I've just returned yesterday from my first ever cruise vacation, which was on the Norwegian Epic around the Western Mediterranean. And what a great experience it has been! Amazing ship, very friendly staff, nice atmosphere, lots of ... Read More
I've just returned yesterday from my first ever cruise vacation, which was on the Norwegian Epic around the Western Mediterranean. And what a great experience it has been! Amazing ship, very friendly staff, nice atmosphere, lots of dining options.... it was truly a fantastic holiday. Let me tell you why:
After getting to the port in Marseille, the check-in process on board was surprisingly fast. Then, it was of to see my cabin, and explore the ship. The Epic, with a capacity up to of 4100 passengers, is one of the bigger cruise ships out there (as I've been told by more experienced cruise travellers) so there is quite a lot to explore. But the ship's setup is quite straight forward, so finding your way around is easily done after a little while. And if you do get lost, there are maps and touchscreens available on every floor to help you out.
Since I was travelling by myself (background info: 27 year old Dutch guy), I've booked a Studio, which is specially designed for solo travellers. These inside cabins are very modern, with a queen-size bed, a glass shower and mood lighting. The Epic is the perfect ship to travel on for solo travellers, because of these Studios, and especially because of the Studio Lounge, which is only accessible for guests who booked a Studio. A.k.a. a great place to get to know new people and have a drink. With a solo travellers meeting every night at 18.00, with presence of one of the Cruise Staff members (William in our case, he is a great host!) and the option to go for dinner with other solo travellers too, you're bound to make some new friends.
After the solo traveller meeting, it was off to dinner. And what a range of options does this ship provide you with. Multiple restaurants (buffet restaurant Garden Cafe and a-la-carte restaurants Taste, Manhattan Room and O'Sheehans) are complimentary, but you can also pay some more and use on of the speciality restaurants.
Having dinner in the Spiegel Tent is very recommendable, because of the Cirque Dreams show. In all honesty, the food in the Spiegel Tent is not as good as at Taste or Manhattan, but the show is amazing! From acrobatic arts to classic magic to comedy, this show combines it all inside a very compact and cozy environment.
At Taste and Manhattan they serve great food, with a different menu every day (only the classic dishes will remain the same) and hi-quality presentation and great taste. The wine list is good as well, and I tasted quite a few (luckily I had the Ultimate Beverage Package)
At O'Sheehans, the Irish styled restaurant and pub, they serve a good and tasty 'pub grub', including chicken wings, a very nice BBQ burger and fish and chips. Over here, you will also find some games, including pool, darts and bowling.
After dinner, it was time to enjoy the night. Howl at the Moon at the Headliners comedy club is great fun. These guys (and girl) do songs on request, and make a happy show while doing it. The musical 'Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert' played in the Epic Theatre simply takes your breath away. The acting, singing and decors are all so beautifully done (and, since you're all staying on the same ship, you can run into the stars of the show later on when partying in the Bliss Lounge) Also the Beatles tribute band (playing in the Cavern Club) is amazing, they really get you of your feet. There are other shows too (an opera show and a 60's tribute band f.i.) but I don't see those.
Luckily you receive an overview every day of all activities going on the next day, so you can keep track (because I didn't even mention the bingo yet, or the ping pong tournament, movies on big screen, art auctions, trivia quizzes and so much more), besides the 'regular' cruise activities like bubbling in a jacuzzi, swimming and enjoying the sunshine.
For a more quiet night out, you can enjoy a nice mix or cocktail (tip: try the Mudslide, amazing iced cocktail) in one of the many bars, such as Shakers (martini bar), Maltings, O'Sheehans (Irish pub) or Waves (bar outside, near the pool)
By the end of the night, going on into early morning, Bliss Lounge is the place to go, which is a nightclub-like bar. Although the DJ isn't always playing my kind of music, the atmosphere is nice, and you can dance the night away if you like.
I didn't book any excursions through NCL (they are pretty expensive, so just wondered off by myself), but in the Freestyle Daily they inform you about the options ashore (how you can get about on your own, and what there is to see in and near the port of call), so that's great.
So was there nothing that could be improved? Yes, there is. Almost every morning (quite early, around 07.00) there are quite loud announcements over the speaker system, mostly for disembarking guests or guests who have booked a shore excursion. Being woken up with announcements (which are mostly not even meant for you) isn't really nice, specially after a nice night of partying. Perhaps NCL can do these announcements differently/more targeted? (perhaps via the TV?)
Also, although the Ultimate Beverage Package includes cocktails, wines and mixed drinks (which can go up to about 15 USD per drink) coffee in the Atrium bar or special coffee after dinner is not included. Having an Irish coffee included, but having to pay extra for a capucchino, that seems a bit odd. But, despite these two points of improvement, I still had a very very nice holiday!
Wow, that was a long review. So all and all, I've happy to say that my experience on this ship has been great! It was my first cruise, but definately not my last one... and love to go with Norwegian again! Read Less