Home porting in Miami and the first in the Breakaway Plus Class, Norwegian Escape is the largest ship in Norwegian’s 14-ship fleet. If you’ve sailed on Norwegian Getaway, Breakaway or Epic, you’ll definitely notice some similarities between the ships: some of the restaurants are the same but the menus have been completely updated; Kids areas are Nickelodeon-themed; and The Waterfront seems to becoming a Norwegian staple.
There are a total of 28 dining options on board, with new restaurants such as Iron Chef Jose Garces’Bayamo Restaurant, which focuses on seafood with a Latin twist. Pinchos Tapas Bar, also by Garces, has a menu stacked with small shareable favorites you’d find in Spain. Then there’s Food Republic by the Pubbelly Boys; it takes you around the world with dishes ranging from Peruvian ceviche to Chinese noodles—all ordered from your table via an iPad. Escape still has the Norwegian favorites like Le Bistro French Restaurant, La Cucina and Cagney’s Steakhouse, but all of the menus are different from those of the other ships.
Due to the popularity of some of the new restaurants, especially those only serving lunch, we found it difficult to find places to grab lunch if we didn’t get there early enough. Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Sea opens at noon for lunch, but by 11:45 a.m., there’s already a long line of cruisers, which is probably why NCL changed it from an included restaurant to a fee restaurant. So make reservations when you can.
The ship’s main dining downfall is that all restaurants (excluding the handful included in your cruise fare) are priced a la carte except Teppanyaki and Moderno Churasscaria, which are priced per person. And with seven days at sea, those expenses add up quickly.
Bars and Lounges
Norwegian Escape has an impressive list of 21 bars and lounges, with some being the first at sea.
- The District Brew House is a favorite among craft-beer drinkers. It’s the first bar at sea to have a selection of 50 bottled beers and 24 draft beers on tap, including craft beers from Miami’s Wynwood Brewing Company. And there’s live music (another popular feature throughout Escape) and a photo booth in the corner to document your fun time.
- The Cellars – A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar has indoor or waterfront seating and an amazing selection of wines. If you don’t have a solid understanding of wine and would like to, they have a tasting table to teach you about it. And if you’re hungry, you can grab a few to-go bites at the nearby Pinchos Tapas Bar and munch while sipping on your wine.
- The 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar is also a first at sea, and serves delicious (and strong) margaritas, has live music and offers an ocean-front view.
- Tobacco Road is new to Norwegian Escape, but it’s an old love of Miami; it was once the city’s oldest bar before closing its doors in 2014. Norwegian Cruise Line wanted to preserve its memory and brought it on board. Located close to the theater, Tobacco Road seemed to be the spot to grab drinks before or after shows. The dimmed lights and high-back leather chairs give it a sexy, cool vibe. You’ll notice all of the iconic memorabilia on the walls, such as neon signs and old photographs, as you order one of their handcrafted cocktails.
Norwegian typically nails it when it comes to entertainment, and we noticed something unique on Norwegian Escape. The entertainment throughout the ship will take you down memory lane: from the 1980s-inspired For the Record: The Brat Pack (a theatrical rendition of John Hughes’ coming-of-age movies) to After Midnight (which takes you back to the 1920s at Harlem’s Cotton Club) to the Norwegian favorite Howl at the Moon (a dueling piano show where you and your friends can request songs).
Norwegian will be moving the popular show Million Dollar Quartet to Norwegian Getaway in May and will be moving For the Record from the Supper Club to the Escape Theater.
The casino is the largest of any Norwegian ship—which is supposed to be non-smoking; however, it reeked of cigarette smoke. When I asked about the smell, I was told that Norwegian has plans to divide the casino into smoking and non-smoking sections, but that won’t be for a number of months.
The lido deck has an impressive selection of things to do from zip lining and a rock climbing wall to screaming as you slide down the newest tandem waterslide. There’s even a water park for the little ones on Norwegian Escape.
And speaking of little ones, Norwegian Escape is certainly a kid-friendly ship and has arranged its kids club programs to not only entertain but to also educate. So don’t expect your kids to be sitting in front of an Xbox the entire time they’re in the kids club. Yes, the ship does have game systems, but staff encourages the kids to use more of their creativity and learn new things, whether it’s juggling at the popular circus program or creating a masterpiece to hang up in the stateroom. Children will also have a chance to meet and have story time with their favorite Nickelodeon characters, such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star and Dora the Explorer. As with all kids club programs, the children are broken up according to age, allowing each group to have their own age-appropriate areas and ship staff looking after them.
What We Disliked About Norwegian Escape:
- The smell of cigarette smoke drifts from the casino to other areas.
- There never seemed to be enough space on the lido deck. But we did see some of the staff placing time-stamped stickers on towels, and if no one came back within the hour, the staff would free up the chair.
- Almost all of the specialty dining options are priced a la carte now, so the dining packages don’t make much sense.