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The Escape was our first Norwegian Cruise, and we picked it due to its New York City departure point and the 14 day voyage. For reference, and to know what we are comparing this ship to, we have 16 previous cruises, all on Princess, Holland America and Royal Caribbean. We are a mid 40s couple travelling with another couple. Overall, I compare the Norwegian Escape to a well run Best Western Hotel in that you won’t be overly impressed with anything but neither will you have many complaints. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the ship a solid 6. The Good: The Norwegian Escape is a newer, large, modern ship that is kept immaculately clean. The sanitizing program was very evident in all dining areas, especially the buffet. The staff were non-stop sanitizing: menus, salt and pepper, condiments, tables, chairs, elevators buttons, hand rails, etc. Regardless of cruise line, we do not dress up for dinner but Norwegian takes this one step further with their casual vibe with a resort casual dress code almost everywhere, and it was nice to be able to wear shorts to the dining room for dinner. The food and experience in the up-charge / dining package Cagneys Steakhouse and Bayamo Seafood were both very good, with Bayamo being the best dinner we had onboard. Both offered upscale environments, high quality well prepared food, impressive desserts, and good service. The bars were also good, notably The District (a brewpub onboard) with their nightly piano entertainment, and Sugarcane (Mojito bar). Our cabin was nice, especially as it had an extended length balcony with an extra lounge chair, and an in room coffee maker. When returning from port, we liked the welcome service on the dock which included cold eucalyptus cloths, and water, popsicles and other refreshments along with a place to drop your dirty beach towels. The Waterfront on the Promenade deck is a great idea, one that I hope other cruise lines incorporate into their new ship designs. The Cruise Director Alvin and his staff were very visible, and hosting events throughout the day including parties most nights in Spice H20. The Not as Good: Both the food and service in the main dining rooms (Taste, Savor and Manhattan) were simply subpar. It was very obvious that there were cost saving measures in place with basic appetizers and entrees being served, and a notable absence of cruise line staples: no escargot, prawns, lobster on the menu. You can expect a dry protein covered in sauce, a generally good starch (like a risotto or a cheese polenta) and broccoli as a typical entree. They pulled all the stops on the last evening however, with Prime Rib, scallops, free flowing wine and good desserts no doubt hoping we would forget about the previous two weeks of mediocre experience. Expect a 15 to 20 minute wait to order, in between courses and for beverages. Also, you have to ask for everything: rarely will you be asked if you would like coffee or cappuccino with dessert. We like a relaxed pace, non-rushed dinner but spending two hours in the dining room is simply too long when you realize most of the time is spent waiting. The buffet is far superior to Royal Caribbean but still lacked true variety and quality. It was open all day without the closed times like RCCL. Additionally, they were very flexible on their breakfast hours - even though it was over at 10:30, if people were showing up and wanting breakfast, they kept a portion serving breakfast well past that time. The two atrium areas could be nice but the one is plagued by smoke from the casino permeating the shops, walkway and Le Bistro and the other is constantly crowded with events scheduled throughout the day resulting in neither being an overly relaxing place. If you love the excellent International Cafe on Princess, or good Promenade Cafe on Royal Caribbean you will be disappointed with the Atrium Cafe on the Escape. Its just not a popular venue, and offers no complimentary snacks with your specialty coffee. As there was only one staff member, it frequently took 10 minutes to get your beverage even if there was only one other passenger ahead as the one staff member had to do everything. The display had for purchase macarons (which were good) and cupcakes (which were not good - the cold, hard icing came off whole revealing a dry cupcake underneath). On other cruise lines, we like getting our morning coffee and an afternoon ‘pick me up’ from the cafe, and this was just not the same experience. Another miss is no burger bar outside by the pool. While they had burgers in the buffet, its not the same getting a burger from a tray and putting in on a bun versus a fresh made burger. The entertainment was hit or miss also. An unexpected highlight was a performance by Vox Fortura, semi finalists from Britains Got Talent. Choir of Man was also good. For us, a weak point was After Midnight - although it received a standing ovation, I think it was in recognition of the effort of the performers (It can’t have been easy doing yet another extended tap dance) as the storyline was weak. Other evenings there was no entertainment scheduled, or just duplicate shows. Lastly, and this is being picky but the overall design of the ship is very basic. Yes, it has relatively modern colours and decent finishings but there isn’t anything extra, or ‘wow’ points. An example is the main Escape Theatre, which is basically a rectangular box with no effort taken to turn the room into an impressive theatre. Another example would be the lack of artwork around the ship, instead there are mirrors on all stairway landings instead of pictures. Summary: We enjoyed our cruise and overall vacation however am in no rush to go on another Norwegian ship as I would instead go on another line that I know ticks more boxes for us.

Clean, modern ship lacking service and food quality

Norwegian Escape Cruise Review by jimmeh1972

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2019
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom
The Escape was our first Norwegian Cruise, and we picked it due to its New York City departure point and the 14 day voyage. For reference, and to know what we are comparing this ship to, we have 16 previous cruises, all on Princess, Holland America and Royal Caribbean. We are a mid 40s couple travelling with another couple.

Overall, I compare the Norwegian Escape to a well run Best Western Hotel in that you won’t be overly impressed with anything but neither will you have many complaints. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the ship a solid 6.

The Good:

The Norwegian Escape is a newer, large, modern ship that is kept immaculately clean. The sanitizing program was very evident in all dining areas, especially the buffet. The staff were non-stop sanitizing: menus, salt and pepper, condiments, tables, chairs, elevators buttons, hand rails, etc.

Regardless of cruise line, we do not dress up for dinner but Norwegian takes this one step further with their casual vibe with a resort casual dress code almost everywhere, and it was nice to be able to wear shorts to the dining room for dinner.

The food and experience in the up-charge / dining package Cagneys Steakhouse and Bayamo Seafood were both very good, with Bayamo being the best dinner we had onboard. Both offered upscale environments, high quality well prepared food, impressive desserts, and good service.

The bars were also good, notably The District (a brewpub onboard) with their nightly piano entertainment, and Sugarcane (Mojito bar).

Our cabin was nice, especially as it had an extended length balcony with an extra lounge chair, and an in room coffee maker.

When returning from port, we liked the welcome service on the dock which included cold eucalyptus cloths, and water, popsicles and other refreshments along with a place to drop your dirty beach towels.

The Waterfront on the Promenade deck is a great idea, one that I hope other cruise lines incorporate into their new ship designs.

The Cruise Director Alvin and his staff were very visible, and hosting events throughout the day including parties most nights in Spice H20.

The Not as Good:

Both the food and service in the main dining rooms (Taste, Savor and Manhattan) were simply subpar. It was very obvious that there were cost saving measures in place with basic appetizers and entrees being served, and a notable absence of cruise line staples: no escargot, prawns, lobster on the menu. You can expect a dry protein covered in sauce, a generally good starch (like a risotto or a cheese polenta) and broccoli as a typical entree. They pulled all the stops on the last evening however, with Prime Rib, scallops, free flowing wine and good desserts no doubt hoping we would forget about the previous two weeks of mediocre experience. Expect a 15 to 20 minute wait to order, in between courses and for beverages. Also, you have to ask for everything: rarely will you be asked if you would like coffee or cappuccino with dessert. We like a relaxed pace, non-rushed dinner but spending two hours in the dining room is simply too long when you realize most of the time is spent waiting.

The buffet is far superior to Royal Caribbean but still lacked true variety and quality. It was open all day without the closed times like RCCL. Additionally, they were very flexible on their breakfast hours - even though it was over at 10:30, if people were showing up and wanting breakfast, they kept a portion serving breakfast well past that time.

The two atrium areas could be nice but the one is plagued by smoke from the casino permeating the shops, walkway and Le Bistro and the other is constantly crowded with events scheduled throughout the day resulting in neither being an overly relaxing place.

If you love the excellent International Cafe on Princess, or good Promenade Cafe on Royal Caribbean you will be disappointed with the Atrium Cafe on the Escape. Its just not a popular venue, and offers no complimentary snacks with your specialty coffee. As there was only one staff member, it frequently took 10 minutes to get your beverage even if there was only one other passenger ahead as the one staff member had to do everything. The display had for purchase macarons (which were good) and cupcakes (which were not good - the cold, hard icing came off whole revealing a dry cupcake underneath). On other cruise lines, we like getting our morning coffee and an afternoon ‘pick me up’ from the cafe, and this was just not the same experience.

Another miss is no burger bar outside by the pool. While they had burgers in the buffet, its not the same getting a burger from a tray and putting in on a bun versus a fresh made burger.

The entertainment was hit or miss also. An unexpected highlight was a performance by Vox Fortura, semi finalists from Britains Got Talent. Choir of Man was also good. For us, a weak point was After Midnight - although it received a standing ovation, I think it was in recognition of the effort of the performers (It can’t have been easy doing yet another extended tap dance) as the storyline was weak. Other evenings there was no entertainment scheduled, or just duplicate shows.

Lastly, and this is being picky but the overall design of the ship is very basic. Yes, it has relatively modern colours and decent finishings but there isn’t anything extra, or ‘wow’ points. An example is the main Escape Theatre, which is basically a rectangular box with no effort taken to turn the room into an impressive theatre. Another example would be the lack of artwork around the ship, instead there are mirrors on all stairway landings instead of pictures.

Summary:

We enjoyed our cruise and overall vacation however am in no rush to go on another Norwegian ship as I would instead go on another line that I know ticks more boxes for us.
jimmeh1972’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony Stateroom
Cabin BD 14898
Excellent cabin at the end of the hallway, due to ships design has an extra long balcony with an extra lounge chair in addition to the 2 normal chairs.
Deck 15 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Xrails
    We almost always do an ATV tour, and this was the best yet. Newer, 4 person ATV vehicles and great muddy, water covered trails to take them on. We had a very good time, and will do this same tour again.
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