I have to say that, overall, NCL is my favorite cruise line.
The main reason is: Freestyle cruising. This feature is no longer "unique" to NCL but I like the variety of dining times and venues, relaxed, but not abolished, dress codes, decent cabins and great and diverse entertainment.
The overall cruise fares are on par with other mass market lines but you do need to budget $100 - $150 additional per person to truly experience the alternative dining.
It's interesting that my favorite cruise line has my least favorite ship. Epic left a bad taste in my mouth. The entertainment was great, the service wonderful, food EXCELLENT but the ship's look, design and cabins, left such a negative impression on me that I have no desire to sail on Epic again. I know it's a bit weird but it's just how I feel.
I REALLY looking forward to sailing on Breakaway. I think they took what's right with Epic and kept it and took away what was wrong with Epic and dumped it.
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I have only cruised NCL once, 2nd is coming up in December, but I really enjoyed the Freestyle concept as compared to my other cruises on Carnival and Princess. The food was excellent and the entertainment great. The staff was wonderful and actually seemed happy.
While every cruise line has their pluses and minuses, Norwegien really seemed to have it all together in my opinion.
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Carribean Princess 07
Carnival Valor 08
Carnival Holiday 08
Carnival Triumph 09
Island Princess 09
Carnival Miracle 10
Norwegian Pearl 11
Norwegian Sun Dec 13
Independence of the Seas Feb 14
Love NCL and have sailed 4 times since 2010 with 3 more booked in next 10 months. I find the staff to be the most genuinely friendly from the Captain right on down. Senior staff are very visible and make themselves available to those who attend the Meet and Greets with business cards handed out with direct phone numbers should a problem arise. Entertainment is throughout the ship, not just in the main theatre. Much better than any other line we've cruised IMO, especially the newest ships. The Freestyle atmosphere allows you to eat where and when and with whom you like. Yes, I know some of the other lines have "my time" or similar. Trust me, it is not the same. We have twice been in suites and the perks are great.
Next up is Epic, and looking forward to Blue Man Group and Cirque, Legends, Fat Cats Blues Club, Howl at the Moon. I can put up with an unusual cabin design for that. Then the Getaway and POA in 2014.
I am new to cruising, my first cruise was in the Haven on the Epic. Many reasons why we sailed on the Epic. I was always afraid of the typical, negative thoughts of cruising...Old people fighting in a buffet line, set times for dinner, screaming kids stuck on a ship...Not For Me! Then came NCL! From the ad's I saw, it was different. We stayed in the haven just in case we didn't like cruising. At least we could hide from everyone. NCL has shown me that cruising is the only way to vacation. From the first moment on the Epic we were treated like rock stars. All the staff knew our names, always with a hello and a smile. The suite was amazing...I know I have ruined my standard by staying in the best first. Over all the entertainment was more than we expected. The food was better than most restaurants on land. I am already booked on the Dawn and looking to book on the Getaway in 2015. I can see why some new customers do not want to sail on NCL. When researching our first cruise, we were put off by the size and "shape" of the rooms compared to other lines. And there is a lot of negative feed back online about this. But the good out weighed the bad. Now, I am a NCL Lifer!
I am ALWAYS happy to meet a new satisfied cruiser. By the way, you made a very good choice for your first cruise, the Haven on Epic is a very nice spot, and you were separated from the hoy palloy.
Epic has a lot of positive attributes, but it is a big and somewhat crowded ship. You made sure you could dine in the Haven's private restaurant (which I have tried and I love it).
THE ENTERTAINMENT ON EPIC MAY BE THE BEST AT SEA. I am partial to "Blue Man Group" however, it is one of my most favorite shows in the world. I actually started recommending it to cruise lines as far back as 1994.
I also think the "Legends at Sea" is one of the best shows I have seen on a cruise ship. I am not sure why they didn't extend it to other NCL ships, my guess is that it was too expensive, but it is good.
I am the editor, but I also speculate, ask questions and play devil's advocate. I reserve the right to change my mind.
Moderno Churrascaria on Dawn disappointed me compared to Epic's Moderno Churras
Moderno Churrascaria on Dawn disappointed me compared to Epic's Moderno Churrascaria. On the Epic the atmosphere, the decor and the location over the main dinining room and the band playing plus an elegant layout of the food spoiled me. I was disappointed with the lack of atmosphere of the Moderno Churrascaria being right over the main lobby. I still loved the cuisine and the service was outstanding on the Dawn, but I will go back on the Epic just to enjoy that specialty restaurant.