Number of Cruises: 25
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Epic
Sailing Date: 2010-08-7
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
The Norwegian Epic is a very strange experience. Generally, it was similar to a smaller Norwegian vessel, except that the number of rooms were doubled and the size of each of the venues was doubled (or halved). The design of the ship is EXTREMELY confounding. It has a 690 seat theater to accommodate 4600 passengers. The Cirque Show (one of the most popular attractions) is in a 150 seat theatre. Most ships have a Grand Space (of some sort). The Epic has a three story atrium. The grandness is minimized by the sound of air hockey tables and bowling alleys. The ship is absolutely sooo crowded that time spent alone in the cabin was a welcome relief.
The food in the smaller venues was quite delicious. It was nice to be able to choose between such a large variety of restaurants. The larger venues (Taste and The Manhatten Room) were just examples of large industrial-style food service...small portions, impersonal service. Oddly, the Manhatten Room and Taste have identical menus (although the Manhatten Room is advertised as a "supper club" and Taste is advertised as "contemporary cuisine'. The Garden Place (normally called "Lido" on other ships) is WAAAAY overcrowded...hordes of people swarming and waiting for the next available table. The food was mediocre. They ran out of soft-serve ice cream by the fourth day of the cruise. Desserts were a rather plain selection of mousses. I think the outdoor snack bars had a far superior quality of food (hot dogs and hamburgers and pizza).
The stateroom was unacceptable for many reasons. The designers of the ship put the toilet in one corner of the room and the shower/bathtub in another corner of the room. Translucent panels separated the toilet and the shower from the living space. No one should expect even the most minimal amount of sound-proofness by the toilet walls (I think a bed sheet would have provided most privacy than the slide panels). There is incredibly minimal room in the toilet area. I don't think that anyone over 300 pounds would be able to fit.
During the course of our cruise, we lost power one day, water another day, and flushing ability still another day. When we lost power to the cabin (controlled by a key card inserted into a slot), our cabin steward reported the problem at 7:45, we reported the problem at 10:30, we went to the front desk at midnight, and it was repaired by 1:30. Good thing we did not need power at that time.
Otherwise, the short bed was very comfortable, there was considerable storage space (although only a minimal number of hangers), and the room seemed large enough. The ability to schedule activities through the television set was fantastic. There was no DVD connection possible to the TV.
One other strange thing, the sink and faucet are of an ultramodern style. Unfortunately, you cannot avoid saturating the area around the sink. Water splashes continually out of the sink basin and throughout the surrounding area.
Norwegian tried to do something unique with the cabins on this ship. Unfortunately, they just don't work right. I believe that the cabins themselves would keep many people from ever repeating another cruise on the Norwegian Epic.
The entertainment was oddly minimal on a ship of this size. For music, there was a dueling piano bar (great!), a blues band (fantastic), a piano player (stuck in a corridor), and a duo playing elevator music. We would have liked to have had a few more musical options than this. Even small ships have more musical entertainment than the Epic. Many times, the blues bar and the dueling piano bar was packed to the limit with people.
The theatre has only 690 seats. This is incredible for a ship that has 4600 passengers. If you don't jump on a reservation early, you may miss a major performance. Blue Man Group and Legends were fantastic. I am glad I had a seat. The magician Jeff Hodgson was a surprise during the cruise. Norwegian evetually moved him to the theatre to accommodate the growing legions of fans. I did not see the Cirque performance since it was already sold-out by the time I boarded.
Another strange thing about this cruise...many of the activities that would be free on other cruises were charged on this cruise. The Ice Bar (a great experience) was $20 per person (just to enter). The Cirque show was $20 per person. I think this shows a disturbing trend in the industry.
My wife and I ran up a tab of $1800 for the seven day cruise. It is very easy to overspend. The tips are automatically added to your charges. Similarly, there is an automatic $12 per day per person charge for the room steward and others. Since the tips are automatically included, there seemed to be less urgency on the part of the staff to please the customers. It was easy to be ignored at the bars. Norwsegian needs to be careful about this policy.
The casino was fine. I hit a straight flush in three card poker. The dealers seldom were more than sullen. Don't expect cheery casino personnel on this cruise.
Another strange thing...the Epic has MISERABLE internet access. When I was on-board, I longed for the day of dial-up speed. The wi-fi did not work for several days. The computer terminals were horribly slow. Since Norwegian charges $0.55 per minute, I tried to be on-line as little as possible. I spent a half-hour trying to send three e-mail messages. I never had this "slowness" problem on other cruises. I hope it wasn't just a revenue producing measure.
This was a very expensive cruise. I think I would have enjoyed a less expensive cruise far more. I see no reason why anyone would choose the Epic over the smaller Norwegian ships. For the same price, the huge Oasis of the Seas was a far superior experience. This ship is just too over-crowded, too expensive, and lacks sufficient entertainment. I was expecting a truly superior experience on the newest ship on the market. Instead, I got a very strange and twisted version of a cruise ship.