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NCL Escape 9-10 Read The Rock

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Read The Rock

 

I am just off of the Escape my wife and I sailed in a Haven Spa Suite to the Eastern Caribbean (St. Thomas, Tortola and Nassau) the week of September 10th. As a little background this is only our second cruise, our first was on the NCL Getaway during its 2014 inaugural season. We took that cruise with our adult children who were 26, 24, 22 at the time in three mid ship mini suite cabins, so I will make a few comparisons between cabins from that cruise to this one as well as compare the Haven experience to the general cabin experience. I’ll also toss in my thoughts on the differences and changes from the Getaway to the Escape

 

This cruise was the first solo cruise experience for me age 60 and my wife age 56. Our now 26-year-old son told us we would never have as good a time on this cruise without them – how wrong he was!!! I followed just about every detailed review on the Escape that I could before this cruise, special Thanks to Gambee, Jim Zim and JW for the detail they provided!!! I am an information junkie and those three in particular provided me with everything I needed to be prepared for this cruise. I also Thank the Cruise Critic community in general for the information that showed me how to snag an upsell to the Haven!!!

 

If I was posting on the general review side of CC I would give the Escape 5 Stars - That’s not to say we didn’t have any issues hence the title of my review Read the Rock.

 

I am a complete believer in the old adage that it’s more important how you handle a problem than the problem itself. There’s a specialty grocery store in Connecticut called Stew Leonard’s that back when I was in business school was featured as a case study in the Harvard Business Review for their customer service philosophies. These philosophies are based on the following inscription on a big rock found at the entrance to every Stew Leonard’s store:

 

Rule Number 1: The Customer is always Right

Rule Number 2: If the customer is ever wrong reread Rule Number 1

 

I have based a lot of my personal business relationships on what I learned form that case study so like JW I was looking out for how problems were solved not only for me but for others as well. I will get to my problems and a few others that I heard about along with their resolutions shortly.

 

I travel a lot and work way too much and way too hard - for months leading up to this cruise I was saying I’m working harder as I approach my 60th birthday than I did when I was 22! This trip was to decompress, celebrate my 60th on September 10th Day 1 of the cruise along with our 34th wedding anniversary. We always travel this time of year to celebrate our Wedding Anniversary and my Birthday. It’s a big deal to us and having a Haven Cabin set the expectation levels very high.

 

We also like to travel at this time of year to avoid children as we like these annual trips to be more adult oriented. There were only very young children in the Haven and very few of them so that part of the plan worked out great.

 

September 9 As I mentioned I have been working real hard lately so I have accumulated a lot of Airline Miles and Marriott points so we flew to Miami early Friday morning first class on American grabbed an Uber and went over to the Marriott Stanton in Miami Beach. We were put in a great Oceanfront room and the decompression had begun. We spent the day walking around Miami Beach had dinner on the sidewalk on Ocean Ave. and just enjoyed the show that was Miami Beach as night fell. I’m not going to get into details but the people watching alone was worth the price of admission!

 

September 10 If you can fly in the day before it really starts the trip off right. Since we now had a Haven Cabin thanks to an upsell during what we hoped would be a low children week we didn’t feel the need to rush over to the port for the Vibe race!! We got up had a leisurely breakfast in the concierge suite that had a great view of the port and I stood there and snapped off the first pictures of the Escape from the balcony. Day 2 of the decompression was well underway!

 

More to follow

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Great start! DH and I are also staying in Haven next June for our 10th wedding anniversary. Looking forward to hearing more!

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I have to work through 10 PM tonight I will add more along with pictures late tonight or in the morning

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September 10 continued We grabbed an Uber from S Miami Beach to the Port ($15) and got there around 12:30 PM. I knew from following the cruise critic message boards to look to my immediate left after going through security for the Haven Check In area. There were about a dozen people in this waiting area and two NCL Employees checking you in at a small desk. There were refreshments and a few seats also available. There was no need to use the seats or refreshments because within minutes we were checked in, room keys issued and being escorted up to the Haven!

 

I have attached a few shots of the Escape and 3 other ships in port from the balcony of the Marriott Stanton. I would highly recommend staying here pre-cruise especially if you are a Gold Level or above Marriott rewards member. The hotel is very comfortable recently renovated and right on the sand in South Beach! Another cool highlight for the cruise enthusiast is you can easily watch the cruise ships leaving the Port of Miami right from the beach in front of the hotel. I have enclosed a shot taken with an i-Phone from the beach of a ship departing Friday afternoon.

 

Back to the cruise – it took a few minutes to board and a few things struck me, the escort takes you through a check in point that everyone goes through main cabin cruisers and Haven cruisers. However, the Haven cruisers are directed around the line and processed first. You then walk up the gangway after being handed off to another Haven escort that takes you to a crew elevator that takes you to the 7th floor. You get off the crew elevator on the 7th floor and here they have a single elevator in the standard elevator banks roped off for Haven use only. Several of us got on there and were brought up to the 17th floor in the hall way outside the Haven entrance.

 

 

(A side note at 12:30 PM I noticed that the regular check in lines were very short and people were being processed very fast there were even empty check in stations available to main cabin cruisers. From what I saw 12:30 would be an easy time to check in even if not cruising in the Haven.)

 

From there we went in the Haven Lounge area found a seat and Virginia the Haven Concierge (by the way Virginia has taken leave and won’t be on the ship for several months) gave us an overview of what to expect as Haven passengers. Virginia explained that Margaritaville would be free for lunch for Haven passengers on day 1 and that Food Republic would available at a 50% discount to Haven Passengers for dinner night 1. We quickly made reservations for Food Republic and worked with the assistant concierge to get specialty dinner reservations and show reservations moved to times that fit our needs since the times we got before the cruise really didn’t work for us. These changes were made quickly and easily by the Haven Concierge desk and proved to be a very valuable perk of being in the Haven. They were serving some type of Fruit drinks that looked refreshing but we asked the Haven Bartender to add some Vodka to them which he did and the decompression really began! I wish I remembered the name of the Vodka they serve as House Vodka in the Haven Bar, it is only available in the Haven and at first I was concerned that it was rot gut but Martin the bartender went on the explain to me that it was “very fine spirits” and gave me a little history behind the Vodka. Either way I had two of these drinks right away and I drank the house vodka the rest of the week and didn’t bother asking for the available higher end Vodka’s like Grey Goose etc. and all was fine! At this point we went to our cabins and changed into bathing suits. Luggage had not been delivered yet but we were able to change in the room since we carried a change of clothes in a carry on. Note here - that one bag of luggage was delivered about 2:30 PM and the second bag we had didn’t show up until about 5:30 just in time to change for dinner. I gave both bags to the same porter and they both had the Haven priority tags on them. I’m not sure how or why they got separated but it caused a few anxious moments on day 1.

 

Also as noted above I did not check in until about 12:30 and then went to the Haven Lounge and to my room to change before I started to walk around the ship. It had to be at least 1:30 or 2:00 at this point. One of the first things I did was walk into Headliners and I asked if there were still Vibe passes left and was told they were by a crew member directing people to tables in Headliners. I’m not sure how accurate that info is but the Vibe never seemed crowded when I looked into it from the Haven sundeck during the week. So maybe some weeks you don't have to get to port at 9 AM and race to Headliners. Maybe someone who actually went through this process could tell us when Vibe passes actually ran out. Additionally, Vibe passes were available from the Haven Concierge all day on Saturday, so if I needed to I could have got them late on day 1.

 

We walked around all day on the ship enjoyed the overall party atmosphere got introduced to a great vodka based drink by the Haven Bartenders called Judy in the Sky and were having an over all great time. Went to lunch at Margaritaville for Nachos. It seemed as if my Birthday was going to be a truly great day. That is until we went back to the room to check on luggage and realized that a smell we thought was there when we went to change was now extremely strong. I was never able to completely describe the smell but it was a cross between sewage and rotting fish covered in curry!!! This is where Read the Rock begins. Our Butler the Cabin Steward and the Housekeeping Supervisor all "acknowledged" there was a smell but while agreeing with us they kept insisting the room was clean, but remembering Rule Number 1 and maybe at this point in their minds Rule Number 2 they assured me they would get it fixed. We decided to let them do their job so we left and continued to explore and enjoy all the ship and most of all what the Haven lounge and upper sundeck had to offer. We went back to the room again around 7:00 after sail away and the room really stunk. I again mentioned it to the room steward and he said he would address it before we left for dinner at the Food Republic the housekeeping supervisor came back again and said they would fix it. At this point I couldn't even stay in the room without my eyes watering and my nose running! Great day was turning "sour" real quick...

 

 

It's been another long work day I will continue more in the morning. Also I am having a hard time posting pictures this is my first review on CC and I can't seem to add pictures any advice would be appreciated!

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Darn, I was really getting into your review, can't wait until tomorrow. Sorry about the smell, it kind of made me sick just reading your description.

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I'm enjoying your review so far. I was also on this sailing as the second leg of our back to back cruise.

 

The only place that I noticed a "sewage" smell on the ship was just outside the front elevator lobby on the starboard side on deck 16.

 

I didn't stay in the Haven. Was your cabin somewhere near to that spot?

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September 10 continued We grabbed an Uber from S Miami Beach to the Port ($15) and got there around 12:30 PM. I knew from following the cruise critic message boards to look to my immediate left after going through security for the Haven Check In area. There were about a dozen people in this waiting area and two NCL Employees checking you in at a small desk. There were refreshments and a few seats also available. There was no need to use the seats or refreshments because within minutes we were checked in, room keys issued and being escorted up to the Haven!

 

I have attached a few shots of the Escape and 3 other ships in port from the balcony of the Marriott Stanton. I would highly recommend staying here pre-cruise especially if you are a Gold Level or above Marriott rewards member. The hotel is very comfortable recently renovated and right on the sand in South Beach! Another cool highlight for the cruise enthusiast is you can easily watch the cruise ships leaving the Port of Miami right from the beach in front of the hotel. I have enclosed a shot taken with an i-Phone from the beach of a ship departing Friday afternoon.

 

Back to the cruise – it took a few minutes to board and a few things struck me, the escort takes you through a check in point that everyone goes through main cabin cruisers and Haven cruisers. However, the Haven cruisers are directed around the line and processed first. You then walk up the gangway after being handed off to another Haven escort that takes you to a crew elevator that takes you to the 7th floor. You get off the crew elevator on the 7th floor and here they have a single elevator in the standard elevator banks roped off for Haven use only. Several of us got on there and were brought up to the 17th floor in the hall way outside the Haven entrance.

 

 

(A side note at 12:30 PM I noticed that the regular check in lines were very short and people were being processed very fast there were even empty check in stations available to main cabin cruisers. From what I saw 12:30 would be an easy time to check in even if not cruising in the Haven.)

 

From there we went in the Haven Lounge area found a seat and Virginia the Haven Concierge (by the way Virginia has taken leave and won’t be on the ship for several months) gave us an overview of what to expect as Haven passengers. Virginia explained that Margaritaville would be free for lunch for Haven passengers on day 1 and that Food Republic would available at a 50% discount to Haven Passengers for dinner night 1. We quickly made reservations for Food Republic and worked with the assistant concierge to get specialty dinner reservations and show reservations moved to times that fit our needs since the times we got before the cruise really didn’t work for us. These changes were made quickly and easily by the Haven Concierge desk and proved to be a very valuable perk of being in the Haven. They were serving some type of Fruit drinks that looked refreshing but we asked the Haven Bartender to add some Vodka to them which he did and the decompression really began! I wish I remembered the name of the Vodka they serve as House Vodka in the Haven Bar, it is only available in the Haven and at first I was concerned that it was rot gut but Martin the bartender went on the explain to me that it was “very fine spirits” and gave me a little history behind the Vodka. Either way I had two of these drinks right away and I drank the house vodka the rest of the week and didn’t bother asking for the available higher end Vodka’s like Grey Goose etc. and all was fine! At this point we went to our cabins and changed into bathing suits. Luggage had not been delivered yet but we were able to change in the room since we carried a change of clothes in a carry on. Note here - that one bag of luggage was delivered about 2:30 PM and the second bag we had didn’t show up until about 5:30 just in time to change for dinner. I gave both bags to the same porter and they both had the Haven priority tags on them. I’m not sure how or why they got separated but it caused a few anxious moments on day 1.

 

Also as noted above I did not check in until about 12:30 and then went to the Haven Lounge and to my room to change before I started to walk around the ship. It had to be at least 1:30 or 2:00 at this point. One of the first things I did was walk into Headliners and I asked if there were still Vibe passes left and was told they were by a crew member directing people to tables in Headliners. I’m not sure how accurate that info is but the Vibe never seemed crowded when I looked into it from the Haven sundeck during the week. So maybe some weeks you don't have to get to port at 9 AM and race to Headliners. Maybe someone who actually went through this process could tell us when Vibe passes actually ran out. Additionally, Vibe passes were available from the Haven Concierge all day on Saturday, so if I needed to I could have got them late on day 1.

 

We walked around all day on the ship enjoyed the overall party atmosphere got introduced to a great vodka based drink by the Haven Bartenders called Judy in the Sky and were having an over all great time. Went to lunch at Margaritaville for Nachos. It seemed as if my Birthday was going to be a truly great day. That is until we went back to the room to check on luggage and realized that a smell we thought was there when we went to change was now extremely strong. I was never able to completely describe the smell but it was a cross between sewage and rotting fish covered in curry!!! This is where Read the Rock begins. Our Butler the Cabin Steward and the Housekeeping Supervisor all "acknowledged" there was a smell but while agreeing with us they kept insisting the room was clean, but remembering Rule Number 1 and maybe at this point in their minds Rule Number 2 they assured me they would get it fixed. We decided to let them do their job so we left and continued to explore and enjoy all the ship and most of all what the Haven lounge and upper sundeck had to offer. We went back to the room again around 7:00 after sail away and the room really stunk. I again mentioned it to the room steward and he said he would address it before we left for dinner at the Food Republic the housekeeping supervisor came back again and said they would fix it. At this point I couldn't even stay in the room without my eyes watering and my nose running! Great day was turning "sour" real quick...

 

 

It's been another long work day I will continue more in the morning. Also I am having a hard time posting pictures this is my first review on CC and I can't seem to add pictures any advice would be appreciated!

 

 

Very detailed review. Looking forward to viewing your pictures.

 

What I do to post pictures is use an alternate photo storage site such as photo bucket. I upload the pictures to photo bucket then share the picture via the url. This way you may post the pictures in original size and photo bucket makes the process easy by offering automatically the sharing url to copy and post in CC.

 

Cheers

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Thank you for your detailed review. I really appreciate it!

We are sailing on the Escape in the Haven in July to celebrate my 50th birthday. Leaving the kids at home, YIKES lol, and just my dh and me.

I am really looking forward to seeing your pictures and hearing all about the ship.

Were you on the Port side or Starboard. We are sailing Western.

This is the first time I have read that Margarittaville is open for free for Haven guests on the first day. I may give that a try although we do like lunch in the Haven by the pool but I guess we can do that all week.

 

Thanks so much!

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This is the first time I have read that Margarittaville is open for free for Haven guests on the first day.

 

I think that may be sailing-dependent on if they do anything like that. ;)

 

Much of the week it was really, really empty there (I ate there for lunch each day). So, maybe they were trying to get people excited about the food there (and spread people out a bit to make it less crowded - for example, in the Haven itself)?

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I think that may be sailing-dependent on if they do anything like that. ;)

 

Much of the week it was really, really empty there (I ate there for lunch each day). So, maybe they were trying to get people excited about the food there (and spread people out a bit to make it less crowded - for example, in the Haven itself)?

 

Thank you! I guess you enjoyed it since you ate there each day LOL

What side of the ship were you on and did you do Eastern or Western.

Thank you.

 

Can't wait!

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Thank you! I guess you enjoyed it since you ate there each day LOL

What side of the ship were you on and did you do Eastern or Western.

Thank you.

 

Can't wait!

 

I was in an H6 - Port Side - Deck 11. It was the Eastern Itinerary. Sometimes the Haven itself can be....boisterous... ;) :D - so I love the aft corners.

 

And, I had the Fish Tacos, Fish Sandwich, Quesadilla, 2 x Cheesburger and 2 x BBQ Cheddar Burger. I enjoyed all of them. Hard to choose (but, I rarely eat burgers, and that's a big cruise-thing for me to enjoy). Staff there was really sweet.

 

I know someone indicated that it was crowded/busy; but that could be a timing function. I only got coffee there super-early and probably had lunch 12/12:30pm. Maybe that's why I never saw a lot of people there?

 

Enjoy!

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