NCL Epic – an Epic Failure

Back in 2015 we took a cruise on the Norwegian Epic, which at the time was one of the largest ships in the world. Our two ocean cruises prior to it were on the MSC Fantasia and the MSC Lirica.

We were told by friends at the time that the American lines did it so much better and thought we would give them a go, so we booked a cruise from Southampton round to Barcelona, a repositioning after the ship had been in dry dock at St Nazaire.

The review below was posted on a cruise review website and is what I wrote at the time. I put at the end that we were going to take court action, and in the end we complained via our credit card company, American Express under the rules of Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. The terms of the settlement can’t be published, but we were happy with the outcome.

 

This cruise really didn’t live up to the expectations that had been set from reading through the brochure and the company’s website.

For a start our cruise was cut short by a day, but we’d booked rail and hotel travel on a non-refundable basis so we had to accept the change. NCL did pay for an extra night’s hotel accommodation, but not towards any other expenses on that night. We were compensated with a non-refundable onboard credit of $50 and the equivalent of one night’s accommodation.

Boarding at Southampton was relatively quick and easy.

We went for lunch in the MDR – the food wasn’t great and the service was slow, however there were a lot of people to get through, so we were patient. Having cruised on other lines before we had always experienced great food and great service, and that’s what gave us the cruising bug. If NCL had been our first experience we would have never cruised again.

The rooms on Epic were small in comparison to those on other ships we have been on, and the curved lines certainly don’t do it any favours. For me one disturbing feature of the cabin layout has to be the complete inability to wash your hands before leaving the toilet, as the sink is at the foot of the bed! My partner and I are both 6 foot tall; the bed simply isn’t long enough due to the curved ends and our feet dangled over the edge which didn’t elude to a great night’s sleep!

 

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NCL Cabin layout, picture from cruisedeckplans.com

 
one of the pools and water features on the main deck were out of use for the duration of the cruise; on one day the adults only pool and the other pool were closed, therefore there were no pools open for one day! The pool that was roped off for the duration was full of dirty water and looked absolutely disgusting. I appreciate that things do go wrong, but surely there must be a way of making things look nicer?

We found dinner in the MDR to be bland, using cheap ingredients and poorly cooked – the service again was slow and on one night we had finished our main course before a drink ordered when being seated arrived. Perhaps this is a way for NCL to up-sell their dining packages?

At most ports of call there seemed to be new crew members joining the ship, therefore it would appear that the ship didn’t have a full complement of crew after returning from dry dock.

There were several other issues experienced during this cruise, such as MDR not being available for lunch, dirty habits, poor service etc.

We saw Priscilla, which was a very good production of a show that I love, so that was a plus point.

To try and spend some of the OBC we had, we visited The Ice Bar… twice. On paper and on first impressions it is an impressive space, but in reality it is a giant cold store.

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At the end of the cruise, we still had over $200 of OBC left, which should have been refunded. We filled in the form at guest services and 5 weeks later this has only just been addressed after suggesting to NCL that we may take court action to recover the funds! I’m sure if we’d owed them money then things would have been different!

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A dog defecating outside ‘The Cavern Club’

We would certainly never cruise with NCL again and are just thankful we didn’t book this cruise for Christmas. We’ll stick with what we know in future and go with the lines we know and trust.

 

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