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Cynthia Khawaja

Age: 59


Number of Cruises: 20

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Epic

Sailing Date: 2011-01-21

Itinerary: W Carib

We wanted to check out the Epic and experience a big, new ship. Whereas other ships have that 'summer camp' atmosphere ( opening ceremony/show/crew introductions, theme nights ( formal, toga, 50's), 'sad' closing ceremony of crew waving good bye, the Epic is much more of a hotel atmosphere. NCL prides itself on its freestyle ways and they have met that goal here on the Epic. We only saw the Captain at a cocktail party for returning NCL cruisers. We did not see or interact much at all with the cruise director or the other cruise staff. Since we have been on many cruises, it was great to experience cruising in a a slightly new way.

NCL really wants to get people into their alternative/cover charge restaurants. One of the reasons we began cruising was because of the all inclusive food concept. How great is it to have most of your vacation all paid up before you leave! We wonder if that concept may be on its way out. The cover charges are typical of other ships, but it was interesting to see the sushi place charge by the piece...just like on land! We noticed in the 2 main dining rooms that the menu choices were fewer and maybe not as exotic as we remember. However, the food quality was very good and the 'freestyle' wait was minimal. They do an excellent job of giving you a beeper and the 20 minute waits were never more than 5-10. Quite impressive.

The new staterooms on the Epic are very cool. They are long and narrow with curved walls and nice lighting. The bathroom fixtures are all separate, with the toilet ( a true 'water closet') on one side of the cabin and the shower on the other. The shower actually felt bigger. The sink is part of the room and some reviews have mentioned that it was too small. it is fine for the basic toothbrushing /hand washing/shaving, but for more complicated use, it might limit some. All in all we liked this new configuration. It was unique and it was easier for two people to get ready at the same time.

We really aren't Bingo or Poolside contest people. I loved the pool area...lots of chairs, and 3 interesting water slides. Be sure to go on the big orange one that requires a tube! The jogging track was on one side of the ship only with two lanes for people to run back and forth. The view of the sea was obscured by the life boats and there were lots of kitchen smells blowing around. However on the plus side, no shuffleboard to run into, and because it was not scenic, not too many walkers strolling about.

We did not participate in any excursions. We like to explore on foot as much as we can or find a taxi to take us to a beach somewhere. Costa Maya was the greatest port! The Epic pulls right up to the town . The pier and shopping area was rebuilt after the area was hit by a hurricane. Right off the pier is a nice shopping area and a huge, great, pool with a swim up bar. The pool and chairs are all free! Lots of shops. We were surprised by a visible, natural dolphin pool right at the seawall. We sat 10 ft from the dolphins and watched the trainers and tourists in the water. It is free to watch, but there is a fee to interact or ride the dolphins. It seemed to be cheaper $79? than the ship excursion. There are taxis, but also golf carts for about $50 that you can access, which looked fun! We opted for an easy 40 minute walk to the Malecon and the beach. At the security point turn left and head towards the lighthouse. At the base of the lighthouse is a small open air bar/restaurant with swings for bar stools . To our delight we met the owner, Caesar, who spoke beautiful English. He is the President of the Chamber of Commerce and is planning to run for Mayor of Costa Maya. Caesar spoke eloquently with us about Costa Maya, and Mexico, in general. He was a true highlight of the trip for us. Minutes later we arrived at a the Malecon and beautiful beach with only a few vendors and lots of restaurants and shops. Again, chairs are free.

We thoroughly enjoyed the dolphins, Caesar, and the whole experience of Costa Maya.

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