Norwegian Epic Cruise Review
03/04/2017 – 03/08/2017
In a class all its own, the Norwegian Epic is undoubtedly one of a kind. With a unique design that blends elements of some of NCL’s smaller ships as well as forward-looking features that would become part of the more recent Breakaway class, NCL Epic was an experimental ship. Norwegian Epic includes the line’s first Spice H20, the first Haven for the brand, and several signature restaurants and entertainment including Howl at the Moon and an exclusive Beatles cover band. The Princess and I tested out the vessel on a short four-day Bahamas cruise that was occurring during one of the weeks of Spring Break. For a four night cruise, the ship was packed with plenty of food, entertainment, and a variety of things to do.
Typically, NCL Epic sails a seven-night Caribbean cruise during the winter months. However, during a two week stretch in March, the ship offered three and four day Bahamas cruises. The hotel director admitted that this was to provide more cruise options for Spring Break travelers. This four-day route was supposed to include a stop at the cruise line’s private island of Great Stirrup Cay, along with a stop in Nassau, Bahamas. Given the rough seas, our original schedule was jettisoned. Luckily, we were able to stop in Nassau on the last day of the cruise for those who were eager to set foot on land. While the waters were unsettled, the weather was mostly sunny and warm (at least by the afternoon), allowing us to enjoy the extra sea day.
While mostly older ships offer four-day cruises, the chance to do this itinerary on one of NCL’s largest ships meant we had plenty to do and see once onboard. We both agreed that the entertainment onboard was some of the best that we have seen on a cruise. The Epic Beatles show set the stage for four full nights of main theater spectacles from Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Burn the Floor, to sing-a-longs with the dueling pianos at Howl at the Moon and the rock band Siglo in the Cavern Club. The Cirque Dreams Epicurean performances in the Spiegel Tent added even more great entertainment options. This lineup would be impressive on a week-long cruise, never mind a four-night trip. Even if you are not usually one who usually attends the cruise ship entertainment, you should not miss the shows on NCL Epic.
With (a reported) 1500+ Spring Break college students onboard the ship, it felt very crowded, especially in the lounges and bars. Even with the staff working diligently, long queues tended to be the norm in these popular hangouts. Where NCL Epic falters is crowd control. With no central staircase, cruisers seemed to be funneled into certain areas. With the sheer number of people and overworked staff, the service felt somewhat robotic. While we did have some stand out service with our waiter Ronnie in the Epic Lounge, it felt like the ship could have used more support staff in particular venues during peak times.
If you have cruised on any of NCL’s other mega ships, the Norwegian Epic will feel familiar to you. While the layout takes a bit of time to adjust to during the trip, the ship offers so many different options that you will never get bored. For the familiar freestyle cruiser, the line’s signature restaurants are all on par with our past experiences. As usual, we made all our reservations in advance so we never had any issues with wait times. The entertainment as mentioned above will keep you going all day long. If you can afford the investment, we would recommend the Haven, which offers some exclusive amenities including a fabulous restaurant (the Epic Lounge) and access to the Posh Beach Club with perfect tanning conditions and a bar that never gets busy. The cruise is a great bargain for those who are familiar with Norwegian Cruise Line and want to take advantage of a large ship. You can regularly find cruises on NCL Epic in the Caribbean, with a drink package, for rates around $800-$900 in both the Eastern and Western Caribbean. This is an exceptional deal if you are looking for a winter hiatus.
Continue Reading Our Day-by-Day Norwegian Epic Cruise Review
Day 1 – Norwegian Epic Cruise Review
Given the predicted bad weather in New England, we made the last minute, yet wise, decision to fly down to Florida a day ahead of schedule. Good thing we did, as our original flight was cancelled! Having an extra day in sunny Florida, we spent Friday doing some work and touring Disney Springs.
We awoke around 7am for our embarkation day. While the Princess prepared for the morning, I went for a jog around Disney Springs and grabbed us some Starbucks just as the coffee shop was opening for the day.
Fueled up, we were out of the hotel by 9:15 am, with our Uber driver arriving moments after requesting the ride. The hour drive to Port Canaveral was uneventful as we hit no traffic and went from the hotel to the passenger drop off in exactly 60 minutes. Most passengers were still unloading from the previous cruise, so we were able to quickly check our two bags with the porters.
Following the signs to the check-in, we breezed through security and were in the waiting area within fifteen minutes. Our friends at NCL social media were kind enough to give us VIP credentials, allowing us to board with the Haven Suites. Later, we learned we also had access to other public areas of this “ship within a ship” concept. Being among the first group on board around 11:15 am, we were greeted by the Hotel Director’s assistant, who gave us a personalized tour of the ship until about 12 pm.
Of course, our embarkation ritual is to tour the ship taking pictures as soon as we board. So, after getting the personalized tour of most of the indoor public areas, we set out to explore the rest of the ship on our own for an additional 90 minutes. Norwegian Epic is a beautiful ship, but it does take some time to get accustomed to the ship’s layout. While we might have made a few wrong turns during our initial explorations, we quickly learned the best means of navigating the public areas.
We scored a great deal on this atypical four-night Bahamas cruise, but it also meant that our fellow cruisers (many Spring Breakers) were a bit more rowdy. While the crowd composition did not bother us, it did mean that all of the bars onboard were always packed. The bar staff worked overtime to serve every thirsty guest, mostly on the Ultimate Beverage Package.
By 1:15 pm, it was time to grab a bite to eat. Avoiding the Garden Café, we headed to the also rather busy O’Sheehan’s Pub. This complimentary pub is one of our go-to venues on NCL ships. We find it to be an excellent alternative to the buffet. Grabbing a few snacks and our first official drinks of the cruise, it was slightly after 2 pm when the announcement was made that staterooms were ready.
Two o’clock seemed a bit late, but we finally made it to our cabin on Deck 8, room 8149. To secure four free perks for this sailing, we had to book a balcony room. Reserving our first ever “guaranteed room”, we somehow managed to get a mid-ship cabin on the Starboard side.
NCL Epic has unique room designs (see our upcoming cabin review for more details), which we found to have some pros and cons. Walking from the front of the ship towards our room, we stumbled upon our two suitcases in the hallway and quickly snagged them up. After taking a few pictures of the room, we unpacked our bags and were ready to get our vacation underway by just after 3 pm. What better way to start your Bahamas cruise than with some sun and more cocktails?
Only problem, the weather was quite windy and cool. While we did find two lounge chairs in Spice H20, there was a sea of people also trying to grab drinks at the bar. Creeping through the line, I was back to our chairs with our first official “drink around the ship” beverages.
During this time, we both checked in with family back home to get updates on the effects of the Nor’easter. With muster at 4 pm approaching, we started down to Deck 6 to our assigned meeting point. The drill took a bit longer than usual, but it was finally wrapped up by 4:30 pm.
As usual, we had plans for an early dinner. For our first night, we made a reservation for 6 pm at Shanghai. I watched our sail away from Port Canaveral from our balcony. At least I was able to toast the send off with the complimentary bottle of champagne courtesy of the NCL loyalty program.
We changed up and were down to dinner for a few minutes after 6 pm. There, we were greeted by the hotel director who wanted to welcome us onboard. I guess it pays to have connections! His assistant was also there to give us our passes to the Haven public areas, as well as help us with some last minute reservation changes to accommodate the comedy shows.
We both thoroughly enjoyed the food at Shanghai, similar to our experience at Norwegian Getaway’s Noodle Bar. The appetizers were similar to a high-quality Chinese restaurant on land, and the entrees were hot and made to order. The restaurant was steady, but not overly busy. We were informed that you are now able to make reservations to the restaurant but only once onboard the ship.
Dinner took a little over an hour, so we were out by 7:15 pm. Our first stop of the evening was the 7:45 pm Epic Beatles show in the main theater. On the way over, we stopped by the Princess’ favorite slot machine.
Strolling into the theater by 7:40 pm, there were still plenty of empty seats. We grabbed some aisle seats, similar to our usual main theater seating arrangement. Yes, we are creatures of habit. Before the show started, I grabbed us two more drinks at the bar.
Tonight’s show was Epic Beatles. The Beatles tribute band also plays in the Cavern Club on select nights. The first night of every cruise consists of a welcome aboard show with this act. Before the approximately 30 minute set, the cruise director and his staff did the usual introductions.
The tribute band was good, and the show wrapped up by 8:50 pm. With our busy schedule, the hotel director’s assistant met us outside the main theater and escorted us to the Spiegel Tent to get us front row seats to the 9:30 pm showing of Cirque Dreams Epicurean.
The Cirque show is an upcharge, which includes a three-course meal and a traditional European Circus production show. The total run time with dinner and the show is about 90 minutes. The show was phenomenal. With the intimate setting, the performers are just feet away from the audience. The fast-paced production included several themed acrobats, strength acts, jugglers, and other comedic elements, as well as audience participation. We would highly recommend the show but suggest you grab something to eat beforehand as the prix-fixe menu is nothing to write home about.
Having an already fun-filled night, we strolled across the hallway to see if there were any seats at Howl the Moon in the Headliners club next door. To our surprise, people were dancing on the stage which is something you usually don’t see at a dueling pianos bar. All three entertainers kept the crowd engaged for the hour or so that we were there.
As it approached midnight, the venue was starting to thin out, so we called it a night as well, returning to our cabin to find our first (of many) towel animals of the trip.
Day 2 – Norwegian Epic Cruise Review
Our first port was a scheduled stop at Norwegian’s private island of Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. The call was from 8 am to 6 pm. With an early port of call, the alarm was set for 6 in the morning. The view from the balcony indicated some whitecaps, but the seas did not appear overly rough. With the Cafe Atrium opening at 7 am, I left a few minutes early to snap some additional pictures of the vacant inside public areas.
To my surprise, there were already a few cruisers getting their morning cocktails at the Atrium Bar but only one other coffee fanatic in line to get some morning java. Unfortunately, the Ultimate Beverage Package does not include specialty coffees, so you do need to pay for espresso.
Back with the lattes, we got dressed in our beach attire and made our way up to the buffet at 7:15 am. The crowds were sparse in the Garden Cafe, so we quickly found a seat. Breakfast selections were plentiful, and we both found more than enough to fill our plates. Finishing up our meal, we headed outside to see if we could score some additional photos of the island before disembarkation. It was was chilly and windy- not good signs for us to tender.
During our photo stop, we noticed Majesty of the Seas floating outside that line’s private island of CocoCay, Bahamas. This ship was also waiting for sea conditions to improve before it could tender. While we have heard many stories about people missing these islands, we hadn’t had any issues tendering at either island in the past.
As 8 am approached, we could see the waves crashing on the shore of Great Stirrup Cay. It was at this time that Majesty of the Seas began to turn around and pull away. With that smaller ship not attempting to tender, it was pretty clear that we would not be making our way on to the island either. Almost on cue, the captain announced that the swells were too high, and the tender boats could not safely leave the cove at Great Stirrup Cay. We were going to have to pass the island and add an extra day at sea.
With no beach and little sun, we returned to our cabin around 8:30 am for a quick costume change and to await the updated Freestyle Daily to figure out what we were going to do with this new sea day. As we waited to hear about the new activities for the day, we continued our ship tour. One pleasant surprise is the Bridge View on Deck 13 forward. Here, you get a glimpse of what is happening live in the Bridge.
With the ship at sea and the shops open, we took advantage of this downtime to get our traditional cruise ship ornament. Yes, we make sure to get one from every trip we take. Also, I usually opt for a cruise t-shirt, but the selection was somewhat skimpy, so I passed on one.
As the ship headed further south, the weather got warmer and sunnier. Using our VIP privileges provided by NCL, we decided to try out the Posh Beach Club on Deck 18. While it was a bit windy, the club was rather empty. This spot ended up becoming our go-to place to relax in the sun and grab a drink. There were usually open lounge chairs and beds as well as a staffed bar and wait service. While the Posh Beach Club is for Haven Guests, there are a limited number of passes that cruisers can purchase. We would recommend you invest if you want some space to unwind away from the crowded pool deck.
As the morning progressed, the weather got increasingly warmer and less windy. We snagged our first frozen drinks of the cruise as we enjoyed the sun until about 12:30pm. Given that we were already in the Haven area, the Princess suggested grabbing lunch at the Epic Lounge. This restaurant is exclusively for Haven guests, serving meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As guests of the Hotel Director, we were given access to this restaurant as well. So, of course, we made it a point to test out the venue.
Getting to the restaurant around 12:45 pm, lunch lasted an hour. Lunch here was far superior to the typical sit-down alternative found in the main dining room. Our appetizers were cooked to order, with my seafood starter fresh and the size of an entree. I opted for the recommended salmon burger for my meal, which was a giant piece of well-seasoned salmon on a soft pretzel roll.
Waddling out of lunch a little before 2 pm, we took a few pictures of the public areas of the Haven and spoke to the concierge, who we had met on embarkation day. The updated itinerary for this unexpected sea day had several venues opening up at 2 pm, so we continued our drink around the ship with cocktails at the Malting’s Whiskey Bar. I went with a Hennessy Fizz, and the Princess tested out the Getaway.
Relaxing in the over-sized chairs that are part of the small seating area next to the bar, we checked some social media and went through some of our blogging checklists. As the venue began to get busier, it was time to head back to the room to do some more work. At least the cabin had a balcony, so I was more agreeable to work.
Mainly, we were waiting for 4 pm as that was the scheduled time for the other specialty lounge, Shakers Martini Bar, to open. Walking down the one deck to this location, it was actually “closed” for a martini tasting class. To my surprise, the class was pretty full with people paying the additional charge for this event. Determined to get another lounge crossed off the list, we took the escalator down to Deck 5 to snag beverages at the Atrium Bar. Crowded like all the other bars, the Princess grabbed a seat while I waited for our drinks. While down here, we stopped at the Shore Excursion Desk to ask about our shore excursion credit, as well as watched part of a dance class.
We took the rest of our drinks back to the room to get ready for dinner. We had reservations at Cagney’s Steakhouse at 6:30 pm. This is our usual “early” seating time that we almost always reserve pre-cruise. Given our rather lazy day at sea, we were ready for dinner early. Surprisingly, this venue was not too busy, and we were seated almost immediately after swiping our cards.
Cagney’s is one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s signature restaurants. Given our recent spurt of NCL cruises, we have eaten dinner at this restaurant on several ships in the last few years. This experience would rank in the middle with prompt service and on par food. But, to my dismay, the tomahawk steak was no longer on the menu.
Our evening schedule consisted of Burn the Floor at 9:30 pm and the Comedy Show at 11 pm. Our Cagney’s dinner was completed early which gave us some time to walk around the ship. We found ourselves strolling into Bliss Ultra Lounge around 8 pm as karaoke was starting. Locating a seat and a server, we listened to several of the performances for about an hour, collecting an additional “drink around the ship” badge and experiencing the good (and not so good) line of fellow cruisers singing songs from Johnny Cash, Sir Mix A Lot, and Smashmouth.
To ensure we had seats for the 9:30 pm Burn the Floor show, we left the lounge at 9 pm. Before showtime, I ran up to get myself a drink and then we settled in for a great dance ensemble performance. “The Rebellion in the Ballroom” show featured several different takes on classic dance styles with modern twists set to an electronic rock soundtrack that featured live guitar music and two strong vocal performers. Both of us agreed that this performance was more lively than the Burn the Floor production on Norwegian Getaway.
The show ended promptly at 10:30 pm, and we only had to walk a few feet down the hallway to the next venue, Headliner’s comedy club. As we exited the theater, there was a massive line of individuals waiting to get in to the place. I asked a staff member who confirmed that was the standby line. Since we had reservations, we bypassed the queue and entered a seemingly empty club. We suspect NCL purposely limits the number of reserved spots as the place was barely half full when the standby line was let in about 5 minutes before showtime.
The headliner this evening was Julie Barr, who was just okay. The audience was not really working well with her. She would have been better off just sticking to her material instead of trying to engage the audience. Following the 50-minute show, it was approaching midnight and past our bedtime!
We returned to our room to yet another towel animal. This room attendant was going all out with these creations, even if he was recycling the towels to make them. We confirmed our plans for tomorrow’s call into Nasaau, Bahamas and were again setting a rather early alarm.
Day 3 – Norwegian Epic Cruise Review
Another 7 am alarm had us up and out of bed to some unsettled weather. With more movement than the previous morning, we started to question whether we would be able to dock by 8 am. From our balcony, we could make out a Carnival ship and Allure of the Seas also seemingly waiting to make an approach into the Nassau, Bahamas’ dock.
Watching the other ships try to position themselves for a slow approach into the cove, we witnessed both of the vessels head away from port. As the waves crashed into the side of the jetty and coast, it was not shocking when the captain came on the overhead system announcing, yet again, that the ocean conditions were making docking prohibitive. Yes, we would get another sea day. Although, NCL had secured dock space for the next day, so we would plan a 7 am to 4 pm stop on the island.
We were scheduled to work with a local tour provider on the island, Tru Bahamian Food Tours. We messaged our contact to let her know the change of plans and tried to reschedule the tour and promotion for the following day. Unfortunately, we never heard back from the company and missed out on the opportunity to try this local tour.
Now that we had no schedule, we prepared for another sea day by garnering our beach attire. Down to the Cafe Atrium for lattes, we made it up to the Epic Lounge for sit down breakfast before 9:30 am, the posted closing time. We were not alone which meant we had to wait a few minutes before being seated.
Breakfast was fantastic as expected, especially the almond croissants. What do they make these out of as they are just irresistible?!? Our server Ronnie was equally amazing. Funny, attentive, and full of energy- this was the type of service we expected in a dining room on a cruise ship.
Finishing up our breakfast, we were able to claim two loungers in the Posh Beach Club by 11 am. Below, we could see the pool deck was already overflowing with cruisers in the pools and bars, so we were thankful for our remote location. The weather was not the greatest but improved as the morning turned into the afternoon. As we spent the next two hours in the sun, we checked social media and compiled our list of things we had to make sure we completed the remainder of today and tomorrow. Sadly, on a four-day cruise, we were nearing the halfway point of the trip.
Not that we needed any food, but we figured we would check out the lunch buffet around 1 pm. The fare looked standard for a cruise ship buffet. Selections in the outdoor cafe were limited to mostly hamburgers and hot dogs, with a few other salads and fries. Inside, the entree selections were a bit more diverse. We tested out a few bites just to say we sampled the buffet.
Given the motion of the ship, the waterslides were not running, so we decided to head back to Posh Beach Club as the weather was getting noticeably sunnier and warmer.
The Princess had enough for the day by 3 pm. We grabbed drinks at O’Sheehan’s for our “official” drink here as part of our cruise ship pub crawl. The bar was busy with other travelers enjoying some of the games and watching the activities below in the Atrium.
Honestly, we were just trying to kill some time before 4 pm, when Shakers Martini bar was officially set to open. The Princess was deprived of drinks here the previous day; thus, she was not going to miss out again this afternoon. We walked back up toward Deck 7, stopping by to deposit some cash into the Princess’ favorite slot machine. The lounge was officially open when we arrived, and we were not alone either as there were already people eager to grab one of these craft cocktails.
We started with a rum cake and lavender patch martini, followed by an espresso and basil cucumber martini. Even though it was the middle of the day, the “dessert” drinks were great. The espresso martini is an upcharge, but the Princess likened it to her mid-day latte at the Cafe Atrium. Hey, whatever you need to do to justify drinking is fine with me.
Originally, we had reservations to eat at the Brazilian steakhouse Moderno this evening, but we opted to test out the Epic Lounge in the Haven instead. I called to cancel our reservation then showered and changed up for dinner. When we checked in around 630pm, we requested to be seated in Ronnie’s section. The restaurant was rather quiet, so we got a beautiful table for two with a view. Our friend from this morning was quick to come by to say “hello” and offer us some “alcohol”. This was his go-to saying.
Getting drinks and ordering our starters and entrees, dinner was rather uneventful until a party of 10-12 people came in for a wedding. Still, the dining room was rather empty.
Again, the food was excellent. The wife’s chicken was the best she had all cruise. My lamb chops were equally delicious. Perhaps it was the conversations with Ronnie or the extra large pours of wine, but dinner did take longer than the other two nights. This time, the meal lasted a complete 90 minutes, which is what we are used to in the main dining room.
Exiting around 8 pm, we thanked Ronnie with some extra gratuity and headed down to the Cavern Club. We were able to catch a few songs from the popular band Siglo, while also getting a few daydreamer daiquiris. We struck up a conversation with a couple who was on their first cruise, and it was interesting to get their perspective on the ship and the experience so far. The conversation and music flew by.
We left our empty glasses behind to make a b-line to the main theater for this evening’s production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. The show was for 10 pm, so the Princess had a few minutes to win (I mean, lose) more money at her favorite slot machine. After all, we had to walk right by it to go from the Cavern Club to the theater.
We got seats slightly more to the left of the stage than normal so we could try to be discrete about taking pictures. For some reason, the staff were very strict about taking any kind of photography during the shows. Not exactly the type of production show you would expect to find on a cruise ship (intended for mature audiences), but Priscilla contained some very talented performers, elaborate staging and costumes, and plenty of 70’s and 80’s dance music. It is a complete 90-minute production, so we were not out of the theater until 11:30 pm.
Even though the Glow Party had been going for a full hour by the time we arrived, we were glad to see there was still a sizable crowd in Spice H20. We took position on one of the raised levels to enjoy the show for about 30 minutes with a mix of bad dancing and photos.
It was not the ideal weather, so we left around midnight and made it to Shakers for last call! Retreating to the cabin around 12:30 am, we were greeted by yet another new furry friend claiming our bed.
Day 4 – Norwegian Epic Cruise Review
The ship was moving quite a bit when we awoke again this morning around 6:30 am. We were hovering again outside of the Nassau, Bahamas cove. This time, it appeared that we were closer to the port than the previous morning. There were no other ships in our sight line, suggesting that NCL Epic would be the first vessel to attempt to dock. The waves felt similar to the day before, which made us question whether we would dock, but as the morning progressed, the ocean appeared to get calmer. So, while we were about an hour behind schedule, the ship was finally able to pull-up to the pier by 8 am.
As I watched the ship maneuver into port, the Princess was in full morning routine mode. As I left the balcony, there was a Royal Caribbean ship making the same approach. We would later learn it was Enchantment of the Seas and that we would be the only two ships in port for this Tuesday.
Agreeing we would skip breakfast in the MDR this cruise, we returned one last time to the Epic Lounge. Here, we enjoyed a rather low key breakfast. Our plans for the morning were to take a walk around downtown and get a few new pictures of the port, as well as check out Junkanoo Beach. So, we were in no immediate rush to get off the ship.
Taking our time at breakfast, we made a pit stop at our room to grab our bags and were off the ship by 10 am. The disembarkation was smooth, and we were able to get a few pictures of the ship. Not too bad for a usually busy cruise port.
Heading out of the terminal, we walked around the area of Bay Street and a quick pass through the straw market. I would later grab a t-shirt at one of the souvenir shops along the way, as one can never have too many cruise shirts. Following the path of other cruisers, we finally made it to Junkanoo to see the beach in tough shape due to the recent weather. There were lots of rocks and seaweed with very little beach front making it virtually impossible for a beach day.
After taking a selfie or two in front of the beach, the Princess was ready to return to the ship. On the stroll back, we stopped for a Starbucks coffee and iced tea. Once done with our beverages, we made it through security and were back on the ship around 12:30 pm. We spent a solid two hours on the island.
Now that most people were off the ship, we made a costume change into our beach attire and then proceeded up to the largely vacant decks to see if we could get seats at Spice H20 to change up the scenery. There were still a number of seats available in ideal spots. The sun was quite hot now. Enjoying the sun, a snack, and a couple of frozen drinks, we remained in the heat for about 90 minutes until the Princess had enough.
I was still ready for sun, so she suggested testing out the waterslides, while she relaxed in the shade. Sure, because it is perfectly acceptable for a 37 year old man to stand in line next to kids to ride a waterslide, right? In the name of blog research, I tested out every slide and was most impressed with the “green slide”. Although, the bowl slide (which utilizes a tube) was also an enjoyable ride. The onboard waterslides have come a long way since I got stuck on a Carnival slide over 15 years ago!
By now, it was approaching 3:30 pm, so it was time to get some coffees as we had a long night ahead of us. Back to the room to check email and do some social media, I left the Princess to grab some pictures of the sail away around 5 pm. Several other photo buffs were also making the rounds back and forth to get shots of surrounding scenery as we slowly pulled away from the port heading back to Port Canaveral, FL.
I was back with some snazzy pictures and jumped in the shower to get ready for our 6:30pm reservation at La Cucina. This restaurant is oddly located on Deck 14 aft, with the only entrance to the restaurant located in the Garden Cafe. So, as we walked by the dinner buffet which was “grille night”, I couldn’t help but take some pictures. The food actually looked the best of all the buffet displays I saw throughout the cruise.
Dinner at La Cucina was just average. The appetizers were good, but I was disappointed in my pasta entree. The veal and chicken entrees were warm but nothing really wowed us. The waiter was nice, but service was sort of slow. Exiting through the buffet, we dropped off our camera in the room in prep for our next endeavor, the Ice Bar.
This time around, we had to get in line and wait about 15 minutes to enter the venue. On our last visit to the Ice Bar on NCL Getaway, there were fewer additional passengers willing to brave the cold. The more lively crowd and bartender kept us in the venue much longer than our previous visit, spending close to 30 minutes interacting and drinking, even though all of the drinks we sampled tasted essentially the same…like straight vodka.
This extra time in the bar meant we were only able to catch the last song by Siglo in the Cavern Club. With the venue soon emptying out, we trekked over to the busy martini bar around 10pm. As the piano music played in the background, the bar became increasingly busy with college students. By 10:30pm, we decided to get two more cocktails to take with us to the last scheduled show of the cruise- late night comedy with Steven Smith.
The show tonight was rather inundated with spring break students, and the comedian was much more attuned to the audience delivering a funny and on point performance when compared to the previous comedian. The show ended around 11:45 pm, giving us an excuse to check out the end of the Awesome 80’s deck party. This time, the party was not as hopping as the Glow party. As the wind and fatigue set in, the Princess could only stand so much of my awesome dance moves. We were back in our room by slightly after midnight to be greeted by one last towel animal of the cruise.
Up relatively late the night before, our 5:30am alarm came way too soon. Over the last few days, we had been following a pending storm hitting our region. So, our morning started on a somewhat sour note with a message from Southwest that our flight home was cancelled. Now what were we going to do?
While the airline is flexible in situations like this, there were not many flight options left for rescheduling. Couple this disappointing news with a slight hangover and a rough cruise into Port Canaveral, both of us were starting to feel a bit under the weather. Jumping on the internet, the only return flight option was a direct flight home departing at 11am. Not an ideal time as the cruise line recommends booking a flight after noon and the airport is a solid drive from the cruise terminal. But with no alternatives, we chanced making this early flight and booked two seats.
Rushing to get ready to ensure we were off the ship as soon as possible, we finished packing and decided to skip breakfast. Knowing we needed to be among the first off the ship, we dragged ourselves and our luggage down to Cagney’s for self-checkout by 7:15 am. The advertised time for self check-out was 7:30 am, so there was already a decent crowd seated in the restaurant. We waited close to 45 minutes when finally around 8 am, the announcement was made that the disembarkation process was starting. It was then a mad rush to get off the ship with different groups of people all filing to the exits at once. Unfortunately, disembarkation with NCL is always a bit disorganized.
The slow crawl toward the cruise terminal was eating away at our chances of making this flight. We were off the ship and entering the cruise terminal line around 8:30 am, cutting it close to our self-imposed time schedule. We decided to have a porter transport our bags for us so we could skip the growing line at customs.
Through customs in no time, we did not have the 10 minutes to wait for an Uber driver. So, we made our way to the taxi stand where we informed the driver that we needed to make an early flight and needed to leave now. Just as she was pulling away, dispatch stopped her to add one other person to our transport. While we wanted to get going, the additional passenger did help to defray the $110 cost per vehicle and did not impact our time to the airport.
Making excellent time, we chatted with our taxi driver during our trip to the airport as she was an avid cruiser herself. We arrived at the Southwest terminal in just about 45 minutes. With a quick check-in at the kiosk and our bags dropped off, it was on to the security line which was rather quiet since it was a Wednesday morning.
Successfully making it to our gate with some time to spare, the flight was on time. The rest of our flight home was uneventful, but knowing that we would be returning to the lovely New England winter weather made me want to turn right around and head back to Florida.
The drive home was slow and steady, with us arriving at our house close to 3 pm. Being a Wednesday, this meant we had to get our bags unpacked, laundry started, and prepare for work the next morning. It would be back to reality on Thursday! Until we set sail again in May on Celebrity Eclipse and Norwegian Bliss.
Have you sailed on Norwegian Epic? Do you enjoy cruising to the Bahamas on these short getaways? Drop us an anchor below to share your own Norwegian Epic Cruise Review.