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8 Rotterdam to Cruise to Nowhere Cruise Reviews

We were on the Breakaway for two nights, one night sailing from Rotterdam to Southampton, then an overnight in Southampton, staying in the Haven Deluxe Owners Suite 16102. Embarkation If you are ever sailing from Rotterdam stay in ... Read More
We were on the Breakaway for two nights, one night sailing from Rotterdam to Southampton, then an overnight in Southampton, staying in the Haven Deluxe Owners Suite 16102. Embarkation If you are ever sailing from Rotterdam stay in the Hotel New York, the old Holland America Line building which is literally a minute away from the Cruise Terminal. Staying in their Loft Suite meant we could go onto our roof terrace and watch Breakaway come up the river and tie up literally yards away, and so the excitement begins! She has a classic design without the Epic top hat, and you either love or hate the hull art work, personally I think it's rather cool. Boarding was a breeze, and we ended up maintaining the Butler family tradition (since the Sun) of being the first fare paying passengers to board; being met at the gangway by Denis Prguda the Hotel Director who brought Breakaway into service, a man we've sailed with before and a real professional. The first impression of Breakaway (as with all NCL ships) is WOW, classy, elegant and fun looking, and as you explore the ship it is obvious she is the daughter of Epic and the granddaughter of the Jewel Class ships. Albeit after a while you realise she is Deluxe Epic on Steroids. Throughout this review I will refer to comparison with Epic, so apologise to those who have not sailed on Epic you should. The Haven As usual with Haven guests we were escorted to the Haven by our butler Lucky Lee who has looked after us before and as we discovered later had set the wet bar in our suite exactly how we like it. Unlike Epic the entrance to the Haven is nowhere near as grand, but hey a door's a door. Walking into the reception we were met by Ruth Hagger (who we've known for more years that either of us likes to admit) and the lovely Elvina De Meneses who we last saw on Epic. Ruth was her usual friendly and professional self, ensuring we knew about the reserved seating for the Burn the Floor show that evening in the Theatre. The Haven area has a comfortable bar and meeting area, and an elegant dining room, neither of which are as large as Epic but there are less Haven guests so I don't think this will be a problem as they have less Haven guests to cater for. Fortunately (especially for winter in New York) the Haven has a moveable full glass roof, so no problems with wind and inclement weather. The area itself is much superior to Epic with beautiful items including a stunning and very impressive green planted wall feature. The colours are muted with many beds and sofas/chairs, with a really nice feature being a surrounding balcony on deck 17 under the glass roof with even more beds and sofas. So this is a super place to sit and relax especially for the suites with compact balconies, and we always like to have breakfast here as opposed to the dining room. Pools, hot-tub, sauna and Spa treatment rooms (as on Epic) compliment the Haven area, although the small pool appeared not to have a swim against system? There were a large number of day visitors on the ship before we sailed, so I have no doubt that the Haven will provide more than enough space, comfort, luxury and enjoyment for its guests when cruising. The food in the restaurant was as usual up to the high standards we have come to expect, and it was nice to catch up with lots of crew who we've known from past cruises just like coming home to a family get together. The Deluxe Owners Suite (16102) At the front of the ship above the Mandara Spa with a wraparound balcony what a spectacular suite, except for the Garden Villas, the finest suite in the fleet. The colours, design and finish are magnificent, as we walked in we were just wowed by it, the lounge is stunning with masses of space, a large dining table and even larger sofa which I believe turns into a bed. The wet bar as I said had been stocked correctly by Lucky and I was pleased to see that NCL have kept the same glorious coffee machines, and there is enough technology to keep even me amused. The sound system is still Bose but It's a shame that the surround sound speakers have disappeared. I suspect that is because it's possible to remove the adjoining wall to the next Owners Suite, now that makes some accommodation, find a hot tub and it's nearly a Garden Villa! The whole front of the lounge, as well as the bedroom and bathroom, have a glass wall and doors that open onto an enormous wrap around balcony, with loungers table and chairs. Arturo Guerrero (VP Hotel & Newbuild Operations/Development) who we've had fun with on previous new builds came up to check on us and bet me (unlike Epic) that I wouldn't find anything wrong or missing with the suite. Lucky for me I found one screw on the balcony that had not been tightened. He of course had it fixed within the hour, but still paid his wager. There is no doubt that Breakaway meets all the quality build standards that come from Meyer Werft. Into the very large and comfortable bedroom, with fantastic views through to the plush and luxurious bathroom. A large corner tub with windows on two sides, a very large shower again with a glass wall to the side, dual vanity sinks and everything else you would need in a luxury suite. A very large dressing area leads back into the hallway with a well-appointed guest bathroom. The only other observation about this beautiful suite is that there is more storage space than we've ever seen in any suite (in any hotel let alone ship). Dark wood and soft touch opening drawers and cupboards, although as Pamela said she'd hate to be the steward (ours was Noel) responsible for cleaning the finger marks off. A great example of fantastic design ignoring practicality and functionality, but beautiful all the same. The Ship In two days it's impossible to review the whole ship, so I will focus on the areas we enjoyed and stood out to us. You need at least two weeks on Breakaway to experience the whole ship and she definitely warrants at least that much time. Breakaway has restaurants and then some, Norwegian classics and new additions with the exciting and innovative feature of outdoor dining to many of them along the superb Waterfront, which is a brilliant feature and one NCL should be very proud of. As well as the Haven we ate in Cirque Dreams and Dinner Jungle Fantasy, the show is mind boggling and even better than Epic, the tent seating all tables on one floor with standard seating around the edge and premium nearer the action. We sat at one of the two elevated stage tables which provided a superb view, although from what we saw everyone had a great view of a mesmerising performance. The set menu was excellent, although as we were so enthralled with the performance the food was really an afterthought but delicious nonetheless, this experience is a must do on Breakaway. The other must do as far as dining is concerned is dinner at Ocean Blue with the Raw Bar alongside, the menu by Geoffrey Zakarian is simply brilliant, fine dining at its best. My dover sole was to die for and Pamela says her crab risotto was even better; a truly memorable experience, and worth every cent. With inside and outside dining this restaurant is worth making a beeline for. Of course we had to have cocktails in the Ice Bar which seemed slightly smaller (but probably wasn't) than Epic. The New York theme was very much different from Epic, and I would say we missed the actual ice bar inside the cool room. What's a Norwegian cruise without donning the snow cape? Pamela spent a few hours in the Mandara Spa, coming back invigorated and rejuvenated, she loved the time in the Salt Room and very much enjoyed La Therapie Oxy-Polish facial. All in all a great success. The Casino is a very important and key feature for us, we had a great time 'investing' dollars with NCL, met lots of our old casino friends, who always smile as they manage our investment! The set- up is almost identical to Epic, Rimarie Manzano, the Casino Host and Jules Boligao the Casino Fleet Host Manager were charming and attentive as always and made us both very welcome. It was terrific to see that Le Bistro has been brought back to prominence by NCL with a superb location on Deck 6 where the venue actually looks like a classic bistro in Paris. Therefore, Platinum Latitudes members will enjoy meals in fine surroundings as well, of course, as all the other guests on Breakaway. A few very happy hours were spent in Fat Cats Jazz Club and it was especially enjoyable as they brought Slam Allen and his Blues Band from Epic, a venue to spend many hours listening to superlative jazz. We strolled all around the Waterfront seeing all the outside elements of each restaurant. as well as a great outdoor seating area for Maltings. As I said, the Waterfront is a brilliant idea and I am sure that the glass windbreaks along the walkways will ensure dining comfort. The pool and sundecks are everything one comes to expect, the meccano style rope area and walk the plank looked fun, although I didn't have time to try any of it. The crazy golf has an amusing and challenging course recommended only for golfers with a 10 handicap or less! As always a basketball court is available (mainly for the crew if any of our other cruises are to go by)! The colourful and breath taking waterslides are going to give endless hours of fun for all and H2O looks like a party location for the outdoor evenings. I think I liked VIBE, although I preferred POSH on Epic. I am not sure the design and set-up has been completely thought through, but I have no doubt it will be a success and the cabanas are a great idea for the lucky few who secure them. Back to the restaurants, the Garden Cafe looked spacious and again a similar design to Epic, every food station accessible and what looked like a great choice of dining. The Uptown bar and grill near H2O also looked like an interesting venue to spend some quality eating and drinking time in. Cagneys and Moderno are set up exactly like Epic on each side of the stern of the ship with the centre tables overlooking the Manhattan Room below. It seems that Cagneys has a new menu and a number of people we spoke to commented very positively about the quality of the steaks. Savour and Taste, together with the now classic O'Sheehan's are all well located and complete the eating areas providing great choice and menus. The centre of the Ship on decks 6 through to 8 have the new Norwegian signature very large LED chandelier changing mood and colour as the day drifts by. This is the hub of bars, restaurants, shopping and entertainment and it is great place to people watch and while the time away. (Assuming you have any of course)! Again like Epic Teppanyaki is a big feature with numerous eating/cooking stations which generate a fun atmosphere, great food and entertainment. Whilst catching up with lots of old crew friends, we met up with Andy Stuart and Francis Riley and of course, the inimitable and world famous Klaus Lugmaier, all who were beaming from ear to ear about Breakaway and justifiably so, as she is a fantastic ship and will no doubt become NCL's number one very quickly. However, in closing, there is one point I must make, NCL designs and builds innovative ships, however, they are only steel, wood, glass etc. What makes NCL stand out for us, and ensures we come back time and time again, are the Crew, some of who we consider close friends and indeed, some we have known for over 15 years. NCL recruits, trains, retains and motivates the best crew sailing and to them Pamela and I say a very heartfelt THANK YOU. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Overnight, Rotterdam to Southampton There's no doubt about it: Norwegian Epic is a beautiful ship. The crew are wonderful, the food is excellent and the entertainment is probably the best you'll ever see at sea. The bad news is ... Read More
Overnight, Rotterdam to Southampton There's no doubt about it: Norwegian Epic is a beautiful ship. The crew are wonderful, the food is excellent and the entertainment is probably the best you'll ever see at sea. The bad news is the embarkation at Rotterdam took almost four hours and was the most chaotic we've ever encountered in all the years we've been cruising and the disembarkation at Southampton wasn't much better. And the much-vaunted "wave" cabins leave quite a lot to be desired. It has to be said, though, that the positives far outweigh the negatives and even though it was just one epic night on the Epic, my wife and I had a fantastic time (when we finally did get aboard). So let's get the negatives out of the way first. To be fair to NCL, there was a technical problem with a propeller shaft on the ship, so part of the delay in checking us in may have been down to them deciding what was going to be done. The fault meant that our voyage took about five hours longer than scheduled (though for us that was a bonus as it meant we got to sample even more of the ship!). But we had to queue in a long line for almost two hours outside the terminal to have our documents checked and be given a coloured card before we were allowed in to the building and up the escalators to actually check in. We then queued in another long line for another hour, listening to announcements calling for passengers with different colour cards to begin embarkation, before we were finally all told that it was actually the check in that was by the colour of our card and we should all sit down till it was called. As we did, more and more people came up the escalators and joined the long line we had just left! Total chaos with a complete lack of any organisation. Getting off at Southampton was nearly as bad - just one gangway was open to get everyone off, and because everyone's key card had to be scanned a huge queue soon built up. Fortunately someone had the good sense to open another gangway further down the ship but it still took almost 45 minutes to disembark. All this is (hopefully) a one-off with a port NCL don't use very often (Rotterdam) and a new ship. But a much bigger negative is the "wave" cabin. They have curvy walls and where the wall curves out, the wall in the adjacent cabin curves in, and vice versa. The theory is that by putting the bed in the space where the wall curves out, the cabin can be narrower and deeper than standard cabins but appear to be as spacious. The reality, though, is that it doesn't. Both my wife and I had the same thought when we first stepped through the door: "It's a bit narrow, isn't it!" Even worse, there's a "no passing zone" bottleneck at the foot of the bed, which means that even with just two people in the cabin, you're forever getting in each other's way. I don't know how a family with children would manage - or even if I could for more than a week. Another big problem is the lack of a proper bathroom. The tiny washbasin is situated in the main part of the room, not far from the "no passing zone" at the foot of the bed, while the shower and toilet are opposite each other just inside the room's doorway (both concealed by sliding translucent glass doors). More modest types can spare their blushes with a curtain that pulls across to hide the area from the rest of the cabin but it does mean that when you have a shower all the water that normally ends up on the bathroom floor now ends up on the cabin floor. It's not helped by the fact that all the towels are stored by the washbasin in the main cabin anyway. So if you forget to pick up a towel before you step into the shower, stand by for a flood! The plus about the cabins, though, is that they are nicely decorated in an elegant, modern fashion, there's plenty of storage space and they have quite a big flat screen LCD TV. And the bed is really comfortable. Five stars all round in that respect. Now for the positives. Apart from the flaws in the cabin mentioned above and the embarkation/disembarkation Norwegian Epic deserves five stars all round. I don't know whether NCL picked the crew from the best of the crews on their other ships, but it certainly feels like they did. And best of all everyone we saw looked really happy and excited to be working on the Epic. We tried to sample as many of the dining options and as much of the entertainment as we could in our limited time and it was all excellent. We had (a very delayed) lunch in the Garden Cafe buffet after lifeboat drill on the first day and the variety of food available was probably the best we've seen in any ship's buffet. Lunch on the second day (because of our extended voyage time) was in the main Manhattan Room restaurant and again was first rate - and made even more enjoyable by a special performance of Legends In Concert, an excellent tribute show featuring the likes (or should that be look-alikes) of Madonna, Elvis, Tina Turner et all. And for breakfast we went to O'Sheehan's Bar and Grill, the 24-hour cafe, and had their excellent country breakfast. And as for dinner, well, we had it at the very best show we've ever seen on board a ship - and one of the best we've ever seen on land either: Cirque Dreams. Think Cirque du Soleil in a much more intimate fashion and then some. It's billed as the first "big top" at sea, and it's a dazzling two hours of acrobats, muscle men, trapeze artists, music and comedy all taking place in a 10ft-wide circular area in the middle of the room just feet away from the audience at their dinner tables. Even the waiters take part in the show - as do some lucky people plucked out of the audience by the cast. Like me - I got to play the bells in one of the musical numbers! Before that, we saw the excellent Second City comedy and improv show, from the legendary Chicago breeding ground of many of America's top comedy stars, like Bill Murray and Tina Fey from 30 Rock to name just two. It's very American and as there were a lot of Dutch, German and French passengers on board the audience was quite small - but those who didn't go missed a damn fine show. After Cirque Dreams we tried to get in to see the end of the Blue Man show but the theatre was packed out, so instead we stopped by Howl At The Moon, billed as "the world's greatest rock 'n' roll duelling piano show," for one quick drink and were certainly glad we did - we were still there two and a half hours later having fun singing some of the greatest songs of the last 50 years in another amazing show. So there you have it. Norwegian Epic, the good the bad and the beautiful, and definitely well worth a try. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
What a trip certainly the GOOD the BAD and the UGLY. Let's get the UGLY out the way yes the EPIC will never win any prizes for her external looks - slab slided like many with the Garden Villa's perched on top adding to the odd ... Read More
What a trip certainly the GOOD the BAD and the UGLY. Let's get the UGLY out the way yes the EPIC will never win any prizes for her external looks - slab slided like many with the Garden Villa's perched on top adding to the odd look. The trip on Sunday to Rotterdam was a breeze we got the Eurostar at 1157 and caught our connection in Brussels at 1518 and were in our Hotel room by 1710 so 4 hours 10 minutes allowing for time difference. Hotel Manhattan was in a great location and for a small charge we got an upgrade to the executive floor with free bar. Let's say we more than drank the amount charged. Ate out at a restaurant suggested by the hotel and the food was good. On Monday had a good breakfast - which was to prove a smart move. We walked down from the hotel knowing that their should be some good options for photos as we crossed the Erasmus bridge. So first sight was a bit of the GOOD and the UGLY, GOOD the EPIC is here, UGLY the external view of the EPIC. As we crossed the bridge it was busy with locals taking pictures. After crossing we were treated to the Erasmus bridge opening. Crossing the bridge gave the first suggestion of problems as a few people stopped us to say they were late getting off. On the E-ticket boarding was from 1000 we got there about 1045. The GOOD - first ticket and passport check nearly empty and get our colour card and head upstairs, the BAD - upstairs in Rotterdam Cruise Terminal very busy odd think I but we find a seat with another group of Brits and do what the Brits do best - yep gossip and moan about the situation. So suddenly just about 1140 they start calling card colours - GOOD. Hang on why aren't those people getting through passport control - BAD who knows as they call more colours. Then a message if you have checked in please sit down until called for embarkation - BAD - problem no seats left as they are filled by new comers so terminal is starting to heave. So our colour is called about 1210 and like all good Brits we charge as a group to the queueing ropes. They had two separate queues each served by about 20 terminals - GOOD think I. Hang on why are all those people still not through passport control - possible BAD looming. BAD - apology announcements start for delayed check in and boarding. I feel an UGLY coming on. UGLY - an announcement - we have suspended check in - so we stand for nearly an hour in the check in queue. Then the announcement we dreaded "EPIC has a problem which will not effect safety but will delay arrival until 1730. You have an option to cancel with refund and cruise credit, if you travel NCL will refund up to 100 euro's per person towards travel arrangements". Suddenly embarkation starts for some and the check in queue moves only 3 in front nearly us. BAD - why are they not calling people forward. UGLY - check in systems and ships security card scan system has failed another 45 minutes going no where you could cut atmosphere in terminal with a knife. By this time rumours of queue outside terminal and facebook and twitter are getting messages from all angles and sources, NCLs facebook is battered black and blue by all and sundry. GOOD - we are on the move again and checked in. Then through yet another passport control and we are on board. GOOD as we feared this cruise would be cancelled after the previous announcements. Who is to blame for the fiasco hard to tell, I think terminal panicked and started check in too early leading to the overcrowding, NCL did not help by not supplying information in the terminal. The Cabin We had a stern facing balcony cabin (9294). First thoughts were that it seemed smaller than the similar Eclipse cabins. OMG look at the toilet and shower - could be interesting. Oh look there is a modesty curtain that will be good sound proofing then. The shower and toilet were functional and the shower powerful. The big but here is the basin is the wrong side of the curtain so when you come out the toilet you touch the curtain before you can wash hands - probable noro virus source in the future I think. Good sized TV with stop start movies, a geek lovers phone to play with. 2 euro and 2 usa sockets hidden in a cupboard with a hole to feed cables up through - an idea which really works and keeps cables tidy. Tea and coffee in the cabin, storage ok not brilliant but not bad, Comfortable bed and some interesting lighting used. Balcony a good size but tiny table. As stern is vertical all balconies are private and cannot be looked down onto. Safe and minibar also in cabin. Hairdryer is powerful. Overall a good cabin if you can see past the shower toilet arrangements. In this instance you want the bed nearest to balcony, not the toilet area. And yes cabin is curvy. Pictures including a using toilet (with clothes on) example later. The vibration at night was terrible and when sailing the noise on the balcony very loud. I would not recommend a stern cabin and would certainly not book one. Many of the NCL favourites are on board we sampled the following. The Garden Cafe for late lunch on Monday and Tuesday breakfast. Very well organised and plenty of duplication of stations so no wait time. Quality of food was good. Head Waiters and Assistant Head Waiters wear head milkes to keep the area flowing and direct you to available seating the highlight is the bow facing sitting area with marvellous views forward. The Moderno Churrascaria Restaurant is a Brazilian style restaurant where your servers serve the meat from skewers. You start with a huge self-service salad and soup bar. Once ready for mains you have a green card face up and the servers start. There is a constant stream of food until you flip the card to red to stop the mains. You also get some sides of rice, garlic mash and re fried beans. Desert was a coconut creme caramel. This is something we have always wanted to try and the experience did not disappoint. More than worth the $18 per person surcharge. For Tuesday lunch we ate coming up the Solent in the Manhattan main restaurant. This is very contemporary styled with understated colours in fact a very beautiful dining room. As an added bonus the Legends (tribute acts were playing) and were really good. They had played the previous evening too and the dinner show or dance concept is a good idea. Bars and Entertainment We sampled a couple of the bars and found the service and selection good. I will add prices when I get the receipts out. H2O spice could be great on a warm evening. We tried the ice bar and enjoyed the experience. The $20 surcharge included 2 strong cocktails so was probably a fair charge for the 45 minutes you do need to book though. Bliss Ultra lounge is a very modern nightclub concept and was really busy. Projected the DJ onto a smoke screen at the front entrance before you go in - very quirky. Howl at the Moon in the comedy bar was great duelling pianos and a lively crowd so was great fun a simple concept that worked. Blue Man group Simply superb and great entertainment we really enjoyed their show. I think the Broadway at sea concept will really catch on across many companies. If pre-booked for the Blue man group you just present your room card at the entrance to the theatre There was lots of live music around the ship. Deck Space There were seats on the promenade deck but with the lifeboats hanging here next to no view. Top decks had a myriad of places to find a lounger as well as multiple flumes and pools, which looked great fun. Other Areas Spa is very large spa and gym certainly bigger than any we have seen at sea with all the usual facilities. Gym included a squash court which has now become an additional gym area rather than a squash court. Theatre - Not as large as you would think comfortable seating and drinks holders at each seat. Casino - verrrrryyyyyyy verrrrryyyyyyy verrrrryyyyyyy large. Shops - A wide selection laid out differently to other ships and they still manage to get the $10 tat out. They were selling at duty free prices with no VAT added. Photo area - Lots of screens but we never managed to try them. Other cabin types We did see into some of the other cabin types and there was not a great difference in size between them. Some had a bath behind the Perspex screens very odd. The studio rooms are a good concept and probably an OK size for one - a full king bed is in there. The lighting changes colour so if a single cabin not to sure about the love lighting mode. Unfortunately we could not get into the suites. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We came back from Epic yesterday afternoon. Rotterdam to Southampton. What a shamble at Rotterdam. We arrived at 10.30pm and only boarded at 1.15pm. People were all over de place, announcements you could not understand. They were asking ... Read More
We came back from Epic yesterday afternoon. Rotterdam to Southampton. What a shamble at Rotterdam. We arrived at 10.30pm and only boarded at 1.15pm. People were all over de place, announcements you could not understand. They were asking hundreds of people to seat down on 50 chairs. Girls from NCL based in Dover were on hand to help the very inexperience staff in Rotterdam. Around 12.30, they stopped the checkin. More delay. The were having a meeting about the situation. Finally that made an announcement to inform us the ship was tech and will arrive in Southampton at 5pm instead of 10 am.Passengers were offered to cancel the cruise or stay onboard. A few minutes later boarding started. The first thing we did was going to the box office to book the show for that night. First we wanted to do Spiegel Tent and after the Blue Man Show. One girl said it was possible to do both while the guy said it was not. It was like yes and no for around 5 minutes. You would imagine they would know. At the end we only booked Blue Man Show and it was great. Good fun. After that debate, we went to the Lido for lunch, the food was excellent and the views from the restaurant were amazing. After lunch we decided to go and see our cabin. The girl at the check in told us we were upgraded and at the end it was the same cabin as we booked. The cabin was an inside (why pay for balcony on a one night). The cabin was very small ( we later visited a balcony and it was not better) and not practical. When you entered the room, directly on your left you had the toilet with a plastic tinted door and on the right the shower cubical also with tinted plastic door. A bit further down, you had a sink (very small and not deep) with a mini fridge above and the tv near the fridge. Not the best set up if you are 3 in the room or don't know the other person if you are two. The phone only started working on Tuesday morning. Lucky we didn't have an emergency during the night. After checking the room, we started exploring the ship, the pool deck was very cramp. Not much desk place. The two pools were very small. We went down to explore the ship. Deck 5,6,7 were nice with restaurants, bars and shops. You could see the ship was not finished and some wires were apparent and a lot of workers were working around the passengers. In the evening we decided to go to the Churascaria and it was excellent. Service, staff and food. We could not fault it. The only problem was some staff from Dover and also a table of travel agents being very loud and making very upsetting comments. Lucky no kids where around for the language used. Before and after diner we spent a bit of time in the Martini bar. The Pianist was excellent. The bar staff had a bit of an attitude in that bar.This was the only place where we found unfriendly staff. During the morning, we had breakfast in the Lido and again the food was nice and tasty. After lunch we wanted to try the slides and jacuzzi and no luck as they were all closed. They only opened at 2pm for a 3 pm arrival. Instead we sat in the sun for a while before going for our duty free tax purchases. And yes they were selling duty free within Europe. We hope HMRC won't find out our big trouble ahead again if they need to pay taxes for all the sales they have done. A few minutes later my partner told me we were approaching Isle of White and I didn't believe it as we had another 5h00 to go before the arrival. When the sentence was finished, the Captain made an announcement and told us we made a very good progress during the night ( the announcement was around 12.00) was would now arrive at 3pm. Amazing he did not know that early to help passengers changing the travel plans. We decided to have lunch in the Manhattan restaurant. Once again the food and service was excellent. A band was also playing during the lunch. After lunch we all went to the deck and see the arrival of the ship, as it was the first time, the inaugural in Southampton, we were waiting for something exceptional and nothing happened. Maybe NCL was ashamed about the late arrival, or they just did not care. It was like a normal arrival. We were also surprised not to receive a certificate as it was the first sailing for the ship ( non promotional). When we sailed on Independence Of The Seas a few years ago. We all received a certificate with a picture of the ship in a very nice leather folder. We also received a video of the ship. It was great. Here NOTHING. During the cruise, we went to the front desk and asked if this was the inaugural, Maiden voyage, or ... and her answer was I don't know. She also said they haven't decided. Once again what is going on there. A little after our arrival, they started the disembarkation process and again it was chaos. Normal as nobody knew when to leave the ship. When we left the ship, we were expecting a big welcome in the terminal and again nothing. After this trip, we don't think EPIC made a big entrance like other ships for the Inaugural. Maybe NCL EPIC is a bit shy. What a shame as we were expecting more from this sailing and also by being the first passengers sailing from the ship. It looks like we were more Guinea pigs instead. The ship was just ok and not very well designed. It looks more like a rushed job. (Nothing to compare to Oasis Of The Seas who has got a WOW factor) The food and service were excellent. As we found out a 7 nights cruise onboard NCL can be very expensive as you need to pay a lot for the restaurants. We need to agree they offer for every taste, from French to Japanese. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We have just got back from first sailing from Rotterdam. It took a long time to board as we found out later that there was a problem with ship and had to sail slower than scheduled and therefore was due to arrive at 5.30pm instead of 10am. ... Read More
We have just got back from first sailing from Rotterdam. It took a long time to board as we found out later that there was a problem with ship and had to sail slower than scheduled and therefore was due to arrive at 5.30pm instead of 10am. So there was a delay in boarding to give people a chance to decide not to sail if there travel arrangements would not allow. then the computers went down so after arriving at 10.30am we boarded eventually at 2.30pm! The ship is huge and in the most, beautiful.we had a balcony cabin on deck nine which was the only thing that we did not like about the ship. we did not like that there was no bathroom and although the shower and Toilet doors were not see through they were not soundproofed! also the sink in the main cabin was very small. The TV and phone were not working but I am sure these will be ironed out before the transatlantic sailing. The Blue Man group show was great& full so make sure you make reservations on line before you cruise. We also because of delayed arrival got to see the cast from the legends show perform in the main restaurant during lunch on the day into Southampton. In fact all the entertainment around the ship was very good and the staff very good too. If you like this new concept of cabins I am sure you will love the Epic, as for us I do not know if we will sail on her again as we did not which is a shame because we could not fault any of the rest of the experience we had Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
As we only had one night on board to sample this new ship from NCL I can only give my impressions on what we managed to see and do in the limited time available to us. So very hard to choose which ones to go and do but in the end this is ... Read More
As we only had one night on board to sample this new ship from NCL I can only give my impressions on what we managed to see and do in the limited time available to us. So very hard to choose which ones to go and do but in the end this is the review of our encounter with the not quite finished Norwegian Epic. I will start with the check in as this seems to have caused a bit of stir amongst many people. Our e-doc suggested that embarkation would start at 10.00 a.m. We arrived just after this and initially everything seemed to be running smoothly. We were given a colour coded card (orange) at the initial reception desk outside the terminal and then passed through security in all under about 10 minutes. It was then upstairs to wait for our colour to be called for the actual check in. We waited for near on an hour before the first colour was called and check in started. We were about the fourth group to be called forward. It was only then that the announcements started, initially asking people who had already checked in to take a seat and await their colour to be called again for embarkation. We checked in without problem and moved back to the area we had first waited only to find that now there were no longer any seats available, meaning we had to stand to wait. All the time the girl on the PA was asking people to sit down await the next stage. Quite where she expected us to sit, "God only knows! Anyway not long after that they announced that they were closing the check in desks, we assumed that this was because of the bottle neck that we were now caught up in. Possibly another hour passed before the big announcement was made about the new arrival time at Southampton. Full refunds were offered to those who had arrangements which meant they could not cruise along with an offer of up to €100 per person for any addition costs incurred. All this was conveyed by means of a typed letter which was handed out by NCL personnel. Not a problem for us and more of a bonus as it meant we had an extra 7 hours on board. Eventually embarkation did start but only after another long wait. All in all it took us over 4 hours to go through the embarkation process and when you consider what was going on behind the scenes then I don't see this as a big deal. I have read other stories of people who turned up later and didn't even get into the terminal building until after 1.00 so can only consider our selves lucky by comparison. Given the unprecedented circumstances, I am in the opinion the NCL handled it well enough, sadly though not well enough for many others. After we got on board it was a case of finding our cabin. We found moving round the ship very easy. The main through fares on the lower decks have ample room for all to get around and they also feel spacious too. There are one or two pinch points but none that will hold you up at all. Very interesting to see a pair of escalators between decks 6 & 5. The lifts at the aft don't stop at 5 but you can take the stairs down one flight in that area. The main elevators we used were at the aft and opened directly onto the main central area on decks 6 and 7. I thought this worked well and again gave the impression of space. The decks which contained accommodation had the usual set up for lifts and stairs. Surprised to see the buttons on only one side, not like the new Celebrity Solstice class ship where they are on both sides of the lift door. We found our cabin (9257) but unfortunately the seapass would not open the door. It was a case of going back down to customer relations and getting new cards issued. We were not the only ones that this had happened to either. First thoughts upon gaining entry to the cabin were "Wow". The wave balcony cabin certainly does look fantastic. A mixture of dark wood and mirrors with buff colour upholstery and worktops intermingled. There is loads of storage and hanging. 2 full height mirrors. The one nearest the balcony giving the impression that the balcony is even bigger than it is. Every little area seems to have a space to store something, even the back of the sofa has doors which house life jackets and extra bedding. There are coffee/tea making facilities in the cabin and the sockets are cleverly hidden under the worktop behind a door with a cable port to allow you to stand items on the top. A mini bar and safe are also incorporated into the wall of units which I personally think looks really impressive. I would give the cabin10 out of 10 for design and layout of this area. Now the bad bit, the washing and toilet area has been totally cocked up in my opinion. I will start with the layout of this particular area of the cabin that we stayed in. As you walk into the cabin from the corridor there are opaque glass doors and panels either side of you, one housing the toilet and the other the shower. Both cubicles are accessed by sliding doors and there is a non carpeted wet area between the two. Closing the area off from the main cabin there is a curtain which pulls across to obscure the goings on behind. Unfortunately, this does not cut down any sound especially from the toilet cubicle, either when flushing or conducting any other business. There is a small gap at the top of the doors by the sliding door track which seems to allow all the noises going on behind the panel to transmit to the rest of the cabin. The toilet flush seemed particularly loud even with the door closed. In order to then wash your hands you need to pull the sliding door open to get to the sink. You could argue that you need to wash your hands every time you go into the cubicle but it still seems an odd configuration. The sink is very small and when washing your hands, water goes everywhere including the bed! I feel this set up will not be very popular with many people staying in these cabins. A solid hinged door panel to the toilet in the style of the rest of the cabin would have been more appropriate. The shower I can live with but the toilet is a different matter. Indian shadow puppets spring to mind. I could tolerate this set up on a cruise but would have to say it not ideal and considering it is a brand new ship and design then some questions need to be asked especially WHO likes to been seen sitting on the toilet? Due to the short amount of time on board we elected to eat within all the free areas. The food in "The Garden Cafe" was on par with our experience on Celebrity Equinox and the layout enabled easy access with little or no queuing and the food was of excellent quality. Our only grumble was with the free drinks, the drinking water had a very strong taste of chlorine and the tea selection was short of other ships as there were some favourites missing. The other area we ate in was O' Sheehan's bar and grill (open 24 hours) which we found the fare to be very tasty albeit a bit slow on service. All the other eateries were only viewed and looked to be nicely laid out; maybe we will sample these in the future. The evening entertainment we booked was the Blue Man Group and we can only say is, what a fantastic spectacle. Not to be missed and thoroughly entertaining. The theatre is compact and the stage can be viewed well from all areas. Whether it was because of miss management or under staffing but no body had their booking checked on entering so we could have on this night just turned up and gone in. We were not able to view the Spiegel Tent and were turned away a couple of times when we asked to see inside, one can only assume they want your money before they let you see inside. The pool area has some really cool looking water slides which will give many folk hours of fun. Slightly confused by the amount of shaded sun loungers, there seem to me to be more shaded ones the ones in the sun but having said that we never got to see the area on Deck 19 as it was closed because the area had not been finished. I think that the kids will love this ship; the areas dedicated to them appear to be well thought out and look very appealing even to an adult like me. I am not quite sure what to make of H²O area, nothing happened here while we were on board and can only assume that it will be more of an evening venue with a big screen under the stars. To summarise, the Norwegian Epic will undoubtedly be talked about for some time to come and sadly not everything will be positive. The bathrooms in the cabins will cause much debate and can only be a negative thing for what I consider a really great ship in other areas. I would consider her for another cruise but the price would need to reflect the negative. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
I booked this cruise as i had already booked the transatlantic but had the cancel later.I printed out the tickets, i hate this, much nicer to get them in the post. especially the baggage labels but got proper labels later. GETTING TO THE ... Read More
I booked this cruise as i had already booked the transatlantic but had the cancel later.I printed out the tickets, i hate this, much nicer to get them in the post. especially the baggage labels but got proper labels later. GETTING TO THE SHIP i decided to go on the harwich-hook ferry overnight on the new superferry. plenty of space,outside cabin was lovely and free internet for an hour. next morning arrived in HOOK, just missed seeing the EPIC as we were both going the same way! i then got the train to ROTTERDAM, the chip cards on the trains and bus are confusing. 1 or 2 trips or day passes but the machines do not accept notes! got the train and bus straight onto the SS ROTTERDAM a hotel now. had a lovely outside cabin and did a tour of the ship. when i got there the EPIC was already there. i waited for her to leave, it was cold and windy i was FROZEN! by the time the ship left at 1930hrs. Next day i moved to another hotel "OCEAN PARADISE" a floating chinese hotel on the river(strange feel, actually moving!) the next day left the hotel and walked over the ERASMUS BRIDGE to the cruise terminal. EMBARKATION i got to the terminal at 1030 went thru x ray and handed my case to the porter thinking it would go onboard ship(I WAS WRONG! later it was still there!! had to carry in onto the ship!) then upstairs i had my colour coded card, light blue. there was a queue already but the terminals were not even ready! CONFUSING! they started calling the colours and they had to try and get thru this stupid queue despite making announcements to sit down. then another queue for passport we waited and waited and waited! an announcement that the ship had engine problems and that it would leave on time but not arrive to soton till 1730 instead of 1000! if we wanted to cancel would get a refund plus an onboard credit, not an option as i had to get home somehow! the photographer had put up his stand in this massive queue! WHAT A GREAT IDEA! i mentioned about this horrendous queue and was told ALL THE CRUISES HAVE THIS!(THEY CERTAINLY DO NOT!!) "HAVE A NICE CRUISE" he said HOW RUDE!) what got me was all the staff were passing cups of water amongst themselves while we just had to stand for 3 hrs! finally we got onboard! the cabins were not ready so told to have lunch before it finished with the lifeboat drill starting soon! leave your cases but there was no room to leave them! after a nice lunch of FISH AND CHIPS. which i later found was the same menu for breakfast and lunch, in TASTE AND MAHATTAN restaurants what would you do on a longer cruise if you did want to pay extra for another restaurant! CABIN i had a balcony cabin on 9 deck 9201. no sign of any steward! no phone in cabin!(later found it in the safe! the safe did not work! no ice! there was 2 glasses covering a toilet and shower but a tiny sink in the living area not big enough! a nice size of cabin with plenty of drawer space, balcony with 2 chairs and table. what i did not like was it was only half covered so if it rained not much good and could be seen from above which i do not like! FOOD i booked the cirque dreams and dinner this was fantastic like a circus cum moulin rouge show with dinner in between the acts. this was well worth the $15 charge. ENTERTAINMENT i only saw 2nd city which was good and cirque dreams which were good. DISEMBARKATION This was another mess, we arrived in SOTON at 1400 a bit earlier than they said. as soon as they said we could get off there was a massive crowd all trying to get off at the same time! 2 queues we joined one and then was told to go to the other one. carried off the cases and no sign of a shuttle bus to the station. the driver was fast asleep i think it was only for people going to the ship(MEDIA AND PRESS)so we had to walk to a bus stop get a bus to the station. Found the ticket office was closed so had to walk over to the other side! COMMENTS AN AWFUL CRUISE! NO ORGANISATION AT ALL! no proper reason given for the delay and things just got worse! i have done 3 other NCL cruises and THIS WAS THE WORSE! Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Rotterdam-Southampton inaugural cruise of NCL Epic. Total chaos in Rotterdam as the terminal is way too small to handle such a big ship, waited in line for 2 hours outside on the pavement. Inside hardly any facilities, seating for only 100 ... Read More
Rotterdam-Southampton inaugural cruise of NCL Epic. Total chaos in Rotterdam as the terminal is way too small to handle such a big ship, waited in line for 2 hours outside on the pavement. Inside hardly any facilities, seating for only 100 people. Ship general: It's all about the size and how to put as many people as possible on. For me it lacked sophistication and grandeur, everything was functional, nothing had a real wow-factor. Lots of issues with finishings: pool water overflowing would not drain, part of the ship (villa complex) not finished; general feeling of rather cheap craftmanship, not finished to a high standard. Stateroom-Standard midship balcony: Smaller than comparable stateroom on Celebrity's Solstice class. The new bathroom design is in reality a way of covering up for the reduced size of the room, there's just no space for a separate bathroom. Sink area cramped and small, water would overflow easy; shower and toilet are plastic cabins, ok but nothing special. Balcony is fine, two standard seats and a small table; dividers were left open to ajoining balconies. Dining: at least a dozen options, but only 3 without a cover charge. We had dinner and breakfast at the Manhattan Room at the back end of the ship with a great view. Live music during the night, very nice. Quality of the food was good, nothing to complain about, same for the service, very attentive. Only point was the roar of the engines causing the tableware to ramble. For luch we used the buffetrestaurant, also no complaints, great choice, good quality. Entertainment: we visited the Blue Man group show and enjoyed it very much. Quite an unusual performance, lots of fun, highly recommended. Outside/pool area: it's all about the aquafun waterslides, great for kids, less so for others maybe? In general the whole area lacked atmosphere. Disembarkation: again not very smooth, about 1 hour waiting while the announcements indicated that immediate disembarkation would be available upon arrival. Summary: NCL Epic is not quite what we had expected, dissappointed in the general lack of atmosphere, it's all about size. Entertainment and food are good but that did not outweigh against the other points. I guess we are spoiled by Celbrity's Solstice class ships and had too high of an expectation of the Epic. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010

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