Sail Date: June 2019
We loved this cruise and the boat was amazing. The staff were very helpful and kind. Our cabin was always clean and the public areas were also always clean. We only had a few suggestions. The speciality resturants were amazing. The food ... Read More
We loved this cruise and the boat was amazing. The staff were very helpful and kind. Our cabin was always clean and the public areas were also always clean. We only had a few suggestions. The speciality resturants were amazing. The food was good but we waited a long time for food when we went. We actaully missed a show we had scheduled because the meal took so long. They book us for another night to see the show but it wasn't when we wanted to go. Also we were on deck 15. Spa mini suit with balcony. While most of the time we did not hear the action from the pool deck above us we did hear it sum. If you are on deck 15 you will be fine but given a choice I would choose deck 14 or 13. We had the spa package and hosntley didn't use the spa that much. It was nice and very clean but mostly used by older folks and the heated lounge chairs were hard to get. I am not sure I would pay again for the spa room. If you want to lay inside a lot consider doing it but other than that it wasn't amazing. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Dedicated NCL membersDisembarkation took 3 hours. They lost our souvenirs which they were holding for us and then were nasty about it. Two nights for dinner at Cagneys were fair at best. Our potatoes came first followed 10 minutes later ... Read More
Dedicated NCL membersDisembarkation took 3 hours. They lost our souvenirs which they were holding for us and then were nasty about it. Two nights for dinner at Cagneys were fair at best. Our potatoes came first followed 10 minutes later by our steaks which were not cooked properly. Dinner at La Cucina was not up to par. Food came late again. The first 7 nights were otherwise great. Dinner at Le Bistro and the Manhattan room were terrific. We were invited to a beer tasting which was great. We have travelled on the Escape four times and the first 3 were excellent which is why we went back again. Embarkation was smooth and our room was ready and the luggage came timely. The regular General Manager Deepak was not on the ship this time and I wonder if the service slipped because of this. We will come back hoping this was an isolated incident. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
We traveled to Bermuda on the NCL Escape over Memorial Day 2019 for one week leaving from NYC. We had a Mid-ship Mini Suite which is really a balcony room (no suite perks) with a slightly larger and very nicely equipped bathroom. ROOM ... Read More
We traveled to Bermuda on the NCL Escape over Memorial Day 2019 for one week leaving from NYC. We had a Mid-ship Mini Suite which is really a balcony room (no suite perks) with a slightly larger and very nicely equipped bathroom. ROOM - we all know cruise rooms are very small but this room had a comfy bed (requested a pillow top mattress cover that really helped). The bed seemed larger than a queen, closer to king size which we appreciate since both my husband and I are tall. Balcony was small but nice. The bathroom was really nice with a great shower. Great room attendant that always had the room freshen up when we returned and of course had all those cute towel animals every night. We booked the trip last minute (2 weeks before leaving) and was not given offer to upgrade since ship was nearly sold out and did sell out shortly after. FOOD - we enjoyed several different restaurants, including speciality since we had the package that gave us 3 meals at speciality restaurants. All had really nice atmosphere and food was very good to excellent. My favorite was the French restaurant - truly outstanding food and service. We also enjoyed sitting outside on balcony at the Italian restaurant where it was quiet and enjoyed sunset. We are FOODIES from NJ/NY area and accustomed to excellent food options so this is probably the most difficult area to satisfy us and was surprised with the good quality all around at main dining, buffet, and the speciality restaurants. DRINK - our cruise came with the drink package, a really nice perk and value. When we boarded the ship we noticed you could upgrade the drink package so you can have 1) Starbucks coffee (unlimited) and frappachinos/cold brew; 2) Bottles of wine at dinner: 3) Champagne that included Vue Cliquot 4) nice quality wines and drinks and 5) Bottled water. Although we are not big drinkers, I am a coffee addict and very happy to have my StarBucks every morning over the buffet coffee and I enjoyed a glass or two of Vue Cliquot Champagne nearly every evening with dinner. We are also huge water drinkers so having access to a bottle of water anytime was exactly what we wanted and worth to us the extra fee to upgrade. If you really enjoy higher quality wines and speciality liquors this is a really good value add-on. SHOWS - great shows and so many different types of entertainment to enjoy. We loved every one. SPA - we paid the extra fee to have access to the Spa area with the heated loungers and special therapy pool. It was a nice quiet place to visit in the afternoons when the rest of the ship is busy. My husband also enjoyed several massages of which he really enjoyed and thought were high quality. BERMUDA - we were in port for 3 days and we really enjoyed the island. We bought the two day bus/ferry pass that was convenient for getting around and used that to visit the caves. We also took a taxi from port to the beach which was probably same price as some of the shuttles if you have more than one person. Don't do the beach tour with the ship, it's much cheaper to take a taxi and rent the chairs on your own and very each to manage. We did do a very nice snorkeling tour and the catamaran was truly a luxurious ship and we had a fantastic time. We did witness a couple crash on their scooter; they were riding double and for some reason lost control and hit the curb and crashed. The man had banged up his leg pretty good and probably needed stitches; the woman seemed to be ok. Our Taxi driver told us that there were many Scooter accidents so just be very careful if you decide to rent these - we did not. SHIP - nicely maintained and clean. Was worried about the number of passengers this huge ship will book with over 4000+. The ship was busy and crowded at time but found plenty of quiet places to enjoy. If you like to sit at the pool, that was the busiest area but still plenty of sun decks and could find a lounge chair. We didn't sit by pool too much, I preferred reading on the balcony. We didn't do many of the athletics available, except some basketball but lots to do, especially for the active or younger passengers. There is really more things to do then time allowed on a one week trip! Overall we really loved the trip, NCL Escape and the convenience of leaving from NYC. We parked at the terminal, easy to exit the ship upon our return, got a porter that pushed us through customs faster and well worth a generous tip as the porter who also brought our bags up to the car. Will definitely do NCL again! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
My husband and I were on NCL Escape, leaving NYC on the Memorial Day Weekend. The 3-day stopover in Bermuda gave us plenty of time to explore and enjoy the beautiful islands of Bermuda! EMBARKATION: It was quick and easy. Each of ... Read More
My husband and I were on NCL Escape, leaving NYC on the Memorial Day Weekend. The 3-day stopover in Bermuda gave us plenty of time to explore and enjoy the beautiful islands of Bermuda! EMBARKATION: It was quick and easy. Each of us carried a duffle bag and carry-on, so we bypassed all the people checking their luggage with the porters. We are also NCL Platinum members, which allow us priority embarkation. After we went through the security, we were ushered to a dedicated counter and processed quickly. We were onboard the beautiful NCL Escape in no time! SHIP: Escape is the largest cruise ship we have ever been on. We were on Getaway and Breakaway before, but this ship beats both of them! Since it was Memorial Day Week, the ship was pretty full. While we had no problem getting into the elevator the entire week, we did take the stairs as much as we could. Our booking included free drinking and specialty restaurant packages. If you choose these two promotions, you are required to prepay gratuities. In our case, it came out to $309. For 7-day cruise, the specialty dining package consists of three dinners. But as Platinum members, we also received two extra specialty dining coupons, as well as a bottle of wine at Cagney’s or Le Bistro. We need to book all our specialty restaurants and the main entertainments as soon as we got onboard. Since we were unable to book anything online (not sure why), we were running around making reservations on the Embarkation Day! Any Maitre D stationed in front of the specialty restaurant can help you book all your dinner reservations (but not for specialty dining with coupons, which required different line). Shows like “Choir of Man” and “After Midnight” required reservation at the Box Office. We booked most of the things we wanted and were eating lunch at Savor Restaurant by 1:15 PM. After the mandatory lifeboat drill at 3:30 PM, the ship left the pier at 4 PM. It was smooth sailing through the Hudson River. Our room was on the starboard side,, so we watched the Statue of Liberty as we sailed by the Liberty Island. No matter how many times we see this magnificent statue, it never gets old! STATEROOM: Our stateroom was a Spa Mini Suite on the 15th deck. After I booked our room, NCL offered us an opportunity to bid for the Haven staterooms. Since we were happy with our room selection, we bid the lowest price – and were not disappointed when we didn’t get it. Upon entering the room, we found a bottle of Champagne, a plateful of chocolate covered strawberries, and two bottles of water on the desk -- part of the Platinum perks. Our stateroom has everything we needed – including two robes and his/hers slippers. The bed was very comfortable as were the pillows. There were plenty of storage spaces, including cavernous space underneath the bed where we stored all our luggage and bags. Although I brought along a power strip, we didn’t need it. The room had sufficient outlets for our needs (except for the bathroom). Bathroom has two sinks and large shower. It had Bvlgari amenities, including a shower pouf. You need to bring an adapter if you want to use the outlet in the bathroom. It was for shavers only. Since we use Waterpik flosser, we called the front desk and asked for an adapter, and it was delivered quickly. We used the adapter for the entire week and left it on the counter on the last day. While our room was very quiet (we didn’t hear any noise from our neighbors), we heard loud noises coming from ABOVE! On top of us is the pool area, and every morning around 4:30 AM, we could hear workers cleaning the deck and moving chairs. After the 2nd early morning wakeup, we went to the customer service and asked if the crew could delay cleaning until more reasonable hour, but the rep couldn’t answer. He called us later to offer us another room, but we didn’t’ feel like packing again, so we declined. Luckily, we brought our earplugs. The customer rep sent us a plateful of chocolate-covered strawberries (our second plate!) for our inconvenience. One of our favorite perks is the complimentary laundry for each of us, so we filled two laundry bags few days before we disembarked and they were delivered nicely folded. Nothing beats packing clean clothes on the last day of our trip! Our room steward was Blasé. He was a quiet fellow, but he kept our room clean and our ice bucket filled. On the first day, we asked him to remove all the contents from the mini fridge (it’s not covered in the drinking package) so we can put our own drinks in there. Any time we need to contact him, we just left a sticky note on the mirror and he always obliged. Before we disembarked, we gave him extra tip, aside from the automatic $15 pp daily tip, which is shared by the crew. He made our trip very comfortable. FOODS & DRINKS: The specialty restaurants were outstanding on Escape! We went to Cagney’s for filet mignon, Le Bistro (twice!) for lamb chops, and La Cucina for Osso Buco! We had prime ribs at O’Sheehan on the Embarkation night. (Prime ribs were also offered at the Garden Café on the same day.) Our biggest disappointment was dining at Bayamo. We saw Bayamo’s menu from our stateroom TV and it showed Alaska King Crab Legs and Stone Crab Claws, so we made two reservations. (There is upcharge for dining at Bayamo if you have the Specialty Package.) But when we sat down at the restaurant and looked at the menu, there were no crab legs! We asked our waitress about it and she said: “Oh, we changed the menu.” Really? Shouldn’t you update your menu on TV? This restaurant was our least favorite because the seafood was rather plain. My dessert was a chocolate cake covered in sauce, but the sauce had so much gelatin in it that it tasted rubbery. I told my husband if I dropped the cake, it will probably bounce right back! We cancelled our second reservation. Our biggest surprise was the tapas at Pincho’s! This small specialty restaurant is fee-based, but the dishes run between $2 - $8 only. Every dish the waitress recommended was perfect! We especially enjoyed Iberico Jamon ($3), Duck Montadito ($5) and Gambas Al Ajillo ($6). We were thinking that tapas were just snack foods, but after a couple of dishes, we were pretty full! Although they were not quite the same as the tapas we had in Barcelona, we enjoyed dining here. We were very happy with our meals onboard Escape, including breakfast at the Garden Café. Some mornings, you’ll find two ladies going around the tables with the day’s special pastry, singing: “yummy, yummy, good for your tummy!” Take whatever pastry they are offering because you won't see it again. For ship of this size, we didn’t have any problem finding seats – even on sea days. For lunch, sometimes we ate at the café, other times at the Taste or Savor Restaurant. Both restaurants have the same menu. If you have the drinking package, there were plenty of places to order your drinks. I don’t drink, but there are non-alcoholic drinks available. My favorite is the virgin Raspberry-Guava Mojito – really refreshing and delicious with real mint leaves! Be aware that you are not allowed to bring any bottle water (or any drinks for that matter) onboard and bottle water is not part of the drinking package. You have to buy it separately. (Tip: bring your empty water bottles from home and fill them from the filtered water in the Garden Café.) SPA & GYM: NCL’s thermal spa has many facilities and the thermal pool has powerful jets. Wear swimming suit that’s sturdy; otherwise, you’ll have wardrobe malfunction right in front of everybody! Also, if you are absent for a period of time and you left your personal belongings on the lounge chairs, the staff will move them to the floor to free up the chairs. Spa can get very crowded, especially on sea days. Gym has many types of equipment, including many treadmills. We never had to wait to use it. There is a separate room for weight lifting and another room for yoga and stretching with ballet bar on the wall. This room also has a heavy-duty punching bag. ENTERTAINMENT: We both enjoyed the “Choir of Man” and “After Midnight”. If you made reservation for “Choir of Man”, go to the theater early. The casts will pour you draft beer and you can take pictures with them on stage. The talented nine-member singers may offend some people with their antics, but it’s all in good fun. Go and enjoy the show and have a beer with the guys! We were bit ambivalent about booking “After Midnight”, after reading some negative reviews. We were absolutely BLOWN AWAY! This show is Broadway quality with dancing (so much tap dancing!) and singing (led by Melinda Doolittle, the American Idol finalist). This show is what entertainment is all about. While you can make reservation from your stateroom’s TV, it’s not always reliable. We booked a Supper Club show successfully from our stateroom, but when we showed up, we were denied entrance because our reservation didn’t show up. One curious observation – my husband and I are regular cruisers. This is the first time where we did not see the captain come on stage during the Welcome Aboard show to greet the passengers. We felt slighted. A simple “hello and welcome” would’ve sufficed. BERMUDA: We had beautiful weather while we docked in Bermuda! Celebrity Summit docked right after us. So, what did we do for three days here? Day 1 – we took a mini van ($7 PP) from the port to Horseshoe Bay. This beach is beautiful, with clear blue water and limestone cliffs. We went there in the morning and found the water to be bit chilly for swimming. When we left at noon, the water temperature got warmer. After we set up our beach tent that we brought from home, we walked around a bit. For lunch, we took taxi ($22.75 metered) to Art Mels Spicy Dicy for their famous fish sandwich. This place is for takeout only, so we took our sandwich and walked to Hamilton (took about 30 minutes) and ate at one of the benches alongside the Front Street. We did some shopping before taking the Hamilton ferry ($4.50 PP) back to the Navy Yard. (You buy the token inside the terminal.) Day 2 – we took NCL’s complimentary ferry to St. George’s. This boat is very modern and can accommodate a lot of passengers. It took about 50 minutes to arrive at St. George’s. It was a very comfortable ride and there’s bathroom on each deck. The ferry will keep to their schedule and will leave on time. (Tip: Bring sun umbrella with you, especially if you have small children, as waiting for the ferry will be in the glaring sun. It was pretty uncomfortable standing in line at the end of May. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like in June, July or August!) The ferry docked right next to the World Heritage Center. St. George’s is a quaint little town. We were here last December but didn’t have the chance to visit Tobacco Bay, so we took our beach tent again and headed to that direction. It’s an easy walk from the dock. You basically follow the crowd, as everybody will be going the same direction. On the way, we saw the Unfinished Church -- so called because the church ran out of funds and there was split in congregation. There are only skeletal walls remaining, but the structure has Gothic charm to it. The ground is well kept and the place is peaceful. Further up is the Tobacco Bay. This is a small beach and not as pretty as the Horseshoe Bay. The main part of the beach was already crowded when we arrived, so we went to another side of the beach behind large boulders. This area has trash scattered about and there were a lot of seaweeds and small rocks and shells on the beach. But it was quiet, the water was clear, and we had the small beach to ourselves. My husband snorkeled while I was content to just sit under our beach tent and enjoyed the view. We didn’t’ stay too long before heading back to town. We had delicious lunch at Wahoo’s Bistro on Water Street. It’s bit pricey (they take credit cards), but we ate grilled Wahoo fish and taco while overlooking the St. George’s Harbor. You can’t beat the view! This restaurant is conveniently located near the ferry terminal. Shopping in St. George is cheaper than shopping in Hamilton. Day 3 – we spent our last day at the Snorkel Bay Beach right by the Naval Dockyard. It required entrance fee of $5 pp, because this is a private beach facility. The beach is small and covered in small rocks and sharp shells, like the Tobacco Bay. We didn’t bring our water shoes, so it was uncomfortable walking to the water to snorkel. There were a lot of fish in the water! You don’t need to go far to see them. We were not allowed to use our beach tent here. In fact, you can’t bring your cooler, or your own food or drink, from outside. A small sign for rules and regulation is posted near the cashier’s window. Other than the Snorkel Beach, there are shops, bars, restaurants and other attractions near the cruise ship to keep us busy in the morning. The ship left Bermuda at 3 PM. After one more sea day, we were back in NYC. DISEMBARKATION: Ignore the color tags for the time to leave the ship. They mean nothing. Just get on line on Deck 7 and you’ll be let out of the ship as the line moved along. We got on line at 7 AM with all our belongings and waited 30 minutes by the casino before the line started moving. We went through the immigration with no wait time and were out in the street by 7:45 AM. There were plenty of taxis outside vying for customers. In conclusion, while it wasn't perfect, we did enjoy our time on NCL Escape, and Bermuda is AMAZING destination! We would cruise with NCL again! 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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
To summarize my very long review below, a brief version for anyone just looking for the cliff notes: The Good: Top notch friendly employees, Room size/cleanliness/comfort, Drinks, Large Casino, Mojito Bar, Tapas, Taste/Savor, buffet, ... Read More
To summarize my very long review below, a brief version for anyone just looking for the cliff notes: The Good: Top notch friendly employees, Room size/cleanliness/comfort, Drinks, Large Casino, Mojito Bar, Tapas, Taste/Savor, buffet, Starbucks. The Bad: Not enough elevators, not enough smoking areas, far too crowded, lots of up-selling, not enough explanation, extremely long wait times at bars. Almost all entertainment/dining options booked up right away, Supper Club, Room service meal. This was our second NCL to Bermuda cruise, the last was on the Breakaway 2 years ago. The extra passanger capacity between the ships and the nickel and diming reduction of service definitely showed however we were still able to enjoy our time. Other passengers seemed much less happy, as for us we are willing to try Norwegian again but may try out MSC as a replacement. There were no life jackets in the room. This was by design but concerning none the less. I’m guessing by only keeping them at muster stations and not 1 per passenger at muster and 1 in room they are saving money at the expense of safety. It quickly grew frustrating the lack of explanation of things/up-charges or even ship information yet the constant attention to advertising. For instance they have 4-5 cruising magazines in staterooms, none of which about the ship you're on, other ships in fleet or ports, all of which are about things you can buy on board. Half or more of the TV channels are dedicated to adverts and just about every other day we came back to the room with robo advert messages left on our phone and in our stateroom account page on the TV. When you just gave them a lot of money for the current cruise it doesn't feel as though they appreciate the business when they immediately go into upsell mode. It really sets a sour tone. Embarkation- Pier 88 parking was very expensive but worth it. We arrived at 11AM was in the terminal and boarding by 11:45. Previously we arrived very early and waited this time it felt much more seamless. I don't recommend getting to the NYC terminal earlier than 11-12, it was a breeze for us. Ship- The ship was incredibly large. We were in a forward room, you will get in all your daily steps for the day just leaving and returning to your room a few times. By the third day my feet were sore and I stopped wearing 'cute' shoes, I noticed I was far from the only woman who just gave up and wore sneakers to navigate this huge ship. The main draw back was how incredibly crowded the ship felt at times. Elevators were certainly a 'good luck' endeavor. After the muster drill it took, no exaggeration, 45 minutes for elevators to fit the people who were waiting. After the breakaway I knew not to bother so we stayed where we were and watched others getting increasingly frustrated. Especially the mobility challenged passengers who were unable to get their scooters into the elevators, something that became a common problem as the trip went on. Waiting for elevators was a rather common experience throughout the week, typically anything before 10PM you'd need to wait for 2 as the first that would come would be full. NCL seemed to try to lean into the extra passangers by creating a club like atmosphere in many places. The pool, the casino, several of the bars including Spice which is listed as a designated quiet zone. We stayed on the ship during 2 of the 3 days in Bermuda and it was wonderful. Finally many of the mobility challenged passengers were able to get out of their cabins and maneuver around. Smoking- We are smokers. Unlike the breakaway where there seemed to be many designated smoking areas the Escape has 3 for over 4K people. 2 of which outdoors on level 17, 1 inside on 8. It was here that I'd hear the majority of complaints and 'Never again Norwegian'. The inside area was what was supposed to be a cigar lounge, it was very small and often crowded. Even as a smoker I found it difficult to be in a small area with that much smoke and no fresh air. The reason I later discovered it was always so packed there was because it was the only smoking area anyone with mobility issues could navigate to. The other two had tables, chairs and a large volume of people you'd need to pass through in order to get to. Spice has several stairs to the smoking area and while there is a ramp you'd have to navigate around every one in loungers to get there. At night when Spice does parties you'd have no way of reaching the ramp. The casino does have a smoking section when it is open so long as you are gambling but this is a pay to smoke option. I'd read the Escape uses a better filtration system for their smoking area in the casino and you can really tell. Even when people were actively smoking it didn't linger and create that cloud it also seemed to really contain itself to the casino area which was impressive. There are not near enough smoking areas on the ship for the amount of smokers on board. Dining- This time every time we went to a sit down the server asked me for food allergies. I appreciated the attention to it but it became a bit overboard with me being allergic to some shellfish not being served any seafood and even my husband not being served. I suppose with such a big ship cross contamination happens often so even if you're getting a burger and fries it's possible to get shellfish in things they shouldn't be in. Buffet- I was surprised to see such a tone down of 'washy washy' only during peak hours did they have someone at the main entrance insuring people washed. I brought my own hospital grade hand spray and we used it constantly. The first night someone threw up in the buffet so they closed it down. We ate breakfast there every day, I wish they served their breakfast a bit later than 11 or had a 'brunch' option between lunch service because I found their breakfast much better than their lunch options. I loved their full salad bar and the breakfast was excellent every day. My husband loved the garbanzo salad so much we'd stop there just for that. Dining- Food Republic- We were planning on using our first dining credit for here. We made reservations and arrived only to be told Food Republic is not included in any dining plan. I was very thankful the matri-d explained right off the bat before seating us and we racked up a bill unknowingly. No where on the dailies did it say this nor when I selected the dining plan which places it would be good for. We went to guest services and they annotated a copy of the daily with the information on which is up charged on top of dining package and which were not included at all. Margaritavilla and Food Republic not covered at all Tapas and Super Club Upcharge Cagneys and Bleu - Upcharge is for certain items and indicated on the menu. Being as though it was too late to get another reservation we ended up at Savor and it was fantastic. Savor/Taste- Really great. On the breakaway it seemed it was the same quality as the buffet just plated and served. Here it was great, my husband had a better steak here than at the steak house Cagnys we went to later. Breakaway it seemed service was incredibly slow, if we went sit down it would be 2 hours minimum and it would typically be faster to go to the bar yourself to get a drink while waiting so we tended to just do buffet but not on the Escape. You were never rushed, servers were excellent and attentive as was the food. Manhattan Room- I chose the Manhattan Room for our anniversary dinner. On the breakaway it seemed the more upscale option in the most beautiful setting. The setting on the Escape is just as beautiful but they seemed this time to pack far more people into the room and it felt much more casual. What was the dace floor on breakaway was now extra seating so no dancing and what was nice live music was unmanned instruments. The server was great the food was decent. Unbeknownst to us when we handed the matri-d our free anniversary cake coupon they brought it over with a song. My husband and I have a standing agreement to never ask for the 'happy birthday' song for each other (though it is often threatened lol) while embarrassing it was incredibly cute and made it quite memorable and special. The servers, the matri-d even the buspeople, even though they were very busy were incredibly kind and wishing you a good day. Cagneys- I had heard very good things about Cagneys but found them a bit on the meh side, nothing to write home about but nothing bad either. I think the bar from Savor/Taste was raised too high for me to be wowed. I can't even remember what I ordered but I do remember that as always the service was fantastic. In Cagneys we had our picture taken, on the breakaway they were in our folders so we could order them at the end of the cruise this time when we went to order them at the end we were told eventhough we could see them in our file, we were not allowed to buy them. We would have had to have done so at the table not a big deal just something to be aware about. Moderno- The Italian place was a bit odd, they were playing American classic hard rock, think Alice Cooper, Guns N Roses etc. While I'm a fan of that it took away from the atmosphere a bit. The food here was good. I ordered a steak with bleu cheese ravioli and thought it was amazing, my husband got one of the pasta options and found it a bit underwhelming and not filling. Tapas/Pincho- This restaurant was a $7 upcharge per person and does not take reservations. We were incredibly confused on hours and seating. They don't have a designated matri-d section and when you walk up it looks like an empty sushi stand with no one manning it. We waited for a while, saw other people looking around, looking at the menu waiting then giving up. It was now too late to get a reservation anywhere else so we were about to just go to the buffet when I decided to ask the matri-d at the next door seafood restaurant if she knew when the tapas place would be open. Turns out they never man the serving area, it will always appear closed, to get seated you must go to the seafood restaurant. Something so small a tiny sign could help but nothing. They lost the up charge or straight extra business of 4-5 other couples in just the time we were waiting because none of us knew how to be seated. Frequently when passing Pincho you'd see confused people looking around to be seated or walking away. Once we were seated this was the most incredible meal we had not just on the ship but in years. It's definitely a hidden gem and you might need to work harder than you should to visit it but it is well worth it. We were expecting tiny samples, just tasters really and not only is it enough for a meal everything is incredible and sharing it is so much fun. The server here was incredibly knowledgeable about everything on her menu. Even if you don't have the meal package you need to visit this place. If you have the meal perk, spend them all here and gladly hand over the extra charge. Super Club- This was so bad we actually complained at guest services. After we booked I was on the website and saw I could book a dinner theater show here and prepay, so I did. We arrived 30 minutes early which was advised and right off the bat it was nuts. The server came over and in the thickist accent I've heard from anyone on board tried to take our order before we even sat down. Apparently they need to put in your dinner order right away, the only option is fish or beef. You do not get to choose any courses and you are not able to know what they are, they are brought put down and you figure it out for yourself. They advertise a 5 course meal and this is by far the worst when it came to my allergies. The main server asked if I had one, I told him shell fish he took the wine list off the table as we were sitting down, apparently they did not have enough so I needed to steal one from another table so my husband could read it which he wasn't given enough time to do before the person taking drink orders came around and they never came back. Once we sat we noticed the table was not secured to the base. We had to be incredibly careful not to flip it all night. The pictures they show online of big booths reminiscent of a 50s jazz lounge is not at all what it’s actually like. They brought over a colored ‘foul’ placard and put it in front of me, I thought it odd but with the rushing was given no explanation. Apparently the bulk of their courses, which we didn’t know would be predetermined were seafood of which I would be served none and only 1 of which had an alternative, the alternative was a few slices of canned beets. My husband even had seafood pulled away from him because we had a placard at the table. I was asked no less than 7 times what my allergies were, I had desert served to me then pulled back up because they needed to check with the kitchen staff if it had been contaminated. There was a larger table behind us with 2 foul placards and after enough people being passed over by the third course got rather upset and told them to take the placards away and bother telling them what the courses were so they could decide for themselves. My 5 courses turned into 2 plus the addition of some sliced canned beets on the side. Several times I moved my placard slightly off to the side so I could have my drink or one of the plates I was allowed to have in front of me and 3 separate times I had someone move my plate, drink or purse so the placard would be in front of me at all times frankly it was getting embarrassing. We figured whatever, one pretty awful experience won’t ruin our trip and I can always go to the buffet later. However we found out that not only did I prepay, but it counted against our meal package. What I paid was not the fee but the uncharge all for food I was unable to eat and given no alternatives. We went to guest services and explained that we were never informed what I paid was an uncharge and I wasn’t even served 3 of my supposed 5 courses that I’d paid for. Jeff in guest services was very apologetic and acknowledged the website does not tell you the $36 fee is the uncharge on top of your dining credit. He not only gave us our credit back but went out of his way to get us into Moderno on the last night (we were planning on just going to the tapas place for lunch again with our last credit as everything was booked from that point on) apparently if you’re going to buy/reserve ANYTHING on the website do it over the phone instead where they can tell you if what your paying is the actual full charge or not. Oshehans- We went to Oshehans the night of the Super Club failure so I could have dinner and again for lunch. Great bar food, great service. Always incredibly busy and packed but the servers seem to really take it in stride. Room Service- We did this once late night. I think it was really meant more for very drunk people than anyone else. I ordered a salad and a hot dog- hot dog was nuked, burnt and exploded missing the onions and fries were replaced with potato chips, missing the deli pickle advertised on the menu. Husband ordered fruit and yogurt plate that was missing the yogurt. Salads were good though. Bars- This is the place where you’re going to feel the added passengers more than anywhere else with exception of the elevators. Bars were often packed and it could be very difficult to get drinks. If you had diner reservations and decided to stop for a drink you must allocated about 20 mins of wait time and that is not an exception. At least once a day we would wait at one bar for 15-20 minutes, see no end in sight so move to another bar and wait again. The bar tenders were really trying but there just isn’t enough of them for the amount of people they are expected to serve. Often times you’d see people just holding up at the bars, unlike the breakaway where they would get their drink and move on. If you planned on a drinking night it seemed you needed to scope out a chair in front of the bartender if you wanted more consistent service, again not their fault. Even at the casino, which we visited every night, I was able to get two drinks at the slots my husband was only able to get a drink once. Bars were another place you’d hear ‘Never again Escape or Never again Norwegian’ even late at night the casino bar turned into a club and Oshehans was packed. If we ever do Escape again we will not get the drink package, for the two of us the added tips alone were $250 that is probably what our drink charges + tips would have been for all the drinks we were able to get served to us at the ship bars. On the breakaway the drinks were incredibly consistent Escape speed seemed to be the primary concern. Little corners cut, such as the mai tai recipe calling for cinnamon, breakaway had cinnamon sticks as stirrers here all cinnamon was left out completely though it still remained on the menu. There were also several specialty bars and it could get a bit confusing who was serving what. There was a whisky bar that seemed to just exist for the people in the small smoking room to drink something and navigate people over to one of the ships bars. There was a margaritaville tie in bar called 5 oclock somewhere that also had a special menu and did not serve anything else. There was a specialty mojito bar that only did mojitos. No where at any of these 3 bars did they have a sign or anything stating they were not normal bars so the over worked bartenders had to keep repeating it over and over and over again. The mojito bar was incredible. We only stopped there because it was the one bar that didn’t have a line even though by then wed realized they were mojitos only. We went back again and again, by the end of the cruise it seems other people were catching on to how good they were and it became another packed placed hard to get a drink at. Straws- I was relieved to see they had gotten paper straws but dismayed to see them so stingy with them. You could get one if you asked or if you got a frozen drink. I support their effort to be green but I don’t believe thats why they are doing it. If they cared about the environment they wouldn’t be using plastic disposable cups, they wouldn’t be denying people straws they would have moved to paper or plastic less ones. They are doing it to save money at the expense of customer enjoyment and spills all over the floor and in every elevator every night. Speaking of plastic cups the NCL logo ones are no more now it’s clear cheap plastic. It seems everything that costs a few pennies but isn’t absolutely needed is being removed. Disabled Passengers- We’ve been considering bringing my parents on a cruise. My mother is mobility impaired, she can walk and stand but only for limited periods so this cruise I tried to pay special attention to the conditions from a disabled persons perspective and frankly I do not recommend cruising, at least on Norwegian for anyone who relies on a mobility scooter. I had debated renting one for my mother thinking she wouldn’t need to worry about walking but seeing what people in those scooters went through it would be easier to carry her on my back if I had to. I’m now debating bringing her one of those seated walkers but unless I can find one that folds I still don’t think it would go well. The elevator situation on the Escape while bad for all passengers seemed a right nightmare for the disabled. One man mentioned they should have one dedicated elevator for people needing scooters and I completely agree. The buffet showed handicapped placards but you’d still need to be able to move a chair out of the way, there were chair lifts for the areas not accessible by elevators but you needed to call someone to use it. I don’t know why they couldn’t have a special key card but even then, how would you get the scooter up there? Main hall ways were virtually impassable at times as is and for some reason in room hallways they put the housekeeping cart in the middle of the hallway instead of making it slightly shorter to fit in the concaves of the room doorways. It would be impossible for anyone in a scooter to leave or return to their room. It seems the only times most were actually able to use the ship was during it’s time in port. How sad to pay the same for a vacation as everyone else and be able to enjoy only a fraction. Room- Previously we stayed in the mini suite, this time we were in a regular balcony. The only difference was the bathroom was smaller but for 2 people it was more than adequate. It took me 3 days to realize I was in an obstructed view balcony as for me it just meant I could see other people below me. We went through a travel agent who warned us it might be possible to get an obstructed view so I was worried. At least in my case the obstruction was something most wouldn’t notice or mind. Despite being far forward there was very little movement. The only noise was the occasional slamming door. I asked our room steward for extra coffee and creamer for the coffee maker and an extra blanket. Not only did he do that, he left me extra coffee and creamer every single night from then on. One evening I decided I wanted tea and thought about asking him to bring some extra that night but I didn’t want to be a bother, sure enough as soon as he noticed I had gotten into the tea he put in extra and also took note of the sugar I was using to leave more of that as well. I was so very happy to see towel animals as I’d heard they were phasing them out. No I’m not a child, no this wasn’t my first Norwegian cruise I just love them. I know you can request they be made but most people don’t want to bother others for things that are not needed. I made sure to tell our steward how much I appreciated him taking the time to make them without having to ask. Both verbally and in tip. I also left it in the note for his hero card at the end of the week. Entertainment- We made our own entertainment for the most part. Unfortunately a lot of the things I was interested in watching took place in the Atrium. The Atrium is far too small, even being two floors to see anything let alone get a seat. We saw Melinda Doolittle at the supper club, she was fantastic. We also went to the late night comedy show I don’t remember his name but he was pretty decent. He did seem to go on and on about farms though and the audience seemed to get pretty sick of it. We went to the 90s party and it was incredibly packed, we had a really great time though just be aware the H20/Spice night shows are a very club like atmosphere. While the ship was in port we were able to make use of the Bocci set, the Mini golf and the large chess set. Mini golf was a bit strange, parts of the floor seemed to be sinking where you’d stand other than that all of the equipment seemed in good shape. Other entertainment options sold old very quickly. To me it sort of doesn’t agree with the freestyle vibe if you absolutly must reserve a dining room or a theatre ticket by 5PM sunday that you might want to go to on Saturday. It didn’t bother us too much though but be aware your ‘freestyle’ vacation might need to be planned meticulously as soon as you get on the boat as there just isn’t enough showings for all the people on board to get a seat. Bermuda- We’d been to Bermuda before and we are planning on going again. It’s incredibly beautiful and it’s so wonderful to be in an area that you feel so comfortable and safe in. This time we decided to enjoy the empty ship but we did visit tobacco bay. There was a $5 cover per person, this is certainly not a swimming style beach and if you visit water shoes need to be warn in the water as it’s very rocky with bits of glass. You can see beautiful little fish through the crystal clear water here. This is not one of the pink beaches but it is close enough to the ship you can walk, just follow the little green feet on the sidewalk and it takes you there. The absolute best show of the cruise will be watching the runners trying to make it back to the pier. Even the locals show up for this one. Employees/Tips- The vast majority of employees are really fantastic. One morning at breakfast they sang songs and offered people pastries. Very often they smile and say Hi or wish you a good day. I’d say the people they have working for them make the cruise. That being said I found the added gratuities a touch excessive when I did the math. Bartenders are not included as they are covered under the tips added from the unlimited drink package, which @ 270 for 2 people is excessive in and of itself. If you have 10 drinks a day that still equals out to almost a $2 tip per drink, even if they just hand you a beer. The added tips at the end is $15 per person per day or for us, was $210 specialty dining tips aren’t included in that nor is room steward. We ate at sit down main dining rooms 5 times 210/5 means we left a $42 tip each time. I’m all for tipping and tipping well but this is excessive. You can remove it at the end of the week I did not but before I go again I will do more research as it is probably much better to just cary enough cash to tip on the spot and forgo drink package as well. At least then you know for sure it’s going to the person and not the company. Shopping- I’m not one of the people who go on board to shop unfortunately there was 1 thing I was looking for which was the ship model and I wanted to collect every ship I’ve been on. Unfortunately even on day 1 they did not have it. I’m not sure if they discontinued them or not. I was also very surprised to see the large duty free liquor and tobacco store they had on the breakaway was much much smaller and melded with the general store on the Escape. It seems they gave all the room to the more upscale perfume or jewelry stores. I took note of some of the ship priced for toiletries a small bottle of mouth wash for $9 a dollar store disposable razor for $7. It’s good to know they have these things but be aware if you forget the mark up is huge. They had a starbucks on board though they did not advertise it anywhere. It’s in the atrium they call it cafe something but it’s starbucks. Surprisingly the mark up here isn’t that bad. The coffee on board really wasn’t all too great so we stopped here about 3 times. Each time someone asked me where I found a starbucks when they saw my cup. This goes back to not informing people of the amenities of the ship they are on and instead saving all the room for advertisements. Overall I enjoyed my time, if you’re not the kind of person who can go with the flow and not let little things ruin your day Escape might not be for you. We have decided to try at least 1 more NCL cruise on a much smaller ship, The Dawn to see if it fares any better with fewer people. NCL has it’s saving grace and that is it’s wonderful staff. I don’t wan’t to feel like a commodity with someone’s hand in my pocket, begging and begging for more money after I’ve spent thousands on a vacation and that’s what it seems NCL is becoming. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
I always choose to sail out of NYC because it's easy for me to get there and NO FLYING!! I love cruising with NCL because of the "do what you want to do" atmosphere. There's always fun night parties and passengers ... Read More
I always choose to sail out of NYC because it's easy for me to get there and NO FLYING!! I love cruising with NCL because of the "do what you want to do" atmosphere. There's always fun night parties and passengers of all ages attend and seem to really have a great time. The dining options are very wide, and although I did not do specialty dining this time, I have in the past and they are worth the experience. The main dining room menus offer a good variety of food AND you can always order 2 entrees so we can try different foods. The servers were a bit slow on some nights. Our balcony room was perfect and spotless. The Island of Bermuda is the most beautiful island. I have been there 4 times and it does not get old. Horseshoe Bay Beach is outstanding. There are taxis right at the port that can take you for a flat fee of $7.00 per person one way, plus the cab driver gives you information about the island, all you have to do is start the conversation. Enjoy!!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
We found cruising NCL to be super relaxing and a lot of fun! The Escape is a beautiful ship with a fun and helpful crew. We definitely plan to sail on The Escape again! Embarkation was a smooth process, very organized. Our overall ... Read More
We found cruising NCL to be super relaxing and a lot of fun! The Escape is a beautiful ship with a fun and helpful crew. We definitely plan to sail on The Escape again! Embarkation was a smooth process, very organized. Our overall food and beverage experience was excellent. We chose to eat at Cagney's Steakhouse, LeBistro French Restaurant, Moderno Churrascaria, the buffet, O'Sheehan's, Savor, Taste, and The Manhattan Dining Room. Cagney's, LeBistro, and Moderno (all premium restaurants) were all wonderful - delicious food, great service, and excellent options. We were also pleasantly surprised by the buffet - delicious food, lots of options for all meals. Savor, Taste, and the Manhattan room were very good as well. Our experience at O'Sheehan's was hit or miss, but overall not bad. I wasn't thrilled with the cupcake I purchased at the bake shop (white chocolate strawberry); in my opinion the icing was way too stiff and the cake part was sticky. But the complimentary desserts were all hits with our family. Everyone on the NCL staff was professional and helpful. Our room steward checked with us every day and kept our room spotless. He even left me an extra box of tissues and an extra pillow when I came down with a cold during the cruise. The food staff was perfectly attentive without being overbearing and were VERY helpful with food allergies again without being overbearing. They were knowledgeable about how the food was prepared and double checked anything we ordered. We had plenty of allergy-safe options from which to choose. (For reference, our allergy concerns were Tree-nut, Peanut, and Shellfish.) There are plenty of onboard activities for all ages. Our family enjoyed the rope course, water slides, dance parties, pool, H2O, and the Grotto. The Grotto in H2O is a beautiful, peaceful retreat! There's plenty of entertainment on board. Here's our overall rating of the shows we attended: 18+ Comedy Show: Just meh. Not all that funny. After Midnight: High energy show, great dancing, beautiful costumes. Very enjoyable. Dueling Pianos: Very talented musicians, funnier than the comedian, but same kinds of jokes at each performance - once is enough. Don't ask them to play any Billy Joel or Elton John - they obviously hate it and will either not play your request while insulting you for asking or totally destroy the song with their own lyrics. Choir of Man: Fantastic show! We even purchased the CD afterward. This is the show to see! 5 stars. As for excursions, we did the Sunset Bermuda Triangle Glass Bottom Boat excursion through NCL and the Restless Native Catamaran Snorkel excursion through our excellent travel agents (Rick & Marian at Dream Vacations). Both were excellent! -The Sunset cruise was funny and very interesting. -The Restless Native crew were a lot of fun and the the snorkeling took place in water that we could stand in, making it accessible for everyone, and the more adventurous passengers could swim out into deeper water to see the reef. -On our own, we took a cab ($45 for six adult passengers) to Warwick Long Bay. The cab driver was friendly and helpful, the beach was beautiful and uncrowded, and we even found a little cove with lots of fish! Everyone in Bermuda was friendly and helpful. -I also recommend trying the Afternoon Tea at The Princess Hotel in Hamilton - delicious! A reservation is helpful, but not needed. If you do not have a reservation, just allow about 30 minutes for them to prepare your food - everything is made fresh! Disembarkation was a smooth process. Lines were long, but that's to be expected on a cruise carrying 5000 passengers. My disembarkation tip: Get a NYC porter for your luggage! No charge - just a tip (which they definitely deserve!), and they will get you through to your car or taxi super fast! Overall, a great trip I would love to do again! I'm hoping the Escape will get some improvements to it's professional entertainment, but at the very least Choir of Man is now included and is amazing! Yes, there are a variety of offerings onboard for an upcharge, but there's plenty to enjoy for no additional cost. Great cruise on a beautiful ship! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This has been my 7th NCL Cruise. Everything was perfect. Food was wonderful, service was impressive and we loved all the entertainment also. Ship is kept spotless and the crew is tirelessly working for us. We also enjoyed beautiful ... Read More
This has been my 7th NCL Cruise. Everything was perfect. Food was wonderful, service was impressive and we loved all the entertainment also. Ship is kept spotless and the crew is tirelessly working for us. We also enjoyed beautiful weather and very smooth seas! Eating at Cagneys is always a treat! Lobster bisque is amazing and rib eyes and filets were delicious. We also had a fabulous meal at LaCucina. The one negative about the Escape is the fact that the ship does not have a large public, windowed room at the top, for that panoramic view. The Spinnaker lounge on the Pearl or the Gem has it. Ship seemed crowded at times. People hog chairs by the pool all day. This happens on all ships, but we couldn’t find two chairs together on sea days. We bid on an upgrade from an ocean view to an aft balcony and received it. We were very happy. Room was comfortable with a nice size shower. Shower has an adjustable shower head for short people. I love it! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
We were a group of ten and we all had a wonderful experience! Will we do it again? Most definitely, we are actually planning the next cruise lol! Our 3young one had a great time. Also all the adults had a fabulous vacation... In our ... Read More
We were a group of ten and we all had a wonderful experience! Will we do it again? Most definitely, we are actually planning the next cruise lol! Our 3young one had a great time. Also all the adults had a fabulous vacation... In our opinion the service and entertainment in this cruise was fantastic. The crew was great and my favorite the CAS host and casino crew was my definite Cruise Heroes! Can’t wait for our next NCL cruise. Before I forget we also had a Meet and Greet with the ship officer and they’re amazing and very very friendly... I have known most people f the ship officers from our previous NCL cruises and I’m happy when I get a chance to see and say hello to them again. Our service at the main restaurants were great. Our cabin a large balcony had 2lounger chairs and 2 small chairs. Kids club for the kids was excellent. Overall I recommend this ship and itenerary Escape to Bermuda Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
I traveled solo on a May cruise to Bermuda from NY and got a pretty good last minute deal on an oceanview cabin. Norwegian has a lot of programs for solo travelers especially if you get a studio room. Since I was not located in the ... Read More
I traveled solo on a May cruise to Bermuda from NY and got a pretty good last minute deal on an oceanview cabin. Norwegian has a lot of programs for solo travelers especially if you get a studio room. Since I was not located in the studio section I did not get access to lounge or any of the solo activities, hence I didn't meet many people. Overall I was surprised by the amount of kids on the cruise especially since it was mid May. Most seemed decently behaved but others just ran wild everywhere. For this reason I did not find this cruise to be totally relaxing. The food for the most part, with the exception of one meal I had in the dining room was excellent. I tried Savor, Taste and Manhattan. All serve the same food. I liked the Manhattan room the best. I did not go for any of the specialty dining. I found the buffet to be endless and had some great selections including crepes. I really enjoyed the supper club and saw both shows. This was one of the highlights of my cruise. I didn't care for the pool activities. Belly flop contests, who has hairiest chest, twerking,. Just not my things. But The waterslides were pretty cool. I tried two of them. On one you used an inner tube to slide down a series of turns and twists. The other one was a 30 foot drop followed by a couple of corkscrews. Beware because water goes up your nose on this one and it is quite intense. I'm gonna try to Celebrity next time. It's more expensive but it seems to check more of the boxes I'm looking for. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
We booked this cruise 4 days prior to departure based on the value. We had attempted to plan a land vacation for the following week, but the estimated cost kept us focusing on a cruise. RC did not have any close by or in our price range ... Read More
We booked this cruise 4 days prior to departure based on the value. We had attempted to plan a land vacation for the following week, but the estimated cost kept us focusing on a cruise. RC did not have any close by or in our price range but we found NCL did so we booked. We became a little concerned after booking as there had clearly been some competition on the NCL customer support staff to see who could get our booking first. This lead to a little rudeness, which with explanation we would of somewhat understood, but we had to assume what happened on their end and just shake it off. The next day we received a call from a NCL supervisor asking us about the experience and we knew then something had happened. While we had nothing to do with what was happening the supervisor did provide some OBC which we thought was very generous and began to clear our minds about concerns that did happen during the booking process. Our travel arrangements were made. We normally travel the day before to the port of departure so we do not have to worry about arriving on time, especially living near Washington DC and know New York traffic can sometimes be a challenge. We chose to drive into DC early the morning of departure and take Greyhound into New York. This really was the only option since I had to work 8 am - 11 pm the day before. We were scheduled to take a 5:55 a.m. bus out of DC but since the driver decided not to show up we were delayed 2 hours before a bus finally arrived to take us into New York. Despite the delay we still arrived in New York around noon and a quick cab ride to the pier found us ready to check in. The check in process went smoothly and since we had booked so last minute, our key cards had to be printed, although that did not take very long. We boarded the ship and off we went to the box office to get reservations for shows that we had researched that we wanted to see. This was suggested on a couple of sites to do after boarding. We are not used to having to do reservations for shows, although we see the larger ships moving in this direction. We found the process easy and got all the reservations we requested. It would have been nice to have a print out when we left or something that linked to the App to remind us of what we had booked. We did have to go two separate times to guest services or the box office to confirm times for shows that we had booked. I guess we could have simply written it down when we made the reservation but were not thinking that far ahead. After making reservations we headed to the buffet for a bite to eat. We found plenty of options on the buffet. Several reviews talked about the spacing in the buffet to not be crowded especially the further back you went. We did not find this to be the case. The buffet itself was not crowded, however to maneuver around the people coming and going was sometimes tricky. While on the subject of food, we had decided that we would only partake in the complimentary dining options. While there were plenty of eating options, we wanted to try those that cost no extra and believed we could do something different each day on a 7 day cruise. Most of our breakfast meals were in the Garden Cafe or Margaritaville (we did none in the dining rooms), we did lunches or snacks in the Garden Cafe as well. We experienced Taste, Savor and the Manahattan for dinner and found it odd that the menu's were the same, just a different seating environment. While we only went to these one time, we found our service at Taste was a little less than typical and not in a great way. This was the only time that we found staff to seem uninterested in us as passenger. In fact just asking for water to be refilled seemed to be a daunting task. We chalked it up on them having a bad day and walked away assuming all servers in that venue do not have the same mentality. Two of the shows we booked did come with a meal as well, so we had two meals in the Supper Club. Overall, food options were good. Food was flavored more than what we are used to with RC and a little more salty. The point for serving warm food does go to NCL though, food was always hot when served, this cannot always be said with RC. This was the largest ship of the 14 cruises I have been on and will be traveling next year on Anthem of the Seas which I believe is comparable in size. While it will not be fair to judge RC for or against NCL on onboard activities I did thoroughly enjoy the different options that I am not used to having on the smaller ships. The ropes course was a lot of fun, although most of it stayed closed because of weather. I did two of the waterslides and while one is not really to exciting the other was lots of fun although there was a bit of a wait to participate. We really enjoyed Escape the Big Top (reservations required), never had done a group escape experience before and our team was only one clue from completing before time ran out. We enjoyed the Waterfront as well, especially in the evening. We did not spend much time at the bars or lounges as we are not big drinkers. We stayed away from the Casino as well. These all seemed to be enjoyed by our fellow passengers just not much interest to us. Entertainment was certainly different than what we have experienced on RC. The shows that it seems that NCL contract out were awesome. We saw the Choir of Men and thoroughly enjoyed it. The different entertainment at some of the pubs or the Headliner Comedy Club were about what was expected. We did not care much for the production that NCL did with their singers and dancers, rated about the same as RC. We also enjoyed the night parties in the H2O Zone. Always something different and really was a party atmosphere. Overall the ship was fun. We did find spaces that we felt were full of voids, although we assume it had something to do with the construction of the ship. Lots of dead spaces throughout. We were not impressed with all the food options (additional fee required). One or two may have been nice, but it seemed like that was all that was in the public spaces. The only negative we really found though was cleanliness. There was a clear and obvious difference in how RC cleans their vessels as opposed to NCL. We found many items were dirty and in some cases questioned when certain items were lasted cleaned. This is not the best situation considering how quickly illnesses and germs can spread in such a confined space. It was very evident to us and was probably the only area which could deter me choosing NCL over another cruise line. Our destination on this trip was to Bermuda for roughly 3 days. I had only been to the island once about 12 years ago and recalled finding it a bit lacking then. This trip did not change my belief in that. Day 1 we bought the transportation pass for the day, took the ferry to Hamilton. Arriving in Hamilton we just did not find many options. Now this may be our fault, since it was a last minute trip we had not really done much research on the island. From Hamilton we decided to go to St. George (we would later learn that NCL has a free ferry there from the ship). Taking the bus to St. George we arrived to find a small town with very limited options. While we strolled the streets for a little while we opted to take the ferry back to the ship to relax and grab dinner before once again heading to Hamilton for a weekly street celebration. Once we finished up dinner we went to stand in line to await the ferry, finally it showed and we were off. We arrived in Hamilton to find a very limited number of vendors or things to do at their street festival. It was really disappointing, especially knowing we had to wait again for the ferry to make a half hour trip back to the ship. Unless we were missing something I would not suggest wasting your time to attend this street festival. On day 2 we were excited about renting a moped to go to the beach, lighthouse and smallest drawbridge in the world. There was a rental shop near the ship. After paying we got to run a track to test our skills, while somewhat challenging the staff felt we were good and could be on our way. Unfortunately we were not good. The experience on the track was nothing like what it was on the roadways and especially having no experience on this piece of equipment. Needless to say about 3 miles from the port we crashed, causing some injuries. We knew we had to return the mopeds and get to the ship doctor for care. Our injuries did not stop us from getting the mopeds back to the shop (which were kind enough to refund us after seeing our injuries). Going to the medical center I ended up with 7 stitches and lots of bandaging. Although we did not let this dampen our spirits we laid low the rest of this day and just did things onboard. Day 3 (final day on island) we searched out a safer means of travel. Learning that there is a mini van option in lieu of the expensive taxis that would get us to the destinations we had attempted the day before. While the beach was out, because of the injuries we did get to see the smallest drawbridge in the world and visit the lighthouse and take some wonderful photos from the top. As we completed this we returned to the port to do a little last minute shopping on the island before our planned departure to head back to New York. Despite the daily follow-up visits to the medical center and a little rough seas, the return sailing was uneventful. We did some things around the ship and enjoyed out last day on the Escape. We would also learn that other passengers had seen or knew people injured just like up on the mopeds and really suggest to everyone to only consider them if you truly have experience and know what you are doing. Of course the rental shop is not going to tell you that for fear of not getting your business. While we do not blame anyone but our reckless selves for this, we do believe there should have been better warnings about this and more up front information at the rental shop about the dangers. Upon arrival and embarkation from the ship we had a late bus ride back to DC. We planned it this way to walked around New York and avoid traffic in DC. We spent the day walking Times Square and visiting some sites along with going into Central Park. By the time we got on the bus we were ready to sit and relax and enjoy the ride home. The trip from New York to DC was smooth and didn't take as long as expected. By the time we got to DC as well traffic was light and our travels home were not delayed. We would clearly choose to sail NCL again and would certainly recommend and travel again on the Escape. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We like the convenience of cruising out of the NY area ports. Love Freestyle Cruising on NCL. We found the Breakaway + Class ESCAPE easy to get around and full of fun activities and great entertainment. All of the places we ate at ... Read More
