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NCL Epic

Michel and Noelle Britte of Salt Lake City took a 7-night cruise on the NCL Epic in early April 2011.  This cruise sailed round-trip from Miami.  The ports of call included: Miami, Philipsburg, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, Nassau, Bahamas

Pictured here is Noelle from their wakeview cabin number 8210.  The wakeview balcony cabin is one of the most popular options on any cruise. We asked Noelle for insights on this cruise.  See her tips below.


 

 

NCL Epic, Cruise Review & Photos

Compliments of Michel & Noelle Britte April 2011

Epic_2

Pictured here is Michel with NCL's newest, largest and most innovative cruise ship ever including exclusives like Blue Man Group appearing at sea for the first time, the Second City® comedy troupe in the Caribbean, a state-of-the-art fitness center, the Aqua Park, hot tubs, climbing and rappelling walls, bars and lounges of all kinds, a kid’s center, teen disco and more.

Dan's interview with Noelle about the cruise & her tips is outlined below.

Back of shipAdults only sun deckArt Gallery

Art outside TeppanyakiBalcony

Dan: Did you like the Epic?

Noelle: We loved the Epic. Since it was our first cruise, we didn't know what to expect and I think it would be hard to try another cruise line after experiencing the Epic.

Balcony StateroomBed 1Bathroom sink

Art outside restaurantBand

Before leaving MIABed 2

Dan: Any recommendations you would make to a good friend on this same cruise?

Noelle: See Blue Man Group for sure.  Try the specialty restaurants.  Pay for the soda option ($50) as soon as you board so you get your money's worth; they give you a mug that you can refill as often as you want!  If you want to sit at the pool or on the deck, there are hundreds of chairs, but they go fast, so you might do well to set your towel on one early in the morning.  Visit the bridge where you can see where the captain works.

Blue Man GroupCasinoDock
Bowling ally 2Bowling ally 1 Buffet seating areaCasino bar

Dan: Did you like NCL?

Noelle: We loved NCL. Again, not having taken a cruise prior to this, it's hard to compare.  When we first decided to go on a cruise, the port choices were more important to me than the cruise line or the ship.  Michel was more into what amenities were on the ship, so after investigating together and discovering what NCL had to offer, I was convinced that the ship was more important than the itinerary!    I discovered that you spend a lot of time on the ship, so it is wise to not only look for amenities that interest you, but to also get the type of room that you will feel most comfortable with.

Casino viewCrowds before being allowed in rooms DessertDocking 2

Dan: Would you cruise again?

Noelle: We thought this cruise might be once in a lifetime, however after this experience, we would really love to do it again and again.  We would like to give our kids that experience as well.  They want to see St. Maarten!  We are interested in trying Royal Caribbean for comparison.

Duirng the day, shops were set up thereEpic 1Epic 2 Eating at La CucinaElevators Epic 3Epic 4

Dan: Any surprises – good or bad?

Noelle: It may sound funny, but I just couldn't get over the beauty of the vast ocean, so clear and so blue! I was also surprised at the actual size of the ship and the fact that you could not possibly do or see everything during one cruise.  I wasn't sure I would enjoy cruising, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it and how much I keep looking back on that experience and how much I would like to go again.  We were also pleasantly surprised about the quality of food in the free restaurants and the buffet.  We thought we might only enjoy the food in one of the restaurants with a cover charge.

Fat Cats Jazz ClubEpic Theatre.LegendsGym Garden buffet 1Garden Buffet 2

Garden buffet 3Garden buffet 5 Hallway outside comedy clubHeadliners Comedy Club

Dan: What about the service - cabin, dining, general?

Noelle: The service is so superb, you almost feel guilty.  Every crew member greets you by saying hello and is more than willing to help and serve you.  We gave additional tip to housekeeping waiters who really went above and beyond.

Ice BarHallwayIce Cream

Headliners comedy showLe Bistro

Le Bistro French Restaurant entranceLe Bistro seating

Dan: What about ports?  Did you have favorite ports or port activities?

Noelle: We loved each port for different reasons.  St. Maarten we loved for the culture:  French on one side and Dutch on the other.  Since Michel and I both speak French, we enjoyed using the language.  We felt more of a connection there and thoroughly loved the atmosphere and scenery. We would like to include St. Maarten on all of our future cruises. St. Thomas had our favorite beach:  Magen's Bay.  The landscape and beach were beautiful and the water warm and calm. The views pulling into the port of St. Thomas were breathtaking and unforgettable. Nassau, Bahamas was beautiful as well.  A little harder to get around and being in the Atlantis hotel was like being in Vegas, not a beautiful island.  Nassau felt a little more commercial than the other ports, but I would never object to going back again!

LED chandelier above TasteLegendsManhattan Room Restaurant

Legends showNoodle Bar cooks

Dan: Your least favorite thing?

Noelle: There is hardly anything not to enjoy on the NCL Epic.  We decided to try the Noodle Bar one night and I ordered a dish that was so spicy (I like curry, but this was yellow curry), I couldn't take a second bite.  They allowed me to order an alternate dish and didn't charge me for the first one.

MusicianNoodle BarNoodle Bar Menu

Outside Cirque de DreamsO'Sheehan's Restaurants

Dan: How about onboard entertainment & activities?

Noelle: With a wide range of activities for a variety of interests, there is something for everyone.  We loved seeing the Blue Man Group and Second City comedy troupe.  I even attended a napkin folding class!  Sometimes it was just nice to sit on my balcony and watch the vast ocean that was so much more blue than I had imagined, or at night it was relaxing to sit and listen to the waves.

Outdoor movieOut to sea 1Out to sea 2

Pool area 1Pool area 2

Dan: Do you have other suggestions for the cruise?

Noelle: Take advantage of the classes and activities, but don't forget to be lazy and lounge in the sun or on your balcony to relax and recharge.

Pool area 3Pool area 4Soda mug

Pool area decorQ and A with crew

Rock Wall climbingShanghai's Chinese Restaurant

Dan: What do you think about gratuities for your service?

Noelle: NCL automatically charges you $12 per day in gratuities, which we found out before we left from past cruisers and from you, Dan. But we only saw it in the fine print on NCL's website. We found that to be very convenient so that we didn't have the pressure about how much to tip or carry cash around. We added an extra amount to our our very helpful housekeeping gal and to a couple of waiters who really went above and beyond.

Shower doorShowerStateroom number

Stateroom tvView from lounge chair

Stateroom sitting areaStateroom tv.coffeView off balcony to side

Dan: What was your favorite thing?

Noelle: My favorite thing about cruising on the NCL Epic was the freestyle format, allowing us to do what we wanted when we wanted, to eat what we wanted when we wanted with whom we wanted.  Food is available day and night.

the WakeTaste Restaurant view

TeppanyakiTeppanyaki entrance

Dan: Do you have any other thoughts or tips?

Noelle: We chose not to book any shore excursions through NCL, but we used their printed shore excursion suggestions and took our own taxis to the places listed.  That's just more our style and we felt it allowed us a bit more freedom to spend the time we wanted at each location and to explore on our own.  We added up the costs and discovered they were comparable..

View from La Cucina RestaurantTaste RestaurantWaterpark 1

Wii tourneyWaterpark 7

Waterpark 6Waterpark 5

Waterpark 4Waterpark 2

Waterpark 1Waterpark 3Epic 1

Dan: Did you do any research before the cruise that was helpful?

Noelle: We spent some time reading online reviews and watching You Tube videos that got me really excited.  The freestyle way of cruising also appealed to us.  We had read that some experienced cruisers didn't enjoy the freestyle method and wanted something more formal, so I suppose that is an individual choice..

View of BackWasabi Restaurant

View of shipView while leaving port

Dan: Any final thoughts?

Noelle: I guess some final thoughts would be:  We made some great memories on this trip. We saw beautiful parts of the world, experienced new cultures, did some great shopping, eating and relaxing.  We allowed ourselves to be spoiled and entertained by a fabulous crew and what the NCL Epic has to offer.  It's the easiest vacation ever:  throw a bathing suit or 2 along with a couple t shirts and shorts into your bag and the rest is taken care of. I could get used to that!

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Thanks Noelle & Michel!  Great photos, tips and insights on a fun cruise!  See you on your next cruise!