Old May 9th, 2015, 07:14 PM
eroller eroller is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
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Arrow EPIC Transatlantic Crossing - Review & Pics!

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I'm recently back from an 11-day transatlantic crossing on NORWEGIAN EPIC. We departed Miami on April 19th with one stop in Funchal and disembarked in Barcelona on April 30th.

Sailing on EPIC was something I never thought I would do. I visited the ship in Miami one afternoon when she was brand new and I didn't care for the ship at all. In fact I canceled a future cruise I had booked on her. I felt the ship was too closed-in and dark feeling, more like a Vegas casino than a Caribbean cruise ship. Some of my initial observations proved true, but overall I really enjoyed EPIC and would certainly sail on her again.

In January I sailed on NORWEGIAN GETAWAY and absolutely loved the ship and experience, so this would be my benchmark for EPIC. Overall I definitely preferred GETAWAY but there were some aspects that were superior on EPIC. I'll start with those. The outdoor deck space by the pools and the pools themselves are much better designed and more spacious on EPIC. The same goes for the fitness center on EPIC which is one of the best I've experienced on any ship. The spa as well is gorgeous but so is the one on GETAWAY. EPIC has a wonderful outdoor seating area of the buffet called The Great Outdoors. GETAWAY lacks this feature. Although I was not staying in The Haven, having toured it on both GETAWAY & EPIC it's superior on EPIC. The restaurant and lounge are larger with better views, and the pool is larger and better equipped as well. Lastly EPIC has a larger and nicer Bliss nightclub. The one on GETAWAY almost seems like an afterthought. Food and service were equal on both ships, and I found it to be excellent especially in the complimentary restaurants. Maybe my expectations were low, but at every meal I was impressed with the quality of the cuisine, presentation, and service. The speciality restaurants were also good, but they didn't blow me away like they do on some cruise lines. The Garden Cafe buffet restaurant was well laid out with great choices, and I'm impressed that NCL offers hand scooped ice cream with toppings! I love NCL's pretzel bread as well. Needless to say you won't go hungry! Entertainment was good on EPIC, but better on GETAWAY. Blue Man group had left EPIC by my sailing, and in its place was Burn the Floor. I very much enjoyed it, but the production was better on GETAWAY. The shows were not identical which surprised me. I also enjoyed Cirque Dreams in the Spiegel Tent one night, but again felt the Illusionarium show was better on GETAWAY. The main thing I found lacking on EPIC is The Waterfront. This is the outdoor promenade on GETAWAY loaded with restaurants, lounge areas, and bars all with incredible sea views. EPIC's main indoor venues seem very closed-in and most lack windows to the sea. Why you would design areas like the casino and internet cafe with the best sea views when they don't need them is beyond me. Instead I would have rather seen Shaker's Martini Bar and Malting's Bar & Lounge in those areas. Overall GETAWAY just felt brighter, more spacious, and fitted-out to a higher standard than EPIC. Even the elevator foyers are nice and open on GETAWAY, where as on EPIC they are divided up and closed-off feeling. Neither EPIC or GETAWAY provide the WOW factor that say the new ships of Royal Caribbean or Celebrity do, but they are very comfortable and offer a lot of options. I actually preferred GETAWAY over Royal Caribbean's newest ship, QUANTUM OF THE SEAS. No one was more surprised by this than me. I would choose QUANTUM over EPIC though.

My cabin was 11002, the most forward inside cabin on Deck 11. It turned out to be a great location and very quiet since there was little foot traffic up there. The Studio cabins were sold out so I occupied this standard inside cabin at the same rate as a Studio. I was well taken care of by my cabin steward and quite liked the cabin with a couple exceptions. The first being the lighting. I've never been in such a dark cabin before. Even with every light illuminated it was dark. How women would ever apply make-up in one of these cabins is beyond me. I would often open the closet doors as the lighting from there provided some minimal additional illumination, but not much. The other puzzling design feature is the sink. So tiny that it looks like it belongs on an RV. By far the smallest and least practical sink of any ship I've sailed. I didn't mind the shower and toilet set up, but I might were I sharing the cabin with someone. Otherwise the cabin was extremely comfortable, well laid out, functional, and spotless.

The weather was great on this crossing, and while afternoon temperatures could be cool it didn't stop many from working on their tans. Our single port of Funchal was a pleasure as always and after 8 days at sea I think the crew and most passengers were happy to see land. A couple more very pleasant sea days and we were in Barcelona.

Overall this was one of my all time favorite cruises. The combination of sea days, great weather, wonderful food & service, a very pleasant ship, and fantastic fellow passengers all contributed to a fantastic vacation! Even though EPIC has some downfalls, the ship provided an excellent experience and I enjoyed my time spent on her. I met a great group of new friends onboard and got reacquainted with some previous ones as well. There was a large LGBT group on this sailing and NCL did an awesome job accommodating us. We organized a few of our own activities and NCL supported those with flying colors. It's one reason I've been so keen on NCL lately, because I've been extremely impressed with their treatment of the LGBT community onboard. That goes a long way in creating loyalty in my book even with some of the absurd changes NCL has recently announced. I'm happy to say that on this cruise at least, room service was still free and there were no issues with bringing food back to your cabin. Drink prices also seemed the same as they were in January but I have noticed them creeping up (this is true on every line). I'm Platinum with NCL so I enjoyed dinner for two in a speciality restaurant along with a bottle of wine. Le Bistro was fully booked so I opted for Moderno. The chocolate covered strawberries were nice too. I didn't take advantage of the free laundry as I brought enough clothes to last the entire voyage.

In closing I will say I've only recently rediscovered cruising on NCL. Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, and Disney have been getting the lions share of my business. After my GETAWAY cruise in January I was so impressed with NCL that booked a cruise on the PEARL and then this cruise on EPIC. All three were wonderful and I have to credit the former management team headed by Kevin Sheehan with NCL's turnaround. Now NCL is under new management and they seem to be implementing multiple policies which are not customer friendly in an attempt to increase revenue. I'm not ready to jump ship just yet and look forward to sailing on the new ESCAPE, but I'll be watching closely and won't hesitate to take my dollars elsewhere if these new policies (and those not yet introduced) negatively impact the experience too greatly. Hopefully they won't.

Enjoy the pics and let me know if you have any questions.

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Old May 9th, 2015, 07:43 PM
eroller eroller is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
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Old May 29th, 2015, 12:03 PM
Travelbuggs Travelbuggs is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 410

Thanks for the review. Have never done a trans Atlantic, but it's on the bucket list! I agree the Breakaway class is better in many regards but somehow the interior of the Epic seemed more spacious to me. Maybe because it spread out across the space that is now the Waterfront areas on the new ships. And that coverd aft facing deck inside the Spa's Thermal Suites area, I absolutely loved. Too bad they did not incorporate this into the Spa design on the new ships. I was disappointed in this area on the Getaway after experiencing it on the Epic.
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