We are avid NCL cruisers whom have recently moved to Florida. While down here we have tried MSC and Royal Caribbean just to see if they provide the same experience as NCL, and they do not!
It was so nice to be back on NCL Escape; this was our Christmas present to each other and we were not disappointed. With the other two cruise lines, they are not 100% vaccinated so we felt more at risk and had to wear masks everywhere which was an inconvenience as by boyfriend has hearing loss, wears hearing aids, and needs to read lips to understand people. It was also much easier to do the Covid test at the pier instead of the pressure of trying to get a test and results 48 hours prior. We felt very safe on the ship with their cleaning protocols and availability to wash or sanitize hands at each eating venue. In addition, with reduced capacity, ship holds 4300 and there were only 1900 guests, we had plenty of space to socially distance. Finally, we had a balcony so that also gave us a chance to distance from others.
The boarding process was very smooth, we arrived at 8:40am and were through the testing tents and ready to enter the terminal by 9:15. The check in process was very smooth as most of our information was already on our profile as I am Platinum and have cruised NCL 15+ times. We were allowed to board the ship a little after 10am and were on the sundeck very quickly.
Our balcony room was very comfortable for two people. I couldn't imagine if there were 4 people as limited storage space and the couch is way too close to the closet so you have to do a balancing act to get into the hanging clothes.
Balcony was excellent! We had a room which jet out a bit so we had a lounger and two chairs.
It is a long walk from the cruise to get a taxi, they force you to walk through the mall which is a pain.
This is the second time I have visited Cozumel and each time I have gone to Nachi-Cocom which is excellent! They cap the number of people that can visit, serve good food, open bar, nice pool with swim up bar, and pretty beach with chairs, umbrellas ets. Definitely recommend Nachi-Cocom.
The port was a mess. We were at the old dock, not the one by the stores. We had to wait for a bus to go anywhere and they were very unorganized. Wouldn't let us walk the .5 mile to the shops. It took at least 45 minutes of standing in line to get a bus to take us to the market to have lunch and do some shopping. In hindsight we should have stayed on the ship or booked an excursion through the ship.
The tender process didn't make any sense, since we didn't have an excursion booked, had to go to a different part of the ship. They made us wait on the stairwell for the tender which I felt wasn't as safe as waiting in a restaurant or the theater.
Once on the island it was good, but I must admit, MSC private island is far better. Great Stirrup Cay does need a bit more work in terms of bars that have all cocktails instead of themed spirts.
The tacos were good, and no wait to get a table.
With reduced capacity it was easy to find a lounger and walk around without risk of loosing a chair.
One of the reasons we loved MSC private island is their lighthouse; the bar at the lighthouse is very elegant and the views can't be beat. Also they do two night laser shows and a beach party with a DJ which is so much fun. I realize since we have to tender to the island night may not be an option for NCL, so that would be my biggest recommendation please build a dock so we can walk on and off the ship instead of the tender.