Family Vacation Week on Norwegian Escape
by Marilyn Elrod
(Wilmington, NC, USA)
The booking process for my family of 12 to cruise on Norwegian Escape was fairly easy. The representative my husband talked to was well-informed and accommodating, answering any questions or concerns. For the 12 of us, there were four (4) rooms booked (ours, for two adults 11862, our son/wife/2 children 11864, our daughter/husband/2 children 11661, and our daughter/husband 11100). We also wanted to add the 150 internet minutes package for each room, as well as the dinner package which covered two (2) meals for each adult eight (8) for two nights in a specialty restaurant.
The specialty dinner nights we chose were the first night and the last night and made reservations. We were happy with the dining experience in these restaurants. However, the last night is when we found out that somehow one of our rooms (the two adults in 11661), was only signed up for one specialty dining night. My husband did specify we wanted two nights for all adults, but at booking time, the representative must have entered something wrong. My son-in-law paid for his meal that night.
If I can back up a bit, when my family arrived at Port Canaveral, we found the process of “herding” guests cars, parking, information from NCL members was a nightmare. This was the first impression we got to set the tone for our week, and it was not pleasant. Elevators (one or both) were not working and we were communicated to with conflicting information from different NCL staff, etc.
Back to dining - The Garden Cafe on Norwegian Escape is where we ate the majority of the time. Most of us were happy with the food there, most of the time. The staff at the Garden Cafe was outstanding. The ice cream was always a hit! We went to Savor and O’Sheehans, one night each. We were not as enamored with the service or the food at these restaurants. The staff did a good job, but the service was extremely slow.
Regarding our rooms, we were happy with all four of them and the staff that took care of the rooms were friendly and accommodating!
My family was disappointed in the inability to find lounge chairs to sit in, which has always been an issue on cruises in the past. Unfortunately, we found that many throw a towel on chairs and then don’t return to them, making it hard to find a chair that has not been “saved.”
The kids used the pool, but the adults did not. Some family members used the slides - mostly the tube slide, which was praised, but the wait-times for it were long. The ropes course on Norwegian Escape was a hit, but again, wait-times were very long during the day (at almost closing time, it seemed to be less full).
We booked excursions in St. Thomas and Tortola. My family enjoyed the "catamaran snorkel and sail" in St. Thomas, but we felt it was falsely advertised. The duration of this excursion was much shorter than advertised and there were no snacks offered. We, fortunately, had brought a small snack which did tide the kids over. The Tortola excursion was a beach break, which we all enjoyed.
Norwegian's private island, Great Stirrup Cay, was a hit, once we arrived. The tender process was atrocious. There was miscommunication about this, as well as other processes. It seems, when my husband and I compared the “standard process” of most all of the communication from NCL staff to their guests (about just about everything), it was atrocious, compared to communication on past cruises. Other guests outside of our family shared this to be their experience too.
This was the most disappointing aspect of our cruise experience. What is supposed to be a stress-free environment, proved to be stressful when it came to getting accurate (and not contradictory) information from NCL during our vacation.
What we all agreed was a real highlight of our Norwegian Escape family vacation were the entertainment shows! We took in a show almost every night and were amazed with the level of talent in these shows! A+ on entertainment!
We experienced the same level of miscommunication at time of disembarkation, as we’d experienced throughout the week. For an example of the miscommunication here, we were not told (by NCL) what we needed as identification prior to disembarking, but during the process, we were told (by NCL) that we needed to get into one line if we had a passport, another if we had a birth certificate, at which time we scrambled to dig our passports out of our luggage, only to find out when we reached the face recognition station that we did not need our room keys, a passport, a birth certificate, or a drivers license - just our faces. This, along with the two inoperable parking deck elevators, was a stressful, parting impression.
Overall, I’d have to say that my family made good memories on Norwegian Escape, but was very disappointed with communication and will most likely consider another cruise line in the future, due to the daily “right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing” experience we encountered daily. Thank you!