REVIEW: The 4,248-passenger Norwegian Escape continues to get positive waves of raves from all who have sailed on her since she was christened in Miami in November 2015 by rockstar Pitbull. There’s so much to do on board the shiny, new Escape
that it really doesn’t matter where it sails although it cruises from Miami to the sunny Caribbean islands of St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Tortola, Roatan, Belize and the Bahamas to name a few popular ports-of-call. Enjoy 21 bars and lounges serving about 98 different cocktails and 75 different beers. Dine at 28 different restaurants, many that have Norwegian’s famous dine-anytime options. Watch an exciting range of shows from hilarious comedy routines, to spectacular award-winning musicals. There’s no shortage of things to do on this ship and all the ship’s creature comforts convey such affordable luxury you’ll feel spoiled and pampered.
Dining is a major pastime and there are barely enough days in a week to sample all the offerings. The ship’s restaurants such as Le Bistro, Cagney’s and La Cucina rival those of luxury lines, with menu highlights including herb-crusted rack of lamb, fresh Maine lobsters and Steak au Poivre with cognac sauce.
Two new specialty restaurants from James Beard’s award-winning Iron Chef Jose Garces include Bayamo, a Latin seafood specialty restaurant and Pincho Tapas Bar. Also new is the Food Republic, a sophisticated food hall developed by Miami-based Pubbelly restaurant.
Also visit venues of several well-known, land-based outlets including the first-ever Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” at-sea restaurant and “5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar,” a music venue and outdoor bar on the waterfront promenade area of the ship that features live nightly performances.
The District Brew House is a hip craft beer hall featuring an exclusive partnership with Miami’s Wynwood Brewing Company, and serves up more than 24 draft beers. The Cellars, aMichael Mondavi wine bar, features immersive wine experiences focusing on tasting, education, and the enjoyment of wine. Miami’s oldest and most legendary bar, Tobacco Road, has also been recreated onboard.
The entertainment is equally upscale with Tony award-winning Broadway musicals such as “After Midnight.” This musical combines the big-band songs of Duke Ellington with impressive dance routines. Another musical called the “Million Dollar Quartet” is inspired by the famous recording session that brought together rock and roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. The Supper Club cabaret “For the Record: The Brat Pack Live” is unforgettable for the way the actors sing and perform classic songs from “The Breakfast Club” and other 1980s movies, throughout the dining room.
If you are feeling brave, energetic and want some fresh air and exercise to work off the calories, the Escape’s recreation spaces include the largest-at-sea ropes course. This three-storey multiplex of ropes and beams includes two planks to walk that extend eight feet out over the side of the ship. A zipline track allows passengers to soar through the air. But even if you do none of this, just watching other passengers is entertainment enough.
The pool deck area features an open area for sunbathing, a double-deck bar and two large format LED screens. Feel like a kid again at theAqua Park which includes a tandem waterslide, with a clear acrylic section to further enhance the thrill that’s 367 feet long.
The Mandara Spa experience, spanning two decks, transports guests to a deep state of relaxation, with unobstructed views of the ocean, the opportunity to melt away on one of the 17 heated loungers, or find instant stress relief in the spa’s hydro-therapy pool, whirlpools, steam room, dry sauna, sanarium and salt room.
Once guests have heated up, they can step into the rejuvenating cold Snow Room, a first for the line, and enter into arctic refreshment. The Snow Room, which ranges from a frosty 21 degrees to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, sends out a flurry of powdery snow throughout the day. Norwegian Escape’s Snow Room offers guests a multitude of health benefits, including stimulating blood circulation in the body and strengthening the immune system.
In addition to the spectacular Thermal Suite, Norwegian Escape’s Mandara Spa is equipped with 24 contemporary furnished treatment rooms offering more than 50 signature services for both men and women including massages such as the Elemis Aroma Spa Seaweed Massage; Elemis signature facials such as the luxurious Elemis Pro-Collagen Quartz Lift Facial; and signature body enhancing treatments like the Exotic Lime & Ginger Salt Glow.
Norwegian Escape also features Spice H2O and Vibe Beach Club, two adult-only outdoor favourites perfect for lounging away the day. Spice H2O, located at the back of the ship on deck 17, is an adult-only enclave offering day-time complimentary leisure. A bevy of sun loungers surround a huge video screen, while two hot tubs await for those looking to de-stress.
An all-new soothing grotto area, complete with waterfalls and perfect for cooling off from the warm Caribbean sun, enchants guests upon entering the venue, offering an exotic escape. At night, all guests can dance under the stars in this open-air dance club or enjoy a cocktail at the bar with accompanying lounge area, featuring comfortable seating while admiring the ocean views.
Guests ages 18 also have the opportunity to enjoy another private retreat – Vibe Beach Club – by purchasing an access pass. Complete with ocean views, a large hot tub, luxurious chaise loungers and a soothing water feature, Vibe Beach Club will be the ideal spot for adults to escape, offering a serene, comfortable setting while soaking up the sun. A full-service bar, water spritzers and chilled towels complete the exclusive experience.
For accommodations there are many options from Studios for solo travellers, to staterooms that accommodate five people for families and groups. The luxurious Haven area is an exclusive, quiet, ship-within-a-ship private enclave of large, upscale cabins, some with a living and dining room of their own. This serene area features its own private pool, sundeck, bar, lounge and restaurant and has a three-storey courtyard and retractable roof.
With such variety of ship features, the Escape offers an exciting or relaxing escape, depending on your mood.
Call 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784) or visit ncl.com.
Published November 27, 2015