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josephmz

Escape To The North - 9/16

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Just back from 9/16 NE/Canada cruise on Escape. We are a couple from Virginia in our early 70s. I guess you could call me a Norwegian cheerleader, but not so much that I won't call a foul if I see one. We have sailed RCI about 5 times, but have settled on NCL as our line of choice.

 

I will try to break this up into coherent segment, as it may take up some space and my desk at work keeps calling me.

 

PRE-CRUISE

 

I booked this trip well over a year ago. Originally booked the Gem but switched to Escape. Not really a big fan of the mega-ships, but decided to give it a try.

 

Booked a Deck 15 angled spa balcony (15756) and was very pleased with the choice. Interestingly, the fare was less than booking a balcony and then purchasing spa passes. I did make a half-hearted bid for spa mini and spa

Haven suite. Got rejection notice two days before sailing.

 

We originally planned to drive from southern Virginia to New York before sanity raised its head. The thought of 10 hours minimum each way including potty and food & ga breaks was to much to contemplate. Wound up booking Saturday morning United flight to Newark. Spent Friday night at Richmond airport hotel that included parking for week for $99.00

 

Arrived in Newark before noon, collected bags and called Lyft. Waited five minutes for ride to take us to the Hyatt Regency on the Hudson in Jersey City. Car fare was $22.50 plus tip.

 

We assumed we would not get our room that early and would have to store our bags until 4:00 check in. The clerk smiled and immediately gave us a 5th floor room overlooking the bridge and the Statue of Liberty. We were able to eat lunch and rest before heading into city. I had visions of watching Escape make its way up the river, but sleep took over.

 

One neat thing about the hotel it is right next to PATH station going to WTC and transferring to Times Square. We headed out about 4:30. Walked around, ate dinner at Junior's and saw a show. I resisted the urge to have a piece of the cheesecake. The trip back to Jersey City was a little dicey. We screwed up and got off at the wrong stop. Our GPS gave a rather circuitous route to the Trade Center. After a long walk and a lot of cussing (by me) we made it. While fishing for our fare cards two very nice Transit cops swiped their cards to get us through the turnstiles. Just made the final train to Jersey City. Whew!

 

EMBARKATION

 

After breakfast and checkout we again contacted Lyft. You need to be aware that the online fare calculators do not take into account the $15.00 Tunnel fees and time of day. The trip cost more than expected but we arrived at Cruise Terminal just before noon.

 

I was expecting the boarding process to be a nightmare considering there were some 4,000 pax boarding. BEST EMBARK EVER!! In less than 20 minutes from clearing the scanners we were walking onto the ship and lunch at Taste shortly after noon.

 

I said earlier that I would call fouls as I saw them. The safety drill was a hot mess. Not sure but I assume they hold drill in the theater for the forward cabins and the MDRs for the aft, with every one else in the Atrium. I would guess there were at least a 1000 mostly standing shoulder to shoulder as there were not nearly enough seats available. And as usual, there are the stragglers who do not seem to know or care about the time. It seem to go on for ever. And of course, the elevators afterward were impossible.

 

MORE TO FOLLOW

Edited by josephmz
spell

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Escape Review Cont'd

 

I meant to add that the lifeboat drill almost made me wish for the old days when you mustered outside with vests on.

 

CABIN

 

Cabin 15756 was great. Conveniently located near the elevators, one deck below the thermal spa which by the way we never found crowded. The angled balcony was very roomy despite the fact some of the weather did not lend itself to sitting out. The first evening I asked the steward about securing a lounge chair. To my surprise, when I opened the drapes the next morning, it was there. May be my imagination, but the cabin seemed larger than other balconies we have stayed in. The steward was excellent. We got info about laundry service on Thursday. We are platinum, so it is free. We overlooked the bags hanging in the closet. When we returned that afternoon, we asked about bags and if we could still use it. Steward pointed to them. DUH! To our amazement, our clothes were returned after breakfast on Friday.

 

MEET & GREET

 

I was the host for the meet & greet. Thought it was great, if I must say so. We had 90 folks registered. I had printed names tags with picture of ship, name, cc name and state. As expected, a few did not attend, but we had several show up who had not registered.

 

The meeting was held in the District Brewhouse at noon on Monday. They served samples from the numerous taps and trays of hot appetizers. Many of the senior staff attended minus the Captain.

 

We had a winner take all cash raffle that paid out $325.00. I also had drawings for several door prizes that I provided.

 

The slot pull was a roaring success. We had 46 entrants at $20.00 a pop.

Each person got six pulls for $3.00 on the Wheel of Fortune. $2.00 each went to the total aggregate winner. Wound up every one got $17.00 back.

Not bad fun for $3.00 investment. The casino boss provided three bottles of wine to give away.

 

FOOD

 

I know it is quite the sport on CC to compare NCL food with chain restaurants and the rubber chicken banquet circuit, but we found all our meals to be hot, well-plated and delicious.

 

Ate breakfast once each in Taste and O'Sheehan's. The rest were in the Garden Café. Ate lunch once in Café and never seemed to have a problem finding a seat.

 

We dined in Manhattan Room and Taste once each. the rest of our dinners were in Le Bistro, Moderno, Cagney's La Cucina and Bayamo. The filet of beef in Bistro was probably one of the best steaks I've ever eaten. Despite its reputation as a floating Olive Garden, La Cucina remains one of our favorites. I always order the lamb and it was excellent. Don't know that I've ever noticed lamb on the Olive Garden menu. As usual, Moderno is just too damn much food, and I didn't even eat breakfast of lunch that day. The seafood in Bayamo is super, even with the $12.00 per upcharge. Had crab legs app and seafood plate with shrimp, lobster tail and fish.

 

Dessert bashing is another hobby on here. Found the desserts to be excellent, but who needs a huge dessert portion after apps, main course and vegetables.

 

To Be Cont'd

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PORTS & EXCURSIONS

 

We booked all of our excursions outside of NCL. They were mostly very good, and we never felt nervous about making it back to th ship on time. And we saved money to boot.

 

PORTLAND

 

We had booked combo tour doing trolley in morning and harbor cruise to lighthouses in the afternoon. It was pouring rain that morning. Walked a few blocks to the tour office where they informed us that the cruise portion was cancelled due to weather. Refunded $30.00 cash on the spot. It was kind of karma since we had decided not to go since our son and family drove up from Boston to see us. Got to have lunch with our two grands, ages 1 & 3. Ruby, the 3 year old, thought our ride up there was neat. The trolley portion was very good and ended up with Portland Head light.

 

BAR HARBOR

 

This was our favorite place and would love to go back on vacation. Really neat area. Did trolley around town and Acadia National Park. Only bummer was Cadillac Mtn. was totally fogged in. Highly recommend Oli's Trolley. We did 2-1/2 hour version. When we got back, we headed across street ot the West Street Café where we had our obligatory lobster lunch. $28.00 each for chowder, 1-1/4 lb. lobster, fries, slaw and a piece of blueberry pie.

 

Thought I had lost my wife. We got separated while shopping downtown. Actually she was shopping and I was eating an ice cream cone. Tried a sample of lobster ice cream. Yes, you heard me! After a while I started looking for her. Checked stores where she going. No Luck! Finally headed to the shuttle dock. Saw the Hotel Director who called the ship to find that she had already boarded. Nice Service!

 

St. John

 

I was a little bummed here. The tour of St. John, the reversing falls (both ways) and the city Market were fine. We rode for almost an hour to St. Martin. I was looking forward to this for photography. The stop turned out to be a wide place in the road. May have been three boats in the harbor, a couple of covered bridges and few gift and craft shops. Not exactly the picturesque place I was hoping for. We rode from there to a beachside restaurant for a pricey lobster roll lunch. We did see caves cut into the rocks

there.

 

Halifax

 

The disembark here was a nightmare. the ship was late docking due to headwinds. No one's fault! But when we were cleared to get off, there was a line from the front stairs on Deck 5 to past the rear elevators that doubled back in itself. Of course, there were the folks who got off the front elevators and proceeded to cut in line.

 

There again, the tour of the city and a hour's drive to Peggy's Cove. The place is interesting with it's stark landscape. Only about 85 people live there year round. Lighthouse was neat and got some shots of the harbor. Few boats but lots of lobster traps and gear piled up. I suppose the Cove would have been better if there weren't 11 tour busses there at one time.

 

Word of warning: We had been warned that the rocks around the lighthouse could be slippery. Sure enough, as we drove in medics were tending to a man with rather nasty looking facial wounds. He later departed by ambulance, whether back to ship or the hospital.

 

ENTERTAINMENT

 

Was looking forward to sitting in on "Howl at the Moon" which we had enjoyed previously. Unfortunately, our dinners conflicted with the starting time and the place was packed by the time we arrived.

 

If you don't see another show on Escape, go to "After Midnight". Absolutely the best performance I've seen at sea. NCL recently hired three women to appear on a rotating basis. Melinda Doolittle, of "American Idol" fame was appearing. She is fantastic! The singing and dancing are superb. She does a couple of diinner shows a couple nights a week during the cruise, but we thought the $89.00 price tag was a little to pricey.

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Did you not see For the Record or just not enjoy it? We preferred FTR much more than After Midnight.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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Great review- enjoyed meeting you as well and you did a great job organizing the M&G. I'll write a review later but would like to add that the embarkation and self walk off disembarkation were the best I encountered. The food was a step above normal ( I did do 5x specialties this time- Moderno and Cagney's were my favorites- but La Cucina was very good as well).

Halifax delay likely had to do with their first time there- I waited near the elevators on the 5th floor and refused to go back up to 6 as it would be a mess.

The Bar Harbor Lighthouse and National Park cruise was the highlight of my trip- along with the Maritime Halifiax musuem. I preferred those 2 ports to Portland and St John.

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The second recent review touting the Bayamo crab legs appetizer. I think I know what I’m getting! :)

 

Thanks for posting! Good review.

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Welcome home! Just wondering about Choir of Man, u didnt mention seeing it? Also were the activities inside, instead of pool deck, as I would imagine? thx:cool:

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Do you remember what the minimum bid was for the Haven Spa Suite?

 

 

 

Just back from 9/16 NE/Canada cruise on Escape. We are a couple from Virginia in our early 70s. I guess you could call me a Norwegian cheerleader, but not so much that I won't call a foul if I see one. We have sailed RCI about 5 times, but have settled on NCL as our line of choice.

 

I will try to break this up into coherent segment, as it may take up some space and my desk at work keeps calling me.

 

PRE-CRUISE

 

I booked this trip well over a year ago. Originally booked the Gem but switched to Escape. Not really a big fan of the mega-ships, but decided to give it a try.

 

Booked a Deck 15 angled spa balcony (15756) and was very pleased with the choice. Interestingly, the fare was less than booking a balcony and then purchasing spa passes. I did make a half-hearted bid for spa mini and spa

Haven suite. Got rejection notice two days before sailing.

 

We originally planned to drive from southern Virginia to New York before sanity raised its head. The thought of 10 hours minimum each way including potty and food & ga breaks was to much to contemplate. Wound up booking Saturday morning United flight to Newark. Spent Friday night at Richmond airport hotel that included parking for week for $99.00

 

Arrived in Newark before noon, collected bags and called Lyft. Waited five minutes for ride to take us to the Hyatt Regency on the Hudson in Jersey City. Car fare was $22.50 plus tip.

 

We assumed we would not get our room that early and would have to store our bags until 4:00 check in. The clerk smiled and immediately gave us a 5th floor room overlooking the bridge and the Statue of Liberty. We were able to eat lunch and rest before heading into city. I had visions of watching Escape make its way up the river, but sleep took over.

 

One neat thing about the hotel it is right next to PATH station going to WTC and transferring to Times Square. We headed out about 4:30. Walked around, ate dinner at Junior's and saw a show. I resisted the urge to have a piece of the cheesecake. The trip back to Jersey City was a little dicey. We screwed up and got off at the wrong stop. Our GPS gave a rather circuitous route to the Trade Center. After a long walk and a lot of cussing (by me) we made it. While fishing for our fare cards two very nice Transit cops swiped their cards to get us through the turnstiles. Just made the final train to Jersey City. Whew!

 

EMBARKATION

 

After breakfast and checkout we again contacted Lyft. You need to be aware that the online fare calculators do not take into account the $15.00 Tunnel fees and time of day. The trip cost more than expected but we arrived at Cruise Terminal just before noon.

 

I was expecting the boarding process to be a nightmare considering there were some 4,000 pax boarding. BEST EMBARK EVER!! In less than 20 minutes from clearing the scanners we were walking onto the ship and lunch at Taste shortly after noon.

 

I said earlier that I would call fouls as I saw them. The safety drill was a hot mess. Not sure but I assume they hold drill in the theater for the forward cabins and the MDRs for the aft, with every one else in the Atrium. I would guess there were at least a 1000 mostly standing shoulder to shoulder as there were not nearly enough seats available. And as usual, there are the stragglers who do not seem to know or care about the time. It seem to go on for ever. And of course, the elevators afterward were impossible.

 

MORE TO FOLLOW

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BEHIND SCENES

 

We were given a behind scenes tour of the kitchen and laundry facilities. Mind boggling!! A chef showed us around the kitchen where they work 24 hours a day, 12 hour shifts. Everything with the exception of Cagney's and the Tapas bar is cooked there. They bake every piece of bread and pastry on the ship. The night shift primarily handle room service and prep work for the next day. They have posters showing exactly how each plate served should look. The several walk-in freezers and refrigerators are huge.

 

The laundry operations were huge, as you might imagine. Banks of computer controlled 100 lb. washers and dryers. There are all kinds of pressing machines. And there is a machine that steams and folds sheets and tablecloths in the blink of an eye.

 

UBP, TIPPING, ETC.

 

We are not big drinkers. Glass of wine, a beer and a mixed drink here and there. We had wine at dinner each night. A few cocktails. By the way, I really enjoyed the Rasberry Mojitos at Sugarcane. I'm assuming a total of maybe 20 drinks. Was the UBP worth it as a perk?

I would say yes, if nothing more than the convenience factor.

 

Yes, I generally tipped bartenders and bar waiters a buck. Also tipped waiters at dinner $5.00 to 10.00 at dinner each evening. The room steward also was rewarded for his excellent service.

 

Word to cigar smokers out there. Take your own. Meant to, but forgot. Ship offerings are limited and expensive. Also, the cigarette smokers in the Cigar Lounge can outnumber us by a factor of ten to one.

 

People always question what the final bill will look like. $270.00. A Bayamo upcharge, one Starbucks fix, one trip to bakery, one kid's t-shirt, internet charges (DW forgot to logout one day - $28.00) and of course the gratuities.

 

One last rant. I used to coach soccer in my younger days, love the game. 24 hour a day on two channels of soccer, rugby, tennis and some golf makes Jack a dull boy. They did air NFL on Sunday and Wednesday, but no NCAA or MLB. Hoped to watch Yankees and Red Sox but no luck. They really need to re-think their television offerings.

 

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT

 

I assume this came as a result of hosting the meet & greet. We returned to the ship around 5:30 in Halifax, As we entered cabin, DW thought we were in the wrong one. Hanging from the ceiling were balloons and birthday greeting. There was a cake in a box which had "Happy Upcoming 71sr Birthday - DWs name". As it happens her birthday is October 8.

