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I read the reviews prior to sailing last week and frankly I was very concerned that I had made a mistake going so early on the Escape. A combination of the low percentage that folks said they had a good trip and the harsh comments really had me going prior to getting on board. So for those having a great deal of concerns let me share the following. I am going to mix the pros and cons here...so bear with me. 1. New Ship - What I mean by this is that these early trips are going to be a fairly full ship. This means longer lines and more of the ship is going to be utilized. Plan ahead if you can. Book your restaurants, entertainment, and excursions in as much advance as you can. The NCL application up to 2 days prior to sailing does a great job of this. The ship itself is beautiful and excellent (Bristol) condition. With the introduction of the unlimited food plans you will find very early in the cruise that many of the premium restaurants say they are booked. This is true the second and third days, but as the week goes people forget their reservation and I found that restaurants that said they had no vacancy did indeed have openings if you just approached them. Ex. My parents and I walked right into La Cucina who said they had no openings, but was probably only 25% full at 6:30 pm. We got right in. I found Food Republic to be a great add and I never saw Margharitaville all that crowded. I think the ala carte of both these restaurants had kept some folks from frequenting these, but both are good options if you are willing to pay a little. All food was as good as I have experienced. Entertainment was also very good. I believe the Excursions where average for the ports visited. 2. Handicapped Travelers - My parents traveled with me on this trip. Both are slowing down and needed scooters to get around. Getting from a Taxi into the port security is frankly a nightmare (not NCL's fault). The Miami terminal port personnel are not helpful to the handicapped. Wheel chair access starts by getting into the terminal. The problem is getting your family from the taxi curb which is pretty far from the entry into the building. Once you are in the building an NCL steward when they become available will wheel chair you through Latitudes registration and up to one of the restaurants. You may have to wait either just before security or just after for a wheel chair assistance. Depending on how many need assistance...patience is needed. Generally the rooms are not ready before early afternoon. So it helps if you have another traveler to go to the room to secure your scooter/wheel chair if that is an option. For special needs cases they will deliver the scooter just past the security check point. During the week the crew was very helpful. We were able to also rent a wheel chair onboard for days like St. Thomas where the open air taxis could transport the wheel chair to downtown so my parents could shop. There was a minor extra charge for the wheel chair rental, but it was a life saver. We would have not been able to get the scooters into downtown St. Thomas. In the other ports the scooters worked fine getting into Tortola and Nassau. Torola was a nice alternative to St. Martin that I also like as a port. Finally...the handicap rooms are fantastic if you can secure one. My parents had a rear facing balcony room on the 15th deck that was really nice. Both of their scooters fit in the room with them. The balcony was wide enough with a big door that they could even use that space. These are well laid out rooms with plenty of space for special accommodations. It made the trip very manageable for them! 3. The Vessel - If you are familiar with Getaway and Breakaway you will find this to be a very familiar and good experience. The layout is Breakaway class familiar and there are some different amenities, but overall nothing too different to cause merit to write a book about. The new ropes course is awesome, but eliminates the climbing wall. The Thermal Spa is really something. A few more hot tubs and common space on top is nice. I have only one criticism of the ship. The trip between Miami and St. Thomas was rough. Maybe the weather and time of year, but this ship is not as smooth as I have experienced on the Getaway. A long time boater I was not over concerned, but when the captain kicked up the speeds at night it could be a rougher ride than some will like. I don't know if they are still "trimming out" the boat or what, but I heard the same comments from friends who sailed a few weeks earlier. After day two things seemed to get smoother. Especially after we made the turn at St. Thomas. 4. The Crew - Heard a lot of criticism about the new crew. We never had an issue. Guests throwing their weight around about being a Platinum member that could not force a restaurant reservation when they were full is not the crews fault. That is the members fault for poor planning. I saw some crew I knew from my Getaway travels and overall everyone did everything they could to make it a great trip for my parents and me. As is always the case on these ships...there was always something to do. The activities directors made sure of it! 5. Solo Travelers - I am a single solo traveler that happened to invite my parents to join this last trip. My point here is that I frequent the Studios. If you are single, widowed, or whatever this is a great program. The Studio room sounds small, but everybody I showed said they could not believe how well laid out the room is and liked what they heard regarding the rates. I found nobody I met that has said they would not stay in such a room because of the size. More often the hang up is that it is interior space. If you are on a budget and can accept being in an interior room this is for you. The Studio Lounge on the Escape is the best one yet all on one level. They did drop the bartender / bar however, but never saw that utilized all that often. The rest is all there. This program for solo travelers is like nothing else I have found in the industry. The rates are up a little compared to my prior years experience, but I still think the rates are reasonable compared to having to pay double occupancy in other rooms or on other lines. Note: This is not the love boat and please don't go into it expecting a "love connection" as the reason you are picking the Studios. You will make many long term friends going solo in the Studios. If you find a love connection...then good for you. Just don't book expecting this to be a "singles" scene. Folks are there for many different reasons and all are looking to make friends and have fun. I think you get what I am saying. Hopefully this is a helpful review. Please don't be swayed by the other reviews saying they will never go NCL again. I have to say...I think they are being a bit dramatic. Either way we all have our own experiences and mine was a good one. Looking forward to my next trip next spring on the NCL Epic in Europe!

I feel the NCL Escape Cruise Critics are being a little harsh...had a good trip!

