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Georgia_Peaches

Escape Review....Glad We Didn't Cancel...Reader's Digest Version

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We just disembarked from Escape in MIA this morning on what has become our annual mother-daughter cruise.  I though I'd take some time to reflect on a few things while waiting on our flight back to ATL.  While this was my first time on Escape, it was my 5th cruise with NCL and my third experience in the Haven.

 

Embarkation:  

A complete Charlie Foxtrot for anyone who wasn't traveling in the Haven.  Security line stretched on for days as there were only two conveyor belts in service and they were running extremely slowly.  Additionally, the check-in agents were instructed to scrutinize every page of the passport in search of stamps from the restricted regions of the world.  Even the Haven check-in took longer than it has in the past, but I did appreciate the extra effort.  In addition the the typical health survey form, we were asked to complete a second form that was specific to Corona.  I felt for those who were trapped in the long line outside.  Sail away was delayed and I don't think we left before 6:30.

 

Haven Experience:

We stayed in an aft-facing penthouse (14300).  This room configuration has the bathroom facing the balcony and the master toward the back.  The room was in great shape and very clean.  We did not see our butler on the first day but we did meet him the next day.  He kept us supplied with afternoon snacks and plenty of coffee pods for the Nespresso machine, but beyond that, we only saw him one other time.  Our room steward was exceptional.  Although the room was spacious, it was very hot in the evening.  Too hot, in fact for covers.  Strangely, the room stayed cool during the day...We mentioned the lack of AC to our steward and he informed maintenance but it did not improve.  DM was expressly forbidden from touching the counter intuitive snow flake on the thermostat, so I know it wasn't because of that.  Heat aside, we did enjoy the room and it's amenities.  Our future room choice will be located inside the Haven though, as DM felt the walk to the Haven from the back end of the ship was "longer than she remembered".

 

On our first night at the host stand for the Haven restaurant, we were offered a complimentary dinner at Moderno.  We accepted the offer and enjoyed the meal and the experience very much.  I asked if the Haven restaurant was full and was told no and we could eat there if we preferred that instead.  We were later told that since the ship was not at capacity, they were trying to get people into some of the specialties.

Other meals included Cagney's, La Cucina, and  Le Bistro.  Of the four, Le Bistro was our least favorite and the only one to speak of an additional charge for ordering more than one app.  Thanks to a recent thread on CC, I referred to the T&C regarding specialty dining and they immediately backed off.

 

On Day three we received a bottle of wine from the Assistant General Manager.  We had met him at the CC Meet & Mingle and had a very pleasant conversation.  Something I said must have left an impression because the wine arrived the next day.  We enjoyed it with dinner in Cagney's.

 

Our overall Haven experience exceeded expectations even though we didn't spend a lot of time using the facilities.  My only "gripe" for lack of a better word would be the fact that they open the retractable roof during the day.  I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but I like a cool space to lounge and with the roof open, it was very hot with little to no breeze.  On Breakaway the roof was never opened and the indoor area was cool and relaxing.

 

Thermal Suite:

We purchased passes online prior to the cruise and enjoyed every minute.  The thermal suite was larger than what I remember on Breakaway and was NEVER full.  Several times I was the only one in the pool and DM and I never had company in the steam room or sauna.  Even on sea days, the suite was nearly empty.  Knowing that we were going to spend a lot of time in this area, we planned ahead by hitting a bar before entering and then transferring our drinks into an insulated tumbler to make them last.  Infused water and tea were also available inside the suite.

 

Other Random things:

 

We spent a lot of time in the casino and at times there was a lot of smoke.  I liked that announcements were made reminding passengers that smoking was only permitted if playing.  A few passengers tried to push the envelope on this but they were asked to leave when spotted by casino staff.  THere is no enclosed area for smokers as I had read in other threads.  Instead, the "enclosed" room was open and held table games.

Drink service in the casino was quick and plentiful.  We did very well on several machines and even had a hand pay on one of them...our first-ever hand pay!

 

Service on Escape was some of the best I've ever received on any cruise! A few months ago DH and I were in a Royal Suite on Celebrity and I would have to say that NCL rivaled any service we received with Celebrity.  Bars, restaurants, pool service, officers and crew were genuinely appreciative of our patronage and several even thanks us for not canceling our trip.  A number of fellow passengers made similar comments regarding their experience with the crew.

 

We skipped Costa Maya due to high winds.  Given the heightened emotions people have regarding Corona, I will admit that my first thought was that we had been denied entry.  A few fellow CC members calmed my nerves when they mentioned that high winds and the pier situation in Costa Maya make it difficult for docking.  We had an electric bike excursion planned but all was refunded without issue.

 

A couple disembarked in Roatan and did not return.  The left with their luggage and one person was wearing a mask.  I wish I had been more nosy and asked why they were leaving, but dang it, I minded my own business 😌.  Could have been anything, of course and it was really the only thing out of the ordinary on the cruise.

 

Choir of Man was our favorite show.  After Midnight had fabulous dancing but wasn't really our cup of tea.  Comedy was just meh...but like food, funny is subjective.

 

Disembarkation was a piece of cake with facial recognition on the ship and no lines in the terminal. 

 

Despite a few reservations about going on this trip with my DM, I'm very glad we did!  The officers and crew are concerned about what the Corona virus situation will mean for their livelihoods and future cruises.  I remain optimistic that this will blow over  but also know the concern is real.  This morning our M'd in the Haven told us that his contract has been extended an extra 5 weeks due to replacement crew coming from China and their lack of entry.  With such a fluid situation, I can only say that Escape went the extra mile to ensure we had a fabulous vacation!

 

I'm happy to answer questions.

 

Happy cruising!

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3 minutes ago, Georgia_Peaches said:

We just disembarked from Escape in MIA this morning on what has become our annual mother-daughter cruise.  I though I'd take some time to reflect on a few things while waiting on our flight back to ATL.  While this was my first time on Escape, it was my 5th cruise with NCL and my third experience in the Haven.

 

Embarkation:  

A complete Charlie Foxtrot for anyone who wasn't traveling in the Haven.  Security line stretched on for days as there were only two conveyor belts in service and they were running extremely slowly.  Additionally, the check-in agents were instructed to scrutinize every page of the passport in search of stamps from the restricted regions of the world.  Even the Haven check-in took longer than it has in the past, but I did appreciate the extra effort.  In addition the the typical health survey form, we were asked to complete a second form that was specific to Corona.  I felt for those who were trapped in the long line outside.  Sail away was delayed and I don't think we left before 6:30.

 

Haven Experience:

We stayed in an aft-facing penthouse (14300).  This room configuration has the bathroom facing the balcony and the master toward the back.  The room was in great shape and very clean.  We did not see our butler on the first day but we did meet him the next day.  He kept us supplied with afternoon snacks and plenty of coffee pods for the Nespresso machine, but beyond that, we only saw him one other time.  Our room steward was exceptional.  Although the room was spacious, it was very hot in the evening.  Too hot, in fact for covers.  Strangely, the room stayed cool during the day...We mentioned the lack of AC to our steward and he informed maintenance but it did not improve.  DM was expressly forbidden from touching the counter intuitive snow flake on the thermostat, so I know it wasn't because of that.  Heat aside, we did enjoy the room and it's amenities.  Our future room choice will be located inside the Haven though, as DM felt the walk to the Haven from the back end of the ship was "longer than she remembered".

 

On our first night at the host stand for the Haven restaurant, we were offered a complimentary dinner at Moderno.  We accepted the offer and enjoyed the meal and the experience very much.  I asked if the Haven restaurant was full and was told no and we could eat there if we preferred that instead.  We were later told that since the ship was not at capacity, they were trying to get people into some of the specialties.

Other meals included Cagney's, La Cucina, and  Le Bistro.  Of the four, Le Bistro was our least favorite and the only one to speak of an additional charge for ordering more than one app.  Thanks to a recent thread on CC, I referred to the T&C regarding specialty dining and they immediately backed off.

 

On Day three we received a bottle of wine from the Assistant General Manager.  We had met him at the CC Meet & Mingle and had a very pleasant conversation.  Something I said must have left an impression because the wine arrived the next day.  We enjoyed it with dinner in Cagney's.

 

Our overall Haven experience exceeded expectations even though we didn't spend a lot of time using the facilities.  My only "gripe" for lack of a better word would be the fact that they open the retractable roof during the day.  I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but I like a cool space to lounge and with the roof open, it was very hot with little to no breeze.  On Breakaway the roof was never opened and the indoor area was cool and relaxing.

 

Thermal Suite:

We purchased passes online prior to the cruise and enjoyed every minute.  The thermal suite was larger than what I remember on Breakaway and was NEVER full.  Several times I was the only one in the pool and DM and I never had company in the steam room or sauna.  Even on sea days, the suite was nearly empty.  Knowing that we were going to spend a lot of time in this area, we planned ahead by hitting a bar before entering and then transferring our drinks into an insulated tumbler to make them last.  Infused water and tea were also available inside the suite.

 

Other Random things:

 

We spent a lot of time in the casino and at times there was a lot of smoke.  I liked that announcements were made reminding passengers that smoking was only permitted if playing.  A few passengers tried to push the envelope on this but they were asked to leave when spotted by casino staff.  THere is no enclosed area for smokers as I had read in other threads.  Instead, the "enclosed" room was open and held table games.

Drink service in the casino was quick and plentiful.  We did very well on several machines and even had a hand pay on one of them...our first-ever hand pay!

 

Service on Escape was some of the best I've ever received on any cruise! A few months ago DH and I were in a Royal Suite on Celebrity and I would have to say that NCL rivaled any service we received with Celebrity.  Bars, restaurants, pool service, officers and crew were genuinely appreciative of our patronage and several even thanks us for not canceling our trip.  A number of fellow passengers made similar comments regarding their experience with the crew.

 

We skipped Costa Maya due to high winds.  Given the heightened emotions people have regarding Corona, I will admit that my first thought was that we had been denied entry.  A few fellow CC members calmed my nerves when they mentioned that high winds and the pier situation in Costa Maya make it difficult for docking.  We had an electric bike excursion planned but all was refunded without issue.

 

A couple disembarked in Roatan and did not return.  The left with their luggage and one person was wearing a mask.  I wish I had been more nosy and asked why they were leaving, but dang it, I minded my own business 😌.  Could have been anything, of course and it was really the only thing out of the ordinary on the cruise.

 

Choir of Man was our favorite show.  After Midnight had fabulous dancing but wasn't really our cup of tea.  Comedy was just meh...but like food, funny is subjective.

 

Disembarkation was a piece of cake with facial recognition on the ship and no lines in the terminal. 

 

Despite a few reservations about going on this trip with my DM, I'm very glad we did!  The officers and crew are concerned about what the Corona virus situation will mean for their livelihoods and future cruises.  I remain optimistic that this will blow over  but also know the concern is real.  This morning our M'd in the Haven told us that his contract has been extended an extra 5 weeks due to replacement crew coming from China and their lack of entry.  With such a fluid situation, I can only say that Escape went the extra mile to ensure we had a fabulous vacation!

 

I'm happy to answer questions.

 

Happy cruising!

Thank you for this. We depart on The Escape 03/14/20, Haven Style also and this report makes me feel better about still sailing. Do us all a favor though, you mentioned the couple getting off in Roatan with luggage..... If you do hear that they were infected with COVID 19, please let us know. 😉Fingers crossed for all of us!

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1 minute ago, mjcatlvr said:

Thank you for this. We depart on The Escape 03/14/20, Haven Style also and this report makes me feel better about still sailing. Do us all a favor though, you mentioned the couple getting off in Roatan with luggage..... If you do hear that they were infected with COVID 19, please let us know. 😉Fingers crossed for all of us!

 

 

If they were infected with the virus they would have been quarantined, not walking off the ship.  ( I would imagine, at least).

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Just now, ColeThornton said:

 

 

If they were infected with the virus they would have been quarantined, not walking off the ship.  ( I would imagine, at least).

That was our guess as well.  And they certainly wouldn't have let anyone else off the ship either.  More likely, they had an emergency but I will report back if we hear anything.

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4 minutes ago, mjcatlvr said:

Thank you for this. We depart on The Escape 03/14/20, Haven Style also and this report makes me feel better about still sailing. Do us all a favor though, you mentioned the couple getting off in Roatan with luggage..... If you do hear that they were infected with COVID 19, please let us know. 😉Fingers crossed for all of us!

Absolutely!  I would never try to convince others to do anything that isn't good for their situation but I can tell you that once on board, all fears seemed to melt away and it was business as usual.  I feel certain you will have a wonderful cruise!  😊

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41 minutes ago, Georgia_Peaches said:

THere is no enclosed area for smokers as I had read in other threads. 

 

That's on the newer ships. Escape might get something during drydock.

 

 

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You are 100% correct in regard to the service on Escape. I sailed on her twice during Summer 2019, and the crew are phenomenal. From the bartenders remembering your name and what you are drinking, to a personal handshake from the general manager, Deepak. He runs an amazing ship, and I would 100% always recommend and rave about the Escape. Glad you had a great trip.

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Thank you first and foremost for introducing me to the words “Charlie Foxtrot” 😂😂
I loved your review, we set sail into an a half weeks with no fear.

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Thank you so much for posting!  We loved our Escape cruises so it was fun to read about yours.  Also, as someone who plans to leave on a cruise out of Miami in a few weeks, it was nice to read how careful they are being for those embarking.  

And, Congrats on the luck in the casino😎

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3 hours ago, LinnieRed said:

Thank you first and foremost for introducing me to the words “Charlie Foxtrot” 😂😂
I loved your review, we set sail into an a half weeks with no fear.

Thanks to being the daughter of an Army Colonel and the wife of  a former Army Captain, my vocabulary knows no bounds ☺️.  I hope you have a fabulous cruise!

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1 hour ago, Sand and Seas said:

Thank you so much for posting!  We loved our Escape cruises so it was fun to read about yours.  Also, as someone who plans to leave on a cruise out of Miami in a few weeks, it was nice to read how careful they are being for those embarking.  

And, Congrats on the luck in the casino😎

Yes, the care that was taken on embarkation day was comforting, albeit, I imagine very frustrating for those who were in line for a very long time.  Never heard one complaint about it afterward, though.  I hope you all have a wonderful time on your cruise! 

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Glad you had a marvelous cruise. I’ll be boarding the Escape on  3/21, for a mother/daughter cruise in the Haven.
As someone else mentioned, were you able to check in at the Haven booth outside of the ship, before security?

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1 hour ago, justhappy said:

Glad you had a marvelous cruise. I’ll be boarding the Escape on  3/21, for a mother/daughter cruise in the Haven.
As someone else mentioned, were you able to check in at the Haven booth outside of the ship, before security?

We were able to locate the Haven security check in along the curb. But this was more of a meeting point than a security check in. After finding our names on a list, the rep called for an escort to the front of the main security. This was perhaps the most awkward part because the lines were so long and moving very slowly. We were taken to the very front of the line only to have the conveyor belt stop and back things up further. I know people were annoyed and I totally get it. Once past that point we were taken to the Haven holding area for the check in. Afterward, we are escorted on the ship. Our group was large and we ultimately lost our guide and ended up taking a different elevator. We eventually made our way to the Haven but missed the orientation. Not a big deal bc we had heard it before. I should also say that this was at around 12:30. Normally I would have arrived sooner but flight delays prevented it. I think it might be less chaotic if you are able to arrive earlier. Hope you and your mom have a great time!

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14 minutes ago, Georgia_Peaches said:

We were able to locate the Haven security check in along the curb. But this was more of a meeting point than a security check in. After finding our names on a list, the rep called for an escort to the front of the main security. This was perhaps the most awkward part because the lines were so long and moving very slowly. We were taken to the very front of the line only to have the conveyor belt stop and back things up further. I know people were annoyed and I totally get it. Once past that point we were taken to the Haven holding area for the check in. Afterward, we are escorted on the ship. Our group was large and we ultimately lost our guide and ended up taking a different elevator. We eventually made our way to the Haven but missed the orientation. Not a big deal bc we had heard it before. I should also say that this was at around 12:30. Normally I would have arrived sooner but flight delays prevented it. I think it might be less chaotic if you are able to arrive earlier. Hope you and your mom have a great time!

Actually I’m the mom, but thanks, and thank you for the information!

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Is Miami embarkation still in the old terminal we knew as 'Terminal B or C'? 

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I got off my first cruise ever on the Escape just as things were starting to kick off (literally the last sea day was when they decided to restrict access to the buffet) and I had an absolute blast. For what it's worth, I found the solo cabins to be phenomenal. Dinner and show reservations were made for us each evening, the latte machine in the studio lounge meant I didn't have to pay extra for Starbucks and we even got the chocolates that are allegedly reserved strictly for Haven guests (when I saw them, I honestly thought it was a mix up. Why would I be getting these? I hadn't complained once.) I know you said you're definitely going Haven again, but if you want some alone time, a studio is about $4k cheaper and while you lose the bar and restaurant, there were a number of perks that were still offered. 

 

I loved the thermal suite as well. Best $200 I ever spent, even I didn't have back issues from a car accident 5 years ago. It was just so relaxing. I didn't even get in the main pool since I had access to the spa.

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Nice post.  Glad you had a good vacation amid this chaos 🙂

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3 hours ago, Twipenne said:

we even got the chocolates that are allegedly reserved strictly for Haven guests (when I saw them, I honestly thought it was a mix up. Why would I be getting these? I hadn't complained once.) 

 

I also received the strawberries and a bottle of wine and had no clue why.  It just said compliments of the general manager. Maybe they gave them to all solo travellers? 

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6 hours ago, Sand and Seas said:

Is Miami embarkation still in the old terminal we knew as 'Terminal B or C'? 

Yes,  still the old terminal B. New terminal looks amazing!

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Thanks for the great post. Im hoping to sail on the Escape before its drydock. Sadly, it seems confusing about when that actually will take place, lol.

 

Glad you had a great cruise! 🤗

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Thanks for the review!  So glad you had a great time!

 

I'm surprised you didn't have breakfast on the huge balcony!  I'm sure you must have absolutely loved the room and that balcony!! 🙂

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My son and his wife were on this cruise for their honeymoon.  He had some interesting updates. 

 

Evidently the Escape was late getting into Port Miami on 2/29 - which delayed embarkation.  I don't think he got onboard until 4pm or so (they had a 1pm arrival at FLL via NCL "free airfare" promotion"), they had a fairly lengthy wait at the terminal after being shuttled from Lauderdale on the NCL bus. 

 

He said the CD was fantastic.  He's only been on one MSC and one Carnival cruise previously, but that gave him enough frame of reference to compare/contrast.  He LOVED Cagney's but thought their other two specialty dining selections were good, not great. 

 

He commented that there was a ton to do for young adults onboard.  Sounds like a good time was had by all. 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, GettotheSun said:

Thanks for the review!  So glad you had a great time!

 

I'm surprised you didn't have breakfast on the huge balcony!  I'm sure you must have absolutely loved the room and that balcony!! 🙂

Thank you so much 😊.  Actually, I forgot to mention the breakfast on the balcony!  We ate on the balcony on the first sea day, which was the day we met our butler.  It was absolutely beautiful and we enjoyed it very much.  I am not a big fan of being in direct sun because I burn so easily, so unfortunately, use of the balcony was somewhat limited because it was almost always in direct sunlight.  The overhang on deck 14 provided some relief in the morning.  

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