November 2016 - Norwegian Epic to Caribbean - Western
I have been on over 20 cruises with various lines including NCL. The experience on the NCL Epic was unique and second-rate.
The ship holds 4100 passengers. One strategy to optimized space relates to the cabin layout. When you open your cabin door you walk between the toilet and shower stall. The toilet and shower both have sliding semi-translucent doors. The arrangement is functional, but can be uncomfortable when answering the door or desiring privacy.
The public spaces on the ship struggle to support the large passenger capacity. The solution is a reservation system that can be accessed with the television in the cabin or at the box office location. It important to make your reservations early in the week or risk missing a show. Speaking of shows, Priscilla; Queen of the Desert, a story about two drag performers and a transgender woman traveling across the desert to perform their unique style of cabaret, was an unusual show for a family cruise. To be fair the production quality was spectacular, but it was not kid friendly.
The food service was just bad. At closing time, I watched the main buffet staff literally pull food pans from passengers that waited in line and dump it in the trash. The main dining room could not service my wife’s and child’s gluten free requirements. The service staff was not aware of the ships wine purchase program. The waiters were slow to clear the table of plates. Water glasses were not serviced. Securing a glass of ice tea was a challenge. The quality of the food was hit and miss. Too much focus has shifted to the buy up dining options in the cruise industry.
At the islands, waiting for a tender requires a good book and a comfortable chair.
When visiting the NCL private island, I recommend taking the last tender. Grab a chair on the beach and monitor the line.
NCL is a good cruise line. I traveled on the NCL Dawn this summer and would rebook tomorrow. The Epic and staff just need to be scrapped.