9 Insider Tips For Cruising on Norwegian Escape

norwegian escape tips tricks cruise reviews
Head to the Waterfront for a quiet stroll away from the crowds. - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Whether you’ve already booked a cruise on Norwegian Escape or are still in the research phase, this collection of insider tips curated from thousands of member reviews will help you get the most out of your sailing.

1. Buy the Drink and Dining Packages

drink dining packages norwegian escape mondavi
Spend the money on the packages up front. - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Purchasing the drink and dining packages was by far the most popular tip we received from cruisers who sailed on Norwegian Escape. These packages almost always save you money in the long run, and there’s something to be said for the peace of mind that comes from not having to keep track of expenses on vacation.

"Check out the packages they offer. We took advantage of the unlimited drink package and felt it was worth it. Buying beverages on board can add up. " - jlett

"We did the all inclusive beverage package, the upgraded specialty dining and received on board credit. It was absolutely the way to go, not having to worry about paying for this and that." - Jbartlet 

Our Tip: Norwegian frequently runs “Free at Sea” promotions that give you the opportunity to get one or more of these packages for free when you book your cruise.


2. Make Dining and Entertainment Reservations Before You Board

norwegian escape dining entertainment reservations midnight
After Midnight - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

If there’s a restaurant or show you don’t want to miss, assume it's going to sell out and book it as soon as possible.

"Make your reservations before your cruise. You can do this online 90 days before the trip. Don't wait until you get on the ship or you will be disappointed." - NCJones

"To make a reservation at the a la carte restaurants, go directly to the restaurant way in advance to make the reservation. Calling Restaurant Reservations is an exercise in frustration." - jbrowning

"Be sure to make reservations for the Escape theatre, The Supper Club and the specialty restaurants before you go on board. It was very hard to get reservations before 9:30." - margiegeyer1 


3. The iConcierge App Doesn’t Always Work Perfectly

norwegian escape concierge app tips
iConcierge - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Not everyone has issues with the app, but the reviewers that did run into problems made their frustration very clear.

"DO NOT GET APP, iconcierge, its free to download but the $10 you pay to just text people on the ship sounds great but either you don’t get it or you might get it 2 days later. Since our itinerary changed it was not updated neither was the touch screen on the ship, so total waste of money." - sozia

"The one complaint that we heard from many people was the on board app for the phone. The texting feature was sporadic. You didn't know if a text went through and you had to log out and log in again to get it to work. The other problem was knowing when your reservations were scheduled. There isn't a place on the app to show these. It caused us to miss a dinner reservation. I would recommend getting the app, but you should know its limitations." - nheisler


4. Avoid Crowds By Going to the Waterfront or the Vibe Beach Club, or Booking The Haven

norwegian escape vibe waterfront haven crowds
Head to the Waterfront for peace and quiet. - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

On a ship with over 5,000 people, crowds are inevitable. Smaller ships may be more suited for those who don’t like hustle and bustle, but if you’ve already booked, there are a few ways to avoid the worst of the congestion.

"If you want to find a quiet place to read, watch as you sail, or have coffee in the morning, go out to the waterfront area of the ship. There is plenty of comfortable couches and chairs and is mostly quiet. It's a nice area to get away for some 'me time' if you are with a group, or just want to sit and enjoy the sites as you sail or are docked at a port." - PattyinVa

"They only sell 70 tickets to [Vibe] for $99 each. With that, you have a guaranteed lounge chair, bar service (cocktails, afternoon cookies, ice water, fruit skewers and fun bartenders), a private hot tub, misters and cooling shower. The regular pool (only one on the boat) was crowded and looked like human soup" - DeniseJNG

"If possible book a Haven room! They treat you like royalty! " - tvjones1022

Our Tip: Buy your Vibe pass immediately after boarding. They sell out almost immediately.


5. Be Prepared for Upcharges

norwegian escape upcharges extra costs
Teppanyaki - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Unless you’re sailing on an all-inclusive luxury line, you’ll have to pay extra to take advantage of some onboard activites and restaurants.

