30 Norwegian Epic Gay & Lesbian Cruise Reviews

About the Reviewer: I’m a mid-30s male who sailed in a balcony stateroom on the NCL Epic from Rome on 6/12 to 6/19/2019. This was my 26th NCL cruise (including charters) and my 46th cruise overall. My prior cruise history includes ... Read More
About the Reviewer: I’m a mid-30s male who sailed in a balcony stateroom on the NCL Epic from Rome on 6/12 to 6/19/2019. This was my 26th NCL cruise (including charters) and my 46th cruise overall. My prior cruise history includes sailing on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival and MSC. In 2018, I took a break from NCL and sailed with Royal Caribbean and MSC with MSC Seaside being my last cruise. Pre-Cruise I met up with friends in Rome, Italy for a few days prior to the cruise. It was nice to explore the sights at a more leisurely pace than what you can do with it being a ship’s port of call. I flew into FCO (Rome airport) and transferred with a private company versus taking the train to Termini Station. I stayed at a hotel close to Termini Station in Rome and Termini is a great focal point for which to travel regionally as well as within Rome on the public transit system. I purchased the Roma Pass and with the ability to get into attractions cheaply and the use of the public transit system for 48 hours, it was a very wise investment. NCL EPIC CRUISE – Roundtrip Rome DAY 1 – ROME, ITALY Embarkation: The most cost-efficient way to get to the cruise port from Rome city is by train. I booked the Intercity 510 on TrenItalia arriving at the Civitavecchia port just before 11AM on 6/12. Unfortunately, the elevators on the platform at the train station were not working and you had to take the luggage up and down two flights of stairs to get to the outside. Minor inconvenience. Once outside, you need to purchase a ticket for 2 EU for the red bus to take you to the port entrance. Fair enough, but the line for the bus was disorganized and not all cultures understood the need for a proper queue when the bus arrived. It was rather chaotic. I would’ve just walked it and if you’re able-bodied to do so, you might as well as it’s not too far to the port entrance and with city traffic on port days, it would be easier to do so. At the port entrance, since there were 6 ships at least doing embarkations during this date, you had to get into a queue for a bus to take you to the designated terminal. How kind of the bus driver to allow us to load our own luggage under the bus and then tell us the bus for the NCL Epic only had one working compartment versus the other side for Holland America which had two. We were going to the same terminal so it didn’t matter what compartment it went into. How silly and disorganized. Upon arrival to the terminal, the bus unloaded for both ships and we were split up once inside the terminal. Luggage was taken finally and check in was upstairs further over. Latitudes members didn’t have a separate check-in line, however, the main check in line was moving swiftly so it didn’t matter too much. Once checked in, we were told to proceed to the gangway which was down the escalators. When we got to the bottom, there was another bus waiting to take us to the ship! Good grief already. The ship was a short walk down the pier from where the terminal was. Holland America had the gangways in use for their embark that was in the terminal. The bus was hot and stuffy and by this point, I just wanted to walk to the ship to get it over with. Crew were walking to the terminal so it wasn’t unsafe for passengers to do so as well. We had to wait for the bus to fill before we were driven an absurdly short distance to board the ship. All told from arrival at the train station to when we got on the ship and had drinks at Spice H2O, it was two hours. NEVER AGAIN!! A complete and utter mess with 2 transfers within the cruise port to get on the ship. Stateroom Balcony GTY: Room 13039 I’ve sailed on the Epic three times and all the other times were in a studio room. This was the first time I sailed in a balcony. I booked a guarantee and was put into this family room at the ships first bump out. The room had a very large angled balcony which I loved. I could see why this stateroom configuration wouldn’t work unless sailing with a spouse. The layout is funky and while it mirrors the studios design, storage was in the most random of places – including within the sofa! The electrical outlets are hidden under the counter by the coffee maker. The phone in the room also didn’t have a working voicemail button, it would take you to the voicemail and delete it instantly. I learned a trick to bypass it by mid-cruise. Charlton was my incredible stateroom steward. He did a wonderful job looking after any small request the entire cruise and for making sure everything was perfect. He even provided me with towel animals daily without request despite NCLs announcement they were getting rid of them on future sailings a couple months back. After unpacking rather quickly, it was time to head off to the theater for a joint muster drill for all stations embarking in Rome. It was mandatory for all guests who embarked and some didn’t like it that they were shut off from their alcohol until they attended. Rome embarking guests had purple cards so that’s how ship’s crew knew to stop serving you for the mandatory drill. After that, I went to the solos gathering with Julianna hosting for this portion of the cruise and then the LGBT meet up. A group of solos went to dinner at 7PM and we joined them in Manhattan Room. It was a leisurely dinner service since we were a big table and it took over 2 hours to dine but the company made up for the gaps between courses. The ship was supposed to sail at 7PM but some “scheduled maintenance” wasn’t completed in time and the ship would be delayed sailing until 10PM. After dinner was done, I headed back to the room to relax and it was getting close to 10PM. The ship didn’t sail at 10PM. I fell asleep on the balcony waiting for it to sail and when I awoke after midnight we were finally moving. DAY 2 – FLORENCE, ITALY The previous day’s delayed departure caused the Epic to arrive two hours late to Florence, Italy. The tour provider stated they would work with delayed arrivals so I wasn’t worried but there was a mass upheaval in the atrium where guests demanded to use the phone to contact their individual tour companies. The Epic staff caved in and did allow for usage of the phone for people to contact tour companies about the delayed arrival. We arrived in Florence at 9AM instead of 7AM. PRIVATE TOUR: Best of Florence and Pisa by ItalyTours.EU As was mentioned in the confirmation for the tour booking, ItalyTours waited for the arrival of our ship and when I disembarked, I found my name being held by the driver almost immediately. When he rounded up the rest of the guests, we left the port and headed for Florence. Once in Florence we met up with the tour guide from Vox who walked us around the city and took us inside the museum to see the Michelangelo statue. The tour guide provided us with insights about what we were seeing and the history as we walked around. The driver recommended a lunch pizzeria and took some of us there. After gathering the rest of the guests, we went to a scenic overlook of Florence before heading for Pisa. Upon arrival in Pisa, we had a small amount of time which was actually fine to see the sights before heading back to the ship. The tour accomplished everything it stated it would do, even with the time delay. I would highly recommend this tour provider for tours in Italy (they also have tours for Naples and Rome). The tour size is much smaller than what NCL offers (van with Italy Tours versus bus with NCL) and the cost is cheaper than what NCL charges. NCL’s shore excursion prices have skyrocketed since the introduction of the Free at Sea promo. If you take the shore excursion discount, you’re still paying what you’d be paying if you didn’t even bother booking with NCL. ItalyTours guarantees your arrival back to the ship prior to sailing or will get to you the next port for the ship at their own expense. You don’t see any private tour companies really offering such a guarantee! Back on the ship it was a quick change to get to the solo’s gathering in the studio lounge and then off to the LGBT gathering before a Platinum Plus Latitudes perk – Dinner with an Officer. Either there weren’t a lot of Platinum plus cruisers on this sailing or they weren’t interested in dining with an officer. I was the only person to sign up and had dinner with Brett, the Ship’s Training Specialist. It was a nice dinner and we talked about cruising past and present while enjoying dinner in Taste Restaurant. Grace, the Hotel Director’s assistant, arranged the dinner for us. It was a nice time and very well done! It was one of the highlights of the cruise. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert The major production show on the NCL Epic is Priscilla, QOTD. I had seen the show just after it was loaded on the Epic back in 2015 so it was nice to see it again. It is definitely a PG-16 or higher rated show. Leave the kids in Splash Academy! It’s a good time to follow the gang to the Australian outback for their show. Lots of good dance numbers and a good storyline. The show has evolved a bit since it was first brought to the Epic but the overall production was enjoyable. I was surprised to see some of the original cast from the first loaded show still doing it nearly four years on! After the show completed, it was time to give Bliss Lounge a try. When we arrived, it was already busy and it wasn’t possible to get into the bar to order so the supervisor sent a bar waitress over to take our order. The service was incredibly slow in there but we did notice one bartender going faster than the others and that’s why people were queueing for him. It took forever for our first round to arrive. It wasn’t until the next day that I discovered I was charged for the round of drinks. I did NOT have the beverage package and was shocked when I got the check for $20 for one drink. The last time I sailed on NCL in 2017, the cost was just shy of $12 having gone up from $10 for a Grey Goose and soda. A nearly 100% increase in drink cost? NCL you’ve gone mad. I don’t drink much and with the ridiculously measured pour you did for this $20 drink; you should be ashamed of yourself. You’re not Vegas and with all the nickel and diming lately to justify the CEO’s salary, you should be doing much better instead of getting worse. The drink included an increased gratuity I’m sure the bartenders weren’t getting and an additional $1.50 for a port tax. Trying to fix this error at guest services later would result in the transfer of the $1.50 to the other person’s account. When that person complained about the $1.50 charge, it was reversed back to me with the full charge of the drink I didn’t have. Lesson learned… the waitstaff in Bliss were incompetent. Order directly from the bar staff to avoid this screw up, especially if you don’t have the package and are ordering with people who do. DAY 3 – CANNES, FRANCE I went to a highly-rated beach club from TripAdvisor on the Cannes beachfront. Riviera Beach Club was not far from the ship and for a small fee, you could have a lounger in front and have bar service. It was sunny when we arrived but became more overcast as the day wore on. The wind was kicked up so the sand from the beach was blowing on us. We had a few drinks and then returned to the ship. We did so just in time as the wind had kicked up quite a bit slowing tender service down. When we got in queue, it was just at the guard shack and after that, it was all the way up to the street. It was reported by some guests that it took two hours to get back onboard. Naturally, we sailed late again from Cannes towards Mallorca. Tonight, we had the solos gathering where we met Michael, the Filipino bartender who was dancing in Bliss the prior night and constantly had a line for service. He was very fast, efficient and remembered what you were drinking for all my friends and water for me as I wasn’t drinking. If he saw an empty glass he would ask if the person wanted another one. His energy was amazing and we became fans of his for the rest of the cruise in Bliss or finding him at Howl at the Moon. It was sometimes much faster to go to Howl at the Moon to get a drink than it was to get one from the rest of the bartenders in Bliss. The other bartenders in Bliss just didn’t seem to have the same energy or motivation Michael had. SPECIALTY DINNER: Le Bistro Tonight, we had the first of two specialty dinners given to Latitudes members Platinum or higher. We had a 9PM seating meaning most of the restaurant was just about finished their dinner when we came in. I had the duck which was nice along with escargot and crème brulee. The service was nice and our waitress had to leave after the main course to work in another restaurant. We finished up eating shortly before 11PM. It was a good dinner. You had to chose a main course less than $20 which meant four main courses to choose from – duck, chicken and two fish dishes. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Glow Party This was originally supposed to be up at Spice H2O but when we went up there after dinner, it wasn’t up there. It was down in Bliss Lounge. This is always the featured nightclub night of the voyage. Since Mallorca is a late arrival, the ship put the party on this night. This was the ONLY night of the voyage where the party was scheduled for Spice H2O. When the ship is in the Caribbean or Canary Islands as it had been in the past, Spice H2O was used more frequently. I didn’t feel compelled to go on the dance floor as the music just didn’t move me. It was hard to move anyone since the DJ was mixing in and out of songs so fast you couldn’t dance to one. While it shows a good DJ to mix smoothly, let a song play a bit more. I actually ordered two drinks tonight and it was accurately billed since I ordered it directly at the bar. It was an ok night but definitely not the greatest Glow (formerly White) Party I’ve attended on NCL. DAY 4 – PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN Our delayed departure from Cannes caused a delayed arrival into Mallorca. We arrived just before 3PM when we were supposed to be in by 1PM. This caused a mad rush when the ship arrived for people to get off. I went for an independent Hop On, Hop Off excursion. I walked one bus stop up as the line at the port was a bit crazy so I could get a spot on the bus. It worked as the next stop down was the port and the bus filled without clearing the queue. I took the whole circuit which didn’t take too long and then got off in town by the church to see the cathedral closer up. On Saturdays, the cathedral might not be available for viewing as it can be used for weddings. It was closed this day to the public because of a wedding. It was reported by people who had a shore excursion they received a credit for it. The artisan markets strewn about the area had all sorts of interesting wares for sale, from food to crafts. Save yourself the hassle and see Mallorca for 18 EU on the Hop On, Hop Off bus. Back on the ship we dined with the solos we had made friends with during the voyage so far but were disembarking in Barcelona the next day. Tonight, we dined in the Manhattan dining room and I had the Prime Rib which was amazing. Dinner was leisurely as we had a big group and we watched the ship sail from there. I had a 9:30PM reservation for Burn the Floor but because dinner went longer, I missed it. DAY 5 – BARCELONA, SPAIN This is the main turn around day for the ship so guests were being told to disembark the ship. Surprisingly, I expected the ship to have more announcements than it did in the early morning hours. My friends and I headed off the ship to find some churros around 9AM to avoid any more announcements and to get off the ship before the new folks showed up to embark. We ventured up to the churros place, took the transit up to Parc Guell and discovered you now needed a ticket to enter it. The last time I was there in 2003, you didn’t need to have a ticket to enter. They were sold out for the day already so I headed for Palau Guell and my friend headed back to the ship. Along the way, I headed to Starbucks for a caffeine fix the ship doesn’t offer. Back on the ship, it was interesting to come on the ship as an in-transit guest. When I arrived to the terminal, I had to go through security in the terminal but then just bypassed everything else and went up the escalator back onto the ship. Very easy to do! Embarkation was well underway at that point for the new cruisers. During the ship’s lifeboat drill, I enjoyed working out in the quiet gym. Since I had done the drill on embark day in Rome, I didn’t have to do this one. It was a great time to use the ship’s services in peace and quiet. I met up with the solos and went to the LGBT meet up to meet the new cruisers. SPECIALTY DINNER: Moderno Churriscaria We had a dinner reservation for 7:15PM in Moderno. We figured it would be easier to dine specialty the first night where everyone was so new and getting their bearings. It was a nice dinner where the passador were fast and efficient at bringing all the meats. We were asked for what else we wanted. The waiter was attentive to my friend’s alcohol requests throughout the dinner service as well. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Beattlemania Show The band who usually is setup in the Cavern Club was in the theater. I do know Beattles hits despite my age and decided to take in a bit of the show. It was just as you’d expect for the Beattles. The singers were really good in the band. The show was well attended. I went to Bliss Lounge afterward and hung out there for a short bit before strolling the ship. Bliss didn’t get all the kids out of it by 11PM like usual and so there were kids in there trying to get drinks off adults who had the beverage package. The crowd who embarked during Barcelona was decidedly younger than the crowd who was on the first leg of our voyage. Security was slow in removing the minors as well. We ventured to Howl at the Moon and then onto Cavern Club where Fire and Ice were playing. Not finding our groove anywhere, we decided to call it a night. DAY 6 – SEA DAY Finally, a full day at sea! It was nice to head up on deck and go to the quiet zone up front before most of the cruise passengers discovered it was there. I found a lounger immediately and setup shop for hours. It was nice and quiet to read and snooze while the room was being made up. I left for a late lunch at Taste with my friends before returning to my room and sitting on the balcony which was also in the sunlight. We passed through the Strait of Bonifacio around 1PM and had the land masses of Sardinia and Corsica between us. It was nice to be on the balcony for the last part of the transit. Tonight, we dined with some solos from the studio lounge in the Manhattan Dining Room before heading off to the 9:30PM showing of Burn the Floor. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Burn the Floor I couldn’t figure out why I disliked this show so much before. The dancers are so elegant to watch and technically proficient in their movements but the story is lacking. The dances don’t progress from one genre to a more upbeat genre, they hop around with no rhyme or reason. There’s no story that links them and the singers with this cast were horribly bad, especially the male vocalist. I stayed for about 50 minutes before giving up and leaving. I’ve seen Burn the Floor on other ships but this production just doesn’t make sense or have a flow to it. If Priscilla isn’t your cup of tea, this is the only other show on the ship you’ve got. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Norwegian’s Night Out Party This party was well attended and for a change, the DJ let a song play out. I finally got out on the dancefloor for the first time this voyage. The vibe was finally right to do so or at least early on it was. As the night progressed, the music changed again and just made me stay at the bar with my friends more while they drank. Michael, the Filipino bartender, had to come up and help get my friends drinks because the other bar staff couldn’t keep up. He was dancing around while he did so and having a good time on his own while still offering faster service than the rest of the bar staff who were stationed there. DAY 7 – NAPLES, ITALY We made it to the port ON-TIME! Hurray! The only problem was, I didn’t need to get off the ship early so it didn’t matter. However, I felt with the way this cruise had gone so far, a bravo to the Epic for an on-time arrival is warranted. After having a room service breakfast on the balcony, I went ashore and walked around Naples center for a bit. There’s a not-so-helpful tourist desk setup in the cruise terminal. Just walk out of the terminal and you’ll be hit up by taxi drivers offering tours. You’ll also have options from the Hop On, Hop Off Tour provider just at the end of the drive way to the terminal. It was here I discovered my grave mistake of booking a tour through NCL for Herculaneum for $100 USD when it would have cost 28 EU for the trip out there on my own and then admission cost at the site. NCL SHORE EXCURSION: Herculaneum In 2004 when I returned to the Med, I was supposed to visit Herculaneum but skipped the tour and went to Capri with newly made cruise friends instead. This trip allowed me to redeem this and go. Since I didn’t have the logistics worked out before sailing, I booked with NCL. Since I am Platinum Plus, I went to the shore excursion desk to get the discount for booking. You can’t get the discount unless you go there and mention it. The tour started with a bus ride from the terminal at 1PM towards Herculaneum. It was a standard sized tour bus but it wasn’t full of passengers. Upon arrival to the ancient site, we waited while the tour guide purchased the tickets for our entry. She guided us around the site describing things we were seeing using a single earbud setup. The group was too large to fit into some spaces while she was talking so you had to go in afterward or squeeze in together. This is why small group tours were more advantageous. After we completed our summary visit to Herculaneum, we boarded the bus to head to a cameo factory. This is where I really dislike NCL’s tactics. The cameo factory and “teaching you how they do it” is a total joke. They put a video on and have you stare at someone who is sitting at a table near the TV and then take you around back to their showroom where you are expected to buy something from which not only does the vendor make money but NCL gets a kick back from. We could’ve spent more time at Herculaneum and seen more of the sites there versus needing this waste of time. It was when we stopped there that I remembered why I have steered clear of NCL excursions lately. My recommendation is you do the same. You can easily go to Herculaneum on your own for much less than what this tour cost and they have audio guides available at the site. Save your money and do it yourself. Just go earlier to get back and avoid all the port traffic. When we returned to the port, so many tours were returning at the same time that it was chaos for traffic with the containers and trucks coming in and going. It would’ve been faster to walk but we stayed on the bus for over a half hour just to get from the port entrance to the terminal building! Tonight, we dined with a large group of solos, some of whom were with us from Rome, in the Taste Dining Room. It was a fun dinner service after the solos gathering where Michael was bartending at. Service was surprising efficient given our table size. Our dinner moved right along and we were done by 9:30PM. I had time to return to see Priscilla at 10PM for one final time. I loved the production, so I wanted to catch it again on standby. I had no problems grabbing a decent seat. Afterward, it was the 70s dance party in Bliss. I stayed for a bit but was so exhausted from the tour in the hot sun, I called it a night at midnight. DAY 8 – ROME, ITALY Disembarkation was much smoother than embarkation for two reasons. We called the driver who picked us up from the airport to the hotel in Rome to see if he could pick us up at the terminal. He did at 9:30AM. The ship’s transfer option to the airport was to leave at 7AM and cost $60USD. For three of us with a taxi at a more convenient time it was 50EU per person and had door to door service. We disembarked the ship shortly after 8:30AM. You do have to be out of your room by 8AM so people were hanging out in public spaces and not leaving the ship at their assigned times. It caused the lifts to get backed up but we had our trick to get one and got off when we were supposed to. The terminal we were at wasn’t the same one we embarked at and had limited facilities. It was also quite hot outside so we waited in a semi air-conditioned area for the taxi. If you were taking the train, you’d have to go through the bus transfer to the port entrance and then pick up the city bus to head to the train station. I customarily close out my reviews by thanking those on the ship who provided exceptional service. This cruise, only two people stood out for me. The first was my stateroom steward, Charlton from the Philippines. His attentive service and his friendly nature from the first day’s greeting to me and to subsequent chats in the hallway were much appreciated and never forced. The nightly towel animals were a nice touch and the towel body one day was a new one for me after all these sailings! The other person who stood out was Michael Misargano (last name might be misspelled) who was a bartender with salt and pepper hair from the Philippines in the solos lounge, Bliss and Howl at the Moon. This man is to be commended for his energy and quick ability to sling drinks. He was incredibly friendly to those who got to know him and he knew everyone’s drinks without having to ask them for it, only if they wanted a refill. I’m not sure how NCL stole him away from Princess but he could do well training some of his peers to be faster and have more fun while doing so! Special thanks to Brett, Training Officer, for the officer’s dinner and making it interesting. All in all, the Epic isn’t the ship I remembered her to be from previous sailings. The room costs have gone up, the on-ship alcohol prices have gone up, everything has gone up exponentially on NCL. Originally, due to NCLs inflated pricing for their promos, I was booked on the MSC Seaview which sails the same day from Rome, Italy and also embarks there. I switched when after final payment NCL finally came down to be reasonably close (without perks) to what MSC was charging and to be with my friends. MSC is privately owned and while they’re struggling with service issues of their own, the NCL Epic minus the people mentioned above was no different in its service struggles. Cruise lines are expanding too fast and now that NCL is publicly traded, it’s all about squeezing the cruiser to make the investors happy. This cruise couldn’t have been more in your face about it. It’s sad because it’s not the NCL I’ve come to know over the years. While I do have two CruiseNext deposits to return in the future, I won’t be in a rush to use them. I will only sail from the Rome port again with flying in directly and using a NCL transfer directly from airport to cruiseport. It’s sad how every new CEO since Colin Veitch has come to NCL and cheapened the product by so much and yet commanded passengers pay so much more for it. Frank del Rio, CEO of NCLH, should be ashamed of what he’s turned this company into. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
I will start out with the positive... getting onto the ship was a breeze. The last time we sailed from NY it was a complete disaster so I was super pleased with the level of professionalism and efficiency from all involved. Walking into ... Read More
I will start out with the positive... getting onto the ship was a breeze. The last time we sailed from NY it was a complete disaster so I was super pleased with the level of professionalism and efficiency from all involved. Walking into the ship it was clean, inviting and exciting. As always we made a quick dash to get band for the “vibe” or on this ship “posh” Our very first cruise was I. This ship so I was excited to sail on it again. We were able to get to our stateroom very quickly and bags arrived in a fairly timely manner. Upon meeting our cabin steward he was one of the best we have ever had. Not the least bit overbearing and always did a phenomenal job. We had booked 2 special days for our parents for their anniversary and my mother’s birthday. He excited both with precision and detail which we so greatly appreciated. When we were settled my family and I all decided to check out the posh as we like to spend a good chunk of our time there. From the get go there was not a good vibe up there, pun intended. Normally the staff is always happy smiling and knew our names by the second day. This was not the case with posh. We get this “upgrade” so we always have a place to go for some quiet and that extra special service. The space was loud because of its close proximity to the main pool deck. We were brought water only once and never offered a cocktail or fruit plate. Each time We wanted a refill on water or a cocktail we would have to get up and go to the bar and order and retrieve it ourselves. While not the end of the world I found myself questioning why we paid extra for essentially nothing. On top of that the staff was not friendly there. I was highly disappointed and decided to spend my time elsewhere. Waiting at all bars was almost unbearable but I do understand that there are only so many bartenders and many guests in the ship. When checking into Le Bistro we were again met with an unfriendly face. The hostess did not seem accommodating or kind at all. When dining we decided to indulge in a bottle of wine not included in our package. The sommelier was one the most knowledgeable and kind we have ever met. He absolutely made our experience at Le Bistro much better. Without him the meal would have been sub par. The dealers in the casino were great fun. I found myself looking for the same ones day and night as they made the experience of losing money a little but better with their humor and small talk. I decided one night to use the salon for a blowout. I scheduled the appointment for 730 so I would have enough time to get ready before dinner. After waiting 20 minutes after checking in I approached the front desk to see what the deal was. I was met with “oh no one came for you yet?” After attempting to reschedule for the next day, the stylist irina appeared. From my understanding of my talk with both the front desk and Irina, I was double booked with another haircut she was performing before me. I once again did not feel like I was a priority in the least bit. She styled my hair and I was able to make dinner by the skin of my teeth. I must say that experience was extremely disappointing to me. Bar service in the casino was also extremely lack luster, however the male and female bartenders at the casino bar were beyond kind and committed my name and drink order to memory. Priscilla queen of the desert was a highlight of the cruise. The cast was PHENOMENAL. We were lucky enough to meet some of the cast and they were so kind. As regular cruiser we look forward to meeting other LGBT friends at the Friends Of Dorothy gathering. The name change of the meeting is not my favorite. The location for the meeting this cruise was not the most desired spot, we much preferred it when it was held at shakers. One of the most disappointing things to happen was at great stirrup cay. One of the main reasons I went on this cruise was to swim with the pigs. I understand that the tide is beyond NCLs control but a warning of such might have been nice before we went to check In. The Epics layout overall is not my favorite and I’m happy to see that other ships have not been modeled after it. Overall the cruise was ok, nothing to write home about. As loyal NCL cruisers we will return as guests but I think we may explore other lines after the lack of customer service. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was my first cruise and my partner's fourth cruise, but first on Norwegian. I had expectations of a crowded buffet with flavor similar to that of Golden Coral. I was pleasantly surprised to find the food at the buffet (Garden ... Read More
This was my first cruise and my partner's fourth cruise, but first on Norwegian. I had expectations of a crowded buffet with flavor similar to that of Golden Coral. I was pleasantly surprised to find the food at the buffet (Garden Cafe) as well as their main dining rooms (Taste and Manhattan Room) were excellent. Each day their food choices were new, everything was fresh and had great flavor. The entertainment on board was excellent. The cruise director was awesome and fostered an environment of fun and relaxation. The room was clean, well laid out and well decorated. The fitness center had so much equipment and the view was amazing! The shows on board were excellent, they offered a circus, a musical, a comedy magic show, a ballroom dance performance, dueling pianos and many many more live options. The itinerary included, Naples, Rome, Pisa, Cannes and Palma Majorca and Barcelona as well as one sea day. Honestly, the sea day was one of my favorite days because we had so much fun on board the ship. The only areas were I would offer some ideas to improve are: 1) a bigger pool. The Epic has three water slides which were really fun, but the pools on board a smaller. 2) I wish there had been clearer instructions on how far the ports were from the train stations and transportation if guests were not participating in excursions. I give Norwegian's staff 5/5 stars, the food 5/5, and the entertainment 5/5. Really excellent trip. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We were encouraged to accompany a friend on the cruise--a milestone birthday celebration. And one member in our party also ran into a former work colleague. As such, we always enjoyed great company during our cruise, falling into a regular ... Read More
We were encouraged to accompany a friend on the cruise--a milestone birthday celebration. And one member in our party also ran into a former work colleague. As such, we always enjoyed great company during our cruise, falling into a regular schedule to meet for meals, sunbathing, happy hours, and evening entertainment. Having previously cruised on other lines, we really enjoyed NCL's variety of meals (package-deal buffets, readily available thru the day, package-deal restaurants, etc.) and especially the flexible timing for dining (no assigned "early vs. late" shifts). We also opted for the drink package, again enjoying the variety offered (especially as the rougher Nor'easter seas nixed our island stop and delayed our Nassau day-in-port). As such, the variety of beverages and locations of bars made our days at sea quite relaxing. Speaking of the drink package, we found our mixologist, Vladimir, to be a most cordial and talented server thruout the cruise. Also adding entertainment to our review, guitarist/vocalist Ben was a nightly treat for us (especially his tributes to Tom Petty and the Rolling Stones). I regret I didn't get the names of our servers in that centrally-located bar, but they also were first-rate, especially in so promptly serving the many patrons who likewise were there for Ben's sets. And per the reports it spawned, the ship's Captain and crew are to be highly commended for their handling of the final evening's challenging recovery at sea. In short, we definitely recommend NCL and look forward to return cruises with the line, thanks. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We spent 4 days in Barcelona before joining the ship. Enjoyed the city tremendously. We wanted to do a Transatlantic cruise and I loved the cruising and the long days at sea. Fabulous time meeting new folks and would absolutely do the ... Read More
We spent 4 days in Barcelona before joining the ship. Enjoyed the city tremendously. We wanted to do a Transatlantic cruise and I loved the cruising and the long days at sea. Fabulous time meeting new folks and would absolutely do the TA cruise again. Malaga was amazing! Although the Azores wasn't on the original itinerary, I really enjoyed the stop there. We planned nothing until we got to ports and really found some great activities and had some new adventures. There were over 4000 people on this cruise and I think the crew did their very best to accommodate everyone however, the food was often cold and it was very crowded in the dining areas, so if your food was hot when you got it by the time you found a seat to sit at your food was cold. The track is on Deck 7. Only on one side of the ship. It was crowded, small, smelly and hot. I was on the Norwegian Sun this summer and the track went around the entire deck of the ship, it was cold, rainy and windy on the Alaskan cruise and walking around that track was preferable to this one. The Debarkation was awful. We were in line to leave at 7:30 and didn't leave the ship until 9am. We were sent to start a new line and waited there for over an hour - I have never seen such a clusterf*ck like this before. I also asked for some water and got a deer in the headlights look. Finally persuaded someone to get a cup for me. They were serving coffee but it was as if it was too much trouble to get water!! Apparently, once the magic time to get off the ship comes, the customer service is gone. I saw people from our ship still commenting hours after they were suppose to get off. Many of our friends missed their planes. The entertainment and shows were wonderful. I was amazed at the number of things to do on this ship and was never bored. If people were bored on this ship they were not looking for things to do. However, they need to change the way people sign up for events. We were often told things were sold out but when we got there to go standby there was always room. Way to many people sign up for things and then don't show up. Change the system to fix it. The IConcierge app needs some work but it was great to have. My friends and I use the messaging part and love being able to find our family and friends anytime we were looking for them. Only had trouble with one bartender he usually worked the Atrium bar and if he had his favorite customers there who were tipping cash to get his attention he couldn’t see you! Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We chose this ship for the itinerary. We were pleasantly surprised by all the amenities and activities on board. The cruise director was awesome and he deserves due credit. I hope the next time we cruise, Scott is our cruise director ... Read More
