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My family and I just embarked on our 7th cruise. This happened to be our first non-Disney cruise. We booked this cruise almost 6 months prior to embarking. As a teacher, I was looking forward to this much-needed break. We thought with Norwegian Escape being a new ship and talking to several people who thought we would benefit from trying another cruise line, we would give it a try. Money has been tight this year as many unexpected medical issues have come up, which was another reason we decided to try another cruise line. The difference in price between the two lines was about $2,000 total. Was it worth the money we saved? Read this review to find out. We arrived at port Miami the day before we set sail on a 7-night voyage to the Eastern Caribbean. Our ports of call were St. Thomas, Tortola, and Nassau. The port was easy to access, and check-in was efficient. The staff was pleasant and there were no issues with the process. As we embarked, we were led to Garden Cafe' for lunch. We were walking through the main atrium of the ship and were awed with the beauty, but quickly turned off by the stench of stale cigarette smoke from the casino. Once we were inside Garden Cafe’ we were quite impressed with the amount of choices of food. The buffet line seemed to go on forever. The amount of food choices was a lot more than what Disney offers, however, Escape is much larger than any of Disney’s ship. The quality of the food was adequate. While soda was not readily available (as it is on Disney), there were more drink stations throughout the 16th deck which included a variety of juice and flavored water. Coffee and tea were included in the fare of the cruise. Both my husband and I selected the drink package, which included all you can drink sodas and alcohol, but were never informed on whether my daughter could have soda. This was even after asking multiple people, so she stuck with water and juice. When I wanted a soda, I had to find someone who worked there and ask for it, so tipping became expensive. It would be nice if they had automatic soda machines like they do at Disney resorts if you purchase a special cup or just include soda in the price of the cruise fare. We decided to take a tour of the public areas since this was a new ship to us. The tour was mainly about all the areas on the ship that cost extra money and the push of alcohol was overwhelming. Soon after the tour, we headed up to check out our cabin. The hallways were clean and our room was very nice. The bed was large and the pullout bed was very similar to the ones we have experienced on Disney; however, the bed was uncomfortable because of the space between the two twin beds that were pushed together. My husband also kept hitting his feet on a zipper of some sort at the end of the bed. There was no divider between the pull-out and the bed so privacy in changing with a 10 year old girl and my husband was limited. The bathroom was one room and included a double sink, shower (no tub) with rain nozzle, soap/shampoo dispensers, and the toilet. There was plenty of storage in the bathroom. Our housekeeper was very friendly and spoke to us each time he saw us. He knew my daughter's name before the end of the first night. Don’t plan on watching TV before bed unless you want to watch the news or a station with random old movies. After the muster drill, which we appreciated was indoors (unfortunately stationed in the smoky casino for our group) we headed to the sail away party on the pool deck. On our way upstairs, the elevators were packed and we ended up taking the stairs from the 6th floor to the 17th floor. There was a rude passenger in front of the herd yelling for people to get out of his way and that he was coming through. His wife told him to stop and he said, “well, they won’t get out of our way.” Where does this entitlement come from? Anyway, we finally reached the party. The cruise director, Silas was involved in the sail away party and was dancing his heart out. We were highly impressed with his moves and his engagement with the passengers throughout the cruise. Some of the entertainment staff was also present to dance with cruisers. The kick off party was not what we had expected. There was not much going on for kids at this time and the kids clubs were only doing registration. We could not see what the inside of the clubs looked like either. Later on, we went to register my daughter for the Splash Academy. We stood in line for about 45 minutes as there was only one person registering kids. The rule for kids being able to check out on their own was they had to be at least 9 years old, get parent approval for self-checkout, and stay a minimum of two hours. We thought that was not going to be a problem as our daughter never has trouble making friends or keeping herself entertained. We were wrong. She went to the kids club on the first sea day and hated it. She was inside the club about 15 minutes before the counselors took all the kids to the top deck to the basketball court for organized games. My daughter was hot and wanted to leave. She said the staff