First cruise for my wife and I, also took our 20 & 23 year old sons. Our balcony cabin was great, no complaints – nice bed, desk, sofa, ample storage, etc. Nice touch with USB charger outlets on lamp beside each bed. Nice German ... Read More
First cruise for my wife and I, also took our 20 & 23 year old sons. Our balcony cabin was great, no complaints – nice bed, desk, sofa, ample storage, etc. Nice touch with USB charger outlets on lamp beside each bed. Nice German fixtures – great water temperature and flow adjustments in shower. Shower was more than big enough. Note: Room key must be inserted for lighting and power to work – nice energy saving feature. The ship was absolutely beautiful, only a few months old. As a naval architect/shipbuilder, I had the opportunity to see the Escape under construction at Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany in June 2015. Lots of nice touches – LED lighting everywhere, even the main engine exhaust was treated – so it was not the black diesel smoke of the other ships when starting their engines. At each port we visited, St. Thomas, Tortola, Nassau, the Escape was clearly the standout ship both in size and with all the on-deck activities such as the ropes course, water park, and so forth.
Lots of people in Garden Café, the buffet, and the upper decks, but we always were able to get some deck chairs – there is a lot in other reviews about that – people saving chairs and such, but we had no issues on our cruise. With all the people and congestion on the upper decks 16-20, especially when entering and leaving port, it was still very easy to get to a much quieter place in literally seconds. Deck 8 is the best kept secret – a nice boardwalk stroll, never crowed, with plenty of shaded comfy chairs to rest, read a book, or sip a drink in peace. We enjoyed alternating between the busier spots, and the quiet spots.
We had the unlimited drink package, and 4 specialty restaurant package. The only irritating thing about the drink package ($15/drink limit) was the coffee drinks. For example, in Le Bistro I could order a cognac after dinner, but my wife could not get the $2.25 cappuccino with her crème Brule. At times, it felt like some of the bars were understaffed – one bartender working very hard with lots of people waiting. The bars are beautifully done, usually just outside, or between, two restaurants – very easy to grab a cocktail before dinner. The main complementary restaurants Taste, Savor, and The Manhattan room were very nice, we ate in all of them. Although we did do a couple of meals and snacks at the Garden Café, the benefits of Taste and Savor -ordering from a menu for three meals a day without the business of the buffet was more to our liking. As others have commented, Taste and Savor are arranged in a sort of “H” shape with partitions – so you feel like you are in a smaller, more interment restaurant. It was easy to request a window seat during breakfast. Note: On days in port Taste and Savor are not open for lunch, leaving one the O’Sheehans or The Garden Café. The specialty restaurants were definitely a notch above the complementary restaurants in food quality and service. We ate in La Cucina, The Bistro, and Cagney Steakhouse – all of them were excellent. I think NCL has a great thing with this Freestyle dining concept. We made reservation on line for each restaurant in advance except for The Manhattan Room.
As a long time Jimmy Buffett fan, I was anticipating the 5 O’clock Somewhere Bar and Margaritaville restaurants. Initially I was somewhat concerned at all the hype in the web reviews. It was originally a complementary venue, was considered too crowded, then became a al carte. If anything, on our cruise, it was the biggest let down – we never visited it other than to pass through on our way somewhere else. It was never crowded, and did not have the “life” or energy of the other bars and venues. We didn’t miss anything there. In fact, with the drink package, why would I order a margarita at the Buffett bar, made with Margaritaville house brand tequila (you know Jimmy doesn’t drink this stuff), when you can order a Patron (Silver) margarita at any other venue on the ship as part of the unlimited drink package? Just my opinion - no offense to die hard Buffett fans. Note: FYI They also have Patron Anejo and Reposado, Don Julio, but they are above the $15 limit. The District brewhouse was great – a great place to get a wide variety of beer from all over the world – something to please any beer drinker. This is the only place I found with a wide beer selection, most of the other bars and restaurants had a much more limited selection (Bud, Miller, Heineken, Stella Artois, Dos Equis). Drink package covers (unlimited) wines by the glass – selection is somewhat limited but decent (Estancia Pinor Noir, Blackstone Merlot), but a huge selection if you order an a la carte bottle.. When ordering by the glass, we always seemed to be served the more generous “glass and a half” portion. The wines by the glass are the same at each restaurant I believe, by the end of the week, I did find myself wishing for a greater selection.
Entertainment was great. We did three shows: Brat Pack dinner theater, Million dollar Quartet, and After Midnight. All of them were excellent – great musicians and entertainers. My personal favorite was the Brat Pack show – definitely NYC Broadway quality to me. Acoustics, amplification, were top notch.
We also treated ourselves to the spa package – incredible hot tubs, heated chairs, saunas, etc. Very nicely done with water views all around. Weight and exercise rooms were also beautiful – great to be on a treadmill or elliptical while looking out on the ocean from floor to ceiling windows. The facility could be crowded at times, but honestly we never had trouble getting a machine. Read Less