We had a large group of friends on this cruise (30) and that made this a fun trip. I was super excited about the original cruise itinerary but due to the hurricanes last season we were moved to western which was a bummer for me - I much prefer eastern. We've done probably 8 cruises on the Oasis class ship with RCCL and I feel this is just a step down IMO. I would do this ship again on another itinerary, but others in our group are headed back to RCCL.
3 out of 5
We had signed up to embark with the first group/wave of passengers. The staff was a little late in opening the doors, so we were 15 minutes or so later than project. As we were the last in the check in line, someone opened up another section of the check in process so the people behind us went from last to first in the check in process as they opened the turnstyles. No biggie, but they were late opening up and then we had to wait a while to get onboard. We had friends that showed up significantly later than us (1 hour or so) and they only ended up being about 10 minutes behind us getting on the ship.
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
The buffet had a good variety, after a few days I'm just not a buffet fan regardless of the cruise line. The main dining was a painfully long experience and the food was very average compared to other cruises we've been on, in fact I turned down and entire meal during one seating (appetizer/main course). On the drinks side - the staff was very attentive at the bars (especially the pool staff). I'm a bit of a bourbon fan and the selection was somewhat limited (Woodford Reserve was an upcharge). I would give the pool bar staff 5 stars, but my review is a blended average of all of the above so it's 3 stars for me. When we were arriving someone recommended that we do the specialty dining and I understand why now, dining was just OK - but there's lots of options for specialty dining (at an upcharge).
3 out of 5
We were with a large group with a number of kids and there was a bunch to do for the kids (ropes course, basketball, kids pool, water slides, kids 'water park'), that was great for the range of age we had in terms of kids. I'm only rating this 3 stars because they clearly sacrificed pool space for other activities and the adults wanting some pool space We are used to the Oasis class ships and it's nice to have multipe options to swim. Escape has a kids pool and an adult pool so on days at sea the adults pool is PACKED. The walking tack is a joke, I think it's 1/8th of a mile. I think on deck 8 or 7 you can almost walk around the enitre ship so some walkers went down there for a nice walk. The fitness center was OK, a little smaller than others we've seen. Casino was huge, but lots of smoke (expected). I didn't even want to walk on that floor when the casino was closed it was so stinky.
We didn't take advantage of the shows/comedy clubs.
3 out of 5
The splash academy was on the 5th floor and they decor was very dark. It just didn't feel like a positive place to be. The staff was nice enough and my 6 year old went a few times with no complaints really, but no sunlight and it just felt like they were in the basement. The aqua park was fine, but my 6 year old was more interested in the ropes course.
Service and Staff
3 out of 5
Our room steward was excellent and worked with us as our kids were coming and going often - I'd give him 5 stars as well as the pool bar staff. If you are on the Escape, make friends with "Tiger", he's very attentive to your needs. Our service in the main dining rooms was just OK, painfully slow to get through dinner. There was very little interaction with the service staff in the buffet. Each table had a 'name' of the service staff that was supposed to be tending to the area, but rarely did I see them. The buffet staff was friendly when walking around looking at your options. Main dining brings this down for me.
4 out of 5
I liked the ship, nice outdoor bars on deck 8. The staff did a great job keeping the ship spotless in all the common areas. Just personal preference, but the interior of the ship was very 'dark' and not what I'm used to just in terms of design/look/feel (dark colored paneling).
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Our room was very spacious and was comfortable.
5 o'clock somewhere was a very nice bar on the outside of the ship where you can enjoy a drink and the open air to the sea. I really like that spot to relax.
Jamaica is meh for me. The transportation costs are a little higher for my family of 5 versus other ports of call ($20 per person roundtrip). We went to the Blue Water Beach Club, $10 per person entry. Blue water was nice, beer prices were around $5 a piece. Food is al a carte, reasonable $12 for jerk chicken.
Grand Cayman is beautiful. I took two of my kids and a friend Scuba diving with Epic divers. Great expereince, we got to swim with a sea turtle, a shipwreck and a bronze mermaid statue - kids had a blast. It was a bit of a short amount of time on GC, but we had a blast. The rest of our group went to Calico Jack's as did most of the other cruise ships there that day (5 ships). The group was a little disappointed because the beach was so narrow and with all the cruise passengars Jack's was packed as was the beach so they didn't care for GC as much.
The cruise port is nice, it's a decent walk to get to cabs/taxi's to get downtown. We took a 'shuttle' to town and went to Yaya Beach club - it'd highly recommend it. I think it's $2-3 each way for a cab to/from the cruise port. Yaya has limited space, so I'd make a reservation. Yaha was the 'highlight' for our group everyone thought it was their favorite stop. I thought it was fine, would definitely do it again - but I didn't feel as strongly as the rest of the group - maybe i'm tough to please.
We walked down to the Tiki Bikini Hut because of it's rating on tripadvisor. The service was slow at best, there was broken glass all over the beach . The view if you look straigt is the lighthouse leading into the cruise port and that was the extent of any nice scenary. We paid a little more than we should have for beach chairs and an umbrella - but you live and learn. I think the staff working with us wore 'bamboo beach club' shirts. The beers and wait to get beers at Tiki were long so we went to another beach vendor to buy our beverages. The water looked pretty, but not the clearest I've seen in the bahamas.
4 out of 5
We carried our luggage off and were were off the ship in about 10 minutes.
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