Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sailing the brand new Norwegian Escape

We just returned from CruiseOne’s National Conference onboard the brand new Norwegian Escape.  Our National Conference is a yearly meeting, usually on a cruise ship, where agents get together with top industry executives and leaders and staff of our organization.  We had over 700 attendees, and industry professionals from other cruise lines, tour companies and others.  It’s pretty amazing to have a group like that and to hear from all of those amazing people.  Being away from my office for a week is tough, as I certainly did miss some new business.  However, it is well worth it to be able to learn new things that will help me personally and my business in the future.  Okay, so enough about that … on to this beautiful, amazing new ship!

Being that we were attending our conference, it was work related.  We did have to attend meetings and functions, so there were certain things that we did not get to see or attend.  But, there is plenty for me to tell you about the experiences we did have.  I do have to confess that the new ships by Norwegian are a favorite of mine (Epic, Breakaway, Getaway and Escape).  If you have sailed on Breakaway or Getaway, the Escape is a slightly larger version, layout is basically the same.  It does flow nicer and feel more spacious.  There are some new venues on Escape as well.

So, let’s start with the hull artwork on the Escape.  What a beautiful job by Guy Harvey!  This is my favorite hull design by Norwegian.  It is the perfect design for sailing in the Caribbean.  And to our surprise, Guy Harvey was actually on board our sailing attending a VIP event put on by Park West Gallery.  He did speak to our group and was very personable throughout the cruise.  We saw him by the elevators and he was more than happy to stop and say hello and take a photo with us.

Our accommodations:  For this trip we booked a Mini Suite.  Norwegian’s staterooms tend to be a little smaller than other contemporary cruise lines, so our mini suite was about the size of a standard balcony room on other lines.  The bathroom was where the big difference was.  It was nicely appointed with a large shower, a fantastic shower head with body sprayers, and a dual faucet sink.  Plenty of room to move around.  The stateroom itself was very nice.  Not a ton of storage, wish there were some drawers, but there was not.  There were some shelves around though.  All in all, the room was very comfortable.  We were in meetings, so we were not in there a whole lot, which is why we chose not to book the Haven for this trip (the Haven is an exclusive, key card access only area of the ship with concierge and butler service.  We did the Haven over the summer on the Getaway and it was amazing!).

As for the food … if you are looking for cuisine heaven this ship is it!  We did not even get to sample all of the dining options, but here is a recap of what we did get to partake in:

Night one, we ate at Teppanyaki, which is the Japanese hibachi restaurant.  This has been a favorite of ours, and certainly did not disappoint this time.  I had the lobster and filet, hubby had chicken and filet.  With that comes salad, soup, edamame, fried rice, veggies and dessert.  The cover charge for this restaurant is $29.95 per person.  Well worth it for the food and the experience.  The chefs are always entertaining.

Night two, we were off to Moderno Churasscaria, which is the Brazilian style steakhouse.  You know, where you have that little two sided card … one side is green where they will keep coming around with an endless supply of different meats and the other side is red where you are saying I have consumed way more than I have room for, please don’t give me anymore!  There is an endless salad bar with not only salad but other offerings as well, along with a few side dishes.  The food here is delicious as well.  Cover charge for this restaurant is $24.95 per person.

Night three, it was Cagney’s Steakhouse for us.  We had a nice table by the window and the food was absolutely amazing!  Filet and lobster for me again … hubby does not eat seafood, so if I get the chance to have it, I am all over it!  The price at this restaurant is a la carte, so it varies depending on what you have.  Again, well worth it!

Night four was Italian for us at La Cucina.  Pasta and tiramisu for me!  Always delicious.  Priced a la carte here as well.

Night five we went to Bayamo, which is Iron Chef Jose Garces’ restaurant onboard.  The menu here consists of mostly seafood with Latin flavors.  This is a smaller venue, so make reservations early for this one!  The food was incredible, and the service was top notch.  Pricing is a la carte here as well.

Night six, back to Teppanyaki.  Yep, it’s that good!

Night seven, back to Moderno.  Hey, you stick to the good stuff!

For lunch, we sometimes ate at O’Sheehan’s, which is included in the cruise fare (no extra cover charge here).  O’Sheehan’s is a bar and grill, offering American cuisine.  Our favorite lunch spot was Food Republic though.  This place was awesome!  Food Republic is a fusion of foods and cultures from around the globe, curated by the Pubbelly Boys from South Beach.  This is a specialty dining venue, and food is priced a la carte.  This is such a great venue, I wish it was on all ships!  The items are ordered off an iPad and brought out to you when they are ready.  The dishes are sized where you need to order a few, especially if you are sharing.  Each trip we ordered about 5 different items.  The Brussel sprouts and sliders were favorites of ours.  We actually craved going here!

Almost forgot … there is a wine bar onboard, The Cellars, which is a Michael Mondavi bar.  Located on Deck 8, right in the middle of everything.  We spent a couple nights here sipping wine.  A great hang out spot!  You can do wine tastings here as well.

Sadly, we did not attend any of the shows, but we were told by many that the Supper Club, which is a dinner show was outstanding.  Next trip we will have to do this.  We did make it to Howl at the Moon one night for about an hour.  This is one of our favorites on board.  Here is where you will find the dueling pianos playing your requests.  The musicians are fantastic, and very entertaining!

As a final note … I would definitely sail this ship again and recommend it highly.  It is a ship that fits for just about any type of traveler.  If you love larger ships with lots of activities, this is for you.  If you love smaller, more intimate ships, hey, the Haven fits that bill.  If you love food, this ship has you covered!
I just loved the napkins on board!  Had to throw this photo in.

There is so much more that I did not get to experience or cover here.  If you would like to know more about Norwegian Escape, please feel free to contact me.  You can get my by email, by phone, 888-882-5793 or 321-735-0202 or you can even visit my personal Norwegian Escape website to browse through everything the ship has to offer!  Of course you can visit my full website as well to browse any cruise line vacation!

Vacations create memories that last a lifetime.  I would love to help you create those memories!

Happy Vacationing!
Kathy Freer
CruiseOne Freer & Associates