NCL EPIC Cruise Review
Welcome to my NCL Epic cruise review. I was on board this cruseship for a 7 night Mediterranean cruise.
Cruise ship company: Norwegian Cruise line (NCL)
No of passengers: 4100
Average age of passengers: mixed
Destinations: Rome, Livorno, Cannes, Marseille, Barcelona, 1 sea day, Naples back to Rome
Cabin number and location: studio 11520, mid ship deck 11 near the studio lounge
Food / drink on the EPIC
The food is a delicious choice of three courses. If you want coffee though you do have to pay for this. The atmosphere is really nice, but the service is so slow. It takes about 20 minutes to get the attention of the wine waiter. It is definitely an option if you are not in a rush as you will need about two hours to have a three course meal. However, the food is great. On one occasion I had tenderloin and it was so tender it melted in your mouth. The dining area is very clean and when you finally get to be served they are very attentive and friendly.
Garden Café Buffet
Self-service buffet selection a top tip is to walk around before you decide what you are going to have as around each corner is something different. The choice is vast and the food is good quality and the best thing it is really hot. There are so many stations that you are going to be spoilt for choice pizza, burgers and hot dogs, sandwiches, salad, specialities of the day, fresh vegetables, noodles, soup, Indian, ice creams, desserts, crepes, fresh fruit, cookies.
Also another bonus is you can have a soft drink with your meal free of charge including iced tea, lemonade, mango flavoured water and strawberry and kiwi flavoured water. It does get busy but I always managed to get a table even at peak times, though it can be like a cattle market at breakfast with people banging into you. I went here for my last night’s meal and it was like a children’s playground they were all running around and it was hard not to trip over a child this was at 8pm so maybe this is a time to avoid if you don’t have children.
The choice of breakfast is amazing I don’t think there are any options missing and best of all it has English bacon so I’m happy. There are egg stations, hot cereals, continental, meats, potatoes, waffles, cereals, breads, orange juice, apple juice, cranberry juice, tea and coffee, flavoured milks and I’m sure I’ve missed something.
Overall rating for food:*****
Room service options
There were room service options though they are limited. I order a burger and it was cold by the time it arrived. Also there is an added convenience charge of $7.95 which they then also add a 18% gratuities and 10% VAT so it’s about $10 really not worth it.
There are drink packages available. Unlimited alcohol for $79 per night this is so expensive but then again the drinks are really expensive anyway. I didn’t like the fact that they added 18% gratuities and 10% VAT onto every drink you ordered, and this is non-negotiable, it is really annoying they should just include it in the price at least that way you know the exact figure you are going to be paying. So on average $8 for a beer $12 for a glass of the cheapest wine $15 for a cocktail. There are 14 bars so you’re bound to find a seat in one of them. Each offering something different. From piano playing in the shakers bar to entertainers in the bliss lounge. My bar bill came to $174 so even though I like a drink it would not have been worth me paying for the drinks package, though after speaking to a lot of the passengers if you book more than 30 days in advance you are offered the drinks package as a one of payment of $79 and then I would have got my monies worth.
Overall rating for drinks:***
I am in a studio cabin which is basically the smallest rooms they could possible get away with. As a solo traveller apparently we don’t need space. However, they have a studio lounge which is quite a good concept as it can be daunting on such a large ship. The lounge has a bar service 5-7pm and at 6pm there is a social gathering where free prosecco was on offer for the first few days but when the host changed over she said we couldn’t have it unless we went to dinner but she booked dinner for 6pm which everyone felt was too early. There are tea and coffee making facilities, a vending machine with Pepsi and lemon and lime and water at $3.25, cold water, hot chocolate, cookies and at breakfast time there are cereals and pastries.
There is a host at the 6pm meeting and you can put your name down for dinner reservation which is better than eating alone and also go to see a show together or you can make your own arrangements. I experienced two hosts as I was Wednesday to Wednesday and they change over on a Saturday. First was a guy who was friendly though people said he didn’t interact a lot although he knew his stuff. The second was a young girl who only joined the ship in February and even though she interacted with the guests she didn’t seem to know about the ship.
The cabins are a bit of a strange set up the toilet is in its own cubicle but the shower and sink are in the room with you. I’m not sure if it’s the same setup in the rooms that are not studios but if it was I wouldn’t like that if I was sharing the room with a friend as I would be able to wave at them whilst I was in the shower. It has to be the world thinnest toilet paper I know this is good for environmental reasons but this is ridiculous I might as well just use my hand. You get an ice bucket at night but since you can’t bring you own drinks on and if you were to get a drink from the bar it would have ice in I’m not sure what this is for. There is sufficient storage space.
The mood lighting is nice it’s a calming feature when you are chilling in your room. You can have it on blue, purple, orange or pink or a mixture. You can turn the light off on the telephone otherwise it will add as a night light as the screen is quite bright, but maybe that’s a good thing. You have no chance of a lie in. Firstly, the cabin steward normally knocks on my door at about 8.30am. if it’s a port day then tannoy announcements are made in your room as early as 7am. You can hear everything going on in the corridor especially again the room steward hoovering at 8am. Also the cabin doors have a very strong spring back so they slam and not only is this really loud it makes your bed shake if someone does it in the neighbouring cabins.
You can control the temperature in your cabin but the air conditioning is quite noisy though I find that in most cabins anyway. There is a large TV that has one movie channel, news 24 and the other channels seem to be foreign. You can also use the TV check your account balance, book shows, see what’s going on and view from the bridge. The beds are very conformable I had two singles pushed together and the pillows and sheets are good quality. I liked the towel animals they made when they turned your bed down.
Overall Cabin experience: ****
The west end show was Pricilla Queen of the desert and it was amazing from start to finish I could not fault it and it was definably west end standard. The show theatre is a great set up with large comfy seats on a tiered floor so even if you are at the back you can still see the stage. The performers were faultless and the costumes were great. There are toilets near the epic lounge and it was wheelchair assessable. There is Cirque Dreams show but this is at an attentional cost. I heard great review about it but unfortunately I didn’t have the time to go and see if for myself. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of things that are my interests during the day but to be fair I think it’s more a confidence thing on my part that I wouldn’t take part in the game shows where you have to get up in front of all these people anyway. And we only had one day not in port so I was too busy seeing those places.
The burn the floor show is also amazing the dancing is so good I really wanted to be able to dance like the girls and it was also great having a bit of eye candy watching the half-dressed men flex their muscles definably a show to see and this was free. The cavern is where the Beatle’s tribute play and it’s supposed to be decorated as the original one but I’m too young to have been there although I did grow up with my parents playing the Beatle’s so I do enjoy their music. This show again was fantastic it was really popular and as there is no booking I would suggest you get there early. We got there at 10pm and the show starts at 10.30pm and it was standing room only and then this got limited it was quite squashed in there.
The daily programme doesn’t seem to be as informative as other cruise lines, it does tell you what is happening on the day so I suppose it is doing its jobs but it doesn’t give you any other helpful information for example when we got off in Marseille we didn’t know anything about having to pay NCL $15 for the shuttle bus which annoyed a lot of passengers maybe if they had put it in the programme people might have been prepared and then not so irate about it. I feel that this ship caters really well for children they all seem to be having a great time so it is definitely a family ship rather than a solo female traveller ship in my opinion. The pools and rock climbing wall looked like a lot of fun.
Overall entertainment: *****
The crew do not seem very helpful polite or friendly. From my first impression when I boarded the ship and asked how to get to my cabin the crew member was really unhelpful and told me to look at the map. They don’t seem to want to communicate unless they are trying to get you to part with some money. Though the servers in the restaurant are very good.
The ship is nicely decorated, very modern I liked the large chandeliers. It seems to be well maintained and in good condition. There are quite a few lifts which is great considering how many people are on board but at peak times it can take a while to get into a lift. Also due to the size of the ship plan this when you need to be somewhere as you might need extra time to get there. On one of the port days it took me 15 minutes to get to the meeting point for my tour due to the sheer size.
If I were to come on the Epic again I would like to have a friend with me as I felt, I missed out on quite a lot of the activities as I didn’t want to do them on my own. I mainly talked to other solo passengers and there were mixed views. Some of them only use this cruise line but it seemed if people travelled on other cruise lines they were not that impressed. This ship must have every nationality on board it really is a broad spectrum.
There were a lot of complaints about the attitudes of the staff I was lucky and didn’t experience anything too bad but you do feel just like a cabin number rather than an actual person. I felt also I would be wasting the guest services time if I was to ask a question as they were all very stony faced. I felt that there were a lot of hidden charges on this ship for example I brought my swimming costume so I could go in the spa area but this was $149 for the week. I wanted to go to the posh beach area but again there is a $59 weekly charge.
Bowling and the ice bar have a charge so as long as you factor all these extra in you can still enjoy the facilities unfortunately I’m on a budget. You can have professional photographs taken on aboard. I didn’t see the photographers going round the dinner tables like on other ships I think it’s more of a case you go to them which is good as I hate having my photo taken. The ship is very modern with large screens which even show movies and football.
Gratuities Everything has a 18% charge and then 10% VAT. Also there is a $13.50 service charge per day I didn’t do any excursions with the ship as these were too expensive but I did hear they were good. Overall I would give 3/5 not saying I wouldn’t come on again as the shows and the food were amazing but I just didn’t feel valued as a customer which is a shame since I thought that would be their main factor.
NCL have a number of other cruise ships which I can not wait to try. Read Norweigian Sky Review from a fellow traveller.
If you like what you see please share and pin for future reference. Have you been on the EPIC or any other ship you really liked then please comment below as I love hearing about other peoples experiences.