There's nothing subtle about Norwegian Escape, the first ship in Norwegian Cruise Line's Breakaway Plus Class. You'll notice that before you even board the cruise ship. The hull art, designed by renowned artist and conservationist Guy Harvey, is a bold yet beautiful, in-your-face marine wildlife scene that spans more than 1,000 feet from bow to stern. Once onboard, you'll be captivated by the glitzy three-level 678 Ocean Place; virtually all the action at night takes place at its various restaurants and bars. The space is set off by an enormous hanging LED chandelier and sweeping glass staircase. Even the top decks of the ship are bold, with a ropes course and four water slides that are sure to make your heart race.
Escape is ideal for people looking for stellar entertainment and variety. Broadway-quality performances, in the form of two shows ("After Midnight" and "For the Record: The Brat Pack"), are pitch perfect. The music and performers are flawless and among the best we've seen at sea.
When it comes to variety of activities, Escape is a winner. With 28 bars and restaurants onboard, most people will have to sail twice to try out everything. Everyone will be able to find something that appeals. Latin food? Check. An incredible brew pub that feels so genuine you'll forget you're on a ship? It's got that, too. An indoor-outdoor dining concept, called the Waterfront, that allows passengers to dine seaside? It's there. A first-at-sea Margaritaville? Yep.
With so much going on, the ship can -- and does -- get loud. Loud music, loud people, loud venues. Crowds, too, are noticeable, especially at peak periods around dinner and at show times, when everyone is clamoring for the same things at the same time. While Escape preaches a "freestyle" cruise experience, reservations often help people reduce wait times, though lines still are a part of the experience. Thankfully, reservations can be made from your cabin or via multiple interactive screens throughout the ship for nearly anything.
Service in general is inconsistent. Wait service varies from slow and begrudging to friendly and efficient; we were surprised that we received the best service in complimentary venues onboard, such as Taste, Margaritaville and O'Sheehan's.
Norwegian Cruise Line attracts a median adult passenger age of 51, and Escape is no exception. It's a young average age for the cruise sector and is skewed down further during school vacations, when the ship attracts families. Overall, children make up 12 percent of the line's overall passenger numbers. Escape is deployed in Miami and attracts predominantly Americans, with a small percentage of Brits.
Norwegian Escape's carefree attitude carries over to its dress code, which basically allows for anything. During the day, it's all casual, with swimsuits, shorts and T-shirts poolside and in ports. At night, there's generally no formal dress code, though there's a no-shorts rule at some of the more upscale restaurants (Cagney's and Bayamo, for example). Otherwise, khakis and Polo shirts are the norm for men in the evening, while women wear sundresses or blouses with capris, slacks or skirts. Norwegian doesn't have a true formal night, though passengers are encouraged to dress up for Norwegian's Night Out once per cruise. Few people actually don their fancy duds, but those who do wear suits (for men) or cocktail dresses (for women).
Pack a set of all-white or neon clothes so you can enjoy the ship's "glow party." Other themed party options might include an '80s or '70s party, and people do dress for them.
A daily service charge of $13.50 per person, per day, is billed to passengers in all cabin categories up to and including mini-suites. Suite passengers are charged $15.50 per person, per day. If a passenger is unsatisfied with service, and the line can't resolve the issue, the service fee can be adjusted by contacting guest relations at email@example.com once you return from your cruise. An 18 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar drinks, all specialty dining (including dinner theater), spa and salon services, and even Vibe Beach Club passes. For passengers using concierge and butler service, Norwegian recommends a gratuity "commensurate with the services rendered." Cash, credit and debit cards are acceptable forms of payment for the final bill. The currency onboard is the U.S. dollar.