Epic review from 9/11
Epic 9/11/2010 Eastern Cruise
By far, this was the best cruise I have ever been on. It’s been years since I’ve been on a cruise and boy has cruising styles changed. I LOVE freestyle.
Boarding the ship was a breeze. We only spent about ½ hour in the terminal where we sat waiting for the group that was ahead of us to go in. Then row by row they released us to go in. The lines were not too bad, but it went smoothly and quickly.
I had prepaid my onboard credit already prior to the cruise, so they gave me my room card right away and off we went.
This ship is AMAZING. The beauty of her…I just couldn’t get enough. We quickly ran around exploring and went to go see where our rooms would be (we had 2 adjoining studio rooms-see review at bottom of page). The rooms weren’t ready yet, but one of our luggage had already arrived. (The rest of our luggage was delivered once we were done swimming and they announced the rooms were ready. I do have to say that our room steward was bringing them INTO the room. She was awesome. I did notice other people had luggage out in the hallway.)
Some pics from around the ship
Time for the water rides and some pool time before sail away. The green and purple slides are enclosed, very dark, and you have no idea which way you are going to turn and drop next. Pretty exciting. The Epic Plunge-WOW! We loved it. Rode it during the week several times as well. Some people did get stuck and had to push themselves around and into the hole, however, I think I spun around so many times (once I counted 5 times around) and the person that came down after me actually caught up to me and as I was ready to drop in the hole, he crashed into me, pushed me out of the way and went down himself. LOL So another time around for me before going in the hole. My husband was a little worried at the bottom knowing that I came down right after him. LOL It was a lot of fun.
Blue Man Group-I have always wanted to see them and they lived up to my expectations. There is a lot of audience participation. No one is safe. LOL They have something ready for anything that could happen. A couple walked in to the show late, while it was completely dark other than the stage, and the spotlight was turned on them, sirens started going off, the tv screens started flashing red warning signs and an announcement came on saying late arrivals. It was all incorporated into the show and hilarious! It was a great show! Loved every minute of it.
Cirque-it was interesting. As everyone has stated, a little too long with the story lines, but the show itself was amazing from the acrobatic stunts to the people. Very good. The food was ok. I’m not too picky of an eater (although I don’t eat items such as steak or chocolate), but the chicken was acceptable. We ended up with seats (we requested) in the balcony. My only suggestion to everyone is that you don’t sit in the balcony by the stairs as you first come in. There are a few things that go on under you that you won’t be able to see unless you stand up and peer over the railing…or simply sit on the other side of the balcony and you can see everything.
Howl at the Moon was great. We had a good time. I know others that spent MANY of their evenings there because they loved it so much. The couple times we went back, it seem to have the same show going on, so we would leave.
Legends in Concert in the Epic Theater-they were very good. I personally thought Tina and Elvis did a great job and Madonna was ok. Others that I spoke to thought Madonna was really good. I just think her voice didn’t match up, but she was still good. The quick clothing changes for the backup singers and dancers were amazing. They worked their butts off.
Jeff Hobson-comedian/magician…the absolute BEST! He is so funny, he had me in tears. I enjoyed every second of every minute of it. You are not safe in any part of the audience for participation in this show. So, don’t think by sitting all the way over by the railing and away from the aisle seats is going to save you. LOL He was out talking to everyone as they were coming in to be seated prior to the show. Great guy.
We tried to see Second City and the night that we had free, it said they were playing at a certain time in a certain place and the place was closed. Hmmm. We never did find them. :(
Where we ate:
La Cucina-Wow, we tried so many different items at this place. My husband is not a fish or seafood person and he tried it all. Calamari (squid), mussels, shrimp, salmon…I swear there was some other stuff but can’t remember. We were trying it all.
Shanghai’s-Hmmm, I spoke to a lot of people that just loved this place and went several times. It wasn’t for me. It just didn’t taste the same as what I’m use to. The harvest rolls were good. The fried rice didn’t have much flavor to me. My husband had the egg drop and corn soup, which he said was borderline cream corn tasting (which he does not like). I had the Singapore noodles, which was VERY different than any other place I’ve had them before. These were a different color and were very spicy. The chicken was good. All in all, it would not be something that we went to again. So, after this experience, we did not go to the noodle bar.
My favorite place to eat are places like Teppanyaki-I have reservations for Friday (the day we were in port at Nassau). We did not eat all day and were starved by the time we returned to the ship. We went up to the Garden Café and ate, well, a lot. We did not discover until after we were done eating and walking out of the restaurant that we had reservations for 1 hour later at Teppanyaki. (I overheard someone cancelling their reservation, which reminded me). UGH! I was kicking myself the rest of the night for that mistake.
Since we didn’t get to go to Teppanyaki, what better way to soak our sorrows for missing it than going to the Ice Bar. I had not made reservations for the Ice Bar, but they had a cancellation and off we went. WOO HOO. We are from Ohio, so we are use to cold winters. However, we dressed in pants, socks and tennis shoes to go. I saw people in there with dresses and flip flops. WOW, they have guts. We were the first into the bar. We had the peach and apple drinks. The apple was my favorite…so yummy.
