Norwegian Epic Cruise Review to Caribbean - Eastern

Deck Hand

Experience
7+ cruises

Review
1

Helpful Votes
70

2 out of 5

Not what I would expect from NCL

Sail Date: February 12, 2011

Reviewed: 5 years ago

Traveled As: Family w/young children

Room Type: Balcony

I have been on at least 13 cruises and 8 of them have been on NCL. This was the least favorite of all the cruises and has greatly impacted our desire to do another NCL cruise. Some of the reasons we were disappointed include:

* The design of the ship was annoying (sink in the bedroom??), curved walls, poor visibility in lounges

* The staff didn't seem like they were happy. Not sure why, but there was a different feel to this cruise. If I had to assess the mood of the staff I would say "grumpy" or "put off". What makes this really surprising is that we heard the CEO of NCL was on board! Plus, I was surprised at how often I saw staff/crew on cell phones versus attending to customers.

* The entertainment was so-so, except for Blue Man Group and Second City. Having to make reservations was annoying and inconvenient. We ended up not having anything to do later in the week because we booked our shows for earlier in the week. We were actually bored on this cruise!!

* The activities were poorly run. Example: we went to a Family Pictionary game that was so poorly run that we almost left after the second round. What was supposed to be fun, ended up being stressful and confusing.

* If they are going to charge extras for a dinner show, at least provide food that is different than what you would get in the Garden Cafe. We did two of the extra charge shows and did not feel they were worth it.

* It felt like everything was an extra charge.

* Speaking of extra charges - make sure to ask for your drinks NOT in a souvenir glass. You get charged an extra $2 per drink. They will automatically bring your drink in the souvenir glass unless you ask them not to. If you forget and they bring the drink in the souvenir glass tell them to take it back and make you one not in the souvenir glass.

* Not sure if this is now the new industry standard or just an NCL thing, but to change the "gratuity" to a "service charge" is also annoying. Is the expectation that we tip above the $12 pp/per day?? We have always provided the recommended gratuities and given extra for especially good service, but this new language is confusing and I am wondering if this is why the quality of service wasn't as good this time. Perhaps the motivation to provide excellent service just isn't there when you are guaranteed to get your portion of the "service charge". Don't insult me, by requiring me to pay a "service charge". Instead train your staff to provide exceptional service and allow customers to control who they feel deserves extra.

* Internet cafe was a total rip off and the crew member running it was rude (I certainly hope he didn't receive a portion of the "service charge"). My husband was charged $15 for internet usage and never saw one email. Turns out is takes at least 3 minutes to access comcast email. Hmmm, that would have been nice to know before being charged to "set up an account". Yes, yet another extra charge that didn't used to exist.

I usually have more of a balance between the positives and the negatives, but overall this trip was a disappointment and has changed my perception of NCL. I would expect this type of experience from a lesser rated line, but NCL should have mastered the cruising experience. Instead it felt like they just don't care anymore and are all about squeezing as much money out of you as they can.

Pros: Blue Man Group, Second City, Kids Club

Cons: extra charges for everything, below average service, not enough to do

Recommends Norwegian Epic? No.

Ship Quality
Almost felt like there were too many people. We are going back to smaller ships after this experience. The stateroom was dirtier than any other we have had, including when we went on the Sky when it was quite old.
Food and Dining
The food was certainly plentiful, but lacked variety of other cruises we have been on. Almost felt like they did it on purpose, so you would pay extra to go to a specialty restaurant.
Cabin / Stateroom
The curved room design is strange and not friendly for a family of three. We had a balcony stateroom at the back of the ship. Only one person could be standing at a time. Lots of vibration even though we were on the 13th floor. Plus, the thumping from the adult only club on the next deck up was annoying especially since it went on quite late. It was so loud that my in-laws who were a couple of state rooms down the hall and both wear hearing aides where also kept up by the loud thumping. This could easily have been remedied by not having as much bass going through the speakers.
Service and Staff
One of the reasons I like cruising is the quality of customer service that you receive. Unfortunately, the staff on the EPIC seemed less friendly and much less attentive than past cruises. Example: due to strong winds a large container of OJ fell and exploded at my feet while I was getting coffee. Complete accident and not a staff person's fault (other than choosing a poor location to balance the container they were changing out), but not one staff member acknowledged that OJ that was dripping off of my clothes. Not the man who was changing out the OJ, not the staff member at the bar who saw it happen, but went back to doing something else and not the woman in a white officer uniform (I guess whoever she was talking to on her phone was more important). On any other cruise, I would have had people all over me making sure I was okay, offering to clean my clothes, handing me a towel, etc, but not on this ship.
Entertainment
Hands down, Blue Man Group was the best entertainment at sea. And I am a long time Second City fan. Unfortunately the rest of the entertainment was average at best. We are so used to being blown away by the shows and this time we were hugely disappointed. The Legends in Concert featured the music of Janet Jackson (wouldn't consider her a "legend"), Neil Diamond, and Aretha Franklin. While the singers and dancers were excellent, the actual production was lackluster. In addition, the Janet Jackson choreography showed way to much crotch grabbing and breast caressing for a family show. I had to cover my 6 year old son's eyes at one point. Fine doing it once or twice but 6 times is a bit much. Also, due to the poor design of the Bliss lounge, only a small amount of people could enjoy some of the extra entertainment such as the Newlywed game. I have never seen such a poor design for a bar that also serves to host shows/games.
Children's Programs
I was very pleased with the quality of the Recess program. The staff was excellent and although my son didn't go very often, he had a great time when he did. Very safe and fun environment.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Orient beach is a must!
Nassau, Bahamas
Do NOT go to Cabbage Beach, which is a free public beach next to Atlantis and recommended by the tourist office. Over crowded and you will be pestered by people wanting to sell you stuff or braid your hair.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas


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