September 2016 - 7 Night Western Mediterranean (Barcelona Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Epic
Another wonderful cruise from NCL
Review of NCL Epic 25th September from Barcelona
Early morning flight from Manchester to Barcelona and took the NCL transfer to the ship. Check in was very smooth and efficient and we were on the ship by 12 Noon. Headed straight to the Garden café on deck 15 which was very busy but not too much of a problem. After a leisurely lunch, we then w ent to find our B6 cabin, 11075 which was a large balcony. We were fully aware of the non-bathroom set up which personally was not a problem, but my Wife was less than impressed. She suggested that the designer should be sacked and that is probably why the Epic has no Sister ship.
The balcony had 2 loungers, 2 chairs and 2 small tables which was fine.
Went to explore the ship and remembered that the blue carpets were Starboard and the orange were Port. Same colours also on the lift buttons. With the ship full, it was obviously very busy, but never felt there was any problem.
Of the 7 nights we went to the Garden café buffet on 4 nights , twice to Taste and the last night to Manhattan. The buffet was good with plenty of choice and obviously if you liked a dish you could then go for seconds. We always looked for a suitable table first and one of us would sit whilst the other went for their food. The menus in the Taste and Manhattan are the same and very nice food with no need to pay for any supplements. There is always the standard steak and chips if nothing else takes your fancy. Excellent service from very attentive staff and well organised restaurants.
We went every day to the Garden café for breakfast which was slightly tricky to find a table. Part of the problem is that 2 people would sit on a table designed for 6 or 8, and a lot of wasted space, as we prefer not to dine with strangers. Be prepare to wait for around 15-20 minutes if you wanted a freshly cooked omelette as this station was very popular, although you could walk round the back and find another station. Also went to outdoor area for lunches close to the Waves bar for a welcome beer.
Tuesday morning, we alighted and walked into Naples. A very busy city and trying to cross the roads was a real problem as the Italians simply do not stop even on designated crossings. Went for a coffee and trooped up via Toledo but not really much different than walking around your own town and not really much to see. After less than 2 hours, we were back on the ship and relaxed on the balcony.
Wednesday morning docked at 6.00am in Civitavecchia on pier 12 Bis (N) and I was first off the ship and decided to walk all the way to the railway station and was on the train at 6.45am which was in the station. There was no sign of any shuttle at that time in the morning. My Wife decided not to bother with Rome, so I went alone. Off the train at Roma Ostiense and took the subway to Piramade for the 2 stops to the Colosseum. I had pre-booked my ticket and was there when the gates opened at 8.30am and straight inside. Took a few photographs and then headed for the Trevi fountain which were being cleaned and the fountains were not working. Walked then to Spanish steps and then to the Pantheon which was lovely inside. Quick walk to Piazza Navona and then headed across the river to Castel Sant 'Angelo and climbed to the top for a few more pics. Proceeded up the main street to the Vatican which was busy to say the least as it had been the weekly audience with the Pope. Past the security check but never made it into St Peters Square as at 11.15am, everybody was leaving and the police were blocking entry until 1.00pm.
Headed to the station at Roma S. Pietro and back on the train at 12 Noon to Civitavecchia. No shuttle bus around at the station and so walked it all the way back to the ship.
Thursday morning paid 5 Euros on the pier for a shuttle into Livorno to pick up a pre-booked coach by Tuscany Bus to Pisa which left at 10.00am. 2 hours in Pisa was long enough to see the Tower, Cathedral and the Baptistery. Bit of a trek from the car park to Miracle Square, going through a housing estate, over the railway line and trying to avoid all the African sellers of watches, sunglasses, etc.
Friday took the 10.05am tender to Cannes which we had booked on the TV screen in the cabin. Had a lovely coffee in a harbour restaurant and decided to walk to the old town. Followed a sign which took us climbing a steep hill which ended up at a church and never really saw Le Suquet .
Headed back into the harbour and trooped along La Croisette looking at the very expensive shops before returning to the ship for lunch.
Final day was Marseilles which saw rain for the first time. Found the green line when getting off the ship, went past the Seaman’s club and boarded the port free shuttle bus into Marseilles. NCL will charge you $15 for their shuttle. However, the rain was pretty bad so headed straight back to the ship.
Priscilla Queen of the desert was excellent. Found it interesting that they warned families that it was not suitable for children because of the course language and sexual innuendos, but nobody moved.
Listened to Siglo in The Cavern who were a good rock band. Most evenings, sat around the Shakers cocktail bar and had a few Black Russians and Pina Coladas and listened to various piano players/singers. We had the UBP which was good to try various cocktails and not worry about the cost. Tried the Bliss lounge one evening which was karaoke night which was not our favourite and the atmosphere was flat.
A very relaxing cruise with good service from Orlando, our cabin steward. One comment about the general waiting staff around the Garden Café was that they did not appear to be enjoying their job, never smiling or trying to make conversation. The staff however in the MDR's were very friendly and helpful.
Having previously sailed on the Pearl and the Jade, I would probably prefer these two Jewel class ships over the Epic.