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
9 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
Embarkation was relatively easy if you consider two hours normal for a large ship. The specialty dinning was nothing special; The Manhattan has a wonderful menu every night and the managers have the staff working together to provide ... Read More
Embarkation was relatively easy if you consider two hours normal for a large ship. The specialty dinning was nothing special; The Manhattan has a wonderful menu every night and the managers have the staff working together to provide excellent service. The Manhattan had a nice variety of dinner shows. For example, I was served purple veal at La Cucina and walked right out and went The Manhattan. Who designed the Atrium and thought it would be a good idea to hold entertainment events there requiring people to sit on folding chairs in aisles and making difficult to conduct business at Guest Services, Excursion Counter, etc? The “reservation “ system for shows is an unnecessary burden. Those needing extra assistance disembarking should do so BEFORE the general public (as the airlines do). Ramming wheelchairs down the ramp through the crowd is dangerous for all involved. IT on board is poor; restaurant staff walking around with lap tops instead of tablets, poor WiFi in cabins and staff writing food orders on paper. Other companies have a better system of disembarking by having groups separated by tag color wait in different areas of the ship. The Cruise Director did a poor job; he would rather be the center of attention than create a better system of communicating useful daily information (hint, a televised morning show) Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This cruise would have wound up being rated 10 stars out of 5 if they had not made the two of us and another friend sick with diahrea and strep throat. Other then that is a great cruise. The cruise director Jacky and his entertainment ... Read More
This cruise would have wound up being rated 10 stars out of 5 if they had not made the two of us and another friend sick with diahrea and strep throat. Other then that is a great cruise. The cruise director Jacky and his entertainment staff are hilarious and full of fun. The event list was filed to the brim. Always a show or event or game or demonstration or arts and craft or dance class. .ore than any ship I've been on. This was my 20th cruise do that's saying alot. I wish all Norwegian ships were like that. For clarification sake they are not all like that. This one was miles apart from the other two Norwegian ships I was on. Those were snoozer sit by the deck read a book cruises. The escape staff though? Showed up showed out and did it's thang . The cruise director Jacky and his staff were very funny. There were many activities during the day. Do much so that I wasn't able to it all. But as I said non of that matters if the lack of cleaniness and whatever goes on with the water supply is lacking. All three of us came home very sick . Also there was cigerrete smoke all over the common areas. There were designated smoke areas but the smoke didn't stay there. I wasn't to fond of the nightly shows. They were so boring I fell asleep on some of them. it wasn't to bad because they really keep you entertained during the day. I believe that a variety of food was available more often and later then most cruises. Usually after a certain time it's pizza. On this boat real food and buffets were available at midnight. So as great a cruise I thought it was I'm not do sure I'd do it again. It's not worth being sick 3 weeks after. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
This is my first cruise on Norwegian. Since I've done 2 RCL last year, those experiences were still fresh on my mind so I compare the three ships. Sadly I must say that Norwegian is like many had lamented, lagging behind other leading ... Read More
This is my first cruise on Norwegian. Since I've done 2 RCL last year, those experiences were still fresh on my mind so I compare the three ships. Sadly I must say that Norwegian is like many had lamented, lagging behind other leading cruise lines now. Ship: Escape is quite impressive in size and plan. I like the water slides/park, rope course, and very nice mini golf course. Escape also seems to be rocking harder at similar weather, and definitely shakes (at 6th floor MDR you can clearly feel the tremble - as if someone's shaking legs at your table, and you can feel it at times even in the 16th floor Garden Cafe!). Can't help but think of the listing incident. Our last day had huge wind - 70+ miles, waves several meters high, but we were safe. I do like the casino not being as smelly as some other ships, and the atrium always having some interesting activities. Summary: RCL wins because they offer surf simulator and flight simulator. Skating rinks, rock climbing etc. And overall smoother ride. Cabin: Had mini suite on Escape, and Balcony on Allure/Anthem. I like Escape's cabin number plate, with "make up room", "at home", "do not disturb" indicators. Size wise they seem similar, but mini suite had bigger/nicer bathroom. The biggest complaints I have against Escape are listed further down in cabin review Summary: Easy win for RCL here. Food: MDR was a semi-disaster. Even if you go there at an early time, you might have to wait a bit to get in. The menu had few things special usually, and you have to wait a super long time for any course. The waiting staff were slow refilling (my water glass was empty and 10 mins past no one filled it up. I finally got a chance to ask the waitress and it took another 10 mins to get it). It was so bad that after the first 2 days, we went to Garden Cafe pretty much all the time. Norwegian claimed "Nobody does dining like Norwegian". They're right - we haven't seen a slower MDR on Carnival, RCL, or Celebrity! Anthem/Allure MDR was quite efficient and always had something interesting to order. I think it's not that Escape staff was bad, but they seem very short on hand in MDR. One waiter has to deal with many tables. It almost makes one think Norwegian deliberately drove traffic to Garden Cafe. But at least Garden Cafe is its saving grace. It's much better than RCL's horrendous windjammer. There's barely any long lines in Garden Cafe AND never ever had one had to wait outside the Cafe waiting to get in. Windjammer of RCL is small and jampacked, had food that's not that good and a few times had lines 20-30 mins long waiting outside to get in! We ended up mostly using MDR on RCL. Summary: RCL edges out, only slightly. Much better buffet on Escape can't fully compensate for the huge lack of finer dining option (sans paying extra for specialty dining). Entertainment: We booked every show, including escape room (you should book them right after you get on ship, in the box office) on Escape. The main, Broadway-quality show, After Midnight - nearly everyone of us fell asleep during some part of it. It's great singing, great showcase of jazz. But not including other music style AND without a real plot made it boring. The comedy shows were fine, same quality as other ships. The staff talent show - I was wowed. Grace from the O'Sheehan packed a powerful voice. She's in the wrong line of work and deserves a better stage. The Chinese dancer was quite professional and chose music nicely with good choreography. The magician was fine. Later ones were not as good but still quite impressive. The Knights - a huge letdown. They picked mostly obscure songs from the most famous knighted singers, and the few that were famous, you can't tell until the 3rd line! Somehow they managed to take every song and sign it in their own way, and not a good way! Their voices were ranging from OK to very good, but they shouldn't be singing pop songs. One of them should be belting out Broadway hits instead. Dizzy the magician was great! He's really funny and had some very nice tricks that I still scratch my head. But the real surprise was Choir of Men. I never heard of them before but they were fantastic! Like Knights, they took famous songs and sang in their own way, except it's a very good way! One of the Knights member joked at the end of their show said a Choir of Men member "came to watch their show on his off day, just to see how it shouldn't be done". It's actually true. Where Knights failed miserably, Choir of Men triumphed. From a powerful rendition of Adele's Hello to touching love ballade (not sure whose song was it). They chose different voices for different songs and nailed most of them. The bar tender, sadly, did not have a great voice but was tasked on two songs not well suited for him, particularly Sia's Chandelier?? He couldn't really do it, despite the nice harmony created by the team. But overall this is a 5-star show. I'd say don't miss Dizzy's show and definitely not Choir of Men! Activities wise it's similar to RCL, and the atrium big screen is nice for both simultcast and other activities. Summary: RCL still wins out easily. Anthem had We will rock you and Allure betters with Mamma Mia. Both had some impressive acts flown in to perform some shows and every show on RCL ships were quite good. The escape room on Escape is very similar to the one in 270 on Anthem, so that's even. Pool: Didn't really use it much. Hot tub usually quite busy, including spice H2O. The waterfall was quite gimmicky. Summary: RCL edges out slightly with bigger and better equipped solarium vs the small spice H2O. Fitness: Escape has decent size, and better classes at a slightly lower price for unlimited. It's way more packed the first two days than both of the RCL ships too. But one equipment had a bad seat from beginning till end of cruise despite that they said they called it in a while ago. Summary: This might be the only Norwegian win here. Port: Bermuda is nice! I like the beaches all looking different. View from lighthouse was very nice too. We heard various opinions that said Elbow Beach had the pinkest sand, or Horseshoe had the pinkest sad. But as we discovered, Jobson's Cove definitely had the pinkest sand of the 3, and possibly all beaches! One thing though - don't pick up anything translucent on the beach. And if you don't have place for your snorkeling gear, don't worry. Most of the beaches had few fishes. Horseshoe had like 10, Jobson's Cove had 4. My son said he saw more fish at the Garden Cafe... (There is actually reasonable number of fish at Tobacco Bay though, which has nice rock formations too). BTW surprisingly, even though the water's cold, once you get in, it wasn't so bad. On nice sunny April days, you can swim. We didn't book any excursions and didn't feel the need to. Took Escape's ferry to St. George and most other times were using public bus and ferry (bought bus tickets in post office). That was fine - the bus was slow and no clear schedule at individual stops, so we took taxi at times too. Final verdit: While we enjoyed our trip quite a bit, Norwegian was disappointing as it had the same price as RCL but definitely failed to provide the same entertainment and service. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Joining my niece and her two girls for Spring break motivated us to book this cruise along with its convenience as we live in Manhattan. Overall I'd rate this experience under the "meh" category. I'm not a fan ... Read More
Joining my niece and her two girls for Spring break motivated us to book this cruise along with its convenience as we live in Manhattan. Overall I'd rate this experience under the "meh" category. I'm not a fan of these megaships and this confirmed my feeling. Way too many people, service not at Celebrity or Cunard standard for suite guests and, in some food venues, literally ineatable food. Haven concierges are helpful and it's good for embarkation and disembarkation. When I say ineatable I mean ineatable. Steak in Manhattan Room tasted like detergent. The Haven menu sounded good and rarely delivered in quality. Food all felt overly processed and not at what you pay for at Haven rates. Service in the Haven restaurant, though a pleasant room inside and outside dining, didn't live up to what it should be. (Eg waiting 10 minutes in the morning for coffee and coffee cups, I'm not kidding) Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
We have cruised before on Norwegian Breakaway, also out of NYC...that experience was wonderful. We were encouraged by our cruise agent to try this ship...bigger, better etc. Wrong. The ship is almost EXACTLY the same layout. ... Read More
We have cruised before on Norwegian Breakaway, also out of NYC...that experience was wonderful. We were encouraged by our cruise agent to try this ship...bigger, better etc. Wrong. The ship is almost EXACTLY the same layout. EXCEPT...it can host over 2k more people. I knew more, but 2k more? No. We traveled with my teenage son, my teenage nephew, my mother brother and husband. There were six of us total The Escape is about quantity, not quality. When we sailed on Breakaway 2 years ago, I didn’t appreciate how lucky we were in comparison to now. Imagine 2 thousand MORE people sharing the same accommodations. No additional restaurants, no additional roaming space etc. it’s like crammed sardines. I’m a New Yorker and I’ve never experienced so many rude people. Pushing, cutting on lines, the first couple of days were very trying on my patience. The staff? They work very hard, it’s obvious. The shows...spectacular. Choir of Man is a MUST! These guys are massively talented. The best is that they are coming to off broadway NY. After Midnight, another MUST! The dancing, the singing, the band...the tap dancers were amazing! Sincerely a great show! The Supper Club, featuring the talented Sharon Wilkens and her ensemble of musicians was also a MUST! At first I didn’t realize who she was...she’s been in many movies. Not only is she funny, she is extremely talented! A joy to watch. Let’s talk excursions Our cruise headed to Bermuda. If you wanted to go to HORSESHOE BEACH do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT book an excursion at $45 pp. RIPOFF!!! There are cabs everywhere the second you disembark, $7pp each way. You come and go at your own leisure. Thus was our first excursion and left us feeling like we were going to be screwed the rest of the trip. We were wrong Clearwater Beach aka the Triangle Beach excursion was well worth every penny! Private beaches, not over crowded and a wonderful tour of St George over on the bus. Lunch provided, umbrellas and chairs included. A must excursion. The BEST excursion was our last day Snorkeling on Zara’s Catarmaran. They don’t tell you in the description when you book that is on an amazing Catamaran YATCHT. Impeccably clean, gorgeous boat, friendly, professional staff, private area of snorkeling, paddleboarding. Again worth every penny! These young guys work their asses off! Make sure you tip them, they deserve it!! Bermuda-yachts They do private chartering too. I would’ve paid just to have been on that yacht for the 3 hours without even snorkeling. By far the best excursions. They only started doing tours last month with Norwegian so hopefully people don’t ruin this great experience for others. Overall, I would never cruise on this line again. Unless a smaller boat. Bigger is not always better. It just means more people on board. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
As a surprise for friends of ours (they had received the cruise as a Xmas gift) we booked the same cruise to Bermuda along with another couple. The surprise was successful and the 6 of us generally had a great time. Once we realized that ... Read More
As a surprise for friends of ours (they had received the cruise as a Xmas gift) we booked the same cruise to Bermuda along with another couple. The surprise was successful and the 6 of us generally had a great time. Once we realized that it was school vacation week (the couple we were surprising were teachers) we bid for The Haven as the other couple joining us had stayed in The Haven previously and felt that it would give us a bit of piece and quiet when we wanted it. Bids were successful, however, piece and quiet did not come with the upgrade. The Haven was full of kids which filled all three hot tubs and the pool day and night (we never got to use either). Parents appeared to have disappeared for the entire cruise and between wet towels being thrown around the pool area and loud games of Marco Polo we couldn't even enjoy sitting on the upper deck (pool is open for 2 decks). Our attempt to use the adult only pool outside The Haven was not successful either since the adults only rule was not enforced. Other benefits of The Haven were great but unfortunately overshadowed by the constant running, pushing, shoving, etc. We are not against kids (have our own) but were put off by the lack of parental control and lack of staff enforcing the rules. Cabin steward provided superior service, entertainment options were top notch and specialty dining very good. If we try NCL again it will definitely be a different time of year. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
Cruised to Bermuda over Spring Break. Disembarkation left a sour taste, but trip had lots of highs and lows. Kids loved ropes course and arcade. Not enough pool space for kids/family. Spa/Haven and adult only areas are great for adults but ... Read More
Cruised to Bermuda over Spring Break. Disembarkation left a sour taste, but trip had lots of highs and lows. Kids loved ropes course and arcade. Not enough pool space for kids/family. Spa/Haven and adult only areas are great for adults but not as much for family. 12 year olds would not go to Splash Academy after bad experience the first night. Best dinner was hibachi. Food overall, including main dining room was good. The mid-April cruise to Bermuda is a little cool to fully enjoy waterslides and decks, especially while at sea. Worst part of trip was disembarkation where we were directed to a line that we stood in with self-assist luggage for about 3 hours. No organization or willingness of staff to direct traffic as folks came off elevator and stepped into line (unlike when we got off elevator and were directed into the line to nowhere). Attempts to get help got no results. Other cruisers said could not remember such a bad disembarkation experience. In general guest services and shore excursion staff were not that helpful on this trip. Staff for rooms and restaurants were excellent. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
We booked with Friends who had never cruised b4 , then realized it was school vacation week so we opted for the haven, as we got upgrades, we got split up our friends moved to the 17th floor we were moved to the 9th. with no one to call ... Read More
We booked with Friends who had never cruised b4 , then realized it was school vacation week so we opted for the haven, as we got upgrades, we got split up our friends moved to the 17th floor we were moved to the 9th. with no one to call at NCL about this (we had a forward facing cabin that had an obstructed view of the staffs bow area) with a window in the bedroom that overlooked the staff area of the bow (no view) but people constantly working outside of our window. We were also directly above some sort of loading area with constant banging. We were woken up at 4:30 in the morning to the crew pressure washing outside of our bedroom window. Although the room itself was beautiful, we were extremely disappointed with our view and all of the activity around us. We were also disappointed in the separation from our travel companions. We bid to be in the Haven but were placed in a room 8 floors and 1/2 the length of the ship away. My husband suffers with severe foot pain and walking this distance was very difficult. Our room had access to the Haven but we were not in the Haven even though we paid the same amount of money as our friends. When we booked the cruise, we had a $500 credit to apply to our account and we are latitude members, so we do not understand why our travel companions, with no credit and no latitudes rewards ended up paying the exact same amount as us. It seems that they jack up the price to eat up the $500.00 credit. During the time that we spent in the Haven, the children on board ran wild. We paid extra to have an area away from the large crowds of people. We understand that it was school vacation but we couldn't even sit by the Haven pool (which should be quiet) because the pool and hot tubs were filled with children screaming MARCO POLO (which should be banned, especially in that area) Eating in the pool, throwing towels in the hot tub etc. I understand that kids will be kids but if the parents were not going to control them, it should have been up to the staff to say something. Even when we went to adult only areas, it was saturated with kids, including the adult only hot tub and pool, adult only bars, kids taking up seating, sleeping on couches so the parents could stay up and party. The theater had signs saying "no kids" in the front 3 rows, however it was packed with kids. For the record, there were many many people complaining about the behavior of the kids and lack of parental responsibility. I have been on many cruise vacations and the Escape is a beautiful ship but we were highly disappointed that we paid so much extra for a peaceful vacation and didn't get it. For the record, we have 4 grown children and multiple foster children so we are not immune to how children behave but would never allow them to behave in this manner ..... and one other thing who designs a ship that has SMOKING in a casino to have the casino OPEN AIR to TWO FLOORS ABOVE??? Read Less
Norwegian Escape Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 5.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Service 3.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0

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