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Allie322

Our Epic Vacation

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Hello All!  I'm a frequent reader but fairly infrequent poster.  I had read so many negative things about the Epic before our trip, I had such anxiety leading up to our vacation.  I had planned this trip for our group which was me and hubby, daughter and son-in-law, and daughter and boyfriend.  We were limited to this particular week due to school and work obligations.  I thought I'd contribute this review to allay anyone else's worries.  We had a GREAT WEEK!!!!  Here goes:

 

PreCruise:  Hubby and I flew in to Orlando 2 days prior to cruise.  We used Cocoa Beach Shuttle to transport us to the Residence Inn Cape Canaveral.  Seamless transport, highly recommend.  It was cheaper to transport with them and pick up a car rental at the Hertz location next to the hotel. We dropped our bags at hotel (room wasn't ready yet) and walked to pick up our car.  We then drove around the area for a while and once our room was ready, we went to Publix to pick up a few things.  We had a King Studio room (kids had a 2 bedroom suite) and it was very spacious and clean.  Hung around the lovely pool area for a couple of hours and then went to Kelsey's for dinner (decent pizza, awesome Sangria).   Kids flew in next morning and we spent a relaxing day by the pool. Jammed all six of us into our compact car and went to Grills for dinner.  Delicious!!  Great views, cold drinks, and good food. Watched one of the Disney ships sail away.  A military satellite rocket launch was delayed from 7ish to around 9 or so.  We were able to see the launch from the hotel parking lot.  Very cool.  

 

Embarkation:  We returned our rental car and used the hotel transportation to the port.  It was $5 per person. Very organized and efficient.  Met in hotel conference room at 10 and were at the port at 10:30.  Absolutely no issues checking in. We were given a paper stating that we would be delayed leaving BOTH Port Canaveral AND Tortola when we checked in. The agent also verbally informed us of this. The reason given was 'planned maintenance'.   We were in group 11 and were on the ship at 11:30. First stop was at Headliners to deal with reservations. We made a reservation for the Escape the Big Top, inquired about our previously booked Large Cabana for GSC and change some dinner reservations. (I'll detail later)  We ate at Garden Cafe for lunch and had the first of many drinks.  Walked around the ship to get our bearings.  Cabins were ready around 2. Muster drill was painless and efficient.  We all met up at Teppanyaki for our 8:15 reservation.  I think we got underway around 9-9:30.  It would have been nice to see sailaway by daylight but we were too busy enjoying ourselves to worry about it.  

 

To be continued.....

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Following along, we sail on Epic this Saturday.

 

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We are sailing the Epic soon and I also am anxious regarding the bad reviews, plus with it being Spring Break I'm worried everything, especially the pools, will be super crowded. Following!

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Part 2...

 

Cabins:  Hubby and I had a mini suite on Deck 12, kids each had inside cabins on Deck 10.  We all knew the bathroom set up beforehand and we all were fine with it.  I felt the toilet compartment was a little claustrophobic but it was ok.  In the end, I really liked the layout.  It was really more spacious than the traditional layout.  Our mini suite did not have a bathtub, just a large shower stall. At the end opposite the shower head, there were 2 hooks which were great for hanging wet swimsuits.  We hardly used the clothesline.  The cabin had more storage than we could ever use.  I thought the bed was extremely comfortable, a bit on the firm side.  The balcony wasn't huge but it was considerably larger than what we've had on the Breakaway.  The kids' inside cabins were small but efficient.  All of our cabins were spotless and kept so all week long. I never met our cabin attendant, though my husband saw her every day and chatted with her. Go figure.  

 

Food and Beverages:  Food is such a subjective topic. Two people can be served identical meals and one will love it and the other finds it disgusting.  I will say that I found there to be plenty of variety in Taste, specialty restaurants, and at the buffet.  We liked some meals more than others but my feeling is that I didn't have to cook it, so YAY!!!  We ate at Shanghai, Teppanyaki, Moderno, and at Taste three nights.  One night we all split up (date night): La Cucina, Le Bistro, Cagneys.  Service at EVERY meal was excellent.  Servers were pleasant and efficient.  Regarding reservations......We had made 2 Taste, Teppanyaki and Moderno reservations about 6 weeks ago  and kept those reservations.  When we went online to make our "date night" reservations, we were all stuck with late times because it's all that was available.  When we boarded the ship, we went right to Headliners to see about changing them and we were all successful at getting 7:00 reservations.  For the third Taste meal and Shanghai, we went to the podium and put our names in and were given beepers.  In both cases, we were told the wait was 45-60 minutes but we were seated considerably faster.  (And fyi, the beepers have a good range.....we waited in O'Sheehans area and it worked)  We never had dinner at Garden Cafe but breakfast and lunch were good. Seating could be tough at times, especially if all 6 of us were together but we managed fine. There was plenty to choose from and we never went hungry 🙂    Bar service:  Were there lines sometimes?  Yup. Were there 4000 other people on the ship with us? Yup.  Did we have plenty of drinks? Sure did!  When there was a line, we got 2 drinks at a time.  The biggest wait was at the Waves bar by the pool.  It wasn't awful.  The drink servers who worked on the deck were very attentive and for the most part, easy enough to find and get a drink from.  Same for the servers who were around O'Sheehans.  I do not expect immediate service on land and I do not expect it on a ship.  These service people work hard and I believe are doing the best they can.  We really had no complaints about the Beverage Package. We all got our money's worth and then some.  

 

Be back shortly.....

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Part 3...

 

Entertainment:  We LOVED the Priscilla show!  Great music, and the dancing was terrific.  So very entertaining!  We went to Howl at the Moon a couple of times and it never disappoints. We particularly liked Angela and Jorge.  We saw 4 Blue in the Cavern Club two or three nights.  Very talented group but found some of the song choices not as appealing to our gang.  (the Honey Lemonade cocktail served here is fabulous!) Caught the last 'Beatles' show here as well.  I liked it but don't really get all the fuss over it, just my opinion. Also did the Escape the Big Top.  We've done escape rooms at home so while it wasn't quite like that, it was very fun and challenging.  And we won so that was a bonus.....got T-shirts as our prize. We saw the Newlywed Game and the Perfect Couple game.  They are always so dependent on who the contestants are and thankfully each show had at least one amusing couple.  We heard a lot of folks complaining about not being able to get seats for these shows. The venues are small and the shows popular so I get it.  We experienced the same thing on Carnival....seems like the trend is away from the big theater venues and into more intimate settings.  We managed just fine by standing, getting there early, or splitting up.   Our cruise director was Mandy and she was ok. We really never saw her and didn't find her particularly engaging.  This is a difference we've noticed between NCL and Carnival--the cruise director is everywhere on Carnival and over the top. Not so much on NCL and that's fine.  Not better or worse, just different.  The band on the pool deck ( ?? Generations) was good and interactive.  Not sure how many activities there were on the pool deck, but the only one we caught was Ms Biceps.  Overall, there seemed to be a lot of activities to choose from.  We certainly were never at a loss!  

 

Pool/outside areas:  Again, I'd read the reviews and complaints.  We spent 2 of our 4 sea days at Spice H2O.  We all got up early and claimed our spots. And we stayed there...no chair hogging by us. By 10 or 11, there wasn't much vacancy.  Chair police came around once and tagged a chair or two but never saw them come back and collect people's stuff. Or maybe the folks came back, not my problem.  The pool is small but nice and warm.  And the hot tubs were just the right temp.  No problem getting drinks here either at the bar, at our chairs or at the little station set up by the entrance.  The only food I had here was the wings and let me tell you, they were delicious!  Another sea day, we all slept in a bit  and then did the Escape thing so we knew getting a lounger would be tough so we ended up getting a table and chairs facing the band on the main pool deck.  It was fun watching all the comings and goings and the kids all got up and danced.  The main pool area does get crowded, which has been the case on every cruise we've been on.  I didn't go in the pool but it was somewhat busy.  I found it odd that the pools didn't really have that splash area around it.  You know, where there's like 2 inches of water spilling out of the pool.  Sometimes, that's just enough to cool you off a bit.  The hot tubs were always busy but we did go in one day and met some great people. Our 4th and last sea day was the Surpise, We're Not Stopping at GSC Day.  It was a mad scramble to get loungers but we got 3 and 3 on one of the upper decks.  Low key day and we were able to drown our sorrows very easily as there were plenty of drink servers around.  The kids did all the slides.  They said they were fun but that the system they used to get the tubes for the bowl slide were kind of a pain.  Something about having to wait for an adult tube....I really don't know but if anyone wants an explanation I can ask and report back.  We did miss having that deck where you could walk outside all the way around the ship. But knew it going in, dealt with it.

 

Hope to wrap this up soon!

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Part 4...

 

Itinerary:  Didn't love this itinerary but again, we were limited.  Tortola was the highlight hands down!  None of us had been here before.  After much discussion amongst the group, we decided to take the $16 per person round trip taxi to Cane Garden Beach. The ride is .....interesting!  Straight up and over the mountain!  It was an open air truck sort of vehicle and I admit that I spent a good portion of the ride gripping the railing and staring at the floor!  Everyone else loved the ride!  When I did look up, the views were magnificent!  We were given green wristbands and told that from noon until 4:00, there would be taxis back every hour.  Our driver didn't speak on the way over but the driver on the way back pointed out some points of interest.  Absolutely gorgeous beach with just a few little waves.  We paid $40 for 4 loungers and an umbrella.  There were 2 or 3 people going up and down the beach offering food and drink. They were not pesty or aggressive at all.  We had a couple of buckets of beer--$20 for six full size bottles ( we had Carib).  The boys went to the food shack and came back with chicken tenders, fries and "beef patties" which were sort of like empanadas.  I don't know the cost of the food, but they said it was reasonable.  It was a beautiful, relaxing day.  I had read that some people thought it was too crowded.  We didn't think it was overly crowded but we are used to jam packed beaches in the summer so to us, it was fairly sparse!  The restrooms were fine, not lavish by any means but they served their purpose.  There were a couple of little shacks set up selling stuff but we didn't buy anything. We took the 2:00 taxi back to the port and poked around the little shops.  Nothing special really but I did buy a pretty Christmas ornament and a little figurine for my shadow box.  I would love to go back here again.  Beautiful place and super friendly people.  Next day was St Thomas. We were only scheduled to be here from 7:00 to 2:00.  Our group split up....2 stayed on ship, 2 walked around the port area, and 2 shopped and did the gondola ride to Paradise Point ($21 each, they loved it).  I wish I had really thought this through.....knowing that GSC gets skipped so often, we should have gone to the beach even for an hour or two. It would have made skipping GSC a little less disappointing.  Lesson learned!  And, as you've read....we skipped GSC 😞  Captain came on just before our scheduled arrival time and announced that weather conditions were not conducive to safe tendering.  Speculation isn't my thing so I take him at his word and move on.  It's out of my control so we made the most of our day.  My takeaway is that I won't book another itinerary that only has 2 docking stops.  I know other tendering ports get missed, but this was the first time we've experienced missing a stop. Ending up with 4 sea days and 2 ports of call was not a desirable ratio.  Now I know for the next cruise I book.  

 

Disembarkation:  Well, all the negative things  I read were absolutely TRUE!!! It was sooooo bad!  We chose self assist (first time doing so)  to be on time for our 8:30 Cocoa Beach Shuttle to Orlando.  It was chaos maximus! The worst part was that if you asked 3 different crew members where to go, you got 3 different answers.  We were extremely fortunate that we randomly chose the right way to go and we were off the ship in about 25 minutes .  People were panicking they'd miss their flights, it was hot, and the mass of humanity was crushing.  Truly a bad, bad system.  It's really too bad that this is the last memory of what was an awesome week.  One thing I did want to note was that I was nervous about trying to handle my beast of a suitcase on an escalator down to customs. Well, there were no escalators!  I just assumed there would be at least one like in other terminals I'd been in.  It was just a few gently sloping ramps. Easy peasy.  Breezed through customs and easily found our shuttle. * *A little heads up......if you have a negative balance on your account, be sure to go to Guest Services and get your cash back!  I had previously paid for a large cabana at GSC and when we missed, they credited my account that amount plus $37.50 port charge. I went to guest services after receiving a phone call advising me of it and got it all back in cash. One daughter didn't get around to getting there and when she swiped her card one last time getting off  the ship, they pulled her aside and had her go to cashier that was stationed nearby.  It was only about $35 so she was happy to have them send her a check but they insisted she take the cash then and there. Kind of a weird system especially when you just want to get off the ship at that point.

 

Last chapter coming up.  Thanks for reading along!

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Final thoughts....

 

We had a great week on the Epic.  We met some fun people, some grouchy people, some odd people, some lovely people.  We ate good food, we ate great food. We drank. A lot.  There is not one single vacation I've been on, land or sea, that has been perfect.  But as the saying goes, a bad day on vacation is better than any day in the office.  I heard a lot of folks complaining about a lot of different things.  Some of their points were valid, many (in my opinion) were ridiculous.  I guess it's a matter of perspective.  As I mentioned, I stressed about this trip and I needn't have.  The Epic has it's good points, and it's not so good points---just like all of us.  We chose to enjoy all of the good and set aside the disappointments.  

 

Sorry so long winded, hope to have helped anyone planning or contemplating sailing on this ship.  Thanks for reading along and happy cruising!

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We sail on the 27 and it will be our 4th time on the Epic. I take people comments with a grain of salt, I cruise and make my own judgments...

 

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Thanks for taking the time to write this review. Puts me a little more at ease for our Epic cruise next week.

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3 minutes ago, spanishguy1970 said:

We sail on the 27 and it will be our 4th time on the Epic. I take people comments with a grain of salt, I cruise and make my own judgments...

 

I'm usually that way but the overwhelming volume of negativity got the better of me.  I am firmly back in the Grain of Salt camp! Happy trails!

 

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Just now, schevel said:

Thanks for taking the time to write this review. Puts me a little more at ease for our Epic cruise next week.

 

Go with the flow and enjoy!!!  Hopefully, you will have great things to say when you get back!

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On 3/25/2019 at 12:46 PM, pehlibaar said:

We are sailing the Epic soon and I also am anxious regarding the bad reviews, plus with it being Spring Break I'm worried everything, especially the pools, will be super crowded. Following!

If it's not too late, I suggest getting your money back and booking on another ship.  Our experience on 3/16/19 was an awful waste of money.

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Epic was the first and only ship I’ve been on. Have breakaway booked for 2020. I loved my time on the epic. Entertainment and food was fantastic. Glad you had a good cruise!

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Sounds like you had a wonderful vacation despite a couple of set backs!!  Thank you so much for sharing your experience.  We sail Epic next year and really looking forward to it. 

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Posted (edited)

Sailing Epic on Saturday...woot! Grain of salt camp here too!! 😎Thanks for your review!!

Edited by Chippytoes

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You have a great attitude about the realities of life🤗 I'm sure you have a good time wherever you go and your family is lucky to have you modeling for them:classic_biggrin:  Thanks for taking the time to post the review...we will be on the Epic in Jan out of Puerto Rico for 11 days.

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On 3/25/2019 at 12:01 PM, Allie322 said:

Hello All!  I'm a frequent reader but fairly infrequent poster.  I had read so many negative things about the Epic before our trip, I had such anxiety leading up to our vacation.  I had planned this trip for our group which was me and hubby, daughter and son-in-law, and daughter and boyfriend.  We were limited to this particular week due to school and work obligations.  I thought I'd contribute this review to allay anyone else's worries.  We had a GREAT WEEK!!!!  Here goes:

 

PreCruise:  Hubby and I flew in to Orlando 2 days prior to cruise.  We used Cocoa Beach Shuttle to transport us to the Residence Inn Cape Canaveral.  Seamless transport, highly recommend.  It was cheaper to transport with them and pick up a car rental at the Hertz location next to the hotel. We dropped our bags at hotel (room wasn't ready yet) and walked to pick up our car.  We then drove around the area for a while and once our room was ready, we went to Publix to pick up a few things.  We had a King Studio room (kids had a 2 bedroom suite) and it was very spacious and clean.  Hung around the lovely pool area for a couple of hours and then went to Kelsey's for dinner (decent pizza, awesome Sangria).   Kids flew in next morning and we spent a relaxing day by the pool. Jammed all six of us into our compact car and went to Grills for dinner.  Delicious!!  Great views, cold drinks, and good food. Watched one of the Disney ships sail away.  A military satellite rocket launch was delayed from 7ish to around 9 or so.  We were able to see the launch from the hotel parking lot.  Very cool.  

 

Embarkation:  We returned our rental car and used the hotel transportation to the port.  It was $5 per person. Very organized and efficient.  Met in hotel conference room at 10 and were at the port at 10:30.  Absolutely no issues checking in. We were given a paper stating that we would be delayed leaving BOTH Port Canaveral AND Tortola when we checked in. The agent also verbally informed us of this. The reason given was 'planned maintenance'.   We were in group 11 and were on the ship at 11:30. First stop was at Headliners to deal with reservations. We made a reservation for the Escape the Big Top, inquired about our previously booked Large Cabana for GSC and change some dinner reservations. (I'll detail later)  We ate at Garden Cafe for lunch and had the first of many drinks.  Walked around the ship to get our bearings.  Cabins were ready around 2. Muster drill was painless and efficient.  We all met up at Teppanyaki for our 8:15 reservation.  I think we got underway around 9-9:30.  It would have been nice to see sailaway by daylight but we were too busy enjoying ourselves to worry about it.  

 

To be continued.....

Wow. I was on the same cruise and checked in around 12. However, I never received a letter about the maintenance delay. Makes a huge difference, when it’s communicated in advance. 

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On 3/25/2019 at 1:46 PM, pehlibaar said:

We are sailing the Epic soon and I also am anxious regarding the bad reviews, plus with it being Spring Break I'm worried everything, especially the pools, will be super crowded. Following!

The second you get on the boat, go to guest services and book posh lounge, an exclusive less crowded area. They only sell 20. I didn’t do this but met someone who did. It was only $59, we were solo travelers. I booked the thermal spa pass, $199, unlimited use, and it was worth every cent. I cruised last week, also during spring break.

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Thanks for the positive review! I’ve been trying to stay positive about our upcoming cruise on the Epic. We will be on the April 13th cruise celebrating my 50th Birthday. I was a bit nervous about scheduling during my birthday week because of Spring Break, so I got a Spa Balcony room hoping to have a quiet place to escape some of the crowds. It will he our first cruise and we are really excited! I’m a terrible cook, so I’m sure we will be thrilled with the food! 😂

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2 hours ago, adline1 said:

The second you get on the boat, go to guest services and book posh lounge, an exclusive less crowded area. They only sell 20. I didn’t do this but met someone who did. It was only $59, we were solo travelers. I booked the thermal spa pass, $199, unlimited use, and it was worth every cent. I cruised last week, also during spring break.

We will be travelling with 3 adults and 2 children. Can we book Posh lounge with kids? What all is included in the thermal spa pass?

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They’re both only for adults. Sorry. But here’s what the spa includes, and you have unlimited use:

 

The Thermal Suite is a passage toward ultimate relaxation. Based on the concept of Turkish baths, where friends and family spent the day relaxing, the heat and cleansing therapies of our Thermal Suite experience include heated ceramic lounge chairs, a Thalasso Therapy Pool, hot tubs, steam room, sauna, and tropical rain showers. Different herbal steam and sauna grottos cleanse the body with gentle heat while a therapeutic heated-water pool bubbling effect will wash away stiff and sore joints. Take a dip in the Vitality Pool or enjoy a warm waterfall cascading onto your shoulders. Heated chaise lounges and tropical shower features make this both a relaxing and cleansing experience. A Salt Room is available on Breakaway, Getaway and Escape.

Thermal Suites are available on all ships except the Joy, Sky, Spirit, Sun, and Pride of America.

Thermal Suite amenities and pricing may vary by ship. Log in to see pricing and book your Thermal Suite pass.

Note: Must be 18 years or older. Passes only available to select ships and are full cruise only.

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They also have an aft balcony, so peaceful and quiet. Here’s a video:

 

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We were also on this sailing. Out of 2 dozen or so other NCL cruises, I found this one to be the worst although the newbies we traveled with loved it. Most staff we encountered were unsmiling and surely overworked with the excuse they were short staffed. Things happen but there was little to no communication as to why, or when we were to be leaving port. When asking 3 staff we got 3 different answers. I knew going in that the Epic had been having problems but it costs nothing to keep the guests informed as to what's going on and what can be expected.

This is the first time I returned home thinking it may be time to try another cruiseline.

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18 hours ago, Allie322 said:

Final thoughts....

 

We had a great week on the Epic.  We met some fun people, some grouchy people, some odd people, some lovely people.  We ate good food, we ate great food. We drank. A lot.  There is not one single vacation I've been on, land or sea, that has been perfect.  But as the saying goes, a bad day on vacation is better than any day in the office.  I heard a lot of folks complaining about a lot of different things.  Some of their points were valid, many (in my opinion) were ridiculous.  I guess it's a matter of perspective.  As I mentioned, I stressed about this trip and I needn't have.  The Epic has it's good points, and it's not so good points---just like all of us.  We chose to enjoy all of the good and set aside the disappointments.  

 

Sorry so long winded, hope to have helped anyone planning or contemplating sailing on this ship.  Thanks for reading along and happy cruising!

Thanks for taking the time to write your review!

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