O’Sheenan’s-Great wings and the huge hamburgers were fantastic. A great place to hang out at, eat, and watch whatever happens to be on the huge 2 story screen in the Atrium. Although by the 6th night the women’s restroom was out of order and there were women standing in line just to use the handicap/family restaurant. Not good for a new ship.
Garden Café-I thought this buffet was top notch. The décor and view outside was terrific. The food, in my opinion, was great. We never had anything that was bad. I didn’t discover the crepes until the last day of the cruise (kicking myself now) and I was in HEAVEN! Butterscotch filling and cream on top. Oh my goodness! I am definitely going to have to figure out how to make these!
We only ate at Manhatten for dinner once. I’m not a real “meat” person, so to me, I didn’t like the food too well. There wasn’t much on the menu that sounded good (to me).
Taste-once again, dinner wasn’t my cup of tea. We ordered the lamb and I did not like it at all. It was too “steaky” for me and I don’t like steak. The waitress was fabulous. She brought me several different other plates (scallops, which I didn’t like either), but she was definitely trying to satisfy me. My favorite part of the meal was the CHEESECAKE. I’m a big cheesecake fan and that did the trick. (It’s not like I starved on this ship with all the other choices of places to eat) hehe We did do taste for lunch and it was great!
PIZZA DELIVERY-We were playing slots on the last night and I decided to go to O’Sheenans and order a pizza. They delivered it to us at the slot machines and we took it up on the deck to eat for a little peace and quiet. Others had said that the pizza was pretty good and I had some of the pizza they served at pool side and the Garden Café, so I was looking forward to an entire pizza. NO-not the same. We did not like it AT ALL. There was so much cheese on this pizza (and I have to say I’m a real big cheese fan and could probably eat cheese on everything), but it was the weird funny tasting “fake” type of cheese and it was nasty. We ended up not even eating it after one piece.
As others have stated, Spice h2o wasn’t really a hopping place to hang out. The couple of times we popped in, there wasn’t very many people there. Even when the DJ was playing, I didn’t see very many people. So we really never went back other than to go upstairs to check out the basketball court, trampoline and to take some pictures from up there.
Slot machines-our favorite and only gambling we do. I was upset (and knew before that they did not have my favorite slot-which is Hot Shots) but quickly found new favorites. I put in $5 and walked away with $68. Went over to another (Game of the Dragons II), put $4 in and won the jackpot. WOO HOO. My husband was sitting beside me and put $10 in and won $76. It was a great night. Before we started playing, my husband had made the comment “let’s win big so I can buy my ring” (he had been eyeballing a black diamond ring in the store on board for several days)…he got his wish and then some. It was a great night. The other times we played, we won here and there, but nothing big. I can tell you the fish game on the other side of us, EVERYDAY was hitting and hitting BIG. We watched several people win $500+ jackpots on them and over and over winnings. There were lines to play those slot machines.
Guest Services-we never encountered a line here. Maybe 1 couple ahead of us each time. There were always a lot of people there at the desk to help you with your needs.
I suggest if you like beer, buy the bucket special. No, they don’t charge you for the NCL blue buckets they come in and they are free to take if you’d like. 6 beers for the price of 5 ($25). Great deal. They do NOT open the beers for you (as I had previously read in other reviews for other NCL ships). They give you a bottle opener to keep to open them at your leisure. We always took left over’s back to the room and kept them on ice.
White Hot Party-this was the best ever. We had a blast and stayed for HOURS! Great music, great DJ, and one of the employees up on the stage with the wings was the best. She really got the crowd going and pumped up. Was dancing with all of us and pulled certain people up on the stage to dance with her in front of everyone. Yep, I was one of the lucky contestants for the stage show. LOL My husband loved it. Don’t miss the white hot party. It was hopping!
Pool deck-everyone complained about never finding chairs and people hogging them. We never experienced this. We found front row seating right beside the pool every time we went. The pools were never too crowded, although they are VERY small, people weren’t really swimming in them, just cooling off or hanging out and having a drink in them. The only time I witnessed it getting crowded was during the pool side competitions. We found a place to sit either by the pool when we were swimming or close to the slides when we were sliding. Never a problem. I didn’t witness any chair hogging either. There was always someone in the chair except when they were up to cool off in the pool. The pool deck at night is AMAZING with all the lighting. I took a lot of pictures up there. Simply beautiful. Don’t miss it. Beware, the bar tenders walking around WILL hound you non-stop about getting a drink. They really push the drinks on this ship. It got kinda annoying after a few days, but a simple no thanks or nod of the head did it. They never really stopped to ask, just walked by asking everyone.
POOL TOWELS: The first day we arrived before setting sail, we checked out 2 pool towels on the pool deck to swim with. They do take your room card to check them out and have you sign a receipt. You MUST bring these back before the end of the cruise. If you don’t they will charge you $25 per towel. The first night in the room, when our steward cleaned our room, she took them because they were wet. I spoke with her a few days later and she said she knew she had removed them and would bring me an extra set back to turn in. The last night on board, we went up and turned them in (yes, they had ALL the receipts waiting and would tear the receipt up once you returned the towel). It was getting late and they had A LOT of receipts still. I wonder how many people didn’t know to turn them back in and was charged. They do give you pool towels in each room as well. This is why we decided to keep our 2 towels that we had checked out the first day because we always had fresh dry towels to rotate to.
We found the service for drinks (both alcohol and soda) to be fabulous. They were always pretty speedy in bringing the drinks back to us. Never much of a wait. The staff amazed me on how they could take so many drink orders all over the place and still remember where you were and what you ordered (especially when you were in the Epic theater).
Staff-this has got to be the friendliest and caring staff I have ever encountered. EVER! You couldn’t walk by ANY of the staff without them saying hello or speaking to you. SO NICE! I felt that each and every one of them truly cared about making your cruising experience a good one. My hats off to the staff and NCL for picking a great bunch of employees.
Room Steward-my steward was top notch! I swear she cleaned my rooms at least 4-5 times a day. Every time we left and came back the room was SPOTLESS and fresh. She was the best and was always around in case you needed her for anything. She was amazing. We got towel animals from the 2nd night on. She knew we had 2 adjoining rooms, so she made the same animal for us, but yet different than each other.
Silas the cruise director-what an amazing man. He was EVERYWHERE. We all swore that he had cloned himself or he was a twin or triplet. He was all over that ship. Very friendly and always there for anything that you needed. We could be at one end of the ship and go to the other and he was there too. Wow. I hope they pay him well for the great job he does.
Shopping, plenty of places to shop with a little bit of everything for everyone. They had some really good prices on board and some great deals we took advantage of. Loved the jewelry (of course) and the clothes. Hint: they do take items (clothing and jewelry, purses, and so on up on the pool deck in the “wind tunnel” about every day in the mornings to mid afternoon to sell. MOST of the time they are the items from the shops. HOWEVER, they do have some items of clothing that ARE NOT in the shops at all and are only for that area. I missed out on getting an outfit that I wanted because I waited too long to get up there and they had already torn it down and they did not sell it in the regular stores on the ship. So, if there’s something you are eyeballing up there, buy it before it’s too late! (The prices are not different for the items in the stores).
BINGO-complete waste of money as others have said. I remember back on my cruising days gone by were you pay like $20 for a few cards, they go so slow it takes up most of your day and it was aggravating knowing that you spent that much of your time on bingo. People warned me not to play bingo. I warned my husband. However, he’s not a very good listener and begged to go until I gave in. Of course the hype they give you on the announcements and once you are in the room…they are giving away a free cruise for 2 RIGHT NOW and jackpot of $3000 & $2000 and many other smaller amounts RIGHT NOW! Then the smallest package they had was $65 I believe, then another and the highest package was $89 OUCH! With the big package you got a blue Epic bag, a bingo tee shirt, 24 cards to play each game, the jackpot cards and the instant winner pull cards. Well what do you think the hubby bought? Yep, the granddaddy package…UGH. So we divided the cards. Let me say, bingo is WAY DIFFERENT than it used to be. They go SO INCREDIABLY FAST that it was almost impossible for us to keep up. When we would yell “slow down”, he’d say “you guys need me to slow down?” and they audience would yell “yes” he’d laugh and say no. Seriously? Then of course they brought you in on the hype that “someone” was winning the cruise for 2 only to change it up that it was going to be given away at the last bingo played on the last day before we docked in Nassau the following day. Um What? Then of course they don’t tell you that the jackpot money they mentioned that would be given away during THAT bingo session is ONLY if you hit jackpot within a “certain amount of numbers called”. Which means that every number they call, you have to have each one of them every time in order to get the jackpot. What a crock of bs! A few people won about $110 and that was it. What a waste of money and time. I guess I can say that I bought an Epic bag for $89 on board and it was the biggest waste of purchase we made while on the trip. Haha So just be warned!
BOWLING- now that was fun. The worse game my husband and I have ever had, but fun! The lanes were crowded at O’Sheenans, so I said “let’s go over to the Bliss, I bet it’s not crowded” and it wasn’t. There was only a couple of teens finishing up a game and they were leaving as well arrived. (One of them had left their keycard down in the lounge below the bowling and I thought of Mike’s (sdmike) kid getting his stolen and someone using it while on board. I quickly snatched it up and gave it to the lady at the bowling area and she quickly located the teen that left it.
FYI-if you get hurt or need to see the doctor while on board-$100 just to see him. (I got hurt but opted not to see the doctor and just suffered the rest of the cruise). The nurse would not even let me have an ACE wrap without having a visit with the doctor, which I felt was crappy. She said she “couldn’t prescribe and non-prescription bandage without the doctors consent”. Um, ok.