July 2016 - Norwegian Escape to Caribbean - Eastern
Previously cruised Carnival and Royal. Decided to try NCL because of the ports and free offers. Booked a mini suite on Escape going to St Thomas, Tortola, Bahamas.
Embarkation - Best experience on any ship
Cabin - Room smaller than Royal. Bathroom in mini suite was fantastic
Overall ship - Beautiful. Beyond noisy! In main dining areas you could not carry on a conversation with the people at your table. I can't emphasize enough how loud it was everywhere you went on the ship. We felt it was more the design of the ship than the amount of people. The different areas on the ship were competing with each other so if you were in the atrium they amped up the mike to be heard on 2 levels from front to back of ship. If someone was performing in a bar or were playing the piano they increased the volume to compete. We have been on many big ships with many people and never had this complaint. It was like when you are with a group and several conversations are going on at once and people will talk louder to be heard and that makes other people talk louder and it gets louder and louder and nobody can be heard. Also, the air filtration was poor. The smell of food and people permeated the ship making the elevators sometimes sickening. Walked the stairs because it took several minutes for an elevator to arrive and many times was already full this was all floors at all times. On this ship the top decks are dedicated to Haven level and activity so not much chance to enjoy the views from high levels. As others have mentioned you can forget swimming in the pool, you are lucky if you can sit in the pool. Only two pools which is not sufficient for this size of ship. There is an adult only area but it does not have a pool.
Food - Have always enjoyed the main dining areas. On Escape the main dining areas were too crowded, tables too close, food was only fair, menu was small, service was slow and cold and hot items were room temperature. Speciality restaurants (we tried three, steak house/habatchi/Brazilian) were exceptional in food and service and you could carry on a conversation. The buffet food was excellent (not our normal choice for every meal), setup superior to Carnival and Royal.
Drinks - only Pepsi products, with normal juice and tea complimentary. Every mixed drink I tried except at the mojoto bar was undrinkable. Wine was good. At first I was thinking the free drink package was a waste until I found the mojoto bar. It was the absolute best, taste and service!!
Disembarkation - Best of all cruises we have taken. We were off in 15 minutes.
Not part of cruise - If you need transportation from Ft Lauderdale to Miami use MJS transportation. They are very reasonable (15 per person or 30 per person if just 2 people) only waited about 10 min, new extremely nice Mercedes vans and they text you continually to keep you posted on arrival!!