What I liked about the Epic:
The studio suites and spending time with a compatible group of solo travelers.
The friendly, efficient staff and crew.
The variety of entertainment.
The fitness center, which had drop-dead ocean views. (One downside: The gym was really warm.)
The automatic $12 a guest a day service charge and automatic gratuities added to bar and restaurant bills. You don't have to deal with doling out tips at the end of the cruise, although some people also don't like to be told how much they should tip.
The many restaurants, long opening hours and the freedom to choose.
What I didn't like:
The overwhelming presence of the casino (350 slots and 25 tables). It occupies much of Deck 6, and guests must walk through it to reach several other areas. Smoking is allowed.
The lack of grandeur. The atrium, the largest public space, is little more than a bunch of comfy chairs in front of a giant TV.
Internet access, which was expensive (as much as 75 cents a minute) and slow.
The swimming pools. There are three (besides the one for the suites), and they're small.
Dressing down. It begins at embarkation, with agents wearing green ties reading, "Forget your tie? Perfect!" Guests' backward baseball caps, logo T-shirts and flip-flops may have their place, but I don't think that's in a nice restaurant at night.
The absence of promenade decks. (All outside staterooms have balconies.)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun