The Norwegian Escape is just 16 months old and has a home port of Miami, Florida. Part of the Breakaway Plus Class, the Escape can hold a staggering 4,200+ passengers plus its 1,700+ crew staff. In so many words, this is a big ship.
If you have ever cruised on an older ship before, the Escape is going to wow you with all of its modern updates, sleek designs, the number of activities available, and how it has become a foodie destination at sea.
Cruising is just one of the ways I like to travel. For me, cruising is about taking it down a notch, relaxing, having amazing food, sleeping in the same bed for a week, unpacking and staying put, being able to explore a couple different places without having to do all the work of flying and shuffling to hotels, and really just enjoying my time on the open water.
What I love most about the Escape is that there is so much to do on board, you can never get bored. Norwegian does an amazing job of planning daily itineraries of things to do even if you are in port and don’t want to leave the ship.
From swimming, nightly shows, spa days, rope courses, hot tubs, wine tastings, bingo, sunning, water slides, mini golf, arcade, or even sipping a mojito poolside – you are going to enjoy each day on board and take full advantage of all the things there is to do.
I personally am a big fan of seeing the shows they offer on board and on this cruise, I have to give a very high regard to: For the Record: The Brat Pack – hands down the best show I have ever seen on a cruise ship or on Broadway. It was worth every second of the standing ovation – witty, comedic, all around perfection and nostalgia.
The Escape has a room to fit any of your needs. From inside, balcony, spa suites, or even a Haven Suite – you are going to have a great time.
One of the best features that Norwegian has added to its new ships is solo rooms. As a solo traveler, I think this is an amazing addition because they have also included a solo lounge and arrange activities for solo travelers. So if you want to go on a cruise and don’t want to pay the fare for two people in a regular room, this is an option. You may even make a few friends along the way.
The Haven is also a new addition on the newer ships which is a private cruise within a cruise. These luxury suites are beautifully decorated, offer bigger rooms and the ultimate privacy. The Haven has a private lounge, restaurant, deck, pool, butler service, and so many other benefits. Norwegian often includes deals for booking these beautiful rooms that give you access to dine at any of the paid restaurants for free, unlimited wifi package, and/or even an unlimited beverage package that includes alcohol.
During my stay I stayed in a Balcony Stateroom. You can easily fit 3-4 people in this room. It is spacious, has a king size bed, flat screen TV, ample closet space, and a sizeable bathroom with a shower.
With a ship this big, you can bet there are plenty of dining options. With 20 options in total, there are 5 restaurants that are entirely free of charge to eat at.
The three main dining rooms open for breakfast, Lunch (most days) and dinner are: Taste, Savor and the Manhattan Room. All three have the same menu each day and it changes the following day. Some of my favorite dishes from these restaurants are: prime rib, perfectly poached eggs, coconut soufflé, ……..
The buffet is also open for three meals a day and late night snacks. You will find many options on the buffet each day and my favorite area is the dessert section: ice creams, cakes, fruits, you name it – they do not disappoint.
O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill is open 24 hours a day and is one of my favorite places to eat on board .. because they offer a lot of Irish Pub dishes. From corned beef and potato soup, bangers and mash and even a rueben. They do offer other pub fare like wings, burgers and sandwiches, fries, and even desserts like apple pie ala mode.
Another 24 hour option is room service. This used to be a free option but is now $7.95 when you order (no matter how much you order in food). Popular items on this menu are: pizza, pound cake with strawberries and cream, spaghetti bologanese, salmon, sandwiches, breakfast, etc. It is not a huge menu but enough options to please anyone.
There are 14 food options that have an additional fee to eat there. With so many options to choose from: Italian, French, Churrascaria, Tapas, Japanese, Steak House, desserts, coffee shop and bakery, Latin, and the only Margaritaville at sea!
My personal favorite is Churrascaria (Brazilian steakhouse). The concept is simple: there is a salad bar with many offerings and then you get a couple standard dishes at your table that include garlic mashed potatoes and rice. Then you get a card that is red on one side and green on the other. You turn green up to go and red to stop. This indicates for the servers with hot fresh meat to stop at your table. You can decide to get a piece of what they have or pass. Some of the meats you will see come around include: filet mignon, chicken, beef ribs, sirloin, sausage, flank steak, and even pork.
The last restaurant is the Haven. You will only have access to this if you book a Haven Suite room. But I will add – I dined in this restaurant on my last night and it was the best meal I had the entire week. In fact, my husband and I are STILL talking about it.
Staying active at sea:
Norwegian does a really great job of providing outlets for those who want to work out. They offer a gym, a walking/jogging track, basketball, and even classes you can sign up for.
My sailing stopped in three ports: St. Thomas, Tortola and Nassau Bahamas. The route is part of the Eastern Caribbean and in my opinion, one of the most beautiful. While cruising through the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, there are many islands to see, houses perched atop them, rugged coastlines, hues of blues in the water, private beaches, stunning sunsets, sailboats, and views for days.
A lot of the excursions available are things that are on the water: sailing, Baths at Virgin Gorda, party boats, snorkeling, beaches, and even driving your own mini boat. You will find some of the prettiest beaches in the world at these stops – so take advantage of your time here.
Each port had a lot of the same shopping options for jewelry, gemstones, watches, and gifts – they are deeply discounted if you are after buying these items.
This is part of the United States as a territory. It is not its own country. They run on the currency of the USA, have a lot of the same companies – Including Sprint (which means cell service for you if you have a phone from the USA), drive on the left side of the road, the terrain changes outside of the city to include steep roads, AND they make the best banana daiquiri in the Caribbean.
I ended up doing two things in port: I took a private tour of the island and rode the skyline tram to see views of the island. Initially I was going to ride the tram and then walk around Charlotte Amalie. The views were stunning from the tram ride and I would highly recommend it. When I was up there, a few locals recommended seeing the views from Mountain Top and raved they were better. When I came down the tram there was people selling the island tour for $25 so I jumped on. The views from Mountain Top are world class. You do not want to miss it. Magen’s Bay – probably the most beautiful beach I have ever seen, is in its full glory from Mountain Top.
Depending on what you are after doing with your time on the island, there are many things to do:
- Spend your day at the beach – Magen’s Bay is my recommendation
- Explore Charlotte Amalie
- Take the ferry to St. John or St. Croix
Read more: Port of St. Thomas
This island is part of the British Virgin Islands. It is very similar to St. Thomas and not far from it either. The most popular thing to do in this port is to go the Baths at Virgin Gorda. I did not get to do this because I was not feeling well in this port but it comes highly recommended from trusted friends.
Getting off and on the ship in this port is the easiest I have ever experienced. As soon as you get into the port from walking off your ship there is a bar that has Wi-Fi and streets lined with shopping.
Nassau is one of my favorite places in the world .. mainly because I love Atlantis. Bonus – you can get a day pass excursion to explore Atlantis while you are in this port. I would recommend this activity over all other ones because it is my favorite and because you are going to have a great time.
The water in the Bahamas are various hues of blues and crystal clear in a lot of areas. This is perfect for snorkeling and spending a day at the beach.
The shopping options here are the same as the other ports, so if you missed buying some precious gems or links of gold, you can do it here as well.
One of my other favorite places to go to in Nassau is Senor Frogs. It is basically an all day party with excellent guacamole, drinks a yard long and a lot of happy cruisers from multiple ships enjoying the day together. Bonus – they have free Wi-Fi.
Norwegian is known for “Freestyle Cruising” where they don’t limit you per say and force you to dress up. However, there are minimal dress codes in the free restaurants at night. Otherwise, some of the paid dining rooms ask you to wear a dress or slacks and a jacket.
The cruise does do a special evening where you can dress up and get your photos taken against various backdrops as a memory to take home. In addition, you can find white parties (where you wear all white) or 80’s themed parties on board.
One of the coolest benefits that Norwegian offers its returning guests is the Latitudes program. The Latitudes Rewards Program now comes in 6 Tiers from Bronze to Ambassador. You gain points for each cruise you take, 1 point per night sailed. There are additional ways to get points for booking 9+ months in advance, booking a suite and/or booking a Latitudes Offer.
For example: Say you want to go on a 7 night Caribbean cruise. You get 7 points just for taking the cruise. If you book at least 9 months in advance, you get an additional point per night, which would be 7. If you book a suite at full rate, you get an additional point per night, which would be 7 for this cruise. If you book a Latitudes offer, you also get an additional point per night.
You can use all or some of these in combination with each other. If you did all 4 ways to gain points, it would give you 28 points for one cruise if you went that route.
The tiers are layered by points earned and each come with their own benefits. Some of the benefits are (some of these benefits belong only to higher tiers): getting your own check-in line when boarding the cruise, priority disembarkation, private parties with the officers, discounts on laundry, shopping, and other items, Godiva chocolates, free cruise each year, and so on.
- The port is in Miami and about a 15 minute ride from the Miami airport and about 45 minutes from Fort Lauderdale.
- You can book a shuttle through the cruise line to the port from either airport – both going and returning.
- Wifi is available on board for a fee – keep in mind that it is satellite internet and not as fast as you would have it at home. You can purchase an unlimited package during the first 2 days on the ship and is the best deal to stay connected.
- You can bring your own wine aboard the ship to have a meals – you will just be charged a corkage fee
- Soda and alcohol are not included in your booking unless you booked a package that included it. You can purchase all-inclusive packages when you board the ship furing the first 2 days
- Cheapest time to cruise is the first two weeks of January and the first couple weeks of December before Christmas and not during the week of Christmas.
This has been my favorite cruise to date. The food was top notch, entertainment was the best I have seen, I enjoyed the casino tournaments, loved the ports, the ship design was beautiful, and the staff was extremely gracious. I have been a big fan Of Norwegian for years and I have cruised with them several times. I will always recommend cruising with them ❤
Disclaimer: I was a press guest of Norwegian, but as always, opinions are entirely my own.