"Lots of extra charges for activities. We spent much more than we planned." - sabsmitz427073

"Plan to spend extra money on things if you want to take part in some of the activities" - shazam22 


6. Water Is Not Included in the Beverage Package

norwegian escape water beverage package
Bottled water costs extra.- Photo by Shutterstock

This sounds like a small detail, but judging by how many times it was mentioned by our members, the policy clearly struck some nerves.

"Know that the beverage package does NOT include bottled water or any food or drinks at their coffee shop. Kind of lame" - HavenRaven

"Bring a refillable water bottle, drink cost are crazy high." - lrmrex2


7. Don't Skimp Out on the Specialty Restaurants

norwegian escape specialty restaurants
Cagney's Steakhouse- Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Specialty restaurants on Norwegian Escape may cost extra, but hardly anyone seemed to think they weren’t worth the extra cost.

"Make sure you eat at Cagney's or the hibachi restaurant! All the food was great, even at the buffet, but these two were by far my favorite!" - msdaisy425

"You MUST eat at Margaritaville even though it's not one of the complimentary restaurants!! The Nachos are amazing and will feed at least 3 adults and are priced at $6!!" - dirtondog 


8. Freestyle Dining Can Be Hit or Miss

norwegian escape freestyle dining
Manhattan dining room - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Freestyle dining means you don’t have a specific time slot or table in the main dining room. It tends to be a highly polarizing feature as some cruisers love the flexibility of showing up to dinner whenever they feel like it, but we did see others complaining about long wait times and rushed service.

"Freestyle dining is the best, cruise was totaling relaxing and never felt like you had to rush to have dinner." - mijaas

"if you want a good dining experience in one of the complimentary dining rooms, don't do freestyle." - gregorychaphe


9. Find The Chocolate Cowboy 

norwegian escape chocolate cowboy
5 O'Clock Somewhere - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

We can’t guarantee he still works there, but The Chocolate Cowboy received so many glowing recommendations it’s worth stopping into 5 O'Clock Somewhere to find out!

"Go to the "Outside" 5 O'clock Somewhere Bar for your cocktails ! Best Customer Service on the Ship by Chocolate Cowboy and Tonnie !" - BonBon27

"Best part of the cruise was bartender Clarence as he calls himself "Chocolate Cowboy" in 5 O Clock Somewhere Bar. You must see him. He is amazing!" - divadee821


Other Notable Tips

"The fish on the carpet swim toward the bow." - ekean61496 

"Take along white clothing or neon clothes for the glow party." - sandramac04

"I waited until the last day to try and do the ropes course. Due to rain I missed the opportunity so do that first since the weather can change up." - mjenkins3510

"Also if you are into fitness go to the gym in the am and the view as the ship is docking is AMAZING!!!" - mjenkins3510

"Take advantage of the NextCruise offer onboard if you are looking forward to cruise again soon. " - ozaharis

Join the discussion

What's your tip for sailing on Norwegian Escape?


Posted by Lish77

My husband and I sailed on the Norwegian Escape last year, and it was the worst cruise we have ever sailed on. They only have one buffet to feed 5,000 people, which is the length of the ship, and it was a total circus. They had their Newlywed game and other shows off of the lobby, and everyone congregated in that small area to see the show, which was nuts. We normally cut out the show early because of all of the craziness. The shows were not that great on the ship. In fact, we were kind've bored. I got sun poison while in Honduras, and I had to go to the ship's doctor twice for treatment. It was a real scam. They charged me over $300.00 for the first visit, and when I went back the second time, I asked the nurse how much the second treatment would be, and she stated $75.00, plus the medication. Her $75.00 ended up closer to $500.00. Our total bill, which we received the night before we got off of the ship was nearly $900.00. They charge a la carte for everything. So much for the doctor, a separate charge for the nurse, etc. I will never go back to the ship's doctor unless I am on my deathbed. Seriously!! As I stated earlier, it was the worst cruise that we have ever been on, and we will never sail Norwegian Escape ever again. In fact, we are looking at sailing on Royal Caribbean (Freedom of the Seas) this year.

Posted by Ejan

I sailed on the Norwegian Breakaway and I'll never sail on another Norwegian ship again. The ship was insanely noisey and crowded and cheap, poorly prepared food in the complimentary resraurants. The trip was from New York to Bermuda and we discussed jumping ship in Bermuda.

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