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An (Honest) Review of Norwegian Cruise Line Escape

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Almost every year my husband and I escape (like my pun) for our anniversary. We started this about 5 years ago because of his insane schedule we realized we weren’t pouring into our relationship like we should be. Sometimes our trips are weekend getaways to Asheville, other times we splurge on grander trips. This past year we decided to go to Bermuda. We had been warned about the cost on the island, so we decided on a Norwegian Cruise because we love the beach. Here is my (honest) review of the Norwegian Cruise Line Escape to Bermuda.

The cruise leaves from New York City, we flew up the day before and spent the evening sightseeing around New York. I hope to blog about this afternoon in a future blog post. The next day we left from the New York, New York port right in downtown, we loved leaving at sunset. We grabbed drinks right before we left and soaked up the skyline at sunset.

Where to Stay

We stayed at the no Hilton Garden Inn Times Square South. I love Hilton properties and we tend to stay in them because of their wonderful customer service. From here we caught an Uber to the cruise port, which was incredibly easy. They dropped us off right where we needed to be, the porters met us and grabbed our bags for us. It happened to be Fleet Week, so the Navy ship was next door, we looked right down on it from the top deck.

Embarkation Process

Being an avid cruiser can mean great embarkation and horrible at times. Norwegian Cruise Line was relatively easy, we didn’t have terribly long lines, and the agents were friendly. If you don’t have a spa level room you wait in the regular lines, spa rooms move to a fast lane. We were in a regular balcony room so waited in the slower lane, but it still moved relatively fast. They provided water for patrons as you wait in the lines.

Once on the ship, we waited just a little bit before our rooms were ready. Of course we hit up the buffet and then relaxed on the pool deck. The buffet was okay, I hoped for a much better sit down meal, which normally is the case on cruises. One of my biggest complaints about cruises is the lack of healthy food, they tend to have a salad bar and that’s about it. NCL was no different in this aspect.

Sea Days

Reading The Core on our balcony

For us the sea days were spent by the pool reading and working out. Since we were sans kids we lounged a lot more than usual. It was rainy so we couldn’t lay out most of the time, but we enjoyed the hot tub. My husband and I work often, we did a nice long workout in the gym a few times. Thankfully, we paid for a balcony to enjoy the beautiful views. Anyone else love reading on their deck? It is so relaxing. Unfortunately, we waited too long to do the ropes course and only had one day with decent weather, so we never did it. The weather was pretty miserable on this cruise to be honest. We did venture out one night to a deck party on the adult only deck. Nothing too wild and crazy, but we enjoyed going for a little bit.

Food

We are foodies, I workout so I can eat. I love to eat, which usually is my favorite part of a cruise. The food wasn’t the best, at all. In fact, it was probably the worst food I’ve had on a cruise-ever. The buffets didn’t change much at all. We tend to eat a light breakfast, later lunch, and then a later dinner. We found that by the time we made it for lunch they were closing down stations and we were left with minimal choices. However, the service at the buffets exceeded the service at the sit down dinners many times.

Our sit down dinners lasted a long time because of the extremely slow service. I hated the freestyle dining because we always waited, unless it was really late. Normally, we eat later anyway. We would go get a glass of wine and then wait until the crowds died down. But even then some nights it was nearly 10 pm before we were eating.

I’ll be honest, since we didn’t stress about feeding my celiac daughter, I didn’t even look for gluten-free. I bet that they have gluten-free options though. Most of the cruise lines do these days, my bet is that Norwegian is no different. I unfortunately have no definite answer on this though.

The food let me down, big time. Even the desserts were eh. Many nights I ordered something that sounded delicious. It arrived cold, overcooked, or just gross. My husband literally will eat anything, and even he was choking down some of the food at times. Incredibly disappointing because that is my favorite part of a cruise normally.

Entertainment

Another favorite part of cruises are the shows! What we loved on Norwegian Cruise Escape, the piano bars! So much fun! Not in the get drunk fun- we are not that type at all. We just loved watching them play all the great classic piano songs! The pianists could play incredibly fast, and the audience would join in singing to the tunes. Another activity we enjoyed, the game shows in the main lobby. We would go and watch and sometimes participate in those too. Mini golf was a lot of fun, and if you went at the right time there were virtually no lines. My husband rode the slide one time, but it was quite cold; however, he enjoyed it.

What I hated, the production shows! Disney had the best shows, but I loved Carnival’s and Royal Caribbean’s shows as well. We went to two different shows and both disappointed. The one was quite raunchy and I would have felt uncomfortable with my children watching it. I know that Carnival and Royal Caribbean used to do later shows that were adult shows. This was the regular show. Unfortunately, we were in seats that required us to climb over numerous people to leave. After that show we didn’t go back. If you have children I would advise you to avoid the shows.

