Norwegian Escape Review Chapter 1

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I invite you to come and sail with us on Aboard Norwegian’s newest vessel!!!

Introduction

Hello once again, it’s been only a few weeks since my last review so this introduction will be brief. I booked this cruise back in November when I knew the exact day that grad orientation was due to start. This cruise was mom’s birthday and mothers day gift, and the best part of it all is that the departure day was on her actual birthday. It was perfectly planned, and actually the first time that either one of us got to spend a birthday on a ship!

Nothing has happened since our last cruise. Well, actually I did quit my job, and spent some time getting ready for school and meeting a few of my classmates. It was a fun, relaxing week to get me ready for more cruise relaxation.

Cruise Details

I had an eye on this ship since it first arrived in Miami. As a matter of fact, we were booked on the 3 day sampler back in November, but I had to cancel due to school. I am actually glad I did, since there were numerous complaints, and the ship had lots of growing up to do.

I will admit that when I booked the cruise I was quite worried as the ship was rated around 35% with numerous reviews. At several times I thought about cancelling the cruise. The only thing that kept me from doing so, was the fact that the rating starting increasing steadily, and that I got a great deal. I am happy to report that as I write this the ship is at 60% with around 436 reviews.

I was also looking forward to seeing Norwegian finally get on the 80’s% range under my rating scale. While our Breakaway cruise was a great one, it did suffer from poor service among other minor issues.

The itinerary of this ship was somewhat interesting to us. I was excited about St. Thomas and Tortola, but not quite about Nassau. So to compensate for our dislike of Nassau we decided to do something new there, more on that later. I was also intrigued about having a final day as a port day instead of a sea day.


Stateroom Selection

This was a big surprised for mom!

Originally we had had an interior room booked. I was a little bummed out about having an interior room, so every day I would log in and check for price reductions to see if we could get upgraded. The main issue is that up until March the upgrade was about $1,000, and there was no way that I could pay for that.

But on March I noticed a drastic decrease in price, I immediately got on the phone and was able us upgraded to a guaranteed balcony for an increase of $250. Grated if I had waited a little longer, I would have been able to get it for $180. But either way I so happy that we had a balcony .

The best part of it all is that I kept this secret from mom! I tried to do this for our Breakaway cruise, but I was unable to keep the secret due to her constant questions. This time around I told her that to upgrade it would cost us 1k, and she ceased insisting after a while. I had a great plan for the reveal!

Our cabin assignment came around 20 days before the cruise. But just be advised that some people got way before us, and others got it up to 2 days before the cruise. I wonder how they decide who gets it when, and trust me, it has nothing to do with the day you book it.

Anyway, our assigned room was 14844! I could not have asked for a better room. It was nice and high, but not directly below the Lido. And it was on a hump and near the AFT elevators. This room was meant for us!

Welcome aboard the Norwegian Escape!

My Camera Equipment

Main Camera

My main camera is the Sony Alpha A6000. Overall a great performer, with tons of bells and whistles. I have had multiple cameras throughout my blogging career, and this one is the first camera to fully satisfy my cravings for perfection in picture quality. Furthermore, having those results out of a relatively compact camera is the icing on the cake.

These are my lenses I own:

The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar 24mm F1.8. What can I say about this lens? It is great for low light situations and produces very sharp pictures with great contrast. This is a true quality piece of glass that I use often during my cruises, due to a lot of low situations that I find myself in. It is just not very flexible with a fixed focal range.

The Sony Zeiss Sel1670 is a great versatile lens. I usually take most of the pictures with this lens. The lens yields Sharp results, with absolutely astounding vibrant colors.

The Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 is my only zoom lens. It is a pretty basic lens and nothing really special to write about here. As long as there is enough light it performs pretty well, however, it does tend to struggle when light becomes scarce. Hopefully, Sony will soon release a faster zoom lens, but until then I am very pleased with this one!

The Rokinon 8mm F2.8 Fisheye lens is just a really fun toy to work with. I am a fan of fisheye pictures and this lens produces very sharp results.

Gopro Hero 4 Silver

I absolutely love this camera, it is so versatile, and incredibly fun system to shoot with. The only issue are the photos taken under low light. But as long as you stay under good lighting the pictures are great.

And yes, I have a selfie stick . But it is only to wack people who make fun of me of using a selfie stick! So watch out, it is made of a pretty sturdy metal

Software & Image Hosting

For most of my picture editing, I use Lightroom, like I said I am not a pro. I use this software for some light color correction and sharpening. It is also great at compressing 7mb files into 300kb files with minimal quality loss.

All these images are hosted by Photobucket, I have the 20gb account and pay $3 a month, I don’t really need the 20gb, but I do however need the unlimited bandwidth as I use a lot of it.

Budgeting

I highly suggest that you pre-book all your dining reservations early, since they tend to run out of them quickly. We booked all our dining reservations, and shows the day they opened, and even then I was having trouble getting the times that we really wanted.

Not to mention that then NCL changed the departure time, and I was unable to change the time for our departure day dining reservation.

Wifi

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I was forced to buy the internet on this cruise. I guess I will cover it more once it comes time to discuss it. But let it be said that NCL has one of the most expensive internet services of the mainstream cruise lines.

Gratuities

Gratuities aboard a Norwegian ship will run you $13.50 per person per day. This is a little higher than Royal Caribbean. I decided to pre-pay the gratuities this time around. I guess in a way it help me keep an eye on the expenses on-board. I usually tip more on drinks and food, as I know how hard the crew works at making the cruise a perfect vacation for everyone.

Shore Excursions

I guess I had to cut costs somewhere. For the most part, we planned on hitting the beach and just walking around. It is a good thing that mom’s favorite shore excursion is going to the beach .

Trip Insurance

When I buy trip insurance for my cruises I go to Insure My Trip and shop around for a travel insurance. Here is the thing. The last time when we were on MSC Divina my mom slipped on the pool deck and landed really hard on her wrist. We had insurance for that cruise, but we did not use it (for more on that, read that MSC Divina review). Anyway, after that incident, I learned that most travel insurance companies deny claims if you have any sort of alcohol in your system. We tend to have some drinks on our cruises, so now I am at toss on what to do… Please note, mom did not fall because of drinks, she fell because Divina’s lido deck is incredibly slippery, be careful.

Parking

For Miami parking we use Premier Cruise. Be careful there are two premier companies, and while this one is just ok, the other one is horrible. We had used this one in the past with good results, so there was no reason not to use them again and save a few bucks. The only issue here is that they claim that they only take 4 people in their shuttle. So you have a larger group, you will have to drop them off at the terminal and then go park.

Day 1


We woke up early that day as it is usual for us. Originally I had planned on leaving the house around 10:30, because I had decided not to get the Vibe passes. But at the last minute I decided to just go ahead and leave the house early.

We arrived to our parking facility, parked and quickly got on the shuttle bus to head to port. Some nice vehicles parked in our parking garage made me feel at ease to leave my car there.

And there she is in all her Glory!

We had terminal C all the way at the aft of the ship.


We checked in and headed to find a seat, for reference point we checked in at 10:30am.

Check in was a breeze.

It was quite busy there and with little organization. I heard from a friend that Terminal B was even worse.

These ladies had the same hats that my uncle had during our Carnival Victory cruise. They were having a blast!

He sure did look like a cop, not sure why he would that T on the cruise. Mehh, who am I to judge


So I guess we started boarding around 12. But they made no announcements, they simply opened the doors. Mom and I just got in line and then they told us at the door that we had to wait until the other groups boarded. We waited there for a little while, and then we noticed a couple without a boarding pass. They simply told them they were given none, and they were immediately let in. WTH!!! Then I guess he got tired of me staring at him, and told us to go in. I felt like giving him a kiss, but I don’t think that would have been appropriate

I was told that in terminal B it was even worse. First, they allowed group 1 in, even before the people in Haven and the ones doing a B2B. Of course, there were a lot of mad people over there. Then they halted the entire boarding operation for a few minutes.

They sure could use more organization. Despite all that said, mom and I were lucky to get in early.

Not a clear picture, but it is the only one I have and I rather post it than not.


Mom wanted me to take pictures of her with the balloons(remember it was her Bday), but I told her to run instead . I am not sure what it was, but at the last minute I decided to make a run to try to get Vibe passes. To be quite honest, I thought that I had no chance of getting one. Maybe I was running to say that at least I tried to get them, and that way I did not have to spend the money

We boarded, went down a flight of stairs, and I started running towards guest services. It was a good thing that it was right there. Mom is following along as fast as she could. Remember, all member of the party have to be there to get the passes.

