November 2015 - 7 Night Western Mediterranean (Barcelona Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Epic
NCL Epic lacking in service
We had built up quite an expectation and excitement as we learned more about the ship. We should have picked up on the push towards buying into the specialty restaurants. The complementary food was disappointing, with the focus on quantity not quality. The free food areas also closed early, except for one restaurant, O'Sheehan's., but the menu was the same every night so it got boring. If you want anything else, there's the room service, but you'll be charged for most items (except for basic continental breakfast items) plus a delivery charge of $7.95 on top of the typical 18% gratuity and other fees. The service was lackluster in both main dining rooms from the hostesses and the wait staff. I think a hostess smiled once or twice, but aside from the perfunctory "Good evening," they usually had quite a scowl. One hostess at O'Sheehan's completely ignored my daughter for several minutes even though she stood slightly to the left of the check-in podium. Once done with the previous customer, she immediately addressed the couple behind her. It took a few seconds of awkward eye contact between my daughter and the other couple, before the hostess even bothered to acknowledge my daughter without so much as an apology. A couple more visits later resulted in not correctly delivering items ordered, denying they were ever ordered. Going to the complementary restaurants do not evoke any pleasant feelings. There was an evening when they seated my family of five at a table only to be told we had to move because no waiter was scheduled to serve that table. Weird, but okay so we moved. A few minutes after got reseated, we saw another group get seated to our old table, and was promptly serviced. The wait times between our courses got so bad that my granddaughter started running the stopwatch on her phone. Average wait time between appetizers to main course and main course to desserts were 23 minutes. You do get what you pay for. I hope the specialty restaurants had better service at least.
My daughter who is great finding deals could not be convinced to participate in the future cruise promotion they run, which she even admitted was a good deal. Our bad experience left such a bad taste that she's not willing to take an NCL cruise again in the near future. She says Carnival has better service and food for even lower prices, but she's willing to spend more with Princess or Royal Caribbean in order to avoid NCL.
The ports of call were definitely the highlight of the cruise along with the entertainment staff at Burn the Floor, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Cirque. Kudos to the entertainment staff!