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14 Night Caribbean Cruise from New York

14 Night Caribbean Cruise from New York (Manhattan)

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Norwegian Escape
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Itinerary

A city of endless possibilities, high energy and great diversity, New York has always been the benchmark for first-rate dining, unparalleled shopping and cultural activity. For visitors, it's an exciting city and, at times, is more than a little intimidating. New York natives always seem to be in a hurry, but with midtown traffic often at a complete standstill, it may be faster for them to walk across town than to take a bus. When you hear a foreign language, it could be international tourists -- flocking to the city in droves because of the weak dollar -- or it could be a New Yorker.

It's love at first sight when the Empire State Building comes into view, and the Statue of Liberty awes even the most blase tourist. Broadway shows will wow you; browsing Bloomingdale's will amaze you. It's always possible to stumble upon an unforgettable meal -- an oven-fresh slice of perfect pizza, Chinese food in Chinatown or a haute-cuisine dinner by candlelight. The views from the Staten Island Ferry are a knockout, and downtown nightlife will keep you busy in the city that never sleeps.

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  • Day 2

Port Canaveral, in the center of Florida's east coast, is not only the surfing capital of the Atlantic. It is also home to rocket and shuttle launches, the largest sea turtle nesting area in the country, the largest scallop fishery on the planet and a national refuge with more endangered species than any other.

Even with all of these superlatives, most cruise passengers associate Port Canaveral with Orlando, just 45 miles west -- and with Walt Disney World, Universal theme parks and SeaWorld so close, it would be difficult to find a cruise port anywhere that offers access to more theme parks and family-friendly tourist attractions. But, for those who've already had (or care to pass up) the Orlando experience, Port Canaveral is definitely worth a pre- or post-cruise visit.

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Perhaps the most famous occupant of Great Stirrup Cay -- located in the Bahamas' Berry Island chain, 130 nautical miles due east of Fort Lauderdale -- was Captain Bertram of the British Navy. But Native Americans, pirates, and members of the Spanish and American armed forces have also inhabited the cay throughout its history.

Norwegian Cruise Line purchased the 250-acre island in 1977 and has invested in several significant updates throughout the years. More recently the island has undergone a major makeover. Its restaurants, bars, cabanas and beaches have all been revamped and enlarged, with an investment of more than $1 million dedicated just to new landscaping. Other additions include an underwater sculpture garden for snorkelers, as well as a top-notch medical center. Thanks to the introduction of new (and plentiful) palm trees, there's now lots more natural shade from the Bahamian sun, a godsend in the height of summer.

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  • Day 5

Ocho Rios, affectionately referred to as "Ochi" by the locals, is situated on the northern coast of the island of Jamaica, midway between the capital, Kingston, and the popular tourist resort of Montego Bay. The Spanish translation of Ocho Rios is "eight rivers," but the town's name most likely was derived from the abundance of waterfalls in the area (since you won't find eight rivers there). The shoreline is dotted with one hotel resort after another, with the Caribbean's trademark warm sands and turquoise waters in their backyards. Beyond the shoreline, rainforestlike greenery blankets the mountainous landscape. The strikingly lush tropical foliage makes it easy to see why the Parish of St. Ann, of which Ocho Rios is a part, is known as the "garden parish."

Set just slightly past the cruise port, the shabby town of Ocho Rios offers plenty of duty-free shopping bargains, open-air eateries and happening bars on its two main drags, Main Street and DaCosta Drive (which run parallel to each other). Although the town is worth checking out, spending an entire day there would be overdoing it. For cruise-ship tourists, primary points of interest and attractions -- like Dunn's River Falls, Mystic Mountain and James Bond Beach -- lie beyond the actual town and are short 5- to 10-minute taxi rides away.

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Imagine the stereotypical cruise port -- one with white-sand beaches, a plethora of duty-free shops selling jewels and liquor, and de rigueur water activities like snorkeling and scuba -- and Grand Cayman will likely come to mind. The cliche might just be based on the destination, with its lovely Seven Mile Beach, George Town's retail center and plenty of sites for diving, snorkeling and other water sports. Grand Cayman also celebrates marine life at Stingray City and the Cayman Turtle Farm, and even offers a twist on island paradise with the town of Hell (THE place from which to send the quintessential kitschy postcard).

