Epic marks our 4th Norwegian sailing as a couple, Len’s 14th overall cruise individually, and JJ’s 11th overall. This was our first Transatlantic or re-positioning sailing (one way cruise) and at 15 Nights, our longest cruise to date.
- Norwegian Epic Overview
- 3 Favorite Things About Norwegian
- 1. Ponta Delgada, Azores (Portugal)
- 2. Funchal, Madeira (Portugal)
- 3. Seville (Cadiz) Spain
- 4. Granada (Malaga) Spain
- 5. Cartagena, Spain
- 6. Palma Mallorca, Spain
- 7. Barcelona, Spain
- Cagney’s Steakhouse
- La Cucina
- Shanghai Noodle Bar
- Moderno Churrascaria
- Wasabi Sushi
- Len and JJ’s Overall Rating:
Norwegian Epic Overview
True to it’s name, Epic is undoubtedly a huge ship, capable of holding nearly 4,000 passengers and 1,800 crew members on 19 decks. Norwegian is one of our top 2 favorite cruise lines, including Celebrity.
Norwegian is one of our favorite cruise lines for many reasons. We like the “Freestyle” dining and multiple specialty dining options, as well as the overall more laidback dress code and atmosphere on Norwegian. We feel that the service is usually excellent as well. We recently cruised on Norwegian Epic’s sister ship, Norwegian Breakaway, both of which are massive. We actually prefer smaller ships for the less crowded atmosphere and greater ease of getting dining reservations, getting off the ship at ports or tendering, and for an overall more intimate atmosphere. But when you are literally crossing the Atlantic Ocean for 6 days straight, the stability of a mega-ship seems comforting.
3 Favorite Things About Norwegian
- The Food – From the buffet, to main dining rooms, to specialty restaurants like Cagney’s Steakhouse and Teppanyaki, Norwegian offers great food at every restaurant on every ship that we have experienced with them. We’ve cruised on Jade, Escape, Breakaway, and now Epic, and we’ve loved the food on every Norwegian cruise. We highly recommend purchasing a dining package to enjoy the specialty restaurants with as well (and sometimes, we’ve had this included as a free perk on our cruise).
- “Free Style” Cruising – Free Style cruising on NCL means you do what you want, when you want, from dining, to shows, to various activities. The traditional method of cruising, especially for dining in main dining rooms on other cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity, is that you pick an early dining time at 5:15 or a late dining time at 8:15, otherwise your only open dining option is the buffet during available hours. On Norwegian, you can go to any of the “for free” main dining rooms for dinner at any time during their hours, with no reservation. Want to dine at 7:00 P.M. one night and 8:30 P.M. the next? No problem on NCL.
- Casual Dress Code / Relaxed Vibe – In every restaurant on virtually all Norwegian ships, only the Manhattan Dining Room (Free) and Le Bistro (Specialty) require men to wear long pants. This means the majority of dining options on NCL only require men to wear nice shorts and a polo (just no swimsuits or cutoff shirts). JJ and I find it comical when we’ve been on a 4 night cruise out of Galveston, TX on Carnival, the cheapest of the cheap, and patrons are participating in the “Dress Up Night” literally renting tuxedos and wearing full on suits. Don’t get us wrong, there is nothing wrong with dressing up or wanting to do so, but when you travel as light as we do, this can be a lot more challenging. Hence, we like the more relaxed nature and dress code on Norwegian, which is a much classier cruise line than your basic Carnival, MSC, and Royal Caribbean cruises in our opinion.
- Amazing Food
- Big Pool Area
- Good Entertainment
Even though it’s aging, Epic still has a bit of charm and many things to appreciate. The food is still amazing, as with all Norwegian cruises as mentioned previously. It doesn’t have the promenade on Deck 8, which is a brilliant indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar setup found on some of the newer ships such as Escape and Breakaway. But on the positive side, it does seem to have bigger pool area with more chairs and more of an adult-centric atmosphere as compared to say, Breakaway.
We enjoyed the entertainment overall on Epic as well, from bands to comedians to Howl at the Moon dueling pianos. Overall, we felt the staff was very accommodating and friendly. They were more friendly, in fact, than on our Breakaway cruise which is the same size ship but is actually newer and more modern. Epic seems to be a decent value for the money and a decent way to break into Norwegian cruises.
