Great Cruise for a Family with Young Kids: Norwegian Escape Cruise Review by Llewie
Overall Member Rating
Great Cruise for a Family with Young Kids
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
We normally cruise balcony, but the room size was a draw because of our young kids with us this time around. My only qualm with the room was the odor from the toilet with every flush. Escape is an eco-friendly ship (just as with any new cruise vessel), so the toilets operate on a vacuum suction system when you flush--as do those lavatories on commercial jets. The good news is that it uses ridiculously little water. Bad news is that there isn't enough water left after a flush to create a seal to prevent most of the odor from coming up through the commode. Well it isn't like anyone spends More the entire cruise in the latrine, but it was good that we had air freshener on hand to remedy this. Besides, the scent never made it into the stateroom proper.
Anyway, we loved this new ship because of the sports complex/water park, Splash Academy childcare program, and the high level of professional staff service. We didn't do much on the sun deck or casino, but watched a couple live game shows and karaoke contestants on deck 6, and hung out in the games arcade at the. Did I say that we have young kids?
On the first full day of cruising, our 7 and 5-yr-old sons didn't want to go to the Splash program. But by the end it that day, they didn't want to come "home" with us. The staff there was genuinely nice, and had fun doing their unending jobs. The BIG winner for me was the ropes course at the aft on deck 17. I love heights and "The Plank", 8 ft off the side of the ship, was AWESOME. This course also has two zip lines, and course challenges are even more adventuresome when the ship's gliding along at 21 knots in open water. The boys loved the water park, and I even did the slides with them. Great fun indeed!
Dining was pretty decent. The Garden Cafe was mostly busy at peak dining times, but we could always find a table within a few minutes. The selections there were very satisfactory, and or palates never got bored, because the menu varied daily. Of course there was also the daily offerings of run-of-the-mill pizza bar, burgers, hot dogs, etc. for those who are less adventurous.
The sit-down dining restaurants could have done a little better with service time. The food there was fairly good, but it took us on the long side of time to get served. The staff however was very courteous, and always tried to make up for it when we complained (a little). Our favorite place to eat was O'Sheehan's. Great pub food and more. I believe that it is the only 24-hour eatery on the ship.
Our friends, who cruised with us, tried the Food Republic, for a small extra cost, and said it was really great. We also didn't have the ultimate dining package this time, so we steered away from the specialty restaurants. But if the Jade could be a reference point, I'm sure those on the Escape would be worth the surcharge fee.
This was my 5th cruise, and it is obvious that the staff on all the ships work incredibly hard. At least at the "worker bee" level. I so appreciate them helping to make my vacation the best, and I would always express my gratitude whenever they would walk by. It's amazing how much better service you can also get when you do.
Our cabin attendant, Rheemy, was ALWAYS so accommodating, and even took time to learn all our names. He even came back to our room to remake a towel elephant for my 7-yr-old--when his little brother "destroyed" it because he took a pic of it. How nice! We gave him an extra gratuity.
Our itinerary took us to St. Thomas, Tortola, and Bahamas. We didn't do any excursions, but cruised (pun) the boardwalk in Tortola, sampled local cuisine in Charlotte Amalie, and found a beach we could walk to in Nassau.
Day-one embarkation took all of 20 minutes. That's really fast for a ship that takes over 4K passengers. Final day disembarkation took about 50. We flew in and out of MIA, and a Lyft ride cost us all of $20 each way.
Friends have asked me how NCL stacks against Royal, having cruised with RCCL thrice now and last on the Allure. I don't think it's a fear comparison. But if you want to go there. NCL is less formal and more kid-friendly. Don't get me wrong. You do have lots of grown-up and dressy stuff to do on their ships. But Royal requires formal nights, Norwegian is freestyle. Royal has the "Wow" factor indeed. There is NO contest. But they have yet to eclipse NCL's bang for the buck cruises, and great loyalty program. Two different lines, two different business models. Try them for yourself if you can. They are both great. We plan to go back and forth as the deals keep coming. Less
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