April 2015 - Norwegian Epic to Caribbean - Western
First off, let me say that my wife and I have been on 3 previous cruises together, all on Holland America ships. So a number of things were different, some good, some not so good.
On the positive side, we did enjoy the wider variety of food options, and having the option to dress up or go casual was nice. We hadno complaints about the food, although we both felt that the food in our previous Holland America cruises was a little better.
We also liked having more entertainment options and, in general, the entertainment was good. The tribute to The Four Seasons was great, although we both felt that the Second City performance was just so-so.
The service we received from our cabin steward and in all of the restaurants was good. We had no complaints. However, this was another area in which we both felt that the service aboard Holland America ships is a notch above what we experienced on the Epic.
My wife and I are middle-aged (late 40's and mid 50's) and we both prefer a more subdued atmosphere, but of course that's not everyone's preference. There were a lot of activities available, many of which cater to a younger clientele, and I'm sure that a lot of folks were happy with that aspect of the cruise.
For us, there were 2 things that we really wish we could have changed.
The first was the crowds. The Epic is a very large ship with about 4,000 passengers. At times, you had to fight the crowds for seating by the pool or in the restaurants. And it seemed like the elevators were usually crowded. The Holland America ships that we had cruised on previously were nearly as big as the Epic, but with only about 1,900 passengers. So they were much less-crowded.
The second was the lack of smoking areas. We both understand the health concerns of non-smokers and very much respect the rights of non-smokers. However, there were only a couple of areas on the ship in which smoking was allowed. As a result, they were just about always crowded. On our previous cruises, we had made use of our balcony to smoke, which made it convenient and private for us and also minimized any impact to non-smokers. I had booked a Balcony stateroom on this cruise, primarily to be able to use the balcony to smoke. However, prior to the cruise, Norwegian changed the rules so that smoking on balconies was no longer allowed. We both wish that Norwegian would have given us the option to switch a cabin without a balcony at a lower cost.
All in all, we enjoyed the cruise. As far as recommending the Epic, I think it really depends upon what you're looking for. If you want a big ship with lots of different dining and entertainment options and a party atmosphere, and you don't mind the crowds, then I think that you would enjoy the Epic. However, if you would prefer a less crowded environment with a more low-key atmosphere, then I think that either a smaller ship or a cruise line such as Holland America would be a better option for you.