457 Norwegian Epic Romantic Cruise Reviews

We just got back from our 7 day eastern Caribbean cruse. St.Martin, St.Thomas & Nassau. When we booked the cruse we went online to cruse critic and read up on a few tips and that was most helpful. We took a few minutes to plan each day ... Read More
We just got back from our 7 day eastern Caribbean cruse. St.Martin, St.Thomas & Nassau. When we booked the cruse we went online to cruse critic and read up on a few tips and that was most helpful. We took a few minutes to plan each day of meals, entertainment, and off shore trips. We booked each item to get the most out of each day. The entertainment is excellent. Our top picks are: The Blue Man Group and the adult shows after 11:00 were very good with the Second City Group, and the magic act comedy show. The Cirque show and the dinner murder show were both entertaining and interactive. Le Bistro, and Cagney's were both our favorite add on dinner locations but the food is great at every location with the exception of the "Taste" dinning area which was just a little slow, and the food was just a bit of the norm. In St.Martin we just took a cab into the closest town due to rain and we hung out at the beach after things cleared up but by that time it was the end of the day and we had to go back. I was happy that we did not book a big off shore adventure that would have been wet and probably not to much fun. We packed a bit of support material like rum and some other liquor in a flask that we got online at www.RumRummers.com it fit in our suite case down in bottom unnoticed. The best part was we were able to get a case of Verve Energy drink on with no problem. To get the Verve on we did send an email in advance to customer service just asking for permission to bring our daily vitamin that was loaded with nutrition and the fact that it would allow us to really enjoy the trip. We put our luggage tags on the full case of Verve and they delivered it to our room. We took everything out of the mini bar and enjoyed a nice cold verve every day. That stuff mixed well with the rum also so it was pretty cool. AT the end of the trip we just put all the mini bar stuff back in before they did the count. The adult only pool SPICE H2o was a great spot to relax during the day if you are traveling with or with out your family the Kids area is close enough that you could let them play while you enjoy the massive screen showing peaceful videos, and some music videos. The spa was very nice and well worth the upgrade cost of 199 for 2 people. If you are going to do it. Take advantage of the entire trip and do it early. We used it everyday and it was our little get-a-way spot of peace. My wife had her nails done and they chipped off, she went back and the redid the all the nails no charge. The cost for some of the other service were a bit high and I was able to get an excellent message on the beach in both St.Martin, and at Atlantis. Atlantis public beach massage was the best, 60 for an hour, 35 for a half hour. We are planing another cruse in 6 months and we are going to bring a few friends this time and I would consider this trip again but probable do the Western Caribbean Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
My boyfriend and I took the first Caribbean (Eastern) cruise out of Miami on July 10. Overall, it was one of our favorite cruises thus far (this was our 4th together, my 8th overall). The ship itself is beautiful and the decor is modern, ... Read More
My boyfriend and I took the first Caribbean (Eastern) cruise out of Miami on July 10. Overall, it was one of our favorite cruises thus far (this was our 4th together, my 8th overall). The ship itself is beautiful and the decor is modern, tasteful, and toned down. I'll break everything down into categories... Cabins: I had read a lot of complaints/concerns about the cabin lay-out before boarding the ship (no bathroom, splashy sink, too narrow, short beds, etc.) so I knew exactly what to expect. However, for us, being a young couple who aren't shy, the lack of bathroom was a non-issue and the narrowness of the cabin really wasn't a huge problem. My main concern with the cabin was the splashy sink because it was shallow and almost impossible not to splash water while using. We also didn't like how the cabin steward didn't make a towel animal every night. In fact, we asked around and they are only required to make 3 towel animals over the week (which is probably not a big problem for other people, but we have come to expect random towel creatures after dinner). The other concern with the cabin was the TV and its limited channels. They had basic news channels, ESPN, Nick, and a "favorite TV show" channel with a hodgepodge of TV shows played randomly but NO first run movies for free (you had to pay). Last cruise we went on (Carnival Dream) we caught up on like 3 or 4 movies just out of the theaters. Anyway, we really loved our curved walls and modern lighting, laminate paneling and big balcony. The room was cozy and cave-like and perfect for sleeping. I'm short so I had no problem with the curved bed but my boyfriend did express that his feet were hanging off the end at night. Overall, we liked the 'new-wave' cabins for a change. Food: The food was overall great on this ship. We ate all breakfasts, most lunches, and 1 dinner at the garden cafe and the quality was always good. Breakfast was my favorite with omelet stations, french toast, cereal, fruit, etc. etc. and the buffet stations were set up so well that it never felt packed, you never had to wait in a line for long or at all, and you could always find a table. This ship had the best flow to a buffet than any other ship. However, for lunch and dinner the selection was adequate but not extraordinary. There was your typical pizza, burgers, fries, and a good pasta station but not a big selection of indian or asian food and no mexican. We usually made a sandwich or salad and saved room for dinner. We ate one lunch at O-Sheehan's which had a fun menu and atmosphere. However, we were immediately turned off by the server who seemed angry and annoyed, with no introduction saying,"What do you want?" two minutes after we sat down. The food was good (burger for him reuben for me) but we didn't go back because the service was that unpleasant. We ate one dinner at the Manhattan Room. We loved how the dining room was at the back of the ship with the ocean behind us. The live music during dinner was really cool for a main dining room and the food was adequate. The service was slow and the servers weren't all that friendly. The menu selection wasn't great either. 3 changing items and then a fixed 5 or 6. We liked the Manhattan Room but it didn't impress us enough to go back another night. As far as specialty restaurants go, we ate at Moderno, Cagney's, La Cucina, and the sushi bar, Wasabi. Our favorite was Moderno. Fun concept, excellent service (the best service we had was here thanks to Luca? our waitress), and the food was soooo delicious. I just wish I didn't get full so fast so I could have eaten MORE. This place was the best value at $18/person. La Cucina was yummy too. The restaurant was so pretty and romantic at the front of the ship. The service and food were both good. This place was definitely worth the $10/person. Cagney's was also delicious. We had the 10 oz filet and a bunch of sides with the sampler dessert. The filet was very thick and cooked an appropriate medium. The service here was good but there was some confusion with our appetizer and the place was packed when we went (probably why the servers got a little mixed up). Definitely recommend trying this restaurant. The last night we went to the sushi bar last minute because we weren't eager to go back to the main dining room. We ordered 2 dynamite, 1 rock n roll, and a shrimp tempura roll. They were all delicious and came with miso soup. The sushi bar is worth giving a try as it was very fresh and didn't require a reservation. We also ate at Cirque dreams and dinner. The food was ok, not as terrible as another review said, but not great either. I thought the steak was better than the chicken but the potato they included was barely edible (hard). Dessert was yummy though. And the show more than made up for the average food. Entertainment: This ship had some of the best entertainment we've seen, ever. Blue Man Group was awesome, hilarious, and unique. Very cool show, nothing like it that I've seen. Legends in Concert was good and the impersonators were believable. Second City was funny but not great (maybe cause we saw the PG show). There was a comedy magician who was ok, typical cruise ship entertainment. We saw the newlywed game show up on Spice H20 and it was cool to watch a game show up on the deck. Cirque Dreams and Dinner was FANTASTIC. We had the premium seats and these guys were RIGHT THERE doing amazing and impossible things. Never seen anything like it, probably never will again. I would definitely recommend the premium seats over the regular ones. Its worth it. We also went to see Howl at the Moon dueling pianos which I loved... these guys were very talented and funny and they got the audience going. The Bliss Club was also impressive... never seen a cruise club this packed. It was like a Miami beach club with the same energy and excitement from the crowd. Pools, deck, and slides: The slides were awesome. All day people were going up and down, kids going on the slides over and over, waiting in line forever for the tube slide. We went on all 3 slides but liked the green windy one the best. It was scary being pitch black for 13 seconds. The tube slide was cool in theory but the line was a pain and then I got stuck going around the circle and had to push myself around for awhile to get out of it. They gave my bf the kid sized tube so he flew out of it on the way down. There was a kiddie splash area below the slides too which looked like a lot of fun, very cute with starfish and crabs and mushrooms with water sprinkling from them. The pools themselves were small and the water burned my bfs eyes. I never even went in the pools. Spice H20 also had a tiny pool by the movie screen... but I never really saw anyone go in it, it was that tiny. Sports deck was cool, didn't climb any rock walls or rappel or anything but it looked fun. Gym: We loved the gym. It was huge with tons of equipment and ocean views. Weights, machines, you name it they had it. We went to the gym 3 times and never had trouble getting an elliptical or anything. Overall we loved this ship but wish the pools were bigger and some of the service was better. Another thing i wish they would do is give you something or allow you access to what you reserved beforehand. I had to remember all the restaurants and shows and times for everything I reserved in advance and I got confused once or twice. They should allow you to access this on the interactive TV or give you a print-out in your stateroom. Another great part of this trip was how EASY getting on and off the ship was. They let people on and off at the front and back of the ship to relieve congestion and it worked. We go on within 20 minutes and it took like 15 minutes to get off (we did the easy walk-off and carried our own bags off at 7:30 am). Really nice! And another thing, we never experienced an issue cause I reserved EVERYTHING beforehand, but if you don't make reservations expect to have trouble getting into shows. The restaurants have screens around the ship that show which have availability and at what time so those are easier to squeeze into than the entertainment venues. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
My Husband and I have traveled on NCL 2 times prior to this trip. We enjoyed our other 2 cruises on the Dawn and the pearl after this trip much can be said for the smaller ships. We arrived in the Florida the day before to begin our ... Read More
My Husband and I have traveled on NCL 2 times prior to this trip. We enjoyed our other 2 cruises on the Dawn and the pearl after this trip much can be said for the smaller ships. We arrived in the Florida the day before to begin our vacation that we have looked forward to for the last 2 years. Embarkation and Debarkation went well no complaints there. We were disappointed to find out that our Itinerary did change but that is the chance you take when you sail in Hurricane Season safety is the first and foremost that has to be taken into consideration. I have to say the food for the most part was very good. First night on the ship we went to Cagney's the food and the service was great. The Garden Cafe was a challenge between Kids trying to run you over and some rude adults trying to push you out of the line and trying to find a seat the food was good. Don't know how they ran out of Ice tea and Lemonade. O'Sheehan's bar and restaurant was OK if you sat on the Bar side service on the other side was bad. The one night after a show we were hungry went to O'Sheehans and they couldn't serve us food due to a fire in the Kitchen so because of the hour that was the only place open. As for Entertainment well I can honestly say I will never be a Blue Man Group fan didn't get the concept of them. I understand the music but the whole food thing and toilet paper not my thing. Legends was OK been to the show many times where I live. I did enjoy Tina and Madonna. Cirque show we booked in advance for premium seating and the seat that we got behind a pole and not having much room to move around and when we asked what could be done about this we were told to just sit down and enjoy the show you should be able to see the show when the entertainers come off the stage food was OK. The Show was OK they didn't have much room to perform. We both really enjoyed Howl at the Moon went 3 times The Bartender Lilly and the waitress Ranaldi she was great. The 3 in the show made it a great time Eddie, Scott, Mark really work well together. Murder Mystery Lunch was fun food was OK. The Magician/comedian Jeff was very good really enjoyed that show The cabin we had was fine it was a little small and I didn't think I was going to like the way the shower and toilet were located but compared to the bathroom on the last 2 ships at least on this ship you had room with the shower and toilet being separated/ The loud flushing sound was annoying. The lighting wasn't the best. Always enjoy having a balcony to relax on. dresser area with drawers with baskets in them were a little different. We never had a problem with the sink I guess we must be the only one on the ship that didn't have a problem with the sink. Customer service was lacking in certain areas like the shore excursion desk his name was Frank and he needs to be retrained in customer service skills. Just prior to the cruise I had foot surgery and from the excursion in Roatan I had injured my foot and wasn't able to go on the excursion we had booked for Nassau. We went to the excursion desk and Frank told us there wasn't anything he could do except try to sell our ticket and get what he can for it. I asked if the price of the excursion tour prices were negotiable. He was no help later that day my Husband went down to the excursion desk and spoke to Juan who was very helpful and courteous. Jenn couldn't be bothered unless we were booking another cruise just what was on our mind when we weren't happy about the way we were treated. Juan refunded our money. We are Latitude members we are Bronze level but unless you were above that you didn't count. We received a letter stating that due to the lack of room and all the latitude members that were on the ship the meet and greet Luncheon with the captain was only for the upper tier level. Just because we are Bronze doesn't mean we don't spend Money the same as the upper tier level. The last ship we were on we paid for 8 people to cruise but can only get the credit for one. Our Room steward was Great love the little towel animals. Kept the room clean always had clean towels and was available if we needed him always said good morning or good evening. Deck 15 was the busiest place besides the casino. The Pool size was a joke lots of wasted space used on walkway's around it. The one thing that was constant was the bar wait staff only happy if you were ordering drinks not soda even though the cup cost 50.00 The casino had too much smoke in it. People were smoking in areas that wasn't a designated smoking area. Spice doesn't follow the rules either that is the one place you were able to go to get away from the kids but alas there they were didn't matter day or night. Entertainment staff was good. Most of the week I thought Michael was the cruise director didn't see the cruise director until the last 2 days. The other 2 ships we traveled on were better than the epic at least we were treated the same didn't matter the level latitude member you were. The night before the last day on the other ships the Captain and the crew put on a great show to Thank everybody. All the Epic did was make announcements in the hallways and tell you which color tag to use. It was almost like here's your hat now get out we have all your money time for new victims. We will continue to cruise and maybe still with NCL. I have mailed a detailed letter to the corporate headquarters in Florida maybe the little person can make a difference if they don't listen to the mass of people complaining all the ship will be is an Epic and a saga in the story of NCL. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
NCL Transfers - Airport to Port / Check-In We were at baggage claim for 10 minutes without seeing an NCL rep. Carnival reps were in clearly identifiable uniforms. NCL reps were only recognized if they were holding up their notebook with ... Read More
NCL Transfers - Airport to Port / Check-In We were at baggage claim for 10 minutes without seeing an NCL rep. Carnival reps were in clearly identifiable uniforms. NCL reps were only recognized if they were holding up their notebook with the NCL logo. NCL reps had no clue that our itinerary was changed. American did not deliver our bags to baggage claim for over 40 minutes. We were then gathered up into a waiting area, and then left with no explanation. I tracked down an NCL rep and was told they were waiting for more customers. I asked how long the wait would be and was told he had no idea. I suggested they take the 20-30 of us to the port and return for the other customers. He said they cannot go without a full bus no matter how long we wait. NCL was losing money as we would have had more time on the ship for a sail-away drink or two. I then asked how he could not know the wait time since he knows exactly what customers he is waiting for, what flight they are on and when the flight is due in. He explained that the customers were at baggage claim but he had no idea how long it would take for their bags to be delivered. We finally were escorted to the bus. We were told we would not see our bags again until they were dropped off at our staterooms. I mentioned to one NCL rep that we wanted to bring 2 of our 4 bags with us, and we were told to bring those bags onboard the bus. We noticed very few people doing this and I asked another NCL rep. He told me that all bags would be taken off the bus for us to claim at the port before turning them over to the porters. I left a 3rd bag for placement under the bus and brought the 4th bag onboard. I found that the overhead bins could only fit a purse. I put my bag in the aisle, as did a number of others - a safety hazard but not one NCL cared about. We sat on the bus for 15 minutes while the driver and 3 NCL reps tried to figure out how to get the bags on the bus, with no explanation to us. Once at the port, the driver got off and closed the door. After all bags were removed, we were allowed off of the bus. The driver said thank you as we got off the bus. As I walked past him, he grabbed me by the shoulder, showed me an empty palm, and said "I said thank you". I kept walking as I did not want to give a tip until I knew I had my bags. The bags were scattered all over. I brought 2 bags over to the porter. He did not come to the customers. He just threw the bags on a cart and looked for a tip. Our flight arrived at 12:25 but we were not at the port until after 3:00. If we had taken a taxi, even after the long wait for our bags, we would have been at the port by 1:30. We got in line for check-in and were surprised that the line was not moving at all. I asked an NCL rep what was going on and was told that computer system goes down at 3:00 to send information to the US government, and would come up 15 minutes later but they made no announcement to the many in line about this. Once the system was up, the check-in was quite fast. This was the first they told us that Hurricane Earl forced us to skip St. Maarten and St. Thomas, and instead go to Cozumel and Roatan. The NCL rep looked for our key cards and told us we must have checked-in at the wrong terminal. We definitely were at the correct terminal per e-Docs. We were directed to go upstairs where we would be given our key cards. We were given the key cards along with a letter telling us we were late for the pre-departure drill and would need to participate in a make-up drill the next day. We were finally onboard. We were able to get into our cabin and put away our carry-on bags. We went to grab a LATE lunch and we were told we had to go to the pre-departure drill, which we thought we had missed. It was nice to not have to get and put on our life jackets and stand outside by the lifeboats. The vacation was off to a bad start but things would get better. Cabins We had a family deluxe balcony. It was just fine for a couple. The shower with tub was huge for a cruise ship, with excellent water pressure / temperature. The sink was not great but was not at all a problem. I do not think the bathroom would work if we were with kids or if the room was shared by teen brother and sister. The best bathroom layout we have had was on Disney Magic, where there is a separate toilet room and separate shower/sink room, each with an actual door. Cabin steward service was excellent, as long as we remembered to switch between Welcome, Make Up Room, Turn Down Room, and Do Not Disturb - which had to be done outside of the cabin. There is A LOT of storage space. There are hangers in one closet (near the bathroom) but none in the other closets (near the balcony). The room was always cool and comfortable, without our leaving a card in to keep the electricity going when we were gone. Food Manhattan Room - Expect to wait in line if you arrive after 7 PM. You will be asked if you are willing to sit with others, but they just group you by arrival time, not by similar ages, etc. The service, food options and food quality was definitely poorer than what we have had at MDR on Royal Caribbean. The steak was fatty. The dress code was not enforced. The live band music was nice. Taste - Same exact menu as Manhattan. The full week's menus can be checked out on your cabin TV. However, they even had the menu posted outside the restaurant all day one day showing lobster, only to change it at the last minute. Service again was slow. The room is really basic. O'Sheehan's - We ate here numerous times: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. One side is for eating, the other side is intended more for drinking but you can order food there. Service was pretty good. Everything we ate was pretty good. Only complaint was no BBQ sauce with the chicken tenders. Biggest crowd was for NCAA Football on the BIG screen. Pizza Delivery - We ordered at O'Sheehan's late around midnight and it took 30 minutes. The pizza was much larger than needed. It was cheesy but very bland, yet was better than the cardboard pizza at the Garden Cafe. Domino's learned their lesson about tasteless pizza and hopefully NCL will too. For a $5 charge, I expected something better. Garden Cafe - It seemed busy all of the time, but you never had a long wait even for made to order omelets. We always found a table, as they were quite quick at cleaning up. Hash-brown patties were great. Pretzel rolls and all of the breads were quite good. Soft-serve ice cream was not close to Dairy Queen but still good, except the 2 outside units were never in operation. Hard ice cream was good - regular and sugar free chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, at least 2 sherbert flavors, an occasional rocky road, coconut, butter pecan - but nothing like Cookies & Cream, Cookie Dough, Chocolate Chip. Spice Grill - Nothing different from what you get at Garden Cafe. Spice Bar - Has a small menu of satays, sweet potato fries, etc. La Cucina - The food would have been good for an MDR but was a bit lacking when paying a fee. Service was good. The room is really nice and quiet. They gave us a great table for two by the window. Moderno - The service was very good. They will sing "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" if you are celebrating an anniversary. The filet and garlic beef were the best options. The pork ribs were not the Chicago BBQ style I am used to but had a really excellent taste to them. Cagney's - Excellent! It was so good we went back for a second night. Of special note are the HUGE shrimp cocktail, the filet and gratin potatoes. By far the best service we had on the ship. The place seemed half empty each night. Soda Package We were not given the stickers when we got our key cards. We were given the stickers at a bar by just mentioning that we had bought the package. Days later we found a letter in a rack in our cabin that we were supposed to turn in for the stickers. Bartenders require you to remove the lids from the souvenir cups you get. If you ask for a glass, you may need 2 as they are a bit small. They were never consistent in terms of ice - getting none, way too much, or something in between. If we had the drink cups, we sometimes had to show our cards but usually did not. Diet Pepsi was fine but I prefer Diet Coke. Diet Sierra Mist was from cans, which sometimes they had to go get. There was no Diet Mountain Dew, not even in the vending machine in the video arcade. Restaurants will ask if you want refills, not automatically provide them as you may get at a TGI Fridays. Pub Crawl We attended the Sunday Pub Crawl and the Thursday Reunion Tour. You could sign up at the last minute. It started at Maltings, with a red-colored peach-tasting shot. We then went to O'Sheehan's. They asked for a few men to volunteer for a contest, followed by a few women. I won't give away the contest except to say it may embarrass some women. We were then given a tequila-tasting shot. Stop 3 was the Atrium Bar for another guy/girl volunteer contest that is good for guys who can inhale beer. We were given another shot. The 4th stop was Bliss. We had another peach-tasting shot, followed by being brought onstage for a group karaoke. We went up to the 15th floor to the ping pong tables outside of Spice. We were given a mixed drink on ice, which we drank while playing flip-cup (drink a shot of beer, turn over the cup, put it on edge of table, flip it so it stands up, repeat the flip until it works). Ryan was the NCL pub crawl leader. He did a great job of getting people involved and making sure we had fun. He would yell out "pub" and we would respond with "crawl". He dragged us out after the pub crawl to Howl at the Moon, and stayed out with us. We saw him numerous times during the week and he always had a pleasant hello for us. We won't be surprised to see him as a future Cruise Director. Mike, the assistant cruise director spent some time at the pub crawl. We saw Mike (looks like Bob Saget) much more than Silas who is the cruise director. We are in our early 50's. Most of the pub crawlers were in their 20's. One of the young ladies dropped out half way through the crawl. Many of the younger attendees did not stay out once we went to Howl. The Reunion had a larger crowd but not many from the first night. We could not go to Bliss due to a teen event. Instead, we did a guy volunteer contest that was not as much fun as the karaoke. The group split up after the crawl. We were told that previous cruises had nearly 150 people attending a single crawl. It was fun and gave us a chance to meet people. Shopping Marketplace on 15 (pool deck) would have racks brought out daily with Epic and Nickelodeon attire. The stores on 7 had your usual jewelry, cruise attire, and an Epic store. One of these stores has bulk candy hidden in the back. Toiletries, suntan lotion, etc. are for some strange reason in the "Sandbar" on 6 which sells liquor. Entertainment Blue Man Group was a lot of fun. However, if NCL wants repeat business, they need to replace them with another high quality act some time in the future, as this is not something many will want to see twice. We did not go to Cirque Dreams, due to negative comments we heard onboard about the show and definitely the food. Second City was really good. They had different shows. We went multiple times and just walked in. Jim Belushi's son Rob was in the cast. We are from Chicago and they did some Chicago name-dropping: Twin Anchors, Shenanigans, etc. Legends in Concert was fun. Elvis was the best of the three. I hope they bring more current performances in the future. How about a Bono, Kenny Chesney, Gwen Stefani? Jeff Hobson, the comedian/magician was funny but not for the kids. None of the shows required an overly early arrival or wait in line - but be careful that you know which line is for those with reservations and those waiting for a seat. We went to Fat Cats one night and there was nowhere to sit. The room is not meant for standing. You have to enjoy sitting and listening to Blues. I would have preferred a Country band playing music you can sing and dance to. Howl at the Moon was so good we were there every night they performed. They rotated amongst 3 gentlemen so there was never a break. They played drums and sax, in addition to piano. The later at night, the more adult the show becomes, like "The Alice Song". They do tend to play the same songs each night, unless you make requests that come with a tip. Numerous game shows were held throughout the week. There was Newlywed Game, 55 to stay alive (a take-off on Minute to Win It), and others. Quest was held the last night at Spice. It was fun but nowhere near what we have seen on Royal Caribbean in terms of attendance, participation or humor. Movies (Blind Side, Star Trek, Mamma Mia) could have been more current but it was great watching a movie during the afternoon at Spice or inside at Atrium / O'Sheehan's. Wildfire Duo at Atrium was okay. The violinist was better than the guitarist/singer. Bernie Martini playing piano at the Martini Bar was good. He looks like an older version of American Idol's David Archuleta. Excursions Cozumel - We took the Fury Catamaran, which we did 2 years earlier. The crew was fun. The snorkeling was excellent. We saw the largest school of fish I have ever seen. The beach was a lot of fun. The negatives: food at the beach was extra and the margaritas were very weak - at least the Dos Equis were good. Carlos & Charlie's in town was loud and the place to party. Roatan - We went to Tabayana Beach. It reminded me of a cruise line private island except you could not charge your drinks to your cabin. The beach was very clean. The water was incredibly calm and clear. This included a BBQ lunch. The bus ride over was in a not air-conditioned van but with the windows open it was sufficiently comfortable. The return ride (you can go back every ½ hour) was an air conditioned bus. There was a little bit of shopping at the pier. Nassau - We just visited the shops on Bay Street and got back on the ship to use the water slides when there was little to no one in line. We purposely blew off Atlantis because we expected a huge crowd as we thought Oasis was going to be in port, but she was not. Pools Water was too warm. Pools were always full but no more than any other ship we have been on. There are rugs on the pool deck and constant squeegee activity. I still would recommend wearing something on your feet due to the HOT deck. We never had problems finding chairs. Bar service was not annoying but was easy to find when desired. Spice seemed to be overly quiet unless a movie was showing and I never saw kids there. The Epic plunge turns you around in circles. It virtually stops at the bottom before dropping you down the end. The green slide is fast. The purple slide has a bit of a steep drop at the end. Other We bowled at Bliss. It was $5 per person for shoes and one game. We are not pros but something was definitely off based on our scores. Ice skating was only the first night. We did not do it, as we thought we would have more chances. I never saw batting cages. NCL Transfers - Port to Airport We were not given the option to use the BAGS service. We probably could have if we asked but it sure seems like NCL wants full control of your luggage if you are using their transfers. As we exited the port terminal, one NCL rep told us to go to a specific bus, and was promptly overridden by a second NCL rep. We got on the bus and left promptly. The bus made only 2 stops at the Miami airport. We were dropped off at Terminal E, not at Terminal D. American Airlines We arrived at the Miami airport about 5 hours 20 minutes prior to our departure. One agent told us to stand in a specific line to check-in AND check bags, then made announcements that the very same line was only for customers who were already checked in. A second agent helped us attempt to check-in only to find that their self-service units would not do a check-in more than 5 hours in advance. She sent us to the "Main Cabin" line, where she said they would check us in. The agent at the start of the line there refused, simply repeating "5 hours". We got in the line anyways. We did not get to the counter until it really was within 5 hours. They checked us in, collected our bag fees, and put bag tags on our bags. They told us to bring the bags "over there". We walked over to the clearly marked Bag Drop, where a very rude agent told us we were in the wrong place and he had no time for us. We finally found a place on the opposite side from the counter where we gave our bags to contract staff. This was quite different than one-stop processing we have enjoyed with other airlines. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Background: DH and myself, 40's, 7th cruise, 3rd with NCL. We sailed on August 28th and had a change in itinerary due to Hurricane Earl. NCL called the day before and left a message alerting us that they were monitoring the situation ... Read More
Background: DH and myself, 40's, 7th cruise, 3rd with NCL. We sailed on August 28th and had a change in itinerary due to Hurricane Earl. NCL called the day before and left a message alerting us that they were monitoring the situation and an itinerary change was possible. No problem with us, gives us an excuse to book another cruise so we can get to St. Thomas! Ship: Loved the look of the interior spaces. Orientation to the layout of the ship was easy and we found navigating the ship to be a breeze. The dEcor was fantastic. Each venue is decorated to make the space unique to its function. We could always find a quiet nook to sit, enjoy a drink or people watch. TIP: Blue carpeting in the hallways indicate you are on the starboard side of the ship. Orange/Red carpeting indicates the port side. The casino was definitely a popular place and could get crowded from time to time, but wasn't a huge factor as we walked through it. Also, the smoking in the casino was noticeable at the busiest times, but never offensive to us even though we are both non-smokers. The casino can be avoided if necessary to get to most things. We also enjoyed the concept of Spice H2O. It was a nice area and people seemed to really enjoy themselves when we were there. I can't say enough good things when it comes to the Spa area and the staff. We purchased the $199 couples pass to the Hydrotherapy and Thermal Spa area. Best bargain on the ship in my opinion. We used this space every day and it was a quiet retreat to relax. The Fitness Center was quite busy each time we were there. We worked out a few days, but then opted to use the jogging/walking track on Deck 7 to get in a bit of exercise. Cabin: We liked the layout and dEcor of our balcony cabin. It was on the small side, but we just looked at it as a cozy space and didn't find any major issues with it. The storage space is phenomenal. I am a heavy packer and we had lots of empty spaces left after unpacking. We were in cabin 10254 and had a deeper balcony since we were on the corner of the 'bump out'. The bathroom set-up was a non-issue for us. I would describe our cabin steward as adequate at best. The entire week our door to the toilet area needed to be wiped down from the previous guests, didn't happen. The previous guests (or their child) left 'artwork' on the mirror you could see when the cabin steamed up. It was cute the first time, but after that it just remained evidence that the cabin had not been thoroughly wiped down and cleaned between departing and arriving guests. Yes, he made up the bed and provided clean towels and the obligatory towel animals, but that was about the extent of it. I would also like to add that we are not demanding or high-maintenance guests. My only request for the entire week was an additional pillow. One other note regarding the cabin; we loved the technology available to check our on-line account to track our expenses. Entertainment: Does not disappoint. We saw Blue Man Group, Howl at the Moon (twice), Slam Allen and Second City. Wonderful, entertaining, best we've ever seen on a cruise ship. Restaurants: We had dinner at Taste (twice). Our first night was fine and we enjoyed the meal and the service. The food was very good (tilapia was excellent) and we enjoyed our evening in the main dining room. Our second evening was a different experience than the first. We asked for a table for two and were seated at one of those banquet areas with just a small amount of space separating your table from the next. Another couple was seated immediately with us also. The waiter proceeded to take our orders, fill our drinks, and serve our food, etc. in tandem with them. It was as if we were dining with them, and we might as well have been since we were close enough I could have eaten off the ladies plate next to me. The Garden Cafe offered a large variety of food choices. Of course being a buffet it did get hectic at certain times but you just have to take your time to get through the lines. TIP: If only one side of the buffet is open and you would like quiet seating, go to the opposite side and you can always find a table. I had looked forward to O'Sheehan's since I first heard about it. I really liked the way the area was set up and the food was really good. I recommend the Tune Melt. The service on the other hand was disappointing. Unless you were buying drinks, the service was really bad. Forget about getting a refill on iced tea. Once when we went to grab a quick snack we had to move three times before anyone would come to the table to wait on us and it was not particularly busy at that point. La Cucina dining was very enjoyable. The space is small and intimate. We liked the food and the service. I asked our waitress if I could have a smaller version of one of the pastas because I was curious to taste it; no problem at all. I was served my regular entrEe and my other request as well. Shanghai Noodle Bar was by far my favorite place to dine (three times!!) Everything there is ala carte and very modestly priced. I highly recommend the Vegetable Spring Rolls and the Singapore noodles. You can get a bit of entertainment if you sit around the cook station by watching the chef prepare the orders. Overall thought: I did mention a few negative things in my review, but none of them played a major impact of our time on the ship. We had a wonderful week onboard the Epic and I wish I was still there! Take my review for what's its worth since everyone's experience will be different. For all the future Epic Cruisers ~ Enjoy all it has to offer. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We booked a Penthouse for the 8/28/10 sailing on the Epic way back in May of 2009 (as the ship was being built). We saved a good amount of money by booking early and we LOVED THIS SHIP. We've been on several NCL cruises and by far ... Read More
We booked a Penthouse for the 8/28/10 sailing on the Epic way back in May of 2009 (as the ship was being built). We saved a good amount of money by booking early and we LOVED THIS SHIP. We've been on several NCL cruises and by far this was our favorite. Embarkation was a breeze, the quickest ever. The Private Courtyard area on Decks 16, 17 & 18 for those in the Courtyard suites, penthouses and villas is a nice splurge and worth the extra money. There is the pool, a small gym, a sauna, a steam room, the Epic Lounge, the Epic Restaurant, both an indoor and an outdoor bar, private sunning decks. Spectacular concept. Entertainment: Legends was a good show (Tina Turner, Madonna & Elvis impersonators). The Blue Man Group was entertaining (if you like that sort of thing). Both of those shows are free of charge. The Cirque Dreams dinner show "under the tent" ($15) - save your money. I don't know what was worse, the cramped quarters or the show. They pack you in to a very small space and the show was alright. Second City --- didn't see any of that. Howling at the Moon (dueling piano players and sing-alongs): a fun time. Casino: It's large, but we did not care for the way it was situated with gaming tables and slot machines right in the main thoroughfare as well as rooms off to the left and right. Other than it's location, it was the best casino on a cruise ship we've been in. Food: For the money ($25 pp) Cagney's Steak House is the best meal on the ship. Shrimp cocktail or oysters or crab cakes or lobster bisque or New England clam chowder for an appetizer, then salad choice, then either fillet mignon, prime rib, etc. The desserts --- fabulous as well. We also at up at the Epic Restaurant, but overall we really enjoy the Garden Cafe (the buffet). The vast options are what we like. We don't need to be seated at a table and served dinner. ***ICE BAR: This was our favorite on board bar. You pay $20 pp to go in for 45 minutes and they give you 2 drinks (Svedka vodka drinks). It's 17 degrees and they give you a winter cape and gloves to wear. NOTE: shoes and socks rather than sandals are the way to go when entering the Ice Bar. The staff was outstanding. Always with a smile on their face and willing to help with whatever was needed. NOTE: Due to Hurricane Earl our itinerary was changed. We were supposed to do the Eastern Caribbean (St Thomas, St Martin & Nassau, but we had to do the Western (yuk) - Cozumel, Roatan (Honduras) & Nassau. These things happen, better safe than sorry. Overall, this ship is beautiful and we would go on it again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Having just returned from two weeks on the Norwegian Epic, I am able to reflect on what this ship is and is not. Here is what it is: Huge, Innovative, Comfortable, Focused on Passenger Service. Here is what it is not: Crowded ... Read More
Having just returned from two weeks on the Norwegian Epic, I am able to reflect on what this ship is and is not. Here is what it is: Huge, Innovative, Comfortable, Focused on Passenger Service. Here is what it is not: Crowded (surprisingly), Subtle, Intimate. All in all, this was a great cruise experience. Norwegian really has recast the mold and set a new standard in how passengers can make choices while on board. Gone is the huge showroom - in its place multiple venues with multiple types of quality entertainment. It also recasts the dining experience. If you want, during a 10 day cruise, you can eat dinner at a different venue each night. While we didn't eat in every restaurant, every meal we had was excellent, well prepared, well presented. I cannot say enough about the courtesy and politeness of the crew. I do wish Norwegian would offer fewer announcements over the public address system during the day but this problem isn't unique to EPIC but is, nevertheless, annoying (Carnival is worse). Yes, the cabins were funky without a contained traditional bathroom but this didn't detract from the cruise experience as much as offer an opportunity to experience something new and different. I read about the complaints about privacy in the shower and commode areas. Any intimate couple won't find this at all a problem but I would imagine it would take some courtesy if, say, a brother/sister were in the cabin together. The curved wall was really nice and added interest in the cabin design. This is not a ship with its own art collection (although the Park West gallery area is huge if that interests you - it doesn't interest me). The artwork in the cabin hallways is pleasant and soothing but not remarkable. In fact, the lack of significant art in the ship illustrates its personality - friendly, welcoming, fun, varied but not elegant or overtly luxurious (but then again, NCL isn't known as a true luxury line). I particularly liked the design and vibe of O'Sheenan's pub - which has 3 bowling lanes, pool tables, and has the feel of neighborhood pub - it overlooks a lower floor in the atrium area and looks directly upon the immense/massive high definition screen midship. I did hear some people comment that without elevators midship (but fore/aft only), passengers with midship cabins had longer walks from elevators to their cabins. There were a total of 16 passenger elevators, 8 fore and 8 aft. Would I sail on EPIC again? You bet. But in the Caribbean, not in Europe where the ship will be next summer. Why? Because part of being on the EIPC is the experience of the ship itself and the European itinerary for the ship has daily port calls. I'd consider sailing her again next time we cruise the Caribbean (especially since we missed the Eastern Caribbean ports due to Hurricane Earl - calling twice on Cozumel and Roatan and missing St. Thomas and St. Marteen. It was a wonderful two week vacation - I came away happy, relaxed, impressed, pleased and feeling that I had a huge bang for my buck on this amazing, creative and impressive ship. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
The Epic Hybrid Cruise - Hurricane Earl sent us West not East! We were already in Miami for 4 days before we joined the Epic. There were not many cruise ships in port for the 4 days we were there. However, we had a special late lunch/ ... Read More
The Epic Hybrid Cruise - Hurricane Earl sent us West not East! We were already in Miami for 4 days before we joined the Epic. There were not many cruise ships in port for the 4 days we were there. However, we had a special late lunch/ early dinner at Smith and Wollensky's on Friday evening to watch the weekend cruise ships go out of port including my first ever cruise ship foray... the Majesty of the Seas! Both my husband and I were really excited about the Epic... we had read about her on Cruise Critic, commented about the various bathroom/sink issues and now tomorrow we were coming on board! Embarkation - So we got to the Port about midday..... yes we could have got there sooner but to be honest there were not that many queues there really and we were actually processed very quickly.. It took about half an hour and that was it! However, we had a bit of a shock getting on board as I heard the words "itinerary change" from a customer service agent and he was handing out letters - we were not going to St Thomas and St Maarten but to Cozumel and Roatan instead! Ok, our UK travel agent could have told us about the change beforehand... the whole trip was booked through them... it wouldn't have changed anything, we would have still sailed but I could have done some research beforehand on what to do with the new islands.....very poor customer service. I had heard of Cozumel but it was a case of Roa - what to us Brits!? I was very happy we had an extended stay on Nassau as I had booked a dolphin encounter at the Blue Lagoon independently and it meant we had much more time on the island. I booked this independently and paid in advance. I had booked other trips but not paid anything out so that was good. We were very glad we changed hotels as according to tripadvisor our original hotel was a bit of a dump and indeed walking past it, our 2nd choice of hotel looked a lot better and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there - Marseilles Hotel. We had known there were hurricanes about and had checked UK news before we went and American TV but the last we had known was that they were not heading for where we were going... wrong! Anyway, I am digressing... we got on board and we got maps when we checked in and it was like wow..... we are here! It was pretty heaving in the Garden Cafe which is where we chose to have lunch but we could have gone elsewhere as Taste was open for sure. Whilst having lunch, we had the announcement that our cabins were ready and indeed one of the officers was also coming round telling passengers this was the case which I thought was a nice touch.... we thought the food compared very well to RCI - our last cruise, so we were quite impressed although NCL could have some variation to their complimentary drinks other than water and iced tea/coffee after the breakfast juices were taken out.RCI have a tasty lemonade too. Stateroom - We had balcony cabin 12152... which was nicely midship positioned. We really liked our cabin and we were lucky enough to have an excellent stateroom attendant in Made.... who showed us where the secret lights were and also how to turn off the phone light! He kept the room very clean for us and amused us with cute towel animals including some swans for our first night with confetti as this was our honeymoon cruise! Our opinion on the cabin was that it was compact and bijoux.... things as have been reported are a tight squeeze to get by especially when you are trying to unpack at the same time! I liked the fact we could make tea and coffee and Made always made sure the ice bucket was stocked up. I loved the interactive TV and the fact you could get menus on the screen - genius! We liked the fact we could just have a chill in the cabin for a bit of quiet time. The sink - yep - useless... but we did like the separate shower/ toilet arrangement and we thought the shower was great, well sized and you could get 2 people in there - ahem! The storage was also great, plenty of it, so things never looked messy in there. Our suitcases went under the bed and I thought having an NCL plastic dirt sheet for when you arrive for your suitcases to go on the bed is a good idea, saves the linen getting messed up! Entertainment - we thought this was excellent...... we both loved the Blue Man Group. Also saw Second City the late show, which was also good and saw Legends in Concert which we both enjoyed. We didn't partake much of the nightly entertainment as the heat was knocking us out by then, plus the food and a cocktail or two! Bliss was sometimes very quiet and then sometimes heaving... we ventured out to Spice H20 and that was also quiet. We didn't try the Ice Bar.. would have liked too. Cirque didn't appeal too much and we tried to get into the bowling but couldn't get in.... we tried a few times. Food/Drink - We had no problem with the food anywhere, there was loads of choice and if you wanted to pay for the speciality restaurants you could but you don't have to! We paid extra to eat at La Cucina, Moderno, Shanghai's and Le Bistro was included in our Deluxe honeymoon package. We enjoyed all of the food in the speciality restaurants, it was all good quality. I particularly enjoyed the Chicken Cashew at Shanghai's and the Vanilla Crème Brulee at Le Bistro was outstanding! We also ate at Taste, Manhattan, O'Sheehan's, The Great Outdoors, Garden Cafe and Spice H20. We had a room service special breakfast as this was also included in the Deluxe honeymoon package. The bread chefs must be kept really busy on the Epic as they churn out amazing different breads for La Cucina, Moderno's cheese bread puffs were also fantastic and the complimentary starter had delicious French bread with a salmon mousse. Must also give a special mention to the pastry chefs on board as the Danish pastries were probably the best we had anywhere! We thought the food tasted really good everywhere we went. We are not big drinkers but we did take advantage of the fact when they did specials like 2 for 1 Martini's... the Expresso Martini was delicious! We also had drinks like Strawberry Daiquiris and Mojitos. They were kind of the usual price $7 to $9. Customer Service - We had a very efficient stateroom attendant in Made and he was also very pleasant and friendly to us whenever we saw him. We never had a problem with anyone around the ship. There was one occasion where service was slow and that was the morning we docked in Cozumel. We decided to breakfast in O'Sheehans and the service there was pretty slow which surprised us and the waiter who took our order didn't speak good English.... therefore we didn't receive the breakfast we wanted but no worries, we still got fed! We never had a massive wait anywhere to get into a restaurant and we found the interactive restaurant time advisor on the walls in various places a great idea... also good in telling you how to get to places if you were lost! Spa - We decided to treat ourselves and bought a couples weekly pass for the spa which we greatly enjoyed. The 2 saunas and steam rooms were great as was the hot tub and the hot tub pool. 2 points to mention in here was that if someone went under the great, big pouring water taps in the hot tub pool then water could go everywhere, some people were mindful of this and some ignorant people weren't, so if you were not careful - you could end up with an eyeful of chlorinated water which stung! Also - day beds especially the heated beds were just reserved all the time and weren't meant to be but no-one was watching this at all - never mind controlling it. Some people just seemed to live in the spa area and hog the beds which was clearly not fair! We also enjoyed some spa treatments which were part of the honeymoon package and both received a 25 minute couple's massage. They got this wrong at first and thought we were going in separately and so we had to be given another time later on that day (a sea day) they were genuinely apologetic about it but then also forgot that I wanted a scalp massage as well! Luckily, my masseur was available and I think she gave me some extra time due to the hassle so it was no big deal in the end. Deluxe Honeymoon Package - We enjoyed the big bits of the package with the highlight being the meal and wine at Le Bistro (although I have to say the wine seemed a bit rough) and the couples massages. As it was a freestyle cruise, we didn't have that many formal pics taken of us as we always seemed to be rushing somewhere or just chilling and it was just a picture, no frame. We had chocolate covered strawberries and champagne when we departed Miami and the portion of strawberries was extremely skimpy as was the portion of canapEs one evening... there were 6 of them and they were tiny! We also enjoyed a special breakfast in bed one morning which was lovely, we had enough pastries to feed an army but they weren't special items, you could get them all from the Garden Cafe. Ports of call - I have to say I understood of why we had to change itinerary due to the hurricane but I was pretty disappointed not to be going to St Thomas and St Maarten. As we didn't have advance info of this, we decided to bite the bullet and sign up with NCL excursions ASAP as people would no doubt be booking them up. We got a brochure and joined the massive queue that was building up at the shore excursions desk but then someone told us we could book the excursions at the interactive kiosk by the desk so we did! We decided to book island tours of both Cozumel and Roatan. I knew about Cozumel having been to Mexico before but nothing about Roatan. The Cozumel tour consisted of a coach drive to Channakab, a visit to El Cedral and a drive along the beach/sea and a stop for a margarita at a restaurant/bar... the food smelled good there but we only had a 20 minute stop. The coach could then drop you at the Cozumel museum and some shopping there or take you back to the shopping centre/ port area so we opted for the later. I managed to buy some more jewellery after a massive haggling session with a shop so we left happy. Roatan is a stunning looking island but is very poor and again we picked an island tour. We could go in the morning or the afternoon and opted for an afternoon tour. Apparently, there is a difference in these tours and in the morning, you can get dropped off at the beach and then picked up again or make your own way back and this was not broadcast by NCL so there were a few of us on the minibus that felt this tour wasn't value for money due to that as we had been expecting to see some of the beach resorts. The tour took us on a boat ride where you could see the coral reef in the sea, the mangroves and 2 shipwrecks. We were then taken to a high point of the island near the zoo where you could see the coral reef from high which was a great sight. Everywhere we stopped, there were retail opportunities... in fact we ventured off the Epic into the Town Center in the morning and deciding we needed some liquid refreshment went to a bar on the water and there were young boys swimming in the sea wanting their pics taken for a dollar and then a guy wanted to take us on a tour even though we kept explaining we had already booked one... he then wanted us to buy him a drink! Back to the tour, we were taken to the Garifuna village where we had a traditional song and dance session by the local people and were shown local traditions. Another stop took us to more Garifuna artefacts and the local soup was being sold for $5 a bowl! It was a relatively interesting tour but a bit of beach time would have been great. We were very pleased to be spending more time in Nassau. I booked an independent trip to the Blue Lagoon resort on Salt Cay and saved about $60 dollars off the ship price. Took a taxi to the ferry terminal which cost $8 standard set prices and then off we went. The ferry boats back took us straight back to the cruise port so that was great. We did the Dolphin Encounter which was a great experience as we had never done it before but I didn't find the trainer too sympathetic with me being a non swimmer (it does state very clearly on the website that you don't have to be able to swim to do this) and she got the dolphin to blow raspberries at me! We also booked a debarkation tour with NCL to the Everglades with a drop off at Miami airport. We had a good tour guide with us and we enjoyed the tour. It was quite a quick tour and we still had to wait 6 hours at the airport... they are insistent that your flight leaves after 3.30pm which makes you think you will have a good 5 hr tour. Not so. They like you to be on the bus by 9.30 and then at Miami airport for 1.30! We had an airboat ride at one of the safari parks which was a good experience, and then we saw a gator show which was the first time I had seen one and thought it was pretty cool to have a guy go into a cage with 5 alligators. You could then have your pic taken for $3 with a baby gator which my husband did! We had some free time then which was good as they had a good restaurant on site although it was busy since we were there with about 3 other coachloads. You could go on a jungle trial if you wanted to but it was a baking hot day so we just wanted to keep cool! Ship Decor - I thought the decor on the ship was very good. I have to say I don't like very garish decor and I think other NCL ships could do with it being toned down! The ship looks very elegant and classy from the stateroom areas to the public areas. The LED chandelier is spectacular and the shopping area is the best I have seen on a ship. Some of the carpets are still loud but they are funky not garish! Debarkation - wow how quick! We were off the ship and on a bus in half an hour. We had a quick breakfast at the Great Outdoors and then went to the Epic Theatre as we had booked an Everglades Tour which meant that our luggage would come with us and we would be dropped off at Miami airport as our flight back wasn't till 7.25pm! We were beeped off the ship using our sea passes for the last time, got our luggage, went through customs/passport control and that was it. It was very well managed by NCL/port staff to ensure that lines were kept flowing and generally was very impressive. Overall Experience - Both of us really enjoyed the Epic adventure (we have the luggage tags that say so too!), it was also our first NCL experience and hopefully it won't be our last. There are some issues that have been already widely reported thanks to the Cruise Critic forums, the useless sink which we called the polo mint. It would prevent a lot of splashing if they just altered the tap design. We didn't mind the toilet/shower set up. Deck 15 is noisy and loud. We found a cool area on decks 17/18 - we went up in the lifts designed to take Courtyard Villa guests to their areas... we would stay there when sunbathing and it seems a few people had cottoned on to that fact too! You cannot swim in the pools; they are not designed for swimming at all! I think the space at Spice H20 could be better utilised here for a bigger pool for adults. We did attend the CC party where they laid on some food/drinks etc which was a nice touch and the Captain did come too (as another CC poster said we didn't hear too much from the Captain but he was fond of talking about the Code Alphas -medical emergencies and the weather) there didn't seem to be too much going on though, was hoping for a cabin crawl as I was up for that but there didn't seem to be one! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
I scroll through some of the whiners on here and wonder if they travelled on the same ship?! We had an absoultely wonderful time. I can only assume that the people who dislike FREESTYLE so much are the type that want to be spoon-fed (i.e ... Read More
I scroll through some of the whiners on here and wonder if they travelled on the same ship?! We had an absoultely wonderful time. I can only assume that the people who dislike FREESTYLE so much are the type that want to be spoon-fed (i.e you WILL eat at 6pm every day and then go to a show at 7pm EVERY day!). We found the whole experience fantastic. Do what you want, when you want, and boy was there a lot to choose from. ROOMS - we upgraded onboard from inside to balcony. The rooms are adequate for their purpose - to sleep in and maybe relax on the balcony. People complaining about TV channels?! Stay at home if you want to watch TV all day! Cabins are tastefully furnished with modern decor. The stewards are also brilliant. They will look after you from day 1. FOOD - WOW! So much choice. If you don't want to pay cover charges, there are always 4 options to dine in ranging from more formal (Manhattan) to buffet (Garden Cafe) and we NEVER had to wait for a table in any of them. Plus the choice at the buffet was great. It is worth paying the cover charge as a treat though. We ate at Shanghai (Chinese), Teppenyaki (Japanese) and La Cucina (Italian) and we thought it was good value. ENTERTAINMENT - What can I say?! So much to do. Whether you want to party (Bliss Lounge), listen to Jazz (Fat Cats), be charmed by Bernie the Piano Man (Shakers Martini Bar) or watch a movie (Atrium or Spice H20) there is such variety. Plus then theres the Epic Casino, an easy way to quickly rack up a hefty bill! Not to mention the shows: Legends, Blue Man and Jeff Hobson Comedy Magician were our favourites. There literally is something for everyone. BARS - A little pricey, but this is cruising! So many to chose from again. We enjoyed Spice H20 Pool Bar, Over 18's only, plus sundeck with Jacuzzi's - absoulte heaven! PORTS - 5 out of 6 fantastic (try Fosters Beach at Roatan - out of this world). Only disappointment was Costa Maya - felt like you were being purposefully dropped into a shopping centre in middle of nowhere. St Maarten and Roatan were our favourites. STAFF - all so courteous. We do not have a bad word to say. Sure - the whole ship is a money-making machine - this is business - but just because they try to sell lots to you, does not mean you have to buy it all! And it certainly did not impact on our enjoyment. We are already looking at our next FREESTYLE NCL cruise. If you like "Formal Cruising" and want to be waited on hand and foot, this is probably not for you. But if like us, you want to relax, do things at your own pace and be safe in the knowledge you are on a fantastic ship with lots to do, great facilites, and friendly staff - choose the EPIC! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
I wanted to take this cruise specifically to check out NCL's Epic ship and I will say that I thought most of our moments were highlights. I waited on purpose to write this review a month later because I wanted to remember what really ... Read More
