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Background info: I have been on 1 Disney cruise, 1 Royal Caribbean, and this is my third Norwegian cruise. All have been Caribbean except one Alaska cruise. We have been sailing Norwegian mostly due to the great comped rooms we get from the casino, hard to beat that price! We (me, hubby and 13 year old daughter) are not hard to please people, we roll with the punches and expect that things will not be 100% perfect. We also do not generally use the specialty dining. We have sailed the Getaway, and since the Escape is a sister ship I was expecting my likes and dislikes to be similar. I booked this ship primarily due to the abundance of kids activities available and the Grand Cayman stop. This was my daughters 7th grade spring break and there weren’t lots of kids on board. On to the review. Embarkation: We arrived from Fort Lauderdale around 11:40am. The line moved very quickly. Once inside we waited for about 10 minutes to check in. This went smoothly, no issues. We were sent to the big waiting room and no waiting, on the ship we went. This went so smoothly, no chaos or crowded room to wait in. Headed to the buffet, of course it was crowded as typical. Rooms were ready around 2:00. Ship layout: I read that some people did not like the layout of the ship. It didn’t bother me much, however we did not like that you cannot walk outside from the front to the back of the ship on any deck. We missed this. Also, I don’t believe you can go to the very front of the ship, it looked like it was for staff only. Also there is no real jogging track. Technically there is a small one but it is not usable, it is in between rows of chairs and is the only walkway on that deck, therefore it’s full of people walking to and from. Bad design here. I saw someone jogging by, leaping over chairs and dodging people, yikes! Now for the casino and smoke, it was the same as the Getaway. The smoke does travel around Deck 7 and 8 in the open areas. Bad design here. As with the Getaway, terrible location of guest services. They do many activities in the Atrium area (movies, games, Q&A speeches, singing, kids activities) and it is a challenge to be at guest services, onboard credit, and shore excursion desks and actually hear the person. I did this once. The coffee café and another bar are there as well. Some activities should be moved to the theater where there is more room, most times there was not enough seating for everyone. It was nice to sit at O’Sheehans and look down below at the Atrium when activities were going on though. We found elevators to be just fine, no waiting very long. Rooms: We had a regular balcony room, yes the balcony was tiny but we made due with it. The room was big enough for the 3 of us, lots of storage. The bathroom was a nice size and had a good amount of storage as well. I like having a real shower door instead of a curtain. The TV channels were poor, there was a movie channel with not current movies, 3 different BBC type channels, a TV show channel, Guy Harvey channel, the usual Norwegian channels. It seemed like the Getaway had better movies. Our room steward was good, we got towel animals every night except the first night. Again, we aren’t hard to please as long as we have towels when we need them. We always re-use them a couple times before trading them in for new. Just leave them on the floor when you want new ones. I brought along these magnetic hooks for the wall, this helped a lot with hanging bathing suits, towels, notices, anything else. This time I brought those Dollar Store battery tea lights so I didn’t need to leave the bathroom light on. Dining and food: I like the freestyle dining concept. We made some reservations ahead but didn’t always use them since we either weren’t hungry or doing other things. We ate at Manhatten Room twice, Taste, and buffet. We liked Manhattan Room best due to the entertainment they have there. I was happy with the food and service. Food was always warm and the wait staff was always pleasant and friendly. The bread was never warm though. We were usually done in 1 hour, we also don't eat early, typically around 8:00. The chocolate lava cake was really good as usual in the dining rooms. Our waitress got us the lava cake one night when it wasn’t on the menu. Use your hero cards for things like this, it helps the staff! My hubby still thinks that Royal has better dining room food, I think it’s a tossup. We were pleased again with the buffet. We ate there for every breakfast, lunch and 2 dinners (for Prime Rib). Always something that was good. Hubby was very happy to always have a good selection of Indian food. If he goes more than a couple days with no Indian food he isn’t happy. We found the desserts at the buffet to be mostly subpar with a few exceptions. I don’t know why the apple pie is never good, bummer. So I usually grabbed an ice cream cone, they have soft serve machines and scooped hard ice cream. I didn’t care for the scooped ice cream except the sorbets. Buffet was usually crowded but that is true of all cruises I think. But there was always somewhere to sit. People generally weren’t rude or pushy so that was good. One thing I still don’t like is the buffet layout. It’s like this never ending square. I prefer the buffets that are in a big room so to speak so you can see everything. Some things are only in 1 spot, like the waffle/pancakes and the afternoon crepes while some are on both “sides”. So you must circle around until you find them, frustrating. Pool: As expected they are small and inadequate. Since there weren’t many kids it wasn’t too bad in the family pool. The drop slides were fun and fast, my daughter finally weighed enough to do those so she did those a million times. The tube slide was awesome, there were lights and colors in there and we did that so many times as well. Lines weren’t bad at all. On sea day a lot of people were drinking quite a bit by the adult pool so we steered clear and sat in the shade more toward the kids pool area. The music is loud and we aren’t noise people. On the sea day we went to the pool around 1:00pm and there were a few chairs in the shade for us. Staff came around with cookies one day. There were a couple waiters circulating the pool area taking drink orders. Here is what I don’t get. There are 2 big screens at the pool yet they don’t show any movies there, only info about the ports and announcements about not hogging chairs. This seems wasted to me, it would be nice to have something there. Maybe I just missed it? Drinks: We took the UBP this time and got our money’s worth between our few drinks a day plus my daughter’s virgin strawberry daiquiris. I tend to like martini’s and the fruity drinks. My hubby loved the Moscow Mule with the candied ginger in it. One weird thing happened: one time at the Atrium bar I was charged for a virgin strawberry daiquiri. I went to guest service and he said smoothies aren’t covered. I said this wasn’t a smoothie I just didn’t want alcohol in my drink. He said well I can request to have it removed but I don’t know if it will be. It ended up getting removed. Kids Stuff: We didn’t do the teen club since she didn’t want to and I thought just turning 13 she was a bit young given the older teens in there. She loved the ropes course and did it twice with no lines. I remember on the Getaway there were long lines for this but there were also a lot more kids on board. We also played mini golf. We like the atrium shows and games and attended the ice carving, cupcake decorating, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Sing It If You Know It, Deal or No Deal, Just Dance, Bingo and others. I thought bingo was very pricy ($40) and they only play 3 games, I need to remember this and not do it again. Service: We were very happy with the service most people we encountered was upbeat and friendly. We love washy washy and this time wakey wakey with the coffee lady. Bartenders, waiters, room steward, all were talkative and happy. A lot of them remembered our names, I have no idea how. We gave our room steward extra $$ at the end. And I tipped the bartenders and drink waiters a few times as well, they were busting their butts. We also did the cruise critic meet and greet at the District Brew House, it was great! They kept passing out free beer samples, unfortunately we aren’t really beer people but it was nice. Met some great folks. Shows: We didn’t actually attend any theater shows this time, they just didn’t peak my interest like Burn the Floor did on the Getaway. After booking Brat pack online, I saw on the ship that it is rated PG16, so we cancelled, wish we knew that earlier. We did the Escape room and did pretty poorly but it was fun. Didn’t book early enough for the Magic and Illusion show. We skipped the Glow party this time, not really our scene. I also didn’t see a Farewell show which I usually like. Howl at the Moon was fun, we watched for a bit. This cruise we felt so tired at the end of the day so we turned in earlier then last time. Maybe because it was hotter on the islands then when we went in November? Just felt worn out. Ports: Nassau: We went to Melia resort for the day. We hopped on the #10 jitney, and had to wait for more people to get on before he would leave. We were almost ready to get off but then he decided to take off. The ocean felt cold so we spent most of the time in the pools testing our new Olympus Tough underwater camera. The pools are really nice and felt refreshing. We got a free Starbucks with our admission, this was nice. We didn’t get any food, ate when we got back on the ship. Ocho Rios: The port area is tiny and kind of congested with all the tour buses inside the gate. It looks like Carnival got the better of the ports to dock at right near the shopping area. We took Peat Taylor tours to the Blue Hole. It was fabulous! A guide helped our group of 6 navigate the rocks. There were several spots to jump in and the rope swing as well, it was really fun and glad we did this. We had them drop us off at the shopping area after the Blue Hole. I was pleasantly surprised that we didn’t encounter aggressive vendors, at most some ladies asking if we wanted braids. We did smell ganga a few times while in Jamaica, and some guys were selling brownies on the road on our ride up to Blue Hole. Our driver told us it was not illegal but was illegal to smoke in public. We walked back to the pier, no problems at all we felt safe. Kind of wish we did more in Jamaica. Grand Cayman: We booked Acquarius Sea Tours online to do the stingray sandbar, snorkel stop and starfish beach. So the night before Grand Cayman the tender reservations were available to book on the TV. We got Tender group #1. I made us all get up early, eat at the buffet and on the tender seamlessly by 8:00. After arriving at the port, we followed the instructions from Acquarius and walked to the Carnival port. Once again they got the nicer port area. Here is where we had confusion. The tour says meet by the info kiosk at 8:45. Well, there are no signs for Acquarius like with the other vendors and we asked several people and got sent in different directions. The lady inside the visitor center directed us to the white tents where other non-Carnival excursions meet. The blue tents are for Carnival. There was still no sign but another vendor confirmed this is where Acquarius meets. A sign like other vendors had would have been helpful. I was also getting the stink eye from the family for making them get up so early for nothing. The tender process really was quick, no waiting. They were 10 minutes late so we were a little nervous, another vendor from Moby Dick tours actually called him for us and no worries he was on the way. Captain Mario apologized for being late and informed us that it would choppy out there except for Starfish beach and we could cancel if we wanted. That was a nice heads up but we forged ahead and so glad that we did. We took a van to his boat and went to the snorkel stop first to the Secret Garden. It was about 10 feet of clear warm water. As soon as we put our head in we saw all kinds of blue, yellow, white fish and 3-4 stingrays. We loved it! It was choppy, yes, but no matter. We then went to starfish beach and got to hold the most amazing red starfish. Acquarius was very clear about keeping them in the water, don’t pull them out. We loved this stop too. There is also a lovely beach with soft sand as well. On to stingray sandbar. This is a busy place, we had to wait for another boat to leave. Our guides were great and gave instructions for taking a picture with them and ensuring their safety. It was choppy here too with some waves. And the best part, Acquarius takes pictures the whole time and loads them into Dropbox FOR FREE! Highlight of our trip for sure. Disembark: We had an 11:00am flight out of Miami so we did self-assist disembark. It was very smooth and quick, not like our Getaway experience at all. Customs was fast and on to the airport via Lyft. Conclusion: We had a great cruise overall. The staff is what makes this ship so wonderful in my opinion. Loved the service! We turned in a few vacation hero cards to recognize great service. Bon Voyage!

Escape Caribbean April 14-20

Norwegian Escape Cruise Review by KarimaJ

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2018
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Mid-ship Balcony Stateroom
Background info:

I have been on 1 Disney cruise, 1 Royal Caribbean, and this is my third Norwegian cruise. All have been Caribbean except one Alaska cruise. We have been sailing Norwegian mostly due to the great comped rooms we get from the casino, hard to beat that price! We (me, hubby and 13 year old daughter) are not hard to please people, we roll with the punches and expect that things will not be 100% perfect. We also do not generally use the specialty dining. We have sailed the Getaway, and since the Escape is a sister ship I was expecting my likes and dislikes to be similar. I booked this ship primarily due to the abundance of kids activities available and the Grand Cayman stop. This was my daughters 7th grade spring break and there weren’t lots of kids on board. On to the review.

Embarkation:

We arrived from Fort Lauderdale around 11:40am. The line moved very quickly. Once inside we waited for about 10 minutes to check in. This went smoothly, no issues. We were sent to the big waiting room and no waiting, on the ship we went. This went so smoothly, no chaos or crowded room to wait in. Headed to the buffet, of course it was crowded as typical. Rooms were ready around 2:00.

Ship layout:

I read that some people did not like the layout of the ship. It didn’t bother me much, however we did not like that you cannot walk outside from the front to the back of the ship on any deck. We missed this. Also, I don’t believe you can go to the very front of the ship, it looked like it was for staff only. Also there is no real jogging track. Technically there is a small one but it is not usable, it is in between rows of chairs and is the only walkway on that deck, therefore it’s full of people walking to and from. Bad design here. I saw someone jogging by, leaping over chairs and dodging people, yikes!

Now for the casino and smoke, it was the same as the Getaway. The smoke does travel around Deck 7 and 8 in the open areas. Bad design here.

As with the Getaway, terrible location of guest services. They do many activities in the Atrium area (movies, games, Q&A speeches, singing, kids activities) and it is a challenge to be at guest services, onboard credit, and shore excursion desks and actually hear the person. I did this once. The coffee café and another bar are there as well. Some activities should be moved to the theater where there is more room, most times there was not enough seating for everyone. It was nice to sit at O’Sheehans and look down below at the Atrium when activities were going on though.

We found elevators to be just fine, no waiting very long.

Rooms:

We had a regular balcony room, yes the balcony was tiny but we made due with it. The room was big enough for the 3 of us, lots of storage. The bathroom was a nice size and had a good amount of storage as well. I like having a real shower door instead of a curtain. The TV channels were poor, there was a movie channel with not current movies, 3 different BBC type channels, a TV show channel, Guy Harvey channel, the usual Norwegian channels. It seemed like the Getaway had better movies. Our room steward was good, we got towel animals every night except the first night. Again, we aren’t hard to please as long as we have towels when we need them. We always re-use them a couple times before trading them in for new. Just leave them on the floor when you want new ones. I brought along these magnetic hooks for the wall, this helped a lot with hanging bathing suits, towels, notices, anything else. This time I brought those Dollar Store battery tea lights so I didn’t need to leave the bathroom light on.

Dining and food:

I like the freestyle dining concept. We made some reservations ahead but didn’t always use them since we either weren’t hungry or doing other things. We ate at Manhatten Room twice, Taste, and buffet. We liked Manhattan Room best due to the entertainment they have there. I was happy with the food and service. Food was always warm and the wait staff was always pleasant and friendly. The bread was never warm though. We were usually done in 1 hour, we also don't eat early, typically around 8:00. The chocolate lava cake was really good as usual in the dining rooms. Our waitress got us the lava cake one night when it wasn’t on the menu. Use your hero cards for things like this, it helps the staff! My hubby still thinks that Royal has better dining room food, I think it’s a tossup.

We were pleased again with the buffet. We ate there for every breakfast, lunch and 2 dinners (for Prime Rib). Always something that was good. Hubby was very happy to always have a good selection of Indian food. If he goes more than a couple days with no Indian food he isn’t happy. We found the desserts at the buffet to be mostly subpar with a few exceptions. I don’t know why the apple pie is never good, bummer. So I usually grabbed an ice cream cone, they have soft serve machines and scooped hard ice cream. I didn’t care for the scooped ice cream except the sorbets. Buffet was usually crowded but that is true of all cruises I think. But there was always somewhere to sit. People generally weren’t rude or pushy so that was good. One thing I still don’t like is the buffet layout. It’s like this never ending square. I prefer the buffets that are in a big room so to speak so you can see everything. Some things are only in 1 spot, like the waffle/pancakes and the afternoon crepes while some are on both “sides”. So you must circle around until you find them, frustrating.

Pool:

As expected they are small and inadequate. Since there weren’t many kids it wasn’t too bad in the family pool. The drop slides were fun and fast, my daughter finally weighed enough to do those so she did those a million times. The tube slide was awesome, there were lights and colors in there and we did that so many times as well. Lines weren’t bad at all. On sea day a lot of people were drinking quite a bit by the adult pool so we steered clear and sat in the shade more toward the kids pool area. The music is loud and we aren’t noise people. On the sea day we went to the pool around 1:00pm and there were a few chairs in the shade for us. Staff came around with cookies one day. There were a couple waiters circulating the pool area taking drink orders.

Here is what I don’t get. There are 2 big screens at the pool yet they don’t show any movies there, only info about the ports and announcements about not hogging chairs. This seems wasted to me, it would be nice to have something there. Maybe I just missed it?

Drinks:

We took the UBP this time and got our money’s worth between our few drinks a day plus my daughter’s virgin strawberry daiquiris. I tend to like martini’s and the fruity drinks. My hubby loved the Moscow Mule with the candied ginger in it. One weird thing happened: one time at the Atrium bar I was charged for a virgin strawberry daiquiri. I went to guest service and he said smoothies aren’t covered. I said this wasn’t a smoothie I just didn’t want alcohol in my drink. He said well I can request to have it removed but I don’t know if it will be. It ended up getting removed.

Kids Stuff:

We didn’t do the teen club since she didn’t want to and I thought just turning 13 she was a bit young given the older teens in there. She loved the ropes course and did it twice with no lines. I remember on the Getaway there were long lines for this but there were also a lot more kids on board. We also played mini golf. We like the atrium shows and games and attended the ice carving, cupcake decorating, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Sing It If You Know It, Deal or No Deal, Just Dance, Bingo and others. I thought bingo was very pricy ($40) and they only play 3 games, I need to remember this and not do it again.

Service:

We were very happy with the service most people we encountered was upbeat and friendly. We love washy washy and this time wakey wakey with the coffee lady. Bartenders, waiters, room steward, all were talkative and happy. A lot of them remembered our names, I have no idea how. We gave our room steward extra $$ at the end. And I tipped the bartenders and drink waiters a few times as well, they were busting their butts.

We also did the cruise critic meet and greet at the District Brew House, it was great! They kept passing out free beer samples, unfortunately we aren’t really beer people but it was nice. Met some great folks.

Shows:

We didn’t actually attend any theater shows this time, they just didn’t peak my interest like Burn the Floor did on the Getaway. After booking Brat pack online, I saw on the ship that it is rated PG16, so we cancelled, wish we knew that earlier. We did the Escape room and did pretty poorly but it was fun. Didn’t book early enough for the Magic and Illusion show. We skipped the Glow party this time, not really our scene. I also didn’t see a Farewell show which I usually like. Howl at the Moon was fun, we watched for a bit. This cruise we felt so tired at the end of the day so we turned in earlier then last time. Maybe because it was hotter on the islands then when we went in November? Just felt worn out.

Ports:

Nassau: We went to Melia resort for the day. We hopped on the #10 jitney, and had to wait for more people to get on before he would leave. We were almost ready to get off but then he decided to take off. The ocean felt cold so we spent most of the time in the pools testing our new Olympus Tough underwater camera. The pools are really nice and felt refreshing. We got a free Starbucks with our admission, this was nice. We didn’t get any food, ate when we got back on the ship.

Ocho Rios: The port area is tiny and kind of congested with all the tour buses inside the gate. It looks like Carnival got the better of the ports to dock at right near the shopping area. We took Peat Taylor tours to the Blue Hole. It was fabulous! A guide helped our group of 6 navigate the rocks. There were several spots to jump in and the rope swing as well, it was really fun and glad we did this. We had them drop us off at the shopping area after the Blue Hole. I was pleasantly surprised that we didn’t encounter aggressive vendors, at most some ladies asking if we wanted braids. We did smell ganga a few times while in Jamaica, and some guys were selling brownies on the road on our ride up to Blue Hole. Our driver told us it was not illegal but was illegal to smoke in public. We walked back to the pier, no problems at all we felt safe. Kind of wish we did more in Jamaica.

Grand Cayman: We booked Acquarius Sea Tours online to do the stingray sandbar, snorkel stop and starfish beach. So the night before Grand Cayman the tender reservations were available to book on the TV. We got Tender group #1. I made us all get up early, eat at the buffet and on the tender seamlessly by 8:00. After arriving at the port, we followed the instructions from Acquarius and walked to the Carnival port. Once again they got the nicer port area. Here is where we had confusion. The tour says meet by the info kiosk at 8:45. Well, there are no signs for Acquarius like with the other vendors and we asked several people and got sent in different directions. The lady inside the visitor center directed us to the white tents where other non-Carnival excursions meet. The blue tents are for Carnival. There was still no sign but another vendor confirmed this is where Acquarius meets. A sign like other vendors had would have been helpful. I was also getting the stink eye from the family for making them get up so early for nothing. The tender process really was quick, no waiting. They were 10 minutes late so we were a little nervous, another vendor from Moby Dick tours actually called him for us and no worries he was on the way.

Captain Mario apologized for being late and informed us that it would choppy out there except for Starfish beach and we could cancel if we wanted. That was a nice heads up but we forged ahead and so glad that we did. We took a van to his boat and went to the snorkel stop first to the Secret Garden. It was about 10 feet of clear warm water. As soon as we put our head in we saw all kinds of blue, yellow, white fish and 3-4 stingrays. We loved it! It was choppy, yes, but no matter. We then went to starfish beach and got to hold the most amazing red starfish. Acquarius was very clear about keeping them in the water, don’t pull them out. We loved this stop too. There is also a lovely beach with soft sand as well. On to stingray sandbar. This is a busy place, we had to wait for another boat to leave. Our guides were great and gave instructions for taking a picture with them and ensuring their safety. It was choppy here too with some waves. And the best part, Acquarius takes pictures the whole time and loads them into Dropbox FOR FREE! Highlight of our trip for sure.

Disembark:

We had an 11:00am flight out of Miami so we did self-assist disembark. It was very smooth and quick, not like our Getaway experience at all. Customs was fast and on to the airport via Lyft.

Conclusion:

We had a great cruise overall. The staff is what makes this ship so wonderful in my opinion. Loved the service! We turned in a few vacation hero cards to recognize great service. Bon Voyage!
KarimaJ’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Ages 13 to 15
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Mid-ship Balcony Stateroom
Cabin BA 15842
We had a regular balcony room, yes the balcony was tiny but we made due with it. The room was big enough for the 3 of us, lots of storage. The bathroom was a nice size and had a good amount of storage as well. I like having a real shower door instead of a curtain. The TV channels were poor, there was a movie channel with not current movies, 3 different BBC type channels, a TV show channel, Guy Harvey channel, the usual Norwegian channels. It seemed like the Getaway had better movies. Our room steward was good, we got towel animals every night except the first night. Again, we aren’t hard to please as long as we have towels when we need them. We always re-use them a couple times before trading them in for new. Just leave them on the floor when you want new ones. I brought along these magnetic hooks for the wall, this helped a lot with hanging bathing suits, towels, notices, anything else. This time I brought those Dollar Store battery tea lights so I didn’t need to leave the bathroom light on.
Deck 15 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Nassau
    We went to Melia resort for the day. We hopped on the #10 jitney, and had to wait for more people to get on before he would leave. We were almost ready to get off but then he decided to take off. The ocean felt cold so we spent most of the time in the pools testing our new Olympus Tough underwater camera. The pools are really nice and felt refreshing. We got a free Starbucks with our admission, this was nice. We didn’t get any food, ate when we got back on the ship
    View All 5,872 Nassau Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Nassau Cruise Port Review
  • Irie Blue Hole
    The port area is tiny and kind of congested with all the tour buses inside the gate. It looks like Carnival got the better of the ports to dock at right near the shopping area. We took Peat Taylor tours to the Blue Hole. It was fabulous! A guide helped our group of 6 navigate the rocks. There were several spots to jump in and the rope swing as well, it was really fun and glad we did this. We had them drop us off at the shopping area after the Blue Hole. I was pleasantly surprised that we didn’t encounter aggressive vendors, at most some ladies asking if we wanted braids. We did smell ganga a few times while in Jamaica, and some guys were selling brownies on the road on our ride up to Blue Hole. Our driver told us it was not illegal but was illegal to smoke in public. We walked back to the pier, no problems at all we felt safe. Kind of wish we did more in Jamaica.
    View All 43 Irie Blue Hole Reviews