Sailed the Escape last week with my wife and 8 year old daughter.
Overall a great cruise. The ship is amazing and the crew is wonderful. I can’t say enough how professional, courteous and efficient in every single aspect they are. That alone makes for a great time.
I was also able to get a few different tips from this group so thank you as it made for a better time.
As for some of the different things
Embarkation was very easy. We got to the pier early, around 945am and were on the ship by 10:50am. They didn’t open customs until around 10, so it was just about 50 minutes total which was fantastic. By noon we had already had a quick bite and were in the hot tub (by ourselves for some time). If possible I would recommend getting there as early as possible. We live in NYC so it may be a little easier for us but if you can, try to, it makes for a great way to start the vacation.
Disembarkation was equally easy. We checked out in the last group and were off the ship and through customs and to pickup area in 25 minutes. They got it down to a science, having sailed NCL a number of times and on the bigger ships like the Breakaway, disembark was one of those things you just did and dealt with however in this case you didn’t even have to do that. It was easy.
Food- overall very good and we didn’t even scratch the surface. Limitless options. You can pay a little extra and go to a specialty but if not the food at the MDRs was very good. The Manhattan Room even had live entertainment at certain times which was nice. I had a Hawaiian Pork Belly one night at the Manhattan Room and that I can’t stop thinking about. It was excellent.
Entertainment- We have sailed NCL 7 times previously. Each time the entertainment has been very good, this was no different and maybe even better. What’s funny is unlike other times After Midnight was the only “big show” we saw. It was OK although I preferred some of the other shows on the other ships. Having said that performers were amazing so that alone was worth it. And even with only doing one “big show” the overall entertainment was excellent. There was always something to do. The app worked well with coordinating but maybe I’m old school, I liked checking the Freestyle Daily each day as it was easier for me to follow. The activities were all very well planned out and organized. The musical entertainment like the bands or singers were probably the best I’ve experienced on a cruise. Just very, very good and entertaining. And they play every night, multiple times and multiple locations somewhere all over the ship. Nice way to sit back after a long fun day with a drink in your hand listening to good live music. Again, just very well done.
There were also plenty of bars/lounges to just chill in too. There were the standard parties (GLOW, 80s and 90s) which seemed like fun.
At night, they played a movie in the Atrium, usually after one of the music performances around 11pm. Not bad, especially on the big screen with big sound if that’s something you wanted to do and just relax after a long day.
2 of the first 3 sea days, the weather wasn’t great but we managed to have fun, in large part to what they have going on.
We also did Escape the Big Top. Honestly, a fun hour, especially for my 8 year old. She loved it and to me that’s worth it. (Book this as soon as you get on board, it sells out immediately. Got that tip from this group).
Supper club on deck 6 also offers the option to have dinner and a show (music, cabaret, magic shows and comedy). Both complimentary and offered various times throughout the week. Must book in advance so may want to do that first day when you book Escape the Big Top at the box office.
Overall Impression of the Ship
I read a lot (on other sites) that this ship more than others was very crowded and tough to enjoy. I always take with a grain of salt. And while there were times (4K plus people what else would I expect) that it was crowded in certain spots there is enough to do where it doesn’t seem like that. Public areas like pools, hot tubs and elevators were not bad and pretty in line with what I have experienced in the past and what I expected coming in. Once the cruise got rolling and people got into doing there own thing this wasn’t an issue at all.
A slight difference from the Breakaway I believe is they added 2 hot tubs on deck 18 forward which in general was always a good place to relax quietly and almost always get a chair. Adding a couple of hot tub options like they did and it makes it even nicer. This is a good spot if you don’t want to be by the pool.
The kids play area/aqua park wasn’t bad and again not that crowded. My daughter loved it. Made friends, ran around in the water and then would go for a dip in the kids pool right next to it. My only issue with the kids pool is that it is 5’7 all around. Very tough for younger kids and tough for parents who want to hold their real young kids in the water. There must be a reason it’s not a build up with a walk in because that didn’t make sense to me however in all reality it wasn’t a big deal. My daughter loved it and I just made sure I kept even closer watch (and drive her even more crazy ha)
Outdoor activities on the upper decks was pretty standard. Ropes course, mini golf, Bocce Ball and Waterslides. Can’t really go wrong. Only time the water slides were real busy was the last sea day but it was manageable.
What else can I say, just a fantastic island. It terms of planning it, what we did was
Day 1 we did a 1 day transportation pass and took the ferry to Hamilton and then a bus to the Crystal Caves, first time for my daughter who was amazed. We caught the bus back to Hamilton afterwards and then did some shopping before heading back on the ferry. We did not stay for Harbour Nights this time but the lines to go that we saw on our way back were long. (Figure you have 2 big cruise ships there as Celebrity also had a ship there) You may want to plan on spending the day there and get there earlier.
Day 2- we took the mini bus right from Dockyard to Horseshoe Bay and stood there all day before getting a mini bus back. At $7/pp each way, the convenience and ease of this alone was the best money I spent all week. In the past have done public transit using the bus and it wasn’t always easy, especially getting back. This was easy and quick. Got this tip from this group too.
Day 3- Another tip from this group. We did the Restless Native Catamaran excursion through NCL. This was perfect for the short day in port before having to get back on the boat. This was AMAZING and one of the highlights of the trip. Swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and paddle boating and on the way back on the Catamaran all you can eat chocolate cookies and free Rum Swizzles whole laying out on the Catamaran. And of course if booked through NCL you are guaranteed to not miss the boat. Highly recommended this and thank you to those that recommended it to me.
Overall, this was a great cruise, maybe the most jam packed with things to do we have experienced. Like I said we traveled with an 8 year old who refuses to go to the Splash Academy and she STILL loved it and so did we. To those with upcoming cruises, I’m jealous already and I just got back!
Overall good cabin although a little too close to the front of the ship so you are a little further off from mid ship and also feel the boat really move. However, the extra walking didn’t hurt with all the good food so I guess it workable out. Nice room and balcony overall.
We did Restless Native Catamaran. Having been to Bermuda 5 other times we were looking for something different and this was everything we wanted. Excellent and highly recommend thjs.View All 105 Catamaran Cruise Reviews