By Brittany Chrusciel
Cruise Critic Editor
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Entertainment

Norwegian Escape Entertainment & Activities

Theater

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.

Daily Fun

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.

At Night

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

Pools

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.

Recreation

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.

Sun Decks

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.

Norwegian Escape Spa & Fitness

Spa

The Mandara Spa, with its panoramic ocean views, spans two decks -- 15 and 16 forward. The spa is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day except for the last day of the cruise, when it closes at 8 p.m.

On the lower deck, it has 24 treatment rooms, which include two fancy couples' treatment rooms (one with a bath in the room). The spa offers more than 50 services, including facials, which start at $107 and go up to $325 for the 24-karat gold option; numerous massages, which start with a standard Swedish massage at $107 for 50 minutes; and couples' treatments, which start at $249 for 50 minutes. Therapists use Elemis products.

Note that all spa prices are subject to an 18 percent service charge, so it's worth factoring that in to your budget calculations. There are always daily specials and offers, especially on port days. (Check your Freestyle Daily.)

The salon offers haircuts and styling, nail treatments and waxing, along with acupuncture, teeth whitening and cosmetic medical treatments, such as Botox and fillers.

A selection of treatments for teens only -- called ZSPA -- includes facials designed to combat acne, short pedis and manis (25 minutes apiece) and mother-daughter massages, as well as styling sessions.

There is also a barber shop for men, with a beard trim starting at $15.

The spa's changing rooms provide towels and dressing gowns but no slippers -- so make sure to bring your own.

Norwegian Escape's thermal suite is huge, taking up the whole of the front of Deck 16 and affording stunning views from floor-to-ceiling windows. It's a gorgeous space, and it's exceptionally relaxing, with 17 heated loungers and a large number of regular loungers. Facilities include a large hydrotherapy pool with a hot tub beside it, a steam room, a dry sauna, a samarium (a combination sauna and steam room that's not so hot) and a salt room, which apparently is good for the respiratory system. The Thermal Suite also has a first for the line -- a Snow Room that is kept between 21 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit (i.e. very chilly); flurries are sent out throughout the day.

Tea, coffee and flavored (lemon) water are on offer at two spots in the Thermal Suite.

The thermal suite carries an extra charge, which is one of the highest in the industry at $49 a day (plus 18 percent), and access is limited to 120 people maximum. You can purchase a week pass at $199 or, if you have a treatment, you can get a discounted day rate of $29.

Fitness

The fitness center onboard Escape is located near the Mandara Spa on Deck 16. The arrangement is a bit odd; the fitness center essentially flanks the long hallway heading from the pool to the spa. Plus, it does not have its own locker rooms, but gym-goers do not have access to the spa's changing rooms. On one side is a cardio area, with a variety of machines like treadmills, stationary bikes and ellipticals. A weight area is on the other side. There, passengers can use a great selection of TechnoGym machines, dumbbells (up to 75 pounds), kettlebells (up to 15 pounds) and free weights. There's also a Smith machine, which uses weight plates. The weight area has a small spot for stretching. Because both areas follow the hallway, they are naturally long but not particularly wide, and a lot of equipment is packed into both spots. Still, except for peak times (especially in the morning from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.), you won't have to wait long for equipment or worry about tripping over others.

Two cardio classrooms are accessible from the weight area: a spinning room and a TRX/aerobics studio. TRX suspension training classes are $20, while spinning classes are $25. Other classes include Boot Camp ($120 for four classes) and Fight Klub ($25 or three for $60), a high-intensity cardio boxing class. Personal training is available for $85 per 60-minute session. Classes like stretching and abs are free.

A jogging track is located on Deck 17. Eight laps around equals a mile. Be warned: The jogging track is only one lane, and it butts up against deck chairs and runs close to the entrance of Margaritaville, so if there's a line there (as is often the case), joggers could be tripping over other passengers. The track isn't really designed to accommodate both joggers and walkers at the same time, so if you're running, be prepared to stop and start as walkers join the track. Like the gym, the track is busiest early in the morning, before the sun starts beating down.

Norwegian Escape For Kids

Escape's kids club is called Splash Academy and takes up a large area on Deck 5. It's a drop-off service and offers a full daily (free) program for kids aged 3 to 12 years old. There is a separate room for babies and toddlers, Guppies Nursery, nearby. The teen facility is on Deck 17 aft.

Norwegian has joined with sports charity The Kings Foundation to provide kids programming across its fleet. The U.K.-based charity, which focuses primarily on sports, also runs kids programming for the children of the U.S. military worldwide. The program will provide a mix of entertainment and education, with a strong emphasis on keeping the kids active, so the rooms are large and uncluttered, allowing the kids to play a lot of indoor games. Guy Harvey, who designed the ship's hull and is a passionate marine conservationist, has also provided content.

There's additional emphasis on family participation, rather than just dropping the kids off. The line has moved away from simply providing a bank of video screens and Wiis; we counted a total of four screens in the entire facility.

There's no chance any children will be bored on Norwegian Escape, whether they are learning to juggle at Circus School, breaking a sweat with a wide range of sports (both in the Academy and on the ship's sports courts), learning about animals in the Jungle Room or enjoying creative play. One night is always movie night. Video game time is limited for all age groups (except teens).

Norwegian splits its Splash Academy program into the following age groups, with age-appropriate activities:

Turtles (3 to 5 years): The Turtles activities are divided between a number of different activities, with an emphasis on sports and arts and crafts. The little kids get to take part in Circus School (Tiger Act, feather balancing); developmental activities, such as simple counting using blocks or games; sensory and messy play; storytelling; and treasure hunts.

Seals (6 to 9 years): Seals might dress up as super heroes and villains in a battle of good versus evil, build a fort, head to the Wild West, test their animal knowledge in the Jungle Room and take part in a lot of sports activities almost every day, both in the Splash Academy and on the sports courts. Activities likely include a treasure hunt, circus show at the end of the cruise and, on certain port days, organized trips to sights like Black Beard's Castle on St. Thomas.

Dolphins (10 to 12 years): Dolphins take part in age-appropriate activities, such as trivia, themed events and sports. A typical sea day might offer "Commotion in the Ocean" (playing and learning about the ocean at the same time), a sports session and themed night like "Hurray for Hollywood" or "Mission Impossible Spy Night." Evening events could be a dance party or Glow Party.

In addition to kids-only activities, you'll find lots of family-focused events in the Freestyle Daily, including a family disco, a Glow Party, and arts and crafts. Everyone is invited to a circus show at the end of every cruise, so you can watch the youngsters perform in the big top.

Splash Academy occupies a large area and has been well thought out. The three different age groups occupy separate spaces within the youth facility. In addition to the age-specific rooms, there's a cinema, a games/video room and the Jungle Room. The entire facility is actually one large space that's divided by retractable doors, so staff can choose to keep the different age groups separate from one another or open the room up into a larger area for multi-age events like talent shows.

Note: Guppies, ages 6 months to 2 years, have a separate room on the same deck, but it's not connected to Splash Academy (see below).

The only comment we would make in terms of positioning is that Splash Academy's lower-deck -- a windowless location on Deck 5 -- is at odds with every other Norwegian ship, where the kids facilities are high up and often spread out over two floors. The lack of any natural light -- let alone any outside space -- for the Splash Academy goes against the ethos of the Breakaway Class of ships, which emphasizes "reconnecting with the ocean" through outdoor space.

As for the logistical details, all parents are required to register on the first day of the cruise, when there is a meet and greet with the counselors and a tour of the Academy. All kids (not teens) must be signed in and out at drop-off and pick-up, unless they are 10 or older and parents have granted permission for them to sign themselves out. All kids get colored wristbands, depending on age and whether they can sign themselves out.

You may leave your child onboard on port days, unless he or she has special needs or is in diapers; in those cases, one family member must stay onboard. Norwegian also marks which of its shore excursions are especially kid-friendly.

Splash Academy is open from 9 a.m. (sea days) to 1:30 a.m., with two-hour breaks at lunch (noon to 2 p.m.) and dinner (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.). It opens earlier on port days, depending on when the ship gets in, and will include a Breakfast Club for parents who have early tours.

Programming is free for children aged 3 to 17 years old until 10:30 p.m. After that, it turns into a Late Night Fun Zone, and a fee of $6 per child, per hour, ($4 per hour for each additional sibling) applies. A $6 per-child fee applies for supervision during mealtimes, which are escorted and take place in O'Sheehan's or the Garden Cafe. There is no in-cabin babysitting.

In a first for the line, as part of the Guppies program, Norwegian Escape is offering for-fee childcare services for children, ages 6 months up to 3 years. (The minimum sailing age is 6 months.) Located on Deck 5 but not attached to Splash Academy, the nursery has an active area for playtime and age-appropriate activities (a "messy room") and a separate space for napping. In addition to the nursery services, Norwegian Escape's Guppies program has a dedicated open play area for parents and babies to play together (for free). It features sensory-based games, interactive media and themed activities hosted by an early-years coordinator. The Guppies program offers storytelling, kids theater, water play and themes like Under the Sea and On the Farm. The staff will also show DVDs during wind-down time.

The nursery has space for just 10 kids, and with seven staff members, the ratio is extremely generous. (One adult for three kids is the legal requirement.) Parents can reserve time blocks of a maximum of four hours at a cost of $10 per hour. On sea days, the nursery is open from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and on port days from 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. The open play area is accessible all day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Advance-purchase items, such as diapers or baby food, will be delivered to your cabin. Once onboard, parents can buy these items from the Nursery. There are no strollers for rent onboard.

Teens

Teens, ages 13 to 17, also get a comprehensive program of activities, but it's up to them if they want to do them or just hang out. Counselors are present in the teen lounge, called Entourage, but they are there just to monitor and offer light-touch advice or encouragement, especially to the younger kids. Activities might include a pick-up game of basketball, a theater class, a nighttime pool party or video game play. A typical itinerary might include a #hashtag hunt, a hipper version of charades called Act it Out, dodgeball and a Social Network Party.

Entourage is designed like a chic adult lounge -- minus the adults -- and is located about as far away from the Splash Academy as possible on Deck 17 aft. It comes complete with video games, beanbags, low chairs and sofas. Once a cruise, the pool deck is given over to a teen party (no adults allowed).

There is no official program for that tricky 18- to 20-year-old age group, but look out for some events in the Freestyle Daily. Norwegian allows young adults to drink (with parental consent) in international waters.

The ship has a plethora of family-oriented accommodations, from inside cabins with Pullman beds to expansive Family Garden Villas in The Haven, and everything in between.

Norwegian Escape Ship Stats

  • Crew: 1,742
  • Launched: 2015
  • Decks: 20
  • Passengers: 4,200
  • Registry: Nassau, Bahamas
  • CDC Score: 97

Find a Norwegian Escape Cruise