6 Norwegian Epic Cruise Reviews for Singles Cruises to Europe - Western Mediterranean from Rome (Civitavecchia)

This was my first time traveling with Norwegian, and first time ever in Europe with one of my best friends. I had only ever traveled with Carnival before, so I was very impressed with the interior of the ship and it's overall size; ... Read More
This was my first time traveling with Norwegian, and first time ever in Europe with one of my best friends. I had only ever traveled with Carnival before, so I was very impressed with the interior of the ship and it's overall size; much larger and more extravagant on the inside. Very detailed, many places to eat, really good layout. We had a few issues on board. For starters, we found out days later that our steward was supposed to come to our room to introduce himself and show us around our room, how everything worked. That never happened. 7 days on the ship and never met him. We also had issues receiving our tickets for our shore excursions. We booked all three of our excursions with Norwegian, and every single time, we had to go downstairs to the excursion desk to get copies of our tickets, as our steward could never bring them to our room on time. We actually never got our tickets for our last excursion. We had to get a pamphlet with the shore excursion meeting times and show up extra early to make sure some staff there could go get our tickets. The first shore excursion we had we got our tickets at the desk, and then the day of the excursion, after we had returned back to the ship, our tickets were waiting for us there. What the point of that was, I have no idea. Really made it frustrating that we didn't have our tickets waiting in our room, ever. Always had to make time to visit the desk, wait in line, and wait for our ticket copies. Another issue we had was with the staff. One night, my friend and I were having a late night snack at O'Sheenan's and some random drunk guy sat out our table trying to hit on us. We got really uncomfortable when he wouldn't leave, so we called over a staff member to get him to escort him away. The staff member got really offended because he thought we had called him over with our middle finger (why anyone would do that, I have no idea), and gave us a lecture on how that was very rude and offensive before we could even ask him to take the man away. Once he had told the guy to leave, he once again scolded us on calling him over with our middle finger. Completely unnecessary. We're two girls, no need for that. Other than that encounter with the staff, everyone else was excellent. We made a lot of friends with staff from different places who worked in different parts of the ship, and it was nice to run into them again days later and have them remember us, our names, and how they had met us. They gave great recommendations and were cool to hang out with. We met some really wonderful people that worked on board. We got an interior cabin room, so no windows. It kind of sucked because we never knew when it was light out or dark out. It really threw us off. Sometimes we would walk up to the deck and be shocked that it was still light out. Our fault, for not spending a little more money on a room with a window. Definitely recommend! It's worth it. Our room was very cramped and small. Often, my friend and I had to walk around each other when we were doing our hair or our makeup, or trying to change our clothes or pack. The layout of the room is a little weird, with the bathroom and shower at the entrance of the room and the sink on the dresser area. Didn't bother us much. You can control the temperature of the room, which was great. There's also American and European outlets in the rooms. Two American, so we had no need for the European ones. Worked out perfectly fine. The bed was always clean and very comfortable to sleep in. Had no problems. Despite us never getting our tickets on time or meeting our steward, he always cleaned our room twice a day, much appreciated. I will say the lighting sucks in there. Too many buttons for lighting in different areas, which is fine, but it was still so dim and dark with all the lights on. Made it very hard to see our makeup accurately. A small thing, but kind of important for us girls! Dining was excellent. We always had dinner at The Manhattan, and hardly ever were we disappointed. I think there was maybe one night where we weren't fans of what we ordered, but they nailed almost everything else. I will say, they can't seem to get dessert right. It always fell short of my expectations. The creme brulee was delicious, definitely try that! Staff was very sweet and always made sure to seat us near a window. They started to recognize us as the girls who wanted dinner with a view, so at one point we didn't even have to ask anymore. They also sat us right next to the dance floor one night when there was a show happening, which was very kind of them. We had the best seats! Buffet was also pretty good, I especially liked the Asian food offered and the salad selection. Only ate there once, on the first day. O'Sheenan's had great breakfast, although I definitely preferred Taste for breakfast. Ate at Taste almost every morning before getting off the ship, and they were always accommodating when we told them we were in a rush because we had to meet for a tour. I have one very strong complaint about pricing on the ship. My friend and I only traveled with carry-on luggage, so we had no room for sunblock or aloe which was much needed after so many days in the sun. We went to the gift shop only to find out that for one regular sized bottle of Hawaiian Tropic sunblock and aloe, it was going to cost us $36!! $18 each for a brand I know very well is sold for around $10 literally anywhere else. What a ripoff. I understand cruises up-charge, but that was ridiculously expensive and we refused to purchase. **Here's a little tip**: Guest Services sells the exact same products for $15 each, only when the gift shop is closed. Get your stuff there. Still expensive, but at least not as bad. They also have tooth paste and tanning oil. Avoid the gift shop at all costs. They do, however, only have a limited amount, so don't wait until the end of the trip to go stock up. Get it early on, or wait until you're at a port that sells sunblock right off the ship. You'll find it for even cheaper, in euros, of course. As far as entertainment and activities go, there wasn't much to do that really interested us. Most of the time, we were exhausted after long days of walking at the port stops, so we simply had dinner and went to bed. We really did enjoy Burn the Floor, excellent show if you appreciate dancing. Book your reservation for that early, don't wait until you're on the ship because it will be sold out. Highly recommend watching! There are a lot of family-friendly activities for those of you traveling with kids. Family karaoke and a variety of games they play on the Guest Services level using the huge TV Screen. Very interactive and great for kids. My friend and I really enjoyed the parties at Spice H20, they were great! We especially loved the Glow Party and the 80s Themed Party. Bliss was also a great place to be after the parties ended at Spice H20. We also watched a magic show, but that was pretty underwhelming. Very basic card tricks that I've seen a million times, nothing out of this world. I was expecting something better after seeing Burn the Floor. On the Day at Sea, we chose to spend the day in the Thermal Suites. Highly recommend if you really want to unwind and relax! No kids, very quiet and peaceful. Never got too crowded. It's $48 per person for one day, and 100% worth the money. Everything was clean and luxurious. If your muscles are sore from all the walking, use the thermal pool water jets; they will cure you and you'll feel brand new. As I said earlier, all of our shore excursions were booked with Norwegian. Super overpriced, most of them, but well worth it. We did a shore excursion in Livorno, Palma, and Naples. In Livorno, we did the "Florence & Pisa on your own" excursion. We prefer to kind of do our own thing at the ports, so this was a great option for us. It's simply transportation in an air-conditioned bus (with WIFI!) and a tour guide who gives you a little bit of history on the bus ride and gives recommendations for places to visit. We had a wonderful time. No problems and got back to the ship on time, although Norwegian will always wait for you if you're running late and on a Norwegian shore excursion. My suggestion, do the Florence on your own excursion and skip Pisa. Pisa is very small and you need tickets to get into literally every building in the square. It wasn't spectacular to me. I could've done without it and would have much rather spent that one extra hour in Florence. There's a lot more to do, see, and eat in Florence and your time is better spent there. In Palma, we did another "on your own" type of excursion that simply transported us to and from Palmanova beach, which is supposed to be one of the nicest beaches on the island. There are plenty of chairs and umbrellas to rent. You can rent one umbrella and two chairs for 15 euros. The beach itself wasn't anything out of this world, in my opinion. I kept wondering if maybe there were prettier beaches elsewhere. If there's a better tour available, maybe consider one of those. The water was green and kind of dirty, full of pieces of trash and other things. Still a nice, relaxing day. We also had the best sangria and tapas right across the street for super cheap, which made everything well worth it. But I have seen way better beaches elsewhere. We had no problems with people stealing our stuff, we comfortably left everything on our chairs while we were in the water. Be advised if you're traveling with kids, it's a nude beach! In Naples, we did the "Exclusive Amalfi Coast & Pompeii" excursion and although this left us bankrupt, we have no regrets. It was by far the best tour we did the entire week. The drive along the Amalfi coast was more than enough, but we also got an hour in Sorrento, Positano, and Pompeii. Each was beautiful and one hour was enough time to grab a quick snack and do a little shopping. We even had time to make our way down the town in Positano and check out the beach. Lunch was at a restaurant overlooking the Amalfi coast, and it was a three-course meal with wine, prosecco, and coffee and dessert. Absolutely delicious. Tour included only around 12 people, so it was very intimate and way better than a huge tour of 40 people. I highly recommend this tour! We arrived in Rome three days prior to the cruise to spend a little more time there, and it was well worth it. I definitely recommend doing this if you're embarking in Rome or Barcelona. When we got off at the Barcelona stop, it was Sunday and most shops and restaurants were closed. It would have been nice to see the city more alive! Here are some other tips I've gathered after my trip and from talking to other cruises who didn't do as much research as we did prior to boarding: - Norwegian provides a bus service that takes you straight to the airport or the port, depending on whether you're arriving or leaving. Very expensive. From Rome, we went to Termini Station and took the train straight to the train station in Civitavecchia. It takes about an hour and five minutes, with multiple stops along the way. It will only cost you around 11 euros per person. Way more affordable and you get a beautiful scenic tour of the countryside along the way. From there, take a taxi straight to the port. It's 5 euros per person and it'll drop you off at the exact terminal. There's a bus as well, but it doesn't take you directly there. You have to walk to a square to reach the bus stop and then walk another 10-15 minutes to your terminal. To get to the airport, disembark the cruise and there is a free shuttle that takes you to a stop that is a ten minute walk away from the train station (same one you get off at to embark). Grab a ticket to FCO airport, get off at Trastevere and hop onto another train to reach FCO. Drops you off directly inside the airport. - If you use the trains in Italy, make sure to validate your ticket prior to getting on the train. They are little green machines that look like hand sanitizer dispensers. If you don't validate your ticket, you get fined. And they do check your tickets on board! - Cannes is VERY expensive and there's a lot of shopping to be done there. Make sure you have enough cash on you or a credit card. We didn't anticipate all the shopping we would do, so we ran out! - We were warned about a lot of pick-pocketting in Europe, but we felt very very safe everywhere we went. However, we were extra cautious and used locks on our purses. We attached the keys to a hair tie and wore that on our wrists. Nobody would ever know. You could also use a necklace. - You need tickets for the following places if you want to visit them: Parc Guell, La Sagrada Familia, Galleria dell'Academia, all of Pisa, Vatican City, the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. Book them online in advance through the official websites, it is much cheaper and you get to skip all the lines. Vatican City offers a discount for students if you take your student ID, don't forget it! They do check when you get there. - On board, like I said, spend a little more money on a room with at least a window so you can figure out what time of day it is. Well worth it! - Book reservations for Burn the Floor in advance! It's the only show that sells out very quickly, because it's so good. - In Barcelona, USE THE METRO. Best way to get around, very cheap and definitely safe. You will be able to see everything. Do not use the hop on and hop off busses. They seem convenient, but they take FOREVER to get through all the stops. You won't be able to see everything if you use them. We made that mistake. Never again! Extremely long post/review, but hopefully some of you find this helpful if you're planning a future trip. I know I was very nervous traveling to Europe for the first time and I did a lot of research prior to, which I also recommend doing. Norwegian was a nice experience, but there were a few issues that really bothered us, as mentioned above. Would I go again? Definitely, but I think the next time I do Europe it'll be on land. It was a nice taste of different places, and now I know where I want to spend more time and what I want to do. It's a nice vacation for first-timers. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
I wanted to cruise the Mediterranean as a solo passenger. I am very thankful that Norwegian sees that market and provides studios. The cost was $899 for 7 nights (NO ridiculous single supplement charge like other cruise lines!). The ... Read More
I wanted to cruise the Mediterranean as a solo passenger. I am very thankful that Norwegian sees that market and provides studios. The cost was $899 for 7 nights (NO ridiculous single supplement charge like other cruise lines!). The studios: outstanding accommodations; large with tonnes of storage for one traveller. I was in Room 11575 AFT and would not recommend location as the AFT cabins are over the engines. The room vibrates and it is very noisy when docking and leaving port. These rooms are not good for elderly passengers. The lady next to me was 80+ and had a walker. It is very tough to navigate the interior hallway and/or the tube-like shower with a walker. There is also a lounge for studio guests offering cappuccinos and light snacks. This offers solo travellers a place to meet others should they wish to have dinner and/or stage show companions. Shows: Priscilla Queen of the Desert is top quality. Best I've seen on any cruise line. Burn the Floor is well produced and perfect for fans of dance. I really enjoyed the MoTown music show in the cabaret as well. Food: I did not have the specialty dining package. Europe has only one sea day and I knew I would be eating fine food in ports. Breakfast at the Garden Café had endless choices. The Garden Café had a different theme nightly and met my needs. Moderno was also very good. I'm not a foodie and felt that the quality of food was very good on board . The Spa: I purchased a pass and really enjoyed this as it rained all 7 days of my cruise. Pools and heated loungers were really nice. Ports: 1. Rome - spend 4 days there before the cruise then took the train to meet the ship in Civitavecchia/ was surprised at what a beautiful beach town it is. 2. Livorno - you pay 5 euro for shuttle to get out of the port into the town. I then took a large tour bus for 3 hours in Florence and 1 hour in Pisa. Both are not to be missed. 3. Cannes - could not dock due to storm 3. Marseilles - 15 euro to take shuttle out of the port and to the town. There I took local train on my own to Aix en Provence which was extraordinary! 4. Barcelona - Hop-on Hop-Off Bus allowed me to see everything in one day. The city shuts down on Sundays so it was very quiet. 5. Naples -I tried to do this on my own but would recommend a tour. Leave Naples and head to the Amalfi Coast. The only port where you don't have to pay for a shuttle to reach the town site. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
It has been six year's since my last cruise. This was with royal caribbean. I found this cruise basically half the price as royal caribbean, due to single, no supplement studio cabin's. I was also pleased to receive the ... Read More
It has been six year's since my last cruise. This was with royal caribbean. I found this cruise basically half the price as royal caribbean, due to single, no supplement studio cabin's. I was also pleased to receive the ultimate drink's package at the time of booking, for free. I pre-booked transfer's, from the airport at rome, to the ship at civitavecchia. The transfer took an hour by bus. There were plenty representatives from norwegian at the airport to direct you. Check in at the port was quick and i was on board within 20 minutes. I quickly found my studio cabin on deck 11 and received my suitcase an hour later. The ship is very large, but finding your way around did not take long, with interactive screen's at elevator's and signs at each level in stairways. I ate at the garden café all the time. That was a great buffet with different theme night's depending on which port you were at and plenty of ice cream you can help yourself too. This ship had plenty of thing's to do, from shopping to load's of bar's and of course the swimming pool's and flume slide's. I liked the adult's area bar spice h20 and o'sheenans for a drink, but you sometimes had to wait for them to finnish making cocktail's before you got served. One thing i noticed was, crew buying case's of bottle's of water in port and taking it on board, while guest's are prohibited and have to pay for expensive bottle's from the ship! Another thing i noticed on my last night was the pen and norwegian headed notepaper taken out of the cabin! Disembarkation went good but had to be off ship at 07:00 for transfer to airport. I feel norwegian is on par with royal caribbean but with less gimmicks and would book with norwegian again. Livorno port, italy. I got the port transfer bus to main shopping square for 5 euro return. But they offered a transfer to rail station plus ticket to florence for 50 euro. Cannes port, france. Tendered ashore after rush at 10:15am. Walked around harbour looking at mega yachts and the castle where you get great view's. Marseilles port, france. Went on my first norwegian excursion, avignon and marseilles city highlights. Avignon was very interesting but 2 hours free time a bit long. Marseilles highlights part, took us to a church on top of a hill overlooking the whole of the city. Barcelona port, spain. Paid 4 euro for a return bus transfer to the harbour front but walkable without luggage. I walked around city. There were 3800 passenger's embarking the ship here. Naples port, italy. I booked an excursion with norwegian, pompeii excavations. Guide took us around site for two hour's with a little free time to buy souvenirs. I also walked round downtown which look's a bit rough. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Below is my honest review and my top tips - I consider myself to be a well seasoned traveller and have done everything from budget to uber luxurious. My big take away / message for anyone is to make sure this type of cruise is for you. ... Read More
Below is my honest review and my top tips - I consider myself to be a well seasoned traveller and have done everything from budget to uber luxurious. My big take away / message for anyone is to make sure this type of cruise is for you. I've noticed that a lot of reviews slam certain things that are not a result of the cruise itself, but because of the type of cruise and clientele it attracts. We chose this cruise for the solo cruiser option as my husband and I were travelling with my mom for her 70th birthday. The EPIC does a great job in accommodating single travellers with no single supplement. We embarked and disembarked in Rome. Note, a majority of travellers will start/end in Barcelona so embarking/disembarking was quick and easy. Ship: Very modern, clean and everything was spotless. I was extremely impressed with the attention to detail from staff. The public bathrooms, eating and public areas were never messy and staff were continually cleaning around you. Very impressed. The ship is big - loads of places to see/do onboard With 5000 passengers, this could pose challenges for some but is a good thing for others. Cabin: We had a mid balcony room. Clean and comfortable. I understand why they designed the bathrooms the way they did (to provide better flexibility and more room for passengers). Functionally, it worked. However, if you have issues with your cabin-mate listening to you 'do your business', the small screen around the toilet doesn't do much to hide any sounds. Plus, you don't have access to a sink or shower to run to hide any noises so be prepared to either banish your partner to the balcony if this is an issue for you! Loads of storage in the room - it was awesome. Lots of hangers, nice size balcony, etc. Very good room (we were in room 12116) Food/Drinks: The food in the specialty dining restaurants was excellent as were the buffet options in the main market cafe. The food in the main dining rooms was OK, but we ate the last night here and compared to the food in Specialty Dining rooms which was hard to beat. The meal provided at Cirque wasn't the best (set meal of surf and turf) which didn't provide much flexibility for options. Totally recommended specialty meal package if you can get it! Drinks and Wine options exceptional. Entertainment: Loved Cirque - Awesome! Get premium seats if you can as you are right in the action. Burn the Floor and Pricilla both really good. On board Service: Exceptional! Quick, friendly and very accommodating. I was super happy with the level of service - some of the best I've experienced in a very long time. Ports: Not overly impressed with the ports. I've been to all the cities before. Getting into Florence and Rome took quite a bit of time (due to location away from ocean). Cities right on the ports Marseille and Naples were very dirty. The best port was Barcelona (easy access and beautiful city), however, important to know that the ship docks on Sunday so if you embark from another city other than Barcelona, you will miss out on a lot of really cool things in this city. On Sunday, the main market is closed, as are many of the shops. Still, lots to see and do but if you are into food and want to experience the Gothic Area to full potential, the shops need to be open. It's a lovely city with a great vibe- the best of all the ports of call in my opinion.It was a shame that a lot of it was shut on