I wanted to take this cruise specifically to check out NCL's Epic ship and I will say that I thought most of our moments were highlights. I waited on purpose to write this review a month later because I wanted to remember what really made an impression on me and on what didn't really make an impression on me. NCL's embarkation is wonderful as it was very well organized and moved smoothly. We arrived at 11:30am and we were on the ship by 12:15pm. First impression: No wow factor as we entered on deck 6 into the box office area. We were able to go to our rooms at 2pm and we meet our room steward almost immediately. Marissa was wonderful and she showed us all the cubby holes in the room. I asked her to remove the items in the refrigerator so we could use it for things that we wanted it for. I tipped her $5 as our room had a larger balcony and I prefer to have the option of reclining vs. sitting up when I am on the balcony. Our room was satisfactory. This was my first balcony in 14 cruises and I loved the balcony however I was a little bit disappointed in the width of the room area as it really needed an extra 6" to make it comfortable not to bump into my husband all the time. He had to ask me to pass him his clothes and I found myself asking him to pass me things as well! There is a stool by the bed to use if you want to sit in front of the mirror but there is no need to use the stool because you can sit on the bed. Our room set up was the bed first and than the couch and balcony. People have talked about the set up of the bathroom being split up. It was a non issue for us. The only time I was a little uncomfortable was when I realized I ordered a Pizza and I was in the bathroom and I thought oh did I move the "dial" on the outside of our room by the door to read "make up the room" or "Privacy Please" well, of course they knocked and it was a non issue but I guess it could have been. The shallow sink you get used to but really you can't wash your face in it with the faucet being designed the way it is currently. I like the idea of Free Style however on the EPIC if you really want to see special entertainment like Blue Man Group or the Cirque Dreams you need to reserve ahead of time especially if you want to go a certain night. I highly reccommend reserving before you board the EPIC specialty entertainment, otherwise you may be spending your time waiting in line at the box office when the box office is open. You will end up missing something fun because you had to wait in line and than you may be disappointed once you tried to make a reservation and they tell you the show is already booked! I like all the numerous choices for dining. Yes you can spend alot of extra money on the speciality restaurants but you don't have to as I dined in all the free dining options as well such as the Garden Cafe and Manhattan room, Taste and Oshean's Sports bar and I found the service as well as the food to be quite good. We ate in several of the Speciality resturants including Moderno, Le Bistro, Cagneys, Teppanaki and La Cucina. Now, I traveled with my mother-in-law and she is not so fond of "free style" she wants to know where she will be all the time so for me it wasn't fun reserving dinner reservations every night. But you can always cancel and on the sailing we were on the EPIC was not full. The only day I think you would have had to wait to eat was on the last sea day as it seemed that everyone was in the speciality restaurants. Our service on this day was not the best but they ended up comping one of our meals due to the service being slow. I had my meal comped at La Cucina because I tried three different entrees and I was not happy with the taste of the food. I was with other people who wanted to try this restaurant out so it may just have been due to this wasn't my favorite food venue. I loved the scenery in this restaurant though and several mornings I slipped down here to enjoy my breakfast from the Garden Cafe and I almost had the place to myself some mornings. My favorite speciality restuarant by far was Le Bistro. It was very intimate and the service was exceptional! Both my husband and I used the fitness center and by far this was the best fitness center as well as Spa area on any ship we have sailed on. The fitness center was well layed out and their were plenty of people around to show you how to use the different equipment and boy what a nice view of the ocean from here! In the Spa area you can opt to pay extra to get all of the services such as the different style saunas, jacuzzi's and specialized heating chairs. Wonderful and very relaxing. My husband and I both had a massage and this was the first time I wasn't hounded to buy something extra. So I know I really enjoyed my massage. It was a very relaxing 4 hours in the spa area for both of us. I wish we would have upgraded to a Spa suite. I was also apart of a very large meet and greet through cruise critic and we really had a fun group. We met all the officers on the first sea day. We had a slot pull and we also checked out different style rooms and boy are the Villa areas sweet! Definitely try to upgrade to this area if you are looking for a special vacation. We did not order any specializedd shore excursions. We have been to the Eastern Caribbean numerous times and we just went on our own and enjoyed the beach areas. In summary, the entertainment was wonderful, Fat Cat Jazz club was out of this world a very small setting and alot of fun. We also enjoyed Second City and we really enjoyed Howl at the Moon. Those guys are super talented! The Pool area was wonderul I thought during the time that we went because there were not that many kids. We were able to go down the slides several times and they were alot of fun and we didn't have to wait long. But I bet if the ship was full of kids this woul be something we would not have done. I liked the Center area of the ship with Oshean's Sports bar being a good meeting place however, I am a non smoker and I did not like having to go through the casino area where the smoke filtered through the common area. I am a Casino at Sea Player and I felt the Casino to be lacking in drink service. I am not a High roller but I certainly should not have to leave my area in order to get a drink because this was a benefit for me. The employees on board the EPIC were for the most part exceptional. Silas was our cruise director and he danced with me on the first day at sea and he seemed to remember me whenever we bumped into each other. Marissa, our room steward as well as the other stewards always greeted us. Marissa always greeted us by name. The times that we had an issue with our meals they were comped and we did not ask for that so we appreciated that been done without us having to ask. I would sail again on the EPIC but only with my husband as I would like to be more free style. That's what makes a vacation really nice not having to be anywhere unless you feel like it! Leave your watch behind and computer behind and sail on the EPIC! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Background: My DH and I love to cruise and since 1998 have spent more than 30 weeks on board ships. I research all cruise lines to find ships that fit our budget, and offer a variety of ports, dining, entertainment, lifestyle and ... Read More
Background: My DH and I love to cruise and since 1998 have spent more than 30 weeks on board ships. I research all cruise lines to find ships that fit our budget, and offer a variety of ports, dining, entertainment, lifestyle and activities that suit us. In the last few years, when I narrowed down my cruise selections I invariably ended up booking NCL (14 times). This is ALWAYS based on the fantastic value received. Capitalizing on the deals that were offered for early booking we reserved the back-to-back Eastern and Western Caribbean routes. The Epic did not disappoint. Prior to Embarkation: We have learned to arrive at the home port at least a day in advance to ensure we encounter no last minute flight glitches, to enjoy the port, and to be rested and ready to begin our sea adventure. This time we stayed at the Marriot Biscayne Bay (moderately expensive) which was undergoing some lobby renovations. The room renovations were complete, beautifully decorated and offered an excellent view of the Epic's pre-dawn entry into port. (I only caught the very last part of it docking but it was impressive!) I requested an early arrival and we were in our room by 10:30 a.m. We then took the free people mover to the Bayside Mall, browsed around to pick up last minute items including a large bottle of eyeglass cleaner (more on this later) and lunched at Mambos - a very good dockside Cuban restaurant. There were also several nice restaurants in the mall adjoining our hotel. We had a delicious diner at the Uruguayan Los Gauchitos Steakhouse. Embarkation: Saturday we were up early and taxied to the ship around 11:00 where we walked through security right to the Gold Latitudes desk. We then found a seat in the waiting lounge and met several fellow cruise critic members. After a wait of about 30 minutes we were led onto the Epic, no muss, no fuss. The greeters were very welcoming and ready to direct you to wherever you wanted to go. Our first stop was a reservations desk (and there are many throughout the ship) to book the ice bar and confirm some additional restaurant choices. Then it was off to the buffet for a quick lunch. My luggage arrived promptly but DH received a notice to go to the "naughty room" where he was surrounded by travelers bemoaning the failure of their alcohol smuggling. All laughed when DH's "contraband" was the eyeglass cleaner. Warning! The Epic confiscates your alcohol (even if you're tricky and put it in an Evian bottle) and returns it at the end of the cruise. Finally we were off to explore the Epic. The Ship: The Epic is impressive. Everything about it is state-of-the-art and its design was one reason we chose it. I know there have been both positive and negative reviews but for us it was almost all positive. Sure the elevators are located each end of the ship, but the walk was healthy (and for the fearful, there are plenty of crew stairs throughout in case of emergencies. STOP Worrying!) The handicapped may have a problem but all those that we met were smiling throughout the cruise. The only time we had a few minutes wait at an elevator was embarkation and right after returning from a port. The design was appealing, not too glitzy with mostly blues and browns (my favorite colors). There were interactive screens at all elevators to assist you in finding your way. Tap a button and there's plotted directions to dining, entertainment, activities, and shopping with hours and availability. There were Crew located throughout the ship who were very helpful with directions and advice. Mid ship escalators will take you from deck 5-6 and a spiral staircase from 6-7 where most of the action is. We found there were very busy areas (O'Sheehan's Pub) and areas where you could curl up with a book and relax (the area between Spice H2O and the Marketplace.) Entertainment Venues: Because we had two weeks we were able to enjoy all of the entertainment. Wildfire (a keyboardist and electric violinist) in the atrium were particularly good and the dance floor was often filled. (The large screen TV was also used for everything from giant Wii games to the most popular Sunday/Monday football.) It gave everyone something to do or watch while waiting for help at the information or shore excursion desks. A nice idea. What is also nice about the Epic is that although it's huge, it has both open and enclosed venues. This allows for several types of really good entertainment to occur without large crowds and without the noise/music impinging on each other. While you can enjoy a pianist in Shakers, the open Martini bar, you can also go to Headliners and enjoy Second City or Howl at the Moon dueling pianos. (Headliners felt exactly like New York City's Comedy Club.) My advice is to skip Second City's improv show and go with one that is partially scripted - much funnier. Fat Cats was another intimate lounge with great Jazz. Other venues included the Epic Theater and the Spiegel Tent. In the tent we saw the comedian/magician (very good) and Cirque Dreams (extra fee & just a short wait on line.) Try to sit upstairs. Although some have complained about the Cirque dreams dinner, I believe there's a new menu that may alleviate the complaints. Our dinner was good and I would have gone back just for the BATHTUB acrobat. Ladies - do not miss his act. Someone at the next table asked if he was "dessert." With the B2B we were fortunate to see two versions of Legends in Concert - Week 1 - Elvis, Madonna & Tina Turner. Week 2- Brittney Spears, Rod Stewart and Michael Jackson. You're going to love the acts. They're free and very well done. In fact, if you watch the two video screens on each side of the stage you'll see that the performers are almost always exactly in sync with the actual stars. Blue Man Group was... The Blue Man Group. If you've never seen them, go - it's worth the fee. Even though I had to change my reservation 3 times I had no problem getting in. I understand others have encountered crowds but we were fortunate to find space in all the venues at both early and late shows. Of all the performances, the only one that involved a wait and was sold out was Cirque. One hint is to arrive at least 20 minutes before any of the performances. It's just enough time to get a drink or an Irish coffee. Then sit back and enjoy the shows. We also visited the Ice Bar and I consider that an activity because it's so cold you never sit down. Since there are only 9 Ice Bars in the world it's worth a visit ($20pp.) Two drinks are included and the Polaris was the best one. Wear your socks and athletic shoes or your frozen feet will quickly force you to leave. DH and I lasted about 25 minutes, just long enough to take pictures and chat with the other visitors. Sorry folks but we missed the late night entertainment and had to catch it on TV the next day. Dancing with the Stars and Fabba both looked like they were fun and Silas Cook, the cruise director, and his staff were incredible. Activity Venues: Yes, gentle readers the pools will be crowded if you go on a sunny sea day. After all, a tan is one of the souvenirs you take home from a Caribbean cruise. And, as my DH explained, "A pool on the ocean, a 40-foot LARGE screen TV showing Sunday football, someone replenishing my drinks...priceless!!" If you're not into swimming you'll find plenty of deck chairs on the higher decks (18). There were also some day passes available to the Posh Beach Club on Deck 18. We opted for Spice H2O, the adult's only pool which converts to a dance floor for nighttime activities. On sea days we were there around 10:30 and barely found chairs. On Port Days many chairs were open right into the late afternoon and the pool was fairly empty. Only once did a few twenty-somethings decide to do cannonballs and disturb others but it was stopped very quickly. (And we thought it was the children who would be rowdy?.) Our pool waiter, Jason knew our names and drinks by the second day, kept an eye out for available lounge chairs, brought enormous buckets of ice to put our drinks in and spritzed us with cool water every half hour. Luxurious! He also was quick to remove the towels from several chairs after I mentioned that no one had used them for over 40 minutes and others were waiting. Evidently the sunbathers had gone to lunch and were slow to return. Signs do warn you about reserving chairs and not using them. Areas where both adults and children were having outdoor fun were the rock climbing/rappelling wall, the spider climb, bungee jump and of course, the water slides. My DH tried the purple slide which was the easiest. Go for the yellow and green if you dare! Other activities that we watched included nighttime ice skating and bowling. Indoors we attended a few trivia games, port and shopping lectures and the ever popular martini and margarita clinics. The shopping lectures were long and I recommend you watch them on your room TV while dressing. Then you just focus on just the parts that interest you. I had to leave when Rudy said every one of us "must" buy a diamond this cruise. However there are many benefits of visiting Rudy for his VIP cards and listening to his advice if you're a serious jewelry shopper. Also check out the Photography center. I understand that it's new to several ships and uses facial recognition to catalogue our photos from the first onboard photo where we gave them our cabin number. From then on all our photos could be viewed on-line at a computer station or in a loose leaf binder. What a great idea. No more scouring the walls finding a picture and then having to decide if you want it or risk losing it when new pictures are added to the wall. Spa and Fitness: Fortunately for me, Rosanna, the excellent stylist who cut, colored and highlighted my hair on the Jewel in April was transferred to the Epic and I used her talents again. She also does the special 3 -or- 4 combination of treatments for $129 and both my DH and I took advantage of that. Wonderful facial, hand and foot massages! I highly recommend her. We also purchased the couples' one- week Spa package for $199. The spa is really lovely with both indoor and outdoor lounges, heated lounge chairs, steam and saunas, and a variety of water treatments beyond Jacuzzis. Unfortunately there was so much to do, we didn't use it often enough to make it cost-effective. We would have been better off with a $30 day pass. The fitness center is state-of-the-art and will not disappoint the most discerning athlete. (That's not us.) What most impressed me was the spin room with cardio arm bands computerized to show your progress on the front wall computer screen. Fortunately you're only identified by numbers so no one knows if you're slacking off. Cruise Critic/Latitude Activities: We attended two meet and greets and several Latitudes parties. At every party, the key crew members were introduced including Captain Svedun who was very personable and Hotel Director Klaus Lugmaier. Klaus encouraged all of us to contact him directly if we had a problem. He handed out his telephone extension number (8888) as well as those of all the Directors (well, not Captain Svedun) He was determined to make our cruise as trouble -free as possible and reiterated that we should not wait until we were home to tell him what may have disappointed us. He wanted to know NOW so he could fix it. Soooo...when I mentioned I was conducting two cabin crawls, he immediately got on his cell, contacted Ana from crew services and had her assist me in the room tours. Not knowing the way around the ship, I depended on Ana make my tours move quickly and efficiently. And... when my internet minutes were lost on the second week's sailing, I dialed 8888 and Klaus had them restored with even a few extra minutes. I was a happy traveler! I also chatted with Anil Kumar, the executive chef, Serhat Kati, restaurant manager and Silas Cook, cruise director. It amazed me how often in the next two weeks I saw them and they greeted me by name. They always asked if I was finding the food or activities to my liking. Ship Shopping: Oh happy shopper! Typically available for one night on cruises, the Bijou Turner $10 items like evening bags, jewelry and watches were unveiled early in the cruise and were in the ship stores for several days. Also, there was a terrific sale of watch sets (Women's watch+jewelry or Men's watch+pens/calculators/cufflinks) 2 sets for $40. I suggest you get there early because the crowds are unbelievable and the sets are really nice. I now have several Christmas gifts for friends and relatives. And there were soft cotton Tees with cute studded seahorses, turtles and other creatures -- 2 for $30 in both the stores and poolside marketplace. For the higher end items there was a lovely mall-like area with unique stores for Jewelry, sundries, clothing, Epic-wear, children's items, make-up and perfume (I felt like I was in Macy's or Nordstrom's.) Dining: Having a B2B cruise gave us the opportunity to sample all of the restaurants except the Teppanaki (been there - done that at home) and it's hard to single out one as better then another because they all have an individual flair. One overriding comment is that the service was impeccable at all the restaurants. At every instance we were asked by our server and the restaurant manager if our meal was satisfactory. We ate at Manhattan only once and did enjoy the "Supper Club" atmosphere. There are only two restaurants that require long pants for men. - Manhattan and Le Bistro. My DH grumbled a bit when he had to return to our cabin and change out of shorts but I did see that many men were in jeans so the dress code is fairly relaxed. Manhattan and Taste's menus are the same - a set menu (with 2 fish, 2 meats, chicken and vegetarian) and a selection of courses that change daily. We tried the steak and a pork dishes which were tasty and nicely presented. We also had the cheesecake and a Crème Brulee to finish the meal. ALL of the Epic's Crème Brulee's are excellent. Martin, the Restaurant Manager spent several minutes chatting with us and talking about the dining/dancing aspect of the restaurant. It was working out very nicely. This restaurant is also used to preview the Legends Concert performers so you can get a sneak peek if you want. We ate several breakfasts, lunches, and one dinner at Taste and weren't disappointed. If you want to conserve your money, these restaurants won't disappoint. But they are not too adventurous and except for lobster night, they keep to standard items. I would definitely allot funds for the specialty restaurants. After all, for most, the fine dining is a major part of cruising. For me to spend extra on dining I expect to find a venue with a view, appropriate music, top-notch service and food that pleases the palate. With the exception of the noodle bar (no view), each of the Epic's specialty restaurants have these qualities. The restaurant we ate in the most was La Cucina ($10pp), the Italian restaurant that is accessed by descending a vine-adorned staircase from the front of the Buffet to deck 14. From the moment you step past the leafy full-sized tree you feel that you are truly in an Italian eatery. It was spaced well with brick fronted walls separating parts of the room to reduce noise. We never made a reservation but arrived for diner and were seated (almost immediately) at sunset so we had spectacular skies to go with our risotto and osso bucco. Another dinner included the Chicken Parmesan and the pork saltimbocca. The server warned me that the pork was a new dish and that I should tell them immediately if it was overcooked. It wasn't and I ate it all. Something new is that on the Epic there are wonderful lounges at the entry of several of the restaurants. They afford more privacy and a buffer from the hallway noise as well a place to relax or wait for seating (never necessary for us.) At Cagney's/Moderno there's also a bar where several times a week the martinis are 2 for 1. We ate at Moderno the first cruise night and it was a treat. For those who haven't had a Brazilian meal you are seated and then can go to the salad bar where you have literally hundreds of selections. You'll find shrimp cocktail, ceviche, lovely asparagus with bEarnaise sauce and many other vegetable, meat, bread and cheese choices. But save room for the carvings. When you return to your seat you'll find a card with a red (stop) and green (go) side. Turn up the green side and the parade of meats begins. There are 10 choices from Filet mignon to strip steaks to chicken and sausages. It's overwhelming! And we had a lovely chat with our Brazilian Hostess who was knowledgeable about all the food. Cagney's ($25 pp) was also excellent and I splurged on the surf and turf ($10 additional pp). Our server brought our meat and then patiently waited until we cut into the beef and tasted it to ensure it was the correct wellness and temperature. A first for me. The meal was excellent and the view was again a spectacular sunset. Le Bistro ($20pp) is our favorite restaurant and we enjoyed 2 dinners there. For our anniversary we splurged on the Cote du Boeuf (additional $10 pp). It's a fantastic steak carved table-side and melted in our mouths. Both the manager and our server were adamant about it being EXACTLY the wellness we requested. It was, and the other courses were also perfect. Here is where you'll find an excellent French onion soup, escargot, bouillabaisse, pate, and an excellent Duo de Canard (duck) course. Naturally, we had an anniversary song and their complementary cake. And be sure to try their chocolate fondue. When we had to leave abruptly to take care of something, the hostess held our wine and cake until we returned. Thank you! Oh and several of the specialty restaurants include an amuse bouche (a small yummy appetizer complements of the chef.) We also enjoyed Shanghai for Chinese, although I did order some sort of curry that was just spicy enough. And the Noodle bar was fun. It's a la carte and we shared a noodle soup, fried rice and another curry. Total was $14 and we were full. The only restaurant that was a bit disappointing was Wasabi. There we ordered several rolls and thought they were more rice then fish. It was also a la carte and was around $20 for both of us. Also, if you're not watching the sushi chef perform, the only view is of the crystal chandelier hanging over the Taste restaurant. Pretty but nothing like a sunset. I heard that the chicken pot pie was the best choice at O'Sheehan's so we went there for lunch. The place was very busy (as a pub should be) with pool tables and air hockey games in progress and lots of noise and chatter. It's sort of the hub of the ship and very lively. I wouldn't choose it for dinner unless you like that atmosphere. DH had a burger and was well satisfied. We ate several breakfasts in the buffet and found the food excellent. There were sufficient omelet stations there so that I only had to wait a few minutes. The trick is to find a table and then take turns getting your food. We found that if we ate before 8:30 am we didn't have a problem finding a table. And La Cucina was open if you wanted a more quiet space. Also, in the past the majority of NCL's desserts appeared to have gelatin in them - mousse-like concoctions that were called "mousse" or "cheesecake"." I was pleased to see more "real" desserts like pecan pie and chocolate cake. And high praise for the crepes and the ice cream/soft serve bar. Thank you Chef Kumar! Spice H2O's grill served good burgers and fries as well as interesting Indian vegetarian dishes and I tried both. DH stuck to American staples like hot dogs and sausages. But my all time favorite was the macadamia brownies. I never found them anywhere but at that grill. Staterooms: A lot has been said on the boards about the Epic's stateroom designs and I was looking forward to viewing them to see if the stories (good and bad) were true. Leading the two cabin crawls I was able to view an Inside, Balcony, Aft balcony, Deluxe Balcony, Family Deluxe Balcony, Spa Deluxe Balcony and the Studios. Overall, the difference in the balconies looked minimal to me. There was some awkwardness moving around the beds and when the couches were opened into beds it would be tight. The best things about them were the ample storage, the extra beds hidden in the ceiling and the coffee pots! The cabin owners did have a few complaints about the room sizes. I think prospective cruisers would have to look at all the cabins designs and then decide where you would want to compromise whether it be space, the view or the cost. The only one I would recommend is the studios. When I finished the cabin crawl I was so pleased that I had selected our two adjoining studios which were located in a key card-accessed private corridor. DH has snoring problems and after 42 years together, the separate beds weren't a problem. The studios are designed for one and were perfect. They had sliding doors fronting two closets that could hold at least 10 hanging items each. There were two baskets under the bed that were three-foot square and were the cabin's "drawer" space. There were "cubby holes" for makeup, papers and other sundries. I had plenty of space, my own TV and bathroom, and left my DH to unpack as he pleased. We left the adjoining door open and each night we chatted between rooms before turning out the light. And, dear readers, if you've traveled NCL before you recall that the Espresso/cappuccino machines in the Buffet were removed. Well... the Living room -- exclusively for the studio cabins -- has the machine!!! Heaven!! Every night I made the short trip down the hall, pushed the cappuccino button and whoosh!!! There was my favorite drink. Free!! The Living Room was also arranged for solo travelers to meet each other and a Crew staff member organized dinners and other events for them. I never found the Living Room too busy. And the cabin bathrooms...Well my fellow cabin crawlers had a lot of comments on their sinks and the frosted glass enclosed showers and toilets. Not all of them good. We did love the handicapped bathroom that was completely enclosed. And the curtain separating the bathing area from the bed and living area of the inside/balcony cabins was recommended. But overall no one wanted to share the bathroom "noise" and the "view" with any cabin member not married to them. As for DH and I, we made the right choice and had many nights of restful sleep on our studio's pillow top beds and in the darkness (after we shut off the light on the telephone.) Oh, and Ana, our Guest Services helper, made a special effort to invite us all up to the Villa cabins where we were able to tour a two-bedroom, 2 bath villa, an owner's suite and the private lounges, dining room and outdoor areas. Certainly no problem with bathrooms there. Destinations/Excursions: We've traveled the Caribbean several times and had visited all the ports so the Epic, not destinations, was our primary reason for selecting this cruise. In Cozumel we did a bit of shopping but only for inexpensive souvenirs. The quality is not as good as you will find in the Eastern Caribbean. Costa Maya is strictly a ship port. When you walk off the ship there is an open mall with stores and a pool with swim-up bar. Many took advantage of this. Others reserved Palapas (covered lounges) at pricy seaside venues that included all you could eat and drink in addition to sun, sand and sea. Roatan was where we chose to enjoy a massage at Spa Ban Suerte. A taxi ($20pp round trip) driven by the manager of the spa took us to the private estate where we enjoyed a couples massage (his -- Swedish, mine -- warm stone) for less than half what the ship spa would charge. After the massage we had a private pool, whirlpool and beach to enjoy before our ride back to the ship. Decadent!! The Eastern Caribbean week had more interesting stops and we enjoyed browsing through the shops of St. Martin and St. Thomas. We would have taxied to Magen's Bay but we knew with the shore time only 12 noon to 6:00, the afternoon traffic could cause cruisers to miss the boat. Sure enough, a few cruisers missed the boat and had to be transported out to the ship by a port boat. Nassau had the best bargains and I found the straw market to be loaded with souvenir "deals." The vendors always haggle and you can get some very good prices on handbags, wallets and local crafts. In the main shops, Rudy, our shopping guide and his staff was all over the place helping cruisers with directions and suggestions on where to get the best deals. Medical Center: This was the first time we had ever needed to use the medical center and found it to be state-of-the-art. Dr. Ruben Parejo (from Columbia) and his nurse were very professional and spoke perfect English. The office, with sleek reception, efficient examining room and even a surgery room was equal or even better equipped than our home physician's office. My DH's foot problem was diagnosed and treated, and we were sent off with pills ($19) and an office visit ($105) that I must submit to my NCL insurance. B2B Debarkation: This process is and probably always will be a work in progress. The efficient disembarking and embarking of B2B's evidently depends on how quickly the regular passengers leave the ship. As a B2B or "In transit" passenger, we assembled in the Atrium, put on our "In Transit" sticker and waited for our escort. We were then escorted off the ship and up to customs where there was quite a line. Our escort instructed us to complete customs, exit the building and return through terminal C. When we exited an NCL person told us that we could also reenter from Terminal B so we walked onto that line. After about 10 minutes another NCL person came for all of us and quickly pulled us out of line and back into the terminal where we were walked back onto the ship. Evidently the delay was because regular passengers disregarded the disembarkation calls and the ship wasn't cleared, preventing our re-embarkation. A small glitch. Final Debarkation: We opted to use NCL's BAGGS program. This program ($20 pp plus the airline's checked bag fees) takes our checked baggage directly to the plane and provides our boarding passes. The night before arrival, we put our bags outside our cabin and never saw them again until we claimed them at Newark airport. Arrival day we breakfasted and read in the Atrium until last call for disembarkation. A smooth ending to one of our best vacations. Thank Yous: First we must thank Sonja our room steward who was so efficient. She made sure my NCL robe was always replaced when damp, and strategically placed our complementary snacks on the limited desk space. She also made the extra effort to clean our rooms first (out of 22 cabins) on the cabin crawl days and left us door stoppers so cruisers could enter without bumping into a "door holder" person. And all the towel animals were sooo cute. Thank you Sonja. Hotel Director Klaus, was everywhere. He greeted us at 8 a.m. in the breakfast buffet and at 10 p.m. in the Atrium. He was at all of our parties and always stopped to talk and ask if we needed anything. When he said, "I've got your back," he really meant it. Thanks for everything. Crew Services Ana and Rashida - A special thanks Ana for all your efforts, You made a difficult challenge into a pleasure and the villa tours were an added bonus. Rashida - you were wonderful and very helpful. I hope you found a sparkly item in St. Thomas. Jason - a perfect pool attendant, knowledgeable about the drinks, there when we needed him and not pushy at all. Travelers vs. Tourists: Over the years we have learned that "tourists" expect their vacation to be exactly like their Travel brochures - picture perfect in every way. "Travelers," on the other hand, expect a vacation to be different from home - sometimes relaxing, sometimes exciting, sometime problematic and always...different. DH and I are travelers. When there were "glitches" we adjusted. Negatives of this cruise included: Hot pool decks which required wearing your flip flops right to the pool ladder; a lack of sea views which meant you had to make the effort to reserve window seats in the dining room or take your camera and jockey for space poolside to photograph arrivals or sailaways; No true promenade to walk or jog with sea views; Rooms that are not perfectly designed for multiple occupancy; Terrible NCL coupon offers where you had to purchase more than $100 worth of spa or store items; a very smoky casino; and pricey specialty dining venues. We adjusted. This cruise began and ended with the excellent service and the value we received. It always does and that made this one of our best cruise vacations. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Before I begin I will say that my wife and I just returned from our Western Caribbean tour on the mighty NCL EPIC. The ship has so many positive things that are truly unique to the Epic that really you cant compare it to other vessels. ... Read More
Before I begin I will say that my wife and I just returned from our Western Caribbean tour on the mighty NCL EPIC. The ship has so many positive things that are truly unique to the Epic that really you cant compare it to other vessels. That said we did have some criticism about some things that the ship just seems to have completely overlooked. Lets start with the Wonderful: - Entertainment.... Entertainment...ENTERTAINMENT!!! This ship really has something for everyone. The shows were constant and all on a high level. You almost wish there was more time on the ship simply to see more shows and acts. I think this is where this ship shines (as it was intended). The best way to describe the epic really is Vegas on the open seas. In many ways a Casino on the open seas....but more on that later. - Cabins....wait whoa...cabins you say? are you crazy? the sink, the bathroom the....yes Cabins folks. Maybe we are in the minority or maybe it was just the interior cabins....but we LOVED them. The space was ergonomic and functional. We were blown away with the storage in the closets. The Bed was very comfortable which my wife (who is 22 weeks pregnant) really appreciated. The Shower was truly full sized and amazing. The only knock and it is a big knock for a lot of folks was the toilet room with frosted glass...yes this was odd. The easy solution was the curtain and faucet running for "noise" Overall we both really liked our cabin and believe complaints should be taken in stride. - Le Bistro: This deserves its own bullet point. Quite possibly the best Fillet and mushroom soup I have ever had....worth every penny of the up-charge. Now on to the Good/OK: - watersides! - Food In general. yes there are really only four "free" dining options but its really not that bad. They give you a nice sampling of options and we thought the food at Taste/Manhattan room was really pretty good. Is it 5 star dining? no. But it wasn't sub par for typical cruise fare. Some dishes shined and some were just not so bad. Could have eaten here every night and been satisfied. - If you like casinos....well this one floats. Pretty much the largest in your face you better gamble casino at sea. In fact it would be almost impossible to NOT see a slot machine from any point on the ship. If you like Casinos this is your ship. on the flip side this was actually what a lot of people complained about. All of the public areas basically filtered you through a casino or with a view of a casino. Again this is not an accident and im sure is making NCL a lot of money. didn't bother us but I could see some people being turned off by it. -Pool deck was nice, large and plenty of lounges. Plently of sun. Much to our relief the pools turned out to be not so bad and see my note about loving waterslides above. -The shopping is abundant on the 7th floor and has what you would expect of a huge ship. Almost a bit too much....again didnt really bother us or impress us. The Bad/Confusing: Spice H2O.....we dont get it. we didnt get it. and still dont get it. Its an adults only area that isnt adults only. It has an enormous screen that shows pictures of the ocean when the ocean is all around you. The pool or puddle or pond is well....almost unusable. at night it becomes a vibrant club wait...active dance floor....wait....none of these things. its empty but with pretty lights. this area had the potential to be really neat but its just not successful. In a related note....The "market place" is even more puzzling. Nobody was in it, nobody bought things in it and it just seemed odd. Flow of the ship. this is something that I just really think NCL dropped the ball on. The ship was clearly designed from the venues/casino out. Everything requires you walk through shops or casinos to get anywhere....wait you say...this makes perfect sense....dollars and sense that is...$$$ Ok ok ok now your thinking...well this guy really didn't like this ship did he.... Honestly like I said folks we had a WONDERFUL time. Freestyle cruising is different, NCL is different, and this is really a ship that fits a lot of that mentality. There were things we loved and there were things we just didnt get...but then again it was a great vacation and a fun new ship. Would I recommend this ship....YES! but to a certain clientèle. if you like to relax with a nice book and coffee well....this might not be your cup, but if you like endless entertainment and vegas style lights and sound....well run to your travel agent because this ship will be your dream come true. Would I sail epic and NCL again....sure! but it wont stop me from enjoying more classical lines as well.... Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Following is my review of NCL Epic. First, let me say we took a B2B, Western first, then Eastern. Upon arrival by taxi ($24)from the airport we were greeted by a friendly porter who took our bags and walked with us to make sure we went to ... Read More
Following is my review of NCL Epic. First, let me say we took a B2B, Western first, then Eastern. Upon arrival by taxi ($24)from the airport we were greeted by a friendly porter who took our bags and walked with us to make sure we went to the right entrance. He told us it was not necessary to tip him, which was quite a surprise, and, of course, we did. There were people stationed all along the way to point us in the right direction. Check in was quick, but then we were sent to a huge holding area, where it was confusing as to which side we should go. At the front of the holding area was a small table manned by a pleasant young lady with information about the onboard spa. This was perfect as we wanted to purchase Spa Passes and they are given out to non-Spa-deck cruisers on a very limited basis. We then went to sit down and wait. We saw various people being allowed to cross behind a glass wall onto the ship. Later I learned from my own experience that these were the B2B's, who are forced by law to come off the ship, go through customs and then re-board. They are the last to leave and the first to return to the ship. Next were what I am assuming were the Latitudes members, and then us. We all proceeded towards the ship, stopping first for the obligatory picture. I am amazed at how many people did not take the time to make sure they were not blocking the view of the ship in the background. Ours turned out quite nicely, with a daylight view of the ship as background. We later purchased a night view of the ship to display with it. Most modern cruise ships look big and boxy. The Epic is no different and certainly not bad looking. Upon boarding we were immediately greeted by many crew members. We were most concerned with making a reservation to the Ice Bar and were trying to get our bearings when two officers stopped us to enquire if we needed any help. One turned out to be the Bar Manager, who gave us his card, told us to go have fun, and to call him any time we were ready to go to the Ice Bar and not worry about a reservation. Nice! We proceeded to O'Sheehan's Pub to try our hand at bowling ($5per) for novelty's sake. It was fun, we were first and had a nice game. I found the interior of the ship to be pleasantly and elegantly decorated, unlike the garish colors I had seen on my few previous cruises with another line. It is an enclosed interior, with no view of the sea except in the restaurants and reminded me of being in a large elegant hotel complex. I found the walkways to be more than adequate and different seating areas abounded. In fact, it was not until the last day that I bothered to fully explore the area behind Shakers Martini Bar. There is a nice, quiet living room back there, leading to the Humidor Cigar room, which was fully enclosed and devoid of smokers at the time. Because of the layout we never found any of the interior spaces especially crowded at any time. The same can be said of the open air decks. I always saw plenty of seating in both the sun and shade. I did wear beach shoes on deck as it was hot. Since we had Spa Passes we never used the pools or slides except for the Saturday we were among the lucky B2B's with early re-boarding. At that time we wore our suits and rode the slides over and over. We were actually the only ones using them for quite some time. The Green tube made me dizzy, the Purple tube was nice, but the Epic Plunge was by far my favorite. I did notice there were three sizes and colors of rafts, just as I have seen in water parks. Common sense would dictate that you use the size appropriate for you. An adult should NOT use the pink rafts, as they are for children. Just wait for the right size and you won't have a problem! When you enter the huge yellow bowl, arch your back a bit to reduce drag and you will go round and round many times! Mandara Spa is wonderful! It is well worth getting a pass. There was an herbal steam room and sauna in each sexes shower/changing areas and another herbal steam room and 2 sauna's in the co-ed area. That steam room was way too hot, however, so we did not use it. There is a large mineral pool with massaging spouts of water and several bubbling relaxing areas, a hot tub, and many loungers inside and outside on an aft deck. There were also heated tiled loungers which were wonderful to nap on. Hint--When people want to enter the hot tub, move over off the step and let them in. Another Hint--This area is meant for relaxing. I f you want to have a loud conversation in a hot tub, go up top on deck. The Spa offers many services, including acupuncture, which my husband used in a desperate bid to relieve unrelenting knee pain, and it worked! The Spa closed at 10pm and it would be good if they extended those hours. A large Swarovski chandelier hangs in the middle of the public area inside, pointing down into the middle of Taste, the casual sit down free restaurant. The food here is the same as in the more formal Manhattan Room, and is less crowded. Both opened at 5:30pm and I would have preferred Taste to open earlier as we often did not eat in port but wanted to sit down and be served dinner as we were tired. There is a dance floor and live band playing during dinner at the Manhattan Room and it is quite crowded. The band's playing times are listed in the Freestyle Daily, spanning dinner time and after. They were excellent and I was surprised more people did not get up and dance. Service at both was excellent and we were usually seated at a window. My only complaint is that if long pants are to be required at the Manhattan Room, then torn jeans, ratty T Shirts and flip flops should be banned, period. Either it should be all the way nice--or not... The Garden Cafe is located on Deck 15 and has multiple identical lines, with some limited lines available outside to bathers. The food selection was good, with plenty of options. O'Sheehan's is billed as a Pub and could be quite busy. It had wings, sandwiches, fish and chips, bangers and mash, etc. They really should provide wet wipes with the wings, for cleanliness sake. There is a coffee bar at the Atrium with both free and pay for coffee, and free pastries. Food at all free venues was very good, and I see no reason to pay for the restaurants unless you lack a particular venue in your town. We do not have a Brazilian Barbeque so we ate at Moderno's Chiascarria. The meats were good, and when the gaucho found out I like the lamb best, he brought me a special plate. The salad bar was excellent, with quite a variety of unusual items. Both Le Bistro and Cagney's were good, but coming from a foody town, not worth the price to me. The casino is on deck 6, spanning both sides and down the middle of the only walkway. I noticed several portable air cleaners but they really should not allow smoking in the middle section. Lack of such a small section is not going to keep anything from gamblers and nonsmoking gamblers would surely appreciate it, not to mention nonsmoking passersby. Public bathrooms were plentiful and never busy. Hint--Turn the lock when you enter the stall and people will not walk in on you! Some have motion sensor lights and they definitely needed to be set at a longer interval. The elevators are located at each end of the ship but, quite honestly, the walk from amidships where we were was not at all bad and at least gave us some exercise! We had a regular balcony room, amidships on deck 9, which was covered, and if I wanted to peacefully enjoy the sound and view of the sea, I went there. We also turned off our AC at night and slept with the door open and the soothing sounds of the waves. Yes, these rooms are somewhat tight if you are going to have more than two people in the room. I personally loved the look of the curving walls and soothing colors. Storage was phenomenal, with plenty of space, hangers, a refrigerator and a coffee maker (why make your own when you can get excellent coffee in the Atrium?) We found the bed a bit too firm and our steward was quick to put another pad underneath the sheet. All the stewards we passed in the halls were very nice and greeted us warmly each and every time. Ours was especially good and mysteriously knew whenever we vacated the room. It was always clean and tidy when we returned. We had no problem at all with the sink but they did replace the faucet during the second week. Too bad, it looked nicer before and had more clearance from the sink. I don't normally wash my face under a faucet but use a cloth so I never had a problem. Our shower never leaked and was actually bigger than the one we have at home. The shower head and flow was definitely better than the one we have. Toilet flushing sounds were not a problem at night because we do not flush at night anyway, so as not to disturb anyone. Remember, it is a marine toilet. The seat is European and narrow, which took some getting used to. The entertainment is absolutely top notch. Blue Man Group, Second City Comedy Improv, Howling at the Moon, and Legends in Concert are all nationally rated shows. We were lucky that the Legends show changed during our B2B and we saw Madonna, Tina Turner, and Elvis the first week and Rod Stewart, Brittany Spears and Michael Jackson the second week. Jeff Hobson, the comedian magician was from Vegas and very good. Slam Allen in Fat Cats Club was unbelievable and, unfortunately, our last week was also his last week, but I hear he will be back at some point. The Entertainment Director Simon Murray deserves kudos for his work here. The parties were fun. White Hot Party, Fabba, and Zouk were all themed dance parties and meant to be fun. Silas Cook, the Cruise Director does an excellent job, as does his crew. We chose to participate in activities and found that the more you participate, the more the crew gets to know you, and the more personal and fun your vacation becomes! We ended up in many dance videos and ended up buying the DVD of that first week's cruise ($29.95) It not only has scenes from each event and party but also goes around the ship a bit and does a montage of the cultural tours of each port. I think it is a good buy. Getting all your still photos on a CD for $349 is definitely NOT a good buy and a ridiculous price point. Photos were taken at each port with a theme and the unfortunate thing here is that the themes were the same on the Western and Eastern legs. A Dolphin, a pirate, and a native dancer. It would be better if they would have different themes at each port. As it was, we only bought the photos as a memento of the Western leg. Disembarkation was not bad, as it was staggered, and we did the Everglades Tour on the way to the airport as we had such a late flight. I will also add that this is the first ship I have ever been on that I did not experience some motion sickness. It was excellent, even during rough seas. And remember your attitude will decide how good your experience will be! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We cruised the Epic in September (our 9th cruise). We were extremely disappointed with this ship that everyone was talking about. The rooms: we had a balcony. Our suitcase barely rolled past the bed and the counter. The "wave" ... Read More
We cruised the Epic in September (our 9th cruise). We were extremely disappointed with this ship that everyone was talking about. The rooms: we had a balcony. Our suitcase barely rolled past the bed and the counter. The "wave" shape did not impress us. My husband is 5'8 and I am 5'4 and both our feet were hanging off the bed. Yes, they have many, many restaurants....BUT, you have to PAY for the GOOD ONES..... all except O'Sheehans, which we though was GREAT!! The buffet had good food too. The dining room menu was a disappointment, instead of 3-4 NEW entrees daily (like our previous cruises), there seemed to be only 1 new entree. Yes, the ice bar was great, but it costs money to get in...and you can only stay about 10-15 minutes because it was too cold.... oh, you did get 2 vodka drinks per person.... Yes, they had bowling onboard, again, you had to pay for it. They had a giant screen in which to play WII on (different times of the day), but the person running it was like a bump on a log and didn't get people involved in playing....adults OR children and sometimes, played himself instead of getting others involved. I agree with the non-smoker. It was horrible to get from one side of the ship to the other as they force you to go through the Cigarette smoke. Many people we talked to felt the same way. There was one couple who was so disappointed that instead of taking the 2-weeks that they booked, they shortened their stay to 1 week. I'm not so sure we will be "free-styling" again. Too many "extras" that are included on other cruise lines. All in all,we really did have a GOOD time relaxing, our cabin steward was great. I wouldn't tell people to NOT cruise the Epic, but just to be aware of the additional charges and other things. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Almost a year had gone into the planing of this family cruise with girlfriend, her 2 daughters and there husband. We were very excited about this cruise as we had been told on ncls website how great it was. From the moment we got on the ... Read More
Almost a year had gone into the planing of this family cruise with girlfriend, her 2 daughters and there husband. We were very excited about this cruise as we had been told on ncls website how great it was. From the moment we got on the ship, we were disappointed. First, the three cabins in a row at the front of the ship, of which we paid for a balcony, had a solid steel plate up to chest level where there would normally be glass. It is very hard to sit on the balcony watching the sun set or rise through solid steel. after much effort and explaining why it was so important to be able to see, we were moved to another section of the ship, three rooms in a row, great. The only problem now was the horrible order of mold. Unfortunately, three of us have allergies and almost instantly had breathing problems. By this time we were several miles out to sea and was told the ship was full and could not move. After more complaining, we were told the problem they were aware of the issue and were correcting it. Flash foward 6 days and we arrived back at the cabin to find the maintenance crew ripping up the carpet, which was moldy, and also welding a new steel plate and door seal around the crew door into the food prep area where water had been leaking for a long time. We had complained every day and were told it was already taken care of. Other issues were a lack of interest on the part of bar and restaurant staff if you did not order alcohol. Not all the wait staff was this way, but it was more common than not. A small pet peeve is one of a mandatory tipping, which has increased from $10 to $12 a day. So you are getting less service but paying more. I feel that the only people that truly earned this money, is the room attendants, they were great(even though they don't leave mints on your pillow anymore(not there fault)) The room layout leaves a lot to be desired,and I think it makes the room seem smaller. The sink was very small and located in a bad spot and had a very tall water spout, which made for awkward hand washing and brushing teeth. Toilet and shower were marginal. The choice of ports (except Cozumel) was not great. Maybe they were chosen for some other strategy, but I don't think it was for the passengers. Finally, after all our problems,we talked with the "hotel manager" who denied that a little wet carpet could cause any problem with allergies and also said that we had only brought this to the ships attention on the fifth day of the cruise and there was nothing they could do. hello royal caribbean, may we book a cruise in january on the oasis Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This will be a very truthful review of the Norwegian Epic. We were on the October 2nd sailing to the Western Caribbean in a balcony stateroom. After reading all the 121 reviews before our cruise, we almost cancelled but glad we ... Read More
This will be a very truthful review of the Norwegian Epic. We were on the October 2nd sailing to the Western Caribbean in a balcony stateroom. After reading all the 121 reviews before our cruise, we almost cancelled but glad we didn't. Food - was better than on Royal Caribbean or Princess. The main non-paying restaurants were excellent with good variety, presentation and most of all, service. The buffet was designed with plenty of food stations so there were no long line ups. Again, good service and plenty of seating both inside and outside. Specialty restaurants - were also good but if you are on a budget, it is not necessary to dine there. Entertainment - excellent and great variety. Plenty to see and do all week! O'Sheehans - Wonderful pub style restaurant with lots of selection 24 hours per day and sitting there in the late evening was so much fun, people watching, etc. Atrium - Huge tv screen with a variety of movies playing in the evenings, a free giant Wii game with many choices during the day, and our favourite, terrific live entertainment by a husband and wife guitar and fiddler group called Wildfire. They played a variety of dance music and took requests from the audience as well as prepared sets such as the Beatles. The place was always packed in the evenings but again, lots of places to sit and listen or get up and dance. Stateroom was clean and pretty with lots of storage but it was smaller than on most ships. Balcony was large but perhaps NCL should reconsider putting larger patio tables out there for in-room dining. Yes the bathroom setup was a little strange at first but having a separate shower area from the actual toilet was a good idea and there was no problem with privacy or floors getting wet. They do provide plenty of towels everyday and we used one on the floor outside the shower stall. The actual toilet was the size of an airplane toilet and I can't imagine how very large people managed in that tight squeeze. The washing sink on the counter outside was no problem at all. No splashing on the floor. The bed was comfortable, clean and yes, because the end is rounded corners, could have been a problem for guests over 6 feet tall. We did not have a problem with it. The pools were smaller than on most ships but still plenty of room to enjoy them. There were lots of lounges available but not always near the pools. No line ups on the slides but perhaps because the boat was not at full capacity as many families with children were back at school. We always travel during hurricane season and never have any bad weather, rough seas or crowds. Plus you get the best prices that time of year. Only really negative thing to say was the smoking. I have allergies and I do not like to be around smokers. They have a non-smoking side on the open deck 15 and the staff do make sure it is maintained. But, the adult only pool area at the back of the deck should have been a side for non-smokers and it was never enforced. So I stayed away from that area of the boat. No big deal. The Casino was huge and it ran practically the entire length of deck 6. Unfortunately a lot of the venues ran off the main hallway of that deck and you were forced to walk through the smoking area to reach them. I simply covered my nose and mouth with a tissue while navigating through this area but perhaps NCL should think about making the slot machines in this area a non-smoking section. It would be healthier for everyone and young kids who have to negotiate this hallway to get to other parts of the ship. After all is said, I would recommend NCL to my friends and would go back on the Epic if the price was right. So don't listen to all the exaggerated bad reviews with any ship. Make your own decision and choices. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Let me first start off by saying that we stayed in a Spa Suite, which drastically altered our cruise experience. PROS: The benefits of being in a NCL Epic Suite are simply wonderful. You can literally cruise within the cruise. ... Read More
Let me first start off by saying that we stayed in a Spa Suite, which drastically altered our cruise experience. PROS: The benefits of being in a NCL Epic Suite are simply wonderful. You can literally cruise within the cruise. It's full of exclusivity - a butler, concierge, private areas, a private restaurant, lounge, priority embarkation & disembarkation, premium seating for popular shows etc.... Additionally, we had access to the common areas of an absolutely fabulous spa. The pampering is worth the additional cost (at least while on vacation :-). Customer service is A+ in those exclusive areas. Le Bistro was awesome!!! - great filet, great mushroom soup. The shows were very good. Blue man was different, but certainly entertaining. Legends was also good, MJ was the BEST, Britney was barely average, and Rod was fair, but certainly better than Britney. Second City....funny, funny, funny. We saw the Murder Mystery & a few of the improv shows and NCL picked a winner with that group. Cirque was good, but there could be less of a story line and more showcases of talent. I read another review that said the meal wasn't enjoyable. I think they've improved it, since we enjoyed it. The ship's decor, simply beautiful. There was so much cabinet space in our suite and the decor was our style preference, modern and interesting. CONS: The practicality of the room design is nonexistent. Every time one of us took a shower, we has a mini flood in our room. The drain is on the opposite end of the front curved door that doesn't seal, so the water piled up by the door (the floor is not level) and flooded, EVERY TIME we took showers. We felt awful requested that our steward come, who had to get down on her hands and knees to sweep the water into the drain and carry out 6 or 7 wet towels. After a few days of that guilt, I would stay in the shower an extra 10 mins. to use my foot to sweep the water into the drain. It was really bad. The curved doors look nice, but they get stuck on the track and don't seal, even when going to the bathroom. Awful combination. Again, the room is beautiful, but certainly not practically (with the exception of the cabinet space). Label these mystery light switches NCL, or leave user instructions. We were confused about the setup for a few days and had to request assistance from our Butler. Expand your room service menu options for Suite owners (in fact, for everyone). If I want to eat in, and I'm willing to pay for a meal from one of your specialty restaurants, or if the private restaurant two floors up is serving something I like, allow the Butler or steward to bring it to me. You profit from the specialty restaurant orders. Holland offered the option of having what was being served in the main dining room, as room service to suite owners, and we loved that option. The Spa employees need a bit of an attitude adjustment. I had every intention on paying for spa services, but quickly noticed that previous service customers, waiting spa services customers, or those who had purchased the high-priced products received great reception, but when I wanted to make use of the spa (that I paid quite nicely for), pleasantries declined. All is well though, I kept my additional money. Service in the public bars and restaurants was average, at best. We only ate in one public restaurant - O'Sheehan's. Great milkshakes, yummy, but the service was typical of a fast food restaurant. Teppanyanki (sp?) - A little bumpy. The hostess tried to get us to wait until 6pm, when we made reservations a month prior to sailing for 5:30pm. Apparently, another family was supposed to show, but was running late. WHAT?!? No, we will not wait an extra half hour for them. I was extremely hungry and I noticed that the server still tried to slow walk our appetizers to wait for them. That put a bad taste in my mouth, and while the food was fairly good, it was on the salty side. By the way, the family never showed. Yes, NCL will try to get you to spend as much as they can while on board, but they also offer a lot of perks and new/different cruise options. I was ill one night and my husband called our lovely Butler to request a ginger ale, she brought it of course, and the charge for a soda showed up on my account the next day. Really? I paid how much for a Suite, and NCL couldn't cover the $2.25 for a soda I requested for an upset stomach. LOL Bring spending money and expect this question at nausea, "Anything from the bar?" :) Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
My wife and I sailed on the 10/30 Western Caribbean cruise on the EPIC, out of Miami. Other people have already been extremely thorough in their write-ups, so I'm not going to try and outdo them, but rather just post what ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the 10/30 Western Caribbean cruise on the EPIC, out of Miami. Other people have already been extremely thorough in their write-ups, so I'm not going to try and outdo them, but rather just post what comes to mind and what stood out for us on our trip. I'm also happy to answer any questions I can. I have to note that I stopped reading board posts about the Epic shortly after it launched, because they were largely negative and I didn't want to board the ship with any predispositions. I therefore don't know much about any fixes NCL made post-launch to address early concerns. I believe we both boarded the ship with pretty open minds. About Us: We're both 34 and do not have any children. This is our third cruise, but our first with NCL. We have been on RCCL's Adventure of the Seas twice; once with family and once with friends. For this trip we were alone. The Room: We've never been the type to look at a hotel room as just somewhere to sleep, so having a comfortable room was a big deal. And in that respect Epic was a mixed bag. We were in BA 11314, which is the port-corner stern cabin on deck 11, with the bed next to the balcony. On our prior (RCCL) cruises we had been in a junior-suite and a standard balcony, and as expected our room on the Epic was significantly smaller than the standard balcony on Adventure. I've spent a lot of time on pleasure boats however, so I wasn't bothered by the tight quarters. I do think that having the bed next to the balcony is the preferred configuration because it gives you the most room around the sink and means you only have to contend with squeezing past the bed to go to sleep or out to the balcony. As others have noted, the room was rather functional with plenty of storage. The bed is very short; I'm 5'5" and my feet were off the end of the bed. The couch is totally useless and the biggest flaw in the design. You can't use it to watch TV, it's not setup well to have a conversation with another person, and there's no table to use if you order room service. The sink was shallow but not a problem. I'm not sure if NCL changed the faucets, but we didn't have any splashing issues. I would have preferred a proper bathroom but the split layout worked OK and we didn't have any real privacy issues. One tip: our curtain was originally able to only be closed from one end. I disconnected the curtain ring that locked it to one side and could then close off either the shower or toilet without pulling the whole thing closed. The corner balcony was definitely larger than the "middle" balconies, although it really wasn't a big deal since there was way more room than needed for the two chairs and tiny table that were out there. The partition to the next balcony over could be opened for someone who had reason to do so. Overall we were relatively happy with the room. But we were not at all happy with the location. We had not sailed in an aft balcony before, and frankly after this trip would not do so again. Even on deck 11, the vibration when the ship was using its thrusters was unbelievable. During normal cruising (at any speed) there was still a noticeable vibration, and the noise level on the balcony was unpleasant - think a white noise generator at a very high volume. I know these BA cabins are generally desirable, so I can only conclude that the Epic's mechanical layout is not the best. I cannot see anyone paying a premium for the view when it is offset so significantly by noise and vibration. We were originally booked in a BA on deck 8, and had we not moved to 11 when a room became available, we would definitely have relocated once we were onboard. And we would have been able to do so because of something that adds a huge caveat to anything else I write: we were sailing with only 3300 passengers. I was worried going in about overcrowding, and although there were some issues at the pool, overall we had absolutely no problem getting into anything we wanted. We had booked BMG, Cirque and Legends ahead of time, however every indication was that some seats were available for most if not all of the shows. During sea days, the pool deck was crowded and it was hard (but not impossible) to find lounge chairs. The actual pool wasn't too bad though. The fountains and tiled pool-surround (for lack of a better term) provided more than enough water area to stay cool. The slides were a lot of fun and there were virtually no lines; bear in mind though that we had a minimal number of kids aboard. Entertainment: BMG: Fun, but disappointing. This must just not have been our thing, because I don't understand the rave reviews BMG always gets. Legends: Excellent. The new lineup is Rod Stewart, Britney Spears, and Michael Jackson. Rod was the best of the three. MJ's dancing was great but his singing was lacking. Cirque: We went with the standard seating and chose to be in the balcony. I liked the view from up top and it avoided any potential for audience participation. Dinner was quite good although I didn't realize upfront it was a set menu. The show was worth seeing, but I'm not sure I'd pay the surcharge if it were for the show only without dinner. Howl: Lots of fun. This was probably my favorite "show," and since it's mostly songs by request, it was different each night. I actually think it would have been better with more of a crowd though; the venue was never more than half-full. Fat Cats: This really suffered from the lack of passengers. There were only about a dozen people listening when we went in, which meant the crowd was dead and the music was way too loud. The band was good though. Other stuff: The large atrium screen was used for football and movies, which was a nice touch. The band at the pool was average, but to my ear the music when the band wasn't playing was too quiet and very repetitive. It seemed they only had two CDs in rotation. We did play a little blackjack and rarely had a problem getting a seat at a $5 table in the non-smoking section. But inexplicably, NCL allows smoking at the slots that are literally five feet away from the non-smoking table games. We left early as a result one night. You also have to walk through a confined part of the casino that allows smoking in order to traverse the deck from fore to aft. The many plug-in ionic air purifiers sitting on the floor in this area pretty well indicate NCL screwed up the ventilation for that part of the deck; they ought to just make it the non-smoking section instead and fix a few problems at once. Blackjack is a 6:5 payout instead of the normal 3:2. Not a huge deal for the amounts we were playing with but still a significant extra edge for the house. We went to Karaoke a couple of times, which was a total bust. A total of three or four people did all the singing, and one of the hosts then tried forcing people in the audience to sing. That was our cue to leave. The "Weakest Link" game show was a fun half-hour. Halloween fell during our cruise, and Epic offered a Halloween "party" at Spice H2O, the adults-only pool area. This was rather lame, and after an hour of a boring costume contest, we were off to the casino. Dining: We were disappointed with the food in the main dining rooms; it reminded us of average wedding food at best. The NY Strip I had one night was nowhere near on par with a chain restaurant like Outback, and the roasted chicken on another was way overcooked. The RCCL dining room food was significantly better. We ate at Le Bistro twice and it was excellent both times. The dinner at Cirque Dreams was also quite good. We had intended to eat at La Cucina, but the menu was not what I would consider appropriate for a supposed high-end Italian restaurant. We weren't going to pay a surcharge for Chicken Parm or basic pasta dishes. We chose not to do Teppanyaki because for the $50 it would have cost us in surcharges, we can have the same meal at a great hibachi place two minutes from home. When the surcharge essentially is the entire cost of the meal, I think it's too high. We skipped Cagney's because between Le Bistro and Cirque we had already had enough steak. None of the other specialty restaurants interested us. The breakfast buffet was great, and since we both sleep late it was a real help to have it open until 11AM or later. We mainly did pizza and fries for lunch so I can't comment beyond that. O'Sheehan's was (surprisingly) the highlight on the dining side of things since having real food available 24x7 is a nice plus, and the appetizers were great. We spent a really nice afternoon at a quiet spot in one of the lounges with a bottle of wine and a bunch of take-out appetizers. It was tough getting decent coffee anywhere on the ship, which was disappointing since RCCL has good hot coffee readily available all the time. Alcohol costs were reasonable. Beers were $5, with buckets that were buy five bottles, get one free. The staff hocked the buckets non-stop though. You couldn't even order a single beer without being pitched on a bucket. Wine bottles ran 2-3x retail price, which is fair and maybe a little cheap for eating out. (We are used to NY prices though, so keep that in mind.) Itinerary: We chose the Western Caribbean itinerary because we've been to the Eastern Caribbean islands way too much. That said, this was not a great itinerary and I wouldn't do it again. I should note that usually my wife and I go on some of the more adventurous excursions, but with Mexico not exactly being the safest of places these days, we chose not to do anything this time. Perhaps if we had it would have changed our opinion about the ports. Costa Maya - Not much to see or do unless you choose an excursion. Oddly enough the pier actually had a reasonably nice pool and fake beach area, which was very busy. We spent maybe an hour on shore and retreated to the quiet of the ship's pool. Roaatan, Honduras - This was also a rather boring stop, although there was at least an open-air restaurant where we had a snack. We didn't spend much time ashore here either. Cozumel - There is a reasonably large downtown area, which we walked through. Most of the stores were selling the same trinkets but we did buy a couple of small items. I had read something about it becoming more difficult to use the US dollar, but we had no problems with that. The highlight of Cozumel for us was Senior Frogs, which is a very over-the-top restaurant that borders on being a dance club. They have a DJ blasting music non-stop, guys taking your picture in sombreros, a clown making balloon animals, shot girls, etc. Drinks are served in 28oz "yard high" glasses. This wouldn't normally be our scene but everyone was having a great time and it was easy to get caught up in the fun. Prices were in pesos but they took dollars no problem. Weather: I have to mention weather because it did play a large role at the tail end of our cruise. We actually got stuck in Cozumel overnight because of 50MPH winds that were broadsides, blowing us directly into the pier and preventing us from leaving. The ship literally did not have the thrust to overcome the wind. We did leave in the early morning but spent the next 24 hours in heavy wind and 15-18' seas. At this point the Captain had to make up a lot of time so I'm assuming we were running without the stabilizers and the ship was moving very noticeably. My wife and I were both fine when out and about, but our cabin at the back of the ship was not pleasant and we couldn't stay in it long without getting a little sick. We had no issues sleeping however. NCL did an admirable job this last sea day of making things as pleasant as possible, adding many additional indoor activities since the pool was unusable. Unfortunately, the Cirque show had to be cancelled but NCL gave those with reservations the option of having the normal Cirque dinner at no charge. Final thoughts: We really enjoyed the whole freestyle concept, and it was nice to be able to arbitrarily change our plans as we did a couple times. We did speak to a few fellow passengers who felt too much had to be reserved, but that didn't bother us. We had pre-booked BMG, Legends and Cirque, plus one night at Le Bistro, but that really just gave us a bit of a loose framework around which to plan our days. Maybe freestyle on the other NCL ships works better; we have nothing to compare it to. The atmosphere and dress-code (if there was one) on the ship was a lot more casual than on RCCL, which I loved since it IS vacation after-all. Oddly though my wife felt more people were dressed-up than on our prior cruises. It seemed like we had more European travelers than we did on the two RCCL cruises, so perhaps that explains the difference. Overall, I would sail Epic again. That said, I think RCCL's Oasis will be our next cruise because the room design looks better - i.e. it's normal - and they appear to be making more of an effort to allow you to eat at any time. Reviews have a habit of dwelling on the negative, so lest anyone think otherwise, we had a fantastic trip. Ultimately that's the most important thing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This cruise was to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. Embarkation was a pleasure. Fast and easy. No cabin was released to passengers before 2 PM. No problem as the ship had a designated area to hold carry on luggage until the cabins ... Read More
This cruise was to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. Embarkation was a pleasure. Fast and easy. No cabin was released to passengers before 2 PM. No problem as the ship had a designated area to hold carry on luggage until the cabins were ready. ( a nice touch ) Then the rooms were ready. The supposed modern shape of the room ( curved walls ) was a nightmare. No room for two people to pass by each other without having one of them move away from the area. The WC and the shower are in two separate cubby-holes about 4 x 4 feet. No wash basin here! The basin is on the vanity next to the bed. Be careful, if you splash while washing or shaving, the bed will get wet. The trash pail is placed in the WC area because there is no other place to put it. Closet space varies from room to room even in the same categories. Some are deep others require you to hang clothes horizontal to the walls. Same for the drawers. One room has nice deep ones the next one has extremely short ones. Go for a walk around the interior and you will not see the usual elegant atriums. Watch the crew completely ignore the rules of no kids under 12 in the hot tubs. Watch the crew look the other way when it comes to the Chair-Hogs saving chairs poolside with towels and then not using these chairs for most of the day. Most of the shows were good to passable. Cirque Dreams was the exception as it was great. The tribute to ABBA was good except that the Cruise Director appeared both bored and unhappy to be there. His attitude put a damper on activities. Too bad, since his assistant cruise director was upbeat and a fun person to be around. There was a reservation system in place to insure that all would get a seat during the week to see all the shows they wished to attend. Sadly, anytime one went to a venue, seats were always available showing that no show was ever sold out. Sanitation on board was the best we have ever witnessed. Hand sanitizers were in every conceivable location. The ship even had crew members on standby ay the gangways so that they would spray sanitizer onto each returning passenger as they boarded from shore excursions. However there was one gross exception to this. One day, there was an accident in the kiddie pool. Someone had had a bowel movement in the water. The crew was fast and efficient in ordering the pool closed and chemicals added. They had a small basket which was used to remove the excrement from the pool. Later in the day we were told of a bar and grill inside the ship which served fries and or mozzarella sticks in the baskets they were cooked in. YES, the very same baskets that were used at the pool for non-food usage. If you cruise the EPIC, remember this when you think of dining in O'Sheehans. Did we have a good time? Yes, but we were disappointed with what should have been a great cruise. Would we travel on NCL again? Yes, but never on the EPIC. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This was our honeymoon cruise. First time on NCL! The Epic looked awesome and we wanted to go on a brand new ship! The Good: Lots of restaurants ***THE BEST SPA I HAVE EVER BEEN TO AND BEST MASSAGES I HAVE EVER RECEIVED! ... Read More
This was our honeymoon cruise. First time on NCL! The Epic looked awesome and we wanted to go on a brand new ship! The Good: Lots of restaurants ***THE BEST SPA I HAVE EVER BEEN TO AND BEST MASSAGES I HAVE EVER RECEIVED! ***Relaxing in the Spa ***Cirque Dreams show was awesome The Bad: (Longer section) After being on Royal Caribbean mostly, the food was not as good as RC. We went to a specialty restaurant every night and while the food in those restaurants were better than the "main" food, it did not compare to RC. The "main" food was ok. Many of the items were barely edible and others were... fine. Also, in the "Garden Cafe", which is where the "free" food is, the crew fake-smiles and says "Good morning" and "good afternoon" as if they are slaves being forced to say this. It is so obvious and sounds ridiculous when they say this to everyone. If you plan on getting a chair by the pool, make sure to be awake on ready to grab a chair by 7:45 am because if you don't, all the chairs are GONE for the day. Whoever designed the top deck made sooo much wasted space where chairs could have gone. There are 2 small pools in the main area and for some reason there is a decorate/(I don't know what its for) wasted space where chairs could have gone. The service compared to RC was not as good. We made a reservation (things are ALWAYS BOOKED on this ship. You must make a reservation before you actually sail or you won't get in) for the comedy club and we were 10 minutes early. The guy at the door said, "you should have been here 2 minutes ago. I let your reserved seats go." Are you kidding me? Even if that was the case, you don't say that, espeically in front of other people. RUDE! Other examples: I tried cancelling a dinner reservation an hour before the reservation time over the phone and the crew member said, "you should have cancelled earlier so other people could have had a chance to make a reservation." WHAT!? Who says that in the service industry!? My wife was not feeling well and wanted to stay in the stateroom. The restaurant also allowed walk-ins, so it should not have been a big deal. Same thing happened at the Cirque Dreams show. The person at the door said, "Now you get the left-over seating." I could not believe the crew was talking this way. Finally, we ordered pictures and went to pick them up at the last pickup. Well... they could not find our printed pictures. And since it was the last night, they already deleted all of the pictures out of the computer to prepare for the next cruise. I also paid for a honeymoon package, which included a free picture. I'll be disputing that package on my credit card. Horrible! WARNING: NCL will nickel and dime you for LOTS OF THINGS! The Ice Bar has a cover charge; Cirque Dreams has a cover charge; bowling has a cover charge; MANY THING have EXTRA CHARGES that you won't find being charged on other cruise lines. Besides specialty restaurants and drinks (including soda), I did not expect to pay for anything else. Also, compared to other ships I have been on, this ship seemed to have the least amount of windows when you're on the main floors with all of the entertainment, food, etc.. There were barely any lounge areas by windows. Almost completely cut off from the outside. The casino covered most of Deck 6 and was VERY smokey. Since decks 5-7 are open-air, the smoke tended to travel. I noticed some air purifiers that you see in people's homes; however, it really didn't do much. The stateroom (balcony) was ok. I didn't think the bed was that comfortable. I'm 6'0 and my feet were hanging off the bed. The toilet was separated by this stained plastic door. To me, it seemed to be the same as a shower curtain. You could hear everything, haha. Same thing with the shower. The phones in the staterooms were probably the coolest phones I have ever seen, haha. Overall, there were a few positives, such as relaxing to view of the ocean from the back of the boat whilc laying in special heated spa beds, and being in a sauna with floor to ceiling windows. However, the service experience has definitely made this cruise my first and last NCL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
I wanted to write a review because there were very few suite reviews when I was looking for information on the Epic and I wanted to help others who were looking to book in that category in the future. With that said, the Spa Suite ... Read More
I wanted to write a review because there were very few suite reviews when I was looking for information on the Epic and I wanted to help others who were looking to book in that category in the future. With that said, the Spa Suite or above (Courtyard Penthouse and Courtyard Villas) is the way to go on the Epic. If you can afford it, or save up for that special splurge, I highly recommend it. It definitely is something you will remember for the rest of your life. CHECK-IN: When you arrive at the pier, you are treated to priority check-in (with its own swank sitting area)and embarkation. Everyone else looked irritable and crowded into their lines. You go right onto the ship and are met by a butler and taken directly to the 16th floor Courtyard area where you can leave large carry-ons in the lounge while you go on a tour of the amenities which include a private lounge, restaurant, pool adjacent grill and bar, pool, sauna and steamroom and top of the ship Posh beach club (which we never used and I can't comment on. You then have a three-course lunch in your private restaurant. What can be a hectic embarkation is a very pampered affair. Watching everyone below smashed onto the pool deck (which was even worse for them when it started POURING rain and they had to run for it) I was happy with the situation. ROOM: The Spa Suite is a fantastic room. You have SO much space, which for anyone who has cruised knows is a luxury. We had one large suitcase we could leave out and two small ones that we stashed under the bed and we could still walk freely around the space. VERY ROOMY. The decor is beautiful with a pebble effect on the wall above your hot tub (yes, your own hot tub!) and in the shower that could fit two people (unheard of, but not recommended as the shower, as most on cruises do, has the tendency to want to flood. I recommend only having the water on when you absolutely need it and then doing the water dance, kicking the water toward the drain throughout the shower. It works.) The frosted door on the bathroom is a bit weird and you CAN hear EVERYTHING but I assume most in these rooms are together and know the other goes to the bathroom :) There is mood lighting (dinner, day, reading, relax, etc.) that is fun to play and an in-room espresso maker (try the tea if you don't drink coffee, like me, it is the best chamomile I've ever had!). The balcony was very large with two chairs, table and lounger, which I loved. You could just lay there and watch the ocean drift by. Fabulous. You also have your own butler. Ours was Cherry and she was fantastic. We didn't really need much assistance, but she was gracious and always at the ready. She brings your "suite treats" every night before dinner and can help with questions and needs (what does this button do? can we get more tea?) We talked to her more than the concierge, Florentina, who we also had access to, but is more for show and dinner reservations, which I had done before the trip. It is a great room overall. EPIC CLUB: This is your private restaurant on Deck 16 accessible only to suite and villas guests. This is a coveted amenity. After watching people fight to get into the Manhattan Room and Taste, I'm glad we could always go here. Plus, the food was fantastic, which is more than I can say I heard about the main dining rooms. I recommend the roasted beet and mixed greens salads, tuna burger and tuna tartare, any soup they make, the marinated berries and carrot cake. I also loved that couples could dine alone, a rarity on cruises. The service is also top-notch. I give a big shout-out to Hristina and Prince Charles (yes, really his name). We only used the snack area (outside seating) once but you can get the main dining menu out there for lunch if you are persistent. It's nice to be out in the air and see the ocean as you eat. I also recommend post-lunch reading out there in the big circular loungers. Gummy bears, M&Ms,tea and juice are available to snack on. PRIORITY SEATING: As a suite guest, you go down with the concierge 45 minutes early to each show and get priority seating in the first two rows. However, I recommend sneaking up to the back to the plush purple stand-alone seats with a cocktail table between them. You really feel you are in an old theatre and because you are right by the bar you get drinks in a snap. We also liked that we weren't crowded into seats and had a bit more room. PRIORITY DISEMBARKATION: This is awesome. Have a leisurely breakfast, go to the concierge desk by 9 at the latest and be whisked down to the ground floor, beating the entire line of people waiting to get off the ship. Your baggage is held in a priority area as well. SPA: With the spa suite you get access to the spa whenever it is open. This is why I booked this cruise and used the hell out of it. I recommend getting there at opening at 8 and staying until around 1. This is when it begins to get busy and un-spa like. I also recommend going back during dinner (7-10). It is an amazing spa with a fantastic hydro-therapy pool (which they had to drain the night we left St. Thomas because we hit rough seas and the water was literally crashing over the sides and through the whole spa! It was crazy!), loungers inside and two Balinese daybeds and about 8 loungers outside on balcony off the back of the ship. This was my spot for leaving ports. Get back on the boat early and stake out a seat and you won't regret it! Heated loungers, herbal steam room and saunas round out the amenities. I was not disappointed. OTHER ATTRACTIONS: We ate at two speciality restaurants, Shanghai's and Le Bistro. Shanghai's was fun and a little P.F. Chang's ish but I still enjoyed it and felt it was worth the $15 surcharge. Try the Lychee Martini! Le Bistro was very elegant but we had a boisterous, drunk table near us which did interfere a bit with our experience. I also ate something that went right through me and I believe it was pate, so I don't recommend it. Other than that it a special dining experience, but I would only recommend it to couples. I don't see children really enjoying the atmosphere too much. We didn't use the main pool or slides, so we can't comment. The pools are WAY too small though. I don't know what Norwegian was thinking on that one. Spice H20 seemed like a bust. Ibiza resort my butt. Good concept, poor execution. We went to Blue Man (great!), Legends (Rod good, Michael amazing, Britney BLAH!), the Comedy Show 3 times (awesome! My husband was Mr. T. in one of the sketches) and Fat Cats (great musicians, but a bit loud) PORTS: St. Maarten was your typical Caribbean port. Don't buy the hype about having to take a taxi or ferry. It is a 15 minute walk into town and NOT dangerous. Unless you are a big shopper, there isn't much to do here. I recommend a quick look around and back to the spa (which we did) or book a kayaking or snorkeling adventure. St. Thomas is beautiful and much less islandly in the way St. Maarten is (it is a US holding). We recommend the Paradise Point Skyride for the view but there isn't much else to do up there. We walked into town again (a bit longer at 30 minutes but still safe and doable, especially if you want exercise after all the food you've been eating) but cabs are plentiful. Nassau was my least favorite. I've been there before and it is still an irritating dump. Be prepared to be offered marijuana, blow, hair braiding, etc. and hang on to your wallet. We went Clear Kayaking which was a total rip-off. We got into a tandem kayak and were allowed to look at coral in an area of about half a football field, if that, while dodging snorklers who had to use the same space as us. Totally false advertising. Stay away from this outing! I assume most come on the ship for its amenities, not ports, like us, but they were alright. FINAL THOUGHTS: What struck us is how on a boat with 4200 people (and our sailing was full since it was Xmas) how lifeless this ship could sometimes seem. We would go up on deck around 9ish and there was NO ONE. There was just no energy and most of the parties seemed forced. We watched footage of the FABBA party on the TV and I was like, "Wow, those are some bored looking people right there." You can't make atmosphere happen and this boat seems to have issues with that. Plus, there wasn't much holiday-ness, which seemed strange. We're agnostic, but we thought there would be a bit more Santa, Jingle Bells atmosphere. The cruise director, Paul Scally, or Paul Scallywag as we called him, was a bit of a pompous ^$%#%. By the end you can't help but want to strangle him. He yells out things like "You're living the dream!" on the intercom. I mean, really, come one. You can do better than that, Norwegian. We had also read that the crew was rude. Even when we went down to Shakers or Fat Cats, our service was excellent and everyone understood us and us them. I think the rudeness issue is a bit overblown on these boards. Overall, the Epic is a sweet boat for a suite guest. Everyone else, I'm not so sure. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
(I apologize if the tense of the review changes, part of it was written during the cruise,and part of it was written afterwards) • My husband and I have cruised with NCL before, about a year ago on the Norwegian Sun, and had a ... Read More
(I apologize if the tense of the review changes, part of it was written during the cruise,and part of it was written afterwards) • My husband and I have cruised with NCL before, about a year ago on the Norwegian Sun, and had a great experience. We're in our twenties, but are kind of homebodies, content to read, play cards, watch movies, etc. We enjoyed the shows, the service, the food, the room service, everything. On this cruise we chose to take advantage of NCL's Cruise Rewards program ($250 for a future cruise deposit, paid now, good for 4 years, and gives you $100 credit on your current cruise). On the cruise we heard about the new ship, the Epic, and were intrigued. It looked really neat. Not long after we got home our travel agent had a special on, and so we booked. We later changed our minds about the date of the cruise, and everyone worked with us to change the date, no change fees or anything. Later on we noticed the price of the cruise decreased significantly but our travel agents were unable to get us the price difference. They were however able to upgrade us for $90 per person from an inside room to a guaranteed (but not assigned) balcony. This was about a month before the cruise sailed. We were not assigned a room until 3 days before the cruise sailed, but did receive a great upgrade to a Family Deluxe Balcony room. This room included a tub, which was nice! The water may not be as warm as I'd have liked, but it sure was warmer than the Jacuzzis on the pool deck. • It is now cruise time and my husband and I have been 'enjoying' the Norwegian Epic. I use that term very lightly. Had this been our first cruise with Norwegian, it would have been our last, and it is still quite likely that it will be so. Gone are the big restaurants where they can easily seat you. Instead there are two restaurants of middling size for free, but the ship greatly encourages you to pay for one of the many specialty restaurants, which range from a la carte dining, to $10-$25, plus extra if you want something special. Normally we might consider this, except that we don't like anything that's on their menus. So we go to the Manhattan Room, the 'main' restaurant on the ship. Twice in a row we have had terrible experiences here. The second time we waited more than ½ an hour before even getting glasses of water, never mind having our order taken. After that we decided to try "Taste", the second 'main' restaurant which is supposed to be contemporary, but carries the same menu as the Manhattan Room. Here, I admit, we received absolutely excellent service, and tipped to encourage the waitress to continue it. We ate at Taste for a second and third night, had different waitresses, and received amazing service each time. We submitted a comment card with a number of issues, one of which was the Manhattan room. NCL general customer service staff didn't care about the issue, but they did care that someone had talked to us and called three times to confirm that. Finally the restaurant manager called us to say that the problem had been fixed and invite us to dine at the Manhattan room again. He offered us a bottle of wine with our dinner, and as we don't drink wine, he offered to let us go to the Italian restaurant for free. We took him up on his offer and again tried the Manhattan room, and received horrendous service again. The assistant manager came to see us at the end of the meal and was surprised to hear that the service was again terrible. The following night we went to the Italian restaurant and had a good time, but we will caution you, even if it's 5:30 and not busy at all - do NOT go to the Manhattan Room, it's horrible. • Now I will say, I'm currently pregnant, so I'm eating a lot more often to avoid energy crashes. As a result we've been making use of the room service on board, which, like most cruise ships, is free. There are some extras you can choose to pay for, but the run of the mill omelet and fruit tray is what I'm looking for. We've ordered nearly every day, and most days it seems to take about 20-45 minutes to even get room service on the phone. Now I know that the ship has a couple thousand guests - but I should think they would be prepared to handle that. After we finally get through, we're told that our order (quite often simply sliced fruit and jello) will take 45 minutes to an hour to arrive. I find this ridiculous. Had I any other choice, I would go out, but unfortunately there are a lot of lee times on the ship where there simply aren't any restaurants open. • Next, the entertainment. With our last NCL cruise, and other cruises we have taken, as well as all-inclusive vacations, we're accustomed to there being a nightly show. We don't always choose to go, but the entertainment on the Sun was simply amazing. (Sam Griesbaum, Lumiri Tubo, and Ron ... to name a few). We were definitely looking forward to that on this ship, with the addition of seeing the Blue Man Group for free. Well, we saw the Blue Man Group on the second day. There is now a comedy show you can see (the Second City - funny), and a music concert (Legends in Concert - it's pretty good!), but that's all the shows there are for free. And we can only see each one once. There is a murder mystery we could go to for an extra $20 each, or Cirque Dinner & Dreams, for $20 each or $30 to get good seating. Again, only once per cruise can you see each show. That's all. No other entertainment. And unlike previous cruises, you can't watch any movies on the tv. Well, you can, but they're $10 each. There are a few news networks, sports channels, Nickelodeon, and a 'favorite shows' channel that shows something every two hours or so. So, there's no entertainment out on the ship, and nothing in the room to do. This exciting ship turned out to be rather boring if you're pregnant, or not interested in sports. There is a library, but it is only open a couple hours a day and consists only of a few cabinets... tiny compared to the other ship we were on, which held a fraction of the guests. • All in all, after this experience, we don't plan to cruise on a new ship again. It seems like you pay a premium for sailing on a new ship, and then they nickel and dime you at every opportunity. No free movies, limited free entertainment, poor free dining. Perhaps that is what 'freestyle' means: free to pay extra for whatever you like to do. • Asking the management to look into things and receiving a denial that there's even anything wrong has led us to the conclusion that we simply will not cruise with NCL again, and will certainly advise our friends against it. Many of our complaints are about how the experience was designed, so complete resolution may have been impractical, but at least they could have admitted that maybe some long term changes could be in order and/or offered some token gesture like a movie credit. They did verify that we got some sort of response, even if it was not to our satisfaction, so perhaps they will listen if enough others complain. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
My boyfriend and I are avid cruisers, and we have pretty high expectations for cruise lines. He and I went on Royal Caribbean's Oasis last December and absolutely loved it. We have never been on Norwegian, so we thought we would give ... Read More
My boyfriend and I are avid cruisers, and we have pretty high expectations for cruise lines. He and I went on Royal Caribbean's Oasis last December and absolutely loved it. We have never been on Norwegian, so we thought we would give the Epic a try. I doubt that we will ever go on it again unless we find an exceptional deal. I will list the Epic's good features first with the problems to follow. PROS of the Epic: Great entertainment! I loved Blue Man Group, Second City, and Legends, best entertainment at sea. We did not see Cirque Dreams based on other cruisers' reviews; however, we did meet a guy on the ship who said he loved it. He said the food was terrible, but that the act was a lot of fun and pretty amazing for a cruise ship. Great buffet! The Garden Cafe (the equivalent to the Windjammer on Royal Caribbean) was very good. It is a buffet, which I generally do not like, but the food quality was the best I've seen on any cruise ship buffet. Great bar service! Never once had to wait for a "paid for" drink. Bar staff were everywhere. Great cabin layout! Yes, we actually liked the controversial restroom set up. We had a basic inside cabin, and it was nice for the two of us to be able to get ready at pretty much the same time. The sink did not bother us at all! The only thing I didn't like was that the separate toilet area was cheaply made (plastic wall and floor). If you want privacy, there is a heavy curtain that you can pull between the shower/toilet area and the rest of the cabin. Clever "message" board outside cabin door! Why didn't someone think of this sooner? After the steward cleans your room, he or she turns the message board to "Welcome." In the morning, you can turn it to "Make Up Room," and in the evening, you can turn it to "Turn Down Room." Of course, there is a "Do Not Disturb" message, too. This is a great idea because then the steward knows when you are gone and can come in to clean the room. Reasonably priced "extras"! We bowled in the Bliss lounge for $5 each. Where we live, bowling is much more expensive! Billiards was only $1.50. Beautiful out-door movie screen in Spice H2O! I also have this listed in my CONS section, but here is the good part: the screen is huge and unbelievably bright and clear. My boyfriend owns a custom AV business, and he was pretty impressed with the quality. CONS of the Epic: The main dining rooms! Taste and Manhattan were less than thrilling. The food was pretty average, and the service was poor to fair (one night I had to ask twice for my ice tea to be refilled). We do not like "freestyle" cruising at all; we prefer to have the same table with the same wait staff. It is so much more personal that way. We ate dinner in Manhattan twice, and we were lucky we didn't have to wait. After 6:00 there was always a crowd of people waiting to be seated. What's disappointing is that there were plenty of empty tables. The Atrium! One afternoon, Blue Man Group was in the Atrium giving a talk (without their makeup!) but it was near impossible to hear them. The Atrium is a pretty neat place (two story tall video screen - very cool!), but the acoustics are awful! The customer service area is on one side and a coffee bar is on the other. You constantly hear coffee grinding and people talking in customer service. Also, the space is open to the floor above it which is the Irish bar (can't remember the name). The bar has two pool tables and an air hockey table. The air hockey table is incredibly noisy, which normally would be fine in a bar, but when you are trying to listen to a program, it is annoying. It is surprising how rude people are. There was a huge crowd there to see Blue Man, but people continued to slam the puck around. Anyway, people were getting very upset and leaving the Blue Man presentation because they could not hear anything they were saying. ALSO, there are METAL FOLDING CHAIRS in the Atrium. It is so bizarre. They have beautiful chairs up front, but then ugly church-basement folding chairs behind them. TACKY Smoking! I wasn't at all surprised to see smoking in the casino. There are lots of air purifiers, but the smoke can still be a bit heavy in places. BUT we liked going to Spice H20 and you can smoke anywhere there! We thought that the starboard side of the ship was nonsmoking (there is no smoking at the tables near the Spice H20 buffet on the starboard side), but a waiter brought a guy sitting right next to us in the lounge chairs an ashtray to smoke. YUCK. Usually, you would expect to have one side smoking and the other side non-smoking. Not on the Epic. The Epic Theater! The entertainment is very good, but the theater itself is shockingly small and ugly. There is only one "floor" (well, it takes up floors 5 and 6) that slopes down to the stage. The ceiling seems very low and you can see all the pipes, duct work, lighting etc. Also, the seats are poorly designed. After dinner, we like to have a drink while we're waiting for the show, but the cup holders are so angled that my drink actually fell out. No movies on the out-door movie screen in Spice H2O! During the day, they showed the "window" channel. At first, this is pretty neat because they show "vistas" of different outdoor areas (like Tahiti, Philippines,Hawaii etc). Really beautiful. But after a while, it gets pretty boring. One day they did show a live NFL game there, but we're not football fans. It would be so much better to show a movie in Spice H2O in the afternoon on at least one day at sea. OVERALL RECOMMENDATION: If you find a great price on an Epic cruise, then take it. Otherwise, I would recommend Royal Caribbean's Oasis. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This is my fourth cruise with NCL, and my ninth cruise overall. I am a fan for Freestyle cruising, and will sail with NCL again. There are a lot of very bad reviews for the Epic. The ship is not perfect, but it's not as bad as some ... Read More
This is my fourth cruise with NCL, and my ninth cruise overall. I am a fan for Freestyle cruising, and will sail with NCL again. There are a lot of very bad reviews for the Epic. The ship is not perfect, but it's not as bad as some would have you believe. Embarkation/Disembarkation - This was the best on any ship, any cruise line. I never had to wait to get on or off the ship. This includes all the ports. Cabins - I was in a balcony cabin on the 10th deck with my wife. I usually choose inside cabins, but I wanted to experience the new shape. My first impression is that the cabin is too narrow. An additional six inches would have made a world of difference. While I applaud the effort to try something new, I wish they did not try to squeeze as many cabins per deck as possible. The splashing sink has been fixed, but the basin seems just a bit too small. The split configuration was not a problem. We have stayed at resorts with this same set up before. If privacy is needed, the other person can go to the balcony, or take a stroll around the ship. On a positive note, there is more storage than you will use. Dining - With only a few exceptions, we ate all meals at Taste. While nothing impressed me a fantastic, nothing was bad. My wife and I enjoyed all the meals I had. We ate at Moderno once, and loved it. I am a fan of this type of restaurant, and Moderno to not disappoint. Be sure to bring you appetite. We ate one night at O'Sheehan's. We ate here the last night of the cruise. Some other guest had been kind enough to give me their cold, and the chicken pot pie was just what I needed. We ate one night in the buffet. We also ate most lunches in the buffet. In my opinion, NCL's buffet is the best of any cruise line I have been on. For a ship with 4000 passengers, it never seemed overly crowded. Deck plans - I did not like that the elevators/stairs were only forward and aft. A central stair would have been nice. I also did not like that I was forced to walk through the casino, or go to the opposite end of the ship to avoid it. The pool deck was not as bad as I had read, but there could be bottle necks by the pools when a game contest was happening. Overall my feeling is that the ship designers never actually spent time vacationing on a ship. I'm not sure if this statement makes sense, but the ship just did not flow well. Staff - This is where NCL shines. The staff is always friendly and helpful. I was never hassled to buy drinks. I never waited long when I ordered a drink from one of the roaming servers. The dining room staff always did a great job, and did their best to accommodate us. It's a tough job working on a cruise ship. These are good people just trying to do their job. Treat them with respect and courtesy, and they will do the same. Entertainment - Another area where NCL shines. We only saw the Blue Man Group, but it was great. I had no trouble make reservations the night before the show. Don't believe the reviewers that say you have to book this before you sail. You can if want, but it's not necessary. I hope this helps others planning to sail on the Epic. It's not a bad ship, but it could have been so much more. Do not be scared by the extreme negative reviews. Read them for the entertainment, but take them with a grain of salt. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Went on the western Caribbean cruise on Feb. 19th, 2011. Flew in on Spirit which is a rip off, they nickel and dime you with fees so your better off to go with a different provider which might seem more expensive at first but will be ... Read More
Went on the western Caribbean cruise on Feb. 19th, 2011. Flew in on Spirit which is a rip off, they nickel and dime you with fees so your better off to go with a different provider which might seem more expensive at first but will be cheaper at the end of the day. Right from the start embarkation went smoothly, food was available immediately but our cabin was not ready till the appointed time. For the course of our trip everything went well. We felt well taken care of and the cruise line did everything to accommodate us. The entertainment on board the ship is excellent, there is always something going on. I did the rappelling wall 3 times. Water slides are great, expect to wait in line though. The shows are awesome but the cirque de soleil show is not a family show. However lots of people take their kids and didn't see anything wrong with the show. I read through all the negative reviews before leaving and it seems that these people might have not been on the same ship or they might work for a different cruise line. For the people who said there is no place to walk and see the ocean there is deck 7. Granted the lifeboats cover most of it but there are still spots to pull up a chair and watch the sunset. For the ones complaining about the beds i'm 6'2" and i was comfortable sleeping with my feet on the bed. Met some people on board who said they were going to complain just to get free vouchers. I imagine that those are the people with the negative reviews, probably because they didn't get any vouchers. All in all a great trip. Thinking about going on the Epic for the European cruise. They make you feel like a first class customer and spare no expense to keep you happy!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
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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