Jump to content

NCL. Never say never again! ESCAPE 4/16-4/23


Recommended Posts

Call it a lesson in humility. Call it typical overreaction to a bad experience. Either way, up until 4/16/16, I thought NCL sucked. My last NCL cruise was on Dawn in 2012 and it was bad enough to swear off the line forever....or at least, for awhile. Just prior were a couple cruises on Sky that I found lacking. To me, the ship just felt cheap. Plus, I never liked how NCL always seems to be at the forefront of the nickel and dime mentality in mass market cruising.

 

Fast forward to now. I just disembarked ESCAPE and I LOVED it!!! Work has been hectic so last Thursday, we looked for a last second cruise to take. Escape had a decent deal going that included the Ultimate Beverage Package and the Specialty Dining Package. At first I was put off by the $279 service charge on the "free" promotion, plus the fact the room was $200 more than the advertised price if I wanted the "free" promotion included. But I did the math and we still saved a little money over our other choices for the week. A little. ;)

 

We boarded the ship on the 16th and at first, I wasn't sure of my feelings. There really isn't a central focus point that wows you right away and the ship felt very chaotic. We got our bearings eventually but one feeling that never went away was the feeling of chaos thought the public areas. Without a doubt, this was the most crowded feeling ship I've ever sailed out of 52 cruises. That's somewhat of a complaint among several minor things I didn't like about Escape. But on to the good for now.

 

Service throughout was excellent. This was one major reason I swore off NCL after my Dawn cruise. What a difference! From bar service to the restaurants to my room attendant, I do not have one single complaint about service....well, except for Customer Service, but I'll get to that in a minute. I was nervous about bar service considering so many people had the UBP, but it was very rarely an issue. This was certainly a highlight of our cruise and one major reason NCL is back off my crap list.

 

Customer Service. Good luck dealing with them! It seemed like there was always a long line at the desk and not once did they answer the phone when I tried calling them. I had to call a few times concerning my bill and about some electrical problems, and I never got a hold of them by phone. As for the electrical problems, ladies, be careful when using your own hair dryer. My wife has long hair so the ships' dryers are never good enough for her. For the first time in all our cruises, her hair dryer kicked the breaker in our room and we lost all power to the outlets and TV. Maintenance acted as though it was a well known thing to not use your own hair dryers, but we never heard that before and never had or heard of a problem in the past.

 

We had balcony room 12718. Other than the looooong walk to get to the room from the forward stairwell, it was a really nice room. It was comfortable, nice decor, and the bathroom shower was very roomy. We thought the balconies might be an issue beforehand because I read complaints about the size. We had no issue. After taking a cruise on Regal Princess with their tiny balconies, all other balconies feel huge!

 

One bad thing about the rooms is the doors. This seems to be a trait from the Meyer Werft ship building facility because this design is also on Celebrity Solstice Class and RCI Quantum Class. Neighboring doors are only inches apart from one another. This means, when the inconsiderate door slammer does their thing, you not only hear it, you feel it in your room. It really sucks when you're asleep. Folks, please close your doors gently and don't allow them to just slam closed on their own....please?

 

Waterfront - What a GREAT idea! This turned out to be one of our favorite things about Escape. We ate on the Waterfront in Cagneys, Moderno, and La Cucina (x2). I would book this ship class again solely for this feature. It did help that our meals in all these restaurants were excellent, as was the service. We also enjoyed drinking wine on the Waterfront at Cellars. The Waterfront was a nice reprieve from the otherwise chaotic ship. I wasn't a big fan of Le Bistro based solely on the location. It just wasn't relaxing.

 

Slides - Wow! I had an awesome time going down those slides. I darn near drowned on my first ride down the Aqua Loop but it didn't stop me from doing it about a dozen more times. There was never a long wait. The line got a little long for the Aqua Racer on sea days due to having to wait for an inner tube, but the wait was worth it. We had a lot of fun on that as well.

 

We really enjoyed the entertainment. Howl at the Moon and the Levity Comedy shows were excellent. The main shows were "meh" for the most part, but we loved Brat Pack. I would put that one show on the level of RCI's Oasis Class shows. We didn't try Supper Club, but we did enjoy the free hypnotist shows in there. Brenda Kay was very entertaining.

 

My other minor complaints about the ship were the very narrow hallways, the free food was crap and all they seemed to ever show on the pool screens was soccer. We took in a movie one night in the Atrium (Pan) which was really nice but the location right below O'Sheehans wasn't too good. There's an air hockey table right above that's really annoying. Otherwise, the huge screen was really cool during gameshows, etc.

 

The cruise director staff was excellent and very upbeat. The CD, Silas, was great.

 

Minor complaints aside, I would put this ship and this cruise right up there with other cruises that have really impressed me.....such as RCI Oasis Class cruises. Consider me somewhat of a convert back to NCL. I say "somewhat" because I don't believe in brand loyalty and I know I will not book the older ship class on NCL. Only Breakaway and newer for me.

 

Actually, I might prefer Getaway or Breakaway for a reason that's very unique to me. Living in the Keys, I'm so sick of Trop Rock. I have no desire to hang out at Margaritaville or 5 O'Clock Somewhere.

 

One other thing...this ship really does rock more than others. This isn't a ship for those who are easily seasick. I loved it.

 

Any questions...feel free to ask. :)

Edited by Aquahound
Link to post
Share on other sites

We had the same experience with the hair dryer on the Breakaway in January. First night I used it just fine and then my sister went to use it and lost all power to that part of the cabin. And they took their time fixing it (when you're waiting to dry your hair) but we didn't have a problem using their dryer and I will never bring mine on that class of ship again. Good to hear you liked the Escape. We may be sailing in October.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We love the Escape too and can't wait to go back. We had missed the Brat Pack due to a performer injury so looking forward to it. Never thought I would do the slides on a ship until we saw the Aqua Racer and loved it. Did you try Food Republic? We discovered it late in our cruise and can't wait to go back for more. Thanks for your review. Can't wait to get back to the Escape!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad you gave NCL another shot! Like you, my very first NCL cruise was my worst cruise ever, and I was glad I tried again. In my opinion, it gets better and better. I'd never do a small ship again either.

 

Did I understand right that the Brenda Kaye show was supper-less and free? If so, we might do that next month, if she's still there. We saw her on the Escape TA, and enjoyed her.

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums mobile app

Link to post
Share on other sites

Did I understand right that the Brenda Kaye show was supper-less and free? If so, we might do that next month, if she's still there. We saw her on the Escape TA, and enjoyed her.

 

That's correct. No meals attached. They just used the Supper Club venue, I guess, for the smaller seating capacity and more intimate crowd. She needs silence, so the atrium won't work. She told us she was on for 2 more weeks. I guess she hops around from ship to ship.

 

Did you try Food Republic? We discovered it late in our cruise and can't wait to go back for more.

 

Unfortunately, no. We also discovered it late just by walking by it. The venue was cool and the menu did look good. If we were on a B2B, we certainly would have made our way in there.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a question about living in the keys. Where do you live and how do you like it? We are thinking of retiring there in about 8 years. Key colony beach. Just wondering if it ever gets old

 

If you're in to fishing and all things boat/water related, no, it NEVER gets old. We were just saying today on our drive home that the views from the bridges of the turquoise waters never get old. KCB is a beautiful area with nice houses, nice restaurants/bars and a small golf course. I do recommend it. I live further down on Cudjoe, which I also love.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Another favorite of mine was the District Brewhouse. I love craft beers so it was my goal to try everything on this tap. I never reached my goal but most of what I did drink was delicious. The lounge was very comfortable. Although, I wasn't a fan of it at night when the piano player was performing. It got too crowded.

 

ry%3D480

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for this review. I too have sailed NCL once and swore them off. I've been debating the Escape because it looks really great but wasn't sure if I should give them another try or not. Your review has convinced me to give their newer ships another chance!

Link to post
Share on other sites

If I had to power to change one thing about the design of the ship, I would add another pool somewhere. I would get rid of the useless grotto at Spice H20 and add a pool in that space. The main pool area was awful.

 

ry%3D480

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the review

 

I too had sworn off NCL after a 2013 cruise on the nickel and dime away, aka the BA. The Escape changed my mind but I totally agree with the lack of pools. I had a vibe pass so I was able to escape the chaos and stayed on board and enjoyed the main pool while in Saint Thomas. Silas is a fabulous CD - One of, if not the best, in 20+ cruises.

 

Trying the BA again in June and hoping for the best

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the review!

 

Was the wine list by glass at the Cellars better than other venues? I'd think Cellars would be marketed as a place to get higher quality and wider selections of wines but reports are that has been scaled back b/c of free UBP.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for the review!

 

Was the wine list by glass at the Cellars better than other venues? I'd think Cellars would be marketed as a place to get higher quality and wider selections of wines but reports are that has been scaled back b/c of free UBP.

 

Yes, it was really good, and most were covered by the UBP. There were still several that the UBP did not cover. For example, there was Mondavi M Cabernet that was something like $30/glass.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for the review!

 

Was the wine list by glass at the Cellars better than other venues? I'd think Cellars would be marketed as a place to get higher quality and wider selections of wines but reports are that has been scaled back b/c of free UBP.

 

There was nothing noteworthy in Cellars on our trip especially if you were trying to stay within the limits of UBP. The list is mostly grocery store caliber wines and a few very overpriced $25+ glasses. There was not much traffic in Cellars during our entire week onboard. It's one of the many venues that was underused. It has potential but falls short.

Link to post
Share on other sites
There was not much traffic in Cellars during our entire week onboard. It's one of the many venues that was underused. It has potential but falls short.

 

That part, I'll agree with. The inside part of Cellars was almost always empty. However, on our cruise, the Waterfront bar and seating area were popular.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't mind spending a couple bucks more to allow for the better wines to still be available by glass but 25+ seems like a lot. I can see how it would be a little underused, pax that want the wines that are selling for 25+ would probably pay corkage and bring their own onboard. Thanks for feedback.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums mobile app

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Fast forward to now. I just disembarked ESCAPE and I LOVED it!!! Work has been hectic so last Thursday, we looked for a last second cruise to take. Escape had a decent deal going that included the Ultimate Beverage Package and the Specialty Dining Package. At first I was put off by the $279 service charge on the "free" promotion, plus the fact the room was $200 more than the advertised price if I wanted the "free" promotion included. But I did the math and we still saved a little money over our other choices for the week. A little. ;)

 

 

Hi Paul,

 

We've recently added NCL back into our cruise ship company rotation. We did the Jewel last year and found out if we pick up a seven day UDP (ultimate dining package) and eat every evening meal in one of their great alternative restaurants ; eat in the MDR other meals; and avoid the buffet completely -- we really upgraded the overall experience. We did the Jade last month and except for some issues with our cabin team, it was excellent. Once again, we had the UDP and the UBP.

 

Food was better than Princess, RCL and even HAL. We are Celebrity fans, but are willing to try other lines.

 

Enjoy!

Kel:)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your review! It's always interesting to see a review from someone who hasn't sailed NCL in three or four years and compare the experience from back then to now. There's been a lot of concern about changes from NCL regulars, including the almost-always-included dining or beverage plan promos, but it seems to be attracting people who really like the experience!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi Paul,

 

We've recently added NCL back into our cruise ship company rotation. We did the Jewel last year and found out if we pick up a seven day UDP (ultimate dining package) and eat every evening meal in one of their great alternative restaurants ; eat in the MDR other meals; and avoid the buffet completely -- we really upgraded the overall experience. We did the Jade last month and except for some issues with our cabin team, it was excellent. Once again, we had the UDP and the UBP.

 

Food was better than Princess, RCL and even HAL. We are Celebrity fans, but are willing to try other lines.

 

Enjoy!

Kel:)

 

Good point about the UDP. We had the 3UDP and used our 3 free dinners on nights 1-3. Nights 4 and 5 we tried free dining...once in Manhattan and once in Taste. The venues were lovely and we really liked the Manhattan Room concept. We even danced a couple times. However, we were disappointed in the food. I love lamb, and I couldn't even finish the lamb shank. So....nights 6 and 7, it was back to specialty dining on our dime.

 

While NCL redeemed themselves with me in many areas, the free food was not one of them. I also wasn't too keen on having to pay $7.95 for a hot breakfast on my balcony. On that....Boo NCL!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • Cruise Critic's State of the Industry Report - Trends & Future Outlook
      • Q&A: Cruise Insurance with Steve Dasseos of TripInsuranceStore.com
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...