was not friendly and there was not much else to do if participating in the organized activities was not what she wanted to do. That was the last of her going to the kids club. We could not talk her into trying it again. Things just went downhill from there. I personally witnessed a father give his 14 year old beer. On our way to dinner, there was a girl (about 12 years old or so) in the elevator who was completely inebriated. She was hanging all over her friend, who was obviously embarrassed for her friends’ actions. I could not believe what I was seeing. As the cruise went on, we saw more and more unsupervised children running a muck all over the ship at all hours of the night. Shuffleboard sticks were broken and kids were being extremely disrespectful to each other. We decided to give the “family show” a try. We knew it wasn’t a Disney-style broadway show, so we went in with an open mind. Within 10-15 minutes of the show starting, people were leaving...and I don’t mean a few. About half the theater cleared out. As I feel it is rude to leave during a show, we stayed for the entirety. I felt we should have left because in the “family show” the F-bomb was dropped. My 10 year old covered her ears and wanted to leave and said she hated the show. Thankfully, the pace picked up with the dancing after that and my daughter raveled in the tapping of the shoes on stage. Not only was the “family show” not kid-friendly, the deck parties were not as well. I am not a parent who shelters my child, however I do have to draw the line where inappropriate actions are something she should not be witness to at her age. Apparently the sexy leg contest is a popular event among cruise lines (other than Disney). The day of the contest was a nice day at sea. We were relaxing on the pool deck when the cruise director announced the sexy-legs contest would be starting soon and he needed women to judge and men to participate. The rules were the women could touch the men anywhere but the men could not touch the women. Surely, with kids of all ages present, there would be some discrepancy in judgement from cruises that were not on spring break with a bunch of kids. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The men were getting up on top of the women and “humping their face”, pulling their bathing suits and shorts up to heights where no imagination was left, and comments made on the microphone were unacceptable for kids under the age of 18. I understand this was not a Disney cruise and this may be the norm on the other ships, but I believe the activity should have been blocked off for adults-only or at least having a disclaimer that there was going to be adult activity and was not appropriate for all ages. On day 3 of 7, when we were thinking of how nice it would be to get off the ship in St. Thomas and to see Magen’s Bay, my husband became violently ill on the way to our excursion. Shortly after arriving at Magen’s Bay we had to get a cab to take us back to the port. Upon entering the ship my husband went straight to the ship’s hospital for care. Come to find out, he had a kidney stone that was causing a blockage and making him extremely sick. The doctor on the ship recommended he get more advanced care at a hospital so he was transported to Roy Schneider Hospital by ambulance. I was freaking out as I had no idea where this hospital was, how I was going to get there, what would happen if we didn’t make it back to the ship before it left port, and so many other questions. Guest services was all but helpful to start off. I had my 10 year old daughter crying and scared, which brought me to tears. That was when guest services stepped in. We were told a port agent had been assigned to us and would come pick my daughter and me up from the ship to take us to the hospital and were told to wait in our cabin. While we were waiting, we received a phone call saying the port agent was at least an hour away and we should take a cab. Luckily, I had my debit card and the ship had an ATM so I could withdraw cash. My husband was admitted and my daughter and I had to make a decision on whether or not to go back to the ship or to stay in the hospital with him. He wanted us to go back since we had no extra clothes, chargers, food, ect. As much as I hated leaving him, it was the best option at that time. He was in a U.S. hospital and was getting adequate care. I needed to contact the hospital that night to check on my husband. Our phones had to be taken off airplane mode, which was a concern for how much we would rack up in international calls since we were on our way to the British Virgin Island of Tortola. I was able to talk Guest Services into letting me use their phones to make calls to the hospital. At first they told me I could call the hospital from our room at $4.99/minute. I told them that was not an option. After many failed attempts to reach my husband, he had turned his phone on so that we could at least text. He was able to meet up with us in Tortola the next day but ended up staying in the cabin most of the remainder of the cruise. While he was completely disembarked (we did not know that was going to be the case), our key cards had been turned off and all access to our accounts had been disabled. We could not access our cabin or make purchases. After many hours of dealing with security and guest services, we were able to enter our cabin and were finally able to get some rest. I was really hoping that the customer service would have been better considering our circumstance. The following day, our iConcierge app was not working. The iConcierge app is used to communicate with people in your party or other guests on the ship. It is also used to check and reserve dining and show times and to view the schedule of activities around the ship. We went to guest services to let them know the app wasn’t working for us, so they reactivated it...with an $8/phone charge. Later, I went down to get the app refunded since we had already paid for it. When it was refunded, the app was disabled, again. We activated the app, again, only to be charged $8/phone, again. We went back and forth for the next two-days when we finally decided to stay together as a family so we didn’t have to use the app. By the last night, my husband was able to get up and move about the ship for short periods of time. The Navigator app Disney uses is free, texting on the app is free, and the app itself is so much more user-friendly. During my husband’s recovery time he needed certain items from the shops on the ship. The merchandise selection was extremely limited unless you wanted alcohol, jewelry, or cigarettes. I was surprised at how few of everyday items were not available in the gift shops. I thought embarking on a mega-ship was going to be amazing. In reality, I never could quite get my bearings straight after the seventh night. A mega-ship comes with mega-crowds. The pools were packed, it was nearly impossible to find a lounge chair unless we were in port, and the atrium was so crowded every night that there was no place to sit and relax. One evening, a disgruntled passenger created a scene in the atrium by guest services. I have never seen so many people get so quiet so fast. I think guest services handled the situation the best they could, but my goodness…the nerve of some people. I thought a fight was going to break out. We have never had an issue finding a place to sit in the atrium on a Disney ship, and they have an open atrium with very limited seating. The overall atmosphere was so much friendlier on Disney. I felt I never connected with the staff on Escape. Our family has been chosen as a magical family on 4 of our 6 Disney cruises because of how well the staff got to know us and how easy it was to engage with the cast members and characters. Speaking of large amounts of people on the ship...having one gangway open for over 5,000 passengers to disembark at the ports was ridiculous. We disembarked on the 4th floor. The people were lined up 4 across, up the stairs, to at least to the 10th floor (where we were). There has to be a better process for this! Also, just when you thought you would be brave enough to try the ropes course or the aqua loop slides, they closed down. The lines were so long during the day and with the evening entertainment and dinner, it was hard to find a good time to go. Everything closed so early and on most days, the ropes course was either partially or fully closed down due to hours of operation or high winds (which I know they have no control over). Another thing I didn’t like was how you either had to switch out your towels or keep them. I hope they change their towel policy and have kiosks where you can switch out dirty ones for clean and dry ones as you feel you need to. A lot of people ask about freestyle dining versus rotational dining. I think both of them have their pros and cons. I will start with rotational dining. This type of dining is when you are assigned a restaurant and a time to eat and your wait staff follows you throughout the cruise. While sticking to a schedule may be tough for some people, I realized how much I liked the rotational dining better. I enjoyed getting to know my servers. They knew exactly what my family and I liked and didn’t like. They become like family on the longer voyages. The myth that you have to sit with another family is just that...a myth. You may be assigned to sit with another family who has kids around your kids age or if you are traveling without kids, you may be assigned a table with another adult couple, but call Disney and say you want to sit at a table by yourself and it’s never an issue. With the rotational dining, we also could catch the show before or after our assigned time. We usually choose the 8:00 seating so we can go to the early show. Usually, dinner is a process, but Disney makes it entertaining so it is more like getting a show and dinner all in one. By the time dinner is over, music is playing in the atrium, characters are out for meet and greets, and the photography studios are open (and a cast member will never turn you down for taking a picture of your family). Also, never fret getting to the Pirates in the Caribbean deck party or Buccaneer Blast fireworks at sea. Disney schedules these around the dinner times. I realized on Disney, I shower and try to look my best for every dinner, whereas on Escape, I barely saw anyone putting effort into their attire...especially on formal night. I think my husband was the only person on the entire ship wearing a tuxedo, whereas on every Disney cruise, people go out of their way for formal and semi-formal night. I actually missed the feeling of wanting to look nice at dinner. Oh, and if you don’t want what is on the menu, ask for something else...Disney will get it for you. If you are not feeling well or maybe just want to eat in your cabin, order the FREE room service and they will deliver it...usually with some type of surprise. My daughter was seasick one night on Disney Dream. She ended up leaving dinner early (before her meal came) and went to the cabin to go to bed. Our server not only delivered the meal to our cabin for her to eat later...he checked on her and reported back to us that she was asleep and he had left the meal on the table next to her bed. We never asked him to deliver the meal...it was just that good of customer service...the above and beyond Disney gives their guests. When we called for FREE room service on Escape, there was a service charge of every meal, not including the tip. Now, for freestyle dining...I thought being able to eat whenever I wanted would be a plus...not worrying about getting dressed up or sticking to a set schedule. At first, it was OK. I would maybe eat a late lunch and not feel like eating dinner, so we would go to O’Sheehan’s for quick “bar food” or Garden Cafe’ for a wider selection late at night. We tried two of the main dining rooms...both were complimentary...Manhattan Room on formal night and Savor on our last night. Neither restaurant wowed us. We requested near the dance floor for Manhattan Room so my daughter could dance (after all she is “Dancing Cruise Girl” on YouTube). They could not accommodate the three of us, so our table ended up being at the very back of the restaurant where people were checking in...furthest away from the dance floor. She never got a chance to dance that night, or any night. The wait staff was not very friendly and seemed annoyed when I tried to change an entree’ to how we like it. It was frowned upon to ask for anything that was not on the menu. Disembarking on Escape was a nightmare for my daughter and me. We had already been separated once from my husband during the cruise, and now they were requiring him to disembark at 6:30 AM the day we arrived back into port. I was told by Guest Services that he would not have to go back through the embarkation process since he got on the ship with us in Miami. Later, we received a letter in our stateroom saying that all “Mid-cruise joiners” had to disembark to go through customs at 6:30. I explained how he was not a mid-cruise joiner and he embarked with us in Miami. Apparently, since he was disembarked in a U.S. territory to go to the hospital, and re-embarked in Tortola, he was considered a mid-cruise joiner. For one, I had never been on a NCL ship before so I had no clue what disembarkation was like. I expressed my concern over getting separated again, and Guest Services offered no comfort to my daughter and me. My daughter and I sat on the balcony watching the sunrise over Miami while we waited for our color to be called so we could disembark. We were the second group to get off the ship. Our color was never called so after our disembarkation time, we headed up towards the casino to wait to get off. Finally, we disembarked around 9:00. My husband, who was in pain and extremely tired, had to wait over two hours for us outside the terminal. He was not allowed to wait inside the terminal and we were not allowed to disembark with him. Needless to say, I have never been so happy to see the U.S. mainland in my life. I was so excited when my husband, daughter, and I reunited and we couldn’t wait to get away from the port. After talking to him about disembarking, he said he felt like he was in a herd of cattle. He said he felt embarrassed and belittled. Having a cruise like this was not what we were expecting. We went in with an open mind and excitement to try something new. We looked forward to not standing in line for photos every night and scheduling our day around the character meet and greets. Come to find out...that is exactly what we love about Disney. We missed the friendly photography staff and all the characters who brought the magic of life out in every person young and old. The customer service on Disney is remarkable. The saying you get what you pay for is so true. We will pay the extra money to remain loyal to Disney. We are not party cruisers, which I believe was another difference in our experience. Unless we book another cruise with a group of people, we will not be back on Norwegian Cruise Line. Our family enjoys what Disney Cruise Line stands for. We love it so much we are friends with many of the cast members we have met over our years of cruising. We keep in touch with those amazing people. I miss my home away from home...and that is Disney Fantasy, Disney Wonder, and Disney Dream.

Disney cruiser jumps ship...never again!

Norwegian Escape Cruise Review by Stephanied.inch@gmail.com

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
My family and I just embarked on our 7th cruise. This happened to be our first non-Disney cruise. We booked this cruise almost 6 months prior to embarking. As a teacher, I was looking forward to this much-needed break. We thought with Norwegian Escape being a new ship and talking to several people who thought we would benefit from trying another cruise line, we would give it a try. Money has been tight this year as many unexpected medical issues have come up, which was another reason we decided to try another cruise line. The difference in price between the two lines was about $2,000 total. Was it worth the money we saved? Read this review to find out.

We arrived at port Miami the day before we set sail on a 7-night voyage to the Eastern Caribbean. Our ports of call were St. Thomas, Tortola, and Nassau. The port was easy to access, and check-in was efficient. The staff was pleasant and there were no issues with the process. As we embarked, we were led to Garden Cafe' for lunch. We were walking through the main atrium of the ship and were awed with the beauty, but quickly turned off by the stench of stale cigarette smoke from the casino.

Once we were inside Garden Cafe’ we were quite impressed with the amount of choices of food. The buffet line seemed to go on forever. The amount of food choices was a lot more than what Disney offers, however, Escape is much larger than any of Disney’s ship. The quality of the food was adequate. While soda was not readily available (as it is on Disney), there were more drink stations throughout the 16th deck which included a variety of juice and flavored water. Coffee and tea were included in the fare of the cruise. Both my husband and I selected the drink package, which included all you can drink sodas and alcohol, but were never informed on whether my daughter could have soda. This was even after asking multiple people, so she stuck with water and juice. When I wanted a soda, I had to find someone who worked there and ask for it, so tipping became expensive. It would be nice if they had automatic soda machines like they do at Disney resorts if you purchase a special cup or just include soda in the price of the cruise fare.

We decided to take a tour of the public areas since this was a new ship to us. The tour was mainly about all the areas on the ship that cost extra money and the push of alcohol was overwhelming. Soon after the tour, we headed up to check out our cabin. The hallways were clean and our room was very nice. The bed was large and the pullout bed was very similar to the ones we have experienced on Disney; however, the bed was uncomfortable because of the space between the two twin beds that were pushed together. My husband also kept hitting his feet on a zipper of some sort at the end of the bed. There was no divider between the pull-out and the bed so privacy in changing with a 10 year old girl and my husband was limited. The bathroom was one room and included a double sink, shower (no tub) with rain nozzle, soap/shampoo dispensers, and the toilet. There was plenty of storage in the bathroom. Our housekeeper was very friendly and spoke to us each time he saw us. He knew my daughter's name before the end of the first night. Don’t plan on watching TV before bed unless you want to watch the news or a station with random old movies.

After the muster drill, which we appreciated was indoors (unfortunately stationed in the smoky casino for our group) we headed to the sail away party on the pool deck. On our way upstairs, the elevators were packed and we ended up taking the stairs from the 6th floor to the 17th floor. There was a rude passenger in front of the herd yelling for people to get out of his way and that he was coming through. His wife told him to stop and he said, “well, they won’t get out of our way.” Where does this entitlement come from?

Anyway, we finally reached the party. The cruise director, Silas was involved in the sail away party and was dancing his heart out. We were highly impressed with his moves and his engagement with the passengers throughout the cruise. Some of the entertainment staff was also present to dance with cruisers. The kick off party was not what we had expected. There was not much going on for kids at this time and the kids clubs were only doing registration. We could not see what the inside of the clubs looked like either. Later on, we went to register my daughter for the Splash Academy. We stood in line for about 45 minutes as there was only one person registering kids. The rule for kids being able to check out on their own was they had to be at least 9 years old, get parent approval for self-checkout, and stay a minimum of two hours. We thought that was not going to be a problem as our daughter never has trouble making friends or keeping herself entertained. We were wrong. She went to the kids club on the first sea day and hated it. She was inside the club about 15 minutes before the counselors took all the kids to the top deck to the basketball court for organized games. My daughter was hot and wanted to leave. She said the staff was not friendly and there was not much else to do if participating in the organized activities was not what she wanted to do. That was the last of her going to the kids club. We could not talk her into trying it again.

Things just went downhill from there. I personally witnessed a father give his 14 year old beer. On our way to dinner, there was a girl (about 12 years old or so) in the elevator who was completely inebriated. She was hanging all over her friend, who was obviously embarrassed for her friends’ actions. I could not believe what I was seeing. As the cruise went on, we saw more and more unsupervised children running a muck all over the ship at all hours of the night. Shuffleboard sticks were broken and kids were being extremely disrespectful to each other.

We decided to give the “family show” a try. We knew it wasn’t a Disney-style broadway show, so we went in with an open mind. Within 10-15 minutes of the show starting, people were leaving...and I don’t mean a few. About half the theater cleared out. As I feel it is rude to leave during a show, we stayed for the entirety. I felt we should have left because in the “family show” the F-bomb was dropped. My 10 year old covered her ears and wanted to leave and said she hated the show. Thankfully, the pace picked up with the dancing after that and my daughter raveled in the tapping of the shoes on stage.

Not only was the “family show” not kid-friendly, the deck parties were not as well. I am not a parent who shelters my child, however I do have to draw the line where inappropriate actions are something she should not be witness to at her age. Apparently the sexy leg contest is a popular event among cruise lines (other than Disney). The day of the contest was a nice day at sea. We were relaxing on the pool deck when the cruise director announced the sexy-legs contest would be starting soon and he needed women to judge and men to participate. The rules were the women could touch the men anywhere but the men could not touch the women. Surely, with kids of all ages present, there would be some discrepancy in judgement from cruises that were not on spring break with a bunch of kids. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The men were getting up on top of the women and “humping their face”, pulling their bathing suits and shorts up to heights where no imagination was left, and comments made on the microphone were unacceptable for kids under the age of 18. I understand this was not a Disney cruise and this may be the norm on the other ships, but I believe the activity should have been blocked off for adults-only or at least having a disclaimer that there was going to be adult activity and was not appropriate for all ages.

On day 3 of 7, when we were thinking of how nice it would be to get off the ship in St. Thomas and to see Magen’s Bay, my husband became violently ill on the way to our excursion. Shortly after arriving at Magen’s Bay we had to get a cab to take us back to the port. Upon entering the ship my husband went straight to the ship’s hospital for care. Come to find out, he had a kidney stone that was causing a blockage and making him extremely sick. The doctor on the ship recommended he get more advanced care at a hospital so he was transported to Roy Schneider Hospital by ambulance. I was freaking out as I had no idea where this hospital was, how I was going to get there, what would happen if we didn’t make it back to the ship before it left port, and so many other questions. Guest services was all but helpful to start off. I had my 10 year old daughter crying and scared, which brought me to tears. That was when guest services stepped in. We were told a port agent had been assigned to us and would come pick my daughter and me up from the ship to take us to the hospital and were told to wait in our cabin. While we were waiting, we received a phone call saying the port agent was at least an hour away and we should take a cab. Luckily, I had my debit card and the ship had an ATM so I could withdraw cash. My husband was admitted and my daughter and I had to make a decision on whether or not to go back to the ship or to stay in the hospital with him. He wanted us to go back since we had no extra clothes, chargers, food, ect. As much as I hated leaving him, it was the best option at that time. He was in a U.S. hospital and was getting adequate care.

I needed to contact the hospital that night to check on my husband. Our phones had to be taken off airplane mode, which was a concern for how much we would rack up in international calls since we were on our way to the British Virgin Island of Tortola. I was able to talk Guest Services into letting me use their phones to make calls to the hospital. At first they told me I could call the hospital from our room at $4.99/minute. I told them that was not an option. After many failed attempts to reach my husband, he had turned his phone on so that we could at least text. He was able to meet up with us in Tortola the next day but ended up staying in the cabin most of the remainder of the cruise.

While he was completely disembarked (we did not know that was going to be the case), our key cards had been turned off and all access to our accounts had been disabled. We could not access our cabin or make purchases. After many hours of dealing with security and guest services, we were able to enter our cabin and were finally able to get some rest. I was really hoping that the customer service would have been better considering our circumstance.

The following day, our iConcierge app was not working. The iConcierge app is used to communicate with people in your party or other guests on the ship. It is also used to check and reserve dining and show times and to view the schedule of activities around the ship. We went to guest services to let them know the app wasn’t working for us, so they reactivated it...with an $8/phone charge. Later, I went down to get the app refunded since we had already paid for it. When it was refunded, the app was disabled, again. We activated the app, again, only to be charged $8/phone, again. We went back and forth for the next two-days when we finally decided to stay together as a family so we didn’t have to use the app. By the last night, my husband was able to get up and move about the ship for short periods of time. The Navigator app Disney uses is free, texting on the app is free, and the app itself is so much more user-friendly.

During my husband’s recovery time he needed certain items from the shops on the ship. The merchandise selection was extremely limited unless you wanted alcohol, jewelry, or cigarettes. I was surprised at how few of everyday items were not available in the gift shops.

I thought embarking on a mega-ship was going to be amazing. In reality, I never could quite get my bearings straight after the seventh night. A mega-ship comes with mega-crowds. The pools were packed, it was nearly impossible to find a lounge chair unless we were in port, and the atrium was so crowded every night that there was no place to sit and relax. One evening, a disgruntled passenger created a scene in the atrium by guest services. I have never seen so many people get so quiet so fast. I think guest services handled the situation the best they could, but my goodness…the nerve of some people. I thought a fight was going to break out. We have never had an issue finding a place to sit in the atrium on a Disney ship, and they have an open atrium with very limited seating. The overall atmosphere was so much friendlier on Disney. I felt I never connected with the staff on Escape. Our family has been chosen as a magical family on 4 of our 6 Disney cruises because of how well the staff got to know us and how easy it was to engage with the cast members and characters.

Speaking of large amounts of people on the ship...having one gangway open for over 5,000 passengers to disembark at the ports was ridiculous. We disembarked on the 4th floor. The people were lined up 4 across, up the stairs, to at least to the 10th floor (where we were). There has to be a better process for this! Also, just when you thought you would be brave enough to try the ropes course or the aqua loop slides, they closed down. The lines were so long during the day and with the evening entertainment and dinner, it was hard to find a good time to go. Everything closed so early and on most days, the ropes course was either partially or fully closed down due to hours of operation or high winds (which I know they have no control over). Another thing I didn’t like was how you either had to switch out your towels or keep them. I hope they change their towel policy and have kiosks where you can switch out dirty ones for clean and dry ones as you feel you need to.

A lot of people ask about freestyle dining versus rotational dining. I think both of them have their pros and cons. I will start with rotational dining. This type of dining is when you are assigned a restaurant and a time to eat and your wait staff follows you throughout the cruise. While sticking to a schedule may be tough for some people, I realized how much I liked the rotational dining better. I enjoyed getting to know my servers. They knew exactly what my family and I liked and didn’t like. They become like family on the longer voyages. The myth that you have to sit with another family is just that...a myth. You may be assigned to sit with another family who has kids around your kids age or if you are traveling without kids, you may be assigned a table with another adult couple, but call Disney and say you want to sit at a table by yourself and it’s never an issue. With the rotational dining, we also could catch the show before or after our assigned time. We usually choose the 8:00 seating so we can go to the early show. Usually, dinner is a process, but Disney makes it entertaining so it is more like getting a show and dinner all in one. By the time dinner is over, music is playing in the atrium, characters are out for meet and greets, and the photography studios are open (and a cast member will never turn you down for taking a picture of your family). Also, never fret getting to the Pirates in the Caribbean deck party or Buccaneer Blast fireworks at sea. Disney schedules these around the dinner times. I realized on Disney, I shower and try to look my best for every dinner, whereas on Escape, I barely saw anyone putting effort into their attire...especially on formal night. I think my husband was the only person on the entire ship wearing a tuxedo, whereas on every Disney cruise, people go out of their way for formal and semi-formal night. I actually missed the feeling of wanting to look nice at dinner. Oh, and if you don’t want what is on the menu, ask for something else...Disney will get it for you. If you are not feeling well or maybe just want to eat in your cabin, order the FREE room service and they will deliver it...usually with some type of surprise. My daughter was seasick one night on Disney Dream. She ended up leaving dinner early (before her meal came) and went to the cabin to go to bed. Our server not only delivered the meal to our cabin for her to eat later...he checked on her and reported back to us that she was asleep and he had left the meal on the table next to her bed. We never asked him to deliver the meal...it was just that good of customer service...the above and beyond Disney gives their guests. When we called for FREE room service on Escape, there was a service charge of every meal, not including the tip.

Now, for freestyle dining...I thought being able to eat whenever I wanted would be a plus...not worrying about getting dressed up or sticking to a set schedule. At first, it was OK. I would maybe eat a late lunch and not feel like eating dinner, so we would go to O’Sheehan’s for quick “bar food” or Garden Cafe’ for a wider selection late at night. We tried two of the main dining rooms...both were complimentary...Manhattan Room on formal night and Savor on our last night. Neither restaurant wowed us. We requested near the dance floor for Manhattan Room so my daughter could dance (after all she is “Dancing Cruise Girl” on YouTube). They could not accommodate the three of us, so our table ended up being at the very back of the restaurant where people were checking in...furthest away from the dance floor. She never got a chance to dance that night, or any night. The wait staff was not very friendly and seemed annoyed when I tried to change an entree’ to how we like it. It was frowned upon to ask for anything that was not on the menu.

Disembarking on Escape was a nightmare for my daughter and me. We had already been separated once from my husband during the cruise, and now they were requiring him to disembark at 6:30 AM the day we arrived back into port. I was told by Guest Services that he would not have to go back through the embarkation process since he got on the ship with us in Miami. Later, we received a letter in our stateroom saying that all “Mid-cruise joiners” had to disembark to go through customs at 6:30. I explained how he was not a mid-cruise joiner and he embarked with us in Miami. Apparently, since he was disembarked in a U.S. territory to go to the hospital, and re-embarked in Tortola, he was considered a mid-cruise joiner. For one, I had never been on a NCL ship before so I had no clue what disembarkation was like. I expressed my concern over getting separated again, and Guest Services offered no comfort to my daughter and me. My daughter and I sat on the balcony watching the sunrise over Miami while we waited for our color to be called so we could disembark. We were the second group to get off the ship. Our color was never called so after our disembarkation time, we headed up towards the casino to wait to get off. Finally, we disembarked around 9:00. My husband, who was in pain and extremely tired, had to wait over two hours for us outside the terminal. He was not allowed to wait inside the terminal and we were not allowed to disembark with him.

Needless to say, I have never been so happy to see the U.S. mainland in my life. I was so excited when my husband, daughter, and I reunited and we couldn’t wait to get away from the port. After talking to him about disembarking, he said he felt like he was in a herd of cattle. He said he felt embarrassed and belittled. Having a cruise like this was not what we were expecting. We went in with an open mind and excitement to try something new. We looked forward to not standing in line for photos every night and scheduling our day around the character meet and greets. Come to find out...that is exactly what we love about Disney. We missed the friendly photography staff and all the characters who brought the magic of life out in every person young and old. The customer service on Disney is remarkable. The saying you get what you pay for is so true. We will pay the extra money to remain loyal to Disney. We are not party cruisers, which I believe was another difference in our experience. Unless we book another cruise with a group of people, we will not be back on Norwegian Cruise Line. Our family enjoys what Disney Cruise Line stands for. We love it so much we are friends with many of the cast members we have met over our years of cruising. We keep in touch with those amazing people. I miss my home away from home...and that is Disney Fantasy, Disney Wonder, and Disney Dream.
Stephanied.inch@gmail.com’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony Stateroom
Cabin BX 10826
The cabin was clean. Upon arriving, we wanted to use the refrigerator. The bottom of the fridge had a piece missing and it was laying in the floor under the fridge. The fridge also was stocked with alcohol, water, and soda, so there was no room for anything we wanted to use it for. The bathroom was missing washcloths and tissues and the soap dispensers were almost empty. After bringing it to our stateroom host's attention, the issues were resolved...other than the broken fridge. The closets were much smaller than what we had on Disney. There were no drawers to store clothes in...only tiny shelves that barely fit an outfit. My daughter had drawers under her bed (the couch) but they were full of sheets and extra blankets and pillows. The floor was not large enough to keep anything in our suitcases to where we could access them, so we had to unpack everything, but finding storage was difficult. Thankfully, the bed was high enough to put the suitcases under it, but pulling them in and out was difficult due to the campiness of the cabin. The storage in the bathroom was great. I wished our cabin had a divider curtain for the couch and the bed because with a 10 year old daughter, modesty has become an issue. The bed had a crack down the middle where two twin beds were pushed together and my husband kept hitting his heels on the zipper or some other object under the sheets. The technology in the room was good. I liked how you could request your host, tell them you are in your room, or to not disturb by clicking a switch. What I didn't like was that on multiple occasions we could not access our cabin because our cards were turned off. I also did not like not having TV channels to watch other than the news or a channel with random old movies on it.
Deck 8 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews