By John Deiner, Cruise Critic contributor (4.0)
NCL's revolutionary Norwegian Epic is big, brassy, bold and ballsy. And while opinions are mixed over the success of Epic overall, even the most jaded travelers admit the ship is a 19-deck wonder, with enough bells and whistles to keep passengers satisfied for a week (the Nickelodeon offerings alone mesmerize the little ones).
Some quick kudos and catcalls from a recent weeklong sail on Epic:
Thumb's up... for the game-changing Studio staterooms geared toward solo travelers. Add in the Living Room, a swanky communal gathering place, and you have one of the coolest, funkiest, most-welcoming spots afloat. No wonder they sell out faster than any other Epic cabin class.
Thumb's up... for the entertainment. Epic does away with cruising's familiar multi-tiered mega-theater in favor of a plethora of distinctive venues scattered around the ship. The result? Even the 681-seat Epic Theater -- home to Blue Man Group and the pulse-quickening, surprisingly sharp Legends in Concert -- seemed more intimate than expected.
Thumb's down... for the smokiness. It's a common complaint among Epic passengers, and you'll hear no defense here. The sprawling casino lies squarely in the center of the mid-ship, three-story atrium comprising most dining and entertainment venues, and you can't shake the stench if you're in the area. I noticed air purifiers scattered about, but they do little good when the casino is crowded -- which is often.
Thumb's up... for the eats. With more than 20 freestyle-dining restaurants (an NCL signature), there's a different place to chow down every morning, noon and night on Epic. Happily, even the Garden Café buffet measures up for the masses, and who wouldn't want pizza delivered anytime -- and anywhere?
Thumb's down... for the endless winding corridors. The ship is 1,081 feet long, and it'll seem as if you're traversing every inch of it when making your way back to your cabin. It took me the better part of the week to remember that red carpeting signaled the even-numbered cabins and blue carpeting the odd. Plus, I was struck by the absence of cut-throughs to stairwells and elevators. Bottom line: Go in the right direction the first time or you'll be doing a lot of walking. Still, I have to give a...
Thumb's up... for the general layout. As big as Epic is, I never felt disoriented (after the first few hours, that is). The fact that most of the restaurants and entertainment digs are clustered together certainly helped, though the Mandara Spa's awkward location on Deck 14 aft necessitated a long, long walk down a corridor lined with staterooms. The pool complex and Aqua Park is a marvel of twisting water flumes, spraying fountains and clearly delineated paths to get you through the morass of screaming kids, noshing adults and sea of lounge chairs.
Thumb's down... to that spa. Sure, it's 31,000 square feet (making it one of the industry's largest), but its hydrotherapy and thermal suite, outdoor sun deck and locker rooms were frequently so crowded that I needed to get away from it to feel relaxed.
Thumb's up... for the service. I'm always amazed at the consistently high level of service on a cruise ship, but Epic seemed to take it a step higher, even with all those people onboard. I ate alone several times and always felt as if I were being given extra attention; at one breakfast, a server brought me an extra pastry because I "still looked hungry."
Thumb's up and down... to those controversial bathrooms. I'm a fan: I love the openness and extra space (in the large-for-a-ship showers in particular). But others seem to be split 50-50 for and against this innovation, which probably won't see the light of day again anytime soon.
So, overall, it's a mixed bag. You'll either love this hulking innovator-on-water or you'll fret that it doesn't match your expectations. One thing you won't do is go hungry, get bored or go home without a strong opinion one way or the other.
|Not perfect, but very good|
August 2014 JackNeedsAVacation
There are pros and cons to any cruise or vacation. The NCL Epic is no exception. By and large, the positives far outweigh the negative. Here's an overview of my take:
Embarkation/Dismebarkation: NCL had this down to a science. Easy and ...continue
August 2014 Beachbabe7534
One week Mediterranean cruise with family of 14&17 year olds. Boarded at Barcelona, seamless check in. In our cabins before 1am. Inside cabin, very compact, but enough storage and space for two people. Liked the toilet/shower arrangement. ...continue
|Hidden Gems on NCL Shore Excursions|
July 2014 Cruise4Sunshine
I have sailed NCL twice before, and am a steadfast Holland America cruiser, mainly because HAL feels more calming to me. That said, I really, really enjoyed this cruise and the shore excursions. Because of a sudden death in the family I had to ...continue
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