One of the main reasons I chose this crusie was the Free at Sea promotion that included the drink package. I find that purchasing this separately almost doubles the cost of your cruise. Although I originally booked one of the cute looking studio rooms, I ended up upgrading to a balcony room and really enjoyed my time with NCL.
Embarkation was a bit of a challenge because the previous cruise had docked a little later than expected and the terminal building was being shared with a large ship from another cruise company, so the wait times were extended by quite some time. We were lucky and got to the terminal early, so our wait time was not as long as some of my other fellow cruisers who had to wait 3 hours or more to board. I think when NCLs new terminal gets built, embarkation times should be more efficient. I also think that NCL should make sure that they install speakers in the back part of the upper waiting area of the terminal since we had to keep running into the front section to hear when our Group Number was called. Had we not done this, we may have missed boarding at the appropriate time.
The NCL Escape is a beautiful ship that is not very long, but is relatively tall. There are 2 sets of elevators that go to differing levels, so if you are wanting to go all the way up, be mindful to press the buttons for the lifts that go to the floors you want. There are staircases located near each set of elevators. There are maps on each floor at the elevators so you could easily see where you are as well as interactive panels closer to the stairs that also allowed you to book shows and dinner reservations as well as act as wayfinding devices. Even though there were almost 5000 cruisers on board, the ship did not feel crowded.
The location of my balcony cabin was amazing! It was only 2 doors down from the District Brewhouse, but surprisingly very quiet. The size of the stateroom was fine for a single cruiser, but could be a little cozy if 2 or more people were sharing it. This is especially true with regard to storage. There is a closet with one half to hang items (with lots of hangers) and the other side has shelves as well as a safe. There are other smaller cupboards, but not really areas where you could store clothing or larger articles. The bathroom also has a cupboard under the sink as well as 2 lower shelves beside the toilet to place items and 2 narrow shelves up along the mirror. The shower has a little clothes line as well as 2 small wire corner soap shelves that have a wire where you can hang your washcloth. I like how the shower has a curved glass door, rather than a curtain and the layout makes the bathroom seem a bit roomier than it really is.
My room had the couch closest to the door and the bed closest to the balcony. This set up appeared to be a bit larger than my friend's room that had the bed closest to the door and the couch closest to the balcony. I'm not sure if there was actually any difference in square footage, but mine did appear a touch bigger. There are blackout curtains, so the sunrise does not wake you up if you keep the curtains closed. The balcony easily fit 2 chairs and a small table and had a glass lower wall making it seem more open than those that have metal lower walls. My room had a hair dryer as well as a coffee maker in it with a stocked mini bar. None of the items in the mini bar are included in any drink plan, but you can move items to store your own things if you want. My room steward, Oliver, was great!