Guest services told me to head to Headliners. And that is what I did.

See that line? That is the Vibe line.


Once there I ask a crew member if that was the line, he said yes. Then he offered me a pass, I could not believe it, they still had some left. I was so in shock that I did not know what to do, even worse, I started discussing it with mom, what the hell was I thinking, grab that ticket and guard it with your life Gambee!!!

I took number 68, and mom took 69. Right after us were 2 girls and they got number 70 & 71. There are a total of 72 passes, a few people showed up and they were quite upset that they weren’t able to get any.

I was still in awe, I could not believe that we managed to get them. Mom said that my grandmother was there for us and that is the reason we got them. I suggest you start praying to as many Gods as you believe in from now if you want them. And maybe even ask your friends to pray for you. No, wait, never mind. Don’t get Vibe! It sucks up there

I also got some information that apparently Haven people pre-book about 30 of those passes ahead of time through the concierge. I will cover more on this later as to why Haven people rather be in Vibe than Haven. But either way, that should not be allowed, if they want it, they should run and push people down the stairs like I did, LoL, kidding.

Each pass is $100. Is it worth it? LoL. I will let you decide as the review evolves.

After you get the little number you have the option to go eat and come back, or get your passes immediately there on line. We decided to get them, I wanted no chance at missing out on them. The line took about 15 minutes or so.

They also have the drink package and restaurant reservations there for you. After we got our passes I went and change the time of our reservation for that night. Originally when I booked the restaurant the ship was going to sail at 5pm, but after they moved it to 7pm it was crossing our dinner time. I enjoy watching the sail aways outside.


Since they had all the menus there, I decided to get them all out the way and get the photos there. I usually spend a lot of time looking for menus, and having them all there was a blessing. Grannie again ?







These are from the main dining room at dinner time.





After getting all the menus we decided to go check out the Spa and get some pictures of the area. On the way there I got some pictures of Teppanyaki.


This restaurant is HUGE!!!!!!



No wait time on taste, keep that in mind.

The Garden Cafe was packed!

We headed out. Mom was rolling my computer bag, and I had the two heavy carry-ons.


We went through the pool area, more on that later.

There is an extreme amount of live entertainment on the ship, the most that I have ever seen. LOVED IT!!!


The gym is the same hallway as the Spa.

I really wanted to go to the gym. Now that I am not working anymore, I really have to push myself to be more active and such. But again, I failed at even going once to the gym. I spoke to a few people and they all had the same concern. It is very crowded in there, and your best bet to finding machines is early at 6am when everyone is hangover. But even going at lunch time it was busy, or so I heard.

The funny thing is that when we went through it, I told mom how small it was for a ship that size.

By the way, our sailing had 5,200 passengers on-board. I believe double occupancy is at 4,400.


Here is the Spa. A few in our group got it and had a good time there, but just know that it is a quiet area. There is no bar or anything there. Someone also complained about the sauna having a draining problem, and it basically had a little puddle in there at all times.

The other thing that shocked me was that I was told not to take pictures in there. But here is the thing, they told me not to take pictures after they saw me taking pictures of the broken down Snow room. Be aware if it’s still broken, you can get a partial refund for your passes. From what I heard people were getting back a significant partial refund. But again, this is just word of mouth, don’t take me for a fact. I could have gotten the information wrong, word of mouth is never a trusted source.

The one last complaint I heard, was that one person went into the salt room for 10 minutes and his eyes were dry and red for the 2 hours. In a way that makes sense, with all that salt in the environment pulling out the liquids from your body. I went there for a couple of minutes, but felt no effect on my eyes.

My personal opinion of the spa was that it was larger than the Breakaway one, and the temperature was very comfortable. I thought it was a really nice area with plenty of space to move around and relax. I am just not sure that I would enjoy being inside rather than outside.



It is really a lovely area, I wish I had the money to spare.


Those heated loungers were to die for, and that view!



Where is the Booze?

Here is when I was told not to take pictures.

I actually went inside the snow room, it wasn’t even cold. Maybe that is why she got upset, oooppsss, LoL


Look at the view of that Sauna!

They were also repairing a little shower area.


Yes, I grabbed some orange water

Funnily enough, we were not offered a tour of the spa and their products, maybe I have a cheap face ?

 

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