7 Tips for Enjoying A Trip on Norwegian Escape
Photo by Jason Leppert
For the most part, the Norwegian Escape is a splendid evolution of Norwegian Cruise Line’s popular Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway that came before it, and as you would expect, there is a lot to take in onboard. After sailing on the new Pitbull-christened ship, I’ve gathered my tips on how to maximize your experience aboard the line’s largest ever cruise ship.
If You Can Afford It, Book a Suite at The Haven
The exclusive Haven ship-within-a-ship enclave perched forward at the top of the ship was already pretty special onboard the Breakaway and Getaway, but on the Escape it’s even better. Not only are the suites themselves luxurious, the exclusive space that guests booked therein have access to is now three decks tall with a private pool, spa, lounges, bar and restaurant including a lovely al fresco patio.
Do Not Miss “For the Record” at the Supper Club
I know. “For the Record: The Brat Pack” sounds weird, a musical tribute to John Hughes films from the 1980s at a Supper Club no less, but it’s excellent. In short order, you are drawn in by the performers’ back stories as their vocal prowess conveys comedy and drama. The great music and a tasty set menu make for a most excellent (Bill and Ted’s absence notwithstanding) evening experience.
Arrive Early to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Sea
Since the Breakaway and Getaway, the complimentary sun deck grill has become Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Sea. While it’s fantastic that this offering is free, it is that much more popular because of it. Unlike the quick takeaway grill and open-seating of its predecessors, here tables are assigned with full service. That means, it fills up fast with a pager system for those left waiting upwards of over an hour. In other words, get in line early to avoid the wait or be left looking for your lost shaker of salt in the meantime.
(Update: As of Nov. 28, 2015, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville at Sea now charges a la carte prices).
Plan Ahead for Dining in General
The sheer amount of dining venues on the Norwegian Escape is staggering, and with recently improved menus across the board, you could even enjoy the complimentary ones exclusively and be completely satisfied. Or you can partake in it all, but that would certainly require more meals in the day than a one week’s cruise will afford (all the more reason to return). Just be sure to make reservations early as the most popular restaurants fill up at lightning speed. My advice: plot out primary and secondary choices for your dining schedule for the whole week ahead of time and book them as soon as possible.
Be a Thrill Seeker
Between the ropes course and waterslides, there is no shortage of thrills that will dare you to participate. While I didn’t have time to try it all on our two-night preview sailing, I have always been tempted to walk the tethered plank, and now there are two of them. In the spirit of YOLO (“you only live once” for those not yet in the know), you should go for it. And after working up a sweat from the challenge, you can cool off with an equally thrilling freefall as you drop in to a high-speed tube body slide and are propelled upwards by water and your momentum before a final splashdown. The sensation is unlike any other.
Seek Solitude Away from the Main Pool
One thing that remains true on the Escape as on its sisters is that the singular main pool is not large enough to accommodate the crowds. But there is a secondary pool beneath the waterslides that is less busy, albeit with less sunshine too, and the new grotto water feature at the adults-only Spice H2O is another great retreat to get your splash on. Other areas you can seek solitude at are a new sun deck that skirts the ship’s forecastle above the main pool, and the Mandara Spa that features a sprawling thermal suite to accommodate lots of loungers.
Don’t Lament the Casino Smoking
One of the biggest complaints about this class of ship is the proliferation of smoke that drifts inside the casino and beyond into adjacent 678 Ocean Place venues. Although it was too late to implement the change before the ship’s launch, there are thankfully plans to enclose a smoking section within the next six months to finally do away with this problem. Such a modification is also expected in the near future for the Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway as well.
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