Prior to this cruise, I have sailed with NCL four times. On each of these cruises, I've had fantastic experiences with the staff throughout the ship as they helped create positive memories that I can share with my family for the rest ... Read More
Prior to this cruise, I have sailed with NCL four times. On each of these cruises, I've had fantastic experiences with the staff throughout the ship as they helped create positive memories that I can share with my family for the rest of my lifetime. Unfortunately, that was not the case with the NCL Escape.
I booked this vacation as I had high expectations from my prior experiences with NCL: clean public areas, courteous staff, fantastic dining options, and notable entertainment groups. By no means was I expecting a 5 star service, but I was expecting familiarity with the friendly services I have received in the past. On this voyage, I traveled with my two sons. The process of embarkment was chaotic, as usual, but quite simple to manuever within. Once on board the ship, everyone crowded the Garden Cafe as the staterooms weren't finished from the previous cruise. Since I boarded later, there was no where for my two sons and I to sit in the Garden Cafe. We ended up eating on the floor outside with our carry ons. Remember, since this is a larger ship, many places are destined to become crowded throughout the duration of the trip.
Although our cabin was not perfect, it was satisfactory. For the three of us, we had enough storage space to store our clothing but lacked space to comfortably walk from one side of the room to the other with the sofa bed out. The bathroom was surprisingly spacious for the size of the cabin overall. By far, the best feature of this stateroom was the balcony.
Being at sea for a little under three days, it is critical to take advantage of the on board activities the Escape has to offer. However, since there are over 4,000 guests on board, and limited activities to choose from, it is hard to attend the ones in high demand. If the activities did not require reservations, it was empirical to get in line at least thirty minutes beforehand. If the activities did require a reservation, they were booked within the first couple hours on board the ship. Nevertheless, the activities that I attended were good. There was a female comedian who was superb and a male comedian who was alright. The musicals were lovely and the play re-enacting the Breakfast Club was fun to watch. There were also two public pools, a waterfall cave, six jacuzzis, four waterslides, a ropes course, and mini golf for guests to enjoy.
In my opinion, the dining experience received is a critical factor to the overall cruise experience of a guest. With that said, the overall dining experience was fair. I ate at two speciality restaurants as well as all three complimentary restaurants, the Garden Cafe (buffet), and O'Sheehan's (presumably open 24 hours). Of course, shore excursions were offered on the ship but not worth it for Bermuda. I highly recommend booking your shore excursions through Expedia as they are cheaper yet exactly the same. For example, my sons booked the Rising Sun shore excursion which was $100 through NCL but only $75 through Expedia. Through this one excursion alone, I saved $50 by booking through Expedia.
If you got this far, you are probably wondering why I left "Terrible" as my overall rating of this cruise experience. First, the ship was too crowded overall. The sun decks were clustered with people and it was near impossible finding a row of chairs next to each other. The amount of guests on board the ship also play a role in the cleanliness of the ship. In the 18 and older sections of the ship, it was usual to find beer cans and cups floating in the pools in addition to the jacuzzis. At night, it is not a surprise to see vomit near these areas either. Speaking of 18 and older sections, these areas of the ship were poorly monitored. Here, anyone can casually walk in or out of these sections so it was common to see children in areas where they weren't designated. So, when you are up at midnight in the club, don't be surprised when a little kid strolls through groups of people grinding on each other. On Carnival, your key card would have to be scanned to gain access into these areas which I highly recommend NCL to do in the future.
Second, I was a the Spice H20 bar on the 17th deck ordering drinks with a group of people. Since we were sitting at a bar top, a bar hop approached us and took our orders with our key cards. 40 minutes passed and we had yet to receive our drinks. Another bar hop walks by and we asks him what happened to our drinks and more importantly, our key cards. Luckily, he was able to find our key cards but the bar hop who took them disappeared. Through this bar hop, I order another drink and although he serves me promptly, he hands me the key card of a different guest than disappears as well. When I went down to guest services to cancel my key card and get a new one to gain access into my room, I was questioned as if I was in the wrong.
Third, the dining options were not as exemplary as I would have enjoyed. Although advertised as 24 hours, O'Sheehan's closed at a certain time. I ate at two specialty restaurants during my stay on the Escape: Cagney's Steakhouse and Teppanyaki. Teppanyaki is a hibachi styled restaurant which I enjoyed very much however, Cagney's Steakhouse was disappointing. The wait staff were rude and took long to complete our orders. Once our food came out, it was not cooked to par as our steaks were either over cooked or under cooked. Surprisingly, the complimentary restaurants were great, with little to no wait, and I would highly recommend you dine here as opposed to the speciality restaurants.
Finally, I was sitting at a bar connected to O'Sheehan's. A fight erupted behind me and as I tried to move out of the way, I was hit in the ankle by a thrown chair. It took security several minutes to disperse the fight. Once the fight was settled, I talked to security as I wanted to report the incident who referred me to guest services. I went down to guest services who told me that they could not help me or do anything to make my experience with NCL better. The next day, I woke up and noticed my ankle was black and blue and decided to go to the infirmary however they wanted to charge me to look at an injury I received on board the ship. Overall, I was not satisfied with how this situation was handled and wish I received more attention and the people who were involved in the fight were penalized for their actions.
Four years ago, I would have recommened anyone and everyone to NCL. It was child friendly but also provided an environment for adults to escape. Now, I would not recommend NCL to anyone. For children, I feel that the NCL Escape promoted an unsafe environment through the constant fights that incurred on board as well as the lack of boundaries set in place. Meanwhile, for other travelers, the NCL Escape leaves much to be desired. Read Less