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Why I'm glad I paid an extra $200-ish in gratuities for the Ultimate Beverage Package promotion: You can lay on a deck chair, sit on your balcony, dine in a restaurant, chill at a bar - All while indulging in almost any beer, glass of wine, cocktail or double whiskey...As frequently as you please for $0.00. Do it. Cheers! Why I'm glad I paid an extra $400-ish for a balcony with Mandara Spa Thermal Suite access included: You get exclusive access to a large heated thermal pool and thermal beds, hot-tub, snow room, multiple saunas and rain showers. From 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM you can escape the crowds and retreat to this serene and soothing space at your leisure. I was skeptical about this splurge because the common Spa areas on other ships seem underwhelming vs. the cost. This is not the case with Escape. It's big, better and worth it. Why I could have lived without the Ultimate Dining Package: When not taking into consideration the atmosphere and uniqueness of Teppanyaki, Le Bistro or Moderno, The food itself wasn't that much of a step above the other complimentary options on board. Even though we had to pay an up-charge on top of the UDP gratuities, Bayamo was THE exception. Exquisite and delicious. Carnival Vista was our first and previous cruise, and while we loved it, Norwegian's menu overall went above and beyond theirs. Why I'm grateful I saw "The Brat Pack" and "After Midnight" even though I was again skeptical about Theater at Sea: The music, the choreography, the talent, the endurance. It brought me to tears and standing ovations. The lack of courtesy and amount of people that walked out mid-show was irritating. Jerks! Things that were Disappointing or get old quick: "When are you coming for your massage?". The "Washy-Washy" song each and every breakfast, lunch and dinner at the buffet. Lack of genuine hospitality with the exception of a wonderful cabin attendant. Pre-cruise experience with telephone representatives. Convoluted and almost deliberately confusing terms and Conditions. Erroneous charges you have to huff-and-puff down to Guest Services to get resolved and the language barriers that can come with it, (Anticipated but a nuisance nonetheless.) You'll probably encounter at least one rude or unpleasant staff member even though most are friendly enough. Bite your tongue and enjoy your vacation. The elevators. Things that were Awesome: More is just more. We never had much trouble finding deckchairs where we wanted in the common areas or seating at the buffet, despite negative reviews. Lines in the Lobby were fairly quick and almost non-existent for the water slides and rope course. Even though the main pool deck and hot tubs are often crowded - Spice H2O and decks 19 and 20 offer a less busy alternative. The buffet usually had an incredible variety with themed dinner specials each night, (Seafood, Duck, Sushi, BBQ etc.) You can eat and drink until you explode, then check your on board account the next day to find you haven't spent a dime. The ship was clean and modern with varied and tasteful design aesthetics. Overall this was a very positive first experience with Norwegian and I'm not quite sure how I'll convince myself to try another cruise line considering how much I saved and indulged with all the "Free At Sea" promotions. I also very much appreciated the tips and insights from fellow cruise critic members prior to my trip. Booking several months ahead and doing my research really paid off and prepared me for an amazing vacation. Disclaimer: We sailed before the holidays and had a considerably low amount of kids on board. Every port day was sunny and beautiful with no cancellations and we had only one rough sea day. That of course contributes to such a great experience and not every sailing will have the same good luck.

Bigger is better. Do your research and don't fall for the negative reviews.

Norwegian Escape Cruise Review by dougygreen

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2018
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Spa Balcony Stateroom
Why I'm glad I paid an extra $200-ish in gratuities for the Ultimate Beverage Package promotion: You can lay on a deck chair, sit on your balcony, dine in a restaurant, chill at a bar - All while indulging in almost any beer, glass of wine, cocktail or double whiskey...As frequently as you please for $0.00. Do it. Cheers!

Why I'm glad I paid an extra $400-ish for a balcony with Mandara Spa Thermal Suite access included: You get exclusive access to a large heated thermal pool and thermal beds, hot-tub, snow room, multiple saunas and rain showers. From 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM you can escape the crowds and retreat to this serene and soothing space at your leisure. I was skeptical about this splurge because the common Spa areas on other ships seem underwhelming vs. the cost. This is not the case with Escape. It's big, better and worth it.

Why I could have lived without the Ultimate Dining Package: When not taking into consideration the atmosphere and uniqueness of Teppanyaki, Le Bistro or Moderno, The food itself wasn't that much of a step above the other complimentary options on board. Even though we had to pay an up-charge on top of the UDP gratuities, Bayamo was THE exception. Exquisite and delicious. Carnival Vista was our first and previous cruise, and while we loved it, Norwegian's menu overall went above and beyond theirs.

Why I'm grateful I saw "The Brat Pack" and "After Midnight" even though I was again skeptical about Theater at Sea: The music, the choreography, the talent, the endurance. It brought me to tears and standing ovations. The lack of courtesy and amount of people that walked out mid-show was irritating. Jerks!

Things that were Disappointing or get old quick: "When are you coming for your massage?". The "Washy-Washy" song each and every breakfast, lunch and dinner at the buffet. Lack of genuine hospitality with the exception of a wonderful cabin attendant. Pre-cruise experience with telephone representatives. Convoluted and almost deliberately confusing terms and Conditions. Erroneous charges you have to huff-and-puff down to Guest Services to get resolved and the language barriers that can come with it, (Anticipated but a nuisance nonetheless.) You'll probably encounter at least one rude or unpleasant staff member even though most are friendly enough. Bite your tongue and enjoy your vacation. The elevators.

Things that were Awesome: More is just more. We never had much trouble finding deckchairs where we wanted in the common areas or seating at the buffet, despite negative reviews. Lines in the Lobby were fairly quick and almost non-existent for the water slides and rope course. Even though the main pool deck and hot tubs are often crowded - Spice H2O and decks 19 and 20 offer a less busy alternative. The buffet usually had an incredible variety with themed dinner specials each night, (Seafood, Duck, Sushi, BBQ etc.) You can eat and drink until you explode, then check your on board account the next day to find you haven't spent a dime. The ship was clean and modern with varied and tasteful design aesthetics.

Overall this was a very positive first experience with Norwegian and I'm not quite sure how I'll convince myself to try another cruise line considering how much I saved and indulged with all the "Free At Sea" promotions. I also very much appreciated the tips and insights from fellow cruise critic members prior to my trip. Booking several months ahead and doing my research really paid off and prepared me for an amazing vacation.

Disclaimer: We sailed before the holidays and had a considerably low amount of kids on board. Every port day was sunny and beautiful with no cancellations and we had only one rough sea day. That of course contributes to such a great experience and not every sailing will have the same good luck.
dougygreen’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Spa Balcony Stateroom
Cabin B9 15144
Perfectly located a deck below the Mandara Spa. Spacious glass enclosed shower. Comfortable beds. Plenty of storage.
Deck 15 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews