My husband and I just returned home from a 7-day Caribbean cruise out of Miami, sailing on the Norwegian Epic. This was our first experience with Norwegian and we had a great time! Here are 5 reasons we think you should choose the Epic for your next cruise vacation:
1. Freestyle Dining– Norwegian Cruise Line offers a fabulous alternative to the traditional set seating times you find on other cruise ships. It’s called Freestyle Dining, and it’s awesome. You can choose from seven restaurants that are complimentary with your cruise purchase, and go eat there any time you want. For example, you might want to eat early one evening so you can catch a show, and the next day dine later (after a fun day of snorkeling and an afternoon nap). Additionally, you can decide to sit at a large table with a group of people, or request a table for your group only. My husband and I enjoyed the flexibility to choose to sit with others for some of our meals (you meet the most interesting people on a cruise!), while other times we wanted to have an intimate table for two. The food in all of the complimentary restaurants was exceptional and the selection was great as well. This was probably my favorite feature of the Norwegian Epic, and NCL offers this on all of their ships.
2. Fabulous Food – You’d think this would go along with #1, right? There’s more! I already mentioned how great the food was in the restaurants, but I haven’t addressed the specialty dining on board. First of all, you have 2 options to take advantage of the specialty restaurants on the ship: either choose the upcharge for each individual restaurant you want to eat at (ranging from about $15-$30 pp), or you can opt to pay one fee to eat at any of the restaurants, as much as you want. This is called the Ultimate Dining Package, and I wish we had purchased it! We ended up choosing to eat at Moderno (their version of a Brazilian steakhouse) which was unbelievably amazing, and MORE than worth the upcharge in my opinion. I have paid double in the past at another popular Brazilian steakhouse with a much less impressive view. We heard from fellow cruisers that the other specialty restaurants all had similarly fantastic fare and great service. I want to go back on the ship just so I can eat at all the places I missed the first time!
3. Quality Entertainment – NCL boasts that they offer real Broadway shows on their ships, and it’s true! The Epic is home to Blue Man Group, Legends In Concert and Cirque Dreams and Dinner. The first 2 shows are included in the price of your cruise, while Cirque has a $30-$40 pp upcharge depending on the seats you choose. Paying the upcharge for Cirque is not only worth it, but a must in my opinion. Depending on your seat, you are just a few inches from the acrobatics! Admittedly the food during Cirque was not as good as other restaurants on the ship, but the show is so mind blowing that it more than makes up for the boring steak and microscopic dessert. I have seen several Cirque shows in different venues, and this ranks up near the top for me. Blue Man Group and Legends were also excellent, entertaining shows. The Epic also has great clubs and bars, like the SVEDKA Ice Bar (the only ice bar at sea) and the Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club. We enjoyed both during our week-long stay.
4. Unbelievable Fitness Center – My husband and I like to eat when we cruise, so we make sure we always take advantage of the fitness facilities on the ship to burn off those extra calories. The one on the Epic is the best and largest I have seen (over 8,000 square feet), and offers excellent classes. Hubby was really impressed with the layout in particular; the equipment was set up facing outward towards the side of the ship (with an excellent panoramic view of the ocean), so that any swaying of the ship didn’t have him rocking from side to side on the treadmill (no gripping the handles for fear of losing his balance). That may seem like a small thing, but whoever designed the layout of the gym either really paid attention or got really lucky. Either way, it’s another win for the Epic!
5. Low Entry Cost – Although there are plenty of ways you can get lured into spending money on the ship, the actual per-person prices for staterooms are some of the lowest I’ve seen. At the time we booked our cruise (only a few weeks from the sail date), we saw interior staterooms at an 87% discount; around $319 pp for a 7-day Caribbean cruise! Norwegian was also offering a “kids sail free” discount at the same time, meaning a family of 4 could feasibly take a week long vacation for less than just the cost of a decent hotel room for the same amount of time. And you don’t sacrifice service or quality for these bargain prices. Keep it up, NCL! You rock!
6. Coconut Ice Cream – (I know I said 5 reasons, but I had to add one more.) If the other reasons aren’t enough to get you on the Epic, then this one should tip you over the edge. All the food in the Garden Café (buffet) was excellent, but I made a daily trip to the ice cream bar after lunch to get two scoops of creamy coconut yumminess with real flakes of coconut. And they will give you AS MANY SCOOPS AS YOU WANT. I’m guessing lots of people got more than two per visit, because that was the only flavor they actually ran out of towards the end of the cruise. Now that I think about it, that would probably be my main complaint. Hey NCL, stock up on extra coconut ice cream before my next cruise! Thank you!
No matter your budget or lifestyle, the Epic has something that everyone will love. Whether you cruise for the great food, awesome shows or tropical destinations, this is the ship for you! Book with Norwegian and head down to Miami to start your Epic experience.
The Norwegian Epic sails out of Miami and offers 7-day Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises during the winter months. She spends her summers in the Mediterranean, sailing out of Barcelona, Spain.