Norwegian Escape Entertainment & Activities
Escape Theater, a two-deck venue located at the front of the ship on decks 6 and 7, hosts the bulk of the formal entertainment options onboard. Neon lights and shades of blue adorn the theater. This is where you can catch a spectacular Broadway show, "After Midnight" and the crowd-pleasing "For the Record: Brat Pack," a musical that's based on John Hughes movies from the '80s.
"After Midnight" is a jazz revue that celebrates famed NYC jazz venue, The Cotton Club, through song and dance. The show doesn't have a traditional plot -- that is, a story from beginning to end -- but the setting is Harlem in the 1920s. It features the music of Duke Ellington, Dorothy Fields, Jimmy McHugh and Harold Arlen. It's visually stunning, with beautiful costume design and energetic performances.
"For the Record: The Brat Pack" runs 90 minutes. It's loosely divided into chapters, but it starts with "The Breakfast Club," moves on to "Say Anything," bleeds into "Pretty in Pink," transitions into "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," then goes back to "The Breakfast Club," which strings all six of the main characters together. Despite no discernible storyline, the show we saw was spectacular. The talent and energy of the band -- guitarist, bassist, drummer and two keyboardists -- along with the six actors/vocalists/instrumentalists (four men, two women) blow cruise entertainment of yore out of the water. All of the vocalists had standout moments, and when they weren't absolutely nailing an '80s classic, they were banging on drums, whipping some saucy notes on a saxophone or making a keytar sing. Despite the underage characters, much of the show embraces near-nudity and colorful language, so it's best for adults.
Reservations for the shows, which are free, can be made by visiting the adjacent box office or using your in-cabin TV or touchscreen monitors located throughout the ship. You can also pre-reserve online before your cruise.
If you're not sunning or running around outside, swimming or spa-ing, napping or noshing, there's still plenty to do throughout the day onboard. A buzzing, glowing arcade, for young and old alike, is on Deck 17 near Margaritaville. Star Wars games, sports games, racing games -- you name it -- can be played for a card swipe. Live music can be found around the ship throughout the day -- by the pool, in a lounge. Check your Freestyle Daily to see what's happening where. Trivia competitions will keep you thinking, Bingo will keep you playing, and demonstrations from towel animal-folding to fruit carving will keep you grinning. Get the whole gang together to practice your big-top hijinks -- juggling, stunt sticks and feather balancing -- during Family Circus.
You'll find entertainment going on all over the ship in the form of bands, quartets and fun game shows. A lot of it centers on the main atrium, where you'll see trivia, music, dancing, The Perfect Couple Game Show and live bands. You'll also find music in the Manhattan Room from the Manhattan Trio, and acoustic tunes in Prime Meridian. There is no disco onboard, so dance action takes place in Spice H2O, where the resident D.J. spins dance tracks from 10:30 p.m. Karaoke takes place in 5 O'Clock Somewhere in the early evening, and occasionally in the main atrium. Norwegian is famous for its Glow Parties, which take place outdoors at Spice H2O and are sometimes family-centric. (Check the Freestyle Daily.)
The Escape Casino is located across a large part of Deck 7. (Note that it's not a single room.) At 19,000 square feet, it's the largest in the fleet and among the largest at sea. It's similar to, though bigger than, casinos on fleetmates Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, and slots have replaced the spot where the popular Shanghai Noodle Bar is on those ships. Reacting to customer complaints about casino smoke spilling into other areas, the line plans to retrofit a separate, fully enclosed smoking room within the casino. It will contain a number of slot machines and games and will be fully ventilated. There are daily gaming lessons from 8 p.m. most evenings. At night, a late-night buffet is set up for people who are hungry but don't want to leave the casino.
Norwegian Escape Bars and Lounges
Nightlife onboard Escape offers up plenty of choice. You can get 98 specialty cocktails onboard, and the District Brew House alone offers 74 types of beer. Each space has a personality of its own, but none really fits the bill of "quiet, tucked away spot," if you're looking for tranquility. Many offer live entertainment in the evening.
Mixx Bar (Deck 6): Mixx Bar is located between Taste and Savor, and it's used almost exclusively for pre-dinner drinks, mostly because it's far removed from the action of the other clubs and lounges.
Bar at the Atrium (Deck 6): The atrium onboard Escape bustles day and night. During the day, it's the sight of karaoke, video game play and enrichment activities, such as cooking demonstrations. At night, it's the stage for high-energy lounge shows. Visitors can sit in plush chairs or belly up to the huge bar while enjoying the entertainment.
Skyline Bar (Deck 7): Located adjacent to the Escape Casino, the Skyline Bar is a wide-open space decorated with gold and metallic finishes. Seating is plentiful, with plush red velvet chairs and couches surrounding low tables. Multiple LED screens adorn the walls, creating the illusion that you're looking out onto the Vegas or Manhattan skyline. Skyline Bar is the largest of the lounges onboard and features in-bar video poker and live entertainment at night.
O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill (Deck 7): The centrally located pub is a popular spot for food and drinks onboard. The decor truly is pub-inspired, with dark wood, brass rails and sports memorabilia covering the walls. (Tabletops even have fake water rings to simulate years of wear.) In the bar area, you'll find numerous high tables, bar seating and games, such as pool, darts, Skee-Ball and video games. You can even bowl at one of the two duckpin bowling lanes. All games require an additional fee. (The dining area is smaller and offers up casual, complimentary bites round the clock.) TVs abound in all areas, and sports are broadcast throughout. (On big game days, the two-deck movie screen from the atrium level will show sports as well, satellite permitting.) O'Sheehan's is open 24 hours a day.
Prime Meridian Bar (Deck 8): Sitting gracefully between the ship's two steakhouses is Prime Meridian, a compass-shaped bar. It's a large outfit that never seems to draw a crowd big enough to fill it, which is a shame, considering the touches are rich -- lion heads are carved into the paneling -- and the selection is full. Gold signs encircle the bar designating latitudes and longitudes of glamorous destinations like Casablanca and Madrid. For now, Prime Meridian is the destination for anyone dining at Cagney's or Moderno and looking for a drink before or after. It's open from 5 p.m.
Sugarcane Mojito Bar (Deck 8): To the right of the entrance to Bayamo, you'll see Sugarcane glowing green under enchanting palm tree pillars. It's a relatively small bar, so the nighttime crowd is about two people deep waiting for a Cuban concoction. It's a popular spot with an exciting atmosphere. Bartenders never stop shaking and pouring and muddling mint all night, mixing from a mojito menu including pineapple coconut, raspberry guava and jalapeno cucumber with a slice of fresh cucumber hanging from the top. (Anything with a cucumber is a crowd favorite.) Pimm's No. 8 Cup, Pisco punch and other featured cocktails are served up, as well. Hours vary, but you can find your Bacardi bliss from about noon until late.
The Cellars Wine Bar (Deck 8): The line's first wine bar, The Cellars, is a Michael Mondavi hangout. It focuses on tasting and education; a curated wine list includes 35 varietals from all over the world, with a leaning toward Latin countries. This venue is stylish, elegant and refined -- an excellent addition to Norwegian's repertoire of signature bars. Its indoor tasting room boasts 180-degree views, but for a truly relaxing experience, skip the indoor bar in favor of the alfresco area on The Waterfront, where a certified sommelier provides service. At Cellars, reasonably priced tapas are on offer (from $4) to help pair with your vino, carried over from Jose Garces' tapas restaurant, Pincho.
Tastings, seminars, winemaker visits and self-guided activities are available during the day, as well as later at night. A regular wine seminar costs $19.95, while special Riedel class is $89.95 (but you get to take home three Riedel glasses as a souvenir). A wine, food and water pairing event is offered at dinnertime. Or just for fun, test your friends to a black glass challenge to see if they can distinguish between reds, whites and blushes without actually seeing the liquid. You also can taste the soil in which the grapes grew (seriously!).
Tobacco Road Liquor Bar (Deck 8): Norwegian added Tobacco Road, once Miami's oldest bar -- now sadly defunct -- to Escape. On the ship, it's a seductive place to hang out among leather couches and try a handcrafted cocktail -- what Tobacco Road on land was, in part, known for. The specialty cocktail menu features the chile mule (vodka, Cointreau, ginger puree, lime juice and serrano); the Gateway (rum, St. Germain, mint, yuzu and prosecco); and the Smoke Fashion (bourbon, maple syrup, bitters, sweet vermouth, and yes, smoke). The memorabilia, including photos and historical artifacts, hang along the hallway leading up to the bar, and we would've liked to see a bit more in the actual space. The neon Tobacco Road sign -- an original -- is impressive enough to suffice.
The Humidor (Deck 8): Adjacent to Tobacco Road, this aptly named venue is simply the indoor smoking area and cigar bar, which also leads out onto the open Waterfront. It's artfully designed, with backlit boxes of cigars and plenty of ersatz cigar-related memorabilia to give it that smoky old bar feel. There are plenty of large, comfy leather seats, low lights, big windows to the Waterfront, a large plasma screen TV at one end and good ventilation. It seats 20 people.
5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar (Deck 8): The 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar is part of the iconic Jimmy Buffett franchise. It exudes a laid-back atmosphere, both indoors and outdoors on The Waterfront, with surfboards, a couple of large wooden deck chairs and lots of Caribbean images adorning the walls. There is a small bar at one end, and a stage in the back, which features a house band that plays a mixture of reggae and up-tempo tunes. Try one of the bar's signature drinks, a Who's to Blame Margarita, for $9.95.
The District Brew House (Deck 8): Great beer on a cruise ship tends to be difficult to come by, but Norwegian nailed it. The District Brew House is by far the best drinking venue onboard Escape. Complete with a keg room, 24 draft beers on tap and more than 50 bottled beers, District Brew House serves an award-winning signature beer, La Rubia Blonde Ale, from the Miami-based Wynwood Brewing Company, along with a delicious "Pop's Porter" and American pale ale. (Nothing is brewed on site, though.) This place has the hip yet laid-back vibe you'd find at a brew pub on land, with industrial-inspired decor (think steel and stone) and a variety of seating options that let you belly up to the bar, sit at a high-top, or flop on comfy chairs and couches. Specialty beers on tap start at $7.95. Flights of four beers are also $7.95.
At night, a piano player performs well-known tunes as the crowd sings along and dances. There's also a cool photo booth, where you can get your picture taken and then hang your photo strip on the wall pinboard for posterity's sake. (Photos cost is $5.) A video of your session plays outside the booth, so others can watch. You can post a copy of the video to YouTube or your photos on Facebook or Instagram.
Bites are available from a gastropub-style menu that features plates and snacks from Food Republic, just across the hall, intended to complement the brews. The District Brew House is open to adults 18 years and older only. To drink there, you must be 21.
Waves Pool Bar (Deck 16): Two pool bars, both named "Waves," are stacked one on top of the other, and they feature identical drinks menus with poolside tropical standards like margaritas, pina coladas and daiquiris. The only major difference is the Waves Bar on Deck 17 allows smoking.
Norwegian Escape Outside Recreation
The main pool is located on Deck 16 with a shaded hot tub on either side, the two Waves pool bars nearby, a stage for live music or DJs, two screens and blue loungers all around.
A smaller, all-ages pool is located in the shade of the massive water slides above, on Deck 17, with a waterfall feature.
A kids' splash area is just off of the aqua park on Deck 16.
Looking for a quiet, adults-only area? The only option including a pool is within the thermal suite in the Mandara Spa on Deck 16, which requires a day- or weeklong pass.
If you're staying in The Haven suite complex, it has its own courtyard, which includes a lap pool, a shallow lounging pool and two hot tubs.
Decks 18 and 19 crisscross with rainbow-colored tubes, white netting and the bright green hue of the basketball court, graffiti-inspired mini-golf and, of course, the red pillars and gray rails of a three-story ropes course -- the largest at sea.
The ropes course is free; just wear closed-toe shoes, and take everything out of your pockets. High above the ship and sea, navigate nearly 99 components of the course, including elements such as sky rails (a zip track that allows you to glide through the air) and two planks -- beams that hang over the side of the ship, 172 feet above the water, for daredevils to walk. When you reach the end of the 8-foot plank, pull the rope to take a sky-high selfie. There is no set course for you to follow, so explore at will. (Crew are available throughout the course to assist you if you start to feel vertigo and politely egg you on if you turn a little chicken.) Because of the freeform exploration, expect some congestion at peak course times; you might have to wait a few minutes to step out onto a plank (a few minutes some would rather not spend thinking about the way down). A smaller, assisted ropes course is available for kids who want to take on the high-flying challenge. The minimum height for the main ropes course is 48 inches; there's no height requirement for the kids' course. Weather permitting, the course is open from about 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Also to the back of Deck 18, you'll find the nine-hole mini-golf course, an urban oasis with concrete-like turf and spray-painted water towers and walls. The sports court on Deck 19 offers a full-size basketball court, bocce, Ping-Pong and other outdoor games. Use of everything there is complimentary. Hours vary and depend on the weather.
Perhaps the biggest draws to the top decks of Escape are the water parks on Deck 16. The Aqua Park includes two freefall water slides, where each rider waits in a capsule for the bottom to drop, starting a twisting, heart-pounding plunge. It also includes a wide navy tube called the Aqua Racer slide, in which competitors can race side by side in tubes; there's even a clear portion that extends over the side of the ship. An open yellow slide makes for a tamer ride for families looking to cool off. The water park has four slides in total, two pools, four hot tubs, and a section for kids only.
Escape's Aqua Park Kids features a two-story climbing structure, water cannons and buckets that deliver "surprise drenchings." Kids can explore a multistory tower, a rope bridge and lookout platform, with cranks and spray jets to interact with along the way. (Kids must be toilet trained to use the aqua park; swim diapers are not permitted.)
Norwegian Escape does not have a rock climbing wall onboard.
Spice H2O (Deck 17) reaches a new level on Escape with the introduction of a massive grotto -- a cave-like water feature where passengers can wade in shallow water as it trickles along the rock. Spice is a free, adults-only sun deck with a full bar and hot tubs, and we think it will be a popular space on Escape. At night, the area is cleared of loungers and turns into a dance party venue with thumping music, videos playing on a big screen and the grotto glowing against the night.
Vibe Beach Club is an exclusive, adults-only sun deck on Deck 19 that offers privacy, along with plenty of padded loungers, chilled towels, fruit skewers, water spritzers, a bar and an oversized hot tub. Access to the space runs $99 per person for a weeklong cruise or $25 for a day pass, plus an 18 percent gratuity. Cruisers who have spent time in this space on other Norwegian ships will notice that the large, two-person cabanas, which carried an additional fee, have been removed.
If you are a Haven suite passenger, there is ample sunbathing space one deck up from the courtyard on Deck 19 forward. Padded loungers -- in the shade and sun -- complement a lovely hot tub with a view over the side of the ship. This spot offers some great views for pulling into port, but there is a smoking area at the very front.
Open sun decks are located throughout the ship, including Deck 18, near the pool on Deck 16, and up on Deck 20. A free-to-use hot tub can be found on Deck 19, just above the Vibe Beach Club area. All hot tubs are open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Norwegian Escape Services
Most of Norwegian Escape's service areas are located around the ship's main atrium on Deck 6. It's is where you'll find guest services, the shore excursions desk and the future cruise consultant desk. The Internet Cafe is also located there, with a handful of computers that can be used to access the Internet and print off items like boarding passes. (A fee of 50 cents applies per print job.) Wi-fi is available shipwide, but logging on for the first time, whether from the Internet Cafe or a personal device, requires a $3.95 activation fee. Internet packages are available at $75 for 100 minutes or $125 for 250 minutes. Unlimited Internet costs $210 for seven-night cruises.
A small card room and tiny library, along with meeting rooms, are tucked away on Deck 6 as well, located adjacent to The Supper Club.
Escape has a number of shops on Deck 8, where passengers can buy souvenirs, toiletries and duty-free items like alcohol and tobacco products. Seekers of high-end products can pick from Lacoste, Caroline Herrera and Bulgari shops. The ship's photo gallery also is located on Deck 8.
Escape doesn't offer self-service laundry facilities.