Norwegian Escape for Family Cruising
There are several things to consider when selecting a cruise for the family vacation. Itinerary is understandably important, as is price and specifically what you get for the price. Beyond that, my experience has shown me that it is very important to consider the following three things within the actual cruise ship you may travel upon. In no particular order:
- Entertainment (with and without kids)
- Cleanliness & Ingenuity
I recently sailed on the Norwegian Escape on a 2-night media sailing. The ship was grand, with much South Florida, specifically Miami, influence in the design, restaurants and more. Our kids were not on the sailing, so our review of kid programs and how kids may/may not enjoy aspects on the ship are speculative. We hope to be invited to sail with the kids and report on a family cruising experience on the Norwegian Escape in the future.
Onto my experience on the Norwegian Escape:
Incredible. Two of the three shows we experienced on the Norwegian Escape we LOVED. On our first night we went to The Supper Club for The Brat Pack Live performance. It was a show where we truly had fun. It was like a marathon of all those classic ’80s teen movies, including The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, St. Elmo’s Fire and Pretty in Pink. I quietly sang along to the songs that became famous and had been danced to in my middle school and high school years – like St. Elmo’s Fire, In Your Eyes, Don’t You Forget About Me and more.
On the second night we saw the Million Dollar Quartet. Instead of a flashback to the 80s, guests sat in a 1956 recording studio with icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins jamming to the soon-to-be classics like Walk the Line and Folsom Prison Blues.
Daytime entertainment was filled with thrill. The Aqua Park – largest at sea – on the Escape features a new tandem Aqua Racer slide. I am THANKFUL that it was closed during the time we headed up there (Yes, I’m a scared of waterslides and knew Tom would have really encouraged (forced) me to go down it!) I did enjoy (much to my husband’s coercion) two other (scary-to-me) water slides. There is an expanded Kids’ Aqua Park, too. I really hope my girls can sail on the Escape to enjoy these slides because I know that the 9 year specifically would LOVE them all!
Guests will find the largest ropes course at sea on the Escape. While we didn’t have the time to do it, we heard rave reviews from colleagues who braved the planks and Sky Rails. Remember to pack sneakers to you can take on the ropes course!
Cleanliness & Ingenuity
Yes, it’s a VERY new ship, so it should be clean. However, sometimes things should be and aren’t. The Norwegian Escape was a very clean ship. I saw employees cleaning different areas of the ship regularly. There were plenty of anti-bacterials stations around the ship. There were several sinks with soap at the entrance of the Garden Cafe (the buffet) to encourage hands to be appropriately cleaned.
In the staterooms, I was pleased to see USB ports on the bedside lamps. A great use of space to stow belongings, including the option for guests to tuck suitcases below the beds. The bathroom was ample and modern. I also noticed, but didn’t use, a coffee machine. I usually order room service on a cruise ship, but making my own coffee would be something I would likely do on a longer sailing.
Eating on cruise ships is often one of the most remembered aspects of a trip. Everyone remembers great food and bad food. Thankfully the Norwegian Escape is doing great job with food. There are all new and upgraded menus across all the restaurants. There are 11 complimentary dining options, as well as several signature specialty dining options.
We ate at The Supper Club when we enjoyed the Brat Pack Live performance. The food was surf and turf in a pre-set menu. The meal was pretty good. On the second night we at the Moderno Churassacaria, the Brazillian Steakhouse. Again, the meal was pretty good and we left with our tummies very full.
Norwegian Cruise Lines is known for their Freestyle Cruising, where you don’t have a set time and table for dinner each night. There are certainly advantages to that, but I must say there is something to be said for the relationship your family builds with their waiter when you regularly dine at the same dining room each evening. Regardless, we enjoy splurging on specialty restaurants no matter the cruise line. You can enjoy a meal at a fraction of the cost that it is on land.
One of the best parts of dining on the Norwegian Escape was the Seafood Extravaganza. We stopped at the Garden Cafe, the ship’s buffet, to be pleasantly surprised with the variety of seafood options. We had beyond our fair share of stone crabs, lobsters, mussels, oysters and more!
Straight out of Miami, the Norwegian Escape welcomes the Potbelly Group with their Food Republic and The District Brew House from the Wynwood neighborhood brewery. A Tobacco Road pub is also on the ship. (That is the name of the recently closed and first and oldest bar in Miami.)
Howl at the Moon which was ALWAYS packed was a blast to grab a drink and sing some tunes.
We were blessed to meet Michael Mondavi and his daughter Dina who were there to celebrate the opening of The Cellar – a Robert Mondavi Family Wine Bar on the ship. The Cellar as a warm, intimate feel that is perfect for relaxing and enjoying a great glass of Pinot.
Escape and Beyond
Stateroom size and layout is worth considering, but it is not the deciding factor in selecting a cruise ship. A great cruise has so many awesome things to be doing that a family will spend very limited time in their stateroom. I do have one must-have – a balcony. Our family treats the balcony like an additional room of our stateroom. I love to wake up before the rest of them, receive the room service that I’ve ordered and sit on the balcony in total peace and sip my first cup of coffee. It’s a great experience that you should enjoy.
In a short 2-night media sailing of the Norwegian Escape, I was able to experience these three components of cruising. As my children were not sailing with us, my evaluation of their kids program and how the kids would or would not enjoy certain aspects of the ship is limited. I do hope to be invited to sail with the family so I can provide you with a more details experience report to help you decide of when ship to book your next family vacation.