Norwegian Epic Cruise Review to Caribbean - Eastern

Contributor Level: Purser

2-3 cruises


Helpful Votes

3 out of 5

Freesailing on the big ship

Sail Date: February 04, 2017

Reviewed: 4 months ago

Traveled As: Couple

Room Type: Balcony

It was interesting to get to visit the off-shore ports of British Virgin Islands, U S Virgin Islands, and Nassau, Bahamas.  This was our first time in this area of the Atlantic Ocean.

We were amazed at the size of the Norwegian Epic ship.  It held and estimated 4,000 guests and some 1,200 crew.  It looked like a large floating hotel.  It functioned much like that also.  Imagine that many people moving around, trying to board and disembark, and trying to eat or use the sun deck at the same time.  It was an "experience".  

Since the cruise was intended for "Freesailing" we were pretty much expected to plan our own activity schedule.  The programming seemed oriented towards drinking and gambling on board.  Those were not of interest to us, so we did a lot of sun bathing.  Shore excursions were primarily beach and/or water activities.  Again not our thing, so we did disembark and walk around the port areas to see the territory.  

We did have a balcony room and we spent a lot of time on the balcony watching the sea and port areas and adjacent ships.  We enjoyed the balcony immensely.  

Our room was clean and spacious for the two of us.  The Room Steward did a super job keeping our room made up.  He was very friendly and helpful.

We did learn one thing during this experience - we would not take another cruise on such a large ship.  

Cabin / Stateroom
Great room. Fairly good location - near aft elevators. Cafe (open buffet) dining was on 15th level forward - so it was a hike to get there - nearly all the way to the top on the other ends of the ship. Walking on the 15th level was "interesting" in that it was most like a wind tunnel. We eventually started walking the horizontal walk at our level (9) and then going up in the forward elevators which come out in the Cafe resturant. That avoided the wind and outside.
Embarkation and Disembarkation
Prior to embarkation we had the USCG mandatory emergency training. All 4,000 people has to go to 2 floors for this training. And of course all 4,000 had to return to their rooms after the training. It was a mad house. The ship did not have capacity for moving this many people in a short time.
Disembarkation was a mad house. NCL has an "early walkoff" program. It was not well planned or designed. As a result ALL those wishing to use this had to go to the 7th level - and that level was packed out with people everywhere. And when they finally did get off the ship, they were backed up in long lines in the port going through security and imigration. It was a mess.
Ship Quality
The ship was clean. The plan for moving people left much to be desired. For 4,000 guests there were 8 fore and 8 aft elevators which were slow. Expect to wait for transportation. Get used to packed elevator cars.
Destinations and Excursions
Destinations were interesting since this was our first time there. The trip began by going to the furthermost point and working our way back. From departure we were on the water two full days before reaching our starting point. We spent one other full day on water also. In the 7 days we only stopped at three ports.
Children's Programs N/A
Most entertainment was oriented towards the late night party crowd. Not our cup of tea. We missed what appeared to be some entertaining programs (Beetles, Abba) because they started at 9:30 pm. We did catch a couple of earlier programs and they were good. We splurged one night and went to Circue du Soleil dinner show on board. That was fantastic! You should do this at least once.
Service and Staff
We had a great Room Steward. He was attentive to our needs and kept our room in tip-top shape.
Food and Dining
Food was excellent. We ate at the Cafe most breakfast and noon meals. Evenings we ate at the Manhattan or Taste and the food was excellent. The service was a bit slow. One evening we visited the O'Sheenan Irish Club and the food there was not so good.
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Great Stirrup Cay (Cruiseline Private Island), Bahamas
Great Stirrup Cay had a total power failure while we were enroute there. The ship diverted to Nassau, Bahamas. Nassau port is overrun with vendors wanting to sell you anything and everything. They are agressive and get in your face. Not pleasant.

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