out later that the health inspector was on board, probably just a routine thing that is a necessary part of any kitchen. It could also be that they needed more time to prepare the rooms. Once we got on, we wanted to eat at Taste as we did last year, along with our friends we'd made on last year's cruise, but they weren't letting us in, and were being very vague about when we'd be able to eat. I was told to come back in 15 minutes and upon our return we were still refused access. So we went up to the buffet. The buffet was simple fare, burgers and dogs and curried chicken were the main dishes upon embarkation. We had no problem getting our soda stickers affixed to our cards before our staterooms were ready and got our souvenir mugs, which I'm drinking my seltzer water out of as I write this. For us the cruise is about the people and the entertainment, and we had met up with our friends before we boarded. We were in adjacent sections and saw each other so once we boarded we found each other again and went to the buffet after we couldn't get into Taste. So we didn't mind the buffet since we were catching up with our old friends and chatting away. Once the rooms were ready we went up to our midship balcony stateroom number 12177 and went through our "mail" from the ship. We had our casino players cards, free drink cards, letters about reservations we'd made, coctail parties we were invited to, a meet and greet for the Cruise Critic Roll Call my partner had set up and stuff like that. We met our steward and tipped him $20 right away, as an incentive to offer good service. I don't think he'd have been anything but excellent anyway, but he deserved that tip as well as the additional $20 we tipped him near the end of the cruise. His name was Moday, not sure of the spelling and we nicknamed him the ninja. We spent little time in our stateroom and it would always be fixed up when we'd return, so I said he was like a ninja, in and out of the room without being spotted. He did a wonderful job and wasn't deficient in any capacity, offering us whatever we needed and asking us to contact him with any requests we had. I did ask for him to keep up on the ice, but we spent far less time in our room than I'd anticipated so didn't really use the ice. Nonetheless, each time I checked the container there was ice there for us. The room itself is a typical balcony stateroom, dimensions and such can be found elsewhere on this site. I believe it's 216 sq feet including the balcony, has a couch which can be another place to sleep, 2 twin or one big bed, a flat screen tv more attuned to ship's services than tv watching, though there are a few channels one can watch, and of course the bathroom, shower, sink and a mini fridge chock full of things you can buy. I've read that one can ask them to remove those items so that you can use it, but we were getting both free drinks and pre paid unlimited soft drinks so we didn't really need it. I think I left a couple of yogurts in there so if you're in that room and the yogurts are still in there you shouldn't have to pay for them. The beds are comfortable, though not the same comfort as my memory foam ones at home. The balcony is a nice upgrade, but it's a bit of an upcharge to have that, and not for everybody. Your neighbors can see what you're doing if they care to and some friends we made from the 3/30 epic roll call were telling us tales of woe from smokers and drunks above them using their balcony as an ashtray and drink coaster. We didn't have those problems, and I smoked a mini cigar out there once or twice without issue. We did look around at other balconies to make sure nobody would be upset by the cigar smoke and didn't see anybody when I smoked. We did a variety of things on the ship during the sea days, and we loved the entertainment. I spend some time in the casino while my partner spent more time at Shakers and spice2o. Starting on night one, we went to the main dining room for dinner and enjoyed the night's special sailaway meal, everyone at the table ordering surf and turf, each of us with an extra lobster tail. I've heard from one cruise critic member that her lobster wasn't as she liked it. I don't know if it's the time we went or if we or her were the exception but for us the lobster was perfectly done and delicious. They were larger than last years twin lobster tails and I ate my partners extra lobster while my friend at her partner's extra lobster too if I remember correctly. It was one of the best meals we had on the ship except for the Moderno nights and perhaps Cagneys. Some of the cruise critic roll call had decided on "Howl At The Moon" for our first night to hang out together and we had a blast. For some reason I was chosen to go up on stage twice, both times causing a lot of laughs and some embarrassment. The pianists thought my friend was my wife which further caused us all to crack up, since a good portion of us were cruise critic roll callers and we all knew she wasn't. I managed to trip on my way back from the second visit to the stage while trying to moonwalk and that was perhaps one of the funniest moments of the night. I knew just about every song they played and my voice isn't right this week, probably from singing so much on the ship. It was one of the best nights we had on the ship, plenty of drink flowing, many old and new friends surrounding us and good times for all. I was ahead in the casino for the only time I would be this trip, so it was really a nice, fun night. The next day was a sea day. I don't remember what we ordered or ate for breakfast, but there's certainly nothing to complain about. Room Service breakfasts are cereal, fruit, bready things like croissants and danish, coffee and tea. O'Sheehans has a good wholesome delicious typical egg meal breakfast selection with wonderful corned beef hash and good service, better service than we received last year in there. Buffet breakfasts we didn't have this year but I know from last year that the choices are good including plenty of bacon and an omelette station. I don't know if they had lox this year but last year all the typical lox / bagel choices were offered except maybe caviar. Lunch usually wasn't a huge issue for us. We tended to stick to O'Sheehans, the Noodle Bar or Sushi with occasional trips to the buffet for a snack or a dessert. Dinners were generally very good but we didn't have any in the buffet. On the first night we had Cagneys and that was nice. We have a lot of steak at home so it was good but not as good as Moderno for us. I had a 3 shrimp coctail and could swear I saw a bunch of 4 shrimp coctails up where they pick them up from. Perhaps one of mine fell and they didn't notice. I didn't complain about it because I fill easily anyway, and the shirmp were of a nice size. I also had the bisque and found it to be a bit more like tomato soup with a bit of lobster stock than a restaurant quality bisque. I've ordered it several times at several places and this was basically a tomato soup base with a little lobster flavor and no chunks of lobster. The steaks were very good as was the rest of the meal. Desserts were usually taken to the room to eat later on the balcony, and were always delicious for us. Moderno is the Brazilian steakhouse and in our opinion the best restaurant on the ship hands down. We booked it twice, each time very happy, full and more than satisfied with the exceptional service. Each time we left a tip of $10 and had very informative, fun and interesting conversations with the hostess, waiter and I think the maitre'd. Tbey have a most delicious salad bar with seafood ceviche, shrimp, the most wonderful cheese and so many different choices that it's easy to fill up just on salad fixings. Don't do it. Save some room for the meats, the signature meat and all the others which will come around to you during service so long as your card remains green. When you've finally had your fill, flip your card over and the waitress will offer desserts and very gladly accomodate any who want to take it back to their room. I did kind of think the hostess had an air about her of superiority until we spoke with her and realized it's just how she behaves for her job. She was a very nice lady who was more than polite with us. The night of the captains coctail party we had only an hour to eat and they got every meat to our table very quickly to help us make that party, which we'd only found out about upon our arrival to the stateroom. I would eat there tonight if it were near my house, it's so good. And going back again is perhaps the best compliment we can pay. With the exceptions of the specialty restaurants the overall quality of the types of food seemed to diminish since last year's spring break cruise. It didn't affect us as much as some other cruisers but we did hear multiple reports attesting to this from multiple groups of people we spoke to throughout the week. I hope this improves again as we like NCL and want to continue cruising with them. I don't drink like my partner can and really look forward to the food. So I'd like to visit the buffet more next cruise and see it improved a bit. The noodle bar and the sushi bar are both a la carte dining establishments which have great food at a reasonable up charge and while there was a wait the night we were going to legends, on several other times/days we were able to individually or together get in with no wait for sushi and never had more than a 4-5 minute wait at noodle bar, that wait being the same night the sushi place was filled up with a wait list. Legends was a great show and the highlight ((((spoiler alert)))) was a Michael Jackson impersonator. He was the best part of the show by far and there was such a line waiting to get a picture with him after the show that even though I really wanted one I didn't bother to wait. The show lasts about an hour and they will not let you in after it starts. I saw a cruiser out there arguing with a crew member after being denied entry because my weak bladder made me run out for the rest rooms. Speaking of which, the rest rooms are usually very clean and there's a handicapped stall in every single bathroom that has public access on the ship. There are select handicapped accessible staterooms as well, and if you need one I suggest you look into that as the regular ones will be a real challenge for those who use things such as a wheelchair to get around. I use a cane and the regular rooms are fine for those who have some mobility. the clubs on the ship are one of the biggest entertainment methods, and there is enough variety and different ambience to keep most people happy. I meant to get to the jazz club but didn't make it there. Bliss is the most reminiscent of a true club experience with a bar, dance floor and dj every night I think. During the day other things are held there such as the trivia and other entertainment. There are also several bowling lanes there as well as others in O'Sheehans. So if you like bowling you'll find an empty lane almost any time you seek one. But for me and my back bowling is out. Dancing isn't even though I shouldn't be doing it. A few drinks and a little help from my cane and I'm happy to move to the music a bit. I can't dance as well as most, but I can damn well have just as much fun. And I did. The dj at Bliss is very good, and makes the music and lighting along with the people and the dancing come together to make it the happening place on most nights. It's the after party spot on big Spice2o nights too. Spic2O on the other hand, is the on deck, take in the outside air, giant screen tv, mass party which you see in the ads and want to be at for at least a couple of nights. There's of course a bar, servers who come around and a giant tv screen along with a huge dance floor, plenty of table/chair setups and everyone who shows up is looking for a drink, a dance or just a good time. You'll find it hard to not enjoy yourself here. I saw people ranging in age from underaged kids trying to enjoy the adults only party to seniors and every age group in between. Everyone has a great time and the mood is a fun, party atmosphere. For us the 80s night was a lot of fun but the White Party, NCL's signature big deal party on the ship was the best. There are good looking men and women wearing angel wings, almost everyone wears white and there's plenty of people who are happy to embrace you while you attempt to dance. Some choose to be more mellow, sitting down at the tables with a small group and trying to chat over the music. There's a nice Friends of Dorothy meeting scheduled in the early evening, usually at Shakers, which is based on whom is traveling for how good it is. Last cruise we had over a dozen people who always hung out together when we'd find each other at a party, show, etc, but this cruise there were only a few. We did hang out a bit with a few other "friends" but on the White Party night we missed the larger FOD group from the year before. However, I didn't notice anyone from cruisers to crew who treated us any differently because of our orientation. cruisers tend to not be bigoted or against anyone based on things like race or orientation so it really hasn't ever presented as a problem on any of our 3 NCL cruises. Shakers is the upscale bar where my partner enjoyed spending his evenings while I was downstairs chasing my losses in the casino. Once again the bartenders are exceptional and remembered my name from the first time I visited. We met a wonderful couple and their son who were from virginia and invited us to visit them at one of their homes. Jose talked with them more than I did but I liked them as much as he did and they were very friendly, nice people. Speaking of people, we spent a good deal of time with a few different groups from the Cruise Critic Roll Call. I had brought some cigars with me and passed a few out at the meet and greet, which I'll talk about next. I intended on meeting up with some of the people I gave a cigar to but we only ran into them a few times throughout the week while headed off to something else. We did share a couple of meals and 2 full day excursions with our old friends. Along with them another couple from the roll call had booked the same excursions and we found them to be quite enjoyable company as well. We shared some meals and went to legends with them as well. One of the cruise critic people ran into us in Nassau and while we were looking at stuff in a store started handing Jose things off the shelf as if he worked there. It was one of the funnier moments I recall from the trip. There was another group, a woman, he son and mom with whom we spent some time as well and they were also a lot of fun. Many of the people I ran into in the casino were also at other events and even though I lost my money there, the casino provided a lot of entertainment and even a comped dinner for us including a bottle of wine after I lost enough money to earn it. The staff in the casino were tipped on every free drink we ordered, and the dealers tipped a good amount too. The pit bosses or hosts were all very friendly as were the dealers and the servers. Gusti and Joseph were my best servers, both being very attentive to me. All of the dealers were helpful, kind and courteous. When I found out that two dealers, Charita and Jason were engaged but call themselves married I made a mental note to mention them here. Verna was one of the more entertaining dealers as well with a funny response to every line I could come up with. I liked them all and they made it a little less painless when I gave them my money. When we stopped in St. Maarten we did, for the second year in a row, The Souliga Destinations Captain Bob snorkeling and lunch excursion. It's an all day excursion which we did last year as well. This year the water was choppy causing Captain Bob to cancel the small boat and tell us that if we felt it was too rough he'd bring us right back. I have no doubt had we opted to return we'd have received refunds. Because the water was so choppy we missed out on the stop where the turtles and sea rays congregate, but we had a delicious lunch on an island with a beach, time on the beach, snorkeling, and a trip to visit the little airport you can find on youtube where people get blown away by the jet engines. Even though the excursion wasn't as much stuff as the year before it was still a lot of fun and a much larger experience than the pricier St John champagne and snorkeling excursion we did the next day in St. Thomas. We will definitely book Captain Bob again. He takes us around the island through the water and told us the history, who was in some of the homes and yachts, what was french and what was dutch as well as keeping an eye on us and making sure we had a great time. He turned the boat into a 6 flags ride on the choppy water, making up for the stop we didn't make with a fun boat/flight around the island. We were too tired to do any more than stop and have a guavaberry rum drink on the way back at a little shack near the dock. In St. Thomas we did the other excursion, which lasted a shorter time, was through the NCL site and was still a lot of fun, just not as much stuff as Captain Bob gave us and for a bit more money. We were herded onto those open air buses and onto one of 2 or 3 pontoon boats where one may stay under shade or out in the sun. I was super fortunate. I'm friendly and offered some ginger candies to a family with a seasick prone child that forgot their seasickness medication on the ship. So when we got on the pontoon, they saved me space in the shade while my friends were out on the deck getting sun. So I had a shade and a sun spot to sit which was nice. They served rum punch, soft drinks, cheese and bread on the boat, brought us to a nice little beach on St. John where we could snorkel or swim to the beach. We had about an hour or so to snorkel, take in the sun on the beach or stay on the boat. We had our old friends and one of our new couple friends on both excursions, so we were super lucky to have had such a nice group with us. We all hung out together on both excursions, each of which was a bit of a bonding experience and the new friends will now be old friends soon whom we will hope to see again on one of our next cruises. The older friends we've hung out with on a previous cruise and also at another get together for a food festival at Epcot so we were very happy to again spend time with them. The crew on the St. John excursion was helpful, funny, and courteous. Both excursions seek a tip at the end. We tipped more to Captain Bob, but tipped at both excursions. Tipping isn't mandatory, but these people go out of their way to look out for your safety and to ensure you have a good time. They support themselves and their families on those tips, so I felt it was the least we could do. Garen on the St John excursion was a great crew member who made sure we were all safe and insisted that I give my athsma pump to the captain in case I had an attack while snorkeling. You're supposed to tell them and if you don't and have an issue, there's nobody who will know except those you're with. I got lost in both snorkeling trips watching the fish and even saw a ray both times, so lost in my own world that I didn't really hang with anyone while in the water. I have videos which i'll probably link to on the roll call for this sailing once I get them sorted out. The NCL Epic is beginning to show her age. One can smell the spilled drinks throughout the ship and that wasn't evident last year. The service is still great but the food has diminished in quality at most of the free dining places. We had a great steward and a wonderful experience with all of the crew we interacted with, but she is beginning to show her age a bit in the rooms, in the public areas and indeed all over the ship. It's still a lot of fun but I'm glad there's a couple of new NCL ships out this year and we've already booked the getaway. I think our oldest cruising friends (in meeting time not age) are also cruising with us on the getaway so we will be happy to see them again on the getaway. I'd still sail the Epic again, but probably on a shorter cruise, maybe a 3 or 4 day. All in all we were treated very well everywhere we went. Only one jewelry store in Nassau had an employee who was rude to us after we were indecisive and said we'd think about it and be back later. We were going to go back but he shot daggers at us when we didn't buy from him immediately and that turned us off so we decided since the prices were higher than we could pay in the US we would just skip it. The souvenir shops all had kind courteous people. We bought a coconut from a guy selling them out of his trunk and who gave us rum to put in them. A drunk guy behind us decided to lay on the street drunk, so we moved on quickly after getting our coconuts and rum. We bought our souvenirs in Nassau but the alcohol was more expensive than on the ship and the patron was more money than we pay near our home so we only took home the comp bottle of wine we received on the last night of sailing as part of our silver latitudes benefits. The people made this trip for us. We can do most of these things in South Florida where we live. We cruise to have fun and to meet people. We were not disappointed and were lucky to have made so many new friend and spend a good deal oftime with some of them. Our old friends were wonderful to see again and we'd have liked to do more with them but we tended to stay up later than they did which affected things. Still we had a couple of meals, a couple of excursions and some entertainment with them so we did spend a good deal of time hanging out with them as well. We can't do everything with everyone and wound up spending much of our time with a few sets of people whom we shared interests with. Some old friends, some new friends, many friends from cruise critic, some wonderful staff/crew/ship members all who treated us like royalty. That's what makes me come back time after time to cruising. There's nothing that can make up for meeting people, hearing their stories, telling them yours and just sharing some really good times together worried about nothing consequential. Yes the views and the stops are great too, but without the people we met, will meet and are fortunate enough to share experiences with, we'd not have had such a good time. So here's to everyone with whom we shared an experience with on the trip, we won't forget you. Some of you we will see again, others we will hope to see again and those whom we don't we will always remember for the fun we shared together. Because indeed the best part of any cruise is the company you are priveleged to keep. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
We have just returned from our Epic adventure and I'd like to share my thoughts with you. And I want to say this now; I am not sure any other cruise could measure up to the Epic. EMBARKATION: Went very smoothly. We arrived at ... Read More
We have just returned from our Epic adventure and I'd like to share my thoughts with you. And I want to say this now; I am not sure any other cruise could measure up to the Epic. EMBARKATION: Went very smoothly. We arrived at the port early so we had to wait to get in. The security process went smoothly and we were directed to the waiting lounge. Once it was time to board the ship, groups were called to do so. It really did go smoothly and we were warmly welcomed aboard. THE SHIP: What a beautiful ship the Epic is. Very clean and sparkling. It was very easy to get around this ship. The signage was clear and always there when you needed it. Only once did I feel like there were too many people on board. This was right after the muster drill. While our muster station was on deck 7, there are also stations on 6. Try to get in an elevator going up was impossible. Tip: Get on the elevator going down and stay on until it goes up to your floor. THE CABIN: We booked a spa mini-suite. This cabin comes with access to the spa area. It's a wonderful thing! The cabin had plenty of storage and closet space. The light over the sink and the light over the desk area could be a little brighter, but was sufficient. Putting on makeup and doing my hair proved to be a little daunting, but once I figured out to use the mirror next to the balcony door, all was well. The bed is huge. I'm sure it must be larger than a queen-size they advertise. It was a little too firm for my taste, but still very comfortable. Switches on either side of the bed allowed lights to be turned off and on. There is a little reading light next to the bed. The storage in the cabin couldn't be any better. 3 closets (1 with a light) and lots of cabinet space. There is even storage behind and above the couch. The TV was nice although several times the volume went really loud and we had to turn it down. Nothing to complain about there, it happens anywhere. The bathroom area was fine. You could put a whole family in the shower at one time and still have room. It is by far the best shower I have experienced on a cruise ship. Being in the spa area, they also included sample bottle of the shampoo, conditioner and body wash used in the spa. It was a nice touch. There is the curtain that separates the bathroom area and the cabin. Even with the curtain closed, there is plenty of room to get dressed and not bump in to the walls. The toilet area was fine too. THE CABIN STEWARD: Kenneth was great! We didn't seem him at all the first two days, but he had been there turning down the bed, replacing towels, and emptying the garbage. There was no bathmat to walk out of the shower to, so we put a towel on the floor. It took a couple of days of this before we got an actual bathmat. We got our nightly towel animals and they were cute. We did need our ashtrays emptied a few times and it wasn't done. I used paper/plastic bags to empty them myself. THE SPA: The spa area was fantastic. This spa is known as the largest at sea. If you plan on using the spa at all, take the tour they give you on the first day. Through the locker rooms are co-ed saunas, a steam room, thermal loungers and a hydrotherapy pool. What a way to relax on vacation! Between the two of us we managed 4 massages, 1 facial, 1 head massage and a hair wash and blow dry (these all cost extra). If you don't have a spa suite or mini-suite, you can purchase time to get in to the spa. The spa staff was wonderful and very knowledgeable. THE FOOD/DINING: Starting at the top of the ship... The Garden Cafe Buffet. We had breakfast here a couple times. Plenty of options, plenty of room to sit. Food was great for a buffet. The main dining room we went to was Taste. We liked the idea of a more casual atmosphere than the Manhattan Room. In NCL's 'rules' about dining, it says men should wear this or that and women can wear this or that. We didn't find this to be the case at all. We wore shorts anytime we dined there -- breakfast, lunch and even dinner. NCL also says flip-flops are not permitted in the dining rooms... I wore a sandal-type flat flip-flop every time and nothing was ever said. (This was our experience and by no means should you take this as permission.) The food was good, the service -- not so good. We had to keep asking for drinks to be refilled, the butter and creamers to be replaced. The staff was pleasant and knowledgeable about the food, they just need to pay a little more attention to the smaller things. The main dining room also has a steak on their lunch menu. Past experience led me to order my steak one temperature lower (rare) than normal to get what I actually wanted (medium-rare). We had lunch at O'Sheehan's a couple of times. The corned beef on rye sandwich was quite good, the meatloaf and mashed potatoes were good as well. Also the fish & chips were tasty. I did not order the mushy peas, so I couldn't tell you how that was. Again, the staff should pay more attention to the table. Of the restaurants with services charges/paying restaurants, we dined at Moderno and Cagney's. Moderno is a churrascaria serving meats cut right at the table. A carnivore's delight! Having dined at Moderno on the Sun, we knew what to expect. We went after the BMG show and it was very late -- 9ish -- when we got there. I don't know if it was because we arrived later or what, but it wasn't up to par with what we had last year. It was very good, don't get me wrong, but it just lacked something. It could also be that we have tried our local churrascaria and it is the best. At Cagney's, we had the best meal ever. They truly know how to cook a steak. The temperatures of the steak are spot-on. I ordered the lobster tail (additional $8 above the restaurant cost), but it was a little tough -- like overcooked tough. Once the staff caught on to our beverage refill needs, we no longer had to ask for refills. Somewhere on the Epic is a crepe station. We never found it... Wish we would have. BAR SERVICE: Always prompt, always courteous. The bar staff in Headliners was THE BEST!!! Signal for another drink and there they are with it. Yes, we did get a little drunk a few times in there. The entertainment was great! ENTERTAINMENT: BLUE MAN GROUP is show NOT to miss. We are probably the last people on earth to have never seen their show before, but it was worth the wait. What a performance. Get to the show early and it's a good idea to have reservations for this. They also serve a drink in there called the Blue Experience. It is worth the experience! Complete with a marshmallow dipped in blue sugar on top. I wish now that I had seen them twice. The other two shows we caught were LEGENDS and 2ND CITY. They were ok -- nothing spectacular but not disappointing either. I think with Legends I was expecting more than 2 entertainers. 2nd City did an improv on the night we were there. It was good. The best entertainment we had was at HOWL AT THE MOON! What a great time it was. I went twice and the BF went to all 4 shows. Again, this was in Headliners and the bar staff was right on top of our beverage needs. The entertainers couldn't be any better than they were. Three piano players rotating for short breaks didn't leave a dull moment. A couple of times the guys from BMG sat In with the players and sang or played the drums. Don't miss this show. You won't regret it. CUSTOMER SERVICE: No complaints whatsoever. They were prompt and met our needs with a friendly smile. PORTS OF CALL: St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Nassau. We didn't take any excursions or planned activities through NCL or otherwise. We did some shopping. Getting off and on the ship was easy. In Nassau they do have a shuttle that takes you to a drop-off point closer to the action. You can also take this back to the ship. The service is free, but the driver does ask for a tip. I wish they had something of the same for the other ports, as it is a bit of a walk to the shops. St. Maarten and St. Thomas were my favorites as they are beautiful islands. DISEMBARKATION: Smooth! We did the 'carry off your own luggage' thing. They open the doors to let you off at 7:15. If you don't mind standing and waiting, this wasn't a problem, but get there somewhat earlier to get near the front of the line. We were wrapped around the bar at the elevators when we got there at about 7:10, and the line got longer quickly. Once the doors were open, and we were let go, the line moved quickly. Through customs/border patrol and waiting for a taxi probably took 10 minutes. Kudos to NCL for having this organized so neatly. The cabin steward leaves customs forms in your room for you. Use them. If not, there are forms waiting for you on the way through. All in all we found our cruise to be great. Not everything was perfect, but you make your vacation what you make it. We will definitely sail with NCL again -- in fact we have already booked our next cruise for a year from now! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2012
We were a group of 7 friends and family. My recommendation is to spend time in Spain 1 week before cruise. Drop off luggage at cruise terminal around 12pm. Have to check-in on ship by 4pm. If arriving early morning same day as cruise ... Read More
We were a group of 7 friends and family. My recommendation is to spend time in Spain 1 week before cruise. Drop off luggage at cruise terminal around 12pm. Have to check-in on ship by 4pm. If arriving early morning same day as cruise departure do the hop on hop off city tour (4 hours for 2 routes if you don't get off to walk around). Take cab to Columbus Monument at foot of Las Ramblas to catch the tour bus. Pay for tour bus on the bus 21€ for 1 day, 2 routes or book online before trip. There are 2 hop on hop off bus companies, Bus touristica (blue bus) and Bacelona City Tour (red bus). We did bus Touristica in Barcelona and Madrid City tour (red bus) in Madrid. Both were good. If you have time have lunch on Las Ramblas. Buy souvenirs and art work on Las Ramblas. Or stay an extra day after the cruise and do the above tour. Ok back to the cruise: I was worried about free style cruising but prices were the same for services and eateries my husband and I frequent at home. Spa-Sign up for the spa raffle on the first day. Everyone in our group got a spa coupon. Get the spa packages- it's worth it at the end of the day, especially excursion days. Go to free seminars but don't buy the products. I had hair, cut, and style with a coupon-- had a little makeover done. Stylist are hesitant to do anything dramatic to your hair. Facial was so relaxing I fell asleep. Discos- The best music for dancing-popular dance music. Great djs no need to make requests, they play everything. Bring a white outfit for white party-- it was a blast. Enjoyed that the clubs were non-smoking. Even the senior citizens were dancing. I saw one elderly lady on the dance floor with her cane having a grand time line dancing. Food- Mediocre but still good. We cook a lot of gourmet meals at home so it's hard for us to like other people's cooking. If you don't typically eat out or cook at home, you'll enjoy the food. If you don't want to pay extra for food the buffet line is satisfying and the pub food at O'Shehans is good. Buy the coffee at the coffee shop, the brewed coffee served elsewhere on the ship is vey weak and horrible- prices comparative to Starbucks. We did specialty dining at the steak place. I don't know of a fine dining place you can get a 3 course steak dinner meal for $20.00. It was a deal. One person in our group had a mild food allergy to dairy and the restaurant staff were accommodating. I wouldn't recommend cruise dining if you have a serious food allergies, like gluten allergy. I just can't see how they can keep gluten products/cooking utensils separate from gluten free areas. Excursions- Pre-purchase on your own if want more personalized service. The excursion prices from ship were reasonable if you don't want to purchase on your own. Recommend excursions for Italy, especially a shopping excursion in Florence. For Italy tours we used yourtourinitaly Company owned by Aldo-excellent service. No need for excursions in France. Access to Cannes port is by tender boat and will need to make reservation for early tender boat departure a couple days before Cannes/Nice stop or the day before on TV menu in state room. If leaving on late tender boat (after 10-11am) then no need for reservation. For Cannes, relax laying out on small sandy beach at port entrance and walk around or take the Little Train Tours of Cannes. Or start out early and walk 15 minutes to train station to take train to Nice Ville (10 euros) and tram rail (2-3 Euros, 5 minute walk from train station) to city center to get to market areas. Don't eat in plaza at Nice across from beach; eat on side streets. Wear bathing suit to layout on rocky beach (no sand). Waves crashing against rocks is very soothing in Nice. Need 2 hours to return to ship from Nice on train. Beaches in France are topless (yay). In Marseille take ship shuttle ($12 USD round trip) to Veux Port town early (8am). Then take the Little Train Tours to Notre Dame (7 Euros) then have lunch around plaza with carousel or go shopping at designer stores. In Marseille port you only have until 3pm to see the attractions. Souvenir shop at end of strip to get back to port shuttle or around plaza with carousel. Take non-drowsy motion sickness medicine if prone to car sickness because there's lots of winey roads and sudden stops. People in Italy are crazy drivers. Staff: is very busy and efficient; smiles are only given to pleasant, non-needy, and non conplaining customers. Our room steward was excellent. He was very personable and easy to find when we needed assistance or had questions. I never tip room stewards and I did this time. Entertainment: Las Vegas style shows Cirque and Blue Man group were of good quality. Legends show was mediocre. Flamenco Show was entertaining but not like what you would see in a traditional Flamenco Show on land. I would cruise Norwegian again. It was a younger, less trashy crowd than other major lines I've cruised on (Carnival and Princess). They didn't follow us with cameras or push us to play silly games to have fun. It was just fun and relaxing. Would have liked more days at sea to enjoy the ship activities. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
1st Cruise for family, Parents aged 33,30 - and DD age 3. Overall experience was great - so much so that we already booked our next cruise on the Norwegian Gem in July. Arrival and Hotel in Miami - Holiday Inn Express, Doral We ... Read More
1st Cruise for family, Parents aged 33,30 - and DD age 3. Overall experience was great - so much so that we already booked our next cruise on the Norwegian Gem in July. Arrival and Hotel in Miami - Holiday Inn Express, Doral We arrived late (9pm) and left early (11am) therefore I do not have much to say about the hotel. The room was nice and clean and great for crashing for one night, the service at the front desk was excellent, and the breakfast was typical continental fare. The only drawback was that there aren't any places to eat that are walking distance with a three year old. Make sure that you call the hotel once at the airport because the free shuttle does not run automatically. Do not use the free phone on the kiosks at the baggage claim because it calls the HI Express in Miami Springs, not Doral. We made the mistake and after waiting for nearly an hour I called the correct hotel and the shuttle arrived fifteen minutes later. It was clearly my fault, however, something to be aware of. On embarkation day (Saturday), we decided to take a cab to the airport. There was a shuttle service that charged $12 per person that the hotel uses, however, the front desk manager told us that cab fare would only be $35-40 so we opted for the convenience of a taxi. The taxi ride took about twenty minutes and costed $35. We arrived at 12:30, dropped our bags with the porters, and got in line for security. We had only one small canvas bag for the three of us with essentials. The security line looked long but it only took about fifteen minutes. Once through security the line moved quicker than expected and in about fifteen more minutes we did the check in where they take your photo and issue key card. The check-in process was painless and quick. We waited in another line as people boarded the ship and had their pictures taken. From start to finish, we were on the ship in 45 minutes from drop-off. Once on-board, had I not read tons of CC reviews, I would have not known what to do or where to go. We already knew we wanted to go to the Garden Cafe Buffet for lunch and decided to take the stairs instead of wait in line for the crowded elevator. Needless to say, that was the only time we felt the need to climb 9 flights of stairs. The buffet was jammed with people but we eventually found a seat after about five minutes of looking. They had an excellent selection from short-order foods to carved steamship beef and indian curries. We were impressed from day-one with the quality and selection of the garden cafe. While at the buffet, I went to the small bar and purchased a soda card for around $50.00 including gratuity. They gave me a small thermal cup and a sticker for my key-card that I would need to show when ordering soda for the rest of the cruise. While eating they announced that the cabins were ready (1pm). After a delicious meal and the first of what seemed like hundreds of ice cream cones for DD we proceeded to our cabin. The cabin was immaculate but there was not much to do since our luggage had not yet arrived. We changed my daughter into her swimsuit and took her to the kids pool where she played for over an hour until the announcement for the muster drill. We went to the MDR for the drill which was uneventful. We then returned to our cabin which had an aft balcony to watch the ship pull out of port. Because this is dragging I am going to review certain aspects of the cruise in a non-chronological order. Cabin 9293 -Aft Balcony- B1 Upon leaving port we realized how much shaking and rumbling you can feel when the port is docking or undocking. There is significant vibration and noise in the cabin that may last on and off for about thirty minutes when in port. When in open water there was no noise or vibration in the cabin. This did not detract from the experience and we would book aft again because of the amazing views of the wake and the soothing sound as the ship moves. The couch was next to the balcony and this made it tough moving around the bed, however, we felt this worked well for our daughter because she was not disturbed by us at night while one of us went out or we were using the shower or toilet. There is a curtain between the bathroom area and the rest of the cabin so the frosted glass was a non-issue. It was hard to keep water off the floor but the shower was great. I was surprised by the good pressure. Once, upon returning to port, our tv stopped working. We called guest services and they sent a repair person. It took around one hour to replace the broken box behind the tv. I thought this was quick and guest services called back to make sure everything was good. Every night, our cabin steward made towel animals for our daughter. A very shy three year old, she warmed up quickly to Roderick. He showed her how he folds some of the animals and made here a little bird that he told her to take home with her. He kept our ice bucket filled and was generally always around if we needed something in the morning or evening. The balcony was great, although our neighbors smoked on their balcony and we didn't appreciate the smell. Recess Kids Club We registered DD on the first day and were impressed by the quality of the counselors. The facilities were clean, new, and looked fun. We dropped DD off several times during the cruise. Each time she said she had fun. She had her face painted one day and attended a happy birthday party with cupcakes on another day. Because DD is 3 and sometimes needs help with the bathroom we were issued a phone and they were supposed to call us if she needed assistance. Even though we never got a call, we were comforted by the fact we had the phone. We did not leave her for longer than three hours at a time and usually only for about an hour at a time. Manhattan Dining Room We ate here on the first night with our daughter. I had the lobster and snapper which was great. My wife had the lamb shank which she liked but thought it tasted more like beef. My daughter had Chicken Tenders. The cheesecake was good. Service was not exceptional but decent. My biggest complaint was waiting for refills which would be a common occurrence throughout the cruise. Moderno- I highly recommend Moderno. It is on par with any brazilian steakhouse I have tried on land. If you have never been to a brazilian steakhouse then it is a must. My daughter loved it and ate from the bar and the meat. La Cucina - The view is awesome from this restaurant. The shrimp risotto was great. The menu selection was a little limited for an italian restaurant. Le Bistro - Excellent meal, highly recommended. We were worried about taking a 3 year old but the waiter treated her like a princess. We all loved the food and I highly recommend the escargo and the fondue for two. O'sheehans - we ate here several times for either lunch or breakfast. The food was always great. I recommend the wings and the cheese sticks. The only thing I didn't care for was the meatloaf, but i'm not a big meatloaf fan anyway. Blue Man Group - Loved it and DD loved it. A must, the best entertainment of the week. Legends - Very fun show, Steven Tyler, Madonna, and Elvis impersonators. It was a little edgy at times for a three year old but it was very fun. Cirque Dreams - The meal was beef and shrimp that was very tasty. We opted for balcony seats which I prefered to sitting on the floor and possibly getting picked for something as their is audience participation. The show was great and hilarious at times. Slime Time Live - My daughter loved it. If you are taking kids it is highly recommended. Be prepared if you sit near the aisle and in front to be picked for something. Character Breakfast- Did not care much for this experience. My daughter was overwhelmed by everything and it was early in the morning. The breakfast was so-so. It looked like food off the buffet from upstairs. Family Activities - We went to family arts and crafts and lego building. Both lasted one hour and were facilitated by the kids crew. They were in fat cats lounge and lots of kids attended. Fun times. Spa - My wife really enjoyed the spa. She had one of the signature elemis massage/facial services which she thoroughly enjoyed but thought a little overpriced at around $300.00. Also, she did a mother daughter pedicure which my DD absolutely loved. I think it was around $80pp. Casino - Lots of slots. Seemed to hit like land-based casinos. It got really crowded as the evenings wore on. Drink service was spotty. Bingo - I tried it but did not enjoy it. It seemed expensive for the amount it payed out and I did not care for the caller. She had deadpan sense of humor which did not impress me. Pool and Sun Decks - Always very crowded. Spring Breakers got a little raunchy at times during contests and dancing but i was impressed by the staff that quickly settled them down. The kids pool was very warm and my daughter spent hours with the other kids in the pool. She was too short for the big slides which require 42" height. NCL U Martini Clinic - 4 drinks for $30.00. An absolutely great deal that is also very fun. I highly recommend it. Held at shakers martini bar. Debarkation - We opted not to do the Easy Walk-off or the BAGS program. We put luggage tags on and they were picked up at around 11:30pm outside the stateroom. Our tags were supposed to be called at 9am. Our tag color was not called until around 10am but once we got the call, getting out of the port was easy Overall - Loved it. We liked it so much that we already booked another cruise with NCL on the GEM. The Epic is a great ship for families. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
We sailed for our first ever cruise on the NCL Jade last year and are now officially hooked on cruising! So when we saw the Epic we knew we had to give it a go. We flew UK to Miami with KLM. This was a BIG mistake. Without prior ... Read More
We sailed for our first ever cruise on the NCL Jade last year and are now officially hooked on cruising! So when we saw the Epic we knew we had to give it a go. We flew UK to Miami with KLM. This was a BIG mistake. Without prior warning they farm their flights out to Delta airlines who are awful. If it had just been a domestic flight it would have been fine but to spend 9 out of an 18 hour journey on a cramped plane, only 1 film (during which they served us drinks and then some horrid food) and exceptionally rude staff was just a bad start to any holiday! Anyway, after getting past some of the most aggresive and intimidating homeland security guards I have ever encountered we headed to our hotel for a night. EMBARKATION The port at Miami was so easy. We walked straight up to registration and got straight through to the waiting lounge only to be ushered straight on to the ship ahead of boarding because we are latitudes members. I think a swift registration is speeded up by people having the correct paperwork ready and to hand by the time they get to the desk, which is oh so often not the case. By the time we had explored the cabins were ready, luggage followed very swiftly after, then a thorough muster drill. CABIN We were in a spa mini suite which was lovely. We didnt find the space or the bathroom situation an issue at all. There is far too much storage though! and all the overhead cupboards and the bathroom seperation curtain made it feel very caravan-esque! Our steward was nice but the cabin was not really that clean and we were charged mini bar items we hadnt had and spent ages between 2 departments arguing this fact. All because the steward had not restocked it properly before we arrived. We couldnt check this on arrival as there isnt a list of what is meant to be there. we were made to feel a bit like we were pulling a scam! FOOD Whilst on the Jade we learned quite quickly that to avoid the 'meat market' in the buffet (with everyone pushing and shoving like theyve never eaten before!) there is one major advantage to having a balcony room. Get a cabin near an elevator or stairway to the buffet and take your food home with you! you can sit and watch the sea in peace and quiet whilst having a relaxing lunch! The food was good but a bit too 'American' for us. The salad bar was ok but there were alot of very fatty choices or some very overcooked fish most days. The Jade wins on this one as it has more of an international and meditteranean feel. We had room service breakfast most mornings but the list of items missing off our tray got bigger every day until the last day we had no bowls, spoons or milk for our cereal! DRINK Drinks on the ship were cheaper than anywhere we went on shore in our 2 weeks away. (especially Miami which was very expensive). Also the same drinks were different prices at different bars which is wierd. THE SHIP The entertainment was good except legends in concert which was a bit rubbish. Howl at the moon was awesome. The casino was as good as any. OSheehans pub was OK but always seemed to be showing american football on the big screen when we wanted an afternoon drink. The screen is 2 stories so this also meant we coulndt go in the atrium for a few hours because of loud screaming and swearing (drunk) sports fans. Bliss lounge was ok but not enough seating for evening events. STAFF This was probably one of our main complaints. On the Jade we got to know staff in different bars and entertainment staff by name. they would remember us and ask us how are day was or what we were doing or just generally chatting. The Jade sanitising staff were always cheerful and gave you the 'washy washy happy happy' song. On the Epic we were met with alot of rude staff that just didnt seem to care at all. There was no 'extra mile' from any one. even the cruise director didnt want to strike up a conversation with us at the bar. he was more interested in talking to staff, about how drunk he was the night before, across the bar! SHIP ACTIVITIES The ship had a definate divide and we never fitted either category completely. On sea days the top deck was like a 18-30 ibiza booze cruise....ALL DAY AND NIGHT with a few hundred others just laying around trying to turn into leather! This is really the only outdoor area. The indoor activities were very sedate like crossword challenges and quizzes. After going to one evening game show though we quickly realised that the ship wasnt very international as the questions were all american (with a few canadian ones thrown in....that no one could answer!) so we didnt stand a chance. The bowling had quite restricted opening hours for the amount of people wanting to play. the art gallery was huge and everywhere you went seemed to be lined with easels of some quite awful art. The photos were expensive,as per, but with the new electronic screens I still dont understand why they print out every photo for every cabin of which hardly any really get bought. we did want some studio type photos so every evening we took up every photo opp whilst walking the ship then bought 2 of the best ones before we left. All in all though we did have a good cruise but we will try out a few more of the smaller ships again. The jade was more friendly, more intimate and more relaxed. (and not just one mass piss up at sea that you would expect in magaluf or ibiza) For the foreseeable future we are still sticking with NCL and have booked for NOvember already! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2012
My husband and I (both in our mid-30s) celebrated our 10th Anniversary recently, and we decided to live it up by booking the Epic's Eastern Caribbean itinerary, departing Miami on January 28. We took our Honeymoon cruise aboard the ... Read More
My husband and I (both in our mid-30s) celebrated our 10th Anniversary recently, and we decided to live it up by booking the Epic's Eastern Caribbean itinerary, departing Miami on January 28. We took our Honeymoon cruise aboard the Norwegian Star in 2002, so we decided going back to an NCL ship would be appropriate. Pre-Cruise Stay We chose to stay at the Hampton Inn Miami - Brickell Downtown for our two night pre-cruise stay. Our cab from MIA was $30 with tip. The hotel has only been open since November 2011, so we understood when the cab driver didn't quite know what hotel I was talking about! Luckily I had the actual street address, which helped him. We arrived at the Hotel at about 8:30pm and were given a beautiful room on the top floor (the 16th floor). We faced south, and could even see a bit of Brickell Bay out our window, which I didn't expect. I wouldn't hesitate to book this hotel again for a pre-cruise stay. The newness of the hotel itself is definitely a draw, and the convenience of the location makes it a ridiculously easy choice to make. The pool area is beautiful, and the Lobby bar looks out onto it. The bar stayed open until the pool closed at 11. Loved that. For dinner, we walked over to Mary Brickell Village and ate at Burger & Beer Joint. AWESOME! Excellent burgers...rare beers that I have a hard time finding where we live. My only complaint about the hotel was the breakfast. I am HHonors Gold, and do stay at quite a few Hampton Inns. I am usually happy with the free breakfast, but even going down for breakfast at 8:30 both mornings, we were greeted with an empty vat of oatmeal, and NO bananas. Two things I eat for breakfast every morning! We actually laughed about the fact that we were in Miami and there were no bananas. We were there just before the Miami Marathon, so we thought maybe the runners bought out the whole city. :) During our free day in Miami (Friday), we hopped on the Metromover (just steps from the hotel) and rode it down to Omni Station, where we boarded the Beach Max #120 -- limited stops to South Beach for $2. It was a quick trip out to the beach. We ate at Front Porch Cafe, strolled along the sand, did a fair amount of people watching, and then headed back out and found a bus stop back to downtown around 3:00. Traffic was horrible, and after a long slow ride back to the hotel, we repacked a little for the cruise, and walked over to Publix (there are actually TWO within walking distance of the hotel) to get things for the cruise. We bought wine, sunscreen, tonic, sour mix, COKE ZERO, olives for the martinis, and a few other things for the ship. After returning to the hotel, we arranged our transportation for the next morning. The hotel offers a shuttle service the Port that runs at 10, 11, 12, 1, and 2. The 12 noon shuttle was full, so we took the 11:00am. The cost was $8.00 per person. We then walked down to a restaurant called Zen Sushi Lounge near the hotel and dinner was delicious. We had a few beers at Fado, a "chain" Irish Pub at Mary Brickell Village, and also visited a Cigar shop there where DH bought 3 cigars for the ship. The next morning, we walked out the front doors with our bags, carry ons, wine, and coke, and the shuttle was there waiting! We loaded our bags in the trailer and boarded the van with about 12 other people. Everyone else was going on Carnival, and got dropped off first. Then DH and I were dropped off and the porter came right over and placed our bags in the checked area and we entered the terminal after showing our passports and tickets. Embarkation Suite Check-In was fast. We were taken into a little side room where we sat at a desk. The whole process took about 5 minutes. She also checked in another couple while we waited on a couch, and then after that, a gentleman escorted the 4 of us past the regular check-in area, and right onto the ship. We stopped briefly for our embarkation picture, and were taken right to an elevator which whisked us up to the 16th deck. We were greeted by a staff member who seated us in the Epic Club Lounge and had us wait for a few more people to come. We were then given a tour of the Concierge Lounge, Haven, Posh, Sundeck, Epic Club, and Epic Grill by a butler named Lani -- who actually ended up being our butler. We had lunch in Epic Club after the tour and I had THE TUNA BURGER. Everything that I had read about this plate of amazing was absolutely true. Delicious choice. I ate it again. Several times. The Tuna Burger and I got to be good friends. We met another couple from Kentucky while we were waiting to be seated in Epic Club, and we hit it off so we had lunch together. We actually dined together several times during the week, and their Spa Suite was near ours, so we were practically neighbors! They were a lot of fun to hang out with. At about 1:30 we decided to venture out and see if our Suites were ready. We had the Concierge (Ruth) check and she said it was okay if we went down. We got to our Spa Suite, #14151, and it was everything I thought it would be. A perfect size for two people, and the balcony is just downright amazing. I picked this sailing based on when this specific cabin was available, and I had to do it 13 months in advance. It is aft-most of the 8 Spa Suites. After a quick and painless muster (our station was one of the long bars at Maltings on Deck 7), we headed up to POSH for sailaway. The Champagne flowed and flowed! It was a beautiful sailaway. Miami is just a gorgeous port. We loved it. We had ordered a bar setup before the cruise and I am so glad we did. We made our own drinks in the cabin. Whenever we needed ice I just called Lani and she brought a bucket. SHOWS I did pre-book all of our shows, but really only needed to pre-book Cirque. I guess I am in the mindset of "that is one less thing I have to do on the ship". During the week, we saw Blue Man Group, which we loved. I actually have seen that show at the Venetian twice (as recently as December 2011) and I STILL loved it. Lani offered to bring us into the theater early to get choice of seats, but we decided to just go in at our leisure. There really are NO bad seats in the house. We were up by the sound booth, and I thought our seats were wonderful. Cirque Dreams was excellent as well. We did go in early for that one, and were seated across from each other on the floor level at the end of a table that seated 14. I felt bad for the servers because they really cram people in that tent, and they were busting their butts trying to dodge dancers and simultaneously deal with the large French-speaking group seated with us, who had multitudes of requests on how they wanted their food. They were a *fun* bunch! /sarcasm. I personally loved the show. I was about a foot from the guy in the bathtub. There really are no words to describe sitting that close, on the floor. I thought I was going to be decapitated by a sword or smacked in the face with a roller skate. AND I LOVED IT. Legends was somewhat of a disappointment for us. The Stephen Tyler was wonderful (he threw me his scarf..ROWR..) but the Lady Gaga was so-so and the Elvis was just poor. The music, video, lights, and sound were wonderful though. We did not go see Second City, as we had reservations the last night and were just beat after a day on the waterslides at Atlantis! We loved Howl at the Moon! We love dueling piano bars and try to find them wherever we travel. The crowd was really fun, and the performers do an excellent job. SPA I loved the Spa, and loved having my gold bracelet which gave me access to it whenever I wanted. The Thermal Suite was wonderful, and I spent some time in there every day. I was usually there right at 8 when it opened, or late at night. The Saunas are so wonderful, and the Eucalyptus Steam room felt fabulous. I had a seaweed wrap and massage on the first evening and it was great. The masseuse, Cheryl, fully abused my muscles and knots, and it was a great way to start the cruise. I never found the Spa to be that crowded, but I didn't go during traditionally crowded times on purpose. I did go it at about 7 one night and there were lots of towels on tile loungers. Seriously, chair hogs -- keep your sloppy tactics up on the pool deck. I just moved towels and laid down on one. No one cared or said anything. The sign two feet from me that said "do not reserve chairs with towels or personal belongings" helped too. The only improvements would make to the Spa Area would be to provide conditioner in the showers, and I would provide the Salon with its own check-in area. The girls at the main check in are run RAGGED by people inquiring about services, phone calls, people checking in for lockers, and then people checking in for actual services they are booked for. I checked in for a hair appointment and was just left standing there (she didn't tell me where to wait). Finally, the gentleman who was doing my hair came out to the main area and found me, surprised I wasn't waiting back at the Salon. Uhhh, I didn't know I was supposed to! The girl who checked me in was just so busy. I felt bad for her. One other Spa note. The Spa Thermal Suite is closed from 10pm-8am. CLOSED. No passengers are in there. So WHY are there maintenance men running around in coveralls doing maintenance during the open hours? The only thing I can think of is so not to bother passengers in the cabins below the Spa? On two of my morning visits, maintenance staff were opening utility doors, banging on pipes, YELLING across the room to each other...it was a bit much. Maintenance in the Spa needs to be done during hours that the Spa is closed. FOOD Where we didn't eat: The MDRs or the Buffets. We had planned to eat at Le Bistro but never made it... one week on the Epic is just not enough time! We were huge fans of the Epic Club. All the meals we ate there were spectacular. Loved the service, loved how they knew our names, loved it ALL. We would give Lani one of our bottles of wine in the afternoon and it would show up at our table for dinner. The cocktails were generously poured, and the ambiance was just unbeatable. It's also hard to believe there were 4000 people floating on the ship with you when you are up there. Loved it. Probably one of the best parts about the Epic. I filled out S.T.Y.L.E cards for three people just in the Epic Club. May I just reminisce for a moment? Beet Salad, Tuna Poke, Asparagus Soup, Tempura Mushroom, Duck Breast, and that freakishly awesome Chocolate Mocha Mousse which undoubtedly had a large part in my 8 pound vacation weight gain!!! I am still having dreams about that darned tuna burger. We had our breakfast en suite on three different mornings. I wrote down what we wanted for breakfast (oatmeal, poached eggs,bagel, lox, capers, etc), and Lani had it there at the exact specified time, set it up on the balcony, and we just made a coffee from the Lavazza and enjoyed. I loved that. We also told Lani that we were banana addicts, and she made sure our fruit bowl had 3-4 bananas every day. This more than made up for that Hampton Inn in Miami! We ate at two specialty restaurants. No, we didn't eat at Cagney's -- the filets in Epic Club were delicious so we didn't think $50 would be worth it. We ate at Moderno's one night. The salad bar really is as wonderful as people say! I am pretty sure I could live on beets and bananas, so the beet salad took up half my plate. I make no apologies for my beet addiction. The dinner itself was just so-so. We ate at a beautiful Churrascaria in Dallas in November with Gouchos twirling all around with whole legs of lamb and enormous Ribeyes, and I think that experience spoiled us. I think for what it was, a cruise ship floating in the ocean, it is a great experience, though. There was also a ridiculously cute baby sitting right in my line of sight this whole dinner, and he was reminding me about my 16 month old at home. I was really having "I miss my kids" problems at that point. Ugh! I went over to the Mom after dinner and told her how adorable he was. I know being a Mom with a little one on a ship is not easy. We ate at Shanghai's one night to celebrate the birthday of one of our new friends from Kentucky. We were pretty disappointed in the food. It was not even as yummy as the local chinese take-out. Also, the waitstaff was plentiful, but the food took forever. We were there for two and half hours. Luckily we had lots of great conversation, and sucked down a bottle of Prosecco and a bottle of Syrah while we were waiting. I was surprised by this because I saw the Restaurant Director and the Food and Bev director in the restaurant (I recognized them from the M&G). There were also only about 5 tables occupied. Lots of folks were up at the Noodle bar, though. I wanted to go back and try the food there, but we never made it. Fun Stuff Martini Tasting. Just do it. The best $15 you'll spend all week! The Ice Bar was fun. We went after spending the day at Orient Beach on St. Maarten, and the cold felt so great on my slightly crispy face. :) We were quite comfortable in the 17 degrees and enjoyed both the drinks we were served. Shore Excursions We usually do not take part on any ship excursions, and like to venture ashore on our own. On this trip, I booked shore excursions at all three ports. This was mostly because I knew that St. Maarten and St. Thomas were going to be pretty crowded, and I just didn't want to deal with any hassles. We also had never been to any of these ports before, so I just wanted to relax and enjoy myself and let people tell me where to go. In St. Maarten, we did the Orient Beach Rendezvous. The bus loading was fast, and the trip up the beach took about 20 minutes. We had about 2.5 hours at the beach. We spent almost the whole time in the water. The beach chairs were crammed together in a large area. If you wanted to keep the umbrella that was there, they collected $3 from you. We just used our chairs to hold our stuff so we didn't need it. The ocean was so fun. Big surf...we just swam and dove under the waves and tried out our new underwater camera. We walked up to the restaurant and had our included lunch. I had the fish, a grouper, which was delicious! DH had the ribs, which were a little dry. My only tip here is to hang back a little on the lunch. They tell you to go up and eat between 11:30 and 12:30. Of course, in true "cruiser fashion", 75% of the people at the beach with us start marching up to the restaurant at 11:25 and GET IN A LINE AND WAIT. It's so amazing to watch. We waited until 11:55, got out of the water, dried off and walked up to the restaurant. Most of those folks who had bumrushed the place were crammed at big tables together, and we had a lovely private table for two that a couple had vacated just as we walked up. Ahhhh...love little things like that. The bus back to the pier was fast, and the narration was really informative. We were back to the ship at 2:30, so we had loads of time to get back on and ride the slides. No waiting, and we rode all of the slides multiple times. I took a video while riding the Epic Plunge to show to my oldest daughter (a promise I made to her). We went up to Posh and got a beautiful view of St. Maarten, and watched the pool deck fill up for sail away. In St. Thomas, we chose the Champagne Snorkel and Sail to St. John. It was a great excursion. The taxis took a while to leave the port (each one holds 25) but the trip to the marina only took about 15 minutes. Traffic was not bad at all. We loaded a catamaran called the Adventurer and took the 45 minute ride over to St. John. We were issued our snorkel gear and after a quick tutorial we were set free. We have snorkeled a lot, so we just jumped off the boat and swam around. Honestly, the snorkeling is nothing that knocked my socks off, but I was in the ocean with my honey and I hadn't changed a diaper in days. So hey -- I was a happy girl. The beach is nice, and they offered a ride in a Zodiac to shore if you didn't want to swim. On the way back to St. Thomas, they cut the engines, raised the sails, cranked the music (luckily we had a crew that loved the Rolling Stones) and they walked around pouring loads of Rum Punch and Champagne. There were snacks -- just fruit, cheese and bread -- but it was a nice touch. Overall, I wouldn't hesitate to book this excursion again. It was so easy, and I couldn't believe there were 23,000 passengers in port that day. We got back to the ship at about 1:45 and all aboard was at 3:30. We had a little time shop at Havensight before hopping back on the ship for sailaway. In Nassau, we did the ship's Aquaventure excursion to Atlantis. Originally, we were going to do this on our own, but had read several reviews from people who had gotten themselves to Atlantis only to be told that there were no more 1-day admissions to Aquaventure being sold. So, I decided to play it safe and do the excursion. Big mistake. I would not book this again through the ship. There was a lot of time wasted on this trip. It took them forever to load the buses, and then we were left in a group of 39 people who had to wait 20 minutes for one last bus to come. It was ridiculous. Especially because we knew that the water park closed at 5:00pm. We were still waiting for our ride to Atlantis an hour after we had gotten off the ship. Just stupid, poor logistical planning of the tour operator's part. Once at Atlantis, we were corralled by a tour guide, who gave us a tour of the resort. UGH! She was stopping a lot, and pointing out shops, and telling a lot of anecdotal tidbits -- it was frustrating. I finally told her that we had waited along time for the last bus and asked her to expedite her narration. At that point, she headed right toward the park, and we just took off. We rented a locker (surprise! Had to wait in a nice long line for that!) and put our IDs and shoes away. Once we got in the water (at 1:45pm) we had a BLAST. We rode all the slides, there were no lines, no waiting, and we really had a great time. If we ever go back to Nassau, I'll pay more attention to how many ships are in port (it was just the Epic and the DCL Dream that day) and will just get to Atlantis myself. We met several people enjoying the park with us who had just gotten a cab over and bought wristbands. The Haven Experience The Epic is huge. There are people everywhere, especially on sea days. It is a ship that is hugely an INDOOR experience for the passenger. It is an entertainment-based ship, and I think that NCL does a fabulous job producing that caliber of entertainment at sea. Because of the lack of outdoor space, a lot of the outdoor public areas are very crowded. That is, unless you have Haven Access. We loved having a suite on the Epic. There was always an escape from the crowds, and we never had to think about getting anywhere to stake a spot for anything. There were plenty of places to hang out. We spent a lot of time on the daybeds and clamshells at Posh -- I loved listening to the Reggae band that plays poolside below. The service was wonderful. Posh was never crowded. The only time that all the daybeds were occupied was during the last sea day, when people figured out you could buy a wristband for access. The Haven pool is flanked by two hot tubs, and we visited them a few times. We tried to lay in the courtyard area, but it felt so enclosed and small to me. If I am going to be at sea, I want to see the ocean. Luckily, there is a gorgeous sundeck all the way forward on deck 18 that was always deserted. I wonder if people in suites even know it is there? It is the same furniture as Posh, and there is a nice glass enclosed outdoor shower to take the place of a pool to dip in. I love looking out the bow of a ship. I highly recommend going up to this sundeck when the ship pulls into Nassau. The ship noses into the port and then does a 360* turn and backs in next to the Disney Dream, which is just as huge. Amazing work in not a lot of space. The Haven has its own Fitness Center --- but it is just a small room with some machines overlooking the pool. The ceiling is quite low as well, so my husband (who is 6'5") would not have been able to use the treadmill, and certainly not with any incline. Of course, once you see the amazing ACTUAL fitness center on the ship, I'd not spend more than a few minutes in the Courtyard Fitness Room. There, you can be on a treadmill and look out over.......THE OCEAN. :) Of course, what makes the Spa Suites such a wonderful experience is that you get it ALL. Access to all Haven areas, your very own Butler to get you anything and everything and take you in early for shows, anytime use of the Spa (which people in the other Suites have to buy Spa Passes for), close proximity to the wonderful fitness center, and one quick flight of stairs up to the water slides or Spice H20. So, the fact that there are only 8 Spa Suites makes them desirable. I truly believe they are one of the best values at sea. Oh, and there's that wonderful jacuzzi tub that looks out over....THE OCEAN. Wouldn't trade that for the world. Disembarkation We placed our bags out with our gold tags just before midnight. The next morning at about 8:00, I went down to Guest Services and dropped off my S.T.Y.L.E. cards. I saw this impressive line snaking its way off the ship around the Casino, with people dragging their enormous bags behind them. That must be "Easy Walk Off". Wow -- that did not look "Easy" to me at all. I also saw Lani on my way back, and I gave her our tip envelope and thanked her for a wonderful week at sea. I returned to the cabin, and we sat out on the balcony and watched people line up for cabs and talked about what a great time we had. We also saw the National Car Rental shuttle from up there, so we knew where it would pick us up! We had a leisurely last breakfast up at Epic Club, and it was the only time it was ever remotely crowded...of course because people are saying goodbye to the staff and leaving the ship. We said goodbye to the wonderful staff we met there. As we finished breakfast, we picked up our carry-ons (much lighter getting off, after getting rid of all that WINE!) and headed to the Concierge Desk. A staff member greeted us warmly, escorted us over to a freight elevator, and sent us down to deck 6. Ruth (the head Concierge) was waiting at the bottom, and she walked us over to the podiums, and we were swiped off the ship one last time. I would estimate that from my last sip of coffee, to walking off the ship took about 4 minutes. Amazing. Our bags were in a priority area, and we walked through Customs and right outside and only waited about 5 minutes before boarding the shuttle to MIA to rent a car. We were driving our car out of MIA at 10:15. Crazy how fast that whole process was! We spent 3 soggy days in the Keys, but still had a great time. Hey, we're on vacation! :) All in all, we would love to sail the Epic again. The staff truly is the best part about sailing on that ship. Everyone we met was warm, friendly, knowledgeable, and seemed to really care. Now, some of the passengers we encountered were anything BUT those last four adjectives -- but, after working in Passenger Service and Hospitality, I know that you can never please all of the people all of the time. You can only try your best. I think the crew onboard the Epic did a fantastic job, and I hope too see them again someday! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our first cruise with Norwegian, which included a balcony room. We had 11169. Jaime was our room attendant, he was wonderful, always smiling, and willing to assist whenever asked. We asked him to remove the items from our mini ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Norwegian, which included a balcony room. We had 11169. Jaime was our room attendant, he was wonderful, always smiling, and willing to assist whenever asked. We asked him to remove the items from our mini fridge so we could use for our own soda and water bottles. You can pack in your checked bag bottles of water and/or soda. We're big water drinkers so it was very convenient to have them refrigerated. Our room was tidied up it seems all the time. The cabin itself was great. I loved the new curvy style and the storage room was incredible. We had 3 big bags and once you lifted the mattress you could store whatever you needed to. There was also storage in the curvey couch behind the cushions and pull out drawers. This was the first cruise we'd been on where you actually had enough room you could put away all your stuff and have room leftover to stretch out. The shower was very nice, enough room for any shampoo or razors or whatever you needed. But as all cruise lines, the showers could use a little shelf for women so we could shave our legs without having to be an acrobat. We did appreciate the toilet and shower being separate and that there was a curtain separating both from the main room. If whoever you're with in your balcony went to the deck you had plenty of privacy. The deck was great, plenty of room with 2 chairs and a little table. We enjoyed sitting out there ever night. Leaving the sliding door open was nice most nights, except when it was humid, the room would get sticky. Although I did love the sound of the ocean... The Jazz lounge was awesome, we were there nightly. The Blue Man Group and Stars show was equally awesome. We were well entertained whenever we wanted to be. The drinks we thought were overpriced. The best deals were the tastings. We did go to a martini tasting, 5 martini's in an hour were an awesome deal. The buffet was good, a bit crowded at times. We were disappointed there were no late night buffets and room service lacked selection late at night. Most mornings we'd have fruit and muffins delivered to our room. We'd sit on the balcony and enjoy the views. My husband and I both like to workout so we indulged in the spa pass which allowed us entry into the gym and spa areas. Well worth it! The jacuzzi's were great, plenty of room. The heated loungers were hard to access sometimes. The lounge area on the back patio of the spa was impossible to get a lounger. Supposedly there was a 30 minute limit, but nobody followed the rule and there was no enforcement by the staff. That was irritating to say the least. Some people would camp out there the entire day. The spa staff was nice, they did need to be better at refilling the cups and water supplies. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
My wife and I joined another couple for this fantastic cruise! We'd sailed with them previously on the Norwegian Star to Alaska and immediately knew we had to cruise NCL again. We love Freestyle and couldn't wait to sail on ... Read More
My wife and I joined another couple for this fantastic cruise! We'd sailed with them previously on the Norwegian Star to Alaska and immediately knew we had to cruise NCL again. We love Freestyle and couldn't wait to sail on their newest ship. From the cold of Alaska, it was time for the warmth of the Western Caribbean and this cruise was my birthday gift to my wife.The Epic is enormous and enormously beautiful. Our spa deluxe balcony stateroom was spacious and comfortable. Interestingly, upon our initial booking the NCL web site showed this room as having a Jacuzzi tub in the corner and a round bed in the center of the room. As time went on and I'd check the web site regularly (partly due to being anxious!), the photos of the actual room changed and the centrally located bed and the Jacuzzi disappeared. The room initially portrayed as our stateroom then became displayed as a "spa suite" room. That was a bit disappointing. But, I digress...Let me just say that the ship is huge and fantastic as are the number of on-board activities. There is no shortage of staff to greet you and accommodate your every need with a smile! Our stateroom steward, Rolando, made sure our stateroom was immaculate at all times and towel animals were in no short supply.The dining options as well as the fare-included meals were all excellent!Equally wonderful was the on-board entertainment. The Blue Man Group was sensational as well as the Cirque Dreams dinner show. Legends in concert was okay but, why have Elvis on the poster if there is no Elvis in the show?The Epic Casino encompasses almost the entire area of deck six and is much fun even if not profitable...snicker, snicker.The Svedka Ice Bar was a bit disappointing in that it was crowded and our friend suffered from true claustrophobia in there. To make up for that, we found and enjoyed the wonderfulness of Shaker's Martini Bar and the warmth and attention provided us by bartender extraordinaire Armando! The Martini tastings were a world of fun, too!The ports of call were all magnificent, even if Costa Maya was a bit depressed - completely understandable as they are still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Dean.There is one drawback to Freestyle cruising in international waters: Although cruising is truly a "family friendly" way of vacationing, there were children allowed in EVERY CORNER of the ship! I even had to sit next to a youngster (he had to be only about 12-years old) AT THE MARTINI BAR! I even saw one CHILD pick up a Martini for mommy and carry it to her from the bar to her seat. This was REALLY off-putting! It seemed there was no corner of the ship where adults could sit in comfort without the presence of youngsters. We are not crude -- don't get me wrong -- but, there are times when adults like the comfort of sitting around other adults to converse and relax without children present.The "Spice H2O" bar is stated as "adults only" but, children are allowed to transit back and forth through there on there way to the Epic Plunge and other areas. So much for adult camaraderie. I truly hope NCL will reconsider this...especially vocal teenagers and kids running through the casino, too.Even with these drawbacks, however, the Epic was truly a pleasant cruise that I would do again. I forgave the "kid" thing and we did find so many ways to have fun! Read Less
Norwegian Epic Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 5.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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