The day before:
So this is the most stressful day of your ceyise experience, I'm sure most of us understand. Today is the day for last minute necessities and etc. 70
EDOC's and Luggage Tags:
Make sure before you get on an airplane, a train, in the car or however you are getting to your ship that you print these! Your EDoc' gets you into the terminal and makes check in alot faster and your luggage tags are required so your luggage can get to you once onboard ! The tags are paper so bring tape or a mini stapler with you( I suggest tape)and put a tag on every piece of luggage, even your carry on ( in case you lose a piece it will find you).
The most exciting day of the cruise has finally arrived ! After the exhausting process of traveling to your departure port, weather it be the day before or day of, is over and now it's time to board!
Arrival Time :
When you complete your online check-in the cruise line will ask you to select a time but if you arrive before or after that time you will still be allowed to check in. General Boarding varies by port and cruise line but typically begins between 11 and 1130. You can arrive at the terminal as early as 10 but will not board the ship until the general boarding process begins.
Suite Guests and Loyalty Guest:
These guest board first but are still required to wait until general boarding so it is best to arrive early if you fall into this category ! Some cruise lines also offer an option to purchase priority boarding.
After over 20 cruises I have seen many different boarding and check-in processes. For the most part they are relatively fast and easy, not flawless ( but nothing ever is). Boarding Norwegian Escape was quite a different experience to me. The check-in process itself took twice as long as any other cruise has in the past, a bit of confusion amongst guest was the common theme with roped lines everywhere but lack of direction. Not the best but it was still better than a typical Sunday!
Another first for me, making entertainment, activity and dining reservations onboard. Yes, for the most part you can make reservation online prior to sailing, however many activities, dining venues and entertainment have to be booked onboard. What does this mean ? Lines lines and more lines the entire first day prior to sail away. I was lucky enough to be the very first to board ( Thank you Norwegian Cruise Line)
Lunch, Garden Cafe:
Against my better judgement we decided to have lunch at the Garden Cafe (buffet) on the first day. Big mistake as this is the busiest time for the buffet so it was difficult to find a table but we ended up sitting next to the window overlooking New York City and had an incredible first lunch onboard !
Room and Luggage Delivery:
The cabins were available around 1:30 pm and our room is a Family Balcony stateroom with the accommodations of up to four people. This stateroom is modern and Chic with enough storage space to fit all your takealongs including all the extras you overpacked ! Something new for me is a coffee pot in the room, which is perfect because I enjoy a nice cup of coffee first thing in the morning on a balcony in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! The bathroom is one of the largest I have seen, there is no lack of storage and moving around the bathroom is quite easy, which is hard to believe I know. The luggage was delivered to us around 3 P.M. just before sailing so after sail away I spent some time unpacking and moving into my home for the next week !
The quickest muster drill I have ever experienced ! At 3:00 PM all onboard amenities shut down until after the muster drill which is at 3:30 so don't forget to grab a drink prior to. Once the muster drill began (about 3:45) the time flew by and we had plenty of time to get to the top deck to enjoy sail away at around 4:15 so we did not have to worry about rushing upstairs and missing some of the most exciting part of the cruise ..... Sailaway!
After unpacking we opted for a nap after a long travel day, from which i am still exhausted from, but after a quick nap we explored the ship more and started familiarizing ourselves with it. Once we finally knew our way around it was time for dinner.
Dinner at Savor:
Our first freestyle dining experience was in one of the three main dining rooms onboard the Escape, Savor. A modern, chic eatery located on deck 5 just past 678 Ocean Place. Authentic greek salad, creamy cauliflower soup, pan seared atlantic salmon and finishing it off with creme brulee brought my taste buds on a roller coaster ride of flavor with some of the best main dining room food I have ever enjoyed.
Escape the Big Top:
The escape room onboard the Norwegian Escape is different than you're used to if you have experienced an escape room before. First, this must be booked in advance otherwise you will have to wait in stand by and risk not getting a spot. In most cases you and a group of people are brought into a room and you solve puzzles to unlock the door to escape. Escape the Big Top is different, you along with a large group of guest will be brought into the "Supper Club," which is a dinner theater type of venue that doubles as the escape room during the day. Once broken up into multiple teams you and your teammates will work together to solve Carnival style games around the venue to unlock "a secret." You are not locked in a room, in fact you can leave whenever you like. This is different but a definite must try and is included with the cost of your cruise !
While sitting in the Atrium Cafe ( Starbucks) many activities were happening in the Atrium. Trivia, scavenger hunts, a magician, a comedian are just a few happenings in the atrium during our first day at Sea! In addition to the activities taking place in the Atrium the internet cafe and the Atrium cafe are the perfect places to catch up on work, check in with the family back home and anything else that internet is needed for because these are the places where the internet is at it's best.
Internet onboard Prices:
Social Media Plan $15.00 USD per person per day
-This plan only allows you to access some types of Social media such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.
Unlimited WiFi Plan: $29.00 USD per person perday
- This plan allows you unlimited access to the internet throughout your cruise. This plan does not include Streaming.
Unlimited Premium Plan: $35.00 per person per day
- This plan allows you to stream and unlimited access to the internet while onboard!
Does the WiFi work?
The WiFi onboard works decently, it is far from the best I have used but it does allow you to stay connected. Personally I think the prices are a tad high for the quality but ships are still evolving and I am sure amazing internet is in the near future for Norwegian !
Dinner in the Manhattan Room:
Night two we decided to stick to the main dining room and experience Freestyle Dining even more ! A change of atmosphere is nice, and that's exactly what freestyle dining means. The menus are the same throughout all restaurants, but do change nicely and you can dine whenever you like, it's as simple as making a reservation at the time you want . This is my first freestyle dining experience, it's amazing and the food is top notch !
Located just 650 miles off the coast of Carolina (USA east coast) is the beautiful island of Bermuda! Pink Sand Beaches, the world's smallest Draw Bridge, and home of the late "friendliest man in the world" Bermuda is without a doubt the best island I have ever sailed to!
Day 1 Bermuda Arrival 7 A.M: With two and a half days to spend on the island we leisurely strolled off the ship the first day and explored the Dockyard area, a mere minute walk from the ship. In Dockyard you can find the Clock Tower Shopping Mall, Rum Cake Factory, the National Museum of Bermuda, a nightclub, dolphin encounter, mini golf course, a bike, scooter, Segway rental area, craft market, visitors center, ferries to St. George and Hamilton, and the best part everything is a small business or locally owned! After exploring this beautiful area we were lucky enough to have a friend, a local, drive us around and give us a quick tour. Stop one, Sea Glass Beach, just a five-minute drive from Dockyard find this beach wholly covered in sea glass with gorgeous views look south of the island. Seaglass collectors be advised, you can take some sea glass but if you take more than a handful customs will confiscate it upon boarding. We then traveled to the Gibbs Hill Light House, for just a $2.50 donation you can climb this operational lighthouse and see the entire island from above. While climbing the stairs to the top, you can stop along the way and learn the history of this incredible tower! To continue our day we headed to the famous Swizzle Inn but we decided to stop at the one in Warwick instead of the one located in Hamilton, so we completely avoided crowds. After a quick stop back at the ship we quickly refreshed and headed to Hamilton to enjoy Harbor Nights, this once a week event only takes place over the summer with local vendors, activities for children located right in Hamilton with countless restaurants and bars. After a great night, we headed back to the ship to enjoy the night's entertainment onboard.
Nights onboard while Docked: This cruise being my first to have an overnight stop I was curious to see what would be going on onboard while docked. The answer is pretty much everything! The parties continue, the clubs are open, all shows are performed, the Casino begins operations strictly at 9 pm, and all amenities are accessible for you to enjoy except the shops onboard. While docked in Bermuda you will not be able to shop in the Duty-Free stores onboard. However, you will be able to view and purchase your pictures while docked! All restaurants and Bars remain open throughout your time docked, and Bermuda is not known for any specialty cuisine so I would enjoy most of your meals onboard!
Day 2 Bermuda Overnight: After a light breakfast onboard, I headed ashore to jump on the first ferry out of Dockyard to Hamilton! After purchasing my ticket (USD 9.00 Round Trip), I headed over to Dockyard Pastry Shop to get an iced latte and Almond cookies ( yummmmmm) then finally jumped on the first ferry to Hamilton at 9:30 am.
After a quick 30-minute ferry ride I arrived in the beautiful, modern city of Hamilton a bustling insurance mecca in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, so think of New York on a much smaller scale and Tropical ( so nothing like New York) it is quite amazing. With no chain corporations allowed on the island, you have no choice but to enjoy all the small and locally owned businesses. Take a stroll down Front Street lined with restaurants, shops, and more just steps away from the ferry landing. After a nice morning in Hamilton, I decided to head to the beach and enjoy the rest of my day there. I opted out of going to the highly populated "Horseshoe Beach" and relaxed on Jobson's Cove and this beach is a must-see, complete with the famous Pink Sand but without the crowds and just a 15-minute drive to the ship!
Day 3 Bermuda: Departure 3 P.M.
After a relaxing two full days in Bermuda, I reached my final day, and I had one last thing to do, St. George. A quick breakfast on board I made my way ashore bought my USD $9 round-trip ferry ticket and headed over again to the Dockyard Pastry Shop because I could not get enough of the delicious cafe mochas then headed on to the 9:30 AM ferry to St. George. After a quick 30-minute ferry ride I found myself in the middle of a centuries-old British inspired waterfront town! Being from New England I come across towns like this a lot, having it in a tropical setting is quite refreshing! I strolled down Water Street and browsed through the small shops scatted throughout this town then continued to the Unfinished Church.
Just a quick 5-minute walk from Water Street is a Bermuda Highlight, the "Unfinished Church'" a gorgeous ruin of a church that never was because of political differences. Years later this never to be church has become a tourist attraction allowing tourists to wonder what could have been with this iconic Structure! I headed back down into the center of town and happened
on another local coffee shop GoJo's and simply had to get another coffee because it's called GoJo's! Finally, after a phenomenal morning in St. George I headed back to the ship after picking up some Bermuda Pink Sand to take home.
Boarding the Ship: I made it back to Dockyard around 1:30 about 90 minutes before we were scheduled to depart and boarding was quick and seamless, and I made it only 10 minutes late to my surprise lunch at the Haven!
Lunch In the Haven:
I honestly can not find only one word to describe this fantastic restaurant venue. Only available to Haven guests, and VIP guest such as yours truly, the Haven restaurant is nestled on the 18th deck with indoor and outdoor seating available and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This elegant yet chic venue brings a soft tone nautical vibe to your dining experience with a laid-back, relaxing pace. Honestly, this restaurant alone is the reason I would pay more to stay in the Haven. I started with a charcuterie board with cheeses I have only imagined in my wildest dreams with cured meats that seemed to come directly from Italy. Then to a seared Atlantic Salmon, my favorite dish, which just brought my taste buds to a different universe for a minute. Finally, I finished with fresh fruit marinated in Grand Mariner liquor, a perfect tropical dessert! If you are a Haven guest, you cannot miss this restaurant, especially at breakfast so you can avoid the crowds entirely!
After Midnight: One of the main stages shows onboard the Escape After Midnight brought you to Harlem when Jazz was the natural talent amongst all residents! The show itself was a bit difficult to follow, but the talent was second to none. The actors and actresses took over the stage with powerful voices that bellowed throughout the Escape Theater, and the dancing made you want to put on your dancing shoes and relive the days when Jazz and Reggae ruled the world. This show is a can't miss, make sure to make reservations online before boarding or at one of the virtual assistant screens throughout the ship.
Norwegian Escape is equipped with three multi-story waterslides all accessible from deck 17, typically these are open during the day and close by 8 p.m. weather dependant. Do not wait to try these slides; they are the perfect amount of exhilaration and will have you feeling like a kid again! The Aqua Racer is a slow-moving, exotic twisting water slide that you enjoy from the comfort of your float, provided to you before you climb the stairs to the slide entrance. If you want more of an exhilarating experience, the Free Fall slides were made for you! Step into a glass capsule cross your arms and the floor drops from underneath, and you zoom down one loop ride of a lifetime! Both are must try, and yes, kids can go down the Aqua racer without you having to worry about them!
678 Ocean Place: The part of the ship I was most excited to see, and it did not disappoint! With the gorgeous color changing chandelier dangling in the center, bars overlooking the decks below, and the Casino surrounding made this the most popular location on the ship! Being centrally located, 678 Ocean Place allows you access to the main dining rooms, the Waterfront, the Supper Club, Main Theater, multiple specialty restaurants, bars, comedy club and so much more. When you find yourself wondering what to do one night just come here, and you will find something to enjoy!
The Escape is the only Breakaway Plus class cruise ship that is equipped with a ropes course, and I now understand why Norwegian decided to do away with the ropes courses. I climbed the stairs to the ropes course and decided to take