December 2014 - Norwegian Epic to Caribbean - Western
Shortly before this cruise, warnings about bad food and crabby crew were posted on a cruise-related website. I was apprehensive since I hadn't been on a cruise per se, before, just a passenger on a liner, as a child.
Here's my observations:
The staff was lovely. The service was impeccable. What wasn't impeccable were the other passengers. I saw more people dressed like bums and more vulgar and inappropriate tattoos (is there such a thing as an appropriate tattoo?) including some that were borderline pornographic and should not have been permitted to be displayed in decent company.
Outside of a weekend at the Ritz-Carlton, I've never been treated as well as the staff on the Epic. They were polite and cheerful at every turn, even when I observed them dealing with aggressive, drunken or simply obnoxious customers.
My only quibble about the ship itself is the relentless noise. Not one of the entertainers understood volume control, all were far too loud for whatever space they were in. Also, what Norwegian calls a "library" is laughable. I've more books in one bedroom in my house than they had. I did not see any magazines, newspapers or a digest of the day's news posted anywhere either.
My Studio was very clean and the steward was fantastic. I never had anything approaching a bad meal and most of the meals were excellent and some approached fantastic. The only failure in the food service was the dismal coffee, which was bad everywhere but the Atrium Cafe and the Studio Lounge. And since I have been on the paleo diet and only cheated a little on this trip, I'll say I was very impressed with the protein.
The smoothness of getting herds of people on and off the ship was remarkable, even in Grand Cayman where choppy seas delayed the tenders - I still made it to my appointed excursion with 5 minutes to spare.
If the other passengers approached the couth, politeness and personal standards of the staff, I'd gladly go on another cruise - but the behaviour of many passengers on and off the ship makes me reluctant to say that I would take another cruise.