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danny6514

December 16th Escape Quick Review

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Introduction

 

About 2 weeks before sailing, my girlfriend, my sister, and I decided to book a last-minute cruise on the Escape, sailing from Miami to Falmouth, Georgetown, Great Stirrup Cay, and Nassau. For this sailing, they didn't charge 200% for single occupancy, so my sister got her own room for the price of 1 person! I'll admit it, part of the me wanted to book 3 cabins for the same price, but I didn't ;p. My girlfriend and I originally booked a Balcony (BF) but later got upgrade to Spa Mini Suite (M9, 15762) through the bidding process. I've always heard that Spa Mini Suite was its own bidding category, but we bid on the normal Mini Suite and got this. It was a very very pleasant surprise! My sister went from Oceanview Guarantee (OX) to Mid Ship Mini Suite (MC, 10834) also through the bidding process. Again, a very nice upgrade!

 

Flight from Vancouver to Miami (Rant about American Airlines, skip if not interested)

 

Due to the insane Christmas flight prices, we were forced to go with not only a red-eye transfer flight, but also fly to FLL instead of MIA. Our flight departed from YVR at night, landing at DFW at 5am, taking off again at 7am, and getting to FLL at 11am. Before the trip, the seats for the DFW-FLL leg were all gone already, except for all the "premium" seats. Don't even get me started on just how not "premium" those seats really are. Anyways, I opted for not paying for those seats as it said I will be assigned a seat at check-in. When we got to YVR for check in, we were given the boarding pass for YVR-DFW, but for DFW-FLL, we were given the infamous "Priority Verification Pass", which is basically their way of saying "Oops we overbooked." I went an agent at YVR and asked what's going on, they actually admitted they overbooked the flight and I'll have to race against the others to get a seat once I land in DFW. But hey, on the bright side, they said I only need to beat 2 people! Since that's the number of seats they overbooked. After seeing the United fiasco a few months back, it suddenly hit me that I could be the one left at the terminal now and miss the cruise. As an act of desperation, I gave in and opened my AA app to purchase those "premium seats". But since the app believes only Americans go on their flights, that was the only option given for entering my billing address. We all know how that would turn out for Canadians. I then went to the gate agent and asked I could give them money, but nope, she said that even though they're up for sale at this point, I can't buy them! She didn't give me a reason other than "just get to the gate earlier at DFW". That really translated to "we could help you, but nah, just go take your chances." Fast forward to DFW, after we landed, we raced to our gate, but long and behold, there was no agent. I tried to use the machines around the gates to see if I can pick a seat, but instead of the Priority Verification Card, I get a "You have been placed on stand by" pass! So I ran down the terminal in hopes of finding an agent somewhere at 5am. Finally, I found an agent, but she said she can't help me other than to go to the customer service desk. Again, no one there. Nerve-wrecked, I waited until an agent finally showed up at our gate 20 minutes before boarding, and guess what she had? 3 boarding passes for us. PHEWF! Back in 2015, during a snowstorm, I was trapped at DFW for 17 hours, barely making my cruise, never thought that could *almost* happen again.

 

Embarkation

 

I have always known NCL uses 2 terminals at Port of Miami, but I never knew who gets which terminal. But since we have two cabins on decks 10 and 15, we found out that odd-numbered decks go to Terminal B while even-numbered decks go to Terminal C. Not sure if this holds true for all sailings, but for ours, it was like that.

 

We got to the Port of Miami at around 12:30pm, just in time for registered time on edocs. My sister went to Terminal C while my girlfriend and I went into Terminal B. Again, there is the usual line out of the terminal, but it wasn't bad at all and we were in the terminal within 15 minutes. After we passed security and went to the check-in hall, as expected, long long lines. It took about 1 hour from that point until we were on the ship. On the other hand, my sister got on the ship within 25 minutes at Terminal C. But oh well, it's the pain everyone has to go through before vacation starts, all worth it for sure! Other than the long lines, everything went pretty smoothly and soon we were onboard on the beautiful Escape! First stop, Garden Cafe! Yes, I'm a sucker for buffet, even if it's crowded :D.

 

Will continue...

Edited by danny6514

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Looking forward to hearing more. I and the Boss will be on the Escape in March, so the detailed review is great!

 

-Rat

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A photo of the Escape as we were boarding!

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Cabin

 

Our home away from home for the week was a spa mini suite, cabin 15672. I've seen a lot of Balcony vs Mini Suite talk before this sailing, and I've always felt mini suite is not worth the upgrade from balcony prior to this sailing. But thanks to the upgrade, I had a chance to try something I would have never otherwise tried. After staying in it for a week, I now feel if the cost difference is not big, it is definitely worth it! The sofa and bed area I actually couldn't tell much difference from a balcony room, but the washroom and balcony are the two places I could definitely tell the difference!

 

The washroom had a large sink for two, which was really nice when we had to brush our teeth, etc in the morning and at night! The shower area is considerably larger and the space is something I didn't even know I needed! It is my girlfriend's first time cruising (very spoiled for first time cruiser) and she definitely appreciated the extra space after seeing pictures of washrooms from other cabin type or other ships. The shower also came with those spa jets, I personally didn't use them as I find them rather strong and almost painful to use. Aside from physical differences, this cabin also came with special shampoo/conditioner/body wash in addition to the ones in the dispensers. I do not know my shampoo and body wash brands, but I'll just trust those are good brands :D:D

 

The balcony was about 37.5% larger than a standard balcony, and I could definitely tell the difference. Last time when I stayed in a balcony stateroom, After sitting down, I find myself feel slightly trapped, but in this balcony, I feel I could actually move. It's definitely not a huge balcony, but more than sufficient for sure! Since this is top deck balcony, we did have that roof thing cover our sky slightly, but that really didn't bother us, except for the times when I tried to take a photo and the roof would cut into my photos :(. One thing that's specific to the Escape though, where are the lights??? I remember on the Getaway there were lights for the balcony, but Escape didn't have anything.

 

Location wise, the cabin is located very near the forward elevators as well as the spa right upstairs. We found the location to be very convenient! To access to the pool deck or buffet, we just needed to walk up the stairs and it will only be a short walk away. Whereas my sister was on deck 10 and she had to take the elevator no matter where she went. As wonderful as this cabin is, it did have some downsides to it. As others may have already noted, this cabin is located right below the pool deck, hence, loud stomping and heavy bass music were very audible. During the day, it didn't bother us, but at night, I had pretty bad sleep the first night because of it. At around 5am, we could hear quite clearly chair dragging and banging go on for quite a while. Other nights we could hear the high pressure washer cleaning the floor, all in all, the noise was quite bad. We did bring the issue up to guest services on the second day and they reassured they will have that looked into. Starting the second night, the chair noise reduced, but the high pressure washer was still there. Props to NCL for atleast listening and trying to fix the issue! After all, they do have the clean the ship and there isn't exactly a better time to do it. But for other light sleepers like me, do think carefully before booking a deck 15 cabin.

 

The cabin also came with free thermal suite access, which was really really nice! More on that later...

 

Photo of our cabin and the view from it!

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Dining

This cruise we ate at 5 specialty dining restaurants and the buffet for 2 nights.

 

Teppanyaki

 

From my previous cruises, this has always been my favourite specialty dining restaurant. Not only is the food superb, they always put up a great show. On our last cruise on the Getaway, our chef even started folding origami for us after our meal and showed us photos of his family back in the Philippines, it was a great experience. Back to the Escape, this time, I ordered the Asuka combo, which comes with filet mignon and jumbo shrimps. The filet mignon did come out almost fully cooked even though I ordered medium, so that was a slight disappointment. However, the service was still great, the jumbo shrimps and all the other foods were yummy, and most of all, I came out STUFFED. When they portion the food such as the fried rice, it feels like they just cook +4 people's worth of food so people can get seconds later.

 

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It was also here we witnessed the first of the two marriage proposals onboard! After the chefs were all done with cooking, they all gathered around a couple sitting across us and started singing, then shortly after, the man got on his knees, and she said yes! Good for them

 

Cagney's

 

Booking this place was HARD. The only times I would see this restaurant turn yellow on the wall machines was when the reservation time has either passed or coming up shortly. Prior to the cruise, we made a reservation at 9:45pm (I think) but by 7:30pm we were starving already. Just to take our chances, we went to Cagney's and asked if there was an earlier time available, and surprisingly, she said 8pm. Lesson learned: always go ask at the restaurant, the machines on the wall are NOT accurate.

 

For starters, I ordered the shrimp cocktail, my girlfriend and sister both ordered the pork belly. The shrimp cocktail was great, very cold and fresh. The other two said the pork belly was really good too, just a tad salty.

 

For entrees, I order a medium Ribeye steak with brussel sprouts. The Ribeye steak was cooked to perfect medium, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm a huge fan of brussel sprouts, and they were pretty good here too! I just wish they had more of these in different restaurants.

 

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My girlfriend ordered the sea bass with onion rings since she's not a huge fan of steak. She said the fish was fresh and it was pretty good.

 

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Last but not least, my sister ordered a medium-rare Filet Mignon. When the food came, it was too cooked for her liking and the server did not hesitate to bring it back to be remade. Here's the surprisingly part, the new rare steak came in literally 3 minutes. Literally. Wow. Whenever I hear them say "I'll get that remade for you", I take it as wait another 15-20 minutes. But 3 minutes, now that's speed.

 

Finally, we all finished off with seven layer cake for all three of us. I loved how as our server was taking our dessert order, he said "okay 7 layer cake for the miss, 14 layer cake for the other miss, and 21 layer cake for the mister! 21 layer cake coming right up." :D

 

Some other random photos of Cagney's that night

 

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More on the others soon...

Edited by danny6514

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Since I reached max image in my last post, here's a photo of the Mudslide that my girlfriend got at Teppanyaki :'):')

 

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Sorry I must have messed up the photos, but I'll try uploading from Tapatalk this time. 53ee697c5c2b962a8cf7eaf782f96f2b.jpg75b6c36b1f1a886da044f204262d8fd9.jpg668d0f14d5a207f1f6c202f858f84d48.jpg67f26d75307f9b6d12baac2dde362b3f.jpg

 

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk

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Sorry I must have messed up the photos, but I'll try uploading from Tapatalk this time.

 

Not a problem! Looks fantastic!

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Food Republic

 

Having seen such high reviews for this place, we actually came here the very first night to try it out. When we got there at around 7pm, it was relatively empty with only a few occupied tables. The host greeted us promptly and informed us that the dining package is not accepted. The group infront of us seemed pretty upset about it and stated "so we're paying extra for the dining package and you guys are expecting me to pay extra on top of extra?" Even though I have no problem with paying more for good food, he does have a point...

 

Since we ate a snack in the afternoon, none of us were too hungry, so we only ordered a few items. If I recall correctly, we ordered the black cod skewers, dragon roll, crispy brussels sprouts, and bulgogi tacos. The black cod skewers were marinated really nicely and it was very flavourful. However, the fish did feel slightly undercooked, it almost had that sashimi feel. The dragon roll was decent and came with 8 pieces, on par with what I would frequently see at restaurants back at home. The crispy brussels sprouts was a disappointment. Even though the flavour was good, it was very very bitter and left a pretty bad after-taste. I'll likely order it again next time hoping that it was just a one off since I really do like brussels sprouts. Lastly, I didn't have any of the bulgogi tacos so I can't say much about it, but the two girls said it was good.

 

La Cucina

 

Remember in my last post I stated how the reservation machines aren't accurate? We tested our theory again and walked up to La Cucina well before our 9:30pm reservation time and was told to come back at 8:30pm, and that's exactly what we did. Again, when we arrived, we were promptly seated and had our drinks ordered. When introducing the menu, the server informed us that we were allowed a 5-course meal with the dining package: 1 starter, 1 pasta, 1 salad, 1 entree, and 1 dessert. Correct me if I'm wrong, but since when did pasta become an appetizer? (Not complaining) I asked the server that question in a joking way and he replied "oh it's because the portions are smaller." Believing him, I ordered the 5-course meal he said we were entitled to:

 

Starter: Calamari

Pasta: Linguine Cioppino

Salad: Caesar salad

Entree: They had a special angus steak, so I ordered that, medium.

Dessert: Tiramisu ofcourse :D:D:D

 

Boy was it a terrible mistake for ordering all that, I was so stuffed I couldn't finish my food. I felt pretty bad for wasting but the last thing I want to do on a cruise is to pack leftover food. I'm sure you guys all know what I mean ;)

 

Overall, everyone was really happy with everything we ordered except the special steak I ordered. I've read somewhere in another review that NCL uses the same meat for all restaurants except Cagney's. Having just ate Cagney's the day before, the quality of meat tasted quite different and was more aligned with the steak served in the MDR. But back on the positive side, the tiramisu was REALLY good. It was very flavorful, if not the MOST flavorful tiramisu I have ever eaten. I would not hesitate to come back to this restaurant in the future and happily use one of my SDP credits.

 

Moderno

 

On a previous cruise, this place was my least favorite place to dine of all places. But since my girlfriend really wanted to try Brazilian BBQ, I decided to give this place another try. Unfortunately, it was just as disappointing as my previous visit here. The meat was either too salty or too dry, and the only food I liked were the salad bar and the chicken. Overall, I believe this place is not worth the money and definitely not worth the SDP credit considering it's likely the cheapest of all the specialty restaurants at $24.95pp.

Edited by danny6514

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Dragon roll at Food Republic

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"Appetizer-sized" Linguine Cioppino

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Appetizer sized Gnocchi

627b9db8be7328b3e0cd52467e545f59.jpg

 

The special steak offered that sailing

68864b035beb7e0ae138018e08dd9e62.jpg

 

The shrimp pasta entree my girlfriend got

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The Ship

 

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

 

Thermal Suite

 

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

 

 

  • A very large heated therapeutic pool
  • Steam room
  • Sauna
  • A variation of sauna with humidity or something? Sorry I forgot the name.
  • Snow room (yes, you read that right, snow)
  • Salt room
  • Abundance of heated loungers
  • Showers at every corner
  • A GREAT view facing forward, right above the bridge
  • Fruit-infused water, tea, oranges, etc

We visited the thermal suite everyday and the most people we ever saw in the heated pool at the same time was probably 5. (Add another 0 at the end for the amount of people near the main pool outside :evilsmile:) We never had any trouble getting the heated stone loungers for all 3 of us, and even got the big circle beds 3 times even though there were only 2 of them in total. The entire place is pure serenity, while lying down, all you would hear is the sound of water splashing down in the pool. There was one occurrence when someone talked very loudly and his voice echoed all over the thermal suite. Eventually someone had enough and went over to "SHHHHHHHH" him. So, you can definitely expect quietness here :).

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Edited by danny6514

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Really enjoying your objective review danny. We'll be on the Escape in March with spa access. Keep up the good work!

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Ports

 

Falmouth

 

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

 

Georgetown, Cayman Islands

 

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

 

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

 

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

Great Stirrup Cay

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Nassau

 

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

Edited by danny6514

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Crystal caves:

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1a08136a630287cc71eff1c01d5de2d7.jpg

 

The famous shoe tree:

220f917ad32f343c49e7b90f9d91aef6.jpg

 

Photo of the ships in port that day:

16aec3f5aab0e5ce0e8f1e44651d7e7f.jpg

 

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

2d1301db22c3e84ea6f3330836fb4b67.jpg

 

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Love your honesty in this review ... you tell it like it is.

Question - when and how do you book your tender time?

 

 

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Love your honesty in this review ... you tell it like it is.

Question - when and how do you book your tender time?

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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

 

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Loving your review! We were on the same sailing and I wondered about the lights on the balcony as well. We also couldn't get reservations at certain restaurants and just walked up to LaCucina one night and were accommodated immediately. Agreed with you about the saltiness of certain items at Moderna but we enjoyed ourselves there.

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Did they use the ships life boats for tendering or were the tenders from the island?

QuoteOn our sailing, they used tenders from the islands, big boats.

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Regarding the tendering to Great Stirrup Cay. I was on the same cruise the following week (12/23) and they were definitely doing something different. I tried to book a tender reservation on the in-room TV, but all the times said 12:00 AM. We knew we wanted breakfast before we got off, so I didn't book anything. The next morning we got up at about 8:00 and went for breakfast. At about 8:30, they announced that they were starting to board Group 1. We walked out of Savor and just got into the crowd going down the stairs. They didn't stage anyone in the Theater. We walked down to Deck 4 and there was a line but it was moving at a pretty good clip. We went through security and they scanned our cards and, to our surprise, said have a nice day! We proceed to board one of two large tender boats and we were on the island by 9:15. Nothing was open yet, but we claimed our clam shells and settle in for a nice day on the beach. By 2:00 we had enough and meandered back to the tender dock, where we got on a waiting tender and we were back on the ship by 2:45 and in the Thermal Spa by 3:00. Guess we just got lucky!

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Regarding the tendering to Great Stirrup Cay. I was on the same cruise the following week (12/23) and they were definitely doing something different. I tried to book a tender reservation on the in-room TV, but all the times said 12:00 AM. We knew we wanted breakfast before we got off, so I didn't book anything. The next morning we got up at about 8:00 and went for breakfast. At about 8:30, they announced that they were starting to board Group 1. We walked out of Savor and just got into the crowd going down the stairs. They didn't stage anyone in the Theater. We walked down to Deck 4 and there was a line but it was moving at a pretty good clip. We went through security and they scanned our cards and, to our surprise, said have a nice day! We proceed to board one of two large tender boats and we were on the island by 9:15. Nothing was open yet, but we claimed our clam shells and settle in for a nice day on the beach. By 2:00 we had enough and meandered back to the tender dock, where we got on a waiting tender and we were back on the ship by 2:45 and in the Thermal Spa by 3:00. Guess we just got lucky!

 

Just curious...were there any other ships sharing the island with you? The Sky was also at GSC during the week of 12/16/17 - hence the slow tendering process.

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Just curious...were there any other ships sharing the island with you? The Sky was also at GSC during the week of 12/16/17 - hence the slow tendering process.

 

No other ships for us. That island must have been packed if two ships were using it.

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Did they use the ships life boats for tendering or were the tenders from the island?

 

The tenders were from the island. I was wondering why we couldn't use the lifeboats like how some other ship (ie. MSC Divina) was.

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Danny6514,

Thanks for a great review! We will be going on the Escape for the first time in March with my two boys. We haven't sailed with NCL in about ten years so many things are new to us that I'm reading about. The Crystal Caves tour sounds really interesting. Did you book that through NCL ? Or with a tour guide who you found once you docked? Also, did you find that there was a lot of walking involved doing the Discover Atlantis tour? My nephew is coming also and he has mobility and heat intolerant issues.

Thanks for your help!

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Thank you for the great review! Can't wait to be back on the Escape in a couple of weeks!

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Danny6514,

Thanks for a great review! We will be going on the Escape for the first time in March with my two boys. We haven't sailed with NCL in about ten years so many things are new to us that I'm reading about. The Crystal Caves tour sounds really interesting. Did you book that through NCL ? Or with a tour guide who you found once you docked? Also, did you find that there was a lot of walking involved doing the Discover Atlantis tour? My nephew is coming also and he has mobility and heat intolerant issues.

Thanks for your help!

 

NCL didn't offer the crystal cave tour so we booked online with Majestic Tours (http://www.majestictours.ky/tours). At Atlantis, the whole tour was walking, but mostly within the resort. There were some stairs here and there, but nothing overly tiring.

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