- Poor Ship Layout
- Small Inside Staterooms
Norwegian Epic is a ship that is definitely starting to show some signs of its age, from overcrowded walkways, poor ship layouts, and little things like many of the automatic soap dispensers no longer working in the various restrooms.
It still has a few water slides and attractions at the pool area, but sadly, the putt putt and one of the slides were “under construction” during our cruise. That made the walk to the back of the ship on Deck 15, the only way to get to Spice H20 (adults only back deck of the ship with a pool, 2 hot tubs, a grill and bar area, with cascading rows of deck chairs) much too crowded, especially in the section right behind the slides.
Crowds and lines are actually our #1 critique of both Epic and Breakaway. In our opinion, 4,000 passengers is just too many for our liking. This is especially apparent on port days. In fairness, Epic was not actually as bad as Breakaway, but we don’t believe the ship was completely full either. But if we would have had to “tender” (take turns riding small boats to the port, because there is no actually physical port, such as Grand Cayman) it would have been a nightmare.
Finally, the staterooms are very dated and the interior rooms are the worst laid out and smallest staterooms we’ve ever experienced on any ship.
Our complete “Port of Call” List included:
1. Ponta Delgada, Azores (Portugal)
2. Funchal, Madeira (Portugal)
3. Seville (Cadiz) Spain
4. Granada (Malaga) Spain
5. Cartagena, Spain
6. Palma Mallorca, Spain
7. Barcelona, Spain
The staterooms uniquely only start on Deck 8. Our inside stateroom, 9103, was basically the tiniest and most cramped room we’ve ever stayed in. Unfortunately there was no more delicate way to put that. There is basically no room to walk on either side of the bed, there is no seating area, and the shower, toilet, and sink areas are all separated with one common walk way, right at the entrance of the room, between them. JJ and I were constantly on top of each other, especially when trying to shave or get ready for dinner in the evenings.
There are two plus sides to any inside room though. Those include both the price and the sleeping conditions. First, inside rooms are the lowest fares on any cruise. Yes, inside rooms are cramped, but you shouldn’t be spending much time in the room anyway. You should be out enjoying the pool and various activities. Second, inside rooms because they have no windows or balcony, create very dark and ideal sleeping conditions. If you’re one of those people that wants to sleep in a black box, the inside room is for you. I personally enjoyed surprisingly peaceful slumber well past my regular wake up time on many days of the cruise. A loose 3rd is that many inside rooms seem to be close to elevators and activities. That might include a noise factor for some, but that’s nothing that can’t be overcome with a good set of earplugs (which I sleep with every night) and the White Noise App for iPhone (which we use in every travel location that does not have a loud fan like we use at home). Deck 9 was a nice compromise of easy access to all the main inside decks 5, 6, and 7, where the majority of restaurants, theaters, casino, bars, and shops are located.
Cagney’s is our second favorite overall specialty restaurant on Norwegian. We use most of our specialty meals from our dining package on Cagney’s and Teppanyaki. Cagney’s is not quite the level of a Del Frisco’s Double Eagle, Bob’s, or Ruth Chris, but it is one of the best steakhouses at sea for sure. The value for the money is unbeatable though, even if you were paying a-la-cart.
Due to the fact that you are not allowed to take photos at Teppanyaki, we’ll have to settle for a pic of the menu above, but make no mistake, this is our favorite specialty restaurant on Norwegian. The edamame, soup, and salad are just “ok” as compared to other Hibachi’s we frequent in our hometown of Fort Worth, TX, but the fried rice and main courses are to die for. The chef’s recommendation is always “Asuka” which is Filet Mignon with Jumbo Shrimp. Yes please. We actually spent 3 of the 6 meals on our dining package at Teppanyaki, and it seemed to get better each time.
As a tip, it seems that on the longer cruises, days toward the end of the cruise seem to be easier to get reservations. Also, the less crowded the restaurant, the more food you seem to get as well. Extra portions of fried rice are always nice.
We didn’t get a pic of the menu, but La Cucina, the Italian restaurant on Epic, has drastically improved since our last visit. We had very tasty meals of Shrimp Diavola with spicy marinara, Gnocchi in pesto cream sauce, Beef Tenderloin with blue cheese ravioli, and Mushroom Fettuccini Alfredo. Perhaps the best part of La Cucina, besides the decadent deserts, was the location at the very front of the ship on deck 14. We got an amazing sunset view, and a nice pic of my cutie patutie wife, JJ.