Just Back from a 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise on the Norwegian Epic
I told you it wouldn't be long until I was back! We are currently sitting in the airport waiting for our flight back to Richmond. Disembarkation was FAST! It was within the blink of an eye! I looked at my watch in our stateroom at 7:33, and when we were on the curb at 7:49. 16 minutes. Way to go Norwegian! We also had a little surprise waiting on the curb. We had booked a limo to come pick us up a couple months back. It was so cool! I've never been in a limo. It kinda lightened the blow of having to get off the ship.
We learned a lot on this trip. This was our first big ship experience, and we learned that we definitely like the smaller ships better. We like the feel of the concierge and butler knowing every single person, and them always being there even when you don't call. Since the Epic is a bigger ship with more Haven suites, you don't really get that feel as much as you might get it on a Jewel Class ship. We like the feel of the personal service. It's just impossible to do that with all of those people in The Haven. Another big thing is that the elevators were so busy and in such high demand that it took forever to get one. Even when just going up one deck. Elevators are vital to transport Emily in her wheelchair, and it's really annoying to have to wait.
We liked Bowen the concierge, but didn't get know him as much as we did Omar last year. Once again, this is simply because Bowen was taking care of too many people to get to know all of them personally. Omar is actually taking over for Bowen in a few weeks, and we cannot believe we missed him!
The layout of the Epic is very interesting. It's the only ship of its kind, as NCL had to cancel the order for her sister ship due to a dispute with the ship builder, STX. It was the only ship that has not been built by Meyer Werft since the Windward in 1993. The view of the outside deck on deck 7 is completely obstructed by life boats. This means that you can't stand and watch the ocean flow by. There is also no access to an aft facing deck, since the aft is completely filled with aft facing rooms. These are some things that I absolutely love and look for in cruise ship. Sometimes it's just nice to stand at the aft and watch the calm wake of the ship. The only place you can actually kinda see the wake is at Spice H2O on deck 15, and even then your view is somewhat obstructed.
As far as entertainment on board, we loved all of the shows and parties. The Cirque Dreams show was excellent and very entertaining. We also really liked Priscilla Queen of the Desert! I really liked how they had themed parties at night at Spice H2O at the back of the ship where the big screen was. One night they had the 70's dance party where they played music from the 70's and everyone from that era danced along. They also held an 80's dance party. One especially cool party that I did not get a chance to personally attend was the Glow Party where they paint your face and hand out glowing cups and glow sticks. However, one of my friends that I met in our sailing's Facebook group did! She took a video from the party and posted it on YouTube for all of you to watch and to get a feel for entertainment on board the Norwegian Epic. I would like to say a huge thank you to Shannon Blackstone (AKA Banana Sandwich) for this footage! Check it out:
As for service, it was always very fast. Whether we were in the Haven Restaurant, or a specialty restaurant, we always got what we wanted very quickly. I found that this time around the crew wasn't very welcoming and happy as usual. They kinda seemed burnt out and tired of their jobs. They still did an amazing job. Better than any other cruise line we've been on!
When booking in The Haven, you get all five Norwegian "Free" at Seas perks. We ended up upgrading the free 1GB of internet to unlimited, and adding 2 additional dining packages so that the other two of us would have it. Only two of us had the Ultimate Drink Package (one of the perks), and that seemed to work out just fine for all of us. We used our shore excursion credit to pay for $50 of the beach club in Jamaica. I know that's only four, but the friends and family sail free perk did not apply to our sailing.
A complaint that we had that had nothing to do with the ship or the cruise line was the loud and rowdy kids in The Haven. I get it, it's spring break, but after 10 PM it's just reckless and obnoxious. The people in the suite next door were up yelling, screaming, and blasting music into the late hours of the night. One night we even called security, but they were still really loud. We might have been a little bit petty and banged on the walls at night and in the morning while they were trying to sleep.
Now that it's over, we keep doing things like waiting for someone to put napkins across our laps at places like McDonald's or Olive Garden, and waiting to be escorted to the front of long lines. I even tried to pay with my ship card somewhere! It didn't work if you didn't already know. Whoops. Back to reality, am I right? We're headed home and the Norwegian Epic is headed to Barcelona today (well Saturday when you're reading this) on a 15 night transatlantic cruise for her summer cruising season.
Once again I would like to say a huge thank you to Norwegian Cruise Line for another unforgettable cruise (not a sponsor, but if someone from NCL is reading this please hit me up so we can get free cruises, thanks)! Even though we don't have another cruise booked YET, we will definitely be sailing with them again in the near future!