In short it was a huge ship 4000+ passengers, so very busy and noisy everywhere on board; and sorry, but we hated the curved balcony minisuites with the separate toilet and shower. To be fair, we thought the cabin was very spacious, stylish and offered excellent storage. We also loved the large walk-in shower. BUT the toilet with it's glass frosted sliding doors and lack of soundproofing kept one or other of us awake anytime anyone needed to pay a visit during the night!! The sound of the toilet vacuum flushing was like a rocket going off in the middle of the night, and the lighting was so bright that it lit the whole room if the toilet was used at night-time!!
It was interesting to hear at the future cruise seminar that the new ships have reverted back to the traditional separate bathrooms and done away with any more of these modern offerings!
Don't laugh, but I had packed a small stapler to staple the luggage tags on our bags at embarkation, and it came in very useful in "creating" a tailored paper shade for the light in the toilet to dull down the brightness in the middle of the night!
So back to our views on the cruise...
We loved the shows and entertainments on board: Both the Blue Man Group and Legends in Concert shows were superb. We also really enjoyed visiting the Fat Cats Blues Lounge most evenings to listen to Charlie Love and the Silky Smooth Band - what a fantastic blues band, who seemed to play all night long and really engaged with their audience.
Do book the shows online in advance as the prime 9pm shows sold out fast.
For dining we never failed to get an outdoors table at the buffet for breakfast each morning, which was great considering the size of the ship. The breakfast offering was also very good.
In the evenings we noticed some long queues for the main dining room around 8pm'ish each evening, so were glad that we had pre-booked Cagneys, La Cucina, The Bistro and Shanghai for our 4 nights. Food in all of these eateries was excellent with great service and no queues, so we were glad we had pre-reserved these.
I would have liked to try the Taste dining room, but as I said, I had not done much research prior to the cruise, so when we spotted it on board (with a great looking menu) we were already committed to the other dining spots.
The ports of Marseille and Palma were great. We took the ships shuttle in both ports ($12pp return) and wandered round at our leisure, which was nice.
Embarkation was a nightmare as there were lots of Spanish people who just seemed to take forever to understand all the embarkation procedures... Disembarkation was very quick and smooth and made up for the horrendous queues at embarkation.
Lessons I learnt from this cruise? Do not book the Epic again or any NCL ship offering these open-plan cabin bathrooms!!
Stick to the smaller ships that we are familiar with such as the Dawn/Jade/Star for a quieter, more peaceful on board experience.
Overall we very much enjoyed the cruise, aside from the intense dislike of the cabin, and we purchased 2 future cruise rewards, so we will be back!