Sunday, the same/only day the ship docks here. As a result, I'd recommend starting and ending in Barcelona so you can spend some time here. Pre Travel/Booking: - TOP TIP I booked the trip in the UK and paid Stirling. My mom (who lives in Canada) saw the same cruise advertised for the same price in Canadian dollars. Essentially, due to the currency conversion, we paid almost double for the same cruise if we would have booked it through the north american NCL branch. We still would have saved hundreds if we lost our 100 pound deposit and rebooked! NCL would not do anything for us, except provide a $100 on board credit. This is the biggest disappointment of the cruise. If you are thinking of booking a trip, check the US or Canada travel agents or website as you could save hundreds of pounds. NCL offer different deals overseas than here to attract Canadian/North American customers. Overall: The EPIC is a lovely ship, the people and the food were top notch. Exceeded my expectations. My biggest frustration was not the fault of the ship or any of the staff. My advice to anyone thinking of booking - know what kind of cruise you are signing up for. This is not the fault of the cruises ship or hard working staff on the ship. You are on a massive ship with 5000 people catering to families, singles and younger people. There will be screaming children, obnoxious guests and a lack of lounge chairs on sea days (people will put towels on chairs in AM and bugger off all day) - this resulted in more than half the chairs sitting empty all day while hundreds of people wondering around trying to find a spot. Not cool! We had our own balcony so had our own private space which was a god send. You will have to walk - you will have to do stairs, you will need to send your husband on the balcony if you need to poo! It's a big ship! If you have kids, don't mind being around a lot of people, enjoy a drink and good food then this ship is for you! If you are wanting a romantic, quiet get away with easy access to ports without paying for excursions, then maybe this isn't the right cruise for you. It boils down to what you want and your attitude. The NCL Epic was a lovely ship, the staff were awesome and we totally enjoyed the food/wine. When it got a bit overwhelming with people on the sailing day, we had our own little space on our balcony which was great. Overall, we had a great time and recommend if this is the type of cruise for you. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
I was a solo traveller and was very impressed by the organisation, friendliness and efficiency of the NCL staff. From embarkation to the final day, the fun, food and freedom were excellent throughout. The dining rooms served delicious ... Read More
I was a solo traveller and was very impressed by the organisation, friendliness and efficiency of the NCL staff. From embarkation to the final day, the fun, food and freedom were excellent throughout. The dining rooms served delicious courses and the staff were attentive but not intrusive. The wine choices were extensive, something for everyone. We did not have to wait for a table. As a single, I met many people from all over the globe in the solo lounge. We went to dinner together and everyone felt comfortable in such convivial company. The shows were excellent especially the dancers. The drinks package was a little strange. I could have any amount of alcohol I wanted including delicious cocktails. However I had to pay over $5.00 for a bottle of water in my cabin. I drank much more water than alcohol so had a drinks bill !! Crazy and not really fair!! WELL DONE NCL FOR A SUPER HOLIDAY. I HOPE TO SAIL WITH YOU AGAIN Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Here is the down and dirty about this cruise. ...... We went out of Rome for 7 days on September 18, 2013. Overall I would rate this cruise as very good. But there were a few things that needed improvement. I should start with the ... Read More
Here is the down and dirty about this cruise. ...... We went out of Rome for 7 days on September 18, 2013. Overall I would rate this cruise as very good. But there were a few things that needed improvement. I should start with the disclaimer that I am a loyal Norwegian client and will continue to sail with them because I like their overall cruising style. EMBARKATION We embarked in Rome after spending 2 nights in Rome, which we arranged ourselves. Rome is a beautiful city which is easy to get around either on foot or with the use of public transit. Transportation to the port is easy to do on your own. There is no need for expensive cruise arranged transport if you are able to manage your suitcases yourself. My advice to you is pack light and go it alone. The train from FCO Fiumcino airport to termini station is call the Leonardo express and you can take this train for €14.50. The train runs frequently and is easy to find from the baggage area of the airport. Alternatively, if there are 3 or more of you, you can book a private taxi to termini or central rome for €40 with jump limo (an excellent service for Rome transfers) At termini station there is a train to civitavecchia port. This train is €5 to €12 depending on the service provider. The ticketing machines are really easy to use and self explanatory. They operate in several languages. A word of caution if someone is offering to help you buy your ticket at the train station ignore them or tell them to go away. Best case scenario they will ask for money for helping you sort out your ticket. Worse case scenario they are trying to distract you to rob you or pickpocket you. You can manage the ticket process yourself. When you arrive in civitavecchia, the port is approximately 700 m, to the free shuttle that will take you to the Gangway of the ship. This walk is on level ground and easy to do with wheeled cases. The only challenge is you have to cross under the tracks so that means walking down the stairs and then up again with your cases. If this would be physically a struggle then maybe this mode of transport is not for you. Embarking in Rome..... Quick and seamless. No lines. Room ready immediately (we got on board at about 12:30) and luggage was there in about 45 mins. This is an excellent time to explore the ship because the majority of cruisers embark in Barcelona meaning that they are all in port when you are embarking. Check out all the areas, figure out the lay of the land and book all your entertainment that day if you are planning on taking in the shows. More on that later. CABIN I booked a studio cabin which was more that comfortable. They have made excellent use of space and storage. The separation of the toilet and the shower is great. The curved lines of the room make it feel larger than it is and lastly the lighting.... It's a cross between a spa and a bordello but some how it works! You can choose the shade you want from 4 options and it is a nice touch. The beds and pillows are comfortable and the linens are warm and cozy. The only negative is the night lights. They are located above the beds and glow blue which illuminate the room which would otherwise be pitch black. There is no way to dim or turn off these lights. If this will bother you, bring a mask :)! PORTS Livorno Here is my first complaint with the cruise. The ports are often not close to anything and transportation out of the port is not simple. NCL arranges for shuttles but it costs $12 per person return to the train station. If you are planning a trip on your own, take a taxi from the gangway to the train station. This will ensure you get the first train to florence at 8:12. The cost will be €25 flat rate. If you are cost conscious try and hook up with others who plan to do the same through roll call lists on cruise critic. There is not much to see in livorno. You need to travel to florence or Pisa from here. This can easily be done on your own. Depending on what you want to see you do not have to take an excursion from the ship. Trains run frequently to florence (about 1h 20 mins away) express trains are fastest so choose an appropriate train. Again the ticket machines are easy to use. The ticket clerks are helpful. No need to book a return ticket now but you can if you want to. Tickets are open and not to assigned trains. You need to validate at the ticket validation machines on the platforms. Apparently there are random checks but I wasn't stopped once. Please note that if you are going to see the main sights in florence you want to get off the train at SANTA MARIA NOVELLA station not Firenze! When in florence there are many things to see. If you want to see David he is housed in the academia gallery a 15 min walk from the train station. Pre ok your David time. You can make 10:30 if you make the 8:12 train. You can reserve tickets by calling the academia museum. You can reserve without payment and pay when you pick up your time. If you miss it or if you change your mind nothing lost. The cost is €15 per person. If you do not precook be prepared to wait in line for tickets. If you precook pick up your tickets across the main entrance of the museum which is a bookstore and enter the reserved line after picking up tickets. From there you can walk to duomo the cathedral. The line to get in is very long. You can climb 452 stairs to the top for a €10 fee. If this interests you pre book this as well. The line is long and moves only at the pace of those climbing it. I did not go in the duomo so I cannot comment on its worth. From the duomo you can walk to ponte vecchio. If you want silver this is where you will buy it. The bridge itself is quaint and crosses the river easily, but is very crowded. If you plan to do the uffizi gallery you will run out of time before seeing everything it is a huge collection. I didn't do this myself but others I met mentioned it was too much to see. There are also lots of Medici dynasty buildings you can visit. If you plan to see Pisa as well, you will not have time to do it all. On your way back to the train it is worth walking through the leather markets. There is beautiful workmanship. Also stop and see the Santa Maria novella church beside the train station if there is time. From florence, we went to Pisa. This was by train for €6.80 and there are express trains that get you to Pisa in 48 mins. You go to Pisa centrale station. From there you take the LAM rossa (red line not a red bus most of them are orange) on about a 10 min bus ride. You will know where to get off you will see the tower when you are approaching the stop. The tickets for LAM rossa you can purchase from the driver. You can climb the tower again precook a time or you will waitin long long lines. We did not climb the tower so I cannot comment on whether its worth it. Returning to the ship from Pisa is 15 min train ride followed by a shuttle ride or cab ride back to the port. Again if you are looking for a guided tour then by all means go with the ship but this can be done easily on your own. MARSEILLES Again you are required to take a taxi or shuttle out of the port. There are tons of construction projects going on in the port so this time it was worth it to use the shuttle as a taxi will likely be expensive while trying to navigate the traffic. Pre purchase the shuttle tickets the night before port to save some time. If you plan to go to the beach skip the shuttle and go directly to a taxi but note the beach is about a 20 km drive and is small. We did not go but it looked nice. Crowded and small but there are lots of cares/hotels in the area and the water looked glorious. We took the little train (aka fun train) from the port. It cost €8. Worth every cent. Winds it's way up in an open air train up to Norte dame de la guarde cathedral which is definitely something to see. Beautiful inside and beautiful views of the city from 162 metres above the sea. A word of caution the return train from the cathedral is poorly organized so you might have to get in a long line to return to the start of the route. Nevertheless, it's a great tour of Marseilles and it takes about 2 hours depending on how long you spend in the cathedral. On returning to the port there are several high end shops along st ferrol street of the Main Street la carbeniere. The shops are worth a look. There are many street side cafes, bakeries and bars to stop for a meal or light refreshments. On the way back to the shuttle there are little carts with soaps, spices, lavender and crafts available for sale. If wanting to visit Aix-en-Provence, my advice would be to take a guided tour. PALMA If you want a beach this is the place for it! The beaches in Palma are beautiful and sandy. No pebbles here. In this port you can walk off the ship and hire a taxi to take you where you want to go. There is a steady stream if taxis available and they can quote you a price for where you want to go. If you want a tour of the town the ship will again get you to the city square for another $12 shuttle. There is a hop on hop off bus in Palma to show you the sights. We chose the beach and we were not disappointed. There are several in the area but we chose Palma Nova. It was €17 to €20 ride to the beach. €13.50 rented an umbrella and 2 beach loungers. There are public facilities for €0.50 per visit. The water is beautiful and clear with a sandy bottom. There are several little eateries and cafes along the waterfront and you can get take out food and beverages to consume on the beach. Alcohol is ok here as long as it is not in glass containers. There are souvenirs shops and people speak English well. This is a lovely, low key day on the beach, nice after a couple of busy days touring. BARCELONA This is a very hectic port city! The traffic and the coming and going of people, taxi, buses, excursions can be overwhelming. With the Epic, you have to remember this is a city for embarking and disembarking. So there is a slew of activity and they start the disembarking notices at 6:30 am. For those who are staying on in this port, no sleeping in today. You can get off the ship at any time, but my advice would be to wait until around at least 9 am. There are crowds and lines (the epic will not be the only ship in port that day, there will be at least one and maybe 2 others that day since this is a popular port to start cruises) that need to clear a bit before you try to move out of the port and the traffic is prohibitive. When you are ready to get off, Barcelona is a good city to see on your own. It is easy to get about and move around using public transport but if you want a lay of the land, I would consider the HOHO (hop on hop off) bus. Getting out of the port requires transport to the main square. There is a port shuttle that is €3.50 per person and tickets are purchased from the driver. Taxis are also available to take you where you want to go right from inside the port. Again the demand for them is. High initially because of all the people going to the airport. NCL charges $30 a person for transport but a taxi to the airport is about €25 to €30 for up to 4 people with 4 bags. It is definitely more economical to take a taxi. If there is a particular sight you want to see in Barcelona, a taxi would be more efficient use of time. For example the sagrada famiglia will require a wait in very long lines to get in so if that is your "must see" on the trip go there first. You will certainly run out if time before seeing everything you want to see. The best way to see a bit of everything is the HOHO bus. There are 2 companies that provide this service and the price is the same with very similar routes. There are 2 lines the red and blue. Each takes about 2 hours and stops at the major sites to allow you off to explore. All the major Gaudi sites are visited and the exchange point is very near La Ramblas, so you can finish your day there. The down side of Barcelona is the fact that we are there on a Sunday so all of the markets and shops are closed. On your return to the ship, be certain to stroll down la Ramblas with its pedestrian boulevard and eateries. Grab a place to sit order some tapas and sangria. It really is delicious in Spain! Give your self a little extra time to get back on the ship. Remember there are those that are just embarking with all their luggage and the lines are a bit longer. NAPLES If you want to see the Amalfi Coast, Sorrent, Positano and Pompeii, remember you are only in Naples for 12 hours and to fit all of that in you will need to do a guided tour. Transport through that area is n narrow roads and little highways. This does not mean you have to take an excursion through the ship. I would suggest "can't be missed tours" they are a private tour company that takes groups of 8 or 12 people in a van to the sites you want to see. This is €65 per person as opposed to $179-$299 per person through the ship. I did not do this tour myself but I have heard excellent things about it. We chose to go to Capri. I would highly recommend this! It's beautiful there! And if you do go to Capri you must see the Blue Grotto. I would rate this as one of the highlights of the cruise. To get to Capri the hydrofoil can be caught right from the port. Depending on the boat/operator you choose it will take between 40 and 70 mins to get there. For the fast hydrofoil it was 40 mins and cost €20.50. The ride is stable, air conditioned and comfortable. No worry of sea sickness here. The hydrofoil is very stable. When you get to the dock in Capri, you can get a boat to take you to the blue grotto. They will tell you it takes an our but it is closer to 2 hours. If you are prone to sea sickness don't take this route. You can get a taxi from port to the blue grotto on land you must then descend steep stone steps to a dock area where a row boat will take you in. I don't know what this will cost as we opted for the water route. It was a beautiful sunny day so it was great to be out on the water. This shuttle costs €13.50. When you arrive at the blue grotto the shuttle ties off and you wait for the row boats to come get you from the shuttle. You must climb off the shuttle boat and into the row boat with the assistance if the rower. This is not difficult with their help but you must be able to do this, otherwise take the land route. Once you get in your row boat you must pay for admission to thè blue grotto..... The rower moves you over to a pink row boat where admission is collected €12.50 per person. You then get in line to get into the blue grotto. You must lay down in the rowboat to get in and once it it is the Most incredibly blue water I have ever seen! Definitely worth it! You are then returned to your shuttle boat after tipping your rower/tourguide we gave €5 for three of us. When everyone is back on the shuttle you get taken back to the main port. It is a bit of a wait to get into the grotto but you are sitting inthè sunshine on a boat off the isle of Capri how bad can that be right? When back to the port get a ticket for the funicular. This will pull you the side of the cliff through lemon groves and houses to the top for a beautiful island and ocean view. The views are spectacular and make sure to take lots of photos here. From the funicular station climb the stairs to the central square to check out the piaza, clock tower and church. Very pretty! The funicular takes about 10 mins and thogh the line is long, it moves quite quickly. The cost is €3.60 return and well worth the trip. Before heading back to the ship stop at one of the open air restaurants in the port and have a pizza (one of the best we had) and sangria..... They finish the meal with a complimentary shot of local limoncello which is a treat! The service, food and atmosphere is superb. There are lots of little souvenir stores to peruse as well. You don't have to buy your return ticket until you are leaving Capri and there are several departures returning to Naples but remember they all take different time to get back so select carefully. You can buy tickets from the port office. If you are looking for a beach there is a small one behind the port ticket office. There are more but you will need to get there by taxi. ENTERTAINMENT The Epic has people coming and going all the time so the entertainment on the ship is done differently than I have ever experienced. With the exception if the circus show, all entertainment is free but you do have to book reservations. Plan your shows accordingly your first day on the ship and call the box office or book them yourself from your stateroom tv. The Beatles show.... Definitely very entertaining. Go for sure. Legends.... We had Tom Jones, Tina Turner, Adele..... Definitely entertaining and worth seeing, Adele was great! Blue Man Group...... I have to say I didn't get it but for their 90 mins show I was entertained. All of these are in the main epic Theater and there are no bad seats. There are shows held in Headliners comedy club. Door open 45 mins prior the show.... Go early because if you are going to be at the back you won't be able to see. There are tv screens but seems strange to watch a live show n a tv screen. In this venue are the Spanish ballet -flamenco dancing - quite good, Graffiti Classics - a strange comedic string quartet - odd but mildly entertaining, Los Locos Ole - Spanish guitar players interspersed with comedy- I found this silly and annoying so we left early. The most entertaining "shows" we're called Howling at the Moon- a trio of men who were basically duelling pianos. They take suggested songs from the audience written of little slips of paper and just begin to play..... They are funny, talented and very entertaining. We did not discover this until the latter part of the cruise but I would have gone to that every night if possible. Definitely check them out! There is always something to do but the 1030 to midnight entertainment is a bit limited. The ice bar at $20 was worth it and was a novelty. As a note for sea day, get up,early and stake out a space! Remember, EVERYONE is on board and there are not enough deck chairs for everyone. So if you are looking for some sunshine get a chair early. We ate every night in the Manhattan Room generally around 6:30 and had breakfast in the Garden Cafe. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants but heard good things about the Italian and le Bistro restaurant. So pros and cons of cruising the Med on the Epic Pros: food was excellent although service was sometime slow, embarkation and disembarkation was smooth, entertainment was good, staterooms were clean and well maintained, beds were comfortable, there is always somethñg to do. Cons: if you are looking for fancy sail away parties and presentations for what to do, tour of the ships etc, board in Barcelona. The ship definitely caters to those that board there. There are no "quiet" areas on the ship like a games room or a library to be removed from the large crowds, there are no nightly drink specials or 2 for 1 night cap specials in the martini bar as I am used to on other ships-- all other ships I have been on have a lounge/bar above the bridge which is quiet and you can have a drink before dinner or bed, that doesn't exist on this ship. The Bliss lounge is nice but it is paired with a bowling alley and has a live DJ. I am thinking more like the windjammer lounge on other ships. There are constantly people coming and going in ports so I don't think the crew really builds an attachment or recognition of anyone, which is felt in the service they provide. It isn't nearly as personal as I have experienced on other ships. You feel a little like number. Not my usual experience on NCL cruises, I don't know if this is because it was European destinations as I usually do the Caribbean or the ship and crew itself.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
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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