We have been cruising for approximately ten years, but more so since we have retired. We have 10 or 11 cruises under our belt and have sailed on Carnival, NCL, RCL and Princess. We originally chose this cruise because of the destination ports and the fact that it sailed out of Port Canaveral which is a days drive from home. It was to go to Amber Cove, Tortola, St. Thomas and Great Stirrup Cay. However, Amber Cove was scratched and I'm not sure why. This gave us 3 sea days on the 7 day cruise. We sailed on the Carnival Magic in late August so this was our second cruise of 2021. As I put in the header this was the closest to pre covid sailing that we have encountered to this point. Once on the ship, we put our masks away and did not wear them again while cruising. We did have to wear them on our shore excursions in Tortola and St. Thomas, however, enforcement seemed somewhat spotty on both islands. We didn't get off the ship at Great Stirrup Cay. Additionally, the buffet was self serve and all other aspects of life on the ship were as normal as I remember them being prior to the pandemic. There was of course focus on cleanliness, hand sanitation and the entire crew wore masks. On our August cruise on Carnival we had to wear the masks indoors and especially in close quarters, but the buffet was self serve also. I did not get an official guest count, but word on the ship was that we were sailing with 50 to 60 percent of full capacity. From the crowds at certain times in the Atrium and at a few of the bars, I have to say that it did seem like the numbers were higher than that. This was the Escape's first voyage since going out of service in 2020.
I gave the cruise 4 stars because even though it was a great cruise overall it could have been a little better. While evaluating the good and the bad, I've tried to keep in mind that this was their first sailing in over a year. The first great aspect of this cruise was the crew. These folks were absolutely amazing! I cannot say enough about how enthusiastic and helpful they were. From the day we stepped on the ship till we departed they were helpful, friendly and would go to any end to ensure that you were having a great time. I gave the crew on Carnival rave reviews too and thought no one could ever do better, but these folks surpassed them. The other aspect that I thought stood out was the quality of the food. From the buffet to the specialty restaurants (Bayamo and Moderna) that we went to I thought the food was great. Service everywhere was great as there seemed to be plenty of crew to assist. Maybe that's due to the lower number of guests sailing. I don't know. One of the folks in our group hurt her knee on an excursion and needed to use a wheel chair when going to functions. Whenever we called for one, it was there in just a few minutes. Kudos again to the crew.
We are retired so this review is based on what guests in their 60's do so please keep that in mind. We all had the drink package and found that there was a variety of bars to suit pretty much any age cruiser. I though the entertainment was OK, but not jaw dropping good. We went to the Supper Club for Sonia (can't remember her last name) and two shows in the theater. The Choir of Men was the best of the two. The other was After Midnight and we all thought it was OK, but not one I would suggest is a "don't miss" production. We didn't make it to the comedy clubs, but heard reports that the shows were good. There were really no young kids on the cruise because of the vaccination requirements. There were also water slides and other activities on the deck that we didn't use, but they looked like they would be fun activities for those younger adults and children. Pools were busy, but chairs were plentiful. There is a lot of entertainment activity that takes place in the Atrium part of the ship. There is a big screen and some of the game shows and presentations take place here. It is always busy. O'Sheehan's restaurant is one deck above and people can view the Atrium activities from railing seating in that area. One of the reasons I thought guest capacity might be greater than 50% is that this area was always really crowded during a presentation. We couldn't get seating on several occasions. I can't imagine what it would be like with a full ship.