Norwegian Escape Cruise Review by NEOhioEd

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2015
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Studio Stateroom
I read the reviews prior to sailing last week and frankly I was very concerned that I had made a mistake going so early on the Escape. A combination of the low percentage that folks said they had a good trip and the harsh comments really had me going prior to getting on board. So for those having a great deal of concerns let me share the following. I am going to mix the pros and cons here...so bear with me.

1. New Ship - What I mean by this is that these early trips are going to be a fairly full ship. This means longer lines and more of the ship is going to be utilized. Plan ahead if you can. Book your restaurants, entertainment, and excursions in as much advance as you can. The NCL application up to 2 days prior to sailing does a great job of this. The ship itself is beautiful and excellent (Bristol) condition.

With the introduction of the unlimited food plans you will find very early in the cruise that many of the premium restaurants say they are booked. This is true the second and third days, but as the week goes people forget their reservation and I found that restaurants that said they had no vacancy did indeed have openings if you just approached them. Ex. My parents and I walked right into La Cucina who said they had no openings, but was probably only 25% full at 6:30 pm. We got right in. I found Food Republic to be a great add and I never saw Margharitaville all that crowded. I think the ala carte of both these restaurants had kept some folks from frequenting these, but both are good options if you are willing to pay a little. All food was as good as I have experienced. Entertainment was also very good. I believe the Excursions where average for the ports visited.

2. Handicapped Travelers - My parents traveled with me on this trip. Both are slowing down and needed scooters to get around. Getting from a Taxi into the port security is frankly a nightmare (not NCL's fault). The Miami terminal port personnel are not helpful to the handicapped. Wheel chair access starts by getting into the terminal. The problem is getting your family from the taxi curb which is pretty far from the entry into the building. Once you are in the building an NCL steward when they become available will wheel chair you through Latitudes registration and up to one of the restaurants. You may have to wait either just before security or just after for a wheel chair assistance. Depending on how many need assistance...patience is needed. Generally the rooms are not ready before early afternoon. So it helps if you have another traveler to go to the room to secure your scooter/wheel chair if that is an option. For special needs cases they will deliver the scooter just past the security check point. During the week the crew was very helpful.

We were able to also rent a wheel chair onboard for days like St. Thomas where the open air taxis could transport the wheel chair to downtown so my parents could shop. There was a minor extra charge for the wheel chair rental, but it was a life saver. We would have not been able to get the scooters into downtown St. Thomas. In the other ports the scooters worked fine getting into Tortola and Nassau. Torola was a nice alternative to St. Martin that I also like as a port. Finally...the handicap rooms are fantastic if you can secure one. My parents had a rear facing balcony room on the 15th deck that was really nice. Both of their scooters fit in the room with them. The balcony was wide enough with a big door that they could even use that space. These are well laid out rooms with plenty of space for special accommodations. It made the trip very manageable for them!

3. The Vessel - If you are familiar with Getaway and Breakaway you will find this to be a very familiar and good experience. The layout is Breakaway class familiar and there are some different amenities, but overall nothing too different to cause merit to write a book about. The new ropes course is awesome, but eliminates the climbing wall. The Thermal Spa is really something. A few more hot tubs and common space on top is nice. I have only one criticism of the ship. The trip between Miami and St. Thomas was rough. Maybe the weather and time of year, but this ship is not as smooth as I have experienced on the Getaway. A long time boater I was not over concerned, but when the captain kicked up the speeds at night it could be a rougher ride than some will like. I don't know if they are still "trimming out" the boat or what, but I heard the same comments from friends who sailed a few weeks earlier. After day two things seemed to get smoother. Especially after we made the turn at St. Thomas.

4. The Crew - Heard a lot of criticism about the new crew. We never had an issue. Guests throwing their weight around about being a Platinum member that could not force a restaurant reservation when they were full is not the crews fault. That is the members fault for poor planning. I saw some crew I knew from my Getaway travels and overall everyone did everything they could to make it a great trip for my parents and me. As is always the case on these ships...there was always something to do. The activities directors made sure of it!

5. Solo Travelers - I am a single solo traveler that happened to invite my parents to join this last trip. My point here is that I frequent the Studios. If you are single, widowed, or whatever this is a great program. The Studio room sounds small, but everybody I showed said they could not believe how well laid out the room is and liked what they heard regarding the rates. I found nobody I met that has said they would not stay in such a room because of the size. More often the hang up is that it is interior space. If you are on a budget and can accept being in an interior room this is for you. The Studio Lounge on the Escape is the best one yet all on one level. They did drop the bartender / bar however, but never saw that utilized all that often. The rest is all there.

This program for solo travelers is like nothing else I have found in the industry. The rates are up a little compared to my prior years experience, but I still think the rates are reasonable compared to having to pay double occupancy in other rooms or on other lines. Note: This is not the love boat and please don't go into it expecting a "love connection" as the reason you are picking the Studios. You will make many long term friends going solo in the Studios. If you find a love connection...then good for you. Just don't book expecting this to be a "singles" scene. Folks are there for many different reasons and all are looking to make friends and have fun. I think you get what I am saying.

Hopefully this is a helpful review. Please don't be swayed by the other reviews saying they will never go NCL again. I have to say...I think they are being a bit dramatic. Either way we all have our own experiences and mine was a good one. Looking forward to my next trip next spring on the NCL Epic in Europe!
NEOhioEd’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
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Cabin Review

Studio Stateroom
Cabin T1 10555
Standard Norwegian Studio....just right for a solo traveler.
Deck 12 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews