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Before I get started into the details of this cruise, I want to make one thing clear: I am a female solo cruiser. I have cruised about 10 times total on various lines. I am also, generally, a very easing going person who likes to experience each day as it comes along, and I like to "go with the flow." I enjoy quiet, but I also like the "freestyle" opportunity to mingle with the "partiers" when it's going on, and later when I'm in the mood, I while away an hour or more in my cabin balcony, and watch the sunset fill the sky. I'm a mature adult (50s) and have learned to experience the process of living more than having goals run my life. It's all about experiencing life -- not controlling it. I cruise to get away from work on short notice (2-3 weeks notice), which admittedly means I sometimes have limited choice of cruise itineraries. I also usually choose smaller ships (about 2100 passenger size) and if I can afford it, a balcony. It all depends on the cost of the single supplement. But after cruising on the Escape, this may be my new favorite ship. But like any large ships there are pros and cons. I found the pros usually won, however. On price point - I like Norwegian pricing and option of cruise itineraries because: (1) their single supplement is usually around 50% and sometimes even at 0%! (This is wonderful for single cruisers because that means a solo cruiser can get a cabin at less than the 2 person occupancy rates. And (2) I like the solo meet and greet with Norwegian and the Meet and Greet they offer to members of the Cruise Critic Roll Call group, and (3) Norwegian is low pressure for dress code -- not that many cruise lines are formal anymore -- but it means I don't have to pack a trunk. I've cruised with Norwegian about 3 times now and will do so again. I've also cruised with other cruise lines and enjoyed them also -- so this is not a diss on other cruise lines. Honestly, I suppose it boils down to convenience. EMBARKATION from Miami: It went very smoothly. In fact, although you are given an embarkation time on the E-Docs, I found that Norwegian generally takes you on a first come first served basis. I arrived about 2 hours before my embarkation (due to a VERY early flight arrival) and presented my documents to the cruise personnel shortly after 11AM. I checked in, and received my boarding pass (credit card authorized and photo) in less than 10 minutes. They directed me to a seating area, gave me a group number (group number 8) and then I relaxed to await bordering. Now, I'm a friendly person, so I struck up conversations with a few people around me -- I met several folks from New York and others from California. I then helped myself to a glass of orange juice, and settled in with my carry on bag and listened for the boarding call. Within 20 minutes Group 8 was called, and I was routed by staff into line to walk to the ship. All told -- it probably took less than 30 minutes from check-in to boarding. I was on board around 11:45 AM. BIG HINT: After boarding the Escape -- If you want a quiet and relaxing first few hours after boarding the ship, DO NOT go to the Buffet Restaurant on Deck 16 (unless you have children who need to eat ASAP). I went to SAVOR -- one of the restaurants on Deck 6 (AFT). It was quiet, relaxing, leisurely -- and the staff were polite and friendly. (As an aside) I noticed some crew seemed very tired -- probably from having just completed a turnaround on servicing the Escape. I was told the crew does a top to bottom cleaning of all rooms and deck areas. They sanitize as much as possible. The crew on this ship works hard, very hard. I spoke with several of the crew and many worked 18 hour days/ 7 days a week. It is not an easy lifestyle. It is surprising how kind they can be when you are kind in return. After speaking and really listening to the staff, asking questions of where they were from, it was amazing how they remembered my name and always smiled. So - be kind -- it can go a long way to make your trip better and the crew feels appreciated too. By the time I had eaten dessert at SAVOR, (around 1 PM) the ship announced the staterooms were ready. I dropped off my luggage in my AFT balcony. See my review on the cabin (FYI) Cabin 12908 was the best Aft Balcony room I've ever been in - see my short review - I will upload pictures. And the Steward, Harvey, was a kind and wonderful young man from the Philippines. I discover each room steward oversees about 16-18 rooms a day. They make up those rooms sometimes 3 times a day! Wow. That's work. DINING: Dining generally was very good. The Best experience was at BAYAMO - truly stellar - NOTE: there is an up-charge of $15 added to your specialty meal package, but it is well worth it. I had the Tuna and watermelon appetizer, a tomato salad, Scallops with Oxtail in a cuban inspired green chile sauce (really great!) and for dessert a flan and coffee. I had one sub-par experience at Cagney's where for some strange reason they couldn't cook my steak to the right temperature. I ordered it 3 times (medium rare) and it was always over cooked to medium well. I finally gave up ordering -- I didn't complain or ask for new steaks -- instead the waiter noticed every time I cut into the steak that the steak was over cooked. He brought the restaurant manager to apologize, and he gave me complete credit on my bill for the meal. (I really did not complain) My theory is that they were still training undercooks - the temperature should not have been a problem for this level of service - but all the side items were perfect. I had garlic potatoes and Asparagus. The next day I got Chocolate covered Strawberries and a bottle of wine from the Hospitality Director, Jovo - and an apology card from the Restaurant Director. (I really DIDN'T complain - so this really surprised me!) Thank you Jovo! (As a side point -- I knew when I was comped the bill for this meal at Cagney's that the wait staff would not earn the gratuity -- so I handed them cash ~$10. They really do work hard, and the steak was not their fault -- it's nice to remember these folks work hard to send money back home - they depend on the tips). Other than the experience at Cagney's, the food was good in all the restaurants. The Prime Rib and Short Ribs offered in the complementary dining rooms were very good! Don't miss those meals. I also dined at Le Bistro and at La Cuchina. Both were lovely and had nice atmosphere. Service was attentive. I avoided the Deck 16 Buffet because I don't like the noise and rush - rush. I usually grabbed rolls, fresh fruit (oranges or banana) and pastries late at night (9PM) in the Buffet and took them to my stateroom to save overnight for the next day breakfast - the coffee maker was a welcome addition to the room and made good hot coffee -- and was more than fine for breakfast on my balcony. ENTERTAINMENT: I went to FOR THE RECORD: BRAT PACK (A Hoot!) It was a very fun 1980's road trip, AFTER MIDNIGHT (Sexy and stunning tap and dance) a 1930-40-50s style Harlem Jazz scenes that combined to make you feel back in the hot days of Harlem. I also went to the CABARET DINER CLUB which was very good and had a gourmet 5 course dinner. That show was mostly 1950s and 60s Torch singing. Fun and sexy. Not quite a cabaret, but more like a 1950s style singing review. SERVICE: I've already covered this above. I found the service very good when I put forth effort to be friendly. I'm a naturally curious person, and want to know about others around me. I know some people don't approach traveling in the same way and expect constant smiles. This ship had few smiles initially, but I found the smiles and greetings came easier after I asked a few questions about their name, their day, and where they were from as well. A few moments of genuine interest brought smiles every day and warm greetings of "Hello Madam, Are you having a good day?" It was well worth the effort on the first and second day for a pleasant trip all week. PORTS and SHORE EXCURSIONS: I visited St. Thomas, USVI; Tortoga (BVI), and Nassau, Bahamas. I lived for a while on St. Thomas so I was not in any way shy about going onshore and going to the beach. This is a US protectorate -- US dollars. If you want upscale -- get a pass online for Sapphire Beach Resort (It is a resort style beach with clean white sands and upscale security). You can take a taxi and get there for about $20. It is a resort and can call a taxi when you need to return. If you want a local guided tour of St. Thomas that has lots of local color use Brenda and Franko's Fun tours. They are Island Locals all the way -- they will usually take you to Coki Beach which can be crowded on cruise day or to Magan's Bay -- both can be a little hectic but the beaches are wonderful and warm and soft sand. The tour guides are attentive and will take you to all the tourist places on the Island (and get you a few cups of free rum punch on the side). The cost is about $35 for a tour and beach day -- it lasts about 5 hours (beach about 2 hours). I went to Secret Habour. It is not frequented by the Cruise companies, and is very quiet, it has change rooms, and a small restaurant and is a local beach. It is about 20 minutes by taxi. If you take a taxi make sure you can call them for pick up and return. The Beach is also part of a resort but is public, and there might be people who will offer to get you a beach chair for $5 -- it's up to you. It is also a great beach for snorkeling. Just be aware of your return time back to the Cruise ship and plan to leave early -- all the Cruise line taxis return at the same time and traffic will go slow into the port at Charlotte Amalie. So plan on being back to the ship at least an hour before ship sails -- and make sure you arrange a set time for pick up at the beach. TORTOLA: Tortola is actually only 45 minutes by boat from St. Thomas (FYI) but the Escape cruises 9 hours in a circle and docks early (about 6 AM). I took the 7 AM Ships' tour to Virgin Gorda and the Baths. It was the Snorkel ashore tour -- I used to snorkel so this was not a problem. After snorkeling ashore (about 200 yards) make sure you turn with your back to shore and let the waves bring you in -- its much easier. The water was warm, the waves high, and the walk through the Baths Stones a little challenging for those with weak knees. I would NOT recommend this for anyone with back problems, bad knees or ankles. Take a submergible camera (all digital cameras will die in the wet here) - but- there are so many great pictures to take! I liked this tour and would do it again, but next time I would hopefully find a tour with a smaller boat (there were 80 passengers on this boat, so it was a little hard to get everyone coordinated and moving on time). FYI NASSAU: I didn't go ashore. I had been here several times and decided to stay on ship. IT was wonderful. The ship was quiet and relaxed. I could sit by the pool and read or have pool to swim in without any interruptions! THE CASINO: This Casino was all right. I found it rather confusing as it was situated in the atrium and in the middle of Deck 7. I played the slots with friends and made back about 75% of my money. I considered it entertainment for the cost of about 2 cups of Latte Coffee :) DISEMBARKATION: The disembarkation was smooth. I chose to leave the ship with the "PURPLE" group at about 9:15 AM. It was fairly easy to find my checked luggage for Customs, and I was out into the Taxi area by about 10 AM. HINT:; If you have a late departure at MIA International (mine was at 8 PM) you can take a Taxi to the Airport, check your luggage in and go back downtown to Miami on the Metro rail for only a few dollars. I checked in my luggage with my airline. I didn't have much of a carry on, so I went to the Metro Rail station in the Airport Station and bought a DADE Metro Rail pass for the Day ($6 for the day) and I went down to South Miami and hanged around the South Miami Shopping mall area. It is Cuban area with GREAT Cuban food. I ate at Casa Cuba -- and wandered around the upscale shopping area. Around 5:20 I took the ORANGE LINE back to the MIA Airport. I was through the TSA check point and back at the gate by 7 PM. What a nice way to end a cruise! Happy Cruising!

A Solo Cruiser's Review of a Norwegian Escape

Norwegian Escape Cruise Review by Happycruiserhw

35 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2016
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Aft-facing Balcony Stateroom
Before I get started into the details of this cruise, I want to make one thing clear: I am a female solo cruiser. I have cruised about 10 times total on various lines. I am also, generally, a very easing going person who likes to experience each day as it comes along, and I like to "go with the flow." I enjoy quiet, but I also like the "freestyle" opportunity to mingle with the "partiers" when it's going on, and later when I'm in the mood, I while away an hour or more in my cabin balcony, and watch the sunset fill the sky. I'm a mature adult (50s) and have learned to experience the process of living more than having goals run my life. It's all about experiencing life -- not controlling it.

I cruise to get away from work on short notice (2-3 weeks notice), which admittedly means I sometimes have limited choice of cruise itineraries. I also usually choose smaller ships (about 2100 passenger size) and if I can afford it, a balcony. It all depends on the cost of the single supplement. But after cruising on the Escape, this may be my new favorite ship.

But like any large ships there are pros and cons. I found the pros usually won, however.

On price point - I like Norwegian pricing and option of cruise itineraries because: (1) their single supplement is usually around 50% and sometimes even at 0%! (This is wonderful for single cruisers because that means a solo cruiser can get a cabin at less than the 2 person occupancy rates. And (2) I like the solo meet and greet with Norwegian and the Meet and Greet they offer to members of the Cruise Critic Roll Call group, and (3) Norwegian is low pressure for dress code -- not that many cruise lines are formal anymore -- but it means I don't have to pack a trunk. I've cruised with Norwegian about 3 times now and will do so again. I've also cruised with other cruise lines and enjoyed them also -- so this is not a diss on other cruise lines. Honestly, I suppose it boils down to convenience.

EMBARKATION from Miami:

It went very smoothly. In fact, although you are given an embarkation time on the E-Docs, I found that Norwegian generally takes you on a first come first served basis. I arrived about 2 hours before my embarkation (due to a VERY early flight arrival) and presented my documents to the cruise personnel shortly after 11AM. I checked in, and received my boarding pass (credit card authorized and photo) in less than 10 minutes. They directed me to a seating area, gave me a group number (group number 8) and then I relaxed to await bordering.

Now, I'm a friendly person, so I struck up conversations with a few people around me -- I met several folks from New York and others from California. I then helped myself to a glass of orange juice, and settled in with my carry on bag and listened for the boarding call. Within 20 minutes Group 8 was called, and I was routed by staff into line to walk to the ship.

All told -- it probably took less than 30 minutes from check-in to boarding. I was on board around 11:45 AM.

BIG HINT: After boarding the Escape --

If you want a quiet and relaxing first few hours after boarding the ship, DO NOT go to the Buffet Restaurant on Deck 16 (unless you have children who need to eat ASAP). I went to SAVOR -- one of the restaurants on Deck 6 (AFT). It was quiet, relaxing, leisurely -- and the staff were polite and friendly.

(As an aside) I noticed some crew seemed very tired -- probably from having just completed a turnaround on servicing the Escape. I was told the crew does a top to bottom cleaning of all rooms and deck areas. They sanitize as much as possible. The crew on this ship works hard, very hard. I spoke with several of the crew and many worked 18 hour days/ 7 days a week. It is not an easy lifestyle. It is surprising how kind they can be when you are kind in return. After speaking and really listening to the staff, asking questions of where they were from, it was amazing how they remembered my name and always smiled. So - be kind -- it can go a long way to make your trip better and the crew feels appreciated too.

By the time I had eaten dessert at SAVOR, (around 1 PM) the ship announced the staterooms were ready. I dropped off my luggage in my AFT balcony. See my review on the cabin (FYI)

Cabin 12908 was the best Aft Balcony room I've ever been in - see my short review - I will upload pictures. And the Steward, Harvey, was a kind and wonderful young man from the Philippines. I discover each room steward oversees about 16-18 rooms a day. They make up those rooms sometimes 3 times a day! Wow. That's work.

DINING:

Dining generally was very good. The Best experience was at BAYAMO - truly stellar - NOTE: there is an up-charge of $15 added to your specialty meal package, but it is well worth it. I had the Tuna and watermelon appetizer, a tomato salad, Scallops with Oxtail in a cuban inspired green chile sauce (really great!) and for dessert a flan and coffee.

I had one sub-par experience at Cagney's where for some strange reason they couldn't cook my steak to the right temperature. I ordered it 3 times (medium rare) and it was always over cooked to medium well. I finally gave up ordering -- I didn't complain or ask for new steaks -- instead the waiter noticed every time I cut into the steak that the steak was over cooked. He brought the restaurant manager to apologize, and he gave me complete credit on my bill for the meal. (I really did not complain) My theory is that they were still training undercooks - the temperature should not have been a problem for this level of service - but all the side items were perfect. I had garlic potatoes and Asparagus. The next day I got Chocolate covered Strawberries and a bottle of wine from the Hospitality Director, Jovo - and an apology card from the Restaurant Director. (I really DIDN'T complain - so this really surprised me!)

Thank you Jovo!

(As a side point -- I knew when I was comped the bill for this meal at Cagney's that the wait staff would not earn the gratuity -- so I handed them cash ~$10. They really do work hard, and the steak was not their fault -- it's nice to remember these folks work hard to send money back home - they depend on the tips).

Other than the experience at Cagney's, the food was good in all the restaurants. The Prime Rib and Short Ribs offered in the complementary dining rooms were very good! Don't miss those meals. I also dined at Le Bistro and at La Cuchina. Both were lovely and had nice atmosphere. Service was attentive.

I avoided the Deck 16 Buffet because I don't like the noise and rush - rush. I usually grabbed rolls, fresh fruit (oranges or banana) and pastries late at night (9PM) in the Buffet and took them to my stateroom to save overnight for the next day breakfast - the coffee maker was a welcome addition to the room and made good hot coffee -- and was more than fine for breakfast on my balcony.

ENTERTAINMENT:

I went to FOR THE RECORD: BRAT PACK (A Hoot!) It was a very fun 1980's road trip, AFTER MIDNIGHT (Sexy and stunning tap and dance) a 1930-40-50s style Harlem Jazz scenes that combined to make you feel back in the hot days of Harlem.

I also went to the CABARET DINER CLUB which was very good and had a gourmet 5 course dinner. That show was mostly 1950s and 60s Torch singing. Fun and sexy. Not quite a cabaret, but more like a 1950s style singing review.

SERVICE:

I've already covered this above. I found the service very good when I put forth effort to be friendly. I'm a naturally curious person, and want to know about others around me. I know some people don't approach traveling in the same way and expect constant smiles. This ship had few smiles initially, but I found the smiles and greetings came easier after I asked a few questions about their name, their day, and where they were from as well. A few moments of genuine interest brought smiles every day and warm greetings of "Hello Madam, Are you having a good day?"

It was well worth the effort on the first and second day for a pleasant trip all week.

PORTS and SHORE EXCURSIONS:

I visited St. Thomas, USVI; Tortoga (BVI), and Nassau, Bahamas.

I lived for a while on St. Thomas so I was not in any way shy about going onshore and going to the beach. This is a US protectorate -- US dollars. If you want upscale -- get a pass online for Sapphire Beach Resort (It is a resort style beach with clean white sands and upscale security). You can take a taxi and get there for about $20. It is a resort and can call a taxi when you need to return.

