July 2015 - Norwegian Epic to Europe - Western Mediterranean
Our Epic cruise began July 1 in Rome and ended there on July 8. The massive ship (world's fifth largest) is operated with remarkable efficiency considering it can hold 5100 people which it came close to on our voyage. The ship embarks and disembarks in both Rome and Barcelona, which enables passengers a quick entry or exit in whichever port they choose. In other words, 5000 people are not doing the same thing at the same time. Barcelona embarks about 2/3 of the guests on average. It is a beautiful and well organized vessel. There are plenty of dining options and so as to make eating as peaceful as possible. On days at sea however, one feels the enormity of the guest list.
The food was the most mediocre we have ever experienced on a cruise ship which is no surprise considering how many people need feeding at all different times. This was our 18th cruise by the way.The speciality restaurants weren't much better than the main dining rooms with the exception of Cagney's Steakhouse.
The entire staff was wonderful, remembering our names and preferences and always greeting us with a smile. Considering most are on board 9 months at a time, we found this remarkable.
The pools are small, crowded and noisy. Why can't cruise ships offer decent pools? The adult pool was the size of a hot tub, and the water was not refreshing. There were plenty of lounge chairs, although most had no shade protection. As this was a summer cruise, kids were everywhere. If you are considering taking a summer trip on Epic, be prepared to spend a week with a lot of other people's families. Peace is hard to find.
Our mini suite with balcony was wonderful. A tremendous use of space with tons of storage. Brilliant design. The divided bathroom might put some people off in terms of privacy, but we have been married 17 years, so privacy is not a priority. The bed was quite short, and we are average heights, but the bedding was very comfortable.
We found little to do after dinner except gamble. Many evening adult activities are by reservation, and we didn't want to feel tied down. We wished for more adult-only nightclubs for dancing. This was our biggest complaint.
The Epic is going into dry dock in Fall for a month for upgrades and general service. It will come back even more attractive and perfect for those who can tolerate the goods and bads of a small, floating city.