March 2014 - Norwegian Epic to Caribbean - Western
My girlfriend and I, 28 and 24 respectively just returned from Miami after cursing on the Norwegian Epic and spending a night in Miami after we returned. We had an absolute blast and were reminded why we love NCL so much.
This was my 5th cruise and 2nd time on NCL.
Obviously there is a wall of text below so I will give the summary up here.
Epic- Clean and modern. Tons of on ship entertainment and bars. Expect bar prices 6-10 bucks for a mixed drink and 5 bucks a beer. Have to get on the deck early in the morning to get a good chair and spot. There isn’t enough that could be said for the crew. Everyone on board was amazing and accommodating. You really felt like they wanted you to have a good time. The martini bar, Shakers was the best place on the ship and it’s bartender Lorelei made our vacation. Ports of call were beautiful locations, but both times we got sucked into tourist trap like locations (our fault for not researching.) We had a blast and absolutely would cruise NCL again and recommend it to our friends.
We booked directly with NCL after finding a deal on that NCL matched. We got a good deal for a balcony room and ended up getting upgraded to a midship large balcony a few weeks before the trip.
The room was good, nice comfy bed, modern look, and a large balcony. I have read on here about the room layout and how people did not like the bathroom situation. The bathroom is a bit odd in the Epic’s balcony rooms. the shower and toilet are separate and neither of the doors lock. They are also frosted glass, so you can tell when someone is in there. My gf and I are very comfortable around each other so this wasn’t an issue for us, but I can see how some people would get weirded out by the situation. There was a privacy curtain that you could pull across and separate the two rooms but like I said before unless you are comfortable around that person, it may be a bid odd to do you business in the toilet. But enough with that and onto the ship.
The Epic itself is well, epic. 15 decks (1 or 2 more if you count the havens) of awesomeness. The top deck has a buffet style restaurant and the pools, and a rear adults only pool and bar. There are two main pools that get pretty crowded on sailing days. Same goes for the pool in the adults only section. It wasn’t too bad, but there were periods where I would get up to take a dip, but not do it because of the amount of people in the pool. It wasn’t that big of a deal, wait a few minutes and people would get out. There are also 3 fun watersides on the top deck. The lines never got out of control and many times there were little to no lines at all.
The adults only pool was were we spend most our time. You absolutely have to get there early in order to have chairs to lay out on. Starting around 9 people begin to “reserve” chairs and by 10-1030 they are pretty much all taken. This goes for the prime real estate at the main pools as well. The first day at sea we made the mistake of trying to get a chair past 11 and there was only a few spots that were open. I guess it is a rule not to reserve chairs, but it wasn’t being enforced. I saw 2 chairs go reserved all the way till 2 when we left and even as we left, no one had claimed them. The service there is great, there are always people walking around taking drink orders. They always have a smile on their face and cary around spray bottles to cool you off with. The ship’s speed while at sea was perfect and created a nice breeze. Plus the weather was perfect for us every day partly sunny with temps in the 80’s.
The 14th floor had state rooms the gym and spa. The gym was large and accommodated the day one and two rush of people working out. Days 3 and on the gym was a ghost town as people settled into vacation mode. The gym itself was well equipped with modern equipment and was very clean. There were 3 personal trainers available. There were many classes available for a small fee, but we did not partake in them. We also did not do any spa activities, tho the spa looked very nice and clean.
Decks 13-8 were all staterooms if I recall correctly. Decks 7-5 is where the inside entertainment started. There are a 2 main restaurants. called the Manhattan room, and Taste. Both had great food and service. Shout out to Ruby and Drazen (hope I am spelling that right) who made my gf and I feel like we were at a five star restaurant. The service they provided was remarkable.
There were two bars Malting’s and Shaker’s as well as the cigar lounge were a few of the places to grab drinks. Our favorite place on the entire ship was by far Shakers. Shakers is the martini bar and was run by possibly the best bartender in the world. Yes best bartender in the world. Lorelei was our favorite part of the trip. She was spunky and funny. She ran two martini tasting that I 100 percent recommend you go too. 15 dollars lets you try 5 different martinis and leaves you wondering if it is the ship that is rocking, or you. Lorelei was so much fun and treated us like long lost friends. Not only that, she is a solid bartender that can whip up any drink you want. She created many custom martini’s for my girlfriend and let her try a custom martini she made for a passenger that tasted exactly like an almond joy. It became our favorite drink of the cruise. The effort and pride she put into making one of her martini’s was a joy to see. She would place the chilled glass directly under one of the bar lights, explain all the ingredients going into the martini and give it a good shake then she would carefully pour the martini into the ice cold glass and cautiously side the full glass to you being sure to not spill a drop. Then as you took a sip she was sure to catch your reaction to ensure you love it. It was refreshing to see someone take that much pride into making other people happy. Lorelei was truly the highlight of our trip. I cannot leave out her staff at the bar Natalie and Igor who worked tirelessly to keep up with the amount of customers that realized the martini bar was the place to be.
Deck 5 had the coffee shop/ bar which I went to every morning for a delicious caffeinated drink. I talked college hoops with one of the crew there who were always pleasant in the morning. There was a giant 3 deck high TV that had everything from movies playing to people playing nintendo wii on it.
There was bowling on the ship for 5 dollars a game but we never got around to playing.
The nightlife on the ship seemed to be very entertaining, but we fell back two hours causing my girlfriend to be in bed by usually 11. I went out solo the last night and ended up in Bliss which had a good party atmosphere.
There was also fat cats which played blues music. We spend an hour in there one night and was very impressed. Also Headliners had a dueling piano set up that would take audience requests which proved to be very entertaining.
We ate at two of the specialty restaurants. One was Le Bistro and the other was Cagney’s. Both had a 5 star restaurant feel and the food mirrored that. I recommend eating at a few of the specialty restaurants even though they cost a bit extra, if you like fine dinning it is worth it.
The on board entertainment blew me away. I am used to the lounge type singer entertainment on vacation, but this was not the case on the Epic. The first show we attended was The Legends show. The singers were extremely talented and we fully enjoyed it. I am pretty sure you can book ahead of time, or book on the cruse. You can also wait outside the show and hope for last minute cancelations.
The second show we attended was the Cirque of Dreams dinner. This seemed pricy to me at 30 dollars a person but was well worth it. The dinner was a fixed menu allowing the wait staff to work faster and stay out of the way of the performers. The performance itself was 5 stars. After the show the following days I saw a few of the performers throughout the ship. They were very pleasant to talk to.
I attended the Blue Man Group on the last night which exceeded my expectations. I have never seen them before and highly recommend this show. It was fun, surprising, and hilarious.
The ports were okay. We pretty much got taken to two tourist traps in Ocho Rios as well as in Cozumel. In Ocho Rios we told our cab driver to take us to a nice beach were I could drink red stripes all day. We ended up at a place called Bamboo Blu. It had a great beach, but everything was over priced and you had to pay to rent chairs. Very disappointing. Pretty much the same thing happened in Cozumel where we ended up at paradise beach which was a bunch of little restaurants on the beach that either wanted to charge you to enter, or make you pay a 10 dollar minimum on food or drinks. The beach was also very over crowded, but there were 5 other cruse ships there that day.
We missed Costa Maya due to rough docking conditions. I didn’t mind at all but I can see how that would stink if you had plans there. NCL really didn’t do much to compensate us either. They had cocktail give away and gave us a few rum cocktails for free. Sort of an ‘eh’ gesture for screwing up so many plans, but as always the crew did the best they could to make it right.
The last morning on the ship we grabbed a quick bite to eat and disembarked the ship as a walk off vs using the color system. Walking off is easy if you only have a few bags. It gets you off the ship faster which means you are of the first people to walk through customs.
All in all it was a great trip that I would recommend to all of my friends. We had a blast and look forward to cruising wit NCL again.