1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Norwegian Epic
Freestyle cruising they call it. They say it empowers you to cruise how you want to. In reality, it just means you have to do all the work. There's nothing waiting for you once you get on-board unless you scheduled or reserved it ahead of time. Want dinner in the main dinning room? Hope you made a reservation. Otherwise you'll have to stand in line and wait your turn. You want specialty dining, booked solid for all the normal meal times. Hope you enjoy the buffet or are willing to wait an hour or more to get a table for you and your family. Yes, let's wait to eat at 9pm with our kids when we have a port of call at 7am the next day. You can always stand in shorter lines and get buffet food though. Nothing we ate on the ship was especially memorable either. The teppanyaki was pretty good but you had to pay extra for that and make reservations. The buffet was basically the same thing every day with a slight variation in main cut of meat they cooked that day. The chinese restaurant was terrible, from the service to the dried out cubes of chicken that was on my plate. We paid extra for the ability to select our cabins. We picked a great spot, same floor, close to each other and near a stair case for easy access. Almost immediately our reservation was cancelled due to an accounting error at NCL and by the time we got them to look into it the rooms had already been reserved by another guest. We spent three weeks asking them how we could fix it and they just kept telling they'd take care of it. Three days before our cruise date we were told the ship is fully booked and they can't doing anything about our room situation. The rooms we ended up in. One room you had to walk to the center of the ship (stairs are at either end) to hallway that took you across the ship the other side of the where our room was the second to last room at the end of a long hallway. It was a several minute walk to get there once we arrived at the floor the room was on. The other room was on another floor and almost halfway down the ship as well. This meant we has to walk almost the entire length the ship and change floors to get to from one room to the other. We were given $200 of non-refundable credit per room and Wifi. Credit we could only spend with NCL. So after being given the run around for three weeks while I assured my family they'd fix it, they did nothing about it, kept our money hostage and wouldn't even speak to us about it beyond the middle managers who could never help us and always had to "talk to corporate". I called multiple times only to get stonewalled and told they would contact corporate and get back to us. The first three time I was told this I never received a call back. Once aboard we were comped one specialty dining meal and after three days they upgrade one of our rooms. This three day wait was for NCL to be sure the persons who didn't board on the sailing date weren't coming. Such a service they provided for those lucky cruisers and they never even showed up! 20% gratuity is charged on top of every service and service was terrible and there was nothing you could do about it. This gratuity was also charged on top of the "Free" offerings as well. So, it didn't matter to the staff, they always got their 20%. Slow and poor service all around the ship. I guess if I wanted to tip for better service I could have but they were already getting an extra 20% out of me. And even if I did tip our wait staff to try and get better service they were different every night. What would have been the point. The $120 ($99 plus the forced 20% gratuity charge) a day "Unlimited Beverage Package" didn't include things like: a cappuccino, fresh juices, redbull or even just a bottle of water if you wanted to bring one with you as you walked the port you just arrived at. All of those were extra costs on top of the large sum you've already agreed to spend each day on beverages. You also can't take anything out of the mini bar in your room that is on the included beverage list. Average glass of wine was $12, do the math and see what it would take to "get your money's worth"! The casino is on the main floor of the ship and you HAVE to walk through it or change floors to get around it. This is an important point as smoking is allowed in the casino. Loved walking through a smokey room with the kids on our way to a meal. Kids areas: We gave the 12yo the right to come and go as they please in their respective area but unfortunately if they did go sign themselves in they would have had to stay there for 2 hours before they would let them leave or we would need to come sign them out before two hours if they were to get out earlier. This rule meant they never even entered the area for fear of being trapped there if it wasn't fun and I don't blame them. The 14yo didn't even want to go near the teen area. Did they get anything right? Getting off the ship was a surprisingly smooth process. We chose the 7am to 8am window and were able to get breakfast early at the buffet and then walk off the ship, grab our luggage and head to our car. I presume this was half related to our decision to do this before crowds began to grow though. Admittedly, with the reservation problem we experienced leading up the cruise, we started with a bad impression of NCL but we promised each other we wouldn't let that spoil our cruise experience. We're a pretty tolerant family and are very understanding that not everything will be perfect. However, the combination of all of these things has created an insurmountably low opinion of the NCL experience. As a family that cruises once or twice a year we wanted to try something different. This was our first time cruising with NCL and after this experience and lack of response by the company it will certainly be our last.

Freestyle cruising is just lazy cruise planning

Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by WastedAccounts

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Freestyle cruising they call it. They say it empowers you to cruise how you want to. In reality, it just means you have to do all the work. There's nothing waiting for you once you get on-board unless you scheduled or reserved it ahead of time.

Want dinner in the main dinning room? Hope you made a reservation. Otherwise you'll have to stand in line and wait your turn. You want specialty dining, booked solid for all the normal meal times. Hope you enjoy the buffet or are willing to wait an hour or more to get a table for you and your family. Yes, let's wait to eat at 9pm with our kids when we have a port of call at 7am the next day. You can always stand in shorter lines and get buffet food though.

Nothing we ate on the ship was especially memorable either. The teppanyaki was pretty good but you had to pay extra for that and make reservations. The buffet was basically the same thing every day with a slight variation in main cut of meat they cooked that day. The chinese restaurant was terrible, from the service to the dried out cubes of chicken that was on my plate.

We paid extra for the ability to select our cabins. We picked a great spot, same floor, close to each other and near a stair case for easy access. Almost immediately our reservation was cancelled due to an accounting error at NCL and by the time we got them to look into it the rooms had already been reserved by another guest. We spent three weeks asking them how we could fix it and they just kept telling they'd take care of it. Three days before our cruise date we were told the ship is fully booked and they can't doing anything about our room situation.

The rooms we ended up in. One room you had to walk to the center of the ship (stairs are at either end) to hallway that took you across the ship the other side of the where our room was the second to last room at the end of a long hallway. It was a several minute walk to get there once we arrived at the floor the room was on. The other room was on another floor and almost halfway down the ship as well. This meant we has to walk almost the entire length the ship and change floors to get to from one room to the other.

We were given $200 of non-refundable credit per room and Wifi. Credit we could only spend with NCL. So after being given the run around for three weeks while I assured my family they'd fix it, they did nothing about it, kept our money hostage and wouldn't even speak to us about it beyond the middle managers who could never help us and always had to "talk to corporate". I called multiple times only to get stonewalled and told they would contact corporate and get back to us. The first three time I was told this I never received a call back. Once aboard we were comped one specialty dining meal and after three days they upgrade one of our rooms. This three day wait was for NCL to be sure the persons who didn't board on the sailing date weren't coming. Such a service they provided for those lucky cruisers and they never even showed up!

20% gratuity is charged on top of every service and service was terrible and there was nothing you could do about it. This gratuity was also charged on top of the "Free" offerings as well. So, it didn't matter to the staff, they always got their 20%. Slow and poor service all around the ship. I guess if I wanted to tip for better service I could have but they were already getting an extra 20% out of me. And even if I did tip our wait staff to try and get better service they were different every night. What would have been the point.

The $120 ($99 plus the forced 20% gratuity charge) a day "Unlimited Beverage Package" didn't include things like: a cappuccino, fresh juices, redbull or even just a bottle of water if you wanted to bring one with you as you walked the port you just arrived at. All of those were extra costs on top of the large sum you've already agreed to spend each day on beverages. You also can't take anything out of the mini bar in your room that is on the included beverage list. Average glass of wine was $12, do the math and see what it would take to "get your money's worth"!

The casino is on the main floor of the ship and you HAVE to walk through it or change floors to get around it. This is an important point as smoking is allowed in the casino. Loved walking through a smokey room with the kids on our way to a meal.

Kids areas: We gave the 12yo the right to come and go as they please in their respective area but unfortunately if they did go sign themselves in they would have had to stay there for 2 hours before they would let them leave or we would need to come sign them out before two hours if they were to get out earlier. This rule meant they never even entered the area for fear of being trapped there if it wasn't fun and I don't blame them.

The 14yo didn't even want to go near the teen area.

Did they get anything right? Getting off the ship was a surprisingly smooth process. We chose the 7am to 8am window and were able to get breakfast early at the buffet and then walk off the ship, grab our luggage and head to our car. I presume this was half related to our decision to do this before crowds began to grow though.

Admittedly, with the reservation problem we experienced leading up the cruise, we started with a bad impression of NCL but we promised each other we wouldn't let that spoil our cruise experience. We're a pretty tolerant family and are very understanding that not everything will be perfect. However, the combination of all of these things has created an insurmountably low opinion of the NCL experience. As a family that cruises once or twice a year we wanted to try something different. This was our first time cruising with NCL and after this experience and lack of response by the company it will certainly be our last.
WastedAccounts’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 10 to 12
Ages 13 to 15
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Norwegian Epic price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Snorkeling
    Only booked with the cruise line as we had to spend out use it or lose it non-refundable credit. Tour was nice. Snorkeling was close to shore and was the most exciting experience as there wasn't much to see. Beach area was cool. they had plenty of included activities. We went paddle boarding and played on all the floating obstacles.
    View All 417 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Falmouth
    Once you walk out of the port the locals are after you money and there's literally nothing to do in town. And to go do something here it's an hour long bus ride at the cost of $150. Then you have to pay for what ever is your are going to do.

    We're going to rent a car and drive to the bobsledding but you first had to take a bus to Montego to rent that car. It was a terrible port if you're like us and like to find your own adventures instead of doing everything through the cruise line.
    View All 1,322 Falmouth Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Falmouth Cruise Port Review
  • Dolphin Encounter
    We ferried to shore and found a local connection to the Dolphin Cove and had an amazing time swimming with the dolphins. We got off the ferry and took a right turn to the port and found what we were looking for. Even the public bus system here is awesome. It's simple and and cheap and got us where we needed to go. Grand Cayman is a beautiful island and we will be going back to visit it again.
    View All 80 Dolphin Encounter Reviews