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jaowel

Carnival Gold member cruising on NCL for 1st time on the Epic

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Hey everyone! My family was asked to join a huge group of families traveling on the Epic for Spring Break this year. Since there are 5 of us, we've always cruised with Carnival because of the value and have loved every one we've been on. We love cruising and just because we reached Gold with Carnival, doesn't mean we don't want to give other lines a try. I've always been intrigued by NCL (they have great commercials!!) so when we were asked to join the group and found out our oldest couldn't make it on the trip, we decided to give it a try!

I like to do my homework before any trip and needless to say, the reviews are from one extreme to the other on this ship. I love reading everyone's different perspectives and have learned quite a bit on this board already. We don't sweat the small stuff, so some of what I've read wouldn't be as big of a deal to us as it is to others. I am look forward to creating my own perspective on this ship, but I would like to hear some real differences I'll see between the two lines, from people that have ACTUALLY sailed both lines.

We never take our vacations for granted and are so grateful anytime we are able to travel. I'm really looking forward to cruising on NCL and appreciate any feedback.

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Posted (edited)

We've sailed both, as well as Royal, and last year sailed both the Carnival Glory and the NCL Getaway. We prefer NCL over Carnival, but really liked Carnival. I'd sailed with them before, but my DH had not until last year and he enjoyed the cruise. We like Royal least of the three (though want to sail one of the Oasis-class ships because that could change my mind!).

 

Things we really like about NCL:

-- Staff, from room stewards and bartenders to wait staff and facilities staff, are friendlier. We're usually greeted in the hallways and around the ship by NCL employees. On one of our Escape sailings, a room steward that was not ours stopped cleaning when he heard us in the hallway to come out to say hello. We were in Vibe on the Getaway and got to know the two bartenders throughout the week and loved them. The service just seems slightly better than on Carnival, IMO.

-- Food is a step above Carnival's in terms of taste and the number options available. While we enjoyed most of the MDR food on Carnival, Guy's, and the steakhouse, we like the food better on NCL. Food is totally subjective, so what you enjoy I may not, and vice versa. There are more specialty restaurants on NCL, which we've enjoyed, but the food in the MDRs has typically been really good.

-- Rooms, even though they can be smaller, are nicer and more up-to-date, at least on the ships we've been on. We had to use a bent-up hanger to keep the balcony door on our Glory cruise from not closing on us because the handle was wonked. They, of course, fixed it the last night of our sailing. The Carnival ships I've sailed have also had the dreaded, gross shower curtain, whereas NCL ships (most of them) have sliding glass doors, which is much nicer!

-- No dancing waiters in the MDRs. We just didn't like them on our Carnival cruise and found it awkward. Some people love them, though. They just weren't for us.

-- On the Epic, we loved bowling at sea! Even with the ship rocking, that made it an extra challenge. 🙂

-- The bathroom situation doesn't bother us. We actually like it because I can brush my teeth while DH is showering. Read up on it if you haven't already, but that is definitely a love-it-or-hate-it thing with the Epic.

-- We liked the pool area because there were some "mushroom"-type pods you could sit on with your feet in the water without having to get into the pool. There are pictures that do a better job of explaining than I'm doing!

 

There's another thread right now where someone's asking about people's opinions on the Epic. Here's the thread I was thinking of:

 

 

We've sailed the Epic twice and it's our second favorite ship after the Escape. Wouldn't hesitate to cruise the Epic again at all!

 

Enjoy your cruise!

 

Edited by dolita22

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We had done 3 Carnival cruises prior to our first NCL cruise in 2017. I have to say that NCL won us over.

 

We found the over all experience to feel like a step up. We sailed on the Escape so in all fairness, at that time, she was the  brand new ship. The food, the shows, and especially the service were all excellent. It was impressive to see ship officers jumping in and helping out with the smallest of tasks and not just asking how our cruise was going, but genuinely caring about the answer. The crew were smiling and seemed to enjoy being there. It just made a world of difference.

 

All that being said, you are going on the Epic and that ship seems to have 2 camps-love it or hate it. We are sailing on the Epic on Saturday. We aren't picky or hard to please and many of the complaints I've seen wouldn't bother us. Even if it's a lesser experience than what we had on the Escape, we will still sail with NCL.

Do your research and be prepared. One of the things that are very different about NCL is that on the larger ships you can and should book your dining and shows in advance.

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2 minutes ago, tbo said:

All that being said, you are going on the Epic and that ship seems to have 2 camps-love it or hate it. We are sailing on the Epic on Saturday. We aren't picky or hard to please and many of the complaints I've seen wouldn't bother us. Even if it's a lesser experience than what we had on the Escape, we will still sail with NCL.

 

I would love to hear what you think of the Epic when you return! I've noticed the "love it or hate it" theme. Have fun!!

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The two are more alike then the cheerleaders and haters would admit . I enjoyed the Epic and you'll find lots to do . Food , entertainment , cabins and public spaces are similar . NCL prides itself on greater food options but most are at additional cost . This brings up the biggest difference between the two lines , all the extra costs you can incur on NCL . You can't bring on a bottle of wine or beverages of any kind .If you have the UBP (drink package} this won't matter much. The Epic has many more places that are restricted to suites and upcharge locations then does any Carnival ship . The Haven and the for fee sun lounge areas are examples . The Cirque show is anther fee .

None of these charges are mandatory . I don't want to give you the impression that I'm dumping on NCL . It's that their business model clearly emphasises extra charges more then does Carnival but it is your choice . 

Your original post states that you " don't sweat the small stuff " . Good! you'll have a good time . 

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We are Carnival Gold as well and our only experience with NCL was a quick weekend cruise on the Sky.  Our impression was that it was an older, smaller ship and likely not representative of NCL's entire fleet. So, this summer we are booked on the Pearl for a northern European cruise.  We've been reading to pick up on the differences and are looking forward to our next NCL cruise. One issue, my wife is upset to hear there are no 24 hour soft serve ice cream machines!  

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My first three cruises were on Carnival, my last four have been NCL/MSC/NCL/NCL. 

 

 

NCL has my favorite food at sea.  We generally do either the buffet or Specialty Dining Restaurants. I don't have anything against the MDR other than I prefer the specialty restaurants or the casual dress at the buffet.  I didn't care for the buffet on Carnival (sorry!) but LOVED Guy's burgers. 

 

NCL wins me over with the Free at Sea.  Carnival's unlimited drinks fee puts them out of the competition, for me, with NCL. 

 

I think NCL has considerably better entertainment options, too. 

 

Carnival is hard to beat with number of ships and ports in this hemisphere.  I really liked their balcony rooms, except for the shower curtain mentioned above.   I didn't mind the Epic bathroom weirdness but I'm sure some despise that feature. 

 

The art auctions are very comparable.  

 

Carnival has the better outdoor movie setup, but the Epic is pretty strong in this area. 

 

 

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41 minutes ago, CruznGator said:

We are Carnival Gold as well and our only experience with NCL was a quick weekend cruise on the Sky.  Our impression was that it was an older, smaller ship and likely not representative of NCL's entire fleet. So, this summer we are booked on the Pearl for a northern European cruise.  We've been reading to pick up on the differences and are looking forward to our next NCL cruise. One issue, my wife is upset to hear there are no 24 hour soft serve ice cream machines!  

Was on Pearl last March soft serve on buffet and was available anytime we wanted it.

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2 minutes ago, James_Elmore said:

Was on Pearl last March soft serve on buffet and was available anytime we wanted it.

My wife will be happy to hear that! 🙂

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My wife and I are Diamond members on Carnival. We love NCL and have done 9 trips with them. Someone posted my question about the Epic here and am only asking it because of a family members horrible review on  their new years trip and we booked the epic for next new years..So where else do you ask a question like that, here of course and i have gotten some great answers...To answer you ? We have done all the cruise lines and really like NCL because alot of different ports, love to have the choice of different restaurants which are all great, the larger and newer boats are like floating vegas hotels..pools are deeper so not as many kids ,the larger boats have pools for kids..staff is equal to carnival ,rooms nicer, and so on....We still do carnival but NCL is great,you will love it..Only thing i miss is at dinner you don't have the same waiter every nite,  my wife and i love that about carnival because most of our trips we have had great waiters and we still keep in touch with them..................

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If it's between love and hate I'd go with love. I wasn't overly impressed with the specialty dining but it might have been a fluke thing as most people like NCL food better than Carnival which I like well enough. I'm taking my second NCL cruise here in a few weeks so I look forward to being wrong about NCL food. The Epic was a great ship with lots to do. The Circ show was great (I got to be in it with my ex wife, which was interesting and fun) and the other things were nice too. This is a huge ship.

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4 hours ago, richstowe said:

The two are more alike then the cheerleaders and haters would admit . I enjoyed t . You can't bring on a bottle of wine or beverages of any kind .If you have the UBP (drink package} this won't matter much. The Epic has many more places that are restricted to suites and upcharge locations then does any Carnival ship . The Haven and the for fee sun lounge areas are examples . The Cirque show is anther fee .

 

You can bring all the wine you want for a $15 a bottle fee.

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I am in the camp of NOT liking the EPIC....I have sailed Carnival, Disney, Royal and NCL, small ships and big ships....the EPIC was the worst...poor interior layout...little to no outside spaces, and no, I didn't even have a problem with the bathroom situation. That is why there is only one Epic class.  

 

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20 hours ago, luvsboozecruises said:

Only thing i miss is at dinner you don't have the same waiter every nite,  my wife and i love that about carnival because most of our trips we have had great waiters and we still keep in touch with them..................

We love this too! The team we had on the Fantasy over NYE was so great! Thank you for the feedback!

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