December 16th Escape Quick Review

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#21
Vancouver, BC
76 Posts
Joined Dec 2014
Dragon roll at Food Republic


"Appetizer-sized" Linguine Cioppino


Appetizer sized Gnocchi


The special steak offered that sailing


The shrimp pasta entree my girlfriend got


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Oasis of the Seas | April 22nd, 2018
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#22
Vancouver, BC
76 Posts
Joined Dec 2014
The Ship

Having been on this ship before, it is still sparkling new and beautiful. However, compared to its slighty smaller siblings, the Getaway/Breakaway, I feel this ship is overall more crowded. Lines could frequently be seen, especially at places like the buffet and sports complex (slides, ropes course). Take Garden Cafe as an example, it is basically the same size across all 3 ships, but yet the Escape carries ~300 more people. There were many times we would want to grab pasta or crepes at the buffet but didn't due to the long lines. For the ropes course, we waited well over 1 hour, but the line did eventually die down as the cruise progressed. (Hint: I think I like the Getaway more) My girlfriend said despite all the good things about this cruise, if she had to describe this vacation using one word, it would definitely be "lines". This isn't the worst when it comes to lines, more on that later regarding tendering. Just a teaser, what we experienced is enough for us to seriously consider against a cruise with tendering in the future.

Thermal Suite

If you're still hesitating whether this is worth the money, DO IT. It might feel like a lot of money, but if you break that into 7 days, it is rather reasonable for what you get. In the thermal suite, you have access to:

  • A very large heated therapeutic pool
  • Steam room
  • Sauna
  • A variation of sauna with humidity or something? Sorry I forgot the name.
  • Snow room (yes, you read that right, snow)
  • Salt room
  • Abundance of heated loungers
  • Showers at every corner
  • A GREAT view facing forward, right above the bridge
  • Fruit-infused water, tea, oranges, etc
We visited the thermal suite everyday and the most people we ever saw in the heated pool at the same time was probably 5. (Add another 0 at the end for the amount of people near the main pool outside ) We never had any trouble getting the heated stone loungers for all 3 of us, and even got the big circle beds 3 times even though there were only 2 of them in total. The entire place is pure serenity, while lying down, all you would hear is the sound of water splashing down in the pool. There was one occurrence when someone talked very loudly and his voice echoed all over the thermal suite. Eventually someone had enough and went over to "SHHHHHHHH" him. So, you can definitely expect quietness here .

Anyways, our routine in the thermal suite is always to go into the heated pool first. In there, at the very end of the pool, they have seats built in so you don't have to keep standing. On the sides of the pool, there are jets that you can use for back massage. But the biggest feature is the main waterfall in the middle. In the corner of the pool, there is a little enclosed area, let's just call that the "hot tub on steroids" section because not only does it have jets around the enclosure, bubbles are also coming out from the ground, creating quite an experience. After the heated pool, we would then proceed to alternate between the sauna, steam room, and the snow room. Again, all with either very few people or no one altogether. One day, while in snow room, another lady asked us "have you seen snow?" and I replied "I'm from Canada." Surprisingly, she said she's also from Canada! But rather unsurprisingly, maybe that's the very reason why we were both in the snow room to begin with . After that, we would grab ourself a comfortable lounger and before we know it, we would fall asleep on it because it's that comfortable. Remember to get towels to act as the pillow and leg rest, it makes a huge difference! For most people relaxing there, I've seen some of them read books, play video games on their portable consoles, nap, or just stare out into the ocean. Staring out into the ocean is something I frequently did and in my mind, I just couldn't stop repeating "I am on vacation in the middle of the ocean and there's no better place to be." Working in the tech industry, like many others, having time off like that is truly amazing.

The thermal suite change room comes fully stocked with everything you would possibly need: towels, robes, cotton ear swabs, hair dryers, lockers, you name it. The place is also kept incredibly clean. In addition, it also comes with an awesome view of the starboard side of the ship.

Somehow, everytime we visit the thermal suite, all 3 of us get hungry. So to finish off our thermal suite routine, we always proceed to Garden Cafe right after. That's the beauty of cruising, doing whatever you want, whenever you want.

Tip: Most of you probably already know this, but before purchasing the thermal suite pass, double check if it is cheaper to simply upgrade your cabin to a balcony/mini-suite spa cabin, because those cabins come with the thermal suite pass.
#25
Vancouver, BC
76 Posts
Joined Dec 2014
Ports

Falmouth

Well this one is going to be short, considering we did not actually dock here. In the morning, we woke up at 8am and went to the buffet to grab breakfast. At that point, Jamaica is within sight and the ship was slowly sailing towards it. Being told that the Escape did not dock the week before, we felt a little wary. But seeing that the ship was still sailing towards it, we thought we got lucky. Nope. Soon after breakfast as we were just getting ready for the day, the captain came on over the PA and yeah, you know the rest. "We are going to spend a relaxing day at sea." They did note that the port charges will automatically be refunded to our onboard account. When I checked, we got a whopping SEVEN dollars per person. I wonder if that is actually how much Falmouth costed us, or is it just some arbitrary number they come up. I've seen different numbers from people, for the same port and ship.

Georgetown, Cayman Islands

To be honest, we were a little scared we wouldn't be able to get off here just because of paranoia. But fortunately, the weather was beautiful and we were able to visit the island. This is our first time tendering, and it really feels like a hassle compared to docking. Nevertheless, the process felt fairly typical so I have no complaints.

On the island, instead of visiting the turtles and stingrays, we went to visit the Crystal Caves! During the tour, we were brought to 3 (or 4) underground caves and they were absolutely stunning. In the caves, we saw crystal structures coming down from the ceiling like spikes, and we also saw a little lake that was formed by drops of water, one drop at a time. We were told that they have discovered more than 100 caves in that area, but are unable to open them to public due to safety concerns. Hopefully in the future they'll be able to open up more! But do note that if you're terrified of bats, you probably don't want to do this tour. They don't exactly fly onto you, but they do fly around above you.

After the tour, we had about 1.5 hours before the last tender so we quickly dropped by a restaurant called paradise to eat. The restaurant is situated right on the waterfront and is very close to the pier. There, we ordered the conch fritters and conch chowder. Unknowing that conch is a specialty, we were pleasantly surprised by how good the fritter and chowder were! That being said, the meal did cost us 29 USD for just the 2 things, pretty pricey I would say. Finally, we lined up for the tender to get back on the ship. We only waited about 20-30 minutes for it so it was pretty good .

Great Stirrup Cay


If there was an excursion called "wait in line all day", I would be sure that's what the whole ship signed up for this port. Being told since 2 days before this port, we made our tender reservation for group 4, which is scheduled for 9:30am. Accordingly, we planned our wake up time and breakfast time to that. But at 8:50am, our group was called along with "if you're late, you can't go onto the island until after 2pm." So I guess they expected the whole ship to be sitting in their stateroom waiting starting at 8:30am, regardless of what your group is. So, without eating breakfast, we raced to the Escape theater. When we got there, the line went into the elevator area, but that's okay we told ourself, it's still pretty okay. After we got to the entrance of the theater, they scanned our cards to make sure we have a reservation, and without saying a word, she signaled us to enter the theater. Thinking every seat is the same, we sat in the left side of the theater since most people seem to be crowding around the entrance side. 20 minutes went by and the theater is becoming increasing packed. Finally, they announced a tender boat has arrived and they will ask everyone sitting on the right hand column of the theater to board. So...all those people that sat in other places are forced to wait more, regardless of group number. Tick tock tick tock....another 10...20...30 minutes went by and finally another tender arrived! Unknowing that time, the most left hand column is for stand-by people, meaning people without reservations, and they weren't supposed to board until the rest of the theater boarded. In that crowd, there were people who legitmated had reservations, so they proceeded to walk towards the boarding line. I don't know how many, but atleast another 30 or 40 people followed suit and soon it was a complete mess with people yelling "YOU CAN'T BOARD" or "WHAT'S GOING ON, ARE YOU GROUP 4 OR 5 OR STANDBY" with people replying "IT DOESN'T MATTER, THEY'RE BOARDING IN RANDOM ORDERS, IT'S SO MESSED UP!" Imagine the scene where starving people have to fight over food, that's what it looked like. At that point, most people were getting mad at the mess. Finally, we got on the tender boat and arrived at GSC. It was already well past 10am at that point. I'm not sure if this is how NCL always does it, but it would be hard to believe this is the best they can do.