Hidden Gem

Halfway through our cruise we found a hidden gem, a wine bar with couches overlooking the ocean. What was so great about it? It was dead every time we went. I’m not sure if it is because we went at sunset every night or if it is slow even later into the evening. We would grab a glass of wine and watch the sunset from a couch nightly. My husband and I had some wonderful conversations on these couches. If you are going on the cruise, I suggest you make a stop here. Even if you don’t drink you can just grab a couch and watch the sunset, it is not to be missed.

Gym

My view as I ran on the treadmills

Norwegian Cruise Line Escape gym far exceeded my expectations! They had really nice equipment and it wasn’t overly crowded either. In the gym we found treadmills, bikes, weights, weight machines, ellipticals, and other equipment. Running on a treadmill on a ship takes some coordination, which I don’t have! I don’t think most people go on a cruise and workout, but this is something we enjoy doing. The gym was extremely clean too, I saw people constantly wiping it down. The views make you want to workout too, you can see for miles. You must pay for the classes such as yoga, spin, and pilates though. If you are going on this cruise, make sure you visit the gym.

Port Days

Beautiful sailboats in Bermuda

Honestly, the debarkation on the port days was incredibly easy! The ship docks in the Royal Dockyard. It was about an hour to get to the other side of the island via bus but only about 20-30 mins via boat. We grabbed our stuff and were off the ship in a few minutes. Having only 3 days in Bermuda, we tried to use our time wisely. Unfortunately it rained (as in torrential downpours) the first day! We finally snuck off of the ship for a few hours, but it was chilly. Bermuda is a beautiful country, I’ll blog soon about it! The cruise made it easy to go into town and then come back and eat. Food is insanely expensive in Bermuda, so we didn’t eat out at all. There are a few bars and restaurants in the Royal Dockyard and several little shops. I actually enjoyed the docking area.

Debarkation

As we were pulling into the port

We pulled into New York very early. I suggest you get up and watch! The city is all lit up and it is stunning. I hopped up and was mesmerized by the twinkling lights throughout the city. My husband and I watched from our balcony as we pulled in. It was beautiful, and definitely not to be missed.

We almost always carry off our luggage when we leave. Being non-revvers we aim for the earliest flight we can. We planned on taking the first flight out we could. However, earlier that morning the steward left our receipt and we’d noticed a discrepancy. My husband went to take care of it, and went around and around with the pursers desk. It was quite aggravating. They tried to charge us more for a drink than they should have, thankfully my husband saved all of our receipts. If he had tossed this receipt, I think we would have been screwed. Even more irritating the fact it was a bartender who overcharged us. They asked my husband to go back to talk to him first. So we ended up missing the flight we were banking on; thankfully, we made the next one. Other than that though the rest of the process was quick and painless.

Final Thoughts

Overall my husband and I had a wonderful trip; however, I am not sure we will cruise again on NCL. I hope you find my Norwegian Cruise Line Escape review helpful. For low budget cruisers you may love it, it’s no frill. I definitely wouldn’t take my family on it, it isn’t a kid friendly cruise in my opinion. While I have sweet memories on the deck couches watching sunsets, I think I’ll stick with another cruise line next time. Bermuda though…shouldn’t be missed.

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Mrs. BaniaLauren (Where the Wild Kids Wander)ElizabethChris Manno Recent comment authors
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Chris Manno
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Chris Manno

Thanks for the heads up—dining is such a major element of the cruise experience that mediocre, slow, or repetitious food is a deal breaker for us. We’ve always skipped the entrainment because on most cruises (we’ve done five) it seems more on a par with Six Flags than Broadway. So we usually find a quiet bar to just hang out together and it sounds like the wine bar you found work be wonderful. But if the overall experience wasn’t at least wonderful, we won’t risk a cruise on NCL. That’s our take on both Princess and Holland America by the… Read more »

Elizabeth
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Elizabeth

Did you do any spin classes? Curious how they are?

Also- prefer to eat healthy- and hate that there aren’t any options!!! That upsets me big time!

Lauren (Where the Wild Kids Wander)
Guest

Thanks for the honest review! So-so food is a deal breaker for me, so even though it seemed like other elements were good, we probably wouldn’t do this cruise.

ania
Guest

My hubby never wanted to go on a cruise – he says its too boring, but reading this I feel like I want a try to have everyday sunset with over the ocean with glass of wine