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Coreysgrl06

Let me hear you say yeah! - my escape nov 11-18 review w/ dailies!!!

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Hello fellow Cruise Critics!

I am (unfortunately) back from my Escape cruise. I keep trying to use my room card hoping my balcony and drink package will magically appear again but oh well here we go! This is my first extensive review so bare with me. I lived on Cruise Critic for the past year researching for my cruise and trying to get every little morsel of info I could. Let me introduce myself...

My husband and I are in our early 30's with two little monsters. We are from the East Coast and couldn't wait to escape the cold and feel that Miami heat. We were celebrating our tenth anniversary with 3 other couples. One couple was also married on the same day, same year. The second couple just celebrated their first year anniversary. And the last couple, we met them for the first time through mutual friends have also been married for ten years. So it was a week of celebrating.

I swore off Norwegian after our last cruise on Epic eight years ago. I hated our room, the food and entertainment, in a nutshell. But....after looking at Escape online I was intrigued.

FRIDAY 11/10

FLIGHT- The best deal I found for flights was on Southwest. For the two of us it was $487. But we had to fly into Fort Lauderdale. So i downloaded Uber and Lyft to get us to Miami where we were staying.

This was my first time flying Southwest and I loved it. It was super easy to check in. I got in boarding group B. It was surely a different process than I'm using to but I loved being able to pick my seats and have two free checked bags. We had no problem finding a seat together. I was intent on getting my window seat and it was easy! We got our customary half a can of soda/juice and a small bag of honey roasted peanuts and Wheat Thins. Not much but it was free so I'm not complaining. I totally recommend Southwest.

So while my husband waited for our bags to come out of baggage claim I was searching my phone for an Uber or Lyft. I hadn't used either before so i was going to use my first time code on either. Most times Lyft was about $5-$8 cheaper so we only used Lyft that first day and night. It was $41 to get to Miami. Our Lyft driver scared the crap out of me. I feared for my life the entire ride. He was a TERRIBLE driver. He almost hit a car and the guard rail during our lovely trip to the hotel. I made sure to leave a nice little review for that ride.

Now our HOTEL...I searched quite a bit and settled on the brand new Hampton Inn Miami Airport East. It just opened October 28th. It is directly across from the Miami Airport so it would've been nice to fly into that airport but I like to save money. The hotel is nice new and most importantly clean! The staff is friendly and helpful. We checked in easily and got a room on the top floor (5th floor). We had a view of the next door hotel which is the Hyatt Place. The room isn't initially impressive. Typical Hampton Inn room. The bathroom was nice, a little narrow but good for two people.

The breakfast in the morning was good. I always look for a place that has free breakfast, one less thing to think about. I'm glad i did in this case because there wasn't anything within walking distance. The hotel is right off a major road and it's very busy. The hotel does have a shuttle that will take you to restaurants (fancy or fast food) within a three mile radius but they said it goes from 4pm-11pm. Doesn't make sense to me. We reserved their shuttle to get to the cruise port. Make sure you do that asap before it fills up. The other thing that didn't make sense to me is the availability of the shuttle. They only over 9:45am or 12:45pm shuttles. We reserved 9:45pm because we were due to be at the port at 10:30am. Even though we were outside on time the first shuttle filled up quickly. So we waited about three minutes and another shuttle pulled up and took the rest of us. We were about fifteen minutes away from the port.

I would stay at this Hampton Inn again. Beds were super comfy and it wasn't congested. No major issues.

To get aorund we used Lyft liberally. We went to the nearby Walgreens. We both needed sunglasses and gum. My husband needed a travel cologne and I needed tape for our cruise tags. I bought the Cruise Critic tags but they wouldn't stay so i put tape around the tag to keep it in place. That Lyft trip was $6 each way. Super easy.

NIGHTLIFE- That night we met up with our friends at a rooftop lounge called Rooftop at Eleven. One of our friends discovered it. There are multiple signs on the highway saying it's open 24/7. The Lyft ride cost $11 to get there. We had never gone to downtown Miami so we were excited. I'm from New York so I'm not fazed by much. But if you're not a city dweller you might be a little nervous going into this part of Miami. There were a lot of homeless people. A lot of garbage and dimly lit streets. It was the glossy pretty side of Miami. Our Lyft driver dropped us off in front of the building even though it was clearly not the correct entrance to use. It was raining but we got out anyway since he was so insistent. One of the men roaming the streets actually helped out and told us to go to the back of the building. That was where we should've been dropped off. :rolleyes:

You can reserve tickets to get in if you want but they aren't necessary and they are free.

So we go up to the rooftop. It's beautiful. Despite rain it was covered and not cold. We were led into the restaurant that's on the rooftop and it's also beautiful. They have small plates (tapas) on their menu. It's overpriced but everything was so good. You're going to pay anywhere from $14-25. I noticed all the waitresses were wearing tiny outfits but I ignored it and just thought "Hey we are in Miami!' More on that in a bit...

Ambiance was great. Drinks were amazing and strong! The cooking area is open which was cool. They had a lot of TV's around with sports. The staff was really cool and helpful and very flirty.

So the waitress says she's going to comp our entry into the lounge/club section on the first floor. We thought that was really cool. We got a personal escort by one of the bouncers to the first floor. We walk in and the smoke hits you first. It's thick and strong. Then we start noticing it's mostly men around. And no typical "club music". Then we start noticing girls dressed in bathing suits (more like string taped together) and then there's a pole in the middle of the floor with a young lady dancing around. I looked at Yelp prior to this visit and saw nothing about strippers. And no one ever said anything to us. They must've thought we knew what we were in for. We quickly exited and laughed the whole way out. Our night ended with an epic round of UNO and setting the alarm for tomorrow.

More to come later...

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The 2 free luggage with SW is really a come on. Never felt overpacking when we started flying SW. Will be following along.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Sorry for the delay but life with kids happens...I have to say depsite all the mention of freestyle cruising this was the least freestyle for me. Call me a nerd but I did make a basic spreadsheet detailing our entire week. I had to in order to keep up with all my dining and entertainment reservations. We had a group of 8 so I had to make changes on the ship the first day so that spreadsheet was a life saver. But how about we get to the boat?

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SATURDAY 11/11- We were up early, had our breakfast and were downstairs in time for our shuttle. After a little wait we arrived to the port at 10:15am. We needed to be in Terminal B but B and C are within walking distance. We dropped off our bags to the porters, tipped them. My husband at the last minute decided he didn't want to carry his duffel bag around the ship so we asked for a tag and the porters have plenty. And yes our bags were successfully delivered to our room. We got on a short line, got in the building, made our way through security, filled out our medical forms and got on line. Two years ago we left out of Fort Lauderdale and we were stuck on long lines with no organization. This time beginning of Miami was a breeze. We were at a representative's desk maybe within five minutes. We went upstairs and received boarding group 9. No we were not in the survivors race to get Vibe. We took our picture, sat and waited until 11:30am when our number was called! Again everything was easy. We walked on to the ship greeted by a DJ and our beloved Washy Washy lady dancing next to him. I did miss walking into a grand atrium like I have on last cruises but it wasn't a big deal. They had balloons set up as you walk in. You walk into Deck 7 right in front in front of the Escape theater. We went to the Garden Cafe to have lunch. It wasn't as crazy as most make it seem. It is true that if you walk to the back of the buffet you'll find seats easier and that's also where the bar is so Win Win!!I

Next up first meal...

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So Lyft was cheaper? I have to make the trip from FLL to Port of Miami this weekend.

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So Lyft was cheaper? I have to make the trip from FLL to Port of Miami this weekend.

 

Yes consistently cheaper. I️ waited until going back to Newark to use my first time Uber code.

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So Lyft was cheaper? I have to make the trip from FLL to Port of Miami this weekend.

My son prefers using Lyft over Uber. Definitely cheaper.

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Yes consistently cheaper. I️ waited until going back to Newark to use my first time Uber code.

 

 

Thanks for the info. Enjoying the review.

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GARDEN CAFE- We didn't have any interest in having our first meal in any of the dining rooms. I didn't notice any staff forcing you into the buffet like past reviews have mentioned. They only suggested it. We automatically went there for lunch. A lot of people but not super hectic. One of the reviews I read mentioned going to the back of the ship for better seating in the buffet and that was consistently accurate. I did like the setup of the buffet. If you keep walking in a circle you will find the same food on the other side. The lines were never terribly long or slow. Also there were staff set up at certain points to act like traffic cops. In the mornings if the omelet station was getting backed up they would kindly ask you to walk down to the next line to keep things flowing nicely. I didn't encounter many people trying to cut in just to get one item. If it did happen the person was polite and at least said excuse me. I don't know if it was just my sailing but we encountered so many nice individuals sailing with us. There was one tiny issue but I'll get to that later.

The breakfast selection was amazing every morning. So many options for everyone. The lunch selections at times were underwhelming but we always found something to eat. We surely didn't go hungry on this cruise. My favorite thing was chicken fingers and honey mustard. They were always so good and they would disappear quickly. Also the chocolate chocolate chip cookies and regular chocolate chip cookies during the snack hours were to die for. The ice cream was watery so we didn't enjoy it at the buffet. It was much better in the main dining rooms.

Each day they typically had an Asian station, Indian station and Grill selection in the buffet. I can't remember all the specific offerings from each day.

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PROMOTIONS- We had pre paid gratuities, ultimate beverage package and a $50 onboard credit. When we got to our room we had our complimentary bottle of sparkling wine which taste like beer mixed with wine (yum...not).

This was our first time having a beverage package and we loved it! The bartenders were mostly generous with their pour. The drinks were almost always amazing. I loved the Mr. Worldwide and Dale. The mimosas with breakfast in the morning were wonderful as well. Most bartenders were friendly. I found in the Skyline Bar and Atrium it took quite a while to be acknowledged and get a drink. It seems almost everyone has the same package so I understand it may be overwhelming to get all drinks done quickly. Again this did not ruin my trip. It just required a little patience on my part.

THE SHIP- She's stunning but terribly shaky. I read about the shimmy but this was rough so much so that on our last day Great Stirrup Cay was cancelled and we went to Nassau. The waves were rough the entire week. It was funny seeing everyone trying to keep their balance. You'd think it was due to the UBP. The chandelier in 678 Place always caused us to stop and take pictures. It changes colors throughout the day as do the stairs in front of Le Bistro. It's a nice place to get a picture. The theater is small compared to other ships but very nice and seats are very comfortable. There is a bar in the back of the theater and their are waiters who will walk through prior to the start of the show. I noticed only a handful of waiters walking around the pool area. Every area was consistently clean and shiny and new. Even the outside of the ship stood out compared to other ships we were next to that had rust stains and other signs of wear and tear. The Escape is really beautiful, inside and out. The restaurants were also beautifully decorated. We were really impressed with the layout and design.

OUR ROOM- Our room was ready by 1:30 pm. It was room 11274 port side, angled balcony. I would get that room again if I could. I loved having the extra space. It was a little weird being able to see my neighbors from the angled side. We had a view below of the life boats and partially of The Waterfront. I could clearly see the water below and even spotted a dolphin on our way to Mexico. Soon after we got into our room, our wonderful room steward knocked on the door to introduce himself. I know many have complained that they never saw their room stewards but ours was very visible as were the stewards our friends had. We saw Sulihin every morning and evening. He would regularly call out to us by name and ask how our day was going. We really enjoyed him. Our room was always clean.We only requested ice daily and he made sure it was there. And he emptied our mini fridge for us. We had cute towel animals. My favorite was the monkey hanging from the shelf above our bed. I felt like we had adequate storage by the bed, shelf above the bed, two cabinets with shelves, two drawers under the sofa, our closet and a shelf over the counter. We had a lot of stuff but everything fit neatly. The amount of shelf space in the bathroom was the best ever. I loved the space in the bathroom and the shower had a door! The location of the room was great. We only heard a little noise from the pool parties and sailaway party but it wasn't bothersome.

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I set up a folder on Google Drive where you will be able to view all the dailies and any other papers I was able to save.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/10D8Y4QSkG1dLpMuqHzSv8TIgIMnToQZ7?usp=sharing

CONTINUATION OF DAY 1- After lunch we walked around the deck. I was very curious about the infamous pool. So many posts have been dedicated to it. It is small for the amount of people. But they have seats inside the pool where you can put your feet in if you want in addition to the two jacuzzis. Very often the jacuzzis were full but one night we got in around 10:30pm and both were empty. The pool and jacuzzis close at midnight. I wasn't interested in being in the pool so the size of the pool or how crowded it was was not an issue. The one time I noticed it was very crowded was on the day they did the pool challenges with Tyler. Everyone was crowding around the pool and many were in it.

Also the chair situation...on certain days it was very cold and windy around lunchtime so there were plenty of chairs and we didn't have any trouble finding them together. On a sea day when we wanted to try the slides it was harder to find six chairs together so we went up a deck and found two by the jogging track and just put our stuff there. I did think it was odd to see so many chairs surrounding the jogging track. It certainly wouldn't encourage you to jog. It was hard just walking past people. We didn't spend a lot of time during the day sunbathing so I don't know if anyone was chair hogging. I enjoyed my mornings on my balcony.

THE SLIDES- I haven't tried a water slide since first grade but I decided to to try these. I watched so many YouTube videos of people who had their Gopro cameras capturing the experience so I was sold. My husband and his friends tried the drop slide before I did just to see how it was. I was curious but very nervous. My husband said they play Hallelujah right before they drop you. He said he felt like he couldn't breathe until he got to the bottom of the slide because of all the water that rushes up. His friend had a lot of water rush into his ear and he experienced some pain for the rest of the day until he could get the water out. I did not try the drop slide after I heard their experience. I did the other blue slide that has one section where you can see the ocean below you. That was incredible! I laughed the entire way down. Make sure when you sit in the tube your arrow faces front. You might do the entire slide backward unless you'd enjoy that more.

INJURY REPORTS- I kept jokingly calling Escape the ship of doom because we kept seeing people passed out, whether at the port or on the ship and on Thursday there was a code Alpha on deck 12 in someone's cabin. Most were older and not drunk surprisingly. On day one, one of our friends was playing basketball on the sports deck. They went to pick up the basketball and hit their eyebrow on the one pole that was not covered in a protective layer. This led to four stitches. They asked him to take a brethalyzer test which he did because he hadn't been drinking at all that day. Because it had to be investigated his medical center visits were covered. Two days later they changed the dressing and then on the final night they removed the stitches. Yes they did have trip insurance but they didn't have to use it.

WIFI- We didn't have this promo but two of our friends did and the husband said it was very slow but his wife said it worked fine for her. They couldn't use it at the same time. They had issues logging in for the first two days and had to keep going to get help. It was reset for them and that also meant their 250 minutes were reset so they ended up with more minutes than what they originally got with the promo. An unintentional hack in the system.

iCONCIERGE- We used the app just to look at the daily schedule and excursions. It mostly worked just fine. I noticed midway during the week the paper Freestyle Daily and the app didn't match up as far as the daily schedule. I relied on the paper and just carried it around with me. We decided as a group to find places to meet up and call each others rooms to plan for the day instead of paying to use the app for messaging.

PORT BEVERAGE TAXES- I never was charged for them. I looked at my TV regularly for charges while in Miami and they never showed up. It does say on the daily that you'll be charged but we weren't.

TV- We spent enough time in our room to check out the TV and I felt like with the limited channels it was still enough. We watched different movies and my husband ordered one that lasted the whole week. I can't complain about it. We were quite busy on the ship so maybe if you spend a lot of time in your room you'd be bothered by the selection.

RESERVATIONS- On Day 1 after lunch we went down to Deck 6 Headliner's Comedy Club where they had a few of the staff making or changing restaurant reservations. I did make a bunch at the 90 day mark but I needed to change a couple once on the boat which was quick and easy. I would recommend you grab what you can at the 90 day mark especially for Cagney's. We had a group of 8 so I didn't want to leave it to chance. Also Deck 7 forward, Escape Theater is where you make your Escape the Big Top reservation. There are two days that you can pick from, Tuesday or Friday, 8:30p or 10:30p. We did Tuesday at 10:30p.

DAY 1 ENTERTAINMENT- We enjoyed Groove Addiction, a female lead singer with a band, by the pool. At night I went to the Welcome Aboard show hosted by Tyler. I highly recommend this show. It wasn't as packed initially as I thought it would be. I think most came late. It was entertaining and got you pumped for the week. We met some senior staff and got a taste of the main shows. I was so underwhelmed by the Brat Pack show. I thought they were off pitch and super cheesy. One of the characters does warn the audience that the show is PG16. On the other hand After Midnight was incredible in their preview so I was excited to already have my reservation for that show Monday.

We ended our night at the Welcome Aboard Dance Party at Spice H20. The entertainment staff is incredible. They are fun energetic and engaging. We had a great time dancing and talking to them. I'm glad we got out on the dance floor instead of standing there people watching like so many were doing that night. We had a ton of fun. The drinks at the bar there are great and they serve you quickly. We saw the grotto but never got in it. I wish we would've enjoyed it one day that week. Oh well next time...

We tried going to Skyline Bar at 12a but it was mostly the older crowd. We left but later in the week we returned and we were glad we did. More on that later...

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DINING- We had reservations for Taste the first night and Savor the second night. Both restaurants are beautiful and very dimly lit almost to the point where you feel sleepy. The service was slower at Taste. I know from reviews most said dining service is slow and that was generally true. It was a little frustrating even though I knew about it ahead of time. All of the servers we had were very friendly. Drinks were served quickly. The food was mostly good. I wished for a little more variety in the options. I liked that all three dining rooms offered the same thing. So then all you have to do is pick which location you want. You can look on the touchscreen in the hallways by the elevators to see what the nightly menu will be in the main dining rooms or you can of course go to look at the menu by the restaurant entrance. There is a Mixx bar in between the two restaurants but we never went to it. The sliders are amazing as are the crab cakes. Unfortunately I dont have the main dining room menus. I do have some specialty dining menus. I'll upload them shortly.

Late night we went to O'Sheehans. I'm not sure if it was the late time but it was terrible. Maybe if we went earlier it would be different. I was looking forward to the wings. I had Jamaican jerk wings and our friends had the buffalo wings. The flavor was off. The service was horribly slow. Even to get drinks it was slow. We tried to go back for lunch one other time later that week. You can get menus and sit at the high top tables that allow you to look down at the atrium. We sat there for a while without anyone approaching us. We had more than enough time to look over the small menu. We decided to get up and leave and that's when the hostess asked if we were sure we didn't want to stay and order.

Right by the entrance to the pub is a selfie station. So don't forget to take a pic and email it to family and friends.

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I've added the dailies for Days 2 and 3 onto the google drive folder. Also the internet and laundry special fliers are there.

TOUCHSCREENS- You will find touchscreens by the elevators which will help you find entertainment, restaurants, shore excursions, tender boat times and more. I used it a couple times to see how full the restaurants were for the night just in case we wanted to change our current reservation. You could also make your reservation there by picking the restaurant, time desired and then inserting your key card into the wall. We reserved our tender boat time that way as well. It was very quick and easy. Also you can find your own or someone else's stateroom or find your way to other venues using the screen if you were lost. It took a couple days to get a feel for the ship so sometimes the screen helped with finding our way around.

I don't know if I mentioned this earlier but our room had an angled balcony and that I'm not sure I can have a regular balcony again. Having the extra room was amazing. If I said it before sorry but it was the best!

DAY 2 11/12- A sea day and dress up or not night which is basically every night. The Mersey Boys were featured tonight. It was their last week with the ship. We didn't see their show. They performed during the welcome aboard show and I was underwhelmed but it seemed the older crowd was in awe. I heard their show was very popular. Not sure what they are replaced with currently. We also never made it to juggling or any comedy shows and the Howl at the Moon shows. We never made it to any morning trivia or atrium cooking demonstrations. We were just making it to the breakfast buffet before the buffet closed every morning. The football games started on this day and there were a ton of football fans on the ship. Make sure you wear your favorite jersey or hat you will quickly make friends and some "enemies". You could watch games at different locations, just check your daily. Also the games were on our TV. We went by the pool today to watch the frozen tshirt breakout game. I always find these games to be entertaining. It was quite windy so we were able to take our lunch outside and we quickly found many chairs together. So we sat out by the pool and watched the game on the big TVs there. The staff was very good about gathering any plates and cups that mightve blown away. One of the staff even went over to the jacuzzis to get cups that were about to blow away.

I attempted to go to the $10 sale with many other eager vultures i mean cruisers. No one was actually pushy or rude but everyone was very excited for the raffles. I got a beach bag and a clutch. Both were used throughout the week.

PICTURES- This was the first time I didn't encounter pushy photographers. We always take pictures on a cruise and during dinners. It was nice to walk up to them and choose where to take a picture. There were so many locations to choose from. The staff were very friendly and took AMAZING pictures. I like the setup of the photo gallery. Your picture folder number is on your stateroom card. You look through your folder or swipe you card at the screens in the gallery and view your pictures that way. You can resize them on the screen and order them that way. Also on your phone when you connect to the ships wifi you can view your pictures on your phone.

If they are still on the ship you must check out the group Golden Octaves. They are the best cruise band I've ever seen. Usually I'm underwhelmed by the offerings, feeling like I'm listening to a cheesy wedding band but these guys were great! They can sing any genre. We watched them in the atrium before seeing After Midnight.

Now After Midnight was the best show I've seen on any cruise ship, any cruise line. I'm not sure why anyone would walk out on this show. It's not too long and it's entertaining from beginning to end. The cast is super talented. Great singers and dancers. We were cheering and yelling for them the entire time. We got to see the cast around the ship and made sure to tell them how amazing the show was. They were very grateful for the recognition. You can tell they put a lot of heart into the show.

We went to Adult Karaoke at the 5Oclock Somewhere Bar even though a fellow cruiser at the Tobacco Bar told us not to. We walked in anyway and it was super dead in there and the people singing were terrible. That was the last time we bothered going. Unfortunately we didn't get to experience the chocolate cowboy.

Next was the Night Out party which was a ton of fun. Do me a favor when you're on the Escape or any other ship get involved in the party. Don't be the person who stands on the sideline people watching. Get into it and dance with the staff. We even saw people having fun dancing by themselves. My husband won best male dancer at this party. Every fifteen minutes they had a little giveaway, giving away their sparkling wine. We ended up having three bottles which our friends helped us drink because it just doesn't taste that great.

I forgot to mention our friends auditioned to be in the Newlywed Not So Newlywed game. If you were on the ship this week you may remember one man who played Tarzan ripped his shirt open and buttons went flying everywhere. Well that's our friend. They should've been picked to be in the show, but I'm biased. The older couple who were picked instead were so cute. We enjoyed the show and he was known on the boat for the flying buttons.

SMOKE- This wasn't an issue for me. On one day it was worse than on others. I have asthma and allergies but I was able to walk through without issue. It could be better of course. If I were dining at Le Bistro it would stop me from dining outside. We often walked through the casino to get to other locations and the smell didn't stop us from walking through. I noticed from our friends balcony you could see and smell the smoke coming from someone's room.

Day 3 to come...

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We're sailing the Escape on Saturday, and I got an angled balcony for the first time. Will it fit a lounger, or do you still just have the 2 chairs and table setup?

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We're sailing the Escape on Saturday, and I got an angled balcony for the first time. Will it fit a lounger, or do you still just have the 2 chairs and table setup?

 

I don’t know for sure. It probably could closer to the angled side. We didn’t bother asking our room steward. We did have two chairs and a small table

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DAY 3 11/13- Jamaica. This was my first time going to Jamaica. I didn't have a plan to go on excursions. I mostly wanted to get Wifi and check on my kids and just see what the port looked like for myself. I didn't read much that was positive. The port looks like a port that was built by a cruise line. Clean neat and not very authentic. Mostly jewelry stores and liquor and souvenirs. Margartiaville looks very nice and has a small pool. We went there for beers and Wifi and the service was terribly slow. It was odd seeing Nathan's, Quiznos and a Dairy Queen there as well. I felt like it was a waste of a stop. I have no interest in going back. Our friends went to Montego Bay about a half hour away to a beautiful beach and had amazing food.

I forgot to mention our muster drill was in Taste. Surprisingly everyone behaved and was mostly quiet and we didn't have to be scolded by staff. Just the occasional reminder to get off your phone. It was quick without incident. And you could make it up later in the week if you missed it but just get it over with on day one. And no we did not go to the sail away the first day. We were unpacking and I was able to enjoy a little of the music from my balcony.

Back to Day 3. We attempted to check out movie quote trivia but it was so dead. I usually like going to the trivia. This time it felt like people weren't into it.

At night we went to the District Brewhouse for Name that movie trivia and the crowd was loving it. The staff member was fun and good at getting everyone pumped. It's such a cool spot to have a beer. There's a photobooth but it charges you. I think it was $5 and then you can post your picture on the wall. Tonight we went to Food Republic. I was more excited to check this place out than any other restaurant on the ship. It lived up to my expectations and more. We absolutely loved it. I loved ordering on the tablet. The waitress gave us a quick lesson in how everything works. We showed up at 9:30pm even though it closes at 10pm they will take you. They just reminded us to get our last choices in before the kitchen closed but we never felt rushed. You will leave very full despite the fact that they offer small plates. Everything is reasonably priced and easy to split between two people. We had sliders, wings (which were the only things I didn't care for), calamari, shrimp, sushi and more. Our friends teased about how many plates we ordered. But they ended up going back later in the week because they loved it too. I'm excited to see they will have Food Republic on Bliss next year as well.

We tried out the arcade section of O'Sheehan's tonight as we weren't too interested in the Fiesta Latina happening in the Atrium. We were able to look down and see a bit of it. The floor was packed and people were really enjoying the party. We enjoyed skeeball and basketball while that party was happening. The games are priced $1, $1.50 and $2.00. Later in the week I went to the arcade that's by the Sports Complex and wasted $30. It was a lot of fun playing the games.

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DAY 4 11/14- Grand Cayman. This was our first time here as well and I was looking forward to it. We had a tender boat scheduled for 1015am. We made our way down to the theater and down the long hallway and onto our boat. It was a beautiful ride over to the port.There were 5 ships in port that day. I felt a little overwhelmed by the amount of people standing around once we got off the boat. A mix of tourists and shuttle drivers with their signs advertising where you could go. We quickly picked a guy and followed him down one block to his van. He charged $4 per person one way to Seven Mile Beach. We got a little tour of the island and some information about it. It's pretty, clean and not run down at all. As soon as we arrived to Public beach people approached trying to sell you the chairs. So we went with one woman who was not pushy and very pleasant. She works on the beach with her mother grandmother and her little daughter. They were all delightful and helpful. We paid $10 for 2 chairs and didnt't get umbrellas. The water is beautiful and not too rough. There's a playground there and an ice cream truck and a food truck. We opted to order our food at a little setup a family had under a tree on the beach. They offered jerk pork, chicken and fish. It was only $15. You got a lot of food and it was delicious!! They made it fresh so there was a little wait but it was worth it. There's a liquor store about a block away and you can get low prices there if you want to drink on the beach. I would love to go back and visit the island. Unfortunately our driver miscalculated his time and came to pick us up a half hour late. We didn't have enough time to shop around the downtown area. We rushed to get back on the ship.

 

WELCOME BACK- Out of any ship I've ever tried including Norwegian, this was the best welcome back I've ever experienced. I think it's great marketing. You get a red carpet with a DJ playing. The staff dances with you. They have stations set up for water and juice. And my favorite thing was the cool eucalyptus towels. The nearby Princes ship only offered coffee and the older Carnival ship had one small speaker playing sad slow country music. I think it definitely causes ship envy.

 

DINING- We went to Teppanyaki this evening. It was amazing!! We had Jerome as our server. He was quite the comedian. We told him it was our anniversary so he said he had a song for us and then he proceeded to sing Let it Go. He had all of us laughing so hard the whole night. We were super full. The amount of food is crazy. Everything was delicious. The special drinks they have are also very good. We rolled ourselves out of there in search of more entertainment.

 

I really loved how the ship never felt crowded. There are so many spaces for everyone to be. The atrium felt full at times but we learned quickly to get a seat quickly. Otherwise it was standing room only. But the shows were so entertaining that it was okay. Some nights we even sat on the floor if we were near the front. It was a week to relax and go with the flow not find things to complain about.

The escape celebrity dance off was tonight and it was wild! Do not miss it. It's hilarious. One of the male staff even switched clothes with his partner. We had to rush to make it to our reservation for escape the big top so I had to catch the rest of the dance off on our TV.

 

Escape the Big Top......:(. One thing we did complain about...

Also Day 4 dailies are in the folder. I will upload the rest of the weeks dailies today.

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DAY 4 FINALE- Escape the Big Top. We were excited to do an escape room on the a cruise even though you're not literally locked into the room. The challenge is done in the Supper Club. It would be the only time we were in there because we weren't interested in any of the other entertainment offered there. It is a very nice club.

So I won't spoil the game or solution for you. I will say the answer was very obvious and we completely missed it. You have to run around the room figuring out different puzzles and clues in a bag. It was very confusing and we were very motivated but all the groups got it wrong. There were about 4 or 5 groups in the room. I prefer to do an escape room with just one group of people and not have to compete for space with others trying to look at the same puzzle. And then we had to cover our work and whisper so no one else heard our solution.

I admit this was the one time that we were all annoyed and complained but just to each other.

 

DAY 5 11/15- Costa Maya. We were here eight years ago when we were on Epic. We enjoyed it then so I was excited to see if anything had changed and boy was it different. I mean that in a good way. It wasn't very "americanized". It still felt like we were in Mexico. They have a restuarant with a huge pool, a dolphin area, an aviary, a tequila tour with tasting, a Starbucks (of course), your typical stores, pastry shops, liquor, souvenirs, clothing, soap shop, bars, and more. I was impressed. We got great deals and did a lot of shopping. They do have bathrooms in the port. We walked around then to the end of that area and bought shuttle tickets for $3 per person one way to Mahahual. We were in an open air shuttle and took a 15 minute ride to the town. I was never nervous even in the areas that were a little run down. Where they dropped us off looked a little abandoned but we encountered a man who was very informative and looked out for us. We walked across the street and entered into Bar Maya. A open air restaurant with a man singing and playing the guitar. He was very talented. They took us to our table which is right on the beach. The town is about a mile long. We didn't take the time to walk through. We stayed at our table or on the beach and used the Wifi and just relaxed. The man played a nice mix of alternative rock and even some Sinatra. When he took a break a beautiful woman took his place and she was a very talented belly dancer.

 

The beach is very rocky even as you go further into the water. Pool shoes might help but it was a bit uncomfortable. Many people walk up to you trying to sell eyeglasses, beach cover ups, bracelets, cigars and more. If you are easily irritated by something like that then you might want to find another spot to visit. Each seller was not pushy and very friendly. They are willing to negotiate price. We weren't bothered by the constant visits, we just said no politely and they moved on. Also near us was an area you could get a massage for $35. The woman were dressed professionally and you get a massage right on the beach. It looked relaxing but we declined. The beach looks like a postcard. The water was beautiful. Our husbands took advantage of the free kayaks and enjoyed the water. I think there were some other water activities that were free but I can't remember what exactly. Also the man we initially encountered when we got off the shuttle offered us unlimited drinks for the day for $30/person if we were staying long enough. We decided not to go with that offer. We would only be there for 2-3 hours.

The food we had was great. We had chicken quesadilla, fries, platanos, our friends had tacos and a burger. My only word of caution is be careful with their green hot sauce. I asked for something I could put on my quesadilla and I regretted it. My face and ears felt like they were on fire. It was the hottest sauce I ever had. Other than that the food was delicious and reasonably priced. We had enough time to go back to the port and shop some more. There's also a main plaza where they have performances. It's fun to check out the local artists and performers.

 

DINING- We had a 615pm reservation for the Manhattan room tonight. They were featuring their Soulful Love Revue featuring some of the cast of After Midnight. They sang all kinds of soul and Motown songs. It was a wonderful show. The Manhattan room was my favorite restaurant (visually) on the Epic so I had to see it on Escape. I feel like it's more stunning on the Epic with the view but it was very pretty on Escape as well. I agree the music is very loud when the band played. I felt like sometimes it was louder than the singers. But still we enjoyed ourselves. Service was very quick here. The food was okay that night. But it had nothing to do with the restaurant it was just what was offered that night.

Unfortunately we missed the Awesome 80s party. Our late nights caught up to us and we took a night for ourselves and slept for 12 hours. It was glorious by my FOMO kicked in the next morning when I heard how much fun our friends had partying with Tyler and Dave. After that I was determined to make the best of every night for the rest of the cruise.

Day 5 dailies are up on my Google drive.

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DAY 6 11/16- Sea day. Our friends were recovering from their epic night and we were incredibly well rested after our hibernation night. We kept trying to reserve our tender boat for Great Stirrup Cay the next day but we couldn't figure out why no times were available. Later in the day we got the dreaded announcement that because of wind and weather conditions we would be go to Nassau on Friday. I was not excited based on everything I read. Our original itinerary included Nassau and I had always planned on making it another sea day. I can't say I was surprised about our change in itinerary. The entire week the boat was rocking. I don't usually get sea sick but I did bring sea sick meds just in case and I used them a couple nights.

Today we checked out the pool events. Today the pool deck and upper decks were packed with people. It was harder to find chairs together. We watched the ice carving demo and Tyler's Aqua Challenge. Tyler brings so much energy to everything he does on the ship. He had quite the colorful tutu and leggings on for this pool challenge. It was fun to watch. He even had people in the pool doing some line dances with him like the wobble and cupid shuffle. Today wasn't very eventful. We relaxed mostly.

 

DINING- We had a reservation for Moderno this evening. We decided to sit out on the Waterfront for this dinner. Even though the boat was rocking, it wasn't too windy or cold sitting outside for dinner. I really enjoyed the view. Our service was quick and our waitress was wonderful. We were filled with meat and more than content. I just felt like all the meats were seasoned the same and very salty. My favorites was the bacon wrapped chicken and the grilled pineapple. The salad bar wasn't as impressive as many described it. I couldn't find much to get full on. I had some salad bread sushi but that was all. The tabbouleh was great and the shrimp was delicious as well. I loved the cheese bread. I felt the mashed potatoes, rice, vegetables were all wasted. The yucca was yummy. I tried my first caprinha and it was so good.

 

Tonight we went to the perfect couple game show which involves physical challenges instead of just questions like the newlywed game show. Cute show and very brave couples. I think it's something about being on a ship that makes people lose all shame. It's fun to watch. Tonight was GLOW. I was looking forward to this. Most didn't follow the dress code. Here's our second complaint of the week...

So we kept hearing people say it's raining outside but we wanted to see for ourselves. We went out to Spice H20 and it was drizzling then a few minutes later pouring and there was a mad rush to the exit. Tyler announced the location would be changed to the Atrium. So we took the stairs all the way down and waited. The staff did the best they could bringing the fun there. It was just different. I think GLOW is best outside under the stars. The problem we had was all the children. There were not a ton of kids on this sailing thankfully but it seemed they multiplied and all came out for the GLOW party. Of course in Spice its adults only but in the atrium there was no control. My friend almost had someone step on her injured toe. He was in the teenage crowd and he cursed her out when she asked him to move. The dance floor was mostly teenagers who were inappropriate and disrespectful. I didn't feel comfortable partying with these kids so we stood around the edges of the floor even when Tyler and Dave came out to start the party. I knew that Skyline was our other option but all the other nights we passed by it it was full of the older crowd and old slow music. But I suggested we go up and check it out anyway. I had too much energy to call it a night.

Skyline started at midnight so we were right on time. Initially it was all the older ones sitting around but we noticed the after midnight cast dancing together on the floor and they were playing the Mississippi Slide. So we decided to make the best of it and we walked straight to the dance floor and got involved. We had the best time. Eventually all the other adults who had enough of the kids made their way up to Skyline. We heard that at some point they did kick the kids out. There's a curfew advisory on all dailies but we saw kids out later than the imposed curfew.

Anyway DJ Ricci is the best. He definitely catered to the younger crowd and played a great mix of R&B, reggae, hip hop, trap, salsa, bachata and merengue. We loved it all. Tyler made a quick appearance and danced with us around 1am before he quickly disappeared. That man has to sleep at some point!

I believe the lights came on around 2am? I don't really remember.

Day 6 dailies are up on Google Drive. Enjoy! One more day to go....so sad! Take me back to my balcony please!

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So Lyft was cheaper? I have to make the trip from FLL to Port of Miami this weekend.

 

Jiffy Jeff Transportation will pick you up from FLL and take you to the port for $15 each person. They are great.

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DAY 3 11/13- Jamaica. Our friends went to Montego Bay about a half hour away to a beautiful beach and had amazing food.

 

Any idea what beach your friends went to and where they ate? Not finding many options for this port. :(

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SATURDAY, DAY 7 11/17- Nassau...ugh. I was not looking forward to today. Our friends were interested in Atlantis but were deterred by the high prices to visit. Rather than make this a sea day I went with the group and followed what they decided to do. Since we got into port around 11 we had time to start packing our stuff. I wanted to get it out the way early because I wanted to be out as late as I could stand it or stand up straight. Your bags have to be out by 11pm and I didn't want to rush and pack everything at the last minute. We got off the ship before noon and walked into the port. It was just as I expected it, crowded and dirty. We encountered a huge crowd and many people trying to push their way through as we made it to the main gates. It was overwhelming and not enjoyable. It wasn't any better when we got past the gates. The traffic and crowds made things chaotic. We settled on a driver who wasn't pushy and we thought he was taking us to Atlantis beach. I now realize we didn't ask the right questions and make it clear where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. Our friends had been to Nassau before, this was our first time, so they weren't interested in going to Cabbage beach because of all the birds flying around you and the huge waves and pushy vendors. The guy took us there anyway because he heard us say we wanted to go to the free beach. He said we could walk up to Atlantis' beach and be right on the edge for free which was basically true. He said to get on Atlantis' beach they would charge you $70. I don't know if that was per person or not. So we reluctantly got out. We walked up a random hilly street and onto the beach. Immediately the vendors were asking us if we wanted chairs, umbrellas, cigars, drinks in a coconut and weed. It was incredibly annoying and I did not feel safe or comfortable. We took a long walk to the border by Atlantis. We paid about $20 for two chairs and they give you one towel each. The guys we dealt with for chairs were very nice and not pushy at all. But one guy came around and asked if we were ready to have a coconut drink at least 20 times and no I'm not exaggerating. He was incessant. The guys at the entrance warned us not to get in the water because it was too rough. The waves were very high and rough. There was a lifeguard near us who would blow his whistle if you got in up to your calves but he didn't do much else. It was hard to fully relax and it was very cold and windy when the sun went away so not a great beach experience. There were no changing rooms and no food near us. After maybe 2 hours we made our way back and got a shuttle back to the port. We went to one liquor store and then back to the gates. It smelled horrible because of the horses nearby. I was more than happy to get back on the ship.

DINING- Tonight was Cagney's. It is a beautiful restaurant with exceptional service. We received an anniversary card from Norwegian the first day that said bring this to the maitre d and you'll get a cake for your anniversary. We got a cake at the end of our meal as well as a song from the waiters. It was so special and sweet. The food is superb. We enjoyed potato soup, shrimp cocktail and filet mignon. Even the grilled zucchini was amazing. You can see the chef cooking from where you're sitting. We decided to dine inside this time. The Negroni was bitter and strong. It wasn't my favorite drink. We didn't try the desserts because our cake was sufficient. But they did look good.

Tonight we enjoyed Darryl Williams-Mind of a Tenor in the theater. What a show! You have to see this show. Darryl is part of the After Midnight cast and he has a beautiful voice. He is incredibly entertaining. Also some of the cast joins him and even Tyler makes a cameo. Seriously when does he sleep?

At the beginning of the show they show you a highlight video where my husband and some friends were featured in some of the moments. That gave us a good laugh. At the end of the show it serves as a farewell to the staff and our beloved Washy Washy got a nice introduction. This was the first time I remember the staff lined up outside the theater waiting to greet everyone who was at this show. It made you feel appreciated and like part of the NCL family. It was a nice touch.

We went to Skyline for the last time. Some of the After Midnight cast was there again and we had a ton of fun with them. The entire entertainment staff is the best. They work so hard. Again DJ Ricci was playing a great mix of music. Even the older folks were dancing to current music and attempting to twerk. It was cute seeing them out on the floor having a great time. The lights came on at 2 and we said good bye to the staff.

We were not ready to go back into the cold weather the next day.

Day 7 dailies are up. I think I have some specialty menu pictures on my phone. I can upload those if someone wants to see them.

Again here's the link so you don't have to look back through the old posts.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/10D8Y4QSkG1dLpMuqHzSv8TIgIMnToQZ7?usp=sharing

My final thoughts coming up...

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Great info. Thanks for the dailies link! 1 day and 16 hours until Miami is getting smaller behind me. Can't wait.

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Any idea what beach your friends went to and where they ate? Not finding many options for this port. :(

 

I asked my friend and she said montego bay beach but im not sure that's accurate. She ordered her meal on the beach from one of the local vendors.

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