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My Escape to Bermudiful Bermuda – July 2018 – Solo Cruising with a Group

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I’ve been back home in Scotland for nearly 3 weeks and finally getting around to sharing my experience and thoughts on my much anticipated sailing on the Escape to Bermuda.... I think I’ve figured out how to post photos from my phone so here goes...

First a little bit of background...

I cruised for the first time last summer on the Epic in the Med. During the run up to that cruise I spent a lot of time on these forums reading and researching, and I happened to read a couple of live reviews from The Escape. One in particular of these reviews sold me on wanting my 2nd cruise to be on the Escape... before I’d sailed on my first one! This particular review was by CC Member CruiseLifeRick and it led me to joining a great friendly group on a certain Social Media site which I’m not allowed to link to ;););)

As anticipated, my cruise on the Epic had me hooked and almost as soon as I came home, I was researching and considering options for my next one. Every time I logged into the aforementioned group I kept seeing a pinned post about a group cruise that was being planned on the Escape for the following summer.

Within a few weeks, and at exactly one year out from cruise date, I decided to book it. Comparing the prices with the UK site at the time I was going to save approx £250 by booking in the US with the group perks. The other advantage of booking in the US v the UK was that if I changed my mind before final payment, I would be refunded my deposit... this is not the case in the UK. I don’t usually book vacations so far in advance so this was important to me.

 

Fast forward to a few months before the cruise and I booked my flights and hotel accommodation for NYC, getting very good deals for both.

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Pre-Cruise in NYC

I stayed at Kimpton Ink48 for 3 nights prior to the cruise. I was in a Junior Suite which was sold as having “partial Hudson River views” … ahem... I hurt my neck taking this through the small opening in the window...

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Even with the disappointing view, I would recommend this hotel. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful, my room was very comfortable and I did see inside a standard room which was also very nice and quite spacious (I would not pay extra to stay in the Junior Suite again unless I needed the sofa bed). Also the on-site restaurant, bar and rooftop bar are very good. If you are booking this hotel I would suggest you request a room that does not overlook 48th street as there is a noisy rooftop bar and a nightclub opposite the hotel.

Below are photos of my Junior Suite, Sunset from The Press Lounge, and a photo of the Escape taken from the Penthouse Suite if you can afford it!

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Embarkation

One of the reasons I booked the Ink48 was its proximity to the port. I had initially thought I may wish to rush on embarkation day to try for a Vibe pass, but I changed my mind about this and ended up deciding to do the opposite and had a relaxing start to my day. I repacked my luggage, ate breakfast and then walked the 2 minute walk to the port at around 11.30am.

I spent some considerable time in a very long line for check-in, but after checking in I walked straight on board with no hanging around.

I ate a relaxed lunch at Taste before going to meet some of the group up on the pool deck. Our weather for sailaway was very dull, but thankfully the rain stayed off.

 

Lunch in Taste was a nice civilised start to my cruise...

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Rather than do a post per day for the remainder of this trip report, I’m going to group information under various headings to try to keep it simple.

The Ship

I loved the Escape. She’s a beauty! There are a few things I thought were better on The Epic – the pool deck felt more open, outside seating at The Garden Café, and I much preferred the enclosed Nightclub, Bliss to the Skyline Bar. However, the Escape does other things better – the additional variety of venues on board for eating and drinking and I just loved The Waterfront and spent time there every day at some point.

I will say that I think I noticed the smell of cigarette smoke more while walking inside on decks 7 & 8 on the Escape than I was aware of on the Epic, but that could easily come down to there being more smokers on the particular sailing.

The solo studios are identical on both ships and I love them. Having access to the Studio Lounge for my morning coffee and afternoon/late night snacks is a great addition.

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Where did you stand for sailaway?

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Deck 17... stood at one side for the Manhattan views then moved across to the other side to see the Statue of Liberty.

 

I just realised I don't have any pics of the Verrazano Bridge, but that's because I took a video.

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The Food

I ate in Food Republic, Teppanyaki, all 3 main dining rooms, the Garden Café, O’Sheehan's, and Margaritaville (for breakfast only). Food Republic and Teppanyaki were my standouts. Margaritaville for breakfast is a great option if you’re looking for somewhere quiet to sit and you’re happy with a restricted buffet menu... particularly good for an omelette!

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Edited by CazV

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The Bars

I didn’t have a favourite bar... I seemed to be on the move a lot and didn’t spend a lot of time in the one place. I also didn’t make it to a few!

With regards to the service I experienced, I will say that I think some of the bars are understaffed at busy times, and I wished some people on the cruise would learn a little patience and to wait their turn... even when busy though, it was rare for me not to be met with a smile from the bar staff. I did enjoy sampling many cocktails... but so many I didn’t get around to, I think I need to go back!

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The Entertainment

As well as enjoying partying at the deck parties, I saw For the Record the Brat Pack, Choir of Man, and Howl at the Moon... ALL were FAB! One of my highlights of my cruise was being on stage as part of the Choir of Man show... loved it!

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The Solo Programme

I was thankful that I wasn’t relying on the solo programme to meet people on this sailing. The first solo meeting was held at Tobacco Bay Bar after sailaway at 6pm and was attended by 8 people... 3 of whom were myself and another 2 from the group I was sailing with.

Meetings for the remainder of the week were to be held at 5pm in the solo lounge with tables booked in one of the complementary dining rooms each night for 6pm. Too early for me, so I didn’t attend any further meetings. Had there been a large solo group, I would probably have attended again with a view to trying to link with other like-minded solos and making our own arrangements (like I did on the Epic), but it appeared that the majority of the solo studios on this sailing were occupied by people sailing in large groups. I was so glad I had been getting to know before this cruise via social media groups and the Cruise Critic roll call, and had various group dinners and activities pre-arranged.

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So on to what I did in Bermuda...

What a stunningly beautiful island!

I had undertaken a lot of research prior to the cruise and had a long “to do” list. I had considered booking an island tour, but in the end I decided to explore on my own, even though that would mean I’d not see everything I wanted to see. Ultimately, I went with the advice to enjoy what I could see and do at leisure rather than trying to cram too much in... this turned out to be great advice... sometimes less really is more!

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On Wednesday I took the $7 shuttle to Horseshoe Beach... I then walked the beach path to Warwick Long Bay, stopping along the way to take in the scenery at the various coves. I sat at Warwick for a little while before walking back. While Horseshoe Beach is gorgeous, I am so glad I took the advice to take that walk... much more beauty just around the corner! I drank a Rum Swizzle at the Rum Bum Beach Bar then took the shuttle bus back to Dockyard.

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Late afternoon I took the ferry to Hamilton with a couple of my new friends for the Harbour Nights Festival. The street festival was fun. Be warned that the 9pm ferry back to Dockyard was VERY busy and people were in line very early to get on board.

 

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On Thursday I took the NCL free ferry to St George’s where I basically walked, and walked, and walked some more! I took in the Dunking of the Nagging Wife Reenactment (which was funnier than I expected); I then found the Unfinished Church; Tobacco Bay; and Fort St Catherine’s and then back to St George’s where I went to Wahoo’s (which had been recommended) for a late lunch. The ferry queue was chaos to get back but I think we all got on.

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On Friday I decided to stay close to the ship for fear of not making it back on time. After a little souvenir shopping I went to the Museum, which also allowed me to see the dolphins at Dolphin Quest as well as wander around the museum. You also get a great view of the ships in port from here.

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Finally, I stopped by Calico Jack’s (next to the ship dock) to meet a few of our group for a drink.

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I was sad to wave goodbye to Bermuda and would definitely love to return one day.

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Debarkation

I was in no rush to get off the ship as my flight was at 5.15pm... I walked my own suitcase off the ship along with the last debarkation group called at around 10.15am... this was a breeze and I would do this again. I would not recommend doing this if you can’t easily manage your own luggage though.

Adios gorgeous Escape... until next time...

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On returning home I can say I had such a wonderful time that I still miss it. I made some lovely new friends and genuinely hope to cross paths with them again in the future. I feel like 7 days really wasn't enough time to experience everything I wanted to experience on the ship, and I want to go back and do it all again. Bermuda is now at the top of my list of places I've visited on my travels. I have many places I've never been that I really want to visit... but I feel like I may return to Bermuda before visiting some of those places.

 

I love travelling solo, but I found travelling solo as part of a group was even better as I enjoy my own company, but I'm also sociable, so this way I had the best of both worlds. I would definitely book another cruise as part of a group in the future.

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The Solo Programme

 

 

I was thankful that I wasn’t relying on the solo programme to meet people on this sailing. The first solo meeting was held at Tobacco Bay Bar after sailaway at 6pm and was attended by 8 people... 3 of whom were myself and another 2 from the group I was sailing with.

 

 

Meetings for the remainder of the week were to be held at 5pm in the solo lounge with tables booked in one of the complementary dining rooms each night for 6pm. Too early for me, so I didn’t attend any further meetings. Had there been a large solo group, I would probably have attended again with a view to trying to link with other like-minded solos and making our own arrangements (like I did on the Epic), but it appeared that the majority of the solo studios on this sailing were occupied by people sailing in large groups. I was so glad I had been getting to know before this cruise via social media groups and the Cruise Critic roll call, and had various group dinners and activities pre-arranged.

 

 

 

 

I’ve had this experience with the studios on epic. I’m one that also doesn’t rely on the solo gathering and find the timing far too early. (Usually at port sailaway time on port intensive cruises)

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I’ve had this experience with the studios on epic. I’m one that also doesn’t rely on the solo gathering and find the timing far too early. (Usually at port sailaway time on port intensive cruises)

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I don't expect them to change everything to suit those of us who have different preferences. I understand they have other jobs to do and you can never please everyone. I just wish they would be a bit more accomodating to facilitating making other arrangements... a space on the whiteboard to put a note up saying you're looking for company to go to a show for example.

 

It's great that they have the studios and the lounge and the meetups... I just think it could be better. I've learned to not rely on them, but I will still go along and hope I get one of those great solo hosts I've read about ;)

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On Wednesday I took the $7 shuttle to Horseshoe Beach... I then walked the beach path to Warwick Long Bay, stopping along the way to take in the scenery at the various coves. I sat at Warwick for a little while before walking back. While Horseshoe Beach is gorgeous, I am so glad I took the advice to take that walk... much more beauty just around the corner! I drank a Rum Swizzle at the Rum Bum Beach Bar then took the shuttle bus back to Dockyard.

75fe5cc28c999965180173b8ee825d69.jpgbb2c7d7660a33a283215a7c609105a72.jpg466f4a0bf8375ab6c0375f01cd8825fe.jpg68297afc1c27544152f91eab0e022acc.jpg

 

 

Late afternoon I took the ferry to Hamilton with a couple of my new friends for the Harbour Nights Festival. The street festival was fun. Be warned that the 9pm ferry back to Dockyard was VERY busy and people were in line very early to get on board.

 

c89daa96a5b280f1d1ec4b56ceb86f7e.jpg

 

We are thinking of taking the walk from Horseshoe to Warwick. We've been to both in the past and love them, but never walked between the two. So did you leave your towels and things behind at Horseshoe? Also, is it an easy walk done barefoot or would we need our sandals? Lastly, about how long is it (time wise)? Thanks for all your help!

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Beautiful pictures!! DH nixed our Bermuda in Aug cruise so I am viewing your pictures with regret. Well, maybe next year!

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