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NCL Escape Review 9/23

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About us: DH and myself are both 51 and recent empty nesters from West Michigan. This was our 16th cruise, 4th on NCL, 1st time on the Escape (but definitely not the last).



I booked this cruise in March 2016. We had a Cruise Next deposit to use by October 2017 so we did a lot of research and booked early to take advantage of lower rates and great room selection. It was originally an Eastern route but Irma caused us to go Western. This was ok with us as we choose this cruise for the ship and not the ports. A good thing since we did the Western route last year with kids on Carnival Dream and are doing Cozumel again in 3 weeks on Carnival Fantasy.



We chose room 11896, a rear facing angled balcony. In doing my research I had found that loungers could be asked for in these rooms so that was a definite plus for me, especially since they were the same rate as a regular balcony room. As a balcony lover I was really looking forward to this. We chose the 4 meal SDP and UBP as our promos and our TA gave us $200 OBC. After we booked I watched the price go up by hundreds of dollars and the 4 meal SDP promo got dropped to a 3 meal SDP. I was glad we booked 18 months early.



We got some really cheap airline tickets in April from DTW to FLL RT($175 ea.) on Delta (along with 2 free checked bags with our Delta Am Express). I got a great rate as a HHonors member at Embassy Suites MIA. We used JMS shuttle with other CC members from FLL to MIA and SAS shuttle on the back from MIA to FLL.



More to follow...

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Room: We loved our angled balcony room. I called our room stewardess as soon as we arrived and requested a lounger. Oh oh, she said that they don't do that and that the loungers don't fit on the balcony. I was polite and explained to her that in my research I had read that they did do this for angled balconies upon request and that I had seen pictures of the loungers on the angled balconies. She again said they didn't do it and that she would have to follow up with her supervisor. She had no answer for us later that night or the next morning when she made up our room. I wasn't going to argue with her but it was a huge let down for me as I had been looking forward to having that lounger for 18 months.


We had the Cruise Critic M & G on the first sea day at noon in the District Brew House. I signed in as Warm Breezes and gave them my room number. We had a great time beer and food samples were passed around and the officers introduced themselves. I didn't say a word about my earlier disappointment with the lounger but low and behold when we returned to our room a couple hours later, I had a lovely lounger on my balcony. Not sure if this was a coincidence or not... We also received chocolate covered strawberries a couple times from our Hotel Director...very nice. As a side note on our last port day in Cozumel, our room faced the port for the first time so we were able to see it walking back to the ship. What a surprise to see the balcony directly 2 floors above us also had a lovely lounger sitting on it too.


We did have one other issue with our room stewardess when she forgot to leave us clean towels in our bathroom with the evening service one day. We didn't call her since it was after 11 pm when we got back to our room and discovered it. Not really a big deal since we still had clean pool towels that we used instead. We made sure to let her know the next morning so she didn't think we stashed her towels or something. She apologized and we told her it was no big deal. Other than that our room was always cleaned and spotless and the ice bucket always full.


I spent a lot of time on our balcony in my lounger as DH liked to take afternoon naps in our room that he kept much too cold for me.


I tried to post some pictures but I am having technical difficulties. I will try again later.


More to come...

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Food: The food was excellent everywhere we ate. I used to ding NCL on their deserts but I can no longer do that. Every desert I had was delicious. Here is a recap of where and what we had. Sorry I didn't take any pictures. I have to preface this by saying I am not a huge meat eater. I don't eat steak at all. DH however loves his beef. Most of my reviews of the meat will be his.


MDR: Out of the 3 MDR's we only ate at Taste for lunch on embarkation day and the 2nd sea day . We did not eat at any of them for breakfast or dinner. We did enjoy the 2 lunches we had there and the Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake is my new favorite desert from any cruise.


O'Sheehan's: We ate at O'Sheehans for lunch one day and Dinner two nights. DH loved the Prime Rib and Spare Ribs.


Specialty Dining: We receive the 4 SDP promo and after much research we decided to go to Cagney's 2x where DH had a huge Prime Rib the first night that he said was the best he ever had and the Surf and Turf the second night which he also enjoyed very much. I had the Pork Chop the first night. It was cooked to perfection and very delicious. I had the Fisherman's Platter the second night. The crab cake was very good. We had Moderno's for the other 2 dinners. While DH enjoyed all the meat offerings, my absolute favorites there were the Brazilian Cheese Rolls and Pineapple.


Garden Cafe Buffet: We ate here for every breakfast, many lunches, and one dinner. We liked everything we tried. By heading to the back of the buffet we avoided many of the larger lines. There were no waits at the omelet stations in the back and they were very good. I especially enjoyed the chicken fingers with honey mustard sauce, macadamia praline ice cream, the omelets, and the chocolate cruisants. On a few of the mornings I went up and just got a bunch of danishes, toast, and cruisants and brought them back to our room to enjoy on the balcony for breakfast with some mimosas. Life was great.



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Entertainment: We saw a few comedian shows in Headliners and the show they had in the Escape Theater. All were very good. We went to see Howl at the Moon a few times and would have enjoyed seeing more of them but every time we were there it was standing room only. While we liked the genre for the Brat Pack...it was our generation music, I found the acting and singing to be below my expectations. On the other hand, while After Midnight was was not a genre we particularly enjoyed, the dancing and singing were excellent. I enjoyed the band that played at Skyliners while we lost our money at the casino. On that note I did find the Casino to be as smoky as I expected from reading previous reviews. We did see a parts of a few shows in the Atrium. Usually in passing as we sat at the bar to grab a drink. Most shows were standing room only there. We loved the 80's Party. Again that was our generation. We tried to stay up for the Glow Party we were exhausted.and needed to call it a night. Old age was catching up with us.


Drinks: This was our first time with a beverage package. We received the UBP as a promo. I didn't know I could drink so much. We had at least 5 drinks each every day. BBC, Bushwackers, and Miami Vices quickly became favorites for us. We never had to wait more than 5 minutes to get a drink. I thought that was amazing with so many people with the package. The bartenders were flying at times.


Spice H2O: This was our place to go on port days after spending a little time at the ports. Loved the Hot Tubs and Grotto. We would usually spend an hour or 2 here before heading to our room for DH to take nap in our freezing room and I headed out to our balcony to read my tablet...I mean become hypnotized by the ocean and falling asleep in my lounger.


Ports: As I stated before this was supposed to be an Eastern cruise for us but Irma rerouted us to the Western cruise. We have been to these islands many times before but we chose this cruise for the ship not the itinerary so we were not that disappointed. We decided to not do any excursions. We got off briefly at each port (less than hour) and did a little shopping/sight seeing. It was definitely HOT everyday so this may have been a good thing.


We absolutely loved this cruise. It is currently ranked as our favorite ship. DH was afraid he wouldn't like the size as he didn't like the size of the EPIC but I somehow think they did a better job with the layout of this ship. It just didn't feel as big and it didn't seem as crowded as the EPIC did. There were a ton of different venues with things to do all over the ship. We love the Waterfront and watched the sail away from the first 3 ports from there. We watched the sail away from Cozumel from our balcony. We ended up purchasing 2 more cruise next certificates while we were on board for a net amount of $250. That was our only charge on our account at the end of the cruise. I would highly recommend this ship to anyone wanting to cruise and would not hesitate to book her again.


I will post a few more photos and answer any questions you may have for me.

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There was one more comment I forgot to add to this review. Many times on these boards you read about NCL nickel and diming passengers more than any other cruise line. I did not see this anywhere on this ship. the only charges we had on our account when we left was $250 for the Cruise Next Certificates we purchased worth $500. We had a $200 OBC from our TA which covered our DSC and the taxes on our drinks while we were in Miami. We had no need to upcharge any drinks. There were plenty that were included in the package. We didn't even have one picture taken while onboard by the ship photographers. No one asked during our dinners and we just walked around them at the gang planks and walk ways with no issues. Our drinks and specialty dinners were all included with our cruise package. When we checked out the shops or the art gallery there wasn't a hard push to sell us their merchandise. Nothing really interested us this trip so we didn't purchase. Yes we did lose some cash in the casino. More than I wanted to but that is the risk you take when you play and it is part of the entertainment for us. I really didn't feel that bad about losing it as the cash we brought with us was our Rewards money from our Credit Cards. I basically lost free money. Any souvenirs we purchased were at the ports and again we used our free Rewards cash for that.

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Thank you for posting your review! It was very helpful. I will be sailing on the Breakaway & was starting to get a little concerned about the crowds, which seem to be a constant complaint from other cruisers. I know the Escape is similar in size, so it made me feel better that you said it didn't seem as crowded as the Epic.

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Thank you for posting your review! It was very helpful. I will be sailing on the Breakaway & was starting to get a little concerned about the crowds, which seem to be a constant complaint from other cruisers. I know the Escape is similar in size, so it made me feel better that you said it didn't seem as crowded as the Epic.


It seemed to me that the Atrium could gather a crowd, although we always seemed to find a place at the bar and Howl at them Moon gathered a good crowd. You had to get there early to get a seat there, which we never seemed to do. We never really went to the pool deck so I can't comment on that. We always found space in Spice H20 and the Waterfront when we went there. We never had a wait when we went to the MDR or the theater shows without reservations. The buffet was busy at peak times but we always found a table and less people at the back. It really did seem much less crowded to us though than the EPIC was.

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Sounds like Sean was the hotel director. And yes he gets things done. Escape was our best cruise we've done out of 10.


Great ship and crew!

Actually the Hotel Director was Jovo Sekulovic according to the cards left in our room with the treats. And I agree...great ship and crew.

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