 

Given my preference for smaller ships, would we do Escape again?

Most definitely! Liked layout of ship. A few more elevators would be nice. The crew was fantastic.

 

Thanks for following!

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Questions & Answers:

 

Howard K: Happy to see you win the $325.00 pot at the meet & greet.

Hope it came in handy.

 

As to shows: I guess considering our age "After Midnight" was the one we really wanted to see. We typically dine later and more leisurely than at home when cruising. That pretty much rules out the early shows. Although I'm a night owl, DW tends to turn into a pumpkin after about ten, and we got up pretty early considering port times.

 

I did bid on the Spa Haven. First bid was just a little above the minimum "POOR". Upped it to $800.00 per which was still in poor range. Didn't really expect anything, but miracles do happen.

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Questions & Answers:

 

Howard K: Happy to see you win the $325.00 pot at the meet & greet.

Hope it came in handy.

 

.

Thanks- it was helpful- it covered pretty much what I spent out in tips, NYC and the museums and ports. I have the ship booked for Bermuda again next year and then the Encore in '20.

I would agree with you on the sports- it would be great if they could show multiple NFL games and at least have some baseball on during the week- as you mentioned- there were games with playoff implication with fans and I know I don't like missing my Philies/Eagles games.

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Thanks for the pointers and recommendations on these ports. We’re leaving on Gem in 2 days.

 

Which ports were tendered? I believe we tender 3 times: Bar Harbor, Halifax and Charlottetown. So I was wondering whether your nightmare conga line in Halifax was not just the delayed arrival, but tendering?

 

PORTS & EXCURSIONS

 

We booked all of our excursions outside of NCL. They were mostly very good, and we never felt nervous about making it back to th ship on time. And we saved money to boot.

 

 

BAR HARBOR

 

This was our favorite place and would love to go back on vacation. Really neat area. Did trolley around town and Acadia National Park. Only bummer was Cadillac Mtn. was totally fogged in. Highly recommend Oli's Trolley. We did 2-1/2 hour version. When we got back, we headed across street ot the West Street Café where we had our obligatory lobster lunch. $28.00 each for chowder, 1-1/4 lb. lobster, fries, slaw and a piece of blueberry pie.

 

St. John

 

I was a little bummed here. The tour of St. John, the reversing falls (both ways) and the city Market were fine. We rode for almost an hour to St. Martin. I was looking forward to this for photography. The stop turned out to be a wide place in the road. May have been three boats in the harbor, a couple of covered bridges and few gift and craft shops. Not exactly the picturesque place I was hoping for. We rode from there to a beachside restaurant for a pricey lobster roll lunch. We did see caves cut into the rocks

there.

 

Halifax

 

Word of warning: We had been warned that the rocks around the lighthouse could be slippery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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The only tender port was Bar Harbor. If you are tendering, I suggest you go to guest services and get a reservation. We walked right to boat. Easy/Peasey.

 

Halifax is direct walk off.

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The only tender port was Bar Harbor. If you are tendering, I suggest you go to guest services and get a reservation. We walked right to boat. Easy/Peasey.

 

 

 

Halifax is direct walk off.

 

 

 

Thanks Joseph!

 

 

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I thought I heard that the Halifax delay was due to the ship's first time being there - I was at the front of deck 5 so believe it- but in my opinion they should have tried to have gotten there a little earlier to account for such a delay

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I had heard that the delay was due to string head winds the ship encountered on the way in. Either way, it was a bit chaotic getting off, I agree.

 

Joe and Howard, it was great to meet you guys. The meet and greet was awesome.

 

Happy sails to all!

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Cruise Review: Escape From New York, Sept. 2-9, 2018 checkout this thread, theres 6 nites of activites, looks like Sun-Fri

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