January 2014 - Norwegian Epic to Caribbean - Eastern
This was my first cruise, so please factor that into this review. I really enjoyed St. Maarten & St. Thomas. The ports were nice and the islands looked great. Be prepared to shell out some cab money at both locations. On St. Maarten, don't waste your time taking a cab downtown. It's just a 10 minute walk from the part on a sidewalk that takes you right to the beach. I do recommend a cab ride to Maho Beach to watch aircraft land at the airport.
On St. Thomas we did a full day excursion that we purchased from . I highly recommend this. While the cruise line used the same kayak/snorkle tour company we did, they're group had over 30 people in it and included just one snorkle location. Our group had 6 people! It was amazing. We kayaked to two different snorkle locations and even had a locally made fresh lunch provided on our own stretch of beach.
I did not care the for the Bahamas. The islands are flat, boring and run down. Everyone seemed to want to go to Atlantis, which is clearly nicer, but also was too expensive to see. The price to use the water park there was $125. Too much for us for about 6 hours spent there. We ended up exploring Nassau downtown and got back on the ship. The beaches there were too dirty to sit on.
The Epic as a ship is was great. During sea days the sun deck did fill up fast. Even though the instructions on the ship said that saving seats was not allowed, we never saw crew members moving towls off seats on the sun deck after the self imposed 60 min limit. That made finding a good seat on the sun deck difficult on sea days. During one day we simply moved the belongings off a seat ourselves after not being able to find a free seat. The sun deck definitely feels crowded on sea days.
There is a lot to do on the ship and a lot to eat. Though there are restaurants that require a cover, I honestly would have been perfectly happy eating at the buffet and free restaurants the whole trip. The free food was good, tasty and well presented. I would also recommend the sushi bar. Its prices are about 30-50% less per roll than you would find on land. The Noodle Bar was also awesome. Very cheap. For about $4-6 you got A LOT of food. Easily enough for lunch or dinner. Skip the ice bar. It's a novelty and honestly too cold to be in for an appreciable amount of time.
The one activity I'd recommend to do on the ship is the piano bar. DO THE PIANO BAR! The experience is amazing. We went to every night they played and stayed the whole 3 hours. Each night is different and so much fun. It was by far the best exerience of the whole cruise.