The WesternMed itinerary has some great destinations, especially from Naples and Livorno. The stop in Cannes was marred by bad tendering. Palma was only half a day which seemed too short to explore the better parts of the Mallorca island.
5 out of 5
Wow, even at the highpoint of embarkation, check-in was fast. Did not have any special benfits but got onboard within 20 minutes.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
We always have made, and probably always will make, use of the specialty dining package. The food in the Epic's specialty restaurants was good. Buffet was acceptable as usual. Nothing to write home about but also nothing to complain.
4 out of 5
This cruise was a whirlwind tour. First day was spent relaxing. Then 5 ports in 5 days did not leave much time to enjoy other activities. Did not want to rate activities average (3 stars) because I simply did not experience any of them. Passengers seemed to enjoy themselves which is why I gave the 4-star rating.
3 out of 5
Shows in the theater were enjoyable as usual. No highs, no lows. This time was the first time we had to make reservations for shows. We usually love to go and see Howling at the Moon whenever available.
Service and Staff
2 out of 5
Room steward was good. With a few exceptions, the personnel in the shops and the various bars around the ship seemed somewhat stand-offish. Some were too rude for our taste.
5 out of 5
Despite the large number of passengers, the NCL personnel did a great job keeping the Epic clean. The layout of the ship is straight forward meaning event locations were easy to find. Because of the significant distance between our cabin and the theater, our jogging skills came in handy to be on time for shows.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
This was second time we had an aft balcony. These types of cabins tend to be larger and also have a larger balcony.
Timing is everything. Book shows early. Make sure to allow sufficient time to cover the distance from cabin to event locations.
The first time I visited BCN was in 1976, at a time when the city was in a state of decay. All that changed with when the city was awarded the Olympics and the soccer World Cup. It is now probably the most incredible city in Europe (at least at the time of our cruise). We enjoyed 2 days before the cruise and 3 days after the cruise. Lots of things to do; lots of good food to eat. The hop-on-hop off bus system is excellent. Attractions are easy to get to but require a fair amount of planning with respect to timing. La Sagrada Familia and Güell Park can get get crowded.
Was going to do a drive down the Amalfi coast but was outvoted so we went to Pompeii. We got there early so the visit was very enjoyable. Looking at the exhibits of bodies buried in ashes was a humbling experience. Spent some time in the city after our Pompeii outing. There are more interesting things to see than Naples itself so we will skip walking the city next time.
It's all about Rome. Not the first time in Rome so I did not look forward to visiting the city again. Had some people in our group who had not been in Rome before. Lots of pan handlers, and other pesky folk trying to make a buck. Sights are nice, of course but the city is very dirty, crowded and polluted. Still a nice outing for first-timers; just know that what to expect. Train-ride from the port takes about an hour and a quarter. NCL provided shuttles to the train station and back.
We purchased an excursion to Cinque Terra. Everybody agreed that it was the prime outing of our cruise. Wife was very impressed and wants to go back to hike the terraces between all five (hence cinque) villages. Be aware that Cinque Terra is not a secret anymore so the crowds may be large. The villages already cannot handle the massive influx of people. There is an expose on either Netflix or Amazon that shows how the Cinque Terra heritage site came about. If you go, try their prime wine.
Had been to Cannes before so knew what to expect. It was a tender port so passengers who had not booked excursions or had other privileges experienced long tender wait times. Our group did not want to drive up the coast to Nice and/or Monte Carlo so we took a ferry that took us to one of the islands (15 minute boat ride) in the bay where we enjoyed an afternoon of relaxation. Suggest to skip Cannes and take tour to Monaco instead.
Palma tends to be crowded between the end of May and the middle of August when a wave of northern Europe tourists hits the Balearic islands' beaches. We visited the city and the cathedral which was an enjoyable outing. Part of the allure of Palma is its nightlife. Depending on the age make-up of the ship's population, NCL may skip Cannes and do an over-nighter in Palma instead.
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