We like the convenience of cruising out of the NY area ports. Love Freestyle Cruising on NCL. We found the Breakaway + Class ESCAPE easy to get around and full of fun activities and great entertainment. All of the places we ate at were very good except for a disastrous experience at the La Cuchina. (overcooked Veal, undercooked Tortellini, everything served cold and they dropped one Entre on the way to the table and we had to wait an additional 20 minutes for our meal. And nobody ever came to our table to ask if everything was alright! My wife could not even eat her cold, overcooked meal and we got up and left!) For a pleasant change, we were able to find ample lounges on several decks any time we wanted to get some sun. The "lounge police" were finally doing their jobs marking and clearing lounge hog's belongings! Thank You NCL for listening to our complaints! For VIBE fans, they had shockingly doubled the rate which caused a lot of discussion on the first day. We found out that there was only one elevator on the ship that would go up to deck 19 and after waiting 40 minutes to get up there, we cancelled the Vibe and got our money back ($418 dollars for two). Thankfully, we found out we did not need it since we always found lounges on the "free side" of Decks 18 & 19! Entertainment was generally very good with our favorite being "Carol's Kings". All the lounge acts were great! Getting on and off the ship was a breeze this time with no big waiting lines. When we got back to NY, we left the boat, got off the elevator and found our luggage immediately (thanks to my wife's eagle eyes!) and time from rolling off the boat to being loaded in our car was about 20 minutes! I know everyone is looking for their own thing regarding excursions and we found the Glass Bottom Boat to be a fun, educational experience. Our Bus Tour of Bermuda was great and our driver, Preston, was fantastic! He was articulate, funny and very informative. Also, the boat tour of Millionaires Row was a winner! Best way to see some of the biggest and most beautiful homes along the island coast! We had visited Bermuda 25 years ago and really enjoyed going back again on this cruise. Everyone on the Escape worked hard to make sure our experience was a good one! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This trip was for our grandson so chose a ship with lots of amenities for kids. Cruise description said included pool table, bowling alley and arcade but there is a charge and can add up fast over a 7 day cruise. Ping pong 4 tables so ... Read More
This trip was for our grandson so chose a ship with lots of amenities for kids. Cruise description said included pool table, bowling alley and arcade but there is a charge and can add up fast over a 7 day cruise. Ping pong 4 tables so you usually have to wait - no charge Basketball court great but held tournaments for over 18. A number of younger kids my grandson's age 10 but did not offer tournaments for them Strict children's pool with lifeguard blowing his whistle a lot and banning kids from pool after 3 warnings. Too bad they weren't as strict with their "No smoking in cabin and on balcony" rule Enjoyed food and lots of entertainment in Atrium Dress code - you only have to dress up for speciality restaurants. Shorts allowed in Savour, Taste and Osheehans for all meals. Bermuda and weather great, will go back again Enjoyed the ship and did not feel crowded except by pools on sea days which is normal. Would cruise again on this ship or one of the other Norwegians new ships. We all had a great time. Grandson said best vacation ever. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
As a heads-up, we were a group of 6 aged 30-45 with 2 seniors over 65 but still physically capable, all sailing May 19-26, 2019. We’ve also sailed on other cruiselines to compare (RCI, Princess, Holland America). The 2 seniors were ... Read More
As a heads-up, we were a group of 6 aged 30-45 with 2 seniors over 65 but still physically capable, all sailing May 19-26, 2019. We’ve also sailed on other cruiselines to compare (RCI, Princess, Holland America). The 2 seniors were celebrating their 50th anniversary. We're pretty casual and sensible people, but we sure know quality when we see it. I hope this lengthy review helps you out, because it sure could've helped us out before booking! While the NCL Escape wasn’t a horrible cruise, it was disappointing in too many areas that it really has left us just vexed and irked. It’s almost a completely different cruiseline compared to a few years ago, and not in a good way. They don’t offer a good enough product for the NYC area, with nothing premium that is not in The Haven (the ship’s suite facilities). The ship’s biggest flaw was not being able to fit the passenger capacity in the facilities onboard due to them being too small or an afterthought. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: Embarkation was congested yet semi-organized, which took about ~1hr from the entering the marina to getting on the ship. Many hurdles to jump through, and towing luggage while doing it isn’t too fun and I can’t imagine doing this regularly/monthly. Disembarkation was initially a disaster since the ship docked many hours earlier than expected, and some rocket scientist in charge thought it was a good idea to call our tag color 1hr before it should have. You should have seen the madness that was the buffet and elevators by then (8AM). Absolutely NUTS. And the staff was no longer as pleasant, but go figure special thanks to rocket scientist. Then once we managed to squeeze into an elevator, it was ~20min total time off the ship and passing customs. The $40/day pier parking was totally worth the convenience, and we could have gotten a marginally cheaper shuttle arrangement if we researched in advance. DEMOGRAPHIC: Basically the Carnival cruise kind of crowd, in mid-May. Passengers were mainly 30-60 yrs of the blue-collar-with-tattoos kind of crowd who looove to drink and consider the burgers and pizza to be gourmet, and there were some kids running around or making scenes and spreading germs via poor hygiene. But most passengers were respectful and we all treated each other as such. SHIP: Bigger isn’t necessarily better, and this ship’s a clear example. Aside from being a big & beautiful ship and all that, it’s packed to the gills with passengers like a sardine can (~4300 total). There simply aren’t enough pools & hot tubs for everyone. It’s hard to find a seat in the buffet most of the time. You have to hunt down lounge chairs often to get the location you prefer. I could go on. The ship also seemed to be cheaply assembled since it constantly creaked and rocked from the slightest choppiness at sea. I’ve felt less rocking in smaller ships, on WORSE waters. The walls aren’t well insulated or secured as evident by the constant creaking in the stateroom and several facilities. The strangest thing was that the engine’s vibrating was felt all the way up to the 10th+ floor, with sometimes jolts of vibrations that would dissipate randomly. Why? How? Imagine having to sleep with that….NOT fun! CABIN: Our cabin was a mid-ship balcony, 9280, smack-dab next to the elevators. The elevators weren’t a noise issue because they were partitioned from them, but the cabin walls were thin enough to hear a cough from the neighbors or flip flops in the hallway. Especially door slams and toilet flushes, what a drag. The bathroom was OK in size, but the toilet paper roller is installed in a hidden place which doesn’t make sense. Also, 9280 had the bed closest to the balcony rather than the sofa (as some balconies do), which while it’s nice for couples, it didn’t work out at all when having guests over. The dark wood and the sofa material were terrible design choices, because it cheapened & visually confined the cabin. SERVICE: The crew overall helped to create a positive cruise experience, and for the most part the staff is pleasant. Our housekeeper Edwin was the rudest, laziest housekeeper we’ve ever met. Not to go into much detail, he was in a bad mood no matter what, constantly neglected to refill or clean certain things, hung up on our call requests to fix them, ignored us when we ran into him and said hello, and rushed us out of our cabin whenever he felt like making up our room. Sure, he had 16 rooms to clean, but frankly that wasn’t our problem since we were on vacation. We had to beg him to arrange an anniversary surprise for the senior couple traveling with us. He didn’t even provide the “anniversary cake” card they were promised, so we had to get it at guest services. Other than folks like Edwin, the crew was overall friendly and hardworking however lacked refinement or training when it came to good service (eg MDR). Most are no longer willing to go above and beyond. Most are no longer eager to please. Those small details that make a vacation special were missing. The absence made sense when we saw staff being rotated around the ship instead of focusing on one area (eg one day Richard’s in the MDR, the next he’s in the buffet). The MDR was understaffed, lacking hands to manage several tables. The whole experience were even less special as a result of lacking food, service and timeliness. Other passengers complained of similar service issues in the specialty dining restaurants. Why pay more for the same experience? The anniversary surprise resulted in a quarrel between the staff of who were or weren’t in the mood to sing for the couple. On their 50th? A crying shame. DINING: The food aboard was overall acceptable, however was cut back a good amount since we sailed with NCL in 2015. It’s obvious that the cruiseline decided to go with a cheaper & lower-end selection of meals, even in specialty dining. Even Carnival has more gourmet dining options now (and that’s saying something). The Garden Café (buffet), while ideal for quick & no-frills meals, was limited or unimaginative when it came to selection and quality of food options. Where was the salmon, gourmet cheeses, array of cured meats, unique ingredients/foods/proteins or fine pastries? Because 80%+ of the time we couldn’t find them. Buffet breakfast was disappointing, with the same boring assortment every single day: continental/American usual choices, an embarrassing European selection, and congee. The buffet offered cuisine themes, but 1) themed ethnic dishes were NOT authentically prepared (not even the Mexican dishes! Really??), and 2) just the dinner themes were advertised while nobody knew what was going on for lunch. The pizza would upset ANY native NYC’er since it was essentially tomato sauce & cheese on a bland and greasy insult to pizza crust. Buffet desserts were mostly boring and repetitive, including the crepe station. There were always 1-2 no-sugar-added options (eg vanilla ice cream; strawberry mousse), but again, VERY boring and repetitive. The executive chef (an Indian man whose name I forgot) did nail down not seasoning the dishes too much/little, much like on RCI. He especially excels at Indian buffet dishes, but as much as I enjoyed the fish curry or chicken korma, I had to skip it often due to being too heavy/spicy, and most of the passengers apparently did the same. O’Sheehan’s was a pub-style free dining option, with decent wings and other bar snacks of varying quality. The whole place kind of felt like an afterthought, like “yeah, welcome, what do you want, are you done yet?”. The atrium right next to it was deafening loud a lot of the times where you just couldn’t hear each other at the table. Most things we tried on the menu were overall good, not great. The service, just meh. The desserts were disappointing, including me not finishing the brownie cheesecake -- something I NEVER did on a NCL cruise in 2015. It didn’t even TASTE like cheesecake or brownie. What happened? Oh that’s right, quality cuts the company hoped their passengers wouldn’t notice. The MDR menu selections were reduced a good amount, and lacked gourmet touches when it came to the ingredient quality and cooking technique. No special sauces, no complex flavors, barely/no textural components, no unique proteins/fish/etc, no Lobster night, and no prime rib or salmon every night like before. The MDR for breakfast and lunch was a COMPLETE afterthought in both food and service, glacial in pace (avg meal there was 1-1.5 hrs), and had a noisy ambiance forcing you to yell across a table of four just to hear each other (see sardine can notes above). Besides at the specialty dining, 75% of everything we saw was just repeating classic fare available every day and night. MDR dinner was barely considered a memorable event due to scaling back the quality & presentation so much (not to mention the service lacking), so they never felt that special like before. We’re not picky eaters at the end of the day. But most food options were seriously lacking that gourmet touch we expect when cruising (especially compared to the past); instead they just came off as upper-casual at best, or ideal for hangover recovery. ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment is all over the place from poor (eg After Midnight) to pretty good (eg Choir of Man). All the outdoor parties were underwhelming (deafening?), with the oldest of the age range doing most of the interacting/dancing while most of the youngest were just standing around and drinking. The comedy-magician guy was alright. Howl at the Moon was actually pretty good. The dance-off competition was funnier than the comedian. Again, all over the place. SHIP AREAS, ACTIVITIES, ETC: There were 2 shuffle board courts, a ropes course, water slides, 2 tiny pools, a kid-zone, a mini-golf course, and probably some other small things I cannot think of right now. The pools were empty most of the time, with people all around the perimeter dipping their feet. Why? Because a) the pools are too deep to touch the bottom, and b) they’re too cold to enjoy most of the time. At least they were salt water. The ropes course & mini golf were nice but forgettable, and could have been removed to make (desperately needed) space for more pools & hot tubs. The running track on deck 17 is obviously an afterthought. It didn’t have a dedicated pathway and is actually a hazard for both the runners and non-runners. Who wants to run while dodging puddles, loungers and second-hand smoke? The Waterfront on deck 8 was the ship’s saving grace for adults wanting R&R outside their stateroom. You can only walk on it due to dividers. It has plenty of chaises and lounge chairs to enjoy actual peace and quiet (something very rare on this ship). The muster drill is a congested joke to get up the elevators, so we just waited it out in the Waterfront (deck 8) until the crowds cleared. Deck 18 is a nice place to get some sun and relax, and there’s usually plenty of loungers available. There’s 2 hot tubs up there, outside of the Vibe Beach Club entrance. But the problem is that a) it sometimes is too windy to enjoy, and b) not enough hot tubs for the deck’s capacity, so they were always crowded. Spice H2O area is nice and adults only, but all the loungers are taken unless you snag one before 10am. Again, not enough space. The (scarce) umbrellas are almost always closed unless there’s barely any breeze, so hope you like tanning. Not enough hot tubs, and the waterfall just takes up wasted space. I mean, I could see the need to go black-Friday-doorbusters for the 1st-come-1st-serve Vibe passes at guest services upon embarkation (~$100 each IIRC), to get guaranteed access to umbrellas and hot tub. But because it’s deck 18, it’s oftentimes too windy to enjoy whenever. Enrichment activities were available, but many weren’t for pure knowledge and just ended up with upselling something you didn’t need. All other adult activities besides the gym, buffet, Waterfront & pools/tubs were basically fee applied. The gym was decent size for after 1st sea day when it cleared out, with plenty of treadmills, ellipticals, weight machines, etc as well as a yoga/dance room. The gift shop had some good items, clothing and jewelry for sale, and at decent prices during their flash sale events. Honestly, not all of it looked like chintzy Made in China stuff like I assumed. BERMUDA: Our 1st time visiting and we look forward to going back! We thoroughly enjoyed having a port of call for more than a day so we could explore it at our leisure. We did the mini-bus shore excursion which was a great way to see the island, but the experience is mostly all about the driver’s knowledge & proficiency (and we got a bad one). The Gibbs Hill Lighthouse area was probably my favorite part of the island. A view up there so nice that the Queen approved of it. The free ferry going from the dockyard to St. George (complete opposite side of the island) is nice if you go early to explore the area. We passed by Horseshoe Bay, and it’s $14 pp round-trip, but it appeared underwhelming with not-so-pink sand like we kept hearing. CONCLUSION: NCL Escape has so much room for improvement that there are some key areas that cannot be improved or fixed. Don’t get me wrong, the crew is overall pleasant and there’s activities here and there, but NCL needs to bring back the quality in dining, comfort and service. There’s not enough space in several ship areas, and NCL clearly knew this when designing the ship. They cram the passengers like a can of sardines in order to maximize profits. It’s kind of like the airlines: if nobody complains, they keep cutting. They act like a premium cruiseline by offering The Haven and specialty whatevers, but what about everyone else? NCL’s missing the big picture when it comes to what makes a cruise special, because they’re so transfixed on dumbing down everything to become plain or casual. Dining and entertainment experience has dropped to a new low which is unacceptable. Based on how the cruiseline trends are going, we’re basically left with no choice but to resort to the more premium lines (Princess, Holland America, Celebrity, etc) to ensure we get the quality and service we pay for. No more NCL for us, which is too bad! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Hubby and I were on the Norwegian Escape week long cruise from NYC to Bermuda departing 12th May. It was our first time on Norwegian. Most previous cruises have been on Celebrity Reflection or Eclipse. We decided we wanted to try out ... Read More
Hubby and I were on the Norwegian Escape week long cruise from NYC to Bermuda departing 12th May. It was our first time on Norwegian. Most previous cruises have been on Celebrity Reflection or Eclipse. We decided we wanted to try out another cruise line and were fully prepared for this to be different to the Celebrity experience. The weather was not great when departing from NYC and for the 2 sea days before we reached Bermuda, this meant more people were inside and made the ship feel crowded. We felt this especially in the Garden buffet. We, therefore, used the main dining rooms for breakfast and lunch more often than we would normally to avoid the crowds. Cabin was great, plenty of storage for clothes etc, bed was very comfortable and the shower room was spacious, good shower pressure. Balcony was well enclosed and very comfortable even when it was windy. We thought the food was of a very high standard especially in the main dining rooms and service was very professional. Hubby is a cake connoisseur,however, and he said cakes were not great, even the cupcakes that were in the atrium cafe at additional charge were not great. We enjoyed the 2 theatre shows ‘Choir of Men’ and ‘After Midnight’ but I particularly liked the piano guys ‘Howl at the Moon’ they were great. The thing Norwegian did very well for me was the complementary dining experience. As I said the food and service was very good and I liked having 3 venues to choose from. The Manhattan Room was large and more like a traditional main dining room but it had the additional feature of the entertainment while you dine. Taste and Savour are smaller and feel more like being in a restaurant which was very nice. What we both missed most on the Escape, however, was appealing space on the ship outside our cabin to sit and relax. The Atrium Cafe, where you can have espresso coffee, was beside a busy bar, customer services and a stage where the entertainment team held the games and presentations so it was always noisy. The outside adult area wasn’t very appealing either, no pool and not very comfortable loungers. We enjoyed the cruise very much, Bermuda is lovely but we may not go back on Norwegian as overall, for our taste, Celebrity ticks more boxes. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
okay, here are our comments....... to preface everything we did, our last 5-7 cruises were on the Gem so I'm using that as the baseline to compare .....the GEM was so enjoyable and so pleasant........the ESCAPE was way too ... Read More
okay, here are our comments....... to preface everything we did, our last 5-7 cruises were on the Gem so I'm using that as the baseline to compare .....the GEM was so enjoyable and so pleasant........the ESCAPE was way too big....whoever made the decision that there should be only TWO elevator banks for 4,200 people should be demoted to swabbing the poop deck....horrible decision......unfortunately our cabin was located middeck....about 1/8 mile from the nearest elevator bank...seemed like a 1/4 of a mile after awhile.....that trek grew tiresome... the disembarkation methodology was great...one of the fastest ever and most comfortable (we could sit down while waiting to leave)....the embarkation was more than adequate provided you got there by 9:30..... the most unfair, unjust thing was the passage fee we were charged....what I object to the most is that we didn't have the option to reject all the "free" perks and thus get a lower fare.....by not having the option to get a lower fare, I feel that we were "taken to the cleaners"......we were paying for everyone's drinks et. al. by being forced to pay the same price whether one took the drink package or, for that matter, the part of any other package........no option to forego the "free" stuff for a lower fare....the cruise on the GEM last year cost $2,800...this year the cost was $3,600.....WOW!!!!....I only agreed to go because my wife really wanted to go....but never again!!!!!!...not at this price!!! ….the balcony on the ESCAPE was much too small...the GEM spoiled us....service was great (ESCAPE) and the staff were very friendly....didn't do any excursions…..St. George's walk-about was great....loved The White Horse Inn....If we can't go on a smaller ship, on whatever line, we've been on our last cruise.....we will never again sail on a ship with more than 2,000 people.....bring back the GEM to NYC!!!!! ...the GEM spoiled us....we'd like to say see you again next year, but not on this ship....or any one of this size like it....the food in the garden café was ok.....nothing great....however we loved the desserts there.... the dining in the specialty restaurants was above average...Le Bristo was the best....loved the freestyle dining..... Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
The cruise was great! We didn’t have great weather on the sea days going down to Bermuda, but the rest of the time the weather was awesome . And we loved Bermuda! So clean, safe, and the people were so nice. We would definitely be ... Read More
The cruise was great! We didn’t have great weather on the sea days going down to Bermuda, but the rest of the time the weather was awesome . And we loved Bermuda! So clean, safe, and the people were so nice. We would definitely be interested in vacationing there again. Here’s what we thought about everything: Ship: Really loved the ship overall. We never had to search for chairs on the deck, and loved the large selection of bars and lounges. Fitness Center was awesome as well. The cons were that the pool was teeny tiny (we never went in it), and the ropes course and slides were closed for most of the cruise. We did get to do the ropes course which was super fun, but there was only one staff member on the course, so it was hard to determine which way you were supposed to go. Another not so awesome thing was the smoke in the casino. It was right in the middle of the ship, so it was hard to avoid, and you could smell the smoke on the 6th and 8th decks as well. Staff: By far the best part of the cruise!! Every member of the staff was amazing and consistently went above an beyond for us. Our cabin attendant was fabulous, and many of the staff members we saw on a regular basis remembered our names. We had an issue with our next door neighbors smoking on their balcony, but the guest services staff addressed the issue and even followed up with us to make sure it didn’t continue. Food: We had high expectations for food since we live in NYC, so I would give the food a B+. There was plenty of food and tons of options, but it wasn’t amazing quality. The buffet was inconsistent and sub par at best. The main dining room Savor was alright, but the Manhattan Room was like bad wedding food. We did enjoy the specialty restaurants, though. We went to Moderno, Cagney’s, and Teppanyaki. Moderno was great, but we overdid it on the appetizer buffet, so were too full to try all the meats! The grilled pineapple, though, was to die for. Cagney’s was decent, but the service was super slow. The steaks were pretty good, and it was cool to be able to order huge porterhouse steaks that would cost us an arm and a leg in NYC. The appetizers were not very good, though. Teppanyaki was awesome, probably the best Teppanyaki I’ve had! Excursions: We did Scuba Diving, Hidden Gems, and the Segway Tour. Scuba Diving was fun, but we only went out for a half hour, and Joel and I had done shallow scuba diving before, so it wasn’t too exciting. Not sure if it was the time of year, but there wasn’t much marine life. Hidden Gems was awesome, and we lucked out with only 8 people in our group! I will say that the water was still pretty cold, so I’d definitely suggest doing the Bermuda cruise in June. Our tour guide was awesome and it was a great way to see pretty much the entire country in one day. Segways were also really fun, and we had a great guide for that, too. Cabin: It was perfect! No complaints at all. Entertainment: Joel and I used to be performers, so we had pretty high expectations for the entertainment. Unfortunately, it was pretty horrible; I’d give it a C- at best. We went to the variety show the first night and quickly realized that we would not be partaking in any of the entertainment options for the week. Talent was lacking and the production quality was very low. However, we did enjoy the dueling pianos and we LOVED Joanne Rochell (I think that was her name) who played at the District Tap House. She was by far the best performer on the ship, and I wish we had known that she had a show at the Supper Club, because we would have made reservations! Overall, we had an amazing time, and can’t wait for our next cruise!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
Cruised with my husband and our friends. Don't sit on the port side of Spice H2O. The exhaust spits out little drops of oil that covered our clothes and Skin. There were drops floating in our drinks and covering the deck. ... Read More
Cruised with my husband and our friends. Don't sit on the port side of Spice H2O. The exhaust spits out little drops of oil that covered our clothes and Skin. There were drops floating in our drinks and covering the deck. Dining room staff was amazing. Specialty dining was awesome. We went to Cagney's, Moderno, and La Cucina. Beware of the upcharges if you have the dining package. There is actually an upcharge just to get into Bayamo even if you have the package. On the first night my friend and her husband asked for a Absolute Citron with diet soda at Cagney's...they brought her drink and said they were unable to make her husband's because they ran out of the vodka. Never heard that I a cruise before. Room Stewart did not replenish coffee, Creamer, Sugar. New beach towels were not replaced in room after use. Toilet smelled so bad...i think he needs a lesson on how to clean the bathroom. Bermuda was beautiful and I would definitely go back. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This was our first Norwegian Cruise, and I don't believe it will be the last! I will give my review in categories. Embarkation We arrived at the pier at around 10:45. Didn't have to wait too long in line before we were ... Read More
This was our first Norwegian Cruise, and I don't believe it will be the last! I will give my review in categories. Embarkation We arrived at the pier at around 10:45. Didn't have to wait too long in line before we were called. It was then that we learned that our cabin had been changed. We were no longer on deck 14. Now we were on deck 15, on the opposite side of the ship. I wanted to check out the new cabin before I complained. As it turned out the new cabin was quite acceptable. Cabin Our cabin steward was Jefferson. If we saw him 3 times during the cruise it was a lot. However, the room was always clean, and the towel animals that everyone was afraid were being done away with were always present. Bars Our first drink was in the Atrium Bar. There is nothing that tastes better than your first drink of the cruise! Every bar we went to always made us a good drink. The best bar was the Prime Meridian. They made the best martini there! Restaurants I can't say we had a bad meal on board. Everywhere we ate, from the Buffet to Cagney's, was really good! I'm a real prime rib fanatic and I can honestly say that the prime rib in the main dining room was just as good, if not better, than in Cagney's! Entertainment We only went to 3 shows, The Choir of Man, The Carole Kings (a Carole King Tribute), and Wine Lovers, The Musical. All were surprisingly excellent! We also saw a comedian, I can remember his name, that was also good. Spa As we weren't traveling with anyone, this trip was all about us! We treated ourselves to massages, daily acupuncture, and an algae cleansing bath. I also went for a full service shave! The spa staff was excellent! Shore Excursions Having been in Bermuda twice before we opted to take a mini-bus tour of the island to see if we missed anything. We hadn't! The tour was a nice way to spend a day. The Crew Those that I had interaction with were always very nice. My main complaint is I never saw the cruise director and I never saw the Captain. On my previous cruises I always ran into one or the other several times. Is this a normal occurrence on an NCL Cruise? The only real complaint I had was the lack of ventilation in the Casino and especially the cigar lounge. I love to smoke cigars! It was hard to enjoy a good stogie in there! There was no ventilation except for an overworked air-purifier. Whoever designed that place should be shot! If I ever cruise on Escape again I'll do my smoking on deck. Disembarkation Getting off the ship was as easy as getting on. We didn't have to wait long and our luggage was right there and customs was a breeze. Before you knew it we were home being licked to death by our dog! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
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
Sail Date: May 2019
The trip was great. Everyone was very friendly. The staff at the kids club was exceptional. My daughter was not looking forward to the kids club (splash academy) because of her experience on a carnival cruise, but after her first visit ... Read More
The trip was great. Everyone was very friendly. The staff at the kids club was exceptional. My daughter was not looking forward to the kids club (splash academy) because of her experience on a carnival cruise, but after her first visit she was sold. We met some really great people and the entertainers were very good. The comedy show was good not great. Getting on and off the ship was very smooth and easy. We were a little disappointed about the rope course, one of the zip lines was closed but we understand it was for safety. The ship was clean. This was my second trip on the escape and I would consider this ship again in the future. I found everyone at guest services to be attentive and helpful. The show choir of man was funny and entertaining. We are so glad we chose that show. Thank you NCL. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
I’m careful with my reviews because I read them carefully prior to booking and my hope is always the same, people that write point out the good as well as the bad. We have been in 17 cruises, with 5 different cruise lines. Nine of these ... Read More
I’m careful with my reviews because I read them carefully prior to booking and my hope is always the same, people that write point out the good as well as the bad. We have been in 17 cruises, with 5 different cruise lines. Nine of these cruises have been in a Norwegian ship. The various cruises were on Norwegian, carnival, Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean ships. The truth be told although most would think the same quality from ship to ship, and my guess possibly what the cruise line strives for, it’s just not the case. This review is regarding Norwegian cruises, specifically the Escape. As you will see I rated it excellent and do so with sincerity. We have taken cruises on the following Norwegian cruise ships, Escape, Breakaway, Dawn, Gem, Epic, and Pearl. There are and will always be a few hiccups so to speak on any vacation regardless of how taken. It’s not so much that a problem develops, what’s of more importance is how any issues are handled. The staff, Chiefs and management aboard the Escape far exceed that of all the other Norwegian ships we have been on. My wife as well as I have a variety of medical issues, all of which have the potential of ruined vacation if care is not taken by staff to assure cleanliness in the room of dust, sanitation throughout the ship to assure colds and illness isn’t spread but my wife having a major Gluten allergy Chiefs and waiter staff assuring foods are prepared and handled avoiding any chance of cross contamination. Entering the Escape a food service manager is assigned to any and all vacationers to assure food is handed in strick compliance. Regardless of so many areas of a ship to eat, anytime a key card is swiped in a food area, that supervisor somehow responds to the area to assure no mistakes are made. Although I’m sure many that cruise are aware this is done on other ships as well as other Norwegian lines... None are as careful as those on the Escape. In fairness, any ship can be just lucky or have a bad day. But with 5 cruises now on the Escape, each cruise on this ship has actually improved and a few supervisors as well as managers have kinda got to recognize us. Chiefs and food service staff routinely add to our experience by sending gluten free items/treats to the room for my wife to enjoy. Only drawback we have found on Norwegian is entertainment. Because we cruise so often on this cruise line, there is a bit of redundancy on shows. For example, although a great show, the magician dinner show has been running for over s year on this same ship. This being said for those similar to us that cruise often and enjoy a particular ship, we lose out on entertainment because after seeing several times it gets old. So my suggestion to Norwegian staff is IF they are going to keep a show or act for any extended period of time, that show should be updated with new material. For a magician I would think this would be easy to do, why it’s not done beats me. I would think after a year doing exactly the same thing would get old on the magician as well. Same goes with the Newly or not so newly wed show. How hard would it be to change up the questions asking guests called up to participate? I realize this is being a little critical of a ship I’m rating 5 stars, but Hope is someone in management looks over this review as well and possibly consider what I’m saying as a easy way to make trips even more enjoyable for others like us that cruise 3-5 times a year and are regulars on their ships. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
As a solo traveler, I booked last minute on a Sail Away offer. No free at seas with this, but good value for a balcony cabin. I like this particular itinerary because it allows for a restful vacation. My work is fast-paced and my vacations ... Read More
As a solo traveler, I booked last minute on a Sail Away offer. No free at seas with this, but good value for a balcony cabin. I like this particular itinerary because it allows for a restful vacation. My work is fast-paced and my vacations are often a way to escape, pun intended, to be alone, have some needed quiet time. Friends ask me how I find solitude on a ship with thousands of people. I must say that the Norwegian ships I've traveled on thus far offer that. I can always find a quiet spot, often on deck eight. I've done the Bermuda cruise out of Boston (on the Dawn) as well as New York. The first day or two at sea allow for a detox from my busy life. Staying in port for 3 days takes away the self-imposed pressure of having to visit a lot of places. Having been to Bermuda and some of the more popular beaches before, I chose to simply walk to the nearby Snorkel Park and enjoyed floating in that luxurious water. I didn't need to run around and shop, and the free tender that Norwegian offers over to St. Georges is a pleasant ride even if not going ashore. The only negative thing I can say, is service at the Supper Club, which I attended on a couple of occasions, was lackluster. It seems like more attention was given to people ordering drinks (for $$$) as opposed to myself who just wanted iced tea and/or coffee (no $$$). Seriously considering making the Bermuda Cruise an annual retreat. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
The service was excellent, the food was excellent, and we loved having 2 1/2 days at Bermuda vs the usual 8 hour port call. I would easily give this cruise 4 or maybe 5 stars if not for one thing. The number of elevators on the Escape ... Read More
The service was excellent, the food was excellent, and we loved having 2 1/2 days at Bermuda vs the usual 8 hour port call. I would easily give this cruise 4 or maybe 5 stars if not for one thing. The number of elevators on the Escape is completely inadequate for the number of passengers. This may sound like a minor gripe, but it is a serious problem. You can easily wait 10 minutes or more at non-peak times before an already packed elevator stops with barely enough room for you to cram yourself in. At peak times such as embarkation and disembarkation, it gets worse. Much worse. I was travelling with someone with limited mobility, so taking the stairs was simply not an option. Even if you are healthy enough for the stairs, do you really want to run up and down 10+ floors of stairs multiple times a day? This is not how I envisioned my vacation, nor will I spend a vacation this way again. This was my 4th cruise. The previous 3 were on Carnival. I hoped Norwegian would be a more upscale experience than Carnival, and in some ways it was. The cabin bathrooms were far superior to Carnival. Also we did not wait a minute before being seated in any of the dining rooms for a meal. Also kudos to Norwegian for the kids activities. Our 11 year old wanted to be at the kids club pretty much 24 hours a day. Not really sure what they were doing in there, but I don't really care either. If everyone in your party is young and healthy, you could have a great time on the Escape. But do not book this boat if you have anyone who doesn't want to run stairs like a high school track star. Read Less
25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
If you are a complete novice to cruising and were to read some of the reviews here for this ship you might come away thinking that the cabins are all filthy, the crew all have a chip on their shoulder, the food is substandard even by ... Read More
If you are a complete novice to cruising and were to read some of the reviews here for this ship you might come away thinking that the cabins are all filthy, the crew all have a chip on their shoulder, the food is substandard even by cafeteria standards, the entertainment is poor, the ship is packed to the gills with rude passengers and children are all running amuck. This absolutely is not the case. Although there might be a kernel of truth to some of the negative statements you will read in these ship reviews, one must take them with a grain of salt and always keep in mind that everyone has their biases, myself included, and tend to be more hypersensitive to the things that annoy them most. The underlying truth is that a vacation aboard the NCL Escape is a wonderful experience. In this review I will try to remain as objective as possible and give tips where I can. Understand that my rating of 3-stars is not a negative assessment of the Escape or her crew. It is merely a neutral rating, meaning I rate the Escape as average especially when I compare the ship against other cruises and other lines on which I have sailed. I have set this review up with headers to make it easier for you to skip those things that are not of interest to you. SHIP BACKGROUND: Make no mistake, the NCL Escape is a really BIG ship. As of 2019 it is the 14th largest cruise ship in the world! The Escape is similar to the Breakaway and her sister ships in physical layout, but had additional cabins added to make her a “Breakaway-Plus” class ship. Whereas the Breakaway accommodates 3,963 passengers (and a crew of 1,657) the Escape accommodates 4,266 passengers (and a crew of 1,733). This does not include third or fourth passenger occupants (often children) in a cabin. On our voyage, for example, the total passenger headcount was 4,829. A ship of this size is NOT for everyone, regardless of the itinerary; bigger is not always better. So my first tip is to do your homework before booking any ship and select the one that is right for you. OUR BACKGROUND: This review is for the Escape’s cruise of May 5-12, 2019. To understand our perspective, on this voyage there was my wife (50+) and myself (60+). It was our ninth cruise overall, third time on Norwegian, and our fourth time to Bermuda. One of our sons (27) joined us for this trip. It was his third cruise overall, second time on NCL and first time to Bermuda. NYC CRUISE TERMINALS: There are three cruise terminals serving the NYC market: Manhattan (serves Norwegian, Carnival and Holland America), Brooklyn (serves Princess and Cunard) and Bayonne, NJ (serves Celebrity and Royal Caribbean). Unless you live in NYC, the Manhattan terminal is probably the most difficult and most costly to access. Parking is available at the pier for $40/day but it is limited. If the parking garage is full there are other garages in the area, but these can come at an even heftier price. If you are coming from nearby points in NY, NJ, PA, or CT my recommendation is to price out other options than parking at the pier. Oftentimes the convenience of not having to drive into Manhattan is worth the extra cost. For comparison purposes, we used YELP! to get 12 quotes from Hunterdon County, NJ to NYC. The totals we found (for fare + tips + tolls) ranged from $183 to $319 each way, with most in the $225 range, so be sure to shop around. As a tip, if you are driving yourself to the piers, leave sufficient time to find a parking garage. It may be easier for you to park first and wheel your luggage to a porter, rather than using the curb side luggage drop off and then going in search of parking. Also, if you do not have EZPass, expect high tolls on all of the tunnels, bridges and turnpike approaches so have sufficient “toll money” available. EMBARKATION: Embarkation was slow, painfully slow, the slowest we have ever experienced on any cruise. We arrived at the NY Cruise Ship Terminal at 11:30 AM. We did not step foot aboard the ship until 1:10 PM. Almost all of that time was spent standing in queue to check in, after having quickly gone through security. Considering passengers are supposed to complete their preboarding on-line, I do not know what took so long. What I noticed was that many of the guests who were taking 10 – 15 – 20 minutes or longer with a boarding agent were non-US citizens (judging from the color of their passports) and probably had additional paperwork to fill out. There really needs to be a separate line to assist these individuals. Once onboard the muster drill at 3:30 is definitely a congested event. This is amplified at the conclusion of the drill when everyone heads for an elevator at the same time. (And as noted in other reviews, this ship does not have any elevators midships, so everyone is crowded fore and aft.) My tip is that if you are capable of walking at least 4 flights of stairs, take the stairs to Deck 8, go outside, and enjoy the views while the lines thin out. It will easily save you a half-hour wait for an elevator. On this cruise, just prior to the muster drill the Captain announced that our departure was being delayed from 4:00 PM until 6:30 PM due to some heavy weather that had passed through and was currently in the ocean. This was fine; I am sure he did not want a repeat of the incident from a few months ago when this same ship encountered unexpected 125 mph winds offshore. But I suspect there was more to it than just weather since, at 5 PM, I could see the forklifts on the dock were still loading massive amounts of luggage onboard. Nice try. Norwegian, but there was no way that was all getting onboard had we left at 4 PM as scheduled. CABIN: Our cabin was a forward balcony, 10730. It was sufficiently large for 3 adults, as the couch was made into a 3rd bed for my son to use. There are no drawers in this stateroom, but ample storage on the shelves in the closet assuming you stow your empty luggage under the bed. Our steward, Reggie, did a great job of keeping the room clean. He recognized that there were 3 of us in the room so brought in an extra chair for the balcony and, at my request, also brought in a dozen extra hangers for the closet. The bathroom in these cabins is large by cruise ship standards with plenty of space to store toiletries. The shower stall is enclosed with a curved Plexiglas door rather than a shower curtain, which is nice. It is also well lit. PASSENGERS: For our cruise the average age of the passengers was probably 30-something. There were a lot of young couples pushing toddlers in strollers and more school-age children than I would have expected. (I guess pulling your child out of school for a week in May is no longer as big of a deal as it used to be.) There were very few teenage/college age kids on this cruise, since most schools were still in session. I suspect that once school is out for the summer this ratio will change dramatically and the Escape will take on the air of a being either a summer camp or a party ship. So buyer beware when booking your cruise dates, especially if you are looking for a quiet voyage, and consider Bermuda in the months of April/May and September/October. CREW: The crew was remarkable; friendly and hard working. Practically everyone we encountered or passed in the hallway smiled, said hello, and offered us a “good day” greeting. And for the few who did not, my take on it is not that they were being rude or unfriendly but that either they were preoccupied with some other task at hand or were not as well versed in English to respond appropriately. As a passenger, my advice to anyone is to remember that a cruise is only as much fun as you make it. So just smile and say “Hi” to everyone you meet. After all, you are on vacation – so act like it. You will be surprised at how pleasant everyone can be to you in return. One weak note, in our opinion the Cruise Director Jacky was AWOL for the most part. We never saw him anywhere other than in the main theatre, and even there he never had much of a presence. I can remember cruise directors by name from 10 years ago who were engaging, humorous, and generally fun. I will not remember Jacky in even a few weeks. FREESTYLE CRUISING: In general, we are huge fans of Freestyle cruising. Not having set dining times, set seating, or a formal night (and therefore not having to pack a suit and tie to play dress up) is perfect for us. I believe some people have taken the notion too far, however, and are “too free” with their wardrobe choices. NCL is not doing anything to turn people away from the MDRs who are not appropriately dressed in “resort casual”. For example, we had a passenger sitting near us in the Manhattan room wearing a Patriots football jersey, cut off shorts, and a Boston baseball cap (backwards). Not appropriate. It was not uncommon to see t-shirts instead of collared polo shirts and flip-flops instead of topsiders. These are fine for the Garden Café, but a little too casual for one of the MDRs. And there was even one woman sitting at the table next to us smoking an eCigarette – something that is not supposed to be permitted. Come on Norwegian – police yourself better before you ruin a good thing. As it is, NCL has changed a lot in the last few years and not in a good way; it now feels more like a Carnival ship. DINING: The food aboard the Escape was