Yet the cliche does have a negative side -- the crowds. It's not unusual to find five mega-ships (we're told there's been up to nine) docked in the harbor at the same time, which makes the tendering process slower than usual and the downtown streets jam-packed. (Building a cruise pier at which ships could berth is oft discussed, but it's never gone beyond the "pre-planning" stage.) The constant influx of cruise passengers keeps the waterfront restaurants bustling, so lunch in port is never a cheap affair. A stroll along the beach quickly turns into an obstacle course of sunbathing tourists, sandy children and water sports vendors.

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  • Day 8

Harvest Caye is a 75-acre eco-friendly port in southern Belize comprising two adjoining islands in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts. The $50 million purpose-built island was developed by Belize Island Holdings, a subsidiary of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., to be used by ships from the cruise company's three brands on Western Caribbean itineraries. It's a clean, easy-to-navigate and beautifully designed island with lots to do, as well as easy access to the mainland.

Harvest Caye offers much that will appeal to visitors featuring four bars, a four-segment zipline (including a thrilling Superman-style segment), a ropes course, exclusive beachfront villas and poolside cabanas, a 7-acre beach with 2,500 loungers, a nature center with three tours daily, a lagoon with kayaks and pedal boats, an outpost of Jimmy Buffett-affiliated LandShark Bar & Grill, a variety of ship-sponsored shore excursion options to the mainland and one of the largest pools we've ever seen.

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If you build it, they will come. Costa Maya, located on a peninsula along Mexico's Caribbean coast, about 100 miles south of Playa del Carmen, feels like a private island created from scratch expressly for cruisers. That's because it was; developers created the port terminal/faux village complex not far from the Belize border solely to woo cruise lines, and everything -- from the manmade malecon, a beachfront pedestrian path in nearby Mahahual, to the beach club used for shore excursions -- has been created with passengers in mind.

The port itself, which opened for business in February 2001 and was rebuilt after Hurricane Dean in 2007, features myriad facilities in its village -- pools, restaurants, brand-name bars such as Carlos 'n Charlie's, shops, a dolphin experience and a small beach (though it's too rocky to swim). The port developers also own a club and water sports area on Uvero Beach, which is actually away from the terminal and is typically used by cruise lines as a shore-excursion option. Besides the amenities that tourists see, developers took care of the essentials outside the village -- brick-paved roads, concrete cottages for employees, who all come from elsewhere, and a water-sanitation system. (Yes, it is safe to drink water within the Costa Maya confines.)

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Although Cozumel is Mexico's largest Caribbean island (and its most populated), it wasn't until the 1960's that this once-sleepy fishing village became a tourist attraction in its own right, following a documentary in which Jacques Cousteau declared it one of the most beautiful areas in the world for scuba diving. These days, Cozumel is a major cruise port that welcomes more than one million cruise passengers each year and as many as eight ships per day. But even with all this progress, Cozumel has held onto its non-touristy side; only one-third of the island has been developed, leaving large stretches of pristine jungle and sandy beaches basically untouched.

Yes, it's true: There's much more to Cozumel than duty-free shopping. (That being said, Cozumel offers darn good deals on jewelry, Mexican handicrafts, T-shirts and other souvenirs, mostly in the main town of San Miguel.) This small island, measuring just 28 miles long and 10 miles wide, lies off the coast of the country's Yucatan peninsula and offers incredibly diverse options for water sports-lovers, partly because of its proximity to spectacular coral reefs. Along with snorkeling, beach bumming and boating, scuba diving is one of the biggest draws to this sunny destination.

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  • Day 12
  • Day 13
  • Day 14

A city of endless possibilities, high energy and great diversity, New York has always been the benchmark for first-rate dining, unparalleled shopping and cultural activity. For visitors, it's an exciting city and, at times, is more than a little intimidating. New York natives always seem to be in a hurry, but with midtown traffic often at a complete standstill, it may be faster for them to walk across town than to take a bus. When you hear a foreign language, it could be international tourists -- flocking to the city in droves because of the weak dollar -- or it could be a New Yorker.

It's love at first sight when the Empire State Building comes into view, and the Statue of Liberty awes even the most blase tourist. Broadway shows will wow you; browsing Bloomingdale's will amaze you. It's always possible to stumble upon an unforgettable meal -- an oven-fresh slice of perfect pizza, Chinese food in Chinatown or a haute-cuisine dinner by candlelight. The views from the Staten Island Ferry are a knockout, and downtown nightlife will keep you busy in the city that never sleeps.

Read More

Norwegian Escape

Cruise Critic Editor Rating:
4.0
1,527 reviews
Why Choose Norwegian Escape?

Pro

Exceptional dining, entertainment, bar and club options abound.

Con

A la carte fees and cover charges add up quickly

Bottom Line

There's something for everyone on Escape, but you might pay extra for it.


Cruise Reviews

2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
This was our second time on the Escape, our 24th cruise on NCL. As usual, the employees on all NCL ships are friendly and helpful. Our steward Andro was fantastic, he met all of our needs and our cabin was always spotless. The ... Read More
This was our second time on the Escape, our 24th cruise on NCL. As usual, the employees on all NCL ships are friendly and helpful. Our steward Andro was fantastic, he met all of our needs and our cabin was always spotless. The Director of hotel services Deepak is outstanding ! The asst dir of food and beverage, Melvin Lobo was ever so kind and gracious. We had little sun during the cruise and all the staff worked hard to make our week enjoyable. The last day in Nassau was a beautiful sunny day and a great send off for the end of the cruise. We got off the ship at each port but because of the weather we didn't do any excursions. We took a taxi over and back to Atlantis on our stop in Nassau. The cost of the taxi wa $4 per person each way. We ate at specialty restaurants each night and Cagneys was really good and the staff were lovely and provided excellent service. The casino was fun but very very smokey although they did try to remind people that smoking was allowed for gamblers only and that for others there are designated places that allow smoking. Nonetheless, the casino was very smokey. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
every football game was on, a gallon of water in each room, yes overcrowded the first day it was cool with showers so everybody was inside, the rest of the cruise it was spread out, shows were great, buffet food was standard, Tapanaki ... Read More
every football game was on, a gallon of water in each room, yes overcrowded the first day it was cool with showers so everybody was inside, the rest of the cruise it was spread out, shows were great, buffet food was standard, Tapanaki chefs put on a good show and the food was excellent, the room seemed much bigger because of the layout, 5 shelves in the bathroom so there was room for everything, closets were OK, 3 times the hangars that I have seen in other lines, TV was built in so there was even more room on the desk my only problem was with the service desk they did not seem to understand what was going on, the line was long no matter what time you were there, the lady in front of me asked for a copy of her statement and was refused, WHY she was still asking even after I left Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
The new huge ship was just that, newer and bigger than the other Norwegian Ships we had been on. The newness was very nice, the bigness was not necessarily a plus. The set up and location of the restaurants, theatres, pool, hot tubs are ... Read More
The new huge ship was just that, newer and bigger than the other Norwegian Ships we had been on. The newness was very nice, the bigness was not necessarily a plus. The set up and location of the restaurants, theatres, pool, hot tubs are the same as other NCL ships. There was a nice boardwalk where you could walk, buy gelato or baked goods, get a drink and just relax in comfortable chairs. I really enjoyed that area for some peace and quiet. The main atrium area was not very grand at all, however, they held many shows there that would normally be held in the theatre on other ships, smaller space and more people, meant the area was often too packed to get a seat and in some cases no standing room. The theatre was nice, however only on one deck, so seats were not on enough of an angle to see over those in front of you. The newer specialized lighting and other effects were very good. There were also several other small clubs for comedy and other acts each night. Because all of the venue are smaller and the number of people is much larger, make reservations for everything you can to ensure yourself a spot, most activities and shows are packed. The shopping area was okay, but generally expensive. Lots of space allocated to the Art Gallery and the Casino. The main difference from other NCL ships, besides the newness, was that there were a LOT more people and venues are divided into many small ones rather than less large ones. Except for the pool area, on an at sea day, all lounges were saved by 9am. While the number of complimentary dining choices remained the same, there were MANY other restaurants, bars and clubs to choose from. The restaurants were new and beautiful and the food was excellent as usual. Still love Norwegian, loved the NEWness of the new ship, it seemed the main point of the huge size was simply to fit on more people, while they did generally spread them out well. My son, LOVED it, the Entourage Teen club was amazing, they did numerous great events, he made many friends and can't wait to return with friends from home. It would have been nice to have a club for single parents, who had not thought about the fact their young teen would be off with new friends every night....lol. Just a note from the rating section, I marked embarkation as poor because as latitude members we were suppose to be able to avoid the line, and while we booked an appointment to do so, we did not receive the service. Did not do ship shore excursions. Read Less
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