We chose this ship for the itinerary. We were pleasantly surprised by all the amenities and activities on board. The cruise director was awesome and he deserves due credit. I hope the next time we cruise, Scott is our cruise director again. He was amazing. So glad that NCL kept the LGBTQ+ community in mind and made sure we were included. Everything worked, and the crew couldn't have been nicer. The dining was good and great selection of food. Service was acceptable, although the buffet seems chaotic in the mornings and some people should not have been on board the way they were coughing. We ended up with a cold but not until after we departed and our last day in Barcelona so at least we held out well until then. A great time meeting new friends. Cannot wait to go on another one. The ship is massive but managed to feel cozy. Wish we could have went around one more time. We definitely would go again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
The Haven is spectacular. It really is a place away from the ship's crowds and din. They immediately remember you name and preferences, the concierge was super attentive to us and our children, escorted us directly out and onto our ... Read More
The Haven is spectacular. It really is a place away from the ship's crowds and din. They immediately remember you name and preferences, the concierge was super attentive to us and our children, escorted us directly out and onto our various tour buses when needed. Made endless changes to our dinner and show reservations without a single mishap, and fixed anything that was wrong. The Epic restaurant in the Haven is the best one on the ship. (We tried four of the specialty restaurants, the best was probably Le Bistro but still not as good as Epic restaurant in the Haven). Plus in the Haven you had a super formal setting but you didn't have to dress up--come as you are and the food really was outstanding. We additionally ate at the buffet a couple of times with a friend not traveling in Haven: it was just plain gross compared to the Haven in truth. Our Butler Maria is outstanding, and the bartender in Haven club never missed a beat. In fact when we were elsewhere on the ship as well and showed our Haven card our service was stepped up a notch. It really is noticeable. Yes, you have to tip your concierge and your butler and bartenders. But they make a big difference on your trip and work diligently the whole cruise. We will travel again on Norwegian, but only in the Haven. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
My husband and I decided that we wanted to take a cruise this year to celebrate my 50th birthday. We found a small gay group online that had this ship and itinerary and this being our first cruise, we thought it would be better to go with ... Read More
My husband and I decided that we wanted to take a cruise this year to celebrate my 50th birthday. We found a small gay group online that had this ship and itinerary and this being our first cruise, we thought it would be better to go with a group of people that while we did not know, we would be familiar with. We initially were in a mini suite with balcony, but about 45 days before departure, received an email to bid for an upgrade. As this was a big birthday, we decided to bid and bid on 3 rooms, aft penthouse suite, deluxe owner's suite and spa suite. While I won't tell you the amount of the bids, we bid in the lower part of the suggested bid pricing. To our amazement, we got the owner's suite! The final cost was approximately twice what our original cabin cost was. As I am a total nerd, I read this forum and others to find out about Norwegian as well as the ship. I admit at first I was a bit concerned because of quite a bit of negative reviews and feedback about this ship, food, staffing, etc. I will tell you about our experience from the moment we arrived at the docks in Barcelona: Firstly, since we were in the Haven, we went through security along with all of the passengers, but it was quick and did not take much time. We arrived at about 11:45am so there were quite a lot of people embarking. Once we were through security, we presented our confirmation slips and were escorted right to the Haven check-in. I should go back a few days; we were called by the concierge desk at Norwegian as we were headed to the airport. We spoke with a lovely agent who asked us what type of pillows we would like (firm, soft, temp control, down, etc), then asked what type of liquor we would like (we got 3 complimentary bottles of our choosing), as well as what type of snacks we would like when we arrived. Such a pleasant surprise. Once we were checked in (there was no one in front of us), we were escorted to a holding room for less than 5 minutes before we were taken aboard the ship. We were taken to a priority elevator and went right up to the 16th floor. We went into the Epic Lounge for a few moments before then getting a tour of the Haven and all of the amenities, private pool & decks, bars, restaurant, gym, etc. We then had lunch in the Epic Dining Room. We simply presented our room keys and everything was taken care of. Our first meat was quite impressive, as was the service and the room was very elegant. After lunch we were taken to our stateroom. What an impresson! We were in 17004 and it was literally at the top front of the ship with a double balcony on the side. I am uploading photos and will provide a link once done. We met our butler, Maria and cabin steward, Michael and both were pleasant and gracious. As this was our first cruise, I can say we set the bar very high! We had more storage than even we could use (and we packed heavy because we believe in dressing appropriately for dinners out and evening wear). Since there were hardly anyone else on the ship at this point, we explored it with hardly seeing anyone. There are other forums here to see about the shops, pool, etc, so I won't go into much detail. As far as food, we ate most of our meals in the Epic Dining Room. The service and food quality was absolutely top notch and we found it to be the best on the ship. We did eat at Cagney's Steakhouse and had a very good meat there. We also ate at the French bistro and it was just ok. We ate at the Teppenyaki room once also and again, just ok. We found the boat was crowded outside of the Haven, but not too crushing. We did not eat at any buffets (just not our thing), but heard some stories that would not encourage us to try them. We did have a group dinner in the Manhattan Room one night and it was not nearly as good as the Haven, both from a food quality as well as service perspective. We had fun in the Casino and won a slot tourney! We went to Burn the Floor and it was outstanding! Honestly, with the shore excursions and fun we met with new friends we did not have enough time to do everything that was offered! Our concierge had no problem getting us seats in any restaurant or show that we wanted to go to. We also did take advantage of priority embark/disembark on and off the ship. Big plus! Also found that our key card could call an elevator and give us priority to our floor (we opted to wait with others using the elevator as we found once we used our card, the other floors were removed) kinda cool though in a rockstar kinda way. The Haven bartenders on the top deck, Andy & Nelson were awesome! Knew our names day one (as did almost all of the staff) and remembered our drink preferences as soon as we arrived and kept the glasses full the entire time. Also passed out fresh fruit skewers and would spray us with water while laying on the sunbeds. Sweet! The Haven never felt crowded or full at all and contrary to other reviews, children were not a problem and for the most part well behaved the entire time. We had breakfast in our cabin on days with shore excursions (we did these privately, not through the ship) and ordered from the Epic dining room menu (except one day) and it was perfect to eat while getting up early and ready to start the day. We did order pizza one night after the club and that was yummy too. Our butler,Maria was awesome! On the first day she asked us our preferences for mid day and evening appetizers and we requested: fresh brewed iced tea with lemon cheese and sausage fruit M&M's from that day on, we had these (and usually 2-3 other things) waiting for us when we came back to the room. We also had guests over to our room a few nights and Maria brought us additional passed snacks, additional ice, glassware and whatever else we needed. This has compared with some of the best hotels we have stayed in from a service perspective. Also, the room was cleaned spotless twice a day. We tipped Maria, Michael and Andy and Nelson on day one ($40 and $20 each), then another $80 for Maria and Michael and $20 each for Andy and Nelson on the last day. Also $60 for the concierge. The service was flawless. We had a great time overall and the Epic was truly Epic in many ways. Our Haven experience made all the difference and we have already booked a trip on the new Bliss for next year and will only travel Haven from now on. We work hard in our careers and have no problem paying a bit extra for the enhanced service and food. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
I just loved my cruise, always so many people that are negative, but I had a great time onboard. And the ports on this is just so interesting.. We had booked excursions in almost every port, and they wore great.. the only thing that was a ... Read More
I just loved my cruise, always so many people that are negative, but I had a great time onboard. And the ports on this is just so interesting.. We had booked excursions in almost every port, and they wore great.. the only thing that was a little down, was the queueing to get the sticker, but as soon as you got that, it took no time to get out of the ship and to the waiting bus. The food was good, and I did like the Manhattan room best for dinner, I dont like the atmosphere at Taste. The noodle bare is also very good for a quick bite, and I love the Italian.. the view from there is so nice. I did found th staff to be very nice, just talk to them and be like a normal person, and they will smile and give you super service, ( I always see so many demanding and rude persons, and if you are one you dont deserve good service) Entertainmetn onboard was sooo good, I love Pricilla, and I saw that 3 times, it is way better onboard that on Westend. Burn the floor is amazing as well, the dancers wore fantastic. waites I always got bar service quick and waiters was around always to serve you drinks. This was my second time on the Epic, I like this ship, and I cant wait to go bat on the TA in November. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We ate at cuchina, Cagney's, and La Moderno. Great service at these restaurants, coffee was amazing at La Moderno. Food and service at Taste was excellent. Ate most of our lunch and breakfast meals at The Garden Café. View was ... Read More
We ate at cuchina, Cagney's, and La Moderno. Great service at these restaurants, coffee was amazing at La Moderno. Food and service at Taste was excellent. Ate most of our lunch and breakfast meals at The Garden Café. View was great, food was good. Embarcation was nightmarish. Not the fault of NCL but started us off on poor footing. It took an hour and a half to get from our hotel in cocoa Beach to the Epic. The embarcation procedure following that made us feel like we were cattle being herded into the corral. Was not impressed with the 50-100 people who were ushered in front of us because they had a Casino pkg. NCL should've had a separate check in for them instead of having them cut in front of us, pushing our wait time to 45 minutes just to get our key card. Again, not a great beginning. The entertainment was excellent. We saw circus dreams on the first night, it was pretty good. Saw the Priscilla, Queen of the desert Broadway show. It was amazing!! Also saw Burn the Floor, it wasn't bad. Quick note on circus dreams, do not bother paying for the premium ticket as they let premium and standard ticket holders sit wherever they want. Excursions were very good. Took a simple beach excursion for Tortola. It was perfect. Second excursion, we went snorkelling on the catamaran called castaway girl. Again excellent excursion, we were well taken care of. My only regret is it was such a short time in the water to go snorkelling . But aside from that, excellent! The last excursion was great Stirrup Caye. Wow!!! What a great excursion! Ship set up: was a little confusing. We were never sure when we got off the elevator whether to go to the left or to the right. Would've liked to have had a map of the ship, this would've helped out a lot. Social: the people we met on this trip were some of the nicest people I've ever met in my life. They made it fun, everyone was friendly, met lots of people, did a lot of talking. Overall this was an excellent cruise. Thank you to all the NCL folk who put it all together. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Pleased to report the NCL Epic is still my favorite NCL ship. The refurb looks great. This was my fourth Epic TA cruise, sailing in Haven - 16016, a 2 bedroom, 2 bath suite. This was a 13-night trip. I was traveling solo with a ... Read More
Pleased to report the NCL Epic is still my favorite NCL ship. The refurb looks great. This was my fourth Epic TA cruise, sailing in Haven - 16016, a 2 bedroom, 2 bath suite. This was a 13-night trip. I was traveling solo with a roommate, and part of a larger group of friends. Embarcation in Barcelona was a breeze. Disembarcation in Port Canaveral was disorganized and chaotic. Even the port ride\bus pickup area was a crap shoot of disorder. The suite was very comfortable with room to spare. The balcony was compatible to other cabins on the ship - with 2 chairs and a small table. Haven offers a room steward, a room butler, and a concierge. All were pleasant, attentive, and approachable. The Epic Haven excels from the other NCL Haven spaces. Epic offers a large and proper cocktail lounge, a large dining room, a casual snake area and bar, a wonderful gym, sauna and stream room area. There are 2 hot tubes and a pool If you never want to leave Epic Haven, you would be in a good place. On this trip, there were 2 families with 3 children in the Haven. All children were very well behaved and traveling with parents who were on the ball. Kudos to them for a job well done. As a passenger in Haven, the POSH sun deck is also available. Posh offers lounge chairs and tables on 2 decks (18 and 19) with a full bar, I did eat breakfast in the Haven dining room every day, as well as several lunches and a few dinners. The dining room staff was perfectly friendly and attentive. The lounge bartender, Diego, was a pure joy, a mixologist supreme. I did eat Cagney's several times and found the service good but inconsistent. The staff\kitchen could not seem to delivery main entries with the sides. This was a problem whether it was a table of 3 or a large group (22 people). Epic needs to address this. Moderno only once (it never was my favorite), La Cucina, 3 times and loved it each time. Taste for lunch twice, and snaked in the Garden Cafe (which I have always enjoyed). Prisilla, Queen of the Desert show was a great time. The cast and crew pulled it all out. I repeated this show 2 more times. The audience really enjoyed the performances laughing and applauding throughout the show. Barricade Boys featured 4 singers who sing popular songs and was enjoyable. Burn the Floor is a not to miss and is my favorite show on any ship. Epic does have a wonderful spa and gym area (deck 14). We took the bus tour in Tenerife which was fun as we were with our larger group. In San Juan PR we walked around Old San Juan on our own eating lunch in a local restaurant. The weather on the TA was great, not too hot nor too cool. We did have 1 rainy day which allowed us to play Monopoly. NCL Epic, as on many lines, offers a daily Friends of Dorothy cocktail "meeting" which were all very well attended. The meetings started in the Shakers lounge which was too small for the turnout and demand. Due to the overwhelming demand, the ship relocated the meetings to the Bliss lounge. This was very much appreciated. Epic is a great time. I recommend a sail on her. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
My wife spotted this deal on one of the major cruise TV shows and the price was good considering it included flights and transfers, but what really swung it was the inclusion of NCL's extremely expensive Ultimate Beverage Package as a ... Read More
My wife spotted this deal on one of the major cruise TV shows and the price was good considering it included flights and transfers, but what really swung it was the inclusion of NCL's extremely expensive Ultimate Beverage Package as a freebie. We ended up as a party of seven, My wife, daughter, daughter - in - law and myself had all cruised with NCL previously. My mother - in - law and her husband had cruised before but not with NCL and my mother was a first time cruiser. Between us we had a range of staterooms from an inside through a solo cabin and up to a couple of balcony cabins. The layout of the cabins took some getting used to with the toilet, the shower and the sink not being closed off in a separate bathroom. It quickly became obvious why NCL had done this as it gave the staterooms a feeling of having more space. As usual the staterooms were kept clean and supplied constantly with coffee etc. My daughter is still mystified as to why NCL do not supply a coffee maker in the Inside staterooms. My wife and I were equally mystified as to why there were no dressing gowns in the balcony staterooms, as they had been supplied last year in our balcony stateroom on The Gem. The solo cabin and facilities that come with it are excellent, and my mother didn't have to far for her morning fix of coffee. Overall everyone was very pleased with the staterooms. The Epic is huge, although in Barcelona it was dwarfed by RCL's Harmony of the Seas which was moored next to us at the pier. Having previously cruised on the Gem (twice) and Fred Olsens Braemar, which has less than 1000 passengers, we were all a bit worried that the Epic might be too big. This was not the case, in the end you could've been on any of NCL's ships just with a few extras, like the Ice Bar and Spice H2O thrown in. Dining as usual on NCL was very good. We only dined once in the Manhattan Restaurant but considering we were a table of seven the whole thing was handled and timed really well and the food was good. My wife and others also dined in Taste which they said was also very good. The main dining option for the rest was the Garden Buffet which has some really great food and so many options. For all the excellence of the dining, it was this that also led to a couple of disappointments, the first was a late night meal at O'Sheehans which was poor and the other was the new practice of charging for certain items in the main complimentary restaurants. I was looking forward to the Surf and Turf until one of our party noted that this would actually cost me around $25, this was the same for another couple of dishes, mostly involving Lobster from Maine. My advice to NCL is to either source your lobster from Europe (on this particular cruise) or don't have the dish on the menu in the complimentary dining options. We were entertained very well. The main show on the cruise was a very professional and very good Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. My mother also took in the Cirque Dreams show which she said was amazing but again let down by poor food, which considering the whole thing came to around $30 is a bit much. The quizzes and general entertainment such as parties was great and well done. The bars on board were as usual very well staffed and run. The itinerary was good, the trouble is if you wanted a full day anywhere it meant getting up extremely early, something I try to avoid when on holiday. As slightly more experienced cruisers we decided to DIY most of the ports as yet again NCL's excursions were extremely pricey. In Naples we went to Pompeii we hired a taxi at the port, this took us to Pompeii, waited 3 hours, visited a very nice Limoncello emporium then gave us a tour around the back streets of Naples for about 30 Euros and we paid 12 Euros entry to Pompeii. For Rome we jumped o the free shuttle to the port gates, the 2 Euros for a bus to Civitavecchia rail station. There we bought a return ticket and a ticket for a Hop on Hop off tourist bus in Rome. We saw everything we wanted for 47 euros each. In Livorno we hired a minibus at the dockside to take us to Pisa and wait a couple of hours. We didn't feel we had time to do Florence although there were drivers prepared to do both Pisa and Florence and wait in both places for 400 euros, which for the seven of us would have been about 58 euros each. Cannes and Marseille were just a couple of hours ashore, although in Marseille we had to catch the NCL shuttle at $15 each return. Embarkation was quick and easy with no distinction made between latitudes members and non members. Disembarkation was different as somebody accidentally took one of our bags and left there own. NCL were brilliant, they tracked down the person and bag at the airport and by the time we arrived on our shuttle our bag was waiting for us. Overall impressions. Well the cruise would have got 5 stars if it wasn't for NCL trying to squeeze more and more money from people. Charging for food in the complimentary restaurants, charging for most room service, the Ultimate Beverage Package does not cover all beverages only those to a value of $15 and there were quite a few drinks that were over that value, OK I got it free but if I'd paid £440 for it I'd have been pretty narked and lastly the cost of the excursions was almost prohibitive. On the plus side the service, stateroom, entertainment and most of the food was excellent, the itinerary is also good but personally I'd maybe cut one stop out and add an extra sea day. Would I go on this cruise again. Yes. Would I sail with NCL again Yes they're my favourite cruise line, but they can stop trying to squeeze money from me. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
All in all for the price the cruise was really good! I didn't pay too much at all so the things that might have bothered me otherwise didn't. I was in the Solo Cabin so I also believe my experience was different from the non ... Read More
All in all for the price the cruise was really good! I didn't pay too much at all so the things that might have bothered me otherwise didn't. I was in the Solo Cabin so I also believe my experience was different from the non solo. The biggest issue I have is with the men in the solo cabins (not all!) but a lot of them seem to be on the cruise for one reason and many of the ladies in the solo cabins felt it and when I polled them they said they would not do the solo cruise again because of this reason. Norwegian can't really control that. The food in the specialty dining was amazing! But the service was quite slow. The food in the buffet was great but I didn't like the pizza at all. Horrible. I loved the smoked salmon and capers for breakfast. Yummy!!! All the staff were really friendly and helpful except for just one or two. Embarkment is a mess. I didn't like that process what so ever. They also don't warn you that you will have to do a safety drill in the afternoon after boarding in Barcelona. Flying from the USA I had not been to sleep and wanted to nap. It was not a great experience. The drinks are amazing!! The espresso martini in the martini bar is DY-NO-MITE!! I had about 10 lol. The bushwacker is also amazing!!! All drinks were really good and not watered down at ALL so beware lol The ship is noisier than I expected. Most mornings around 7am have announcements. I didn't sleep in once. The pools are small and filled with kids. Even the pool on the H2o adult spice area is tiny and people stated it was hot like bath water. I WILL DO THIS AGAIN!!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Mine and my cousins first time cruising! We flew from Birmingham to Barcelona (a city we have had the pleasure of a 3 day city break so didn't explore further, we wanted to see our Epic ship!) on Ryanair- not an ounce of ... Read More
Mine and my cousins first time cruising! We flew from Birmingham to Barcelona (a city we have had the pleasure of a 3 day city break so didn't explore further, we wanted to see our Epic ship!) on Ryanair- not an ounce of turbulence and plenty of leg room!- We arrived at the airport and was kept waiting for our cruise rep who arrived after 30 minutes, we were unfortunately kept waiting a further 1 hour for our coach which was running late and was then a further 2 hours till we arrived at the port waiting for other passengers at other terminals due to delayed flights. When we arrived we were greeted with a mass of people in a modern style airport hanger being divided up into number groups to be called up to queue at our allocated reception (we found a pop up bar type thing and got a Pepsi and a pastry and was promptly called) a further 20 minutes queuing and we were greeted by a friendly polite lady who explained embarkation, took photos, wanted credit card details and gave us our on board cards etc to us novice cruisers. At last we were on the ship!!! It was worth the wait! excitement overload, walking up the gantry being greeted by friendly crew checking our cards and scanning hand luggage (for security) and pointed to the correct lift, blue side and red side! The Cabin!!! Fab-u-lous. up there with the loveliest hotel rooms iv stayed in around the world, dark wood, nice shower with shampoo conditioner and shower gel, pleasant toilet (similar to airplane toilet-same suction so a loud noise when you flush), a curtain dividing sleeping area and bathroom area ( i can understand some people moaning but wasn't an issue for us, your sharing a room with someone for a week there isn't much your going to be able to keep private and modest!! get over it!!) the sink area kitted out in hand wash soap and hand cream, over head mirrored cabinet, a big plastic bin which i thought was the sick bucket but my cousin later pointed out was the used towel bin lol! tea coffee making facilities (get used to UHT cream as they cant keep milk fresh on a ship, not going to taste like your moms brew, so get over it and no biscuits) large dressing table with mirror lighting and leather stool with hairdryer, an absolute pleasure to get ready every night, large sofa, safe, storage ,wardrobes, loads of hangers and storage for your suitcases with life jackets and pool towels provided. The balcony was my only moan it was bland and dirty and your over looked, my concerns were proved right. People on the above decks were smoking and flicking there buts over their balcony the buts falling short and landing on our balcony, im not anti smoking and miss smoking in pubs my gripe is put a cover over the balcony then if someones sick or chucks something over board it wont fall short land on our balcony? or common sense dont throw stuff over the balcony! Room attendant!!! Mohammed, he was soooo cute friendly and appeasing, there is a note pad and pen provided and i asked him 2 things in a week, please keep us stocked of tea coffee milk and sugar and clean our balcony of tissue bird muck and fag ends to which he did -hassle free. Legend!!! he made the cabin up and did our turn down service. Public areas!! spotless, casino, restaurants, bars, pool, spa, toilets, shops, theater, cirque tent, corridors and the viewing deck all easy to find and move around baring in mind there were 6000 souls on board to capacity. Restaurants!! did not have a bad meal, i suffer with IBS and iv never felt better, hand sanitiser provided everywhere, i recommend everywhere to eat particular the Manhattan for steak. Never queued, never waited for a table but then again never ate later than 8.30, people seemed to queue from 9pm on wards. Entertainment!! Made the holiday, first class Broadway shows with Burn the floor and Priscilla queen of the desert- you were warned 4 times before show there's swearing and adult content so was annoyed at family's getting up 10 mins into show dragging kids out in disgust, no sympathy your own fault leave the adults to enjoy the show thank you. Howl at the moon and the Soul Sensations were the best for music not to mention the Beatles tribute in the freezing cold cavern club- aircon to cold, take a cardi or jumper- there was something different every night so you wont be board, just plan you meal times around your entertainment that way you'll avoid queuing and sit where you want on both accounts. The pool!! Adults only pool small but i just wanted a dip to cool off, too small to swim and kids area i have no idea about, i dont have children and dont want to hear or see them on holiday so stayed in the adults only section more peaceful and relaxed to what looked like mayhem walking through the kids pools to the restaurants lol! the open air cinema is in the adults only section so that was nice being shown different cities on the screen whilst relaxing and also watched the Euro's live-great atmosphere! if you didn't like football it was tough. Activities and excursions!! never took part in any activities- if i wasn't off the ship discovering new places i was on a sun lounger or in the spa but that's my holiday. your given a new itinerary every night for the following day with a full list of on shore or on board activities starting with yoga at 6am every day. the "treble is the new double" proper Malibu and Pepsi put paid to any rising before 9.30am apart from Rome day. We visited Naples, Rome, Florence, Cannes and Marseilles all very stunning and beautiful. Cannes i shall be re visiting again. simply divine. Summary!! It is an American ship "Vegas on water" is how we described it. the currency on board is US dollars and predominantly American passengers. No one told us and we took euros to which NCL wanted 9 euro with every transaction for not paying in dollars so was forced to hand over a credit card to pay for on board shopping, shows, spa treatments, room service and supplemented food and drink. they charge you 27 dollars per cabin a day service charge but if your like me and prefer to tip as you go ask for a form and it will get deducted that saves you 170 dollars a week before you've started. You get a 9.30 Ding Dong from cruise director Monica every day and the odd message from the captain- very HI-DE-HI! 24 hour English film channel sports channel and news channel. on board medical center and guest services so always somewhere to go for help. Would definitely go in the ship gain and recommend for a first time cruise!! Elemis Spa ans would recommend........ if you've booked have a fab time!! and if you haven't....why not??? Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We had a blast, 4 professional women. Everything , the food, staff, venues were awesome, the staff was very attentive, the ship was clean. Our room was great. Used the Spa everyday, had private tours on shore. Our entertainment for ... Read More
We had a blast, 4 professional women. Everything , the food, staff, venues were awesome, the staff was very attentive, the ship was clean. Our room was great. Used the Spa everyday, had private tours on shore. Our entertainment for the week was the rude , loud, pushy Chinese tourists. They knew no boundaries and had no manners. A well documented phenomenon . All in all we had a spectacular week on the Epic and can't wait to go again. I would recommend private tours with small groups on shore, other wise you are on the big buses . We had the dining and spa packages, well worth it. The one thing I would change is : they need to have bottled water readily available. I ended up drinking tap water when I was thirsty. There were no clocks ( like Vegas), Phone service was poor, non existent , the only time we had wi fi was in our tour van. This was after purchasing the A TT plan and smart phone app. We loved this cruise and we had such an awesome time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Is not just a metaphor is a reality. I just come back from a 17 days “back to back” cruise on Norwegian EPIC and I realised, once again, that EPIC and in general Norwegian Cruise Line is like marmite for breakfast: you love it or ... Read More
Is not just a metaphor is a reality. I just come back from a 17 days “back to back” cruise on Norwegian EPIC and I realised, once again, that EPIC and in general Norwegian Cruise Line is like marmite for breakfast: you love it or you hate it! Norwegian Epic is big, brassy, bold …and I love it! But let’s take it step by step We had a Haven 2 bedroom Villa – cabin 17024. Whoever had the idea of building The Haven deserves a big hug! The Haven complex, the largest "ship-within-a-ship”, nestles atop the ship on Decks 16 and 17, the space also includes a private pool, two whirlpools, a gym, sun deck and the posh Epic Club restaurant. The 60 accommodations include 46 Family Villas, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and separate living and dining areas (up to 506 square feet); eight Deluxe Owner's Suites, with king-size beds, floor-to-ceiling windows and his-and-her powder areas (up to 852 square feet); and six Courtyard Penthouses, with queen-size beds, separate living and dining areas and a luxury bath (up to 322 square feet). When we board the ship EPIC just got a make-over in the dry dock of Cadiz. Not a 100% successful one but you can feel it all around the ship. The Concierge area, Epic Lounge and Epic Club lost their heavy kitschy, purple velvety ambiance and now look modern and fresh with an understated elegance. Even the room had been touched by this changes and looks more elegant and modern. Of course the only slip on-board Norwegian Epic is the attention to details: a vanity mirror disconnected and left on the table with the cable hanging next to a hole in the vanity table, a smoke detector (safety please!) covered with tapes due to the loss of some screws to fix it on the ceiling, couple of doors not properly fixed and making a constant subliminal noise when the ship was moving. But at the end of the day the “little” Villa is a lovely space to spend your vacation and I love it The only thumb’s-down for our cabin was the location: 17 Deck just opposite the Crew Access Door. A lot of banging and noise even if we mentioned that to our concierge. But as the noise was mainly in the spare room used during the voyage only as a laptop and storage room we survived 17 day with no problems. The service in Haven is exactly what you expect from a Premium Cabin; an excellent butler and steward, always there without being too much in to your face ready to assist with whatever you need: from laundry to organising a private party in your own private space. Lots of genuine smiles and polite conversation even if the guests in Haven are not all the time “Premium Guests” and the feeling of “new money-bad manners” is quite common on NCL. The Concierge, located in the heart of Haven assist us with everything we needed from bookings and cancellations of restaurants and land tours to dealing with day by day issues even if the results were not all the time the expected ones. Monica, our Concierge was great, especially when she was dealing with stupid requests from “posh guests” travelling with low-cost airlines The space in Haven is more than generous: a private gym and spa-like area with sauna, steam room and hot tubs, an elegant modern decorated lounge, a nice partially open terrace for lunch and snacks, the lovely elegant courtyard with a not too big not too small pool, a private sun deck and of course one of my favourite spots – The Posh Beach Club. Pity that due to complaints from guests on 17 Deck the bar was closing at 7.00PM, but we were located under the Posh Club and we understand perfectly why. Even if for the general concept of entertainment Epic got a massive thumb's up for this cruise I still need to give a thumb's down for the Cruise Director and his team. A massive obsession for line dancing: anywhere, everywhere, anytime and doesn’t matter the music! Same steps and same screaming with an Assistant Cruise Director desperate for a promotion. This “get involved” of animators not guests destroyed the genial idea of themed parties: White Hot, Night Out, Fabba. Instead of listen and dancing on ABBA music (great for the crowd on this cruise) we were locked as spectators on a boring amateur-ish dance routine. When finally the line dancing finished and we were ready to Fabba party the music change and the DJ returned to his normal playlist. Do something about that NCL: you have genial concepts but …explain the concept to cruise Director team…in details! Another thumb's down: SHORE EXCURSION Department. I am not a big fan of excursions booked on board and normally I want to organise my private exploration sessions. This time I put everything in the hands of Epic Shore Excursion Department. BIG MISTAKE ! The only few port-talks were boring and un-professional done, the logistic of each trips chaotic and the customer service of the ShoreEx Manager was … inexistent. When trying to give some feedback after one experience the answer was: “too busy to speak with guests” and 25% discount “if they are not happy”. And once again, our amazing concierge Monica has to deal with the rudeness of the ShoreEx Manager and cover the damage. Some training is needed in this Department for sure. In my opinion ‘freestyle’ matches the tastes of the modern passenger better than the traditional inflexible system: ‘two sittings’ for diner followed by a main show. However ‘freestyle’ is not perfect and restaurants can become crowded at peak times and queues can form. Ideally popular shows need to be booked and entertainment options can clash. Some traditionalists may simply not warm to ‘Freestyle’. Especially when you meet shorts during dinner, white socks in sandals or somebody taking his tie off after 5 minutes at Captain’s Cocktail Party. Epic has all the advantages and disadvantages of a big ship. For example the corridors are endless and the stair cases go on forever, so Epic may not be an ideal ship for those passengers with mobility problems. Epic can feel very busy at times and the pool deck was often crowded. So how to sum up a ship called Epic? She has her good sides, and she has her not-so-good sides and with upgrades to entertainment, activities, and the lovely haven, she'd probably have been met with near-universal praise aside from those little slips to Carnival’s style. I am not afraid to say that I like EPIC and I like NCL. The company is, in my mind, the most mainstream of today's cruise lines. I mean that in a good way. They're centrists, offering a huge swath of people a chance for a fun, social vacation at a decent price. Accessing some of Epic's better activities will require you to plan ahead, and in a few cases will cost extra. But you won't break the bank, and you sure will get a lot of wow for your pounds. I realised, once again, that EPIC and in general Norwegian Cruise Line is like marmite for breakfast: you love it or you hate it! Norwegian Epic is big, brassy, bold and ballsy…and I love it! So what about another cruise on board of Norwegian Epic?! Done….and booked for February 24 2016. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
About the Reviewer: I’m a 33 year old male who traveled with two friends I made on a previous cruise in the studios. This was also my 33rd cruise overall and my 21st Norwegian Cruise Line cruise. I’ve been on other lines including ... Read More
About the Reviewer: I’m a 33 year old male who traveled with two friends I made on a previous cruise in the studios. This was also my 33rd cruise overall and my 21st Norwegian Cruise Line cruise. I’ve been on other lines including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and twice on Carnival with my last cruise being on the Carnival Inspiration. I sailed on the Norwegian Epic in 2011. The Epic recently underwent an extensive refurbishment so some comparing may take place in the review from the way she was before to now. The following is a review surrounding the Norwegian Epic’s 10 day Canary Island itinerary which departed on November 29, 2015 from Barcelona, Spain and returned on December 9, 2015 and is done in the order of which the ports, entertainment and specialty restaurants were done. Pre-Cruise Stay: H10 Raco del Pi I arrived one day early and stayed at the H10 Raco del Pi. After a cab ride from the airport to the hotel, check-in was fast and efficient. I stayed on the first floor in an astoundingly spacious suite for the price paid. The room had a balcony which overlooked the street below and featured his and her sinks, Jacuzzi tub with shower and huge bathroom for European standards. Cost was $100 USD for the night. I was surprised by the size of the room for the price paid. Day 1 – Embarkation Day – Sunday, November 29, 2015 I shared a cab from the hotel to the pier and arrived shortly after noon for check-in. The check-in lines were split with new comers to the cruise line in one queue, lower tier Latitudes (past guests) in another queue, Gold and Platinum Latitudes in another queue, Casinos at Sea in another queue and lastly the Haven and Suites guests in the last queue at the end. There was no one in the queue for the Platinum Latitudes which I was so I got waited on very quickly but had to wait for my two friends who were in the much longer Bronze and Silver Latitudes line. Overall, everyone’s check in was fairly fast and smooth or so I thought. We headed up the gangway. On the way up cruise staff were by the escalators greeting us and welcoming us to the Epic for the week. When I boarded the ship and was to be swiped in, my photo and keycard were not working already! I couldn’t get swiped on and had to go to guest services immediately and get a replacement keycard. Since we were on our way to lunch at Taste Restaurant, this was on our way there. There was no line at guest relations and we were on our way in a jiffy to Taste for a cruise kick off lunch. I had a philly cheese steak without the bread. During our lunch which was no closer to 1:45 when we finished, the cabins were announced as ready. Cabin 11570 – Studio Cabin The Norwegian Epic was the first ship in the Norwegian fleet to have solo studio cabins. The original is always the best as the studio cabin featured four multi-lighting schemes over the block containing the sink and closets. Featuring the colors of white for day, blue for night, red for love and green for the sake of it, the color change feature is missing on the newer Breakaway class ships. As a 100 square foot room, if you know how to pack it right, you have plenty of space to move about. The room was well maintained and the bed was soft to sleep on. I would NOT recommend staying in this specific cabin if you’re a night owl as when the ship pulled into port you were vibrated out of bed and definitely awakened. As a side note, this room was not a connecting room so I could blast my music from a portable speaker as loud as I wanted to. The room was so far aft that it had its own separate entrance from the aft elevators with separate keycard access. Given the amount of vibration felt in the cabin during the morning hours, I will not pick this room again as I like to be up late. Touring the Ship After dropping off the carry-on bag, it was time to explore the ship and see what changes were in store. I was excited to see the newly re-done Bliss. Gone are the cages on the side of the stage where you could get in and dance if you wanted to. The color scheme was also brightened so it was not as dark as I remembered. The lights could be raised and lowered depending on what event was being held in there. The bowling alley was also removed in favor of more seating. The lighting refresh also included low to the ground tables by the ramps which had housed lamps. On a previous cruise a passenger tripped over the table and crushed the lamp. The tables are a huge trip hazard at the end of those ramps and should be removed. While I didn’t encounter any issues with them, several of the other passengers on the sailing did trip and end up with bruises on their shins and almost falling. It was mentioned to the cruise staff a few times during the nightclub hours but nothing ever came of it. Other areas of the ship changed but the most noticeable was the change at LaCuccina which was not open the first few days of the voyage as they had to finish up some of the tile work which was not done during the dry dock. The large tree and the Olive Garden décor was replaced with marble and a fountain sink in the middle of the floor to wash your hands. Moderno also had two sinks installed for handwashing during dry dock as it has the buffet. Carpeting was refreshed everywhere and you could tell by how plush it was and it was shedding in some places. The casino seemed a lot less smoky this cruise compared to the last time I sailed on the Epic. I don’t know if they added more air purifiers or what but they were always on, even when the casino was closed to help make sure the smell of smoke stayed in the casino only. The shops received a refurbishment as well and I would pass through the center shop every night heading from my aft cabin to Bliss Lounge forward. Ship Demographics It was noticeable early on in the cruise that there were several ethnicities on the ship as the announcements were coming in English, Spanish and German. The number one country represented was the UK followed by the US. Israel, Germany and Japan all rounded out the top five ethnicities on the ship. Why this was important is because the different cultures have a different way of doing things and putting them together meant some ruffled feathers amongst other passengers. There were also far less children on this sailing. The average age was much higher as well. The 10 day length probably helped that. Nightly in the studio lounge at 6PM is the solos meet and greet hosted by a cruise staff member. This weeks was hosted by William. Lots of people showed up and we met some new people. This cruise had a diverse set of solos ranging in age from 29 on up to late 70s. Most people were just looking for dinner companions and maybe people to share a game or two with. I had dinner companions already but we found a new one this night and would dine together and hang out together for the rest of the cruise. After the solos gathering, it was time for the Friends of Dorothy gathering or the GLBT gathering at the Shaker’s Martini Bar. This is nightly and unhosted from 7PM to 8PM. The first night’s turnout was amazing and so big in fact that we ended up taking over the whole bar seating area. There was a nice bar waiter from Argentina who took very good care of us during the cruise. SPECIALTY DINING: Shanghai Restaurant Our first dinner on the Epic was at the fairly new non-cover charge Asian restaurant. We ordered all the appetizers to share at a table of four of us. We had several of the main dish plates including the General Tsao’s chicken, sweet and sour chicken, veggie rice and some seafood dishes. Thereafter, it was late so I checked out Bliss Lounge for the first night’s social mixer and welcome aboard party. The opening hour of the nightclub featured beats by DJ Alegre who played some interesting mash ups and kept a constant beat going with awesome transitions. When the DJs switched, it was noticeable. I approached the DJ Alegre and told him that I appreciated the mixes and looked forward to hearing him more during the cruise. Sadly, the other DJ who was just hired and came from RCCL (can’t remember the guy’s name) sucked and killed the vibe so I cleared out by 1AM. Day 2 – Sea Day – Monday, November 30, 2015 I was up early and decided to head to the gym to catch the Fab Abs class at 7:30AM. It was tight but I made it and had a nice abs workout augmented by using some of the other resistance machines in the gym. I did a 1.5 hour workout. The gym was well appointed and all the equipment was in good working order. After grabbing breakfast at the buffet and dining outside in the windy and somewhat chilly Mediterranean air, it was time to freshen up for the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. Held at 11AM in Bliss due to the size of our Cruise Critic group, the officers stopped by and said hello. I saw some of the officers I recognized from previous sailings and talked with them briefly before the CC roll call leader did a raffle for answers to random roll call questions. It was very well done by the Group Service Coordinator on the ship. After the CC Meet and Greet, the group of us grabbed some lunch and visited the box office to fix the shows. We had pre-booked the shows before sailing but when we arrived we had discovered the show times were all changed and conflicted with dinner plans and other social events happening during the evening hours. After getting that straightened out, it was time for lunch in Taste before heading out for some cold sun and scoping out the top decks for the best place not to freeze to death. Tonight was Norwegian’s Night Out and after having dinner in the Manhattan dining room, it was time to go to Bliss Lounge. For the second night in a row, Bliss seemed to be stuck in a 70s / Latin circular setup with no changes to anything remotely close to Top 40. It was a complete buzz kill and I turned in early as I had to get up early for the next day’s tour. Day 3 – Tangier, Morocco – Tuesday, December 1, 2015 NCL Shore Excursion: Cap Spartel & Tetouan The full day tour started with a narrated bus ride to Cap Spartel for a brief stop for photos before heading to Tetouan. Unfortunately the guide failed to mention how far Tetouan was from the first stop resulting in several passengers needing to use a bathroom. The tour bus did not have a bathroom on it and passengers were in need. At one point the bus pulled over to let male passengers get out and pee on the side of the road. Classy with the rest of the bus looking on. Eventually there was a stop made at a restaurant for ladies to use the facilities. The tour continued into Tetouan and we arrived at the School of Traditional Arts and Crafts where artisans of all ages are making traditional handicrafts to be sold later. Across the street you enter old medina surrounded by a wall and several little streets within. A traditional Moroccan lunch was served in a restaurant which provided entertainment of a belly dancer, percussion band, string band and a fire dancer. On the way back to the ship, the driver let us all sleep and did not provide much narration. The cost of this tour raised since I booked it. It was a good tour but highly overpriced. Back on the ship, it was another dinner in the Manhattan room with great service followed by a short stint at karaoke before Bliss turned over to the nightclub. Tonight’s theme night in Bliss was the 50s and 60s Sock Hop Party. Unfortunately the party was only supposed to last 1 hour but carried on well past midnight so I went to bed at 1AM. Day 4 – Sea Day – Wednesday, December 2 Another early start to a relaxing day at sea. The weather had finally started to warm up a bit and since I was up early, I figured I would head to the Fab Abs class at 7:30AM. I made it up there with time to spare and when the stretch class ended, a group of people from the tour group went right in and ignored the line. I was forced to be outside the door due to the rudeness of these passengers. I was not happy but still managed to enjoy the workout anyway. Latitudes Perk: BEHIND-THE-SCENES TOUR: The rest of the morning was taking a behind the scenes tour for Platinum Latitudes members. The tour featured stops in the provisions, recycling, laundry and main dining room galley. This tour was the most informative tour I’ve taken in a while and went way beyond the time it was scheduled to because of it. George Kassis, the CruiseNext Manager, led the tour and explained what we were seeing along the way and how the crew lives. The provisions master explained how they stored the fruit for a 10 day cruise since the ship only provisions in Barcelona on such voyages. The head chef in the galley tour brought us to all the stations in the kitchen and explained how it worked for the menu preps. He was very thorough in his explanations and when I told him I loved strawberries, he arranged for me to get some whenever I dined in the main dining room (breakfast or dinner). It was very nice of him to do! On this sea day and every sea day that Moderno restaurant had a themed buffet lunch. Today’s theme was Mexican cuisine with burritos, rice, soup and salad offered. It was a nice buffet lunch! After a leisurely afternoon attempting to get some sun while not freezing in the crosswinds up on deck, it was time for an arranged birthday party in the studio lounge. Some of the solos on the Cruise Critic roll call arranged a birthday party for those who just had, were having or about to have birthdays! One person brought cards and had all the officers sign them at the Cruise Critic meet and greet earlier in the voyage so it was really personalized! What an awesome thing to do! Latitudes Perk: LATITUDES COCKTAIL PARTY: Held at 7PM in the Bliss Lounge this cruise it combined many of the latitude tiers because there were so few higher tier members on the ship. I was able to go with my friends who had not yet attained their Platinum status. We hung out at the bar and mingled with the cruise director and hotel director. Both of them were open and receptive to some suggested changes for Bliss and making the music a little more current. It was nice that they were listening and taking the comments to heart. Tonight’s dinner was in Taste Restaurant which ran really late. After it was over I checked out the FABBA party which ran from 10:30PM to 11:30PM before the rest of the night being the Glitter Ball 70s party. I went to bed early as I was feeling exhausted and the music was just more of the same in Bliss as it had been since embark night. Day 5 – Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands – Thursday, December 3 Today’s port call featured touring via the public transit system. My friends and I hopped city bus number 30 direct to Masoplomas in the southern part of Gran Canaria to see the beach, dunes and ride the camels. The bus pass cost $12.50 EU for the entire day with as many uses as you wanted. When we arrived in Masoplomas, there was a brief walk to the camel vendor. The camel ride was $12 EU per person. The camel ride lasted about 40 minutes and took you through the dunes. It was a nice jaunt and the camels were extremely photogenic. The guy leading the camels took pictures with people’s cameras if you asked which was nice of him. We had a brief lunch at a shopping mall close to the bus terminal and bought some souvenirs. We headed back to Gran Canaria and went into the supermarket inside the huge shopping mall right at the pier to get some goodies. Just a note during our bus ride at one of the stops, a pick pocketer tried to steal a tourist’s wallet. This guy happened to get caught doing it and the bus driver chased after him. It was an older gentleman with salt and pepper hair. Just be careful with your wallet at this stop. SPECIALTY RESTAURANT: Teppanyaki Tonight the solos went out to celebrate the birthday of William, the Cruise Staff overseeing the solos for the week. Teppanyaki is dinner cooked before your eyes with a show. The chef put on a show and did a great job. Unfortunately the waitress took forever to return with the dessert and the check. She pushed it so late that I barely made the show and had to stand in the back. EPIC Entertainment: OTHER GUYS: The late show was at 9:30PM and featured tunes from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The performance was great for standing room only audience and last approximately 45 minutes. I stayed the whole performance as it was enjoyable. They would play again at Headliners at other times during the cruise as well. After the show ended, I went up one deck to Bliss Nightclub for a 90s music hour with DJ Alegre. Thankfully tonight’s one hour of dance songs was amazing and I FINALLY got out on the dance floor. I was sure to thank Pedro, the Cruise Director and the Hotel Director for taking the disco out of the 70s it had been stuck in during the preceding nights of the cruise. It was a long day so I retired around 12:30A when the other DJ took over and threw us back into the same 70s and Latin music that was heard the other nights of the cruise. Day 6 – Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands – Friday, December 4 Today was another independent tour day which featured the Hop On, Hop Off Bus. The bus takes you around Tenerife with a narrated tour in different languages that you use ear buds for. It was cost effective and gave you history of the city while dropping you at different sites to visit. I enjoyed the large park. There was a large department store also during the route which had very reasonably priced souvenirs for sale. It was the perfect thing to do at your own pace. The problem was that the busses were crammed with people as there were three other large ships in port with us. Make sure you get off the ship early in this port to avoid lines for the bus. Cost was $18 EU. EPIC ENTERTAINMENT: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert What an amazing performance by the cast. Keeping the musical true to the actual movie, the show flowed seamlessly. A small technical glitch with the computer that ran the LED wall for visuals gave the audience a few moments pause between acts but the show went on with the same energy and vigor that was in the first half. The show features two drag queens and a transsexual who head on a bus to the center of Australia to perform with the lead character hiding the fact that he was married and had a kid waiting there. The show has some suggestive scenes and at times some raunchy language so it’s definitely not for the easily offended and not for children either. With that said, it was a perfect show for adults and it is very progressive of NCL to offer such a show at sea. I LOVED IT! I sat second row center for this performance and it was so good I had to go back again! SPECIALTY RESTAURANT: Le Bistro We were sat promptly at a window seat at 9PM for our reservation. This was the Latitudes perk dinner with some friends who also attended the show prior with me. I had escargot, the lamb and crème brulee. It was a nice dinner service. I tried another person’s scallops and they tasted horribly fishy like they had gone bad. It was the first time I had tasted bad food while at sea. Dinner service was great and attentive though and food was always hot and presented nicely. Tonight was 80s night at Bliss. I didn’t even bother going and just went back to the room and to bed. Day 7 – Funchal, Madeira, Portugal – Saturday, December 5 A Cruise Critic member organized a huge private tour group with David Madeira Taxi with four separate tour busses. The cost was $18 EU per person and featured all the major stops the ship tour was doing. If you wanted to do the cable car up to Monte it was additional and the toboggan ride back down was also additional but still far less than what the ship was offering. We drove all over the island to amazing heights and along the side of mountains. Since I have a fear of heights, my anxiety level was elevated the whole tour. The tour operator Sergio spoke perfect English and was very knowledgeable about the island, the places we were visiting and what was best in the short time we had at some of the stops. My favorite part was the little fishing village we stopped in. The tour was just over 5 hours long. SPECIALTY RESTAURANT: Moderno For $20 it’s an all you can eat meat fest! I love Moderno restaurant. The salad buffet has an extensive selection, not just of make your own salad but other salads as well. Picanha, garlic beef, filet mignon, chorizo are all my favorites and I had plenty of them while dining off to the side. In dry dock they did put handwashing sinks in this restaurant since it includes a buffet. Very neat but poorly used by the guests. We spent just about 2 hours in this restaurant eating. The papaya cream dessert is amazing too! Shout out to Melvyn, the restaurant manager, and the maître ‘d who got us attentive service so we could make the second show of… EPIC ENTERTAINMENT: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Yes, the girls and I went back to see the show again at 10PM. This time the show went straight through with no intermission and it was just amazing. It was the last show of the cruise for the Priscilla cast. They truly brought their A game after performing many times already in the week. It was hilariously enjoyable and I sat stage left in the third row back. Great sightlines no matter where you are in the theater. The tunes are catchy and it’s a toe tapping good time! Glad I got to check it out again and my friends tagged along as well. They were not intending on seeing it a second time but after the first time they wanted to as well! It was just THAT good! Tonight was Country Western Night in Bliss so after the show and stopping up briefly, the vibe wasn’t there so I took off to bed. Day 8 – Sea Day – Sunday, December 6 It was a quiet day at sea. Not too much was going on except getting some sun while bundled up to stay warm. It was chilly on the top deck with highs in the 60s in the sunlight without a cross wind, which there was one. The buffet lunch in Moderno was Mediterranean cuisine with an extensive selection of Spanish and Portuguese items available. After lunch it was back up to the sun deck for a little while longer before a disco nap. Dinner tonight was in the Manhattan dining room with service which was fast and efficient until dessert. I don’t know why when you ask for coffee and dessert, service seems to slow to a crawl. It happened every night coffee or tea was asked for. It made some of the people I dined with miss the show. EPIC ENTERTAINMENT: Burn the Floor I barely made it into the show. It was standing room only at the back. During the opening number, a female dancer missed her mark and fell. The audience gasped. She got up and continued as gracefully as she could. It set a bad tone for the entire production. I don’t know if it was the format of it but for burning the floor, the production lacked passion, fire and a desire to engage the guests. They had a high energy Burlesque number and it was so subdued it seemed tortured. I love the Burn the Floor production on the Norwegian Breakaway but this one was just awful. I stayed until the end hoping it would get better but it never did. When you have songs with a beat, it helps if the cast is actually bringing it. The group choreography was also off. Being up the back and in nose bleed gave me the vantage point to observe it all from a distance. The singers, who were from the Priscilla cast were great but the dancers and the routines need some help. Breakaway’s Burn the Floor production blows this one out of the water. EPIC ENTERTAINMENT: White Hot Party The White Hot Party kicked off with the obligatory line dance songs for the first hour and really rolled into a huge dance party with DJ Alegre taking over for after hours at 11:30PM. I stayed up much later than I had planned as the music was on point. It was the BEST night of the disco the whole trip second to the 90s night. DJ Alegre didn’t disappoint and I was happy the night stayed true the south Florida roots of the White Party from which it was based upon. Well done DJ Alegre. I stayed in the disco until 2AM, having wings afterward and being up late enough to catch the ship transiting the Strait of Gibraltar at 2:45AM. Day 9 – Malaga, Spain – Monday, December 7 After sleeping in most of the morning, it was time to get off the ship for a walking tour or so I thought. It turned out we were an hour off from when we thought to meet and didn’t make it. An alternative was the hop on, hop off bus around the town of Malaga. Once again the HOHO bus was on point with history lessons between the stops of what we were driving by and about the upcoming stop. For $21.50EU, it was a good deal for the day. Most of the stops worth seeing are coupled in the Eastern side of Malaga with the Western side being more for connecting to other methods of transportation. For lunch we dined at El Pimpi, a famous tapas restaurant in Malaga. Get there prior to 2PM as locals tend to queue up at that time to get a table. We sampled some of their signature wine along with some tapas. I got the pallela for lunch with calamari and clams. It tasted great and it was a great time to sit down and have an outside piazza style lunch. We walked all over the old town afterward before I headed back on the HOHO to other stops I missed. On Malaga beach there’s a sign that’s a good photo op. Back on the ship I got to enjoy a special dinner with my friends who I made during the Breakaway cruise the previous year. It was a great dinner arranged by Grace, the Hotel Directors Secretary and meant to be special. It’s not often that you can reconnect with people you’ve cruised with in the past. It rarely happens that schedules can come together like they did on this voyage. Thanks to Grace for the special evening and the Hotel Director for having her arrange it for us. EPIC ENTERTAINMENT: Four Stations The 9:30PM show in the theater featured four guys from four different cities in Spain. A tribute group to Il Divo largely but included some Spanish favorites and Spanish covers to other popular English songs. It was a good show. Keeping with the Latin theme, it was Latin night in Bliss. I was exhausted so I just went to bed. Day 10 - Sea Day – Tuesday, December 8 A leisurely day at sea meant having a leisurely breakfast in the Taste Restaurant. It was far too cold to be topside for sunning so after a nice breakfast in Taste, it was the future cruise presentation with some friends to try and plan a reunion cruise. Lunch was in the Moderno restaurant again with a Spanish style buffet featuring Spanish rice and salad bar. It was a very nice lunch. It was a quiet afternoon which became the evening and time to say goodbye. I missed the studio lounge solos gathering but my friends made it and got the contact info for me. It was the last night for the GLBT meeting as well so everyone was exchanging information to keep in touch. We dined in the Manhattan room one last time with some of the new solo guests we had befriended during the voyage. The dinner ran later than expected and then it was time to head to Bliss for one last night. DJ Alegre took over at 11:30PM and did a great job to close out the cruise. Day 11 – Barcelona, Spain – Wednesday, December 9 – Debarkation Since the ship vibration woke me up in every port of call, I felt our arrival shortly after 5AM local time. NCL was not joking around about getting the passengers off the ship either. I had breakfast in Taste Restaurant. Debarkation started with easy walk off very early on around 7AM and all passengers were off the ship by 10:30AM at the latest. We got off the ship around 9:30AM and they were calling all the passengers off shortly thereafter. It was a fast and efficient process. While NCL was offering a bus transfer for $30 USD per person to the airport, if you had friends going like I did, the $39 fare for a taxi was a much better deal being split 3 ways. NCL did offer varying departure time busses depending on when your flight out was. Debarkation was fast and efficient. It’s not a good cruise without the crew being there. It’s important to thank the good crew members in a review so they get the recognition they deserve. Some of these folks were given a Vacation Hero card on the ship as well. With that said, these crew members made the trip an amazing experience: Quimson Aquino, Bartender at Spice H2O and Bliss. Quimson recognized me and I him from the Norwegian Jewel which I sailed on quite a few times in 2010. George Kassis, the Cruise Next Manager for helping out with a special request and for an incredibly informative behind-the-scenes ship tour. He also provided the tape I needed to fix my luggage which was destroyed during embarkation. Grace, the Hotel Director’s Secretary for being available and making our reunion dinner one to truly cherish and remember. DJ Alegre for being a great DJ when he had the late night slot in Bliss. With two DJs you never know who had the late night slot but when DJ Alegre had it, he did a phenomenal job. Jaime on the Cruise Director’s staff for being a positive energy experience no matter where I saw her out and about on the ship. Melvyn Lobos, Restaurant Manager for helping get our dinner service going so we didn’t miss any shows and the Moderno restaurant manager (female – can’t remember the name) who really stepped up that night. A ship is only as good as her crew… by and large this crew was super friendly! Overall, this cruise was a good cruise. It wasn’t great for reasons stated already throughout the cruise but it wouldn’t stop me from sailing on the Norwegian Epic or Norwegian Cruise Line again. The warm welcome back by familiar faces is one driving factor which keeps me returning to NCL. The fellow passengers and their behavior was out of the control of the cruise line so I can’t fault them for it, however, it did annoy the heck out of me at points during the vacation. Priscilla is not to be missed and the cast members who were out and about in the ports were equally nice and friendly to talk to. The show is something truly progressive at sea and I’m happy NCL offers it. It’s my favorite production show now on NCL (replacing Elements). This itinerary was a cold weatherand it’s something I knew going in but it is not an itinerary I would likely repeat at the same time of the year. It was far too cold but warm service from the crew and staff helped to make it a good experience. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
My partner and I booked our 3rd Norwegian Cruise (but our first on the Epic) out of Barcelona in July 2015. I had heard about the EPIC since 2009 and was excited to be booked on that ship. Within minutes of stepping on board, we smelled ... Read More
My partner and I booked our 3rd Norwegian Cruise (but our first on the Epic) out of Barcelona in July 2015. I had heard about the EPIC since 2009 and was excited to be booked on that ship. Within minutes of stepping on board, we smelled the mustiness of the carpets and when we entered the EPIC Theatre, the smoke from the chairs and carpets grabbed us in the throat -- we never saw any full show in that theatre. The smell of smoke permeated much of the lower levels of the ship where the bars and restaurants were. We asked to move tables in TASTE restaurant due to the smoke smell. The ship needs a complete overhaul -- which I learned that it was getting in October. We are not big gamblers -- and unfortunately, smoke from the casino (on Deck 6 - midship -wafts everywhere on Decks 5,6, and 7 -- The rooms were clean, the service was great for the most part, the people were friendly. The food was very good, overall -- we ate our dinners in the Manhattan Room -- which was great. We only ate at the Buffet in the early mornings as we had 4 early morning excursions in a row -- the excursions were great. Go see Cirque dreams -- the show is AMAZING -- the meal is very good and the experience is worth the premium price. The entertainment shows were great -- we enjoyed the BEATLES show (twice) -- the venue is not great -- Fat Cats Lounge -- chairs are awkwardly arranged -- tables would be better -- but I understand why -- they need to get as many people in as possible. Most of the venues were "packed-in" -- when you have 4200 people on board -- you understand why. Dueling pianos was o.k., the magician was great -- very funny and skillful. The Graffiti Classics String Quartet Show was very entertaining. We did not see Burn the Floor -- we did not attend as it was in the EPIC Theatre -- in fact we only went in there one time for the Magician -- and my partner left due to the smoke. The bars looked great -- I didn't get a chance to go bowling -- but it's great you can do it. Overall -- there are a lot of shows -- something for everyone on the EPIC. We were disappointed with the pool -- very hard to swim in such a small pool -- and it was very busy -- we went in the early morning when we were at sea -- the time we did go. We used the SPA -- and enjoyed the whirl pool -- which was great -- I did talk to the attendant(s) about some "black guck" that I found in the whirl pool - I think it was a lubricant -- on the metal roll bars. When I went to show another attendant where it was - it was gone (I had mentioned it to one other person earlier -- so it was cleaned up). We chose a tour in every port -- which were all EARLY tours -- which was fine -- all of the tours were great -- well paced and produced -- good value for the money. We enjoyed the "off the Beaten path" tour out of Civitavechia -- as we had seen Rome before. and we loved the Spectacular Scenery and Flavours tour in Mallorca. Cinque Terra was wonderful -- we lucked out and had a TERRIFIC tour guide named Luca -- he was among the best tour guides we had ever experienced . . . . and ANNA who was our Tour Guide for our Amalfi Coast/Pompeii tour was delightful -- a very good tour as well. The ship was bit of a disappointment -- nowhere near as nice as the Norwegian Star or the Norwegian Jewel from our earlier cruises -- but we did enjoy our cruise. We will probably not do another MEGA ship. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I was first on the Epic in February of 2014. We loved the "new" NCL so much we went on the Getaway in October of 2014 and we are booked on the Escape in 2015. Needless to say I am saying goodbye to my old friend Princess ... Read More
I was first on the Epic in February of 2014. We loved the "new" NCL so much we went on the Getaway in October of 2014 and we are booked on the Escape in 2015. Needless to say I am saying goodbye to my old friend Princess Cruises (17 cruises) and moving to NCL. Freestyle is my idea of how cruising should be. If you want to dress up, do it but don't expect others to do so. From everything to the Garden Cafe (buffet) to Cagney's (high end steak house) the food is really good and continues to improve every time we sail on NCL. My favorite is the Bistro. I have tried all the restaurants except the Cirque Dreams and Dinner. The main dining rooms are very good and so is the buffet. You could easily travel on a budget not go to a specialty restaurant and be happy. I love the Epic's controversial cabin design but I guess I am in the minority. I did not have the best cabin attendant this time. Last time Winnie was WONDERFUL! My cabin was not dusted and there were items left by the previous passenger in the drawers. My room was never made up until very late in the day. I had to ask several times for a room service menu. I don't let this stuff detract from my cruises and I got it resolved. There were very few children on board and I don't have any so I don't know about the youth programs. I LOVE the water slides and rode them every day. Alas the Epic is now stationed in the Med so she won't be as easy for this S. Florida boy to jump on at the last minute with a smokin deal. Happy Landings! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This review is for the Fall 2014 westbound transatlantic cruise on Norwegian Epic, from Barcelona to Miami with stops in Madeira, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. It was 14 nights and a good itinerary for a transatlantic voyage, as some ... Read More
This review is for the Fall 2014 westbound transatlantic cruise on Norwegian Epic, from Barcelona to Miami with stops in Madeira, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. It was 14 nights and a good itinerary for a transatlantic voyage, as some transatlantic cruises may only have one stop (or less). This was my tenth Norwegian cruise, and my second on Epic which I had sailed three years prior on a Western Mediterranean cruise. The ship was how I remembered it -- big and flashy, very Vegas resort-style. But it does offer a lot of attractions and things to do. One nice change -- there was more public space available on the front top deck, as a section previously reserved for The Haven was now open to the rest of the ship as a Quiet Zone. (The Haven still has their own dedicated sundeck.) As for the staterooms, they are still small despite their "coolness" factor, strangely designed bathrooms (it's no wonder no other ship sailing today has a similar bathroom layout) and too small for two adults, let alone a family with kids. Luckily I was traveling solo and found my balcony stateroom to be a perfect solo cabin. And the balcony was a normal size, unlike the postage stamps that Norwegian decided to give its newer ships. (Why??) At the Cruise Critic gathering, the hotel director reminded us that if we have any issues/concerns to please notify him or other staff so they can address it on board. This is good advice for all guests, as I read many of these reviews and shake my head, thinking, "Well why didn't you tell someone?" So the faults I cite in this review are directed towards Norwegian corporate, as they are things that can't be solved with a simple fix or quick re-training. But before the faults, let me stress my overwhelming sentiment for this sailing: this was an absolutely wonderful experience! I often say that Norwegian's best assets are its staff and crew, and passengers get what they give. When passengers are nice and appreciative to the staff, they are rewarded with that same kindness and gratitude. I normally prefer midsized ships due to this fact, but I was very surprised with the personalized service and attention I found on Epic. Servers remembered our names and favorite drinks, staff took the time to see how we were enjoying ourselves and if anything extra could be done, etc. I'm sure that the fact it was a two-week cruise helped as the staff had more time to spend with us, but I'm still impressed nonetheless. Crowds Despite its Freestyle concept, Norwegian remains a mass-market cruise line and depends on packing people onto its ships and getting them to spend money. I once described the Norwegian on board experience as, "No matter what you're doing -- getting coffee, stepping into an elevator, asking a question at Guest Services, etc. -- you are always behind another passenger." The Epic was no different -- lots of people in a fixed amount of space. There were just shy of 3,900 passengers on this sailing, a little less than its "double capacity" of 4,100. The actual capacity is much higher when families are on board and there are more than two passengers per stateroom, so it's easy to imagine how much more crowded the ship might feel on a high-capacity sailing. (I experienced this once on Norwegian Breakway: 4,500 passengers on board my sailing where the double capacity is under 4,000. Crowding was terrible on that one!) I usually didn't have too much trouble finding a place to sit in the Garden Cafe or Great Outdoors, but the crowd issues were most felt when it came to reserved lounge chairs. This was my 26th cruise overall, and I've never seen such blatant disregard among passengers for reserving lounge chairs. Despite Norwegian's statements that items left unattended would be removed after an hour, I did not witness a single instance of enforcement during the 14-day voyage. Plus, I almost never saw any staff coming through the sun decks. By the end of the afternoons, the sundecks looked like a tornado had come through with haphazardly arranged loungers, empty dishes and cups, and still the same personal items that had been placed around since morning. C'mon Norwegian, do something about this please! Dining I had the Ultimate Dining Package for this sailing, as I enjoy Norwegian's specialty restaurants. Plus, it was a good excuse not to eat in the main dining rooms -- despite all the effort that Norwegian has put into improving their culinary offerings, they still can't seem to find consistency with the main dining room experience. It can be very hit-or-miss -- you could be in an out in an hour, or glancing at your watch as it approaches the two-hour mark and you're about to miss the show you had hoped to catch. In my opinion, it has always felt like the main dining rooms are understaffed. Often long pauses between the servers checking up on you, refilling water glasses, etc. Another issue is finding a quick bite to eat. When Garden Cafe and Great Outdoors were both closed, the only option for a snack was O'Sheehan's, the pub that offers served food round-the-clock. But this involves getting a table, waiting for a server to take your order, waiting for food to arrive, etc. Sometimes you simply want to grab something pre-made like a sandwich or a cookie and take it back to your room. Additionally, the late-night menu in O'Sheehan's is paltry with its few items. One thing I did like: every night there was a special entree in O'Sheehan's advertised in the newsletter -- this gave guests an additional dinner option plus kept the main dining rooms a little less crowded. very good idea! O'Sheehan's offers large ice cream sundaes for sale. After a meal here, a fellow guest asked if he could simply have a scoop of ice cream. The answer was no, he'd have to buy a sundae. So he went to Garden Cafe afterwards to get his free scoop of ice cream. I felt this was a lack of customer service, and unfortunately a blatant example of profit-making over guest satisfaction. (C'mon Norwegian!) One other dining issue: on port days, Norwegian should keep the Garden Cafe open for lunch for a longer time, to accommodate those returning from excursions. I had a ship excursion that did not include lunch, so when I reboarded at 3 pm I was ready for a meal. Unfortunately only the grill at the Great Outdoors was available, and it was overrun with people in my same situation -- the kitchen staff simply couldn't meet the demand. Otherwise, the specialty restaurants were as great as I've always experienced them and the dining package is a very nice offering that Norwegian has created. I should also mention that the new menus in the main dining rooms are a nice improvement and there are many items that I would have liked to try (and will do on future cruises). Entertainment I saw Blue Man Group on board, as I did the last time I sailed Epic. It's a fun show, though quirky and probably not in everyone's taste. Plus the digital/computing references were starting to feel dated. So I'm not surprised to have just learned that Norwegian is replacing it next year with a Broadway musical -- will be a nice change for the ship. The other big offering in the main theater was Legends in Concert, which has three impersonators. Perhaps my experiences are unique, but usually when I see someone pretending to be a famous singer, it's a drag queen and there is heavy parody involved. So I personally found it boring that they simply looked and sounded like the person they were emulating. Don't get me wrong -- the performers were extremely talented. And I will now contradict myself with my next accolades -- the "sleeper hit" on Norwegian Epic was the Beatles tribute band. They performed various nights in one of the showrooms and word had spread through the ship how good they were. So when I saw that they were going to do a one-off show in the main theater during a sea day afternoon, I decided to check them out. When I got to the theater 15 minutes before showtime, it was already standing room only! I stood in the back and really enjoyed their amazing show (and I'm in no way a Beatles fan, either). I believe they were only for the summer season on the Med cruises, so I'm sorry if those going on a winter cruise won't get to enjoy them. The two DJs on board were both excellent, and were able to get the crowds dancing without having to resort to playing line dances. (I hate line dances.) And the two biggest parties were awesome -- the Halloween night party (with a great Thriller "flash mob") and the White Hot Party. Both were in Spice H2O which is a great venue for a large nighttime party. I like the space better on Epic than on Breakaway because it's tiered here. You can enjoy a drink while overlooking the festivities on the dance floor. But that's really it! Over 14 days, those were my only concerns. My review might seem a bit negative but I mean for it to be constructive. For every other moment on board, I was smiling and having a great time. And again my kudos to the staff and crew who were really just amazing in every way. I want Norwegian to succeed and get better, so hopefully this feedback can help make that happen in some small way. I know you read these. :-) Oh, excursions... Did one in each port and enjoyed them: Madeira: Did the "Best of Madeira" which included a ride in the traditional wicker toboggans (really fun!), a cable car ride, a wine tasting and a drive into the hills for a scenic view of a valley. An excellent way to experience some of the island, and it made me want to return for a future visit. St. Maarten: Decided to book a somewhat expensive ($199) "Surf & Turf" six-hour tour, as it included a jeep tour and a motorboat ride, in both cases you/your group are driving or piloting. It was a lot of fun and I found it to be worth the price. A great way to see the entire island, too. St. Thomas: Did the "Tree-Limin' Zipline" and it was fun, mostly due to the joking and antics of the staff (yet very professional and safe). The views of the island from the lines/platforms were fantastic, too.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was my third Epic Cruise and I have always cruised NCL. However things have really gone down hill. While embarking was smooth, got to our room and not only were there finger prints on the mirrors but previous guests "stuff" ... Read More
This was my third Epic Cruise and I have always cruised NCL. However things have really gone down hill. While embarking was smooth, got to our room and not only were there finger prints on the mirrors but previous guests "stuff" left in the room, as if no one cleaned. I did have great fun with the "tiki" bars on Spice H2O who showed me and friend a great time, but I tend to spend a good deal of money there. Meals at the standard restaurants were fair at best, not only was attentiveness lacking but meals warm to cool. I did have some good meals at Cagney's and LiBisro. Trying to hang out by the pool for an adult, well that nonsense, you can't. And, while they had done away with the special "all you can drink" weekly price for customers because it was spring break and I was told NCL was afraid of overindulgence, we were stuck with a large group of spring breakers that nonetheless were doing shots and drinks all day long and being obnoxious and drunk and still being served. Customer Services area, well they need to have some customer relations training. One woman accused me of lying on a credit due me only to discover, once I provided proof, that indeed I was correct, but no apology. Much more for disappointment; the shows are becoming lame, same old, same old; and sorry when I think of legends I don't think of Katy Pery or Steve Tyler, not really legends in my mind. and the Blues show, OK enough is enough. I had fun, was frustrated at times (can you ever get anyone on the phone?). I'd sail NCL, another ship, but am now considering another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
I must say at the beginning that this was my first "large" ship sailing! I think that a mid size ship (Jewel Class) my be best for me, but I am a realist, and that might have to change. In now way did NCL make a misstep on this ... Read More
I must say at the beginning that this was my first "large" ship sailing! I think that a mid size ship (Jewel Class) my be best for me, but I am a realist, and that might have to change. In now way did NCL make a misstep on this cruise the food was wonderful, the stateroom was fantastic and events were well planned. This cabin is fantastic! It is verily close to the forward elevators and just above where most of the activities go on the ship. The stateroom has a tub/ shower and an extended balcony. This room had literally more storage and cabinets than we needed. Two closets, 4 hampers, big screen television, and the list goes on.... I am sold on Mini suites from now on. I loved every bit of the cruise with these exception: 1) The promenade deck (or lack of) is something I miss. It is in pieces and offers no real view to the passengers, 2) The lido deck and the deck above the pool is insufficient and too small and will not accommodate a large sail away of 4000. The space cannot meet the needs of passengers. 3) The ship lacks a midship bank of elevators and a large Atrium. This forces way to many people forward and aft and makes for long wait times for elevator service. We however choose to walk the steps and avoided this issue all together. 4) The Casino is midship in the open and smoke is wafting into restaurants all along the public spaces. All of that being said I loved this cruise and the itinerary and would do it again today if i could! This is one fine Cruise! Loved it! Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was my 17 cruise, however my first solo cruise. I sailed in the solo cabin 12578 sailing out of Miami on 16 Nov 2013. We had a couple of sea days + 3 land days in ST Maartin, ST Thomas and Nassau. Checking was smooth, efficient and ... Read More
This was my 17 cruise, however my first solo cruise. I sailed in the solo cabin 12578 sailing out of Miami on 16 Nov 2013. We had a couple of sea days + 3 land days in ST Maartin, ST Thomas and Nassau. Checking was smooth, efficient and quick....30 min from bagged drop-off till I stepped onbaord. Cabins were ready at 1pm. Overall review FOOD Poor to average except for speciality (extra fee) restaurants. I ate at two speciality restaurants and both were excellent....Cacneys and Tapenyaki. SHOWS Blue man group: Enjoyed parts of it, Im just glad I did not pay to see the show...it is overrate. More hype than entertainement value. Ledgends in Consert: Lively and fun. All three impersonators are good however ...Steven Tyler was superior in terms of his look and voice. Cirque du Dreams: A MUST see show. Move over Cirque du Soleil...this intimate show allows the audience to experience the best of the art of circus up close. Music: Pool side band and musicians playing in Shakers bar were all excellent. Parties: FABBA and White Hot Party is a must. Stay awake till the early hours of the morning...the most fun you will have at night on the Epic. The DJ at these parties was excellent. Ice Bar: Good fun. The barman, coat check man and the lady who booked us in are all efficient, friendly and fun. A different experience you should have at least once in your life. SERVICE Overall very good. Heidi in Shakers bar is caring. Michael my cabin attendand was one of the best Ive ever had. Chef Christopher will do whatever to please you and cater to your cullinary needs. CABIN The solo cabin is spacious enough for one person. With colour changing lights, leather padded walls, very comfy bed and lots of storage space....I loved staying in this cabin. Solo travellers have a private lounge where you meet for drinks, arrange meals and activities together. Many "none solo" travellers treid to get into this lounge as this was the "in place" to be. You can either join in or remain on your own...its what you make of it. Well done to NCL for being an industry leader in the solo cruising market. Im hooked on solo cruising! SPA The day pass is worth it....only 120 available per cruise, get yours early. I had a massage with Mario, he has a magical touch. I did find the spa very expensive comapred to land based spas. OVERALL The ship is kept clean. The staff are friendly and they really seem to care about your well being. Shore excursions are over priced. Plan your own. Walk off the ship and do any tour for much less than charged for by NCL. The pools are far too small for 4000+ passengers. Finding deck chairs were not a problem as reported by others. Waterslides are fun for all ages. NCL is not the best cruise line in my opinion....having said this, they try hard and overall I had a great experience. I will sail with NCL again.   Read Less
Sail Date November 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
Sail Date April 2013
Friday, April 6, South Beach: DH had to work. We live in Port Saint Lucie, and were looking for something that would save us from the drive, so our only concern was that. We wound up at Haddon Hall Hotel. Great location, kitchenette ... Read More
Friday, April 6, South Beach: DH had to work. We live in Port Saint Lucie, and were looking for something that would save us from the drive, so our only concern was that. We wound up at Haddon Hall Hotel. Great location, kitchenette included, rooms need updating. The rest of the hotel is great, and it has a pool. We arrived late, had a snack and went to sleep. Saturday, April 7, embarkation day!: We drove to Port of Miami, dropped our bags at Terminal C, drove to parking garage C and walked back. I am disabled with a bad back and migraines, but I can walk so I declined NCL's offer of a wheelchair. We went through the Casinos At Sea line, got our room cards and gave our info then the nice lady sent us upstairs where there were sandwiches and drinks waiting. Within a few minutes we had been called to board with our group number. We went on board and proceeded to Taste, where we had a nice lunch, then to our room after we heard the announcement that we could go there. Unpacked, got spa passes from the spa and checked out the ship before getting ready for Cirque Dreams and dinner, premium seating, which was excellent. Nice dinner, nice company, excellent entertainment. Loved it. Back upstairs to take it easy for a bit, then I went to the casino while DH went off to have a drink or two, then to bed. Sunday, April 8: We had breakfast at the Garden Cafe buffet on 15. Afterward we had a meet and greet set up. I was booked to do a short comedy set that I'd been asked to do at the meet n greet. Mingled, had coffee, met some great people and did my act, then the motion of the boat overtook us, so we spent the day resting. Missed dinner but felt up to Blue Man Group, and went back out at 10pm for that show. We had good seats for that (sit where you like), and enjoyed the show thoroughly. Stopped for Noodle Bar, had some type of ramen-ish food that I wasn't up to eating with my motion sickness. DH had a soupy dish he enjoyed and some spring rolls. Then off to bed. Monday, April 9: Breakfast on 15, I recommend the omelet station, hash browns and bacon along w/ fresh fruit. They also have lox which impressed me because it's always expensive and they have a lot of it here at the buffet. Ran into our friends from CC on the Sundeck, and should've hung w/ them, but instead stuck to our plan of going to the spa. Later we regretted it because we didn't get any time in at the water slides except one or two quick slides in the afternoon, but it is what it is. The spa was relaxing and quiet. No kids allowed. Teppanyaki: read Benihana at 5:45pm. Entertaining chef, nice people at our table. We enjoyed the evening. Friends of Dorothy meeting where we got to meet the others with similar orientation as us and had a drink, then relaxed back in our room and freshened up for Second City. We got there on time but all the good seats were taken, leaving us stuck behind a post and some woman's head near the back where we had an obstructed view. Maybe I was drinking slowly, but the show was over before my drink was finished. The show was pretty good though, an improve type experience with audience participation. Hit the casino for a bit then to bed. Tuesday, 4/10 St. Maarten: We had probably our best full day of the week this day. Got up early, had breakfast on 15 and went out to the main road after getting off the ship and over to Great Bay Marina, a little ways down the road on the left, where we were to meet Captain Bob from Trip Advisor Soualiga destinations where he has a docked boat (3 actually) next to a restaurant/bar that serves very reasonably priced drinks and food. Should've waited for breakfast here because from what I saw it was delicious. Spoke with a family, the hubby looked suspiciously like Matt Damon with a small child and they told us about their trip, and then our CC friends met up with us. We hit it off with our CC friends from the get go. I don't know if it's because they reminded us of some other friends we had, or if we just have complimentary personalities, but we got along very well, and ended up doing a bunch of things together that week. We got along so well that when they asked who was coming on their next cruise in a year, we booked the same one. Same ship, same room, same itinerary, everything. We're going back to finish what we've started and do some of the things we didn't get to do this time around. Checked in w/ Capt'n Bob, who was very friendly and nice, and enjoyed the weather and the restaurant until we headed out on the excursion. And what an excursion it was! Snorkeling, coral reefs, multi colored fish, sting rays, eagle rays, giant turtles, a ton of little fishes swimming all over us, lunch on Pinel Island with some very nice people eating chicken or ribs and homemade food that was delicious and unlike the meat we get here in the states. This was an experience not to be missed. The way we hear it from others, some of these excursions put you on a boat w/ 60 people, feed you rum punch and stick you in one spot which, while beautiful, does not come close to the experience we had on this day. We traveled all over the island, Dutch and French sides, plus Pinel Island, got to enjoy many different views and snorkel and swim in a bunch of different spots. After lunch on Pinel Island we got to feed our leftovers to iguanas who live behind the restaurant/bar and souvenir shop or swim or suntan on the beach for a bit before returning to the boat. One of our last stops for the day was the St. Maarten airport where we watched a few planes land. Then home to the ship. We went back w/ our new friends, whom we knew we were getting on good with, and made plans to go to St. John with the next day. Once back, we stopped at Taste for a snack, then showered and hit the casino before Cagneys. Taste was still in my belly, so I didn't have much appetite for Cagneys, but I'd already postponed them once, so we went. I had a delicious lobster bisque and a 5 oz filet, DH had a salad of some sort and a nice 10 oz (I think) steak. Crème Brulee for dessert, then back to the casino for me, to Shakers for DH. We also had stopped at Shakers earlier for FOD meeting, and had the chance to hang out with some of our gay and lesbian friends at Shakers for a while. We took an early nap in between hanging out with the FOD people and our last booked entertainment of the night, our 11:30 pm Ice Bar reservation. We arrived at the Ice Bar, put on gloves and parkas, and were given 2 drink tickets each. We were escorted inside, camera in hand, to one of the friendliest bartenders ever. Despite the fact that we came in while he was watching his baseball game on the tv, he was cheerful, offered to take our camera so we could get some pics together, and talked with us for quite awhile. We tipped him pretty well I think, and were offered samples of some of the harder stuff as the last customers of the night. After a larger sample than I really needed, we had to get out of there of risk potential frostbite (at least that's how I felt). The orange drink is the one people seem to like, and we liked it too. I've heard the other one sucks. From more than one person. I can say that the orange drink is delish, comes in a little ice glass, and although we didn't do it, some people take the ice glass with them when they leave. Wednesday 4/11: We were supposed to meet up w/ our friends at the 15th floor garden cafe buffet, but couldn't find them. We figured they overslept, and after about 40 mins, decided to get our stuff and go outside the ship. We waited outside but didn't see them there either, so since we didn't have a plan for the day, our previous plan being to go to St. John w/ the others, we decided to change it up and hired an air conditioned cab to take us around St. Thomas, giving us an historical account, stopping to let us take pictures, etc. Took a couple of hours for $100 then dropped us off in the shopping district where we shopped and had lunch (thank you Glenda). We then headed back to the ship, since we were tired and sunburnt. Went to the spa, ran into one of the FOD people who took pity on DH's sunburn and gave him some special ointment for his face. Got back to our room to messages from our friends. We arrived back sometime about noonish, had gone to the spa and returned to find a couple of messages from our friends about having missed each other this morning. We called them back, made arrangements to meet up for drinks and appetizers at O'Sheehans and stopped by their room to pick them up. We had a nice time catching up, and everyone agreed it was nobodies fault that we'd missed each other in the crowd of people that morning. We're on vacation, why get worried about such things? We had to go about 3 hours after that for dinner at Moderno. We were having a blast w/ our friends and made plans to meet at their room the next morning to do Nassau. Once again, my headaches decided to kick in and despite my waiting all week for Moderno, my head wouldn't cooperate. The salad bar itself was worth the price of admission. Chunks of exquisite cheeses, delicious breads and delightful veggies lined the salad bar, tempting one to fill up in advance of the delicacies to come from the servers who abound with seasoned meats on skewers awaiting your approval before depositing them onto your plate. I forced myself to sit, migraine and all, through about 6 courses of various meats before we had to go. I wasn't feeling well that night, so I spent the night resting and dealing w/ my migraine while DH hung out with the FOD crowd and had some drinks. Later in the night I may have stopped at the casino, but not for very long. I probably grabbed some buffet food to hold me over when I was able to and just tried to get through the migraine episode. Thursday 4/12 At Sea: We had breakfast at the buffet on 15, then the spa and casino for a bit, then we had plans to meet our friends for the murder mystery at the Spiegel Tent at 12:30 for Lunch and Entertainment. We ran into them in line, had no trouble getting seated together, we all sat upstairs this time, and it was a tight fit as all seating seems to be in Spiegel, but the food was good and the Entertainment was, well, entertaining. The same players who do the Second City show also do the Murder Mystery. They're quite good and use a lot of audience participation, which gave the Murder Mystery a feel of being an extension of the Second City show. Similar references in both shows such as references to the same Pop Culture Artists furthered that cause, and added to the comic relief. It was the night of the White Party, which we had been looking forward to, and I wasn't going to miss this no matter how bad my headache was. Thankfully, I had my imitrex injections with me so I took an injection, slept for a couple of hours and met DH at Spic H20 at midnight. He was with the FOD crowd, most of them anyway, and we looked around for some of our other friends, but didn't spot them. After an hour or so of enjoying the party, we noticed that the average age seemed to drop to about 14, so we took our little group and headed over to Bliss Ultra Lounge, where there was a DJ and some of the people from the St. Maarten excursion. We had a most memorable night. DJ Fly kept us in good music, our waitress kept us in drinks and our friends kept us in digital pictures. Some time about 3:30am we stumbled back to our room, tired, a little bit drunk, but happy. Friday 4/13: Nassau, Bahamas: Despite going to bed so late, we got up when we were supposed to, met our friends at their aft cabin for breakfast at O'Sheehans and had a nice country breakfast there, then headed off to Nassau, where we did some shopping for souvenirs, some bought licquor, then off to Senor Frogs. On the way there a woman ran up to me and put a necklace around me that was a "gift" from the people of the Bahamas, and handed me another, then demanded a donation. Her sheer audacity was amusing, and we gave her the money, but on the ship heard from many people that they'd been taken in by the same story. Apparently a $5 necklace is $4 too much. I'm pretty certain these people selling them paid less than $1 each. But it didn't hurt anything to help someone out who needed that money more than me, and I got something for my money, so I went for it. In fact everyone I spoke to that purchased one seemed happy enough with the quality of their necklace. One of the highlights of the day was the conch salad at Senor Frogs made fresh from a live conch right in front of me. They send a guy over with a mobile cart to make it. He uses a claw hammer to open a small hole in a conch, take out the meat and chop it into a salad w/ fresh vegetables, citrus etc. That's not the best part though. The best part is that if you ask, they will clean the conch, it involves putting another small hole in it to get the last bit of conch meat out and you can take it back as a souvenir. We ordered 2 so we could take the shells back. After a few drinks, lunch and some music, we were all exhausted from the day before and decided to get back to the ship. Took some pictures on the way and headed back to the ship. Embarkation, like all of the times we left or reentered the ship, was a simple affair. No fruits or veggies were allowed back and forth, even a banana I wanted to bring out for a snack one day had to be thrown away, all bags and metal things through the x ray machine, step through the metal detector and stick your room card in the slot. I think they take your alcohol from you if you purchase any on an island and deliver it to your room on the last day in Nassau, at night some time. After we got back to the ship, we had some time in the spa, which is always relaxing, and met up w/ the FOD group before heading to Le Bistro for dinner. I can't remember DH's appetizer, but I had escargot, he had a cipriani type dish, a type of seafood stew, French style, and I had swordfish. Once again, my migraine was taking over, so I took the coconut souffle to go. We were starting to get that feeling that the trip was beginning to wind down. We had felt for a couple of days that we were on the return leg and there was a feeling in the air of "we won't be here that much longer". One of the stewards we were friendly with said that he makes a new group of friends every week, then they go away and he makes new ones the next week. It kind of felt that way. Like we knew that many of these people we'd probably not see again, so it was more important to be extra nice and make the moments we all spent on this ship together extra fun for everyone. We spent some time with our group that was meeting nightly at Shakers, the Friends of Dorothy, and by this time we had a bunch of people within the group of whom we were more likely to gravitate to than others, but the entire group for the most part was pretty cool. It was the 'end of sail" or whatever it's called party at Spice H2O but the turnout was dismal. Not even many of the die hard FOD people were there. We went because our friends, another couple from FOD were there and we thought our other friends might show up as well. I left after an hour and went to take a nap, then off to the casino again. I made it a point of visiting the casino, where the waitresses would bring drinks over frequently, especially when they knew a customer is a tipper, I could build up credit for another cruise through Casinos At Sea, and maybe win a jackpot. I had good and bad days throughout the week, but luckily, on this trip, I did pretty well on the first and last days, which left me in a good position of having put a lot of play on the machines with nothing out of pocket. Also the bar in the casino became my 'go to' place for filling water bottles, getting 2 sodas at a time, things like that. I'd try to stick to the same bartender each shift, and my tried and true method of tipping a few bucks for a free drink and getting them 2 at a time meant I never had to wait, even when the bar got busy. I noticed that the main bar when you embark was a popular spot for people as their 'go to' place, and so were the pool side ones. So I guess it depends on where you spend a lot of your time and where your cabin is. Since we had a mid-ship and I was always heading off to the casino for a few minutes of slot machine play, that was the place that made sense for me. I hit in the casino on this last night of play, so I was quite happy. Earlier in the night we'd packed everything up we needed to, I'd visited the duty free and picked up our licquor as well as the duty free souvenir store for an extra beach bag, where the salespeople, some of whom I'd been drinking with the night before, had taken on an English accent that, not unlike a bug, only afflicted them when they were working in the shops. I'm certain they're under orders to affect that accent when at work in the store. DH had spent some time at the good bye party at Spice H2O then later on this, our last night together, hung out with me at the casino in the wee hours. I'd done well and wanted to play a bit more since I was ahead. Finally, after an hour or so of small hits, We decided we needed some sleep for the drive home tomorrow Saturday 4/14 We breakfasted through room service delivery for the first time all week. Order more than you think you'll want. A Danish is 2 bites to NCL. I found that even the plates of fruit were small after spending a week piling it on at the buffet breakfasts. We freshened up, took some pictures, and got ready to disembark. Disembarkation: When they called for those of us who wanted to drag our own crap off the ship, I think it was called 'easy off' or something clever, we went down to the floor they told us to with passports and filled out customs forms in hand and got into the wrong place in line, got yelled at by some woman who didn't see that it was an honest mistake and got pointed to the end of the line. On our customs forms we put the licquor by price, the souvenirs lumped together by price and the 2 conch shells, since someone, another cruiser, had said they might not let them into the states because "they're shellfish". I didn't want to argue, but the shellfish part was long gone and they were just shells, but erring on the side of caution, I wrote '2 conch shells" and valued them at what we'd paid for the 2 conch salads plus tip. Once the line moved, it was the slowest all week, lasted a good 30-40mins, we got to the customs agent, who waved us through after looking at our papers and giving our luggage a cursory glance. I've been told that they randomly check people unless they get their hackles up over something, so anything you have a question about on board, just ask people and anywhere there's a question put it on the customs form. It worked for us. I was nervous about the shells but figured as long as I declared them, if the person who said I couldn't take them was right, the agent would see them right away and tell me. We rolled our luggage to terminal c parking and got my handicapped parking validated at the office on the way out, which saved the fee for week long parking. We also took the car to the car wash later that day since the salt water may mess with the finish, especially on a newer car. Mid Ship Balcony Stateroom12177: Being our first cruise, we were concerned about seasickness. I'm disabled with 8 bad discs, migraines, athsma and a bunch of long winded medical terms related to my back issues that are hard to pronounce. I turned down the handicapped room that was offered us in favor of a mid ship balcony, which was upgraded from a comped inside or oceanview (I forget which) through Casinos At Sea. The room is listed on NCL at 216 ft I think, the balcony has a great view, although there are lifeboats below us, and the motion of the ship was much less pronounced than the forward or aft areas. There are rooms above us, so no worries about bowling balls or dancing or kids clubs right above us. Electrical outlets are quite limited, but for a week where you're living without most of your gadgets, you should be ok. We used a 3outlet/2 USB adapter that plugged into 1 outlet, had a 2nd outlet available and a 3rd under the medicine cabinet. For 2 iPads, 2 iPhones, a Kindle Fire3 and a walkie talkie set charger it worked out well. We didn't use the bar setup at all, took the licquor home with us. We have CAS drink cards and didn't want to run back to our rooms to refill drinks purchased in the bars, we felt that was in poor taste. If we wanted a nightcap, we'd just get it from the casino bar, order 2 and take them back to the room w/ us. I gambled almost every day so they all knew me there and it wasn't an issue. The balcony is a wonderful place where you can eat, drink, smoke, kiss, hug, watch the waves and reflect on the fact that you've spent thousands of dollars to float around in a boat in the middle of the water staring into the ocean. Lol. I only wish they gave us loungers. You get 2 chairs and a small table, enough for a plate, or 2 glasses. There's a couch in the room, curved, and more storage than even a troop of broadway performers would need for a month's stay. A safe which you can set your own code to, and the flat screen tv. Looks like maybe a 26 incher or so. You can get messages on it, emails, check the account, play casino games, get a view from the bridge, purchase pay per view movies and that sort of thing. What you can't do is use the built in composite inputs to hook up your iOS device or video equipment to view your own library of video material, such as movies you may have purchased or ripped, video you may have shot on vacation, etc. There's an input on the tv, but it's disabled. That's so that NCL can try to get you to buy a PPV movie. Me, I just watch on my iPad. I have a pico projector as well, but we didn't bother to use that. There are reading lights on either side of the bed and the bed itself can be separated into 2 singles or a double (cali king size, I think). There's a touch screen telephone which can be used as a nightlight, has buttons to call certain places like reservations etc. We used it to call our friends in other cabins primarily. Didn't set up a VM but it worked without need to set up. The bathroom/shower area separates from the rest of the room with a curtain. Using the curtain when showering or doing one's business gave the illusion of room separation. We brought a fresh can of febreeze and when one was using that area the other would 'choose' to take advantage of the balcony. Even couples should know when the other should have some privacy. Between the balcony and the curtan, and the door to the bathroom or shower, that's 3 separate barriers between you and your loved one or traveling companion while you do what you need to . Felt private enough for us. Norwegian iConcierge App for iPhone: We had problems with this app. It's a new app, and we had read on CC that there would be VOIP calling, chat and that's what we wanted in the app. Unfortunately for us, none of those features were available until the last full day of the cruise. On the Friday before disembarkation, chat worked, voip was supposed to be enabled but didn't work, and we used chat instead of walkies to keep in touch on the ship. We couldn't figure out how to chat w/ others in other cabins though. That is something NCL should add or make easier to do in an update. Also, we couldn't get the app working at first. We both downloaded the app before we embarked. We were supposed to register with a code from the tv in the room, but my app wouldn't take. DH's took the code but didn't work well. Finally, before we took off from Miami, I deleted and reloaded the app and it finally took the code and registered. It only worked for reservations, looking at excursions, looking at account info and that sort of thing. We hope that on the next cruise chat works better and works from day 1, VOIP calling to any phone works and for that we'd be happy to pay a small usage fee for the week. I wouldn't pay for it for just ship chat, because we've already purchased walkies that get the job done. All in all, the crew treated us like royalty, the other travelers made a great bunch to hang out with, we made a lot of casual friends and some that we'll have for a long time. We felt pampered and treated well, and didn't see any real instances except for a few isolated ones of people behaving inappropriately or getting too out of hand or anything like that. Certainly not much for the size of the ship. NCL should value their crew highly because inevitably, they're what made the cruise special and what caused us and our friends to want to go back. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Norwegian Epic Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.7
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 5.0 4.0
Public Rooms 4.0 3.8
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 5.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 3.8
Value For Money 4.0 3.5
Rates 4.0 3.7

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