good, but not “OMG – WOW” good. There was no lobster night in any of the MDRs, and prime rib was not on the menu until the last evening. Nor were there any of the traditional “cold fruit soups” on any of the menus. I found it interesting that the repeating classic fare – that is, the menu items that are available every night – did not include the customary salmon dish. Instead, the repeating seafood entrée was breaded flounder. I think this is an indication of NCL cutting back on expenses and going with a cheaper selection of meals. Food is always a matter of personal taste, and for us we often found the meals were lacking “something”. That may have been a soup that was missing seasoning, an appetizer that should have included a sauce to moisten it up, or a dessert that needed more zing. Again, none of the food was bad, but none of it stood out on this cruise as being superior. Perhaps the best item on the entire ship was the honey crème brûlée on the first night; that was indeed delicious. On the other end of the scale, the worst food item was probably what NCL tried to pass off as pizza. The crust was so thin and hard that the pizza tasted more like tomato sauce and cheese on a cracker. I am sorry, but if you are serving the NY/NJ market you better have a darn good pizza on your ship’s menu. And please, serving French Fries in the MDR on a plate that calls for mashed potatoes or a baked potato is just being cheap. It was nice to see NCL does have nighttime snacks available in the Garden Café from 9:30-11:30 each night. This is something that was missing on the Breakaway during its inaugural season. Aside from that, breakfast and lunch in the Garden Café did not vary their daily choices by very much. The food was fine, but not outrageously spectacular. The most noticeable issue we had with the whole dining experience was its inconsistency. A sit-down lunch in Taste/Savor took about 1 ½ hours. Dinner in the Manhattan room took about 2 hours. Much of this time was spent idly waiting to be served. One person would seat you, 10 minutes later another person would take your order, and 20 minutes later a third person would begin to serve you. Often that third person mixed up the orders at the table (no big deal), but on more than one occasion they started to serve us a meal meant for another table. We would always order 4 items from the dinner menu: an appetizer, a soup, a salad and an entrée. We expected these to be served in sequence but again, on more than one occasion, we were served the appetizer, soup and salad all at the same time. That is poor service. Of course, an Assistant Maître-D’ would always come around and ask how things were. We did not complain about the minor slips, it was not worth it. But they do build up in your mind after a while and lower your overall impression of the service. NCL probably should spend a little more time working on training their dining room staff. The running joke we had throughout the cruise was that no one on the ship knew how to fill the simplest order – that of after-meal tea and coffee. This was not limited to dinner only, or to just the Manhattan room. It occurred at breakfast, lunch and dinner in all of the complimentary restaurants. My wife and I always order a pot of tea, each, with a small pitcher of milk, each, and our son ordered coffee. For seven days we received every possible permutation of that order except the correct thing. We usually were served only 1 pot of tea for the two of us, sometimes with one cup, sometimes with two cups (for a table of 3), sometimes with 1 milk for the entire table, sometimes with no milk, sometimes with 1 teabag, sometimes with 3 teabags (already in the pot!). The worst was one night when we were served 1 pot of tea and 1 cup for my wife and me to share. We could not get a waiter’s attention, so my son rinsed out his coffee cup at the table with a glass of drinking water and we reused that. Again, this is poor service. As a few additional, random thoughts on dining, the food portions in O’Sheehan’s seemed to be more generous than in the MDRs. And the Garden Café offers both hard ice cream and soft self-serve cones. That is nice. RECREATION: Recreational activities are pretty standard for NCL. There are 2 shuffle board courts, a bocci court, a basketball court, the ropes course, water slides, pools, a kiddie-zone and a miniature golf course. Caution – the two zip lines from the rope course go over the mini golf course and, if the rail is wet from rain, drip lubricant in the wind. My guess is that it is an environmentally friendly substance and not petroleum based, as it did wash out of my white polo shirt after much scrubbing. But we all were instantly covered in dozens of spots. Judging from the amount of dried black spots on the railing on Deck 8 and on the lifeboat davits on the starboard side as well, NCL is well-aware of the problem but has done nothing to warn its guests. ENTERTAINMENT: Entertainment was hit or miss. The highlight of the cruise is the show Choir of Man. It is a lively hour of entertainment set in a British Pub atmosphere. There is singing, dancing, and audience involvement. And the best part is that the “pub” opens about 15 minutes before the show starts, during which the entire audience in the theatre is invited onstage for a free beer and to mingle with the cast. The low point of the cruise entertainment is the show After Midnight. This is a plotless hour of song and dance that is supposed to be a tribute to the jazz music of Duke Ellington and the Cotton Club in Harlem during the 1920s-1930s. The cast was talented, no question about it, but we are talking music that is nearly 100 years old. It was quite boring. Some of the audience loved it; we did not. In fact, this is the first time I have seen a show at sea that I would have walked out on it had we been in an aisle seat. Yes, it was that bad. The other shows in the theatre included a welcome show on the first night that was a forgettable sample of the acts for the week to come, a comic-magician who was entertaining, and a comedian who was not funny (we skipped the theatre show having seen him perform in one of the clubs the night before and not having laughed once for his entire set). Some of the best entertainment on the ship is to simply pop into Headliners for a few minutes to sit and listen to the piano duo referred to as Howl at the Moon. PUBLIC AREAS: During the muster drill and around the pool deck on sea days the ship definitely felt congested. Also, any time there was an activity in the Atrium getting through that area could sometimes be a challenge. Other than that, the public areas on the ship merely felt crowded, especially during peak periods – such as dinner time or when a show was getting out. There are plenty of public places to go to escape the swarms of passengers; you just have to find them. Our favorite spot was the stern on Deck 8 or walking around the Waterfront. SHIP IN GENERAL: Considering that ship’s hull art is by marine artist Guy Harvey, I would have expected that the exterior marine life theme would have been carried forward to the interior motif. It has not, and that is a big disappointment. Staircase landings are all adorned with mirrors rather than art. (Why no Guy Harvey murals, NCL? You commissioned him to do the outside of the ship, why not the inside, too?) In fact, the mini golf theme is urban ghetto. I kid you not. The putt-putt course is made to look like the roof top of tenement apartments, complete with graffiti style lettering proclaiming itself as ‘Roof Top Golf’. It was totally out of place on this ship. The grotto on Deck 17 in the Spice H2O area is nice, and adults only. So it is another place to get away from the children onboard if so desired. Enrichment activities are numerous throughout the voyage, but typical of what you would find on any cruise line. I cannot complain though; as a result of the raffle for attending the seminar on wrist watches I won a $900 (MSRP) watch that I gave to my son. Sweet. One of the disappointments with the Escape is the gift shop. My wife and I collect shot glasses from all of our cruises. On this ship there was virtually no NCL branded merchandise at all. No shot glasses, no mugs, no Christmas ornaments, no pewter refrigerator magnets, nothing. When I inquired about this I was told, “Well, we used to have it, but nothing has been sent for a while.” Someone in the NCL marketing department definitely has dropped the ball. Likewise, we were never given our Latitude Rewards Member ship pins by our steward, as has been the case on previous cruises. I did obtain one each for the three of us, but only after I went down to the Service Desk and asked for them. BERMUDA: We have been to this Island nation multiple times now and look forward to going back again many more times. Prices have gone up, but the residents are still friendly and helpful. By way of a few price points, gasoline was $2.19/liter (i.e., $8.29/gallon). Rum Cakes at Dockyard are $18 apiece for the small size. The National Museum of Bermuda is $15/pp admission. Gibbs Hill Lighthouse is still the best buy on the island at $2.50/pp admission to climb up to the top. And the 75-minute jet ski tour (of which my son raved) is $145 for a single. Transportation costs are another matter that needs closer discussion, so let me do that separately. BERMUDA TRANSPORTATION: Transportation fares in Bermuda have steadily risen over the past few years, to the point where it takes a little bit of math to figure what is the best value based on one’s personal plans. The island is divided into 14 zones and has two basic fares: one for a trip of 3 zones or less and one for anything greater than that (called a 14-zone fare). As a rule of thumb figure anything you do (Dockyard to Hamilton, St. Georges to Hamilton, Dockyard to the south shore beaches, etc.) is going to be a 14-zone fare. A one-way fare is $5 cash. Tokens are offered at a reduced fare of $4.50. Day passes are offered for 1-Day ($19), 2-Day ($31.50) and 3-Day ($44). Figure that unless you plan to get on a different bus/ferry more than 4 times on any given day, the tokens are your best bet. Tokens or passes can be purchased in Dockyard right on the pier at the shack made from a reconditioned cargo container or at the visitor information building. They cannot be purchased in advance over the internet or on the ship. Please note that the most economical fare is to purchase a book of 15-stamps for $37.50. These can be shared within your group. Unfortunately, the Bermuda Transportation Department is no dummy – these books cannot be purchased at Dockyard, nor can they be purchased in advance. If you want to use them to save a few dollars you will need to first pay for a token to take a ferry from Dockyard to Hamilton and then buy your book of stamps there to use for the rest of your stay. For most people, this extra effort is not worth the savings. Norwegian offers a complimentary ferry service to St. George and back. This is the most economical way to go especially if you plan your day to do St. George in the morning and then stay around Dockyard in the afternoon to visit the shops, the National Museum of Bermuda, or perhaps take a water sport excursion. There are also private mini buses that leave right from the pier in Dockyard and follow the #7 bus route to Horseshoe Bay Beach. These shuttles are like taxis and charge a flat rate of $14/pp round trip. This is $5 more than the public buses, but the added convenience of being taken “down the hill” to the beach might appeal to some people. The new public bus schedule for 2019 has buses leaving Hamilton for Dockyard, and Dockyard for Hamilton, every 30 minutes. The posted schedule is for the starting point, which is not so helpful if you are standing at a beach stop somewhere along the route. There are no scheduled times for any of these other stops. The entire end-to-end trip is listed as taking 62 minutes, but it can be longer or shorter depending on how many times the bus stops to load or unload passengers. Therefore, even if you know when a bus should be passing a certain point, unless you get to the bus stop early it is likely you will miss the bus and will have to wait 30 minutes for the next one. The posted time for the #7 buses to start their run from Clock Tower Mall at Dockyard heading to Hamilton is at 10 minutes before the hour and 20 minutes after the hour. As a tip to help you remember when to catch the bus on your return ride, this is approximately the same time that a bus heading the opposite way from Hamilton to Dockyard will pass Horseshoe Bay Beach. DISEMBARKATION: A lot has been written in recent reviews about how chaotic disembarkation from the Escape has been in NYC. Although we did not find it to be chaotic, we did find it to be long. Here is our experience. Shortly after departing Bermuda on Friday, one of the ship’s TV channels started airing information about the disembarkation procedure for Sunday morning. Passengers were instructed to pick up color-coded tags by the Customer Service Desk. These included the tags for your luggage if you wanted to set them outside your cabin on Saturday night as well as tags if you wanted to do self-assisted walk off. For self-assist the first block of time was Green (7:45-8:00 AM) followed by Orange (8:00 -8:30 AM) and Brown (8:30 – 9:00 AM). There are then 7 additional colors/times for guests who leave their luggage outside their cabins the night before, with embarkation starting at 9:00 AM and the last group leaving at 10:10 AM. There was no other announcement about these tags. My tip is to get to the desk early on Friday afternoon if you have a specific window in mind that you want to exit. By the time we stopped by the desk after dinner on Friday the only self-assist tags that were left were green. This was fine for us as we wanted to be in the first group to leave anyway, but keep this in mind if you are looking for a later time. The tags go first come, first served. The ship docked in NYC around 6:00 AM on Sunday. We ate a quick breakfast in the Garden Café at 6, did a final check of our cabin, grabbed our luggage and went down to Deck 6 forward at 6:45 AM. At that time the line to exit the ship through the door nearest the theatre already stretched through O’Sheehan’s back to the chandelier midships. (The length of this line will make more sense to you once you are actually onboard.) A 2nd line also formed on Deck 6 aft from the exit near Taste/Savor back towards the chandelier from the opposite direction. As you may have read in other reviews, there are no midship elevators, a major design flaw on this class of ships, so these are your only options. We stood in line until 7:45; 1 full hour. I can only imagine how long the two lines were by that time or what confusion existed if you were trying to get on one. For this reason, my recommendation is – if you are doing self-assist then get in line as early as possible and be prepared to wait. There was no announcement on the PA that disembarkation had begun. It just suddenly started to move at 7:45 on the dot. We exited the ship fairly quickly at that point, but then needed to walk the entire length of the pier from the bow to the stern, outside in the rain, only to meet up with the other embarkation line that was exiting nearest the stern. These two lines merged and funneled into the cruise terminal. My tip is to get on the embarkation line in the rear of the ship to start with. Once inside the terminal we took our luggage down an escalator, through the warehouse where all of the other luggage was arranged for those passengers getting off at a later time, and through the winding queue to the Custom’s officials. Custom forms are no longer required unless you have over $800 in purchases to declare. We were out of the building and on the curb, in the rain, at 8:05. So, figure it took us 20 minutes to go from ship to curb once we actually started moving. Those behind us obviously took longer. CLOSING THOUGHTS: In summary, as I stated at the beginning, a vacation cruise aboard the NCL Escape is a wonderful experience. The crew is great and there is more than enough to keep anyone busy day and night for the full the week. Bermuda is a gorgeous port of call and having three days/two nights in port gives you a lot of time to explore. The NCL Escape itself, however, is not for everyone because of its size and volume of passengers. The overall dining and entertainment experience is about average for any of the mainstream cruise lines; not the best, certainly not the worst. I would not hold back recommending it but would simply add the caveat to do your homework before booking and go in with your eyes wide open. Thank you. Read Less
Norwegian Escape Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 5.0 3.9
Service 3.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.7

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