Onto the bright side, we loved the island! We walked to the very end of the island and when we got there, there was barely anyone. We quickly put our stuff onto the first row loungers and dipped into the water. The water temperature was actually way colder than I expected, but after lots of "testing", I eventually manned up and went into the water. For lunch, we ate at the taco stand, and they were really good! Even though there were a lot of tacos sitting there, all the ones we got were all either warm or hot. The rest of the day, we spent walking around the island, dipping in water, and just relaxing. We really liked how the drinks package was accepted here, unlike Harvest Caye.

1.5 hours before the last tender, we quickly walked back to the main area to return the equipment we borrowed. Except, by that time, the line was already past the light house that's currently under construction. It would be another 1.5 hours before we got on the ship again. If you do the math, we spent nearly 3 hours lining up that day for tendering alone. Given the limited time cruise passengers have at each port, this just simply isn't worth it. I'm not sure if this is normally how it is, but I sure hope this is not how it is normally. That being said, everything after this point, everything went smooth again.

Nassau

Having been to Nassau before, I wasn't as interested in exploring this place, since it's really just a tourist cash grab place. The famous rum cakes they were selling was 19 dollars more expensive than at Fort Lauderdale International Airport (30 USD vs 49 USD), and airport was supposed to be a rip off already. Since we had the excursion credit, we booked the "Discover Atlantis" tour which brought us around the resort and the aquarium they had. We were pleasantly surprised by the resort, and the tour kept us busy for the whole duration. If you haven't been there before, I'd say it's worth the trip to just walk and look around. The aquarium is huge and it looks like the city of Atlantis underwater. After the tour, we really wanted to find somewhere with conch fritters so we asked the concierge at Atlantis if she knew anywhere near the port that had it. She told us to go to Hard Rock Cafe, which was surprising as it is probably the last local place around, but we went anyways. Overall, we stayed for about 1.5 hours for just conch fritters and fries, so it's definitely VERY SLOW in service, and the food really was sub-par. After that, we quickly bought a souvenir or two and headed back to the ship.
#26
Vancouver, BC
76 Posts
Joined Dec 2014
Crystal caves:



The famous shoe tree:


Photo of the ships in port that day:


Photo I took while on tender back to the ship at GSC:


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Oasis of the Seas | April 22nd, 2018
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Norwegian Getaway | January 22nd, 2017
Norwegian Escape | February 27nd, 2016
Oasis of the Seas | February 28th, 2015
#27
Ottawa. ON
91 Posts
Joined May 2017
Love your honesty in this review ... you tell it like it is.
Question - when and how do you book your tender time?


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#28
Vancouver, BC
76 Posts
Joined Dec 2014
Originally posted by Suna
Love your honesty in this review ... you tell it like it is.
Question - when and how do you book your tender time?


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You can book tender times from either your Stateroom TV or any of the electronic boards near the elevators. If I recall correctly, I was able to book it 2 days before arriving at the port.

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#29
Kentucky
14,643 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Loving your review! We were on the same sailing and I wondered about the lights on the balcony as well. We also couldn't get reservations at certain restaurants and just walked up to LaCucina one night and were accommodated immediately. Agreed with you about the saltiness of certain items at Moderna but we enjoyed ourselves there.
#30
New Jersey
775 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
Did they use the ships life boats for tendering or were the tenders from the island?
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Don't sweat the small stuff.... Glenn



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#31
Kentucky
14,643 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by QuickieGlenn
Did they use the ships life boats for tendering or were the tenders from the island?
QuoteOn our sailing, they used tenders from the islands, big boats.
#32
3 Posts
Joined Jan 2018
Regarding the tendering to Great Stirrup Cay. I was on the same cruise the following week (12/23) and they were definitely doing something different. I tried to book a tender reservation on the in-room TV, but all the times said 12:00 AM. We knew we wanted breakfast before we got off, so I didn't book anything. The next morning we got up at about 8:00 and went for breakfast. At about 8:30, they announced that they were starting to board Group 1. We walked out of Savor and just got into the crowd going down the stairs. They didn't stage anyone in the Theater. We walked down to Deck 4 and there was a line but it was moving at a pretty good clip. We went through security and they scanned our cards and, to our surprise, said have a nice day! We proceed to board one of two large tender boats and we were on the island by 9:15. Nothing was open yet, but we claimed our clam shells and settle in for a nice day on the beach. By 2:00 we had enough and meandered back to the tender dock, where we got on a waiting tender and we were back on the ship by 2:45 and in the Thermal Spa by 3:00. Guess we just got lucky!
#33
Wa
589 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by NoXmas
Regarding the tendering to Great Stirrup Cay. I was on the same cruise the following week (12/23) and they were definitely doing something different. I tried to book a tender reservation on the in-room TV, but all the times said 12:00 AM. We knew we wanted breakfast before we got off, so I didn't book anything. The next morning we got up at about 8:00 and went for breakfast. At about 8:30, they announced that they were starting to board Group 1. We walked out of Savor and just got into the crowd going down the stairs. They didn't stage anyone in the Theater. We walked down to Deck 4 and there was a line but it was moving at a pretty good clip. We went through security and they scanned our cards and, to our surprise, said have a nice day! We proceed to board one of two large tender boats and we were on the island by 9:15. Nothing was open yet, but we claimed our clam shells and settle in for a nice day on the beach. By 2:00 we had enough and meandered back to the tender dock, where we got on a waiting tender and we were back on the ship by 2:45 and in the Thermal Spa by 3:00. Guess we just got lucky!
Just curious...were there any other ships sharing the island with you? The Sky was also at GSC during the week of 12/16/17 - hence the slow tendering process.
#34
3 Posts
Joined Jan 2018
Originally posted by mousecrazy
Just curious...were there any other ships sharing the island with you? The Sky was also at GSC during the week of 12/16/17 - hence the slow tendering process.
No other ships for us. That island must have been packed if two ships were using it.
#35
Vancouver, BC
76 Posts
Joined Dec 2014
Originally posted by QuickieGlenn
Did they use the ships life boats for tendering or were the tenders from the island?
The tenders were from the island. I was wondering why we couldn't use the lifeboats like how some other ship (ie. MSC Divina) was.
#36
Palmyra, PA
95 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
I loved this review and your pictures are great! It’s nice to read an honest review without it being overly dramatic.
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#37
20 Posts
Joined Jan 2018
Danny6514,
Thanks for a great review! We will be going on the Escape for the first time in March with my two boys. We haven't sailed with NCL in about ten years so many things are new to us that I'm reading about. The Crystal Caves tour sounds really interesting. Did you book that through NCL ? Or with a tour guide who you found once you docked? Also, did you find that there was a lot of walking involved doing the Discover Atlantis tour? My nephew is coming also and he has mobility and heat intolerant issues.
Thanks for your help!
#38
Sunny Georgia
1,537 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
Thank you for the great review! Can't wait to be back on the Escape in a couple of weeks!
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Traci
Oct 2009 ~ Carnival Freedom
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#39
Vancouver, BC
76 Posts
Joined Dec 2014
Originally posted by iluvdonuts
Danny6514,
Thanks for a great review! We will be going on the Escape for the first time in March with my two boys. We haven't sailed with NCL in about ten years so many things are new to us that I'm reading about. The Crystal Caves tour sounds really interesting. Did you book that through NCL ? Or with a tour guide who you found once you docked? Also, did you find that there was a lot of walking involved doing the Discover Atlantis tour? My nephew is coming also and he has mobility and heat intolerant issues.
Thanks for your help!
NCL didn't offer the crystal cave tour so we booked online with Majestic Tours (http://www.majestictours.ky/tours). At Atlantis, the whole tour was walking, but mostly within the resort. There were some stairs here and there, but nothing overly tiring.