My family of four was looking for a last minute cruise leaving from New York for a bit of a getaway, and Norwegian Escape 7-night to Bermuda delivered. I was impressed with the family friendly activities and amenities for kids from the ... Read More
My family of four was looking for a last minute cruise leaving from New York for a bit of a getaway, and Norwegian Escape 7-night to Bermuda delivered. I was impressed with the family friendly activities and amenities for kids from the adorable splash park and water slides to the kids club, all the way to mini golf and the ropes course. More specifically, watching my two young daughters explore the various elements of the splash park and pool was a highlight of our time on the ship -- it had kids of all ages from babies to teens enjoying themselves, and never felt overcrowded. Regarding our dining experience, the buffet always seemed to have kids pleasers and a wide assortment of options for all ages, and the Manhattan room felt classy with great views and talented entertainers during dinner. I must say that the staff at all the dining facilities were very friendly and helpful throughout the cruise.
Things that would have been nice to know - the shore excursion credit promotion: the dollar value is really spread amongst all the days evenly. Meaning, if you have a $150 credit, you need to book 3 excursions for 3 days, applying only $50 for each day’s excursions. Kids clubs: if you do not take a tour during the first afternoon, you will not be able to look at the facilities at all – they are adult free zones for all and parents will not be allowed in, even a few feet into the shared space. NCL Ferry to St. George – it gets full much before the scheduled departure time, and we saw dozens turned away trying to make it (like us), so either get there much earlier than the times called for and wait in line, or simply take the ferry ($5 each way for an adult with young kids free).
Regarding the kids clubs, they have a nursery (ages 1-3), and a kids club (ages 3-9), which was an impressively a large space featuring different fun themes each day. However, even as a parent of a 3 year old that has been fully potty trained for months, it would have been nice to know that they simply offer bathrooms for kids, but nobody is offering to help them – for example, they told me they walked her over twice one evening, but couldn’t tell me if she had actually used the bathroom. Additionally, both kids program areas do not allow parents inside when operating, which I would think is for security reasons, however, as a mom to two very friendly and outgoing kids that went willingly the first night for an hour or two, and the second – they were vehemently opposed to heading back again for the remainder of the 7 night cruise. It would have been nice to figure out a way to make them feel comfortable, however, none of the staff really seemed to go out of their way to try and help or form a connection with the kids, which seemed odd.
As for the cabins, we had a balcony cabin (9218), and the size was as expected, with a great view out of the balcony both in Bermuda and sailing back into New York City. However, on most nights, there was a heavy banging noise coming from the floor below our room – enough that we could feel and hear it repeatedly for hours, several times a day (6:30pm, 6:30am and at points throughout the night). It both made it hard to fall asleep and woke us up several times. It certainly was a topic of conversation for those on the same side of the ship in the mornings by the elevators, and those on the other side seemed unaffected. I eventually said something at customer service a few nights in, although it was not resolved for the duration of the cruise. Otherwise, the cabins were nice, and as expected – meaning, I would just book a cabin on the other side or different floor!
A random comment about the ship was regarding the smoke smell that emanated from the casino and into all the open area and middle of the ship as a result. My family made it a point to try and avoid walking through the whole middle section of the ship, and opted for going up/down/outside or in hallways as a result. I understand that they are allowing smoking for those in the casino, but it really affected our decisions such as not to eat at the specialty restaurants I had potentially wanted to try, but were in the vicinity of the smoke smell. Also, the hallway heading to the kids clubs also had a pungent (toilet) smell, which was a joke amongst parents dropping their kids off in the kids clubs. I would hope there is a solution for those, as it taints the experience on such a great family friendly ship.
Bermuda had spectacular beaches – the light, clear and beautiful blue water which was stunning. The two beaches we went to were clean and fun for the family. We initially took a bus, which was extremely inexpensive and relatively easy, although the most expensive taxi/minibus for a family of four was only $32, which we took on the way back, especially since if you arrive or depart by bus you will need to climb up many stairs (which we did with 2 strollers!). Horseshoe Bay had a pink hue to the beach, which was beautiful, as well a special lagoon that kids, and adults, can enjoy on the right as you enter, but we did not notice until our way out! Notably, the beach in walking distance from the ship, Snorkel Beach Park, was really fun and offered an easy getaway packed with fun activities – we utilized the kayak and paddle board, and simply hung out on the beach the day of departure which was a true highlight of the trip!
In short, this is definitely a cruise line and ship I can see me and my family coming back to – my husband thoroughly enjoyed the ropes course and waterslides, and I enjoyed the entertainment I could make it to – with 2 young kids, it was limited. However, we would most likely look to return to this line/ship when they are a bit older. The destination, Bermuda, was beautiful and breathtaking, and we thoroughly enjoyed the balcony view both in port and on the way back as we had front row seats and felt as though we could reach out and touch both the Verrazano Bridge and Statue of Liberty as we returned to New York City. All in all, an extremely memorable first vacation with a family of four! Read Less