My spouse and I took this exact same cruise at the exact same time last year and it was, hands down, the best cruise we'd ever taken. When we booked this cruise earlier in the year, we were very excited at the thought of matching ... Read More
My spouse and I took this exact same cruise at the exact same time last year and it was, hands down, the best cruise we'd ever taken. When we booked this cruise earlier in the year, we were very excited at the thought of matching last year's cruise. Sadly, there was a stark difference in the two cruises and we were left with a feeling of disappointment in some areas. In others, this ship shined.
For transparency, we tend to sail in the Haven. This year was no exception. Not because we are rich. We are far from it. But I am disabled and have health challenges. For that reason, we budget every year to insure that we are able to travel in a way that's most comfortable for me...and in a way that allows me to get the best experience possible out of our travel. We are not "snooty," nor are we "entitled." However, when you pay a premium, you do expect that "premium" to be delivered.
About 3 weeks prior to our cruise, I emailed the pre-cruise concierge, as directed, for any requests that may make our cruise more enjoyable. In that email, I explained that due to severe allergies, we are not able to have fresh flowers in our room, nor are we able to have any kind of feather bedding as they cause significant allergic reactions. I received an email response assuring me that this request would be handled prior to embarkation.
Embarkation was close to flawless and we were told our room was ready as soon as we boarded. We were staying in a Haven Spa Suite and it was nice. However, when we walked in, we noticed a vase of wilted and dying flowers....obviously left over from the prior cruise. Not a huge deal...we figured we'd give it to our room steward when we met him. The ice bucket had lukewarm melted water in it....presumedly from the prior cruise that ended earlier that day. There was only one towel, and one bathrobe. There was no bottle of champagne on ice as we were told there would be...and as there was last year. Individually, not a huge deal...but adding it up, it was a little disappointing. Shortly thereafter, our room steward arrived and we spoke with him about the flowers, etc. He apologized for the oversights, said he'd fix them by the time we returned from lunch and assured us that the room was feather free. That was the big part for us, so we were grateful.
After the first night, my spouse woke up with a pretty intense allergy attack. Since the vents were on the ceiling, we figured it was the air ducts and the air circulation. We were assured that the room was de-feathered, so we didn't think that was the problem. For the next 5 nights, our allergies were pretty intense. We were living on allergy medicine and continued to chalk it up to the air conditioning. By day 6, I was beyond miserable. At that point, I took a closer look at the pillows. All but one were exactly what we needed. The last one, all feather. We called our room steward to ask him to please change it, but he was unavailable. So we called our butler.....who, up until that time, we had seen, maybe 3 times the entire cruise...who informed us that our room steward was on break and would handle when he came back during the nightly turndown. We called about it just after noon. After explaining that the allergic response was making us pretty miserable, he did send someone in his place to change out the bedding. We vacated the room so that could happen. Our allergies never cleared up and we realized on the morning that we left, that while there was no feather bedding ON the bed, they had stored all the feather bedding UNDER the bed. It was pretty awful. Adding to that frustration, we had to ask almost daily for fresh ice...and the only thing we asked of our butler was to have cookies in the evening. He promised cookies every night. They came once. We didn't ask anything else of him....we didn't order room service....we did not dine in our room...he was pretty much non-existent. He did, however, show up on the morning of debarkation to collect his tip. Again, I need to stress....we are NOT snooty. We weren't asking for outlandish things. We asked for next to nothing. But we paid a premium for a certain service and that service didn't deliver. It was even more disappointing because we do work so hard to afford that level of service. For it not to be there, cast a bit of a shadow on our week. Especially with the allergy/feather situation.
The rest of the cruise was AMAZING!! We loved Cagney's and Moderno. We also enjoyed Food Republic. It's a different concept but enjoyable nonetheless. The only exception was Bayamo. We didn't enjoy Bayamo as much as we'd hoped and probably wouldn't return. The Garden Cafe was perfect for what we needed it for, and we enjoyed dining at Taste one night as well. As for the entertainment.....for the second year, Choir of Man was absolutely incredible!! We also saw Melinda Doolittle's solo show in the Supper Club....and that was one of the most enjoyable evenings of our cruise. She was very warm, engaging, and very friendly. It was a very cool thing to be able to talk with her a bit after her show as well. I was really pulling for her when she was on American Idol, so it really was a thrill to see her perform. We didn't see any other shows as it was an early night most nights for us.
We met some really great people through the meet and greet/slot pull/cabin crawl. We had a great time with them. Blackjack was very kind to us, but we seemed to give our winnings back to the slot machines!!! We loved karaoke nights as well. The pools were crowded as they normally are....but the slides seemed to be popular. We did not use the Haven pool area, but we did use the sundeck in the Haven once or twice and that was pretty relaxing. The Haven restaurant was also very good.
Bermuda was beautiful as always. We took the free ferry over to St. Georges and headed to Tobacco Bay. That was a beautiful area. We seemed to luck out as we heard that Horseshoe Bay was filled with Portuguese Man-O-War which made it difficult to swim. In fact, someone from our Cruise Critic group was stung and from what we heard, had to be treated at the hospital.
I'm not sure we'll do this itinerary again. We love cruising out of NY because we are local and flying is challenging for me. But I think we'll try something elsewhere next year. We are firm believers in vacations being exactly what you make them to be...and in that sense, we had a magical week onboard the Escape. But the service...or lack thereof...did make things challenging for us most of the time. And that part, was probably the most disappointing aspect of our cruise. Will be sail NCL again? Absolutely. Will we sail the Escape again? Probably not. Read Less