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Age: 47


Number of Cruises: 12

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Epic

Sailing Date: 2013-10-20

Itinerary: Transatlantic

This was our first transatlantic cruise, and we didn't know what to expect as far as the seas or our ability to relax for 14 days, but everything ended up fantastic & we had the cruise experience of a lifetime thanks to NCL and the Epic staff. This was my 6th NCL cruise, so I reached Silver status this cruise and was treated to a bottle of wine waiting in the cabin & chocolate covered strawberries that night with turn-down service - what a surprise! We have always enjoyed the freestyle dining and casual atmosphere on NCL, and the Epic did not disappoint. This was actually our 2nd cruise on the Epic, the first being in the Caribbean 3 years previous, so we knew what to expect with regard to the ship, and we were comfortable with the layout already. It is awkward to have to go through the casino at all times it seems to get to dinner or wherever we wanted to go, but at least it helped us to become oriented and learn our way around. The staff were all courteous and helpful.

The only thing that I don't like about the Epic is the lack of an evening show in the main theater each night. The Epic has Broadway style productions and smaller venues, but you have to make reservations for those shows (Blue Man Group, Second City, Legends, Terrance B the hypnotist, Graffiti Classics, etc.) and can't always get the time you desire. We missed having a show to go to each night, but other than that, our cruise was ideal! Two weeks of relaxation, fun and sun! We can't wait to book another transatlantic cruise and another NCL cruise for sure.

The food in the main dining rooms was delicious, and the service was wonderful. We only tried 1 specialty restaurant, the Charascaria (all you can eat meats - a carnivore's dream come true!), and it was our 2nd time doing that on an Epic cruise. We got there earlier this time, because we were with my parents, and it seemed the meats came around slower than expected. They seemed to be speeding up as were ready to leave, like we had arrived as things were still cooking. So if you want the skewers to come around constantly, I would suggest making a 7pm reservation.

The main restaurants are Taste & Manhattan. Both have almost identical menus, with only minor differences. We chose to eat at Taste 10 of our nights, because the atmosphere was more to our liking. Manhattan's ceiling is lower, and with the live music it got very loud in there, difficult to hold a conversation. Taste is multilevel, open to 2 other decks in the center, and was more comfortable for us. We never ate dinner at the buffet, because I don't "do buffets" if I can help it. I ate at the buffet twice for lunch, and it was good, as far as buffets go. It was not disappointing. But for dinner we prefer to get dressed and make an evening of it, so the buffet is for a quick breakfast or lunch only. For breakfast we prefer the sit-down style of Taste. Wonderful food, and it fills you up so that you really don't want lunch usually.

My parents had an aft balcony on the starboard side. They wished they'd been on the port side, because they would have seen the ports coming and going on that cruise. They did not like the bed, because it was curved, and my Dad's feet hung off the end of the bed. I know they did that to make it easier to walk through to the balcony, but it was awkward for sleeping. We had an interior cabin & were thrilled with the size of the cabin and the amount of storage. Once we put our suitcases under the beds, the cabin was so roomy, and there were oodles of drawers, shelves & cabinets to put everything away. And the beds were to die for - so comfy we couldn't wait to go to sleep each night! We liked the split toilet and shower concept. One person could be in the shower stall while another person was in the separate toilet stall. Anyone who complains that the curtain divided bathroom area is weird and offers no privacy has no business being in a cabin with another person obviously. We loved it. You can shut off the curtain and someone can be showering or using the toilet while the other person is at the vanity area in the main part of the room. Great for getting ready. And the Epic offers studio rooms in the center of the ship for singles, so if you want privacy, book a studio. They were getting rave reviews from fellow passengers we met.

There was always something going on, so it was impossible to be bored, even after 14 days, but we spent most of our time at the adult pool (Spice H20). Very relaxing and sunny. It's a bummer that people show up early in the morning to plop a towel down & reserve all the loungers, even if they never show up, but that's true on most cruise ships. We learned to do the same or we'd wait until later in the day, and several lounge chairs would have cleared by then. I've already mentioned the lack of nightly show, but the ones they have are mostly awesome. To get the time slots you want, book all the shows online ahead of time. We knew we didn't really enjoy Blue Man Group last time we were on the Epic, so we didn't bother this time. They are very loud, and the show is at least 30 minutes too long. They drag the same jokes/bits on and on and on.

We were lucky enough to have both Legends shows available this cruise and saw both. They were fantastic! My only complaint would be that Katy Perry is Not a Legend. Some people say Adele isn't either, but I love her, so I'm not going to gripe. The shows were fun & excellent. Graffiti Classics was a hoot and 1/2! Wonderful! Second City was fun too. We really enjoyed Terrance B the comedy hypnotist. We participated in the show and had a great time - I was Cher & apparently made quite a spectacle of myself! LOL! We saw 2 of his seminars on weight loss and stress relief, and he's great. We weren't all that impressed with the comedy magician on board. The slides onboard are so much fun and a good way to get some exercise, climbing all those stairs.

We never book excursions through the ship - too expensive! In the Caribbean, we step off the ship & book less expensive cruises at the dock. We've never been disappointed. Just make sure to always be on "ship time" and get back to the ship in plenty of time! Some examples of what we do in the Caribbean....

Cozumel: take a cab to Chankanaab park for beach, dolphins, snorkeling or to Paradise beach or San Francisco beach. In Montego Bay take a cab to Doctor's Cave beach and then walk over to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville for drinks, the water slide/trampolines.

Cayman: Moby Dick tours for snorkeling & Stingray City.

Roatan: cab to fantasy island resort or Tabyana beach. Belize: book a snorkel tour at the port. The catamaran snorkel tour through the ship was the final straw for us in deciding never again through the ship! Well that 1 and their cave excursion in

Belize - what a boring joke that was! So either dive or snorkel Belize on your own or just get off the ship & shop and have a drink at the cute little Iguana "something" bar at the port.

For this transatlantic cruise, we only had 2 stops: Madeira island and St. Thomas. In Madeira we took a bus that dropped us off in town, and from there you can walk around and shop/eat/drink, or we hired a cab for $45 EU each to drive us around the island for several hours. We got to see & do all the highlights for much less. We did the toboggan ride down the hill, which was so much fun, and we did the smaller gondola ride that went directly down the cliff to the ocean & didn't require a 2nd cab ride like the other more popular gondola & toboggan ride does. We had some of the local rum drink (poncha de Madeira) at a cute little bar in the seaside fishing village where Winston Churchill liked to visit and paint. We really enjoyed Madeira and would visit again when cruising. St. Thomas is 1 of our favorite stops, and we always go to Magen's Bay. It's inexpensive & absolutely stunningly gorgeous! Get there early & reserve a picnic table or just a sandy area under the shade trees. Love it!

We were amazed at how calm the Atlantic was for all but 1 of our cruise days. Most days we felt we were in the Mediterranean, it was so calm. The Epic is easy to get around once you figure it out. It's a little chopped up & it seems you always have to go through the casino. To find your stateroom, remember blue carpet is Odd numbers & red carpet is even numbers. Download the iconcierge app to your mobile device before you cruise and activate it onboard to keep track of reservation and daily activities. You can make reservations and check your charge on your TV in the room too. There's a mini fridge in the room. Ask your steward to empty it so you can use it to cool your own drinks. Order room service! It's awesome and will spoil you rotten. Bring a shoe holder, the kind that hangs, so you can keep your sunscreen, toiletries, etc handy & clear up counter space. Bring a European electrical converter so you can take advantage of all the power plugs, like behind the bed in inside cabin, in the medicine cabinet & under the counter. That's all I can think of right now - we had a blast & would totally do it again in a heartbeat! Thanks NCL!

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