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BACKGROUND On November 11, 2015, we were on the inaugural voyage of the Escape from Miami after her christening. A short, 3-day Bahamas cruise. The Escape was new and shiny with that “new ship smell”. We thought it would be fitting to be on the final voyage of the Norwegian Escape from Miami as she moves home ports to New York. She is currently scheduled to remain in New York until her return in November 2019. Our live post from this cruise can be found at https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2624246 Miami, Florida Nassau, Bahamas At Sea Ocho Rios, Jamaica George Town, Grand Cayman At Sea Miami, Florida CHECK-IN AND EMBARKATION We showed up at the Port of Miami at 10:15. NCL uses both Terminal B and C (based on odd and even deck numbers) for check-in. We walked right up to Security and there was the pile of abandon water bottles. There were no lines at the Haven check-in counter and very short lines at main check-in. Haven guests were escorted to a separate waiting area in the terminal. At 11:00 am, an escort came to bring us to the ship. At the same time, the port agents called for priority boarding of Ambassador, Platinum Plus, and Platinum guests. We headed to the Haven lounge while the race for Vibe passes started with priority and general boarders. In the Haven lounge, the concierge, David Contreras, gave a short welcome speech and we were on our own to explore our new home for the week. Waiters served rum punch, sliders, and fries as a pre-lunch snack. We previously sailed with David on the Epic on an Iberian Peninsula cruise, and he always takes excellent care of his guests. STATEROOM Haven Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony (H5) Accessible Stateroom 18126. When NCL does a media tour of its new ships, they always show off the H5 Accessible. Extra large room, large door, open floor space, large dining table, large bathroom and no ledges to stub your toes. Hidden away in the Haven complex, our room was a few steps from the Deck 18 entrance and a few steps from the Deck 18 Haven lounge and restaurant. The phrase “ship within a ship” doesn’t start to describe the papering you receive as a Haven guest on the Escape. Haven Lounge. A great place to relax and have a drink. Private bar with the best bartenders on the ship. The concierge staff takes care of all of your needs on the ship. As the entertainment schedules changed from pre-book to cruise date, the concierge staff was a lifesaver as we re-planned our entertainment and dining. This included booking shows (After Midnight, For the Record: The Brat Pack, Supper Club Fly Boys, Headliners Comedy), Activities (Canvas by U, Escape the Big Top), and dining. The concierge team also Haven Courtyard. 2-level courtyard with soft, padded loungers to sit back and enjoy the cruise. A retractable roof allows the warm sunshine in, but keeps out the wind and rain while at sea. The courtyard has a small pool, two hot tubs, sauna, and private massage rooms. Haven Sundeck. The Haven has a private sundeck, inches away from the Vibe. Soft, padded loungers, canopy shades, and beautiful forward-facing views as you sail. The wait staff will bring drinks and food as you relax and the cold, aromatic towels keep you cool and refreshed. DINING Haven Restaurant: On embarkation day, Haven guests are offered a complimentary meal at Margaritaville, so the restaurant was only partly full. The food is always wonderful and the service great. Our only complaint is that the menu is always the same (for years). We at breakfast at the restaurant daily, two lunches, and one dinner. Moderno. Moderno Brazilian Steakhouse was one of our platinum dinners. The salad bar is wonderful with a high-end selection of cheeses, meats, salads, and soups. And there is a never-ending line of Pasadores carving meats tableside. The service was outstanding with our waiter and the maitre d working as a team, checking in with us throughout our meal. Bayamo. Having recently ended their relationship with Iron Chef Jose Garces, the menu of Bayamo has been overhauled to include many of the favorites from the “new” Ocean Blue menu (which underwent an overhaul when NCL ended their relationship with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zacharian). Service was great. And we enjoyed the new menu items. The one downside has always been that there is no physical separation between the Sugarcane Mojito bar and the restaurant. And there are always a few guests that have had one too many Mojitos and have forgotten how to use their “inside voices”. Pincho Tapas. We used our Specialty Dining Package credit to have all-you-can-eat tapas for lunch sitting outside on the Waterfront. The food is the best on the ship. A wonderful collection of small plates prepared to perfection. Although NCL ended their relationship with Jose Garces, the menu of Pinchos has remained relatively unchanged. Although often overlooked, this is a not-to-miss restaurant. Cagney. Cageny’s Steakhouse is always a treat. This was our second Platinum meal. The food at Cagney’s is always top quality, prepared to perfection. The service was great. La Cucina. While the food is similar to any good Italian restaurant at home, we always enjoy a dinner at La Cucina Ristorante. The ossobuco is always at the top of our list for dinner here. Food Republic. Another great place for lunch. Since they ended to relationship with Pubbelly Boys, the menu has gone under an overhaul. Favorites are still there and the international small plate foods are wonderful. The restaurant is only open for 1.5 hours for lunch on sea days, and it fills up fast. Get there before opening and get your orders placed quickly for faster service. You order everything on a tabletop iPad and swipe your room key to pay. All very fast and efficient. FAVORITE ACTIVITIES Canvas by U. Aspiring artists show up for a lesson in acrylic painting. The cruise director’s staff provide step-by-step instruction on painting a masterpiece in 1 hour. Always great fun. Escape the Big Top. Complimentary escape room adventure where a deranged magician has made you invisible, locking you in the Supper Club, you spend 45 minutes with your team to solve a series of puzzles to escape. On our cruise, they had 10 groups of 10 people. This is a very popular activity, so book a session at the Box Office on embarkation day. After Midnight and For the Record: The Brat Pack were great theater shows. Extremely high energy from opening to close. And variety of entertainment all over the ship was great from live music in all of the bars to a quiet movie at night. SERVICE Superior Guest Services. Our last two cruises have been on Royal Caribbean and by far, the service and crew on the Escape were far superior. Every crew member you encountered greeted you with a smile and acknowledgement. The crew of the Escape when out of their way to make you feel welcome, part of their family, and helped create wonderful cruise memories. Wifi. This was our 4th voyage on the Escape and on our 3 prior trips, I would have said that the Wi-Fi on the Escape was the worst in the fleet to the point of being unusable. But with the new tiered plan and increased bandwidth off the ship, we were impressed with the consistency of the connection (no more dropped connections that required re-logon) and the speed of the internet. Well worth the cost of upgrade to an unlimited plan. PORT & SHORE EXCURSIONS Nassau Glass Bottom Boat. We booked this excursion as much to do sightseeing of Nassau harbor as to see the Caribbean sea life. Lots of time shopping after the tour. Ocho Rios Bamboo Beach VIP. Since we were one of the first groups on the beach, this was a great beach day. We were broken into groups of 16 guests and assigned a hostess that picked us up on the dock and stayed with us throughout the day. She served the unlimited drinks on the beach and lunch (3 appetizers, jerk chicken and lobster lunch, and rum cake and ice cream dessert). The VIP section had padded loungers (vs. the chairs on the non-VIP beach). The one downside is that the water is rocky. You need water shoes. But the water was clear and warm and you can run between food and the water throughout the day. Grand Cayman Atlantis Submarine. The sub ride was a great experience. Taking you to depths of 75-110 feet. There were a lot of small fish. We expected to see larger fish and sea life at depth. DISEMBARKATION Easy and painless. Stateroom to Airport: 7:50 left stateroom 8:05 self walk-off, through customs and at curb 8:10 taxi to airport $27 flat rate, no waiting 8:45 at gate at MIA including checking bags at the check in counter SUMMARY This was a wonderful cruise. We’ll miss the Escape in Miami. And anxiously await her return.

