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cruisegeek1974

NCL Epic - Dec 22 sailing - short review/comments

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Hi all, wanted to comment briefly on our recent Epic cruise from San Juan.  Just for background, I have sailed on 4 NCL cruises (last one on the Epic in 2014), 3 Celebrity, 3 HAL, 1 Princess, 1 RC and 1 Carnival.

 

Before boarding I had read a bunch of poor reviews and was actually a little anxious that the cruise would not live up to expectations.  I consider my wife and I to be very easygoing and overall we had another very enjoyable cruise in general, and we enjoyed the Epic in particular.

 

First thing to comment on is the arrival and departure that might help others going on the Epic.  As others noted, the port is not built to handle the two ships that are docked there.  That being said, we left the airport around 12.30pm to go the port and while there was traffic as you started to get to the port, it wasn't terrible and we ultimately boarded the ship around 2pm.  Once out of the taxi it was fairly quick to check in and get onto the ship.  The cab driver did tell us that he took another couple to the port in the morning and he said traffic was so backed up that when they got close to the port the couple just got out of the cab and walked the last bit to the ship.  On departure day, we did the self walk off option leaving the ship around 8am and had no issue getting into a cab and getting to the airport for our 12.50pm flight.

 

The ship condition was good and kept clean.  Despite some opinions we read, we found the staff to be friendly and had no issues at all.  Does every crew member run over to us say hi? No, but I don't expect that.  95% of the crew we encountered would be polite, say hello, etc.  The other 5% didn't, and that is fine.   I always wonder what people expect from the crew.  I understand that no crew member should be rude, but other than a polite hello, i don't expect much else.

 

The food, as we find on every cruise ship, was very good.  My wife is a little picky compared to me so a few dinners just didn't have an option that jumped out at her, but again, she finds that on every cruise for the most part.  Having last sailed NCL in 2014, I really can't remember small details going that far back.  One thing my wife and i were wondering however is that since NCL seems to be pushing these "Free At Sea" perks on a consistent basis, are they cutting back on some other things to balance out costs.  For example, no smoked salmon at breakfast; cut up fruit was very limited in both the quantity and selection; no lobster night; the food choices at dinner seemed slightly more limited/repetitive.  Again, i'm not an NCL expert, but in comparison to say Celebrity and HAL, the food was just maybe one notch lower.  Don't misunderstand me, I really enjoyed the food, but in some ways I would just give a slightly lower rating.  I just think of one reviewer saying the food was "inedible", I just shake my head at a comment like that.  For this person, nothing would make him/her happy.

 

One thing I don't understand is the whole signing out for the pool towels.  Despite having to sign them out, they don't seem to actually track them upon return so I really don't understand why they do it.  It just creates one more lineup you have to stand in.

 

One thing I still love that NCL does is to really try and force people to use the sanitizer when heading into the buffet; i don't know why every cruise line doesn't do this.  I get that it is not a silver bullet to avoid sickness, but it is still a great policy.

 

This is already discussed enough, but we have no issue with the bathroom design but i can see it being an issue if say two friends are travelling together. 

 

I would also say that for entertainment, NCL is still tops in this department.  Not going to detail out what we did, but again NCL gets high marks for entertainment.

 

While my wife and I are only able to cruise during the high price season, we often have to seek out our cruise based on pricing, and I would certainly go on another NCL cruise in the future.

 

Edited by cruisegeek1974

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Thanks for your review, particularly the information about arrival and departure.  I'm also glad to hear no major complaints.

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 We were on the Epic in September for a Mediterranean cruise and had a wonderful time. I had read the negative reviews prior to cruising and after the cruise I wondered if they were reviewing the same ship. Had no issues and found the crew to be very friendly. Would not hesitate to cruise the Epic again. 

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On my last few NCL cruises, while there was no sliced smoked salmon in the buffet, there was smoked salmon in the MDRs each day for breakfast.  It came with a bagel with cream cheese, tomato, onions and capers available and it was quite good. 

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Thanks for this thoughtful review. It's good to hear a positive perspective.

Having reasonable expectations does seem to be a key part of the ability to enjoy things. I'm glad you had a good experience!

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5 hours ago, cruisegeek1974 said:

Hi all, wanted to comment briefly on our recent Epic cruise from San Juan.  Just for background, I have sailed on 4 NCL cruises (last one on the Epic in 2014), 3 Celebrity, 3 HAL, 1 Princess, 1 RC and 1 Carnival.

 

Before boarding I had read a bunch of poor reviews and was actually a little anxious that the cruise would not live up to expectations.  I consider my wife and I to be very easygoing and overall we had another very enjoyable cruise in general, and we enjoyed the Epic in particular.

 

First thing to comment on is the arrival and departure that might help others going on the Epic.  As others noted, the port is not built to handle the two ships that are docked there.  That being said, we left the airport around 12.30pm to go the port and while there was traffic as you started to get to the port, it wasn't terrible and we ultimately boarded the ship around 2pm.  Once out of the taxi it was fairly quick to check in and get onto the ship.  The cab driver did tell us that he took another couple to the port in the morning and he said traffic was so backed up that when they got close to the port the couple just got out of the cab and walked the last bit to the ship.  On departure day, we did the self walk off option leaving the ship around 8am and had no issue getting into a cab and getting to the airport for our 12.50pm flight.

 

The ship condition was good and kept clean.  Despite some opinions we read, we found the staff to be friendly and had no issues at all.  Does every crew member run over to us say hi? No, but I don't expect that.  95% of the crew we encountered would be polite, say hello, etc.  The other 5% didn't, and that is fine.   I always wonder what people expect from the crew.  I understand that no crew member should be rude, but other than a polite hello, i don't expect much else.

 

The food, as we find on every cruise ship, was very good.  My wife is a little picky compared to me so a few dinners just didn't have an option that jumped out at her, but again, she finds that on every cruise for the most part.  Having last sailed NCL in 2014, I really can't remember small details going that far back.  One thing my wife and i were wondering however is that since NCL seems to be pushing these "Free At Sea" perks on a consistent basis, are they cutting back on some other things to balance out costs.  For example, no smoked salmon at breakfast; cut up fruit was very limited in both the quantity and selection; no lobster night; the food choices at dinner seemed slightly more limited/repetitive.  Again, i'm not an NCL expert, but in comparison to say Celebrity and HAL, the food was just maybe one notch lower.  Don't misunderstand me, I really enjoyed the food, but in some ways I would just give a slightly lower rating.  I just think of one reviewer saying the food was "inedible", I just shake my head at a comment like that.  For this person, nothing would make him/her happy.

 

One thing I don't understand is the whole signing out for the pool towels.  Despite having to sign them out, they don't seem to actually track them upon return so I really don't understand why they do it.  It just creates one more lineup you have to stand in.

 

One thing I still love that NCL does is to really try and force people to use the sanitizer when heading into the buffet; i don't know why every cruise line doesn't do this.  I get that it is not a silver bullet to avoid sickness, but it is still a great policy.

 

This is already discussed enough, but we have no issue with the bathroom design but i can see it being an issue if say two friends are travelling together. 

 

I would also say that for entertainment, NCL is still tops in this department.  Not going to detail out what we did, but again NCL gets high marks for entertainment.

 

While my wife and I are only able to cruise during the high price season, we often have to seek out our cruise based on pricing, and I would certainly go on another NCL cruise in the future.

 

A fellow solo and I actually made up a bit of a song from all the refrains of "washy washy" in regards to the hand sanitizer on the Dec. 22 sailing. I don't remember the exact words but it went something like this. 

 

"You put your right hand in,

you take your right hand out,

you do the washy-washy as you spread hand sanitizer all about

and you kick the old germs out!"

 

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Thankyou for your review.  I love the epic, we have been on her many times.  How were the ports?    Did u do any excursions?

how was the weather?
 

cecil

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Ports were good.  For us, two new ports were Barbados and St. Lucia.  Barbados sand was like baby power and the water was so clear, just amazing.  Second time going to Tortola and it seems like it has not recovered from the storm.  We looked back to pictures from our visit many years ago and it was a beautiful place.  Now, not so much.  Was sad to see.

 

We typically don't do any excursions, just catch a taxi to a beach.  This cruise, we never do this, but we decided to completely stay on the ship during the St. Kitts stop (been there twice) and it was pretty nice having the peace and quiet of a half empty ship.

 

Weather was slightly below the normal perfect Caribbean weather as the second last day it was cloudy, and the last day it rained off and on all afternoon.

 

And as Mira28 said, reasonable expectations is the key.  I just have a baseline expectation for my cruise, which is always met, and then typically there will be at least a few really bright spots that will stand out by the end of the week.

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Would actually love to hear a little about the entertainment you may have seen.

Priscilla?  Burn the Floor?  Cavern Club?

 

we'll be back on Epic on the Spring TA.  It's been several years since we were last on the ship.

Realizing that entertainment for other nights will have changed by then, is there anything in particular you enjoyed?

 

Did you have a Meet & Greet?  What did you think of the visibility and interaction with senior officers?  Who was the GM and CD?  

 

Any standout meals?  I agree with you that breakfast menu is very good in the mdr and especially love trying the daily rotating specials.  

 

Thanks for your timely comments!

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Comments regarding entertainment - much like food, it is so personal and depends on your taste, but here goes. 

 

Priscilla - enjoyed it but thought some portions could have been cut to shorten the show.  I was however very impressed that NCL put on a show that could be considered too "edgy" or "controversial" to some.  My wife and I were saying we can't believe that when this show was pitched to some executives at head office that they actually said yes, let's go with it.  Positive marks to NCL for this.

 

Burn - Didn't love it, but I enjoyed it.  My wife couldn't wait for it to end.  Again, depends on personal taste.

 

Cavern (Beatles show) - we peaked in on it and it was pretty good, but we were standing and didn't feel like staying.

 

Comedians - I don't think I have yet to see a bad comedian on any cruise ship.  The two comedians on Epic were hilarious.

 

Juggler/Comedian guy - he was pretty good actually but if you have been on enough cruises the novelty of the juggler/comedian guy starts to wear off.

 

As far as senior officers, we don't pay that much attention in all honesty, so I'm not the best person to comment on that.

 

As far as standout meals, funny enough, the last night in the MDR had ribs with pasta salad and coleslaw.  Have never seen ribs offered before on a cruise ship.  My wife and I both ordered it and it was amazing!  I was so impressed.

 

Hope these comments are helpful!

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If you haven't seen a bad comedian on a cruise ship, you haven't cruised much.  We have encountered so many poor/bad comedians it isn't funny.  No pun intended.

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On 1/1/2020 at 1:09 AM, Love my butler said:

If you haven't seen a bad comedian on a cruise ship, you haven't cruised much.  We have encountered so many poor/bad comedians it isn't funny.  No pun intended.

I was also on this cruise and I would agree with much of this review. As far as comedians go, we did not enjoy the comedians on this cruise. The guy who opened, who was one of the two “headliners” wasn’t that good and the main guy that night spent 45 minutes making sex jokes. We didn’t go to any other comedy shows. 

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