Escape on the Norwegian Escape
My wife and I recently (January 2019) took a cruise on the Norwegian Escape around the Caribbean sailing out of New York. Quick summary, if you don't need any special assistance or if nothing bad happens then Norwegian are fine. Something happens or you need specialist help they are terrible. Ship is beautiful with some fabulous restaurants. As always the Park Gallery was excellent. So onto more detail! First up is embarkation. What a disaster! The previous cruise had suffered a small norovirus outbreak. So when they arrived at New York it took a long time for them to get the previous guests off and the areas of the ship we were allowed into clean. We were stuck in a queue for hours. People fainted, we didn't see this ourselves but heard it from others in other sections of the queue. Thing is they knew we wouldn't be able to board for hours, days in advance and yet they called everyone to the port early. Ridiculous. An experience I don't want to repeat. When we finally boarded our rooms weren't ready until late (7ish I think our room was actually ready for) and our cases didnt arrive until closer to nine. First day at sea was rough, really rough. Gotta say though, nothing was overly effected by this, nothing so much as moved as the ship heaved which was great. For the majority of the cruise we couldn't serve ourselves at the buffet, again because of previous cruises outbreak. This slowed everything right down. However the buffet is so large and well organised that if you moved to the rear of was usually quiet enough not to have to wait more than 30s for anything. Staff in buffet ranged from: clearly not wanting to be there to bubbly happy and very friendly. We tried a lot of the restaraunts so here is my personally break down of them. Please note i am a very fussy water! Manhattan room is the main included restaurant. My advice eat there a lot! It is excellent! Food was fantastic, atmosphere was brilliant and the staff friendly and attentative. Taste and Savour. These are the other two included restaraunts. Both are good, quieter than Manhattan. Service was mixed however and there were frequent queues and waiting times for these. O'Sheehans pub. Fantastic place for lunch, grabbing a drink and watching the entertainment in the lobby. Loved this place. For dinners wasnt really our place as the food was more appropriate for lunches and snacks... which we did a lot... Oh and the bar staff are great. Introduced us to the mudslide cocktail, which is delicious and a must for those with a sweet tooth! Cagneys steak house. Great food, good atmosphere. Particularly liked sitting at the window looking down into Manhattan room as there was often people dancing. Moderno, great food, and the staff bringing the meat around are fun and engaging. The buffet was vast but as we couldn't serve ourselves was a bit uncomfortable for me. Le Bistro was a disappointment to me. Noisy, cramped and the staff were by far the worst we experienced. The food was ok but lacking in flavour for my tastes. My wife enjoyed the food though so, again, could just be me! La Cucina was the most disappointing restaurant we tried. Lack lustre food, poor atmosphere. I don't know what was wrong with the place, but it says a lot that the pizza was significantly better in the Garden cafe buffet than in the specialist Italian restaurant. We didn't try any other restaraunts so can't comment on them. So entertainment. The piano player, JR I think he was called, was excellent. Highly skilled, brilliant range and good singing voice. We saw him a lot! The comedians on board were hysterical! A must! Howl at the moon is understandably busy and you have to get there early to get a good seat. But we'll worth the effort. Also the bar staff will come through the seating to take orders! This did result in me having a bit too much to drink but had a great night. The main act was choir of Man. Simply brilliant. Loved it! If you get the chance on Land or Sea you must see them! Onto the outside spaces. The main pool is loud and busy. Some people liked it, but it isn't my taste. The adult only H20 is great when you can get a seat. Only complaint here is lack of sun umbrellas. It gets hella hot! The Grotto is brilliant and we loved it. The bar here needed a few more members of staff as you could wait some time to get drinks, but they are good when they get to you. Could do with a food outlet up there as, although the Garden cafe is just a floor down, it can be difficult to get to the cafe if you have difficulty with stairs. The elevators are poorly programmed and can take a very long time to get up to H20s deck. The waterfront. This should have been the crowning glory on the ship. But without cushions the seats are uncomfortable. Cushions didnt arrive until the last 3 or 4 days of the cruise. The wine bar on the waterfront is an excellent place to watch the sunset! 5 o'clock somewhere bar is not to my taste. Loud drunk people are drawn to it! Cabin. We had a balcony cabin on deck 9 directly above the waterfront and in front of the stairs and elevator well. Never heard much noise. The rooms are nicely sized but could do with more space for clothes. Bathroom is more than adequate. The TV in the room is a let down. We've sailed with Celebrity before and the TV was brilliant had plenty of choice which if you're just wanting to chill out in your room for a bit is great. But on Norwegian you get a movie channel and a TV channel, filled with repeats. Really poor. So finally onto the odd stuff. My wife broke her ankle on an excursion. It was a private excursion not one organised by the ship. The medics on board the ship are fantastic, cannot fault them at all from treatment to helping eith insurance! So that is a weight off for any who like me worry about these things. However now my wife couldn't walk. We asked if we could hire a wheelchair at all. Nope. We would have had to book for the whole trip. They don't have contingencies for these kind of events which is poor I'm my opinion. Had to cancel a trip booked through the ship due to this injury. On celebrity if you decide to cancel its no hassle no worries. Totally different on Norwegian. We had to get a doctor's line... seriously... just pathetic and ridiculously poor customer service. Finally disembarkation and day at New York. Norwegian offer a tour of New York with transfer to airport. But only Ia Guardia or JFK. Not Newark. We asked if we could pay more if they could get us to Newark. On Celebrity they would have done this But Norwegian will not lift a finger to help people. Again poor service. For disembarkation we booked wheel chair assist. We were given a time to turn up for this. We thought finally some good service, boy were we wrong. They were running massively late, didn't have enough wheel chairs and the poor guy trying to organise it was nearly in tears. After waiting 45 min with no end in sight my wife hobbled through the queues, into the giant warehouse where you've to find your suitcase (that had been split up for some reason) and then make it through customs where no one seems to know what they're doing. We were told by one person to go up a special needs queue only to be told off by boarder control and flared at by the rest of the queue before someone finally showed up to sort it all out. Truly disgraceful! So end summary time! The ship is beautiful and when running properly, I.e. there hasn't been an outbreak before, would be brilliant as long as you could get yourself about and never needed help from Norwegian. Embarkation and disembarkation were total nightmares! Puts me off sailing with Norwegian or out of New York. But i would give them a second chance.
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