Norwegian Escape - The Best Ship and Crew in the NCL Fleet

Norwegian Escape Cruise Review by BirdTravels

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2018
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: The Haven Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony
BACKGROUND

On November 11, 2015, we were on the inaugural voyage of the Escape from Miami after her christening. A short, 3-day Bahamas cruise. The Escape was new and shiny with that “new ship smell”. We thought it would be fitting to be on the final voyage of the Norwegian Escape from Miami as she moves home ports to New York. She is currently scheduled to remain in New York until her return in November 2019. Our live post from this cruise can be found at https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2624246

Miami, Florida

Nassau, Bahamas

At Sea

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

George Town, Grand Cayman

At Sea

Miami, Florida


CHECK-IN AND EMBARKATION

We showed up at the Port of Miami at 10:15. NCL uses both Terminal B and C (based on odd and even deck numbers) for check-in. We walked right up to Security and there was the pile of abandon water bottles. There were no lines at the Haven check-in counter and very short lines at main check-in. Haven guests were escorted to a separate waiting area in the terminal.

At 11:00 am, an escort came to bring us to the ship. At the same time, the port agents called for priority boarding of Ambassador, Platinum Plus, and Platinum guests. We headed to the Haven lounge while the race for Vibe passes started with priority and general boarders.

In the Haven lounge, the concierge, David Contreras, gave a short welcome speech and we were on our own to explore our new home for the week. Waiters served rum punch, sliders, and fries as a pre-lunch snack. We previously sailed with David on the Epic on an Iberian Peninsula cruise, and he always takes excellent care of his guests.

STATEROOM

Haven Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony (H5) Accessible Stateroom 18126. When NCL does a media tour of its new ships, they always show off the H5 Accessible. Extra large room, large door, open floor space, large dining table, large bathroom and no ledges to stub your toes. Hidden away in the Haven complex, our room was a few steps from the Deck 18 entrance and a few steps from the Deck 18 Haven lounge and restaurant. The phrase “ship within a ship” doesn’t start to describe the papering you receive as a Haven guest on the Escape.

Haven Lounge. A great place to relax and have a drink. Private bar with the best bartenders on the ship. The concierge staff takes care of all of your needs on the ship. As the entertainment schedules changed from pre-book to cruise date, the concierge staff was a lifesaver as we re-planned our entertainment and dining. This included booking shows (After Midnight, For the Record: The Brat Pack, Supper Club Fly Boys, Headliners Comedy), Activities (Canvas by U, Escape the Big Top), and dining. The concierge team also

Haven Courtyard. 2-level courtyard with soft, padded loungers to sit back and enjoy the cruise. A retractable roof allows the warm sunshine in, but keeps out the wind and rain while at sea. The courtyard has a small pool, two hot tubs, sauna, and private massage rooms.

Haven Sundeck. The Haven has a private sundeck, inches away from the Vibe. Soft, padded loungers, canopy shades, and beautiful forward-facing views as you sail. The wait staff will bring drinks and food as you relax and the cold, aromatic towels keep you cool and refreshed.


DINING

Haven Restaurant: On embarkation day, Haven guests are offered a complimentary meal at Margaritaville, so the restaurant was only partly full. The food is always wonderful and the service great. Our only complaint is that the menu is always the same (for years). We at breakfast at the restaurant daily, two lunches, and one dinner.

Moderno. Moderno Brazilian Steakhouse was one of our platinum dinners. The salad bar is wonderful with a high-end selection of cheeses, meats, salads, and soups. And there is a never-ending line of Pasadores carving meats tableside. The service was outstanding with our waiter and the maitre d working as a team, checking in with us throughout our meal.

Bayamo. Having recently ended their relationship with Iron Chef Jose Garces, the menu of Bayamo has been overhauled to include many of the favorites from the “new” Ocean Blue menu (which underwent an overhaul when NCL ended their relationship with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zacharian). Service was great. And we enjoyed the new menu items. The one downside has always been that there is no physical separation between the Sugarcane Mojito bar and the restaurant. And there are always a few guests that have had one too many Mojitos and have forgotten how to use their “inside voices”.

Pincho Tapas. We used our Specialty Dining Package credit to have all-you-can-eat tapas for lunch sitting outside on the Waterfront. The food is the best on the ship. A wonderful collection of small plates prepared to perfection. Although NCL ended their relationship with Jose Garces, the menu of Pinchos has remained relatively unchanged. Although often overlooked, this is a not-to-miss restaurant.

Cagney. Cageny’s Steakhouse is always a treat. This was our second Platinum meal. The food at Cagney’s is always top quality, prepared to perfection. The service was great.

La Cucina. While the food is similar to any good Italian restaurant at home, we always enjoy a dinner at La Cucina Ristorante. The ossobuco is always at the top of our list for dinner here.

Food Republic. Another great place for lunch. Since they ended to relationship with Pubbelly Boys, the menu has gone under an overhaul. Favorites are still there and the international small plate foods are wonderful. The restaurant is only open for 1.5 hours for lunch on sea days, and it fills up fast. Get there before opening and get your orders placed quickly for faster service. You order everything on a tabletop iPad and swipe your room key to pay. All very fast and efficient.


FAVORITE ACTIVITIES

Canvas by U. Aspiring artists show up for a lesson in acrylic painting. The cruise director’s staff provide step-by-step instruction on painting a masterpiece in 1 hour. Always great fun.

Escape the Big Top. Complimentary escape room adventure where a deranged magician has made you invisible, locking you in the Supper Club, you spend 45 minutes with your team to solve a series of puzzles to escape. On our cruise, they had 10 groups of 10 people. This is a very popular activity, so book a session at the Box Office on embarkation day.

After Midnight and For the Record: The Brat Pack were great theater shows. Extremely high energy from opening to close. And variety of entertainment all over the ship was great from live music in all of the bars to a quiet movie at night.


SERVICE

Superior Guest Services. Our last two cruises have been on Royal Caribbean and by far, the service and crew on the Escape were far superior. Every crew member you encountered greeted you with a smile and acknowledgement. The crew of the Escape when out of their way to make you feel welcome, part of their family, and helped create wonderful cruise memories.

Wifi. This was our 4th voyage on the Escape and on our 3 prior trips, I would have said that the Wi-Fi on the Escape was the worst in the fleet to the point of being unusable. But with the new tiered plan and increased bandwidth off the ship, we were impressed with the consistency of the connection (no more dropped connections that required re-logon) and the speed of the internet. Well worth the cost of upgrade to an unlimited plan.


PORT & SHORE EXCURSIONS

Nassau Glass Bottom Boat. We booked this excursion as much to do sightseeing of Nassau harbor as to see the Caribbean sea life. Lots of time shopping after the tour.

Ocho Rios Bamboo Beach VIP. Since we were one of the first groups on the beach, this was a great beach day. We were broken into groups of 16 guests and assigned a hostess that picked us up on the dock and stayed with us throughout the day. She served the unlimited drinks on the beach and lunch (3 appetizers, jerk chicken and lobster lunch, and rum cake and ice cream dessert). The VIP section had padded loungers (vs. the chairs on the non-VIP beach). The one downside is that the water is rocky. You need water shoes. But the water was clear and warm and you can run between food and the water throughout the day.

Grand Cayman Atlantis Submarine. The sub ride was a great experience. Taking you to depths of 75-110 feet. There were a lot of small fish. We expected to see larger fish and sea life at depth.


DISEMBARKATION

Easy and painless. Stateroom to Airport:

7:50 left stateroom

8:05 self walk-off, through customs and at curb

8:10 taxi to airport $27 flat rate, no waiting

8:45 at gate at MIA including checking bags at the check in counter

SUMMARY

This was a wonderful cruise. We’ll miss the Escape in Miami. And anxiously await her return.
BirdTravels’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

The Haven Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony
Cabin H5 18126
Haven Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony (H5) Accessible Stateroom 18126. When NCL does a media tour of its new ships, they always show off the H5 Accessible. Extra large room, large door, open floor space, large dining table, large bathroom and no ledges to stub your toes. Hidden away in the Haven complex, our room was a few steps from the Deck 18 entrance and a few steps from the Deck 18 Haven lounge and restaurant. The phrase “ship within a ship” doesn’t start to describe the papering you receive as a Haven guest on the Escape.

Haven Lounge. A great place to relax and have a drink. Private bar with the best bartenders on the ship. The concierge staff takes care of all of your needs on the ship. As the entertainment schedules changed from pre-book to cruise date, the concierge staff was a lifesaver as we re-planned our entertainment and dining. This included booking shows (After Midnight, For the Record: The Brat Pack, Supper Club Fly Boys, Headliners Comedy), Activities (Canvas by U, Escape the Big Top), and dining. The concierge team also

Haven Courtyard. 2-level courtyard with soft, padded loungers to sit back and enjoy the cruise. A retractable roof allows the warm sunshine in, but keeps out the wind and rain while at sea. The courtyard has a small pool, two hot tubs, sauna, and private massage rooms.

Haven Sundeck. The Haven has a private sundeck, inches away from the Vibe. Soft, padded loungers, canopy shades, and beautiful forward-facing views as you sail. The wait staff will bring drinks and food as you relax and the cold, aromatic towels keep you cool and refreshed.
Deck 18 Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Grand Cayman (Georgetown)
    The sub ride was a great experience. Taking you to depths of 75-110 feet. There were a lot of small fish. We expected to see larger fish and sea life at depth.
    View All 12,790 Grand Cayman (Georgetown) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Grand Cayman (Georgetown) Cruise Port Review
  • Glass Bottom Boat
    We booked this excursion as much to do sightseeing of Nassau harbor as to see the Caribbean sea life. Lots of time shopping after the tour.
    View All 62 Glass Bottom Boat Reviews
  • Beach
    Bamboo Beach VIP. Since we were one of the first groups on the beach, this was a great beach day. We were broken into groups of 16 guests and assigned a hostess that picked us up on the dock and stayed with us throughout the day. She served the unlimited drinks on the beach and lunch (3 appetizers, jerk chicken and lobster lunch, and rum cake and ice cream dessert). The VIP section had padded loungers (vs. the chairs on the non-VIP beach). The one downside is that the water is rocky. You need water shoes. But the water was clear and warm and you can run between food and the water throughout the day.
    View All 81 Beach Reviews