Norwegian Escape Cruise Review by mizLORInj
- Sail Date: November 2018
- Destination: Bahamas
- Cabin Type: Aft-facing Balcony Stateroom
Arrived at the port around 11:15am. We went to the platinum line to the right for check-in which moved pretty quickly. By the time we were checked in we were able to walk right on board. Went to the Garden Café buffet for lunch although we’re aware that O’Sheehans and one dining room is open for lunch. I enjoy the variety at the buffet for lunch and it did not disappoint. It did seem very crowded though.
Cabins were ready at 1:30pm. We had an aft-facing cabin which was very nice and the large balcony was great although the deck loungers were not in great condition. The cabin itself is nice yet lacking in storage space with a small closet, some shelves and a couple small cabinets under the tv. Not sure how we’d manage on a very long cruise. Wish the bathroom had a nightlight like Anthem of the Seas and more shelf space too. The Escape closet was narrow (vs. deep); men’s shirt sleeves were tough to hang in there as the sleeves kept poking out the door opening. Bed was starting to be concave. The safe seemed tinier than ever! iPad mini no longer fits in it. Shelf space was ok. Norwegian is one of the last remaining mainline cruise companies that still puts mini-bar items in the fridge. Also, different from Breakaway and Getaway is your room lights are on the room # plate—do not disturb, make up room, and home. Like this feature.
First night we like to go to the Welcome Aboard show to get a sample of the entertainment. The comedian Tom was very funny and we did catch one of his shows at Headliners later in the cruise. We also made it to The Brat Pack which was very good as I saw all those movies in the 80s so I knew what each scene related to, and also enjoyed the trivia questions on the screen before the show started. The musicians and performers were great. They expressly say it is not for children and it is not. I realize we are desensitized to language, but believe NCL when they tell you it is NOT a show for kids. We also did Wine Lovers The Musical on the last sea day and the food was good, as was the wine and entertainment. Note that if the show appears as sold out on your tv (you can book shows on your cabin tv), go to Guest Services. That’s what we did and we got in. We also saw a standby line upon check in and some of those people made it into the show too. We caught Howl at the Moon once.
We were outside in shorts by the afternoon of the first sea day.
It was Thanksgiving week so there were a lot of kids onboard. We heard it was about ~1,200.
If you are platinum and you want to use your 30 minutes of free internet, wait a bit after you board and create an account and sign on. The 30 minutes free should show as an option. Mine showed on Day 2 of the cruise and worked fine. Don’t forget to sign out each time. Appreciated this perk.
The ship is wider than Breakaway or Getaway, but I still think the Atrium is a not-so-great venue for so many of the shows and activities. And so many people say this. Yes, it’s in the midst of a lot of activity but is extremely crowded especially on sea days.
On Monday we had a fun Cruise Critic Meet & Greet in District Brewhouse. A few of the officers and Alvin the CD mingled with guests and gave out their contact information. There were also flights of various beers being given out, as well has hors d’ouevres. Thought it was very nicely done.
Congrats to NCL for finally putting “this balcony is non-smoking” on the balcony doors, but it would be a miracle if I could go on one cruise and not have to smell smoke from the people who don’t think this applies to them. NCL should have said more on this topic at Muster. On Getaway the announcer clearly stated no smoking in staterooms or on balconies. Then he repeated it. On this ship you are told to check your Freestyle Daily for locations. Not sufficient. Carnival has recently raised the $ fine for smoking in prohibited locations. Also, speaking of cig smoke, when is NCL going to do something about the location of the casino. The entire 3 floors nearby smelled of stale cigarette smoke. Also, I want to say thank you to those who smoked in the designated areas only.
Dining. We had the dining package plus two platinum dinner certificates. Don’t panic if you can’t make reservations before you board the ship—you can do this once you board—that’s what we did. We went the first night to Cagney’s but our meat was overcooked—as were some of the sides. This is the second time on NCL that Cagney’s was a disappointment. I had better filet mignon later in the cruise at other restaurants. However, I will say that the serving staff was very responsive when we told them we had a show in 90 minutes. We were finished in probably less than an hour which was great. Next up was La Cucina where we ate twice. Fabulous. I think we did Teppanyaki 2x after that and the filet was great as was the shrimp. We had a reservation at Moderno but decided that based on our last experience of extremely salty meats we would trade it for something else (although we do love their extensive salad bar). So we used the 2 platinum certificates for the first 2 dinners, and had 3 for the dining package. When we checked in for the last dinner at Teppenyaki, the hostess told us we had used up our dining package and we explained that the first 2 were platinum dinners, and the next 3 were part of the package, therefore this was our last dinner as part of the 3-dinner plan. We did try out Food Republic too even though it was a la carte pricing, and the 3 things we got were quite good, as was the fabulous Ancho chili cocktail that is on that menu only.
We had the drink package and got drinks from various bars onboard. No straws, but we did not ask, and there is a notice about this in the Freestyle Daily.
We did the black glass champagne tasting (extra $ but with 20% off if you have drink package) and it was very interesting. Enjoyed it a lot. You have to determine which are sparkling wine and which are champagne.
Alvin the CD is very entertaining and is everywhere. The ships officers, particularly the Hotel Director, also very visible and helpful. This has not always been my experience with NCL hotel directors. This crew seemed to really want to please.
I do not like that you cannot bring water on board or Coke. NCL serves Pepsi.
The onboard shop had only 1 or 2 Escape items—they were offering the bundle of turquoise t-shirt and white visor, but had no mugs, shot glasses, or other cool items with Escape on it. And I did ask and was told twice they did not have these items onboard.
TV is the worst. 4 news channels (thank you no, I’m on vacation!) and one sitcom channel and one movie channel--both showing the same things over and over. I do like that your account shows on the tv as well as anything you have reserved, and you can book shows and excursions this way too.
NCL’s app was not that simple and there were usually long lines at the Internet Café person when it was open. Royal Caribbean’s app I found to be more user friendly. For example, once downloaded and you’re onboard, it is quick and simple to access your information like account and shows without doing all the steps you have to for the NCL app to work.
We enjoyed seeing the movie Book Club on the Spice H20 screen. Love outdoor movies. We went to one or two parties out there and it’s a great venue in good weather. Grotto looked nice for being able to cool off while not going in the pool.
Port Canaveral it rained as we arrived and went past the beautiful Anthem of the Seas as that ship was also in port for the day. We rented a car and visited local places
GSC. Tendering is such a long process. . . waiting for the tenders to fill. The island is ok; there are better private islands in my opinion. Note that your drink package does work on the island. This was the only place we found a person serving who did not understand what we were asking for even though it was right on their menu. We did have a beautiful day at GSC and enjoyed it. Guess I should be grateful we made it to GSC as I know it gets skipped occasionally.
Nassau. As we were about to enter the channel we spotted the brand new Celebrity Edge just hanging outside the channel. Was cool to see this new style of ship in person. Been to Nassau a few times and we usually go sailing to Rose Island. Others we spoke with later did 2 hour island tours and enjoyed them. Next time we will check out Blue Lagoon island on our own via ferry.
Last 2 days at sea. Bought an art piece from Park West. Had a bit of difficulty finding a frame I wanted as most of their styles are not plain which I prefer for a frame. Would have liked to take it to local store for framing but of course it was “a package price.” They used to have a computer program where they showed you the piece of art inside their many frame options. For some reason that option was not offered to me though I asked. There is some nice artwork but be aware these guys/ladies are schooled in the art of selling. They are listening to your conversations and will be very nice but also pushy. While it’s an interesting process to watch the auctions, be sure to read the stories online about Park West—especially if you’re considering expensive art.
Weather was very nice until the last 2 sea days where we experienced some rough seas at night and into the morning. We don’t get seasick and didn’t mind. Many people were around the ship and all seemed fine.
Debarkation: you now get a color even for express walk-off which we learned about watching the debark talk on tv. Still there was a line with some disorder and line-cutting, and no one was checking what color you had on your luggage anyway. Walk-off takes usually 20 minutes or so and it’s nice and quick through customs/immigration now. You only need to fill out a customs card if you are over the allowance.
Comparing Escape to Anthem. Cabins on Anthem seem larger and have better storage space both in the cabin and the bathroom. Even on a 10 nighter on Anthem we had plenty of space for all our clothes unpacked. We love Anthem’s nightlight in the bathroom. Food I know is subjective but we enjoyed most of the food on both ships--we surely have not gone hungry on any cruise. Escape’s buffet seems more crowded whereas Anthem’s is much more of an open space. If you're a soft ice cream (product) fan, NCL has it in the buffet at all times whereas Anthem has very limited hours. Most upcharge restaurants on both are good. Both ships have activity location issues—as Anthem’s Schooner Lounge and Music Hall get very crowded for activities, but Two70 at the stern of Anthem is great for some activities like Quest. Escape has Spice H2O but it gets full and is weather-dependent. Escape has water slides; Anthem does not but has other offerings. Entertainment on both is very good. Anthem is leaving NJ in early 2020. Escape will also be moving on but Bliss will be coming to NYC and then Encore. YAY for new ships. Also, some people prefer smaller ships or larger. We like both and appreciate their differences.