If you want a local guided tour of St. Thomas that has lots of local color use Brenda and Franko's Fun tours. They are Island Locals all the way -- they will usually take you to Coki Beach which can be crowded on cruise day or to Magan's Bay -- both can be a little hectic but the beaches are wonderful and warm and soft sand. The tour guides are attentive and will take you to all the tourist places on the Island (and get you a few cups of free rum punch on the side). The cost is about $35 for a tour and beach day -- it lasts about 5 hours (beach about 2 hours).

I went to Secret Habour. It is not frequented by the Cruise companies, and is very quiet, it has change rooms, and a small restaurant and is a local beach. It is about 20 minutes by taxi. If you take a taxi make sure you can call them for pick up and return. The Beach is also part of a resort but is public, and there might be people who will offer to get you a beach chair for $5 -- it's up to you. It is also a great beach for snorkeling. Just be aware of your return time back to the Cruise ship and plan to leave early -- all the Cruise line taxis return at the same time and traffic will go slow into the port at Charlotte Amalie. So plan on being back to the ship at least an hour before ship sails -- and make sure you arrange a set time for pick up at the beach.

TORTOLA:

Tortola is actually only 45 minutes by boat from St. Thomas (FYI) but the Escape cruises 9 hours in a circle and docks early (about 6 AM). I took the 7 AM Ships' tour to Virgin Gorda and the Baths. It was the Snorkel ashore tour -- I used to snorkel so this was not a problem. After snorkeling ashore (about 200 yards) make sure you turn with your back to shore and let the waves bring you in -- its much easier. The water was warm, the waves high, and the walk through the Baths Stones a little challenging for those with weak knees. I would NOT recommend this for anyone with back problems, bad knees or ankles. Take a submergible camera (all digital cameras will die in the wet here) - but- there are so many great pictures to take!

I liked this tour and would do it again, but next time I would hopefully find a tour with a smaller boat (there were 80 passengers on this boat, so it was a little hard to get everyone coordinated and moving on time). FYI

NASSAU:

I didn't go ashore. I had been here several times and decided to stay on ship. IT was wonderful. The ship was quiet and relaxed. I could sit by the pool and read or have pool to swim in without any interruptions!

THE CASINO:

This Casino was all right. I found it rather confusing as it was situated in the atrium and in the middle of Deck 7. I played the slots with friends and made back about 75% of my money. I considered it entertainment for the cost of about 2 cups of Latte Coffee :)

DISEMBARKATION:

The disembarkation was smooth. I chose to leave the ship with the "PURPLE" group at about 9:15 AM. It was fairly easy to find my checked luggage for Customs, and I was out into the Taxi area by about 10 AM.

HINT:;

If you have a late departure at MIA International (mine was at 8 PM) you can take a Taxi to the Airport, check your luggage in and go back downtown to Miami on the Metro rail for only a few dollars. I checked in my luggage with my airline. I didn't have much of a carry on, so I went to the Metro Rail station in the Airport Station and bought a DADE Metro Rail pass for the Day ($6 for the day) and I went down to South Miami and hanged around the South Miami Shopping mall area. It is Cuban area with GREAT Cuban food. I ate at Casa Cuba -- and wandered around the upscale shopping area. Around 5:20 I took the ORANGE LINE back to the MIA Airport. I was through the TSA check point and back at the gate by 7 PM.

What a nice way to end a cruise!

Happy Cruising!
Happycruiserhw’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
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Fitness & Recreation
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Cabin Review

Aft-facing Balcony Stateroom
Cabin B1 12908
Stateroom12908 -
This room is a standard sized balcony stateroom with a Queen sized bed near the window. The closet is divided into 2 parts: one side for hanging clothing- the other with shelving and a safe. There is plenty of storage area. the bathroom is well outfitted with shelving, a large shower, and larger mirror. It also has a hard dryer that was adequate and a small refrigerator (you can ask the Steward to remove part of the "for charge" bar contents to make room if you want to use it). There was also a coffeemaker in my stateroom (made 2 cups every morning).

FYI - The Balcony was HUGE. It was large enough for 2 chairs and a small table, AND had 2 long lounge chairs as well! The balcony was my favorite place to sit. There is an overhang that shelters from rain, but when the sun is lower in the sky you can get direct rays from a very hot sun. There was minimal rocking for the 12th deck -- but to be honest -- the seas were also fairly calm (3-6 foot waves for most of the trip).
Deck 15 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews