What a fantastic cruise! I just got home from a 7-day cruise to Bermuda on Norwegian Escape. There are still thoughts of crepes, NY strip steaks, and wings from O’Sheehan’s dancing in my head as I unpack.
The cruise itinerary started in New York City out of the Manhattan cruise terminal, and it took us to beautiful Bermuda for 3 days in port.
Even with somewhat rough weather to and from Bermuda the stabilizers on Norwegian Escape kept the cruise ship mostly steady during the voyage, which allowed more time for exploring and enjoying every aspect of this Norwegian Cruise Line vessel.
In this post I will highlight some of my favorite aspects of the ship and what I personally thought about this cruise overall. I hope it’s a help to anyone looking to sail on Norwegian Escape in the future.
First, Some Facts About Norwegian Escape
Norwegian Escape debuted in August of 2015. I was actually at the inaugural event and was able to get some video of the ship then.
Escape is a 165,300 ton Breakaway Plus-class ship. It is 1,069 feet in length, has a max beam of 153 feet, and has a max capacity of 4,428 passengers. The beautiful painting on the ship’s hull was done by renowned artist Guy Harvey.
This sailaway was epic. After spending the day before in New York City, seeing the city from the Hudson as we floated on by on Norwegian Escape was a treat in itself.
As part of the sailaway celebration Norwegian played “God Bless the USA” and then “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra. Seeing the Manhattan skyline, Freedom Tower, and the Statue of Liberty as we sailed out to sea was the perfect way to start this voyage.
Just about everyone was out on deck to see these amazing sites. There are plenty of places on Escape to enjoy Sailaway including the Sun Deck on deck 20.
Thermal Suite at Mandara Spa
Getting thermal suite access on Escape was a must. I checked it out at the inaugural, but I needed to experience it for myself. Since my wife and I didn’t have a spa balcony that included access we opted to purchase access to the thermal suite for $200 for the week. This ended up being cheaper than the $250 if you waited to buy access once on the ship.
This place did NOT disappoint. We must have visited the thermal suite 2-3 times a day, every day. The large thalassotherapy pool was just the perfect place to relax. With jets all around the pool that targeted the lower back, a splash fountain that could hit the shoulders, and plenty of room to lounge as the bubbles enveloped you, this was the place to get away from it all.
The spa also consists of a salt room, dry sauna, sanarium (basically a dry sauna with some pleasant aromas and a lower temperature), a steam room, and a snow room. Unfortunately, the snow room was not operational during our cruise so I can’t give you my experience with it. Apparently, a part broke on the refrigeration system and they had to order another one. So, I guess I will just have to go back again sometime and try it.
A great way to relax before leaving the spa was to recline in one of the 20 or so warm tile loungers that looked out over the bow of the ship. These loungers were perfectly heated and offered an ergonomic shape to mold the human body. Besides these there were many other padded loungers throughout the suite as well.
This thermal suite is very spacious. One of the biggest I’ve seen at sea. I suppose it is needed with a ship this size. Although, the number of passengers allowed access to this area is limited to keep it from getting overcrowded.
There were a couple sea days when it was a little busy from about 11am to 3pm. I found the quietest times to be from 6pm to 8pm.
Dining Options Aplenty
We were spoiled with options when it came to dining on Norwegian Escape. Specialty dining options included Bayamo (seafood), Cagney’s Steak House, Food Republic (a la carte dining), La Cucina (Italian dining), Le Bistro (French cuisine), Moderno (Brazilian steakhouse), Pincho (Tapas Bar), Teppanyaki (Japanese cuisine), and Margaritaville.
Quick tip: Margaritaville does offer a complimentary breakfast, and it’s way quieter and less crowded than the buffet which is a deck below. The omelet station guy is awesome by the way!
The complimentary dining options included the Garden Café Buffet, Margaritaville for breakfast, O’Sheehan’s (open 24/7), and 3 main dining rooms.
There is a large main dining room called Manhattan Room and two smaller dining rooms called Savor and Taste. Because of the more intimate settings we opted to eat at Savor or Taste about every night. The service was fantastic, and the NY strip steak was sublime. Most of our breakfasts were in Savor or Taste as well, and we were always accommodated with a table for two.
Norwegian’s freestyle dining offers so much flexibility and it’s the perfect way to stay full while cruising.
There is a crepe station in the Garden Café if you go during the right time. I didn’t see this listed in the Freestyle Daily like it was when we sailed on Norwegian Epic, but if you go during dinner time or later I found the crepe station was usually open. I’m missing those crepes just writing about them now. Ask the Nutella in your crepe and thank me later.
O’Sheehan’s was one of our favorite places to eat as well. Not only do they have great wings, soup, shepherd’s pie, and burgers, but they are open 24/7 and have special items throughout the week like prime rib, spareribs, and a soup of the day.
Some of the seats at O’Sheehan’s look down into the atrium so you can watch a gameshow or event while enjoying some lunch.
We did eat at Le Bistro one night, and it was a lovely experience. The restaurant is located in a busy part of the ship with a lot of foot traffic going by, but inside the French dining venue there is a nice intimate setting to enjoy.
If we had one of the dining packages we would have eaten at more specialty dining restaurants, but we decided to save some money and enjoy most of the free offerings on Norwegian Escape. That being said, if you plan on eating at more than one specialty dining venue be sure you purchase a dining package and book reservations well before your cruise to ensure convenient time slots.
Activities on Escape
Just a brief tour of the upper decks on Escape made clear that we were not going to be bored on this ship.
There is a gigantic rope’s course (largest at sea with over 40 elements) that towers above the ship, a mini golf course, bocce lawn, large sports court, and a water park that will literally take your breath away.
There is a water park for the younger cruisers and the multi-story Free Fall waterslide for the thrill seekers onboard. Free Fall is an intense ride with 4G forces pushing cruisers around the loop to splash out on deck 17.
And don’t forget Spice H2O for another place to cool off. This space is just for adults during the daytime, and it offers a relaxing grotto water feature that you can walk through as you listen to the water trickle down the rocks.
We visited Spice H2O for a late night movie on the big screen as well. This area is open to children for the evening hours.
There are two locations for arcade lovers on this ship. One is located right near Spice H2O on deck 17, and the other is right next to and part of O’Sheehan’s near the atrium.
This is also where we found the bowling alley and played a few rounds by simply swiping a cruise card. I can’t remember the cost, but I think it was something like $2 per game. The pins and bowling balls are smaller than normal, but it was still a lot of fun. Very inventive that each pin has a tiny rope attached to the top of it so the process of setting up pins can be automated more simply.
Alvin, the Cruise Director on Escape, is great at his job, and his energetic vibe kept everything light and easy-going. So hats off to him for keeping us laughing, although I think he made himself laugh just as much.
The Freestyle Daily was always full of all kinds of games and events to keep the audience both engaged and involved. What’s a cruise without the not-so newly wed game show right?
We also took part in some of the cooking demonstrations where the chefs showed us how to make a certain dessert or dish and had audience members help out in the process.
You definitely don’t want to miss the Escape Crew Talent show if you’re on this ship. Not only do you get to see some of the crew sing, dance, and perform, but you have the opportunity to hear from the captain and see many of the crew on the stage to show them your appreciation.
From Broadway style shows, magic shows, comedy shows, dueling pianos, and everything in between Escape gives cruisers an assortment of options when it comes to entertainment.
The theater does not have a balcony and only has 2 aisles, so getting to a seat and then getting back out can be a bit of a challenge. For most of the shows in the theater you are able to get reservations ahead of time to ensure an early entrance. But even if you don’t have a reservation you can try to get a seat a few minutes before the show starts.
There was a 3D movie being played in the theater on at least one night of the cruise.
I usually like to book a stateroom that is relatively close to the stairwell, but this time we opted for the cruise line to pick the cabin and it was quite a ways forward. There are only two elevator shafts on Escape and our walk from the cabin each time was a hike.
We were located on deck 12 and the cabin itself was quite comfortable. I really like how you just push a button to let the attendant know if you need your room made up or if you would like to not be disturbed. This is way better than hanging a piece of cardboard on your door handle. And if your cruise card is in the slot in the room it shows that you are “At Home” which is rather convenient.
Deck 12 was a good neutral deck for us. Just 4 decks up to the pool deck. And visiting the hub of the atrium was down 4 decks. So we were right in the middle, and it worked out well since I insisted we take the stairs 90% of the time. Also, being at the front of the ship made those regular visits to the spa on deck 16 much easier too.
On either side of the bed were USB outlets for easy charging (keep in mind that when you take your card out of the slot and leave the room the outlets and lights turn off automatically).
The shower door was solid clear plastic which I prefer to the flimsy curtains. And there was ample space in the bathroom, for a cruise ship, that is.
Tons of hangers in the closet made it easy to get everything hung up and there were many shelves and cabinets we never even used on this 7 day cruise.
If you have any questions about our cabin or cruise you can feel free to leave a comment below by the way. It’s hard to mention every little detail so I might have skipped one that you thought was important.
Five words can sum up how I feel about this cruise to Bermuda: I want to go back. I will do another article in the near future about Bermuda and some tips on cruising to this wonderful port.
Norwegian Cruise Line actually had a ferry right in port at the Royal Naval Dockyard that offered free transportation to St George’s and back. We took the paid local ferry to some of the other ports around Bermuda, but the Norwegian ferry was like a Cadillac compared to the others.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history of Bermuda and visiting some of the majestic beaches around the island. The local vibe was very friendly and laid back, and not once did it feel pushy, even in what would be considered a touristy area.
It’s also convenient that the US dollar is accepted all over Bermuda and its value is kept the same as local currency.
We were in port for 3 days, so there was never a rush to get back to the ship as is usually the case on a cruise. This also allowed us to take our time with a more leisurely schedule as we visited the Crystal Caves, Horseshoe Bay, Hamilton, St George’s, Elbow Beach, Warwick Long Bay, and a few other places.
Shout Out to the Crew of Norwegian Escape
The crew can make or break a cruise vacation, no matter how great the ship may be. The crew on Escape were attentive, caring, and genuine, helping make this such a relaxation cruise.
I should point out that my wife decided to take part in the “Search 4 Nations Scavenger Hunt”. This is basically a week long contest in which you need to find crew members from the nations listed on the sheet of paper and get them to sign it.
As it turns out, this was actually a great way to get to know many of the crew onboard on a more personal level, even though some were reluctant to sign. I know I would not want to be bombarded with autograph requests when I’m trying to get my job done.
But so many of the crew were cordial and hilarious in their responses, and they went out of their way to help. I lost count of how many of those cards we filled out to commend a crew member for their wonderful service.
I can see why Norwegian Escape is such a popular cruise ship, and I would love to sail on her again. The incredible spa was one of the highlights of the ship and Norwegian’s excellent, relaxed dining made every dining experience something to look forward to. The ship provides a good mix of places to relax and things to do, so families should find it a good fit for their vacations.
If you have any questions or comments about this ship please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below. Thank you for your time in reading my humble little opinion.