This is my 4th cruise on Epic (previous cruises include 3 TA's). I shared a cabin w/a former SO and invited two friends in a separate cabin. We both were in balcony cabins; although we didn't spend a lot of time on the balcony, ... Read More
This is my 4th cruise on Epic (previous cruises include 3 TA's). I shared a cabin w/a former SO and invited two friends in a separate cabin. We both were in balcony cabins; although we didn't spend a lot of time on the balcony, it was worth the extra money. Because I had experienced Epic, I was excited to introduce my friends to NCL. Upon getting on Epic, we got in line to make reservations for dining (we doubled up our dining by eliminating the internet package - smart move!); with our reservations set (so we thought), we found a spot by the window for some drinks and snacks at the Irish Pub. Where we sat in the Irish Pub we were able to view a rocket launch from the Cape. What an incredible way to start a cruise~!
Somehow, the reservations we set up were lost in the computer, so we had to go back and try to correct the issues - HUGE problem. On a full ship, the "ideal times" get booked up fast. At first, the staff seemed to show no concern, nor did they apologize. My SO and her friends were frustrated and upset and the comments about how this would never happen on RCCL (they're sold on RCCL and their offerings). Because I had been on Epic (three weeks prior on my third TA), I knew a members of the management team on Epic. They did an amazing job and helped to correct the situation. There were other issues on the ship, most of them were minor issues due to staff attitudes (they are human and NCL works them hard!), so a smile can go a long way (along w/showing some empathy). While in the MDR most of the food was tasty. All in all, we had a great time experiencing all Epic has to offer. Great staff from the room attendants, wait staff and the entertainment was great. From Howl @ The Moon, to the comedy - all was great (be careful later at night, the songs and the jokes are adult theme). The Epic theater was great as usual. The evening at Cirque was a lot of fun - even if the dinner was less than stellar. The Specialty dining was enjoyed by all in the group and we highly recommend it. My SO wanted to do the French cuisine @ Le Bistro and La Cucina were okay (La Cucina staff were infinitely nicer); Teppanyaki was a lot of fun and tasty!; Moderno and Cagney's were excellent (as usual); Shanghai's/Noodle Bar (not specialty dining) are worth a visit (or two); Manhattan seems to be a step up over Taste ( try to get a table in the back - it's a great view); O'Sheehan's Irish Sports Bar is great for snacks and drinks; can't comment on Wasabi - never tried. Did the Ice Bar on the final night - not sure if it was worth the extra $; still a good experience (AND COLD - make sure you dress appropriately, even with their supplied coat~!).
Our first port was the NCL private island Great Stirrup in the Bahamas - because of winds/weather, we did not stop. More than one person was upset we didn't stop and I've heard they miss this stop about 1/3 of the cruises.
Port Two: Ocho Rios, Jamaica - We signed up for Dunn River Falls followed up with a kayak tour. While we had a good time, expect to pay double in tips from everyone that "helps" you. From getting off of the tour bus @ the Falls all the way to turning in your kayak, everyone expected a tip (AND they reminded you all the time). My advice: wait until the end of the Falls to tip AND at the end of the kayak tour (if you decide to tip). After the excursion, we ended up in town (AND hungry). Stopped for food and drinks combined with shopping. In the shops DO NOT PAY the price listed - haggle with them. Be careful about purchasing liquor here. We enjoy Bumbu Rum - they wanted $125 (US) for a bottle we pay $35 (US) in Florida.
Port Three: Georgetown, Grand Cayman - Because it was Sunday, the Rum Factory was closed, so we took the local bus to the beach. We brought our own snorkeling gear, but the water was less than ideal. Beer and food on the beach was fun - expensive, but you're on vacation, right?
Port Four: NCL's Harvest Caye in Belize - The drink package we purchased onboard did not apply here so, pull out your wallet. We chose to do the zip lines - an excellent choice~! While we had a good time, NCL should make the drinks package accessible while at their own location.
Port Five: Costa Maya Mexico - We did a non-NCL excursion and toured ruins and visited a small village where we had the BEST TIME!! They taught us how to make tortillas from scratch and fed us the best food!
Port Six: Cozumel - The three ladies paid to go to a beach and I opted to rent a scooter and toured the island. I stopped at a roadside taqueria and enjoyed local food. I drove along the shore on the loop and stopped along the way to check out the beaches and local watering holes. If you like to explore on your own and off the beaten path, I recommend this.
All in all, Epic is one of my favorite ships to cruise on. IF you prepare ahead of time (reservations for shows, and dining), do some research before you get on Epic, your investment (time) will be rewarded. Expect crowds on these large ships; Epic is a quirky ship (only one of it's kind - the other two NCL planned on building were never built/commissioned) and you can get lost on Epic. Don't worry, you'll find your way and enjoy the exploring while you're on your Epic journey~! Read Less