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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We were attracted to this cruise because of the stop in Morocco. But we were also interested in the Canary Islands, even though we had spent some time on one of them. We chose Norwegian because we like their FreeStyle approach. In the end, ... Read More
We were attracted to this cruise because of the stop in Morocco. But we were also interested in the Canary Islands, even though we had spent some time on one of them. We chose Norwegian because we like their FreeStyle approach. In the end, the only disappointing port was Morroco. We chose the Norwegian excursion, which took us to Imperial Rabat and then back to Casablanca to see the Great Mosque and free time. Rabat has some interesting sites and the Great Mosque in Casablanca is impressive, but to really see Morocco, I think a real tour, not a cruise, is the way go. We toured the islands and Madeira with private guides (we traveled with a couple and we "met" another couple on the Spirit message boards) and this was well worth it. Each island is unique and well worth the visit. The bottom line is that we enjoyed the cruise as a whole. The embarkation and debarkation were easy and quick. The shows were good for a "destination" cruise. Plenty of areas to relax and listen to music, dance, etc. Great music to dance to in the Galaxy in the evenings. No problems dining in the main dining rooms without reservations. We were balcony midship, which was perfect. If you choose this cruise, don't be put off by the shore excursion in Alicante to "Amazing Guadalest." If you can walk on cobblestone and you can walk up stairs, you can do it. And if you don't want to walk to the "top" (not far at all) go anyway to experience the views. I was disappointed that there were no lectures about the ports of call. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Barcelona to The Canaries and back. "Truth in Advertising" confession. I'm a big fan of NCL and also a fan of smaller ships. The Spirit and The Canaries itinerary were wonderful. Tho the itinerary had some weather ... Read More
Barcelona to The Canaries and back. "Truth in Advertising" confession. I'm a big fan of NCL and also a fan of smaller ships. The Spirit and The Canaries itinerary were wonderful. Tho the itinerary had some weather glitches, I am about to say that the Spirit is my favourite NCL ship so far (and it is my fifth one. Others include the Sun, the Star, the Jade, and the Epic.) With the exception of missing an O'Sheghan's, the Spirit met or exceeded every expectation. I had most recently sailed Transatlantic on the Epic (too big, too noisy) and was looking forward to a smaller ship and better experience. I was very happy with everything on the ship itself. The cruise directors were energised without being so over-the-top as they often can be. Both main dining rooms were equally attractive. As so many other reviewers have commented here and elsewhere, the crew is exceptional. The spa is a bit lacking compared to the other ships. It doesn't have the Thermal Spa membership option but does have steam and dry saunas gratis. And the fitness centre was never too busy. The forward facing Galaxy of the Stars is a great venue and the atrium is a wonderful place to hangout, with or without the musical offerings. I had an oceanview, deck 8 forward, and was surprised and very happy with the cabin size. I also got a look in an inside cabin and, unlike other ships I've been on, the inside cabin was the same size as the oceanview. One of the positives (and one of the reasons i like the Sun so much): The Spirit has a very large outdoor eating and casual area off Raffles, the buffet. The outdoor area is three decks high, aft-facing. A big, big plus on a sunny cruise. And Raffles straddles the whole ship with windows both port and starboard. Humorously, when compared to the Epic, what would have been halfway from bow to stern on the Epic was the whole length of the ship on the Spirit - or so it felt. And three banks of stairs and lifts/elevators. It isn't an exaggeration to say that, half the time, I had a lift all to myself. While the weather on this cruise was less than ideal, I liked the itinerary and the ship so much I am considering taking the same cruise again both for the ship experience and to see the two ports we missed from the original itinerary. Read Less
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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
NORWEGIAN SPIRIT 10-DAY SPAIN AND MOROCCO JANUARY 4 TO 14, 2018 We have taken over 30 cruises on various cruise lines, the majority of them with Norwegian Cruise Line. We choose NCL because we like their freestyle approach since ... Read More
NORWEGIAN SPIRIT 10-DAY SPAIN AND MOROCCO JANUARY 4 TO 14, 2018 We have taken over 30 cruises on various cruise lines, the majority of them with Norwegian Cruise Line. We choose NCL because we like their freestyle approach since it means we don’t have to carry suits and ties for formal evenings. It also means that we are free to dine at the time of our choice and we can have a table for two or share with others if we choose to do so. The other cruise lines offer similar, but cannot deliver as easily as NCL because a freestyle approach is difficult for them to manage as they prefer two fixed services where guests always have the same table and the same wait-staff. The ship Norwegian Spirit is the smallest and oldest ship in the NCL fleet. The ship was originally part of Star Cruises and operated under the name Star Leo. It was a gift from the then CEO of Star Cruises to his wife and served its early years on itineraries in Asia. This explains the decor. On boarding the ship, we saw life-size terra cotta warriors and gold dragons as well as oriental panels in black or gold with flower motifs. Until we learned its history, we thought Norwegian Spirit had been decorated in Asian fashion because it was scheduled to go to Asia. Not so, and in my opinion the ship should be dry-docked to have its decor and carpetting updated to something more modern and much more neutral. The stateroom We had a balcony stateroom (11630) with one of the smallest balconies I have ever seen on a ship. It was impossible to sit comfortably to watch the sea sail by. The chairs had to be placed to face each other, which meant turning your head to look out at the sea. This was not very comfortable. The room was smaller than we expected. It was decorated well enough. The bed was comfortable and we had a sofa. There was a table with one chair opposite the sofa. The table was held a tray containing a small coffee maker, 2 cups and a supply of coffee and tea, sugar and powder creamers. The table was too crowded by the tray to be used for writing or any other function. Instead, it became extra storage space for wallets, watches and coins. I suppose the original function of this furnitre was a make-up table. There was also one night table on which the phone, which took up most of the table space, was placed. A drawer and a shelf in the night table housed my book, tablet, and mobile phone. There was a shelf unit containing a mini-bar and another with a flat screen TV in a wall-unit type furniture. Between the two is where the ice bucket was placed, and the heat from the mini-bar melted most of the ice. The unit also contained 4 small drawers that did not hold much. We used them to store small items of clothing like socks and underwear. The closet had an adequate supply of hangers and had 5 shelves which were rather awkward to access. It had sliding doors which often became stuck and would not open or close. It was a challenging job to move them. I gave up and asked our stateroom attendant to fix it. The doors were held closed by magents, but in rough seas, teh doors simply slid open and closed while we tried to get clothes out. Our neighbours, who must have been partying all night, surely did not know to close the doors correctly because their closet doors slid back and forth all night. Quite annoying. The bathroom was a self-contained unit with separate shower unit and toilet unit on each side of the sink. Our stateroom attendant maade sure it was well-stocked with shower gel, hand soap and conditioning shampoo. The floors were non-slip yellow tile and the walls were tiled. It was nice, but dated. It could have used a modern touch. We had fresh towels every day. Dining We had several dining options, but we had most of our meals in Windows, one of the complimentary restaurants. On ports days, Windows was closed for lunch so we went to Raffles, the buffet restaurant. The food in each of these venues was well-prepared and tasty. There were always sufficient choices, even for a choosy eater like me. We have reached the Platinum Plus Latitudes Rewards level. This awarded us two complimentary dinners for two at the specialty restaurants with a main meal that cost up to $20US; if the main you choose if more expensive the upcharge is charged to your onboard account. The first ticket allowed us to dine at Le Bistro or Cagney’s and to have a bottle of wine with the meal. The second ticket permitted us to dine at La Trattoria or Moderno Churrascaria (but Moderno does not exist on the Spirit). We chose Le Bistro and La Trattoria. Everything we ordered at Le Bistro was excellent, and the service was top-notch. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same of La Trattoria. I ordered the penne appetizer. The pasta was overcooked, to the point of falling apart. The sauce was too salt, even though I had requested no salt through my special diet order. While the appetizer was too hot, the main was too cold. But the bread and the coffee were perfect! Service was adequate. We were quite surprised at the limitations on the specialty restaurants awarded to Platinum Plus members. On previous sailings with Norwegian, we had a wider choice of specialty restaurants. We could go to any of the restaurants for our meal and order any main on the menu, and any item with an extra charge was posted to our stateroom account. With each retaurant we had a bottle of wine from the complimentary selection. We found the change from this practice to be rather restrictive. I do not care for Cagney’s; it is a steakhouse. Moderno serves meat dishes mainly, and as I do not eat any red meats both of these venues are out if the question for me. Besides, my partner and I both like Le Bistro for the food and the atmosphere. You do not have to have a Latitudes status to try the specialtyrestaurants. The are open to all guests and willincur a charge per person that is charged to your onboard account. You can also reserve them through your MyNCL account or wait till you are on board to do so. You may purchase the Ultimate Dining Package (UDP) when you book your cruise. The UDP allows you to dine at a specific number of restaurants during the length of your cruise, and the number is determined by the length of your cruise. If you enjoy alcoholic beverage or sodas, you can also purchase the Ultimate Beverage Package (UBP) or the Ultimate Soda Package (USP). These packages allow to enjoy the drinks of your choice, served one at a time per person, at any venue where alcohol or sodas are served. We have never purchased either of these packages because we do not drink enough of either one to say itis a benefit. Those people we know who enjoy imbibing during vacation have told us it a real benefit for them. Since you cannot purchase alcohol on shore to bring onto the ship for your personal consumption, and now you can no longer bring sodas back on board, these packages seem to be the best way to enjoy your favourite drinks. NCL has even cracked down on passengers bringing back bottles of water from shore purchases. Not knowing the regulation about water (we knew about alcohol and sodas), we purchase bottles on shore. They were taken from us, even though we had drunk from them, and thrown into the trash. Instead, NCL wants you to purchase 1-liter bottles of water on board at a cost of about $4US per bottle. I absolutely refuse to pay this outrageous amount when I can buy a 2-liter bottle for less than 1 euro in some places. This is a wholely ridiculous practice. I understand about alcohol and soda, but water? It’s insane. Latitude Rewards When we first qualified for any Latitudes Rewards, one of the things we enjoyed was the free laundry service added to our level. It is a small thing, but it is important. Originally, we were told we could send laundry as often as we liked and that meant we could bring fewer clothes which translated into carrying a smaller suitcase. Now, we are permitted one bag per Platinum Plus member and only once during the cruise. This means carrying a few more clothes in a larger suitcase, and timing the wash so that it is done near the end of the cruise so that we have clean clothes to take home or for our stay in the city after disembarkation. Things have changed at NCL. It seems like NCL has cut back on its rewards programmes to loyal guests, and that makes the company appear cheap to me. Gone are the days when a box of Godiva chocolates containing 8 pieces was part of the rewards. That was cut to a box half the size, and now it has disappeared altogether. These were nice gestures from the company to welcome loyal guests back onboard another cruise, and it is sad that they have been stopped. We will consider NCL as an option for a future cruise, but they may not be the final choice. The staff are the main reason we return. They are wonderful, friendly and hard-working people. Other considerations, such as itinerary and costs, will go into the mix. And if we cannot have freestyle on another line, there is always the buffet for our meals. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We just got back from a 10 day cruise to the Canary Islands leaving from Barcelona. Check in was fast and effecient. Cabin 11126 was a balcony on deck 11 not a great location as the main buffet restaurant was directly above and at ... Read More
We just got back from a 10 day cruise to the Canary Islands leaving from Barcelona. Check in was fast and effecient. Cabin 11126 was a balcony on deck 11 not a great location as the main buffet restaurant was directly above and at 2am and 4am and 6am you could here noise from getting the buffet ready. Beds were comfortable bathroom was small and not much cabinet drawer space for your clothes. T.V. programs very limited and some night the channel dropped out. Dining was great liked the "The Garden" restaurant was it was more intimate and went at 5:30pm when they opened and service was always great. Food was good lots of variety on menu. It was not upscale food but delicious. First night they had prime rib which was great. Ask for a window seat and you usually get one. Ate serval times at Windows slow check in for table service slow same menu as the Garden. We went to Showgun Asian restaurant twice always got right in at 5:30pm food was good had the lemon pepper shrimp. Didn't really care for the dessert selection. We had severval breakfast and lunches at the main buffet Raffles lots of selection. I had the poached eggs for breakfast no line up. We ate outside which was nice and quiet. Some days had great selection of desserts baked apple and apple strudel. Entertainment was outstanding especially the magician show, arobats show and the new dance production elements. Didn't care for the three singers on two different nights one night it was opera and another a variety of songs. We went up to the Galaxy for the game shows which were good. Bands playing were good. Enjoyed all the ports except Casablana Morocco as there was too much pollution smog and lots of aggressive taxi drivers and merchants. Don't take the ship shuttle for $15 U.S to the city center as nothing really there but take a taxi from the port but be sure to get the price before you get it 40 to 50 euros for 2 hour tour. Lots of walking in all the ports as the ships are docked a long ways out from town 2.5km to end of pier. We enjoyed the size of the smaller ship about 2000 people. Enjoyed the glassed in sun room on deck 12 for sitting. Since it is an older ship lots of vibration from the engine which I didn't really enjoy. Embarkation was coloured coded and very effecient. Norwegian seems to be charging for a lot of extra activities on board 10 different ones one morning. Didn't take any of the ships shore excursions as they were all too expensive. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2017
We have been wanting to cruise on the Epic since we were on the Jade in 2011 and watched the video presentation of this latest ship in the NCL fleet. Since then, we've looked at many reviews of the ship, and finally we found an ... Read More
We have been wanting to cruise on the Epic since we were on the Jade in 2011 and watched the video presentation of this latest ship in the NCL fleet. Since then, we've looked at many reviews of the ship, and finally we found an itinerary that suited us. We had a balcony room just forward of mid-ship on the starboard side (10075). It was the second balcony where the side of the ship flares out, so it was wider at one end than the other, and I would say slightly bigger than the rectangular balconies. We had initially been assigned a 'handicapped' room--which we did not ask for nor need. It may have been somewhat roomier than regular rooms, but there has been so much controversy over the shape and configuration of the Epic staterooms that we wanted to experience it ourselves. As we suspected, there was absolutely no reason for complaint about the room at all. We were on back to back cruises and had to change rooms for the second cruise (Room 12125) but they were essentially identical (we chose the configuration where the bed is by the balcony.) We do not understand all the negative comments about the bathrooms or anything else about the rooms. There was lots of storage for the two of us. Having the toilet separate from the shower is a big plus. The shower was much better size than those in the smaller ships, and had glass doors rather than a curtain that clings to you while you are showering! The only 'lack' in the room was power outlets. We always bring a power bar along so that solved that particular issue. However, the head of the bed was on the opposite side of the cabin from the outlet, which meant there was no way to have your phone or tablet by your bedside, charging overnight. There really should be an electric outlet on that side of the room or at least USB ports by each side of the bed. Ordinarily I also bring an extension cord, but for some reason didn't this time. That may have been a solution to that particular problem, but then might also have caused a tripping hazard! And the extension cord would have needed to be extra long too. As usual the NCL staff was excellent. We've sailed 8 of our 9 cruises on NCL and I don't think we have ever had a bad experience with their staff. We had a piece of luggage that did not make it to Barcelona with us, and was supposed to eventually get to us on the ship. Very long story short, we never saw our luggage until we got back home, but NCL has staff that continually follow up with this type of thing and they were very helpful and accommodating. They also gave us free laundry service which helped immensely. On the first of our two (back-to-back) cruises we had unlimited specialty dining (a booking perk--we did not purchase it) so we took advantage of it and ate at Cagney's (twice), Modernos (twice), La Cucina, Le Bistro and Cirque Spiegel. Each meal was very good and service excellent. Food and service in the main dining rooms was very good as well and we had breakfast lunch and dinner at those venues. We ate lunches several times at O'Sheehans and we also enjoyed our food there. We were a bit surprised at that, as we had eaten at O'Sheehans on the Jewel (2015) and its predecessor (Ocean Blue? something like that) on the Jade in 2011, and were not impressed by the quality of food there at all. So it was a nice place to grab a bite instead of going to the buffet (I don't like buffets very much!) That being said, we did eat at the buffet for some breakfasts and maybe one dinner. The food was varied and excellent. We have never felt the buffets deserve the negative reviews they sometimes receive. I just don't like going all over the place to find what I want, then finding a table and balancing drink and plate and by the time I get to the table my food is no longer hot. I prefer to be served! We also had the unlimited (ultimate?) beverage package. That sure is the way to go--no worries about a bar bill at the end. All drinks at all bars are not created equal! I found it surprising that the liquor brands were not consistent at each bar, and the same drink ordered at different bars could be quite different. So you need to try them all out and figure out where to go to get what you particularly want. Some bartenders were more generous with measuring the alcohol than others. We also found inconsistencies as to how the bartenders would handle the ordering when you have the beverage package. Some would not let you order a double, others would. Some made you show 2 key cards if you were ordering 2 drinks, others didn't. Since we were just 2 couples travelling together and all of us had the package, we were not trying to get away with anything. It was just a convenience to sometimes order a double, and if you are heading to your room for the evening, you should be able to order a couple of drinks each to take with you. We found that for the most part the system operated as it should and was very convenient and accommodating. I understand that on the first day they want to see a key card per drink, but they relaxed after that. Sometimes the bars were really busy and you had to wait awhile to be served, but that was not an issue. One could wish that there were more choices for wines by the glass, esp for white wine drinkers. We do have one complaint about NCL's ultimate beverage package and that is that it does not include all drinks--and by that I mean you still have to pay for fresh squeezed juices, bottled water and specialty coffees (expresso, latte, etc.) That just doesn't make sense to me when you are paying USD $80 a day per person!! Since we are from Canada, it was more like $110 a day per person. I don't think any day did we ever actually drink the number of drinks it would take to spend that amount of money, so when you pay that amount just for beverages, it should include everything. This is an example of the one major flaw of NCL: they do nickel and dime you and it is sort of irritating. However, we love freestyle cruising so we take the good with the bad. If NCL wants to improve, we suggest that would be a big plus to most people. Beverage packages with some of the other cruise lines include everything, some for a lower price. I think the ship had been refurbished some time in 2016 so there was nothing to complain about in the ship itself. Everything was in good repair and clean. We didn't get to all of the entertainment. The Cavern Club's 'house band' Siglo was just excellent and we saw them most nights. We did not go to see the main theatre show. It was Priscilla Queen of the Desert--and was the only choice for a main show to see. Our group thought it in very poor taste to present that show on a family cruise. Everyone can make their own entertainment choices, but presenting that particular message front and center to 4500 passengers is just not politic in my mind. Obviously many agree as I have read other reviewers with the same comments. Neutral family entertainment, please. I don't want someone's agenda forced on me. Burn the Floor was very entertaining. The one Epic Beatles show we went to at the Cavern Club was nothing spectacular. I think they had an alternate show in the main theatre which we may have enjoyed more, but we didn't get to it. We enjoyed the two or three shows we saw at the Headliners venue. We never sat in on Howl at the Moon--went by it one night and peeked in for a minute or two, but was disappointed in the quality of the singing we heard so didn't bother making an effort to go back another time. As far as activities during the day, we felt them somewhat lacking from other NCL trips. We didn't like the use of the atrium cafe and big screen as a main venue for trivia and other games as it is an area where everyone walks through. We have always enjoyed the quietness of an unused bar area (for example) during the day for things like origami, towel and napkin folding, trivia, language lessons, and so on. And hands on activities are better than just demonstrations. Our cruises were a 9 day Canary Islands and 7 day western Mediterranean, April 14-30, back-to-back, both departing from Barcelona. This was spring break in Europe. The ship was over-full because of many families travelling. The Epic seemed like a good ship for children and teens. And I'm sure the staff that look after these age groups were grateful to have something to do. However, we will make sure we don't travel at that time of year again. Just way too many people, and the kids took over much of the outdoor activities. We deliberately returned early to the ship on a port day in the Canary Islands so that we could hope to have a lounge chair and be able to try out the water slides. That was the only day we could do that. Because of the crowded pool deck, Spice H2O , the adult outdoor venue at the back of the ship, was also always full. We anticipated spending outdoor time here on the Epic but so did everyone else. So we never spent more than a lunch here (same day we did the water slides) and one drink one evening. If we were travelling with children (and yes we do have children and grandchildren!), we would have had a different view of things. But since we weren't, we prefer our cruises to have less children running around, so we will plan future sailings with that in mind. Usually, we travel the first two weeks of May and that seems to be a better time from that point of view. We also didn't appreciate children, and babies, being in bar/entertainment venues (like the Cavern Club and Headliners) in the evenings. We did the Ice Bar! That is a pretty 'cool' offering and worth the price of admission. They don't tell you this, but if you want to put your drink down on the counter, place it on one of the napkins there! Otherwise, the cup just slides right off the ice onto the floor.... For the number of passengers (4500+), the Epic did not seem to have enough room for everyone. All the space seemed confined. Other than the pool deck, and the poor excuse for a jogging track on deck 6 or 7 (you can only run back and forth a short length on that deck!!) there is no way to actually get outside. And the way the decks are configured, you can't walk all the way around the ship on one level. There is no large space with windows where you can go during the day to just chill and read or whatever. On smaller NCL ships, we spend a lot of quiet time during the day at the Spinnaker Lounge or the Observation Lounge. There was no venue like that on the Epic. Also, we had bad seas a couple of days and we missed a port (Malaga) and the outside decks were not open. So everyone was stuck inside and there was just nowhere to sit. We found a quiet area in the lounge outside Cagneys/Modernos and we played some cards there and one of our group laid on a couch. We were the only people there and there were other empty chairs and couches. A large family came in and decided their choice was to sit in the area where our friend was lying and they asked him to move. Two issues here: presumably the family couldn't find a place to spend time together elsewhere and felt compelled to ask someone to give up their space--which is the fault of the Epic designers; but, secondly, who does that?? I can't imagine asking someone to move so I could have their spot. I thought that was very rude, but we came across several instances of this type of behaviour and were quite flabbergasted at people's nerve. I digress. Continuing on with the space issues: There was no multi-level atrium--there were a couple of places that had 2 floors connected, but no grand open space. The atrium level had a 2 storey tv screen, that you could look down onto from O'Sheehans above, but the rest of that area was just one level in height and it seemed the ceiling was really low. We would agree with past reviews we've read that it seems like the Epic was built just to pack in as many people as it could. In doing so, they sacrificed personal space for everyone. If the ship hadn't been over-capacity (over 4500 passengers, instead of 4100) we may not have felt the pinch quite so badly. But we most likely aren't going to sail the Epic again to find out. The fitness center was huge! We thought we would use it, but we did so much walking on shore excursions, we didn't feel the need for more exercise, and besides, we were on vacation! We did get treated to use of the spa for our second cruise of 7 days. After dinner, we would go there and sit in the steam room for awhile, then go into the hydrotherapy pool, then into the hot tub, then relax on the heated loungers, looking out the aft of the ship. It was a beautiful way to wind down before bed. I had my best sleeps of my vacation those nights. Speaking of sleeping, the beds were good. Having the rounded corners at the foot of the bed took away some sleeping area--my husband is 6'2" and I'm 5'5", so he had to sleep a little on the diagonal. So if 2 very tall people were sleeping together the length of the bed might be an issue. But it was fine for us. I won't comment much on the ports. We had been to some on past cruises, and some were new to us. We chose the itinerary because of the ports, and I expect everyone to have their own take on that. That being said, if you have never taken a Mediterranean cruise or seen Italy, then our second cruise would be great for you as it hits all the high points: Barcelona, Naples, Rome, Pisa/Florence, Cannes, Majorca. It was a 7 day cruise with 6 port days, so if you want to get off the ship and see all those ports, it will be quite tiring for you. There was only one sea day and that was the first day. We like to see new things, but we also need rest (we work full time), so a port every other day is actually ideal in our minds. The 9 day Canary Islands cruise was better from that point of view: Barcelona, Tangier, Las Palmas, Lanzarote, Malaga (which we had to skip due to weather). We did not do any NCL excursions this time. We arranged our own excursions at Tangier (Tours by Said), Lanzarote and Naples. The rest of the ports we just did our own thing. The Cruise Critic roll call is excellent for arranging excursions outside of the ship's. We bought internet time (as we usually do) USD$125 for 250 minutes, plus we had 120 free minutes because of our Platinum status (30 minutes for each Platinum member for each cruise--which you could put all on the same account). The internet access seemed worse on this ship than we have previously experienced on other ships. The only 'good' connection we experienced was in our rooms. Trying to use it at other venues was a big frustration, and waste of paid internet time. We also used the iConcierge application in our group for messaging. There was a charge of USD$9.99 per person for that. It was decent, but we did find messages were delayed, or you had to remember to often close and reopen the program to keep it working. I think that if you are paying for internet access, the iConcierge messaging should be included and not an additional separate charge. One nice thing was that we were not charged for each cruise, we just paid once. Weather for our trip was much better than we thought we might encounter for that time of year. I would say almost every day was sunny, except for the 1-2 days on the ship where seas were high and we had to miss Malaga. Temps. were warm, not hot, maybe 15-20 (C). So it was very pleasant. All in all, our 2 cruises were great. We were just a little disappointed in the Epic, and probably will not deliberately seek her out for another cruise, unless it is a 2 week long cruise, that is not during a school break (read: way less kids/people on board). There were just way too many passengers for the room on the ship. NCL--we still love this cruise line, and bought the future cruise credits again (as we do each cruise we go on). Just wish they would make a couple of adjustments in what they charge you for. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
this old lady the NCL Spirit was a wonderful surprise, she is well maintained and has a wonderful choice of restaurants as always too much food :) Staff was very friendly and helpful Food, so many choices and really from a very good ... Read More
this old lady the NCL Spirit was a wonderful surprise, she is well maintained and has a wonderful choice of restaurants as always too much food :) Staff was very friendly and helpful Food, so many choices and really from a very good quality, we ate mostly at the selfservice restaurant and tried the steakhouse ( wonderful ) sushi ( not that bad ) and the italian restaurant ( which we disliked but food is very personal ) We did not love the decoration of the ship ( Chinese style ) but that is also personal same for the entertainment, not our cup of tea but the dancers were great. Our outside cabin was perfect and very quiet with a lot of storage. We choose this cruise for the itinerary and we can recommend the Canary Islands and Morocco during winter time as weather at all ports was perfect, weather at sea was rough which was for many people not that good ( seasick ) we just love a rocking ship. Everything went smoothly and we would book this cruise again without hesitation. if you like to walk off the ship into town on your own and have a very inexpensive cruise due to the fact that excursions are not really necessary you should choice this cruise. even Morocco / Casablanca is easy to explore as there is a shuttle to town where you can visit the souks and a 15 minutes walk brings you to a wonderful mosque which you can visit on certain time. As we are from Belgium our 1.30 H flight made this cruise perfect to have a break from our rainy winter. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
This was our first time cruising with NCL. We saw this cruise advertised and though it would be nice to get away from the UK for some winter sun. The package we chose included ultimate drinks package and four dine around options. The ... Read More
This was our first time cruising with NCL. We saw this cruise advertised and though it would be nice to get away from the UK for some winter sun. The package we chose included ultimate drinks package and four dine around options. The drinks package was fantastic there were numerous cocktails, spirits and soft drinks to chose from. The only down side was you had to pay for bottled water and coffees. However an Irish coffee was included in the drinks package. As you could get a glass of water from any of the bars the charge for water didn't really bother us. The food was varied and there was always something on the buffet in Raffles to ensure you didn't go hungry. The complementary restaurants - Garden Room, Windows and the Asian restaurants also had a good variety of food including seafood and steaks. The speciality restaurants were excellent with a lots of choice. We had no problem booking them and there was a very knowledgeable man on the booking desk for advice on the menu for each restaurant. It is also worth mentioning that before service in the restaurants the staff sample the food that is going to be served that evening so they can advise guests about it. The trips offered by the cruise line were expensive but that seems to be the norm for all cruises. Unfortunately there wasn't a free shuttle bus to take you from the ship into the nearest town when you were in port you had to pay anything from $5 to $15. In many of the ports it was a long walk from the ship to the terminal entrance but there were always taxis waiting by the ship. The entertainment was average but not as bad as some people made it out to be. The bingo was very expensive and as a consequence of this not very well attended. We had a mid-ship balcony cabin on deck 10 which was lovely and quiet. The cabin was spacious and the balcony had room for two chairs and a table. It was a nice place to sit and read or watch the scenery go by. A special mention to our cabin steward who took a pride in his work and made a variety of towel animals for us to find each evening. The staff in all the bars and restaurants were extremely friendly and courteous. They all had name badges and details of whether they were Italian, Indian etc. This was very useful as we were able to have a conversation with them using their name and asking about their homeland. Unfortunately not all the guests on board treated the staff with respect. Some of them were down right rude not saying please and thank you. Just because you have paid for a cruise doesn't entitle you to leave your manners at home. Unfortunately some of the guests took freestyle to mean they didn't have to make any effort with how they looked when using the restaurants. On the other hand many guests made the effort to dress up smartly casual. A dinner jacket would have really looked out of place and only a handful of men wore a jacket in the evening. Taking all of the above into consideration we had a lovely cruise and if this is the way NCL operate their ships we will be booking another cruise with them. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2016
Easter break with family. Embarkation was smooth staff v good. We had wait until announcement that cabins where ready but acceptable. Happy with cabin layout and location. First night ate in cagneys was really good experience felt ... Read More
Easter break with family. Embarkation was smooth staff v good. We had wait until announcement that cabins where ready but acceptable. Happy with cabin layout and location. First night ate in cagneys was really good experience felt good start to holiday. Sadly other nights dining there not good, service poor, long waits. Far too long in dining room with 3 children. Bistro faired better apart from last night which was shame as was our last night. Buffet dining bit of pain trying to get table. It was Easter break and ship was full. Too many people for staff to cope. The bar service was worse part of holiday, although great to have UBP to get a waiter to get drink was nigh impossible. And one bar man on ship on two occasions was very rude. Went to burn the floor and loved it, and Priscilla was amazing, very entertaining. Other entertainment when we managed to get into venue was good, only problem again was too small venues and too many people wantin too few places. The epic is nice ship but with some bad planning. The casino area is way too big takes almost full deck, there are too few sitting places both inside and out. And to allow smoking in casino area really bad if you are asthmatic. Ö shenanigans was really good with excellent wait staff and decent food. We had few issues on cruise reported to guest services that were not dealt with well. Sadly our experience of guest relations poor service has continued on our return. I have waited over 5 weeks for a promised refund that I was told would be 15 days and trying to get email or any kind of response from NCL is harder than speaking to the queen! The weather on cruise was not as good as we would have liked but we made the most if it. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Really enjoyed this cruise other than the weather but this is not the fault of Norwegian Cruise Lines Despite previous reviews, the longest we had to wait for a table to eat in any of the restaurants (having being supplied with a pager) ... Read More
Really enjoyed this cruise other than the weather but this is not the fault of Norwegian Cruise Lines Despite previous reviews, the longest we had to wait for a table to eat in any of the restaurants (having being supplied with a pager) was twenty minutes. We waited in a nearby bar until it went off. The food was good in all the restaurants, sometimes a little cold in the Garden Cafe and we never went into the speciality restaurants. The adult pool and bar H2O was a suntrap which was welcome as it was cool, but you had to fight for a bed. All the bars were good and the bar staff were very accommodating. The things I disliked about the ship were firstly O'Sheehans bar and grill. When we first boarded we thought great, a proper pub, but after being in it a while it was dreadfully noisy as you have all the casino noise nearby and the noise of the games machines in O'Sheehans bar itself. Also when there is a film on in the Atrium you can watch it from O'Sheehans as the screen is big enough to cover both floors. However if you didnt want to watch a film and just have a drink in the pub, it was extremely noisy with all the other activities going on around it. It would have been best to build O'Sheehans as a pub with a duke box/music perhaps and keep it separately away from the noisy areas. We stopped going in it in the end and enjoyed the martini bar and whisky bar. Bliss Lounge wasnt for us but it was always full so each to their own. By the end of the holiday the lifts were annoying but you should expect this on a large ship with 16 floors. All the staff were nice but again the noise from the atrium and O'Sheehans made it difficult to hear the customer services staff at guest services. I would definitely go on this ship again to other destinations as we tend to not go to the same places twice if we can avoid it. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
SHIP ITSELF Very large with lots of small capacity areas No soaring atrium like the smaller ships but mainly 1 storey with a few areas with open ceiling to next level so more of a hotel feel than traditional cruise ship The ... Read More
SHIP ITSELF Very large with lots of small capacity areas No soaring atrium like the smaller ships but mainly 1 storey with a few areas with open ceiling to next level so more of a hotel feel than traditional cruise ship The weather wasn’t consistently good enough to use the outside areas but when sun was out pool deck very busy .The waterpark area takes away from pool space but if you wanted a quiet area to sunbathe deck 18 was a good place Novelty ideas such as the Ice Bar never seemed to be too busy-not present at all on the newest ship The Escape so perhaps the novelty value is just that It took me a while for the light to dawn that starboard corridors had blue and beige carpets and blue lighting on the stairs and lifts whereas portside had orange and beige! There are no patterns of fish swimming in direction of travel which is a great idea on other NCL ships to give clue whether you are going forward or aft and if you head the wrong way they are long corridors Our muster station was the Casino which is a terrible idea I’m used to muster drills being done in restaurants etc but the Casino with its machines blocking view of crew members trying to demonstrate safety procedures and everyone squashed into a narrow hall would be dreadful in case of a real emergency BARS There are plenty of bars to choose from! The Ultimate Beverage Package [UBP] has been offered as a free perk for a long time mainly for ocean view and above so seemed many people had this-it was still being offered for $79 per day plus 18% gratuity and less publicised the wine and beer package at $10 per day less. Also available wine packages and soda packages For the first time we found getting served at the bars or waiting for a circulating bar waiter to take our order to be hit or miss-certainly not up to usual NCL standards. They seemed to be overwhelmed at busy times and even at quieter times the waiters seemed more interested in collecting dirty glasses than checking who was looking to order a drink-usually they do both with a smile and some quick conversation. RESTAURANTS We ate mainly at O Sheehans or the garden cafe for convenience and to be able to eat when we felt hungry. We only ate once in Manhattan restaurant for lunch to meet up with cruise roll callers which was fine Lots of people had the dining package as a perk so speciality restaurants busy and difficult to get a reservation at peak times We only eat in speciality restaurants if have a voucher-in this case we each had a platinum latitudes meal for Le Bistro .In the past this could also be used in Moderno or La Cucina but the only alternative now is La Cucina We preferred Le Bistro to La Cucina both for speed of service and ambience ENTERTAINMENT There is plenty going on day and night to appeal to all tastes We found our favourite band the Starlights-a rockn roll band playing in the Cavern Club most nights Duo Luna a guitarist and female vocalist were appearing in the atrium or Shakers bar and Paulo a guitarist/vocalist playing in Maltings We went to Howl at the Moon a couple of times and found them entertaining but not as good as previous performers we have seen onboard the larger NCL Ships Priscilla queen of the Desert was the signature theatre performance and was hilarious However there are numerous written and spoken warnings that the show is not suitable for children or the easily offended but the audience still had a high percentage of young children! It was school Easter holidays in the UK so expected a lot of children on board I didn’t notice too many during the day as avoided pool deck and the kids clubs were popular However late at night there were a lot of children running wild around the bar areas whilst their parents were nowhere to be seen or oblivious to their little darlings getting underfoot STATEROOMS We were in 12185 a large balcony. Due to the external shape of the ship this meant a triangular shape added to the regular balcony which meant could accommodate at least 1 lounger as well as the standard 2 chairs and table. The set up of the room was with couch next to balcony which did give easy access to the balcony The controversial bathroom set up was a non issue for us-we have been married 30 years! However I spoke to someone who was on the inaugural Epic trip about 6 years ago and said the frosting on the doors was a lot more transparent then! THERMAL SPA I pre purchased a cruise length pass for $179 a $20 reduction than if bought on board Epics Mandara Spa and Salon is supposed to be the largest spa at sea A unique feature of Epics Thermal spa is the open area at the aft with 6 padded loungers and 2 couches which give wonderful views and great to enjoy in good weather Inside the communal area are several heated tile loungers although 3 of them had signs on saying cold bed-ie needing maintenance Plenty of padded loungers and chairs,sauna and steam room with windows to open sea The therapy pool with hot tubs and pressure jets was always popular Inside the single sex area is another steam room and sauna with windows to sea which was hardly ever used so a good quiet area As you hand your keycard over at spa reception they give you a wristband with an allocated locker. The staff then store your room card in a file folder corresponding to that number which means it is efficient to return your room card at the end of the session That works fine until someone uses a random locker and “yours” is in use. Unfortunately the staff are inconsistent with dealing with this, some will give you a different free locker, others will suggest you use any free locker but don’t note which further compounds the problem and still others will open that locker and move the stuff to another one and lock it without informing the original occupant! I treated myself to a series of hot stone massages under the 10,20,30 offer whereby you get progressive discounts Still very expensive but I had plenty of OBC! EXCURSIONS We did private tours in 3 ports and can highly recommend Bruno from tripgrancanaria John Reid from Tenerifeprivatetours And Jeff from Hit the Road Madeira Read Less
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