A Huge WOW For Norwegian Escape

by Vanessa Lee

Norwegian Escape pool area

The Cellars

The Haven

Michael & Dina Mondavi

The District Brewhouse

I have been cruising on 2 wonderful ships spending much of my time, eating, drinking, beer sipping (and I don’t even like beer), making cocktails (I can make a good martini but my shaker ability has definitely improved) and also tapping my toes, clapping and giving standing O’s to all the great entertainment on both ships.

Yes indeed, I was a privileged guest on 2 of the newest ships on the planet; 1 st on the newly arrived and spectacular Anthem of the Seas, now “Anchored in America” to quote their own line and then on the Norwegian Escape – the newest, most  hip, party-on vessel I have sailed in a while. I need a cruise to relax and sleep after the inaugural activities graciously hosted by Norwegian!

Today I am going to focus on Escape and cover Anthem next time. So here are my thoughts about the ship, her audience, what I liked (what needs some work) and my impressions.

I make no secret of the fact that I am a huge Norwegian fan: I thought that both Breakaway and Getaway were among the best ships  in recent years. They are lovely, well designed with all the bells and whistles a mainstream, contemporary cruiser (here come the Millennials!) could ask for. So Escape is  those ships - on steroids. Breakaway Plus has several more ships coming in ‘18 and ‘19 as well as a new ship being designed expressly for the Chinese market.

I knew what to expect but they have upped the ante and in areas that I enjoy. The Haven by Norwegian is my favourite space - because it truly is a haven. A calm, soothing enclave where guests can “escape the ESCAPE” when they need a little more peace and quiet.  I prefer to sail in The Haven personally – it’s just more my thing. I love that this “ship within a ship” has been enhanced for Escape and is another deck higher, has 2 lounges and its own restaurant with al -fresco dining as well. The various accommodations are beautiful, are decorated in soft aqua tones with faux wood floors and have a sense of spaciousness - just lovely. There’s a retractable roof over the pool and lounging area and also outdoor deck space, several hot tubs as well as hot and cold running butlers and concierges to cater to every whim. 

Entertainment is truly one of Norwegian’s mainstays and they have nailed it. We saw 3 excellent shows, of the highest caliber with great talent. All were interesting and different. We dined at the 6pm show in the new Supper Club (this is the Illusionarium on Breakaway class) and saw  For the Record: The Brat Pack focused on the iconic 1980’s movies from John Hughes such as The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Sixteen Candles and more. The intimate space ensures your involvement in the show (my leg almost tripped up one of the cast) and the dinner service is excellent too. Eating in the dark just a bit and the menu is limited but delicious – this is a must see. I absolutely loved this show.

After Midnight in the Escape Theater, is a phenomenal performance with superb costuming and singing. This production focuses on the Golden Age of Harlem’s famed Cotton Club – and is a smash hit musical nominated for a number of Tony Awards. Another must-see show. And then a great rocking take-me-back to the 50’s moment, with Million Dollar Quartet – can someone say “goodness gracious, great balls of fire!” This show features the true story of one night in December 1956 when 4 greats came together in one recording studio – Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis – another sure-fire hit.

Some other notes: loved the coffee maker in my room (please, could every line do this?) and the big bathroom with the massive shower and the double sink. Those jets in the shower were an excitement all of their own! Also enjoyed The Cellars by the Michael Mondavi family. A beautiful small space evoking Napa Valley and a chance to taste some excellent wines as well as learn more about same. Tobacco Road, the iconic Miami bar is now at sea as is Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and the 5 O’ Clock  Somewhere Bar. Norwegian is going to have to figure out how to manage the popularity of Margaritaville and the burgers it produces. It was too popular on our short cruise and this may become a spot they’ll have to charge for.

The whole 678 Ocean Place, introduced on Breakaway Class, is alive and well on Escape, and possibly noisier. There are new additions here including Bayamo by Jose Garces and Pinchos a tapas bar as well as the Food Republic by the Pubbelly Group. I particularly enjoyed The District Brew House –with its sea views, comfy leather chairs and great beer brewed by a small family craft brewhouse based in Miami. Way to go Luis and Pops! The Waterfront concept continues to be a huge winner and a lovely spot to enjoy a cocktail as you watch the ocean – love that. Overall Escape is an evolution of the Norwegian brand – according to Andy Stuart, President (at last!) of Norwegian. There are too many restaurants to count and food is becoming a more important aspect – watch for higher quality here.

There’s so much to write about this ship - I could  do 3 columns on all the things to see and do. Truly a huge WOW with all the “freedom and flexibility” and a ship that will do extremely well. Congratulations to my wonderful friends and colleagues at Norwegian – well done! 

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