We have done this before. Twice we sailed from Barcelona, west with final stops either in Miami or Cape Canaveral. This trip took us the other way and it gave us some stops in ports (Cadiz, Gibraltar, Malaga) we were not familiar with and ... Read More
We have done this before. Twice we sailed from Barcelona, west with final stops either in Miami or Cape Canaveral. This trip took us the other way and it gave us some stops in ports (Cadiz, Gibraltar, Malaga) we were not familiar with and two stops in places we have been to before and enjoyed (Bermuda, Funchal). If you ever plan on doing a TA...check to make sure we are on it...42 days under our tighter belts and we have always enjoyed clam seas and fantastic weather. The ship was basically "sold out" (a few empty inside cabins according to hotel director Nelson) and I think the days of light loads on TAs are in the past. More of us seem to enjoy the sea days. However, there was a higher percentage of solo travelers in regular (non studio) cabins so the Epic was not truly at capacity. And, that's what I felt. It did not feel as crowded as I thought it would. Weather and crowd covered, here's some details:
Embarkation. Smooth. We arrived at the port around 11:30am and we were on the ship by noon. I've heard, read, some horror stories about Cape Canaveral and our only experience boarding there in the past was on Disney so this was a pleasant first.
Food. We did not have a bad meal and we had many meals. Some meals were better than others, some risottos were memorable and some filets were just OK but overall, the food was fantastic. We ate in every specialty restaurant (4 UDP plus two Platinum meals makes 6...we doubled down on Cagneys). No Spiegel this time but we've done it before and the meal was good. The service at all the restaurants was also great. Except...La Cucina. Long wait to be seated, looooong wait to place order. Longer wait to get meal. But the veal was perfection. Can't speak to the Garden Café buffet food with much authority. We did some breakfasts and a few light lunches and they were all good but we never ate dinner there. We did, however, stop by for Nutella crepes and ice cream. E.V.E.R.Y. Night! (the ying to all this food yang coming up under the spa and fitness portion of this review). Shoutout to Soledad (hostess), Ronnie Castillo (waiter), Julie-Anne (cagney waitress), Roberto at Le Bistro, and the nice hostess at the Garden Café who welcomed us every night at 9:30pm with "you're back for a crepe" and a smile and zero judgement!
Entertainment. We've seen Burn the Floor and Priscilla and they were awesome before and awesome again. Special for this cruise, the cast of Burn and Priscilla put together two shows-- a tribute to women in music and a Broadway Cabaret and they were both phenomenal. Particularly the Broadway show tunes show. You could tell that they put a ton of work into it and their excitement, investment and enjoyment of the performance came across every piece. Juggler, comedian, hypnotist, howl at the moon, bar musicians were OK. Some better than others (for example, the Howl at the Moon guys were good but we've seen better). Shout out to Hector of the teal shirt and grey suit entertainment reservation staff. Always professional and helpful.
Fitness/Spa. This gets it's own heading because 1) we always purchase the spa pass and 2) we go to the gym every day. (we also never take the elevators---pardon the brag!--and as I write this...maybe those were crowded and well...who knew?!). The spa (we call it our water park time) was as good as we remember. Quiet, peaceful, steamy, bubbly, heaven. We end most of our late afternoons there and because of the 14 out of 15 sunny days...we went from pool side to heated lounger and thermal spa every day. The spa ladies said they had "sold out" but I only had to wait for a heated lounger a couple of times and it did nothing to bring down my bushwacker, cuba libre, sangria, dark and stormy mood. (shout out to Vladimir--Serbia wants it's best bar tender back). The gym was likewise never overly crowded (maybe it had something to do with the higher age average on the ship or we just got lucky). The staff was great (shout out to Rohit in the gym and Suzette at the spa reception). Clean, well maintained and. in case you have never cruised on the EPIC, the gym is ginormous.
Cabin. You've read the "what were they thinking?" reviews I am sure. Who puts the toilet and the sink where the nightstand and the closet should go? And why do you have to walk thru the shower to get in the room? It's not that bad (and the last two sentences were meant to be funny people). Yes, it's weird and if I were sharing a cabin with a stranger or my smelly teenager...it would be an issue. But check you tube, look at floor plans and realize that the guys who designed this ship were crazy and came up with a funky, curved cabin, cubicle shower/tub toilet French j'ai nes sais quois. Embrace the uniqueness (meaning nobody has done it again and never will). We don't mind it. The bed was super comfortable, our balcony was perfect and there's almost too much storage space. Of note for Epic newbies...because the staterooms have these curved shapes, some have the bed closer to the door and some have the bed closer to the balcony. Closer to the balcony is better if you want/need some distance between the bathroom(s) and your pillow. Our steward was THE BEST. Shout out to Victor.
Epi(c)logue. (Ha. I kill me) Service was almost perfect and you should never expect perfection. The crew was attentive, friendly and helpful. It's a long crossing with some long days for them (I was not going to mention that the turning of the clocks forward six times was painful...but there it is). We did not do any shore excursions thru NCL, we did not need to go to guest services, we did not gamble and we did not have anything to do with the youth program staff or the medical staff but every other department gets a solid A (even with the small La Cucina service blip). The only ugly (and I don't mean physically) people we came across were some of the passengers but that's normal. When you witness someone being rude to a staff member, stop, let them move on and then do something or say something nice to the staff member. It's the right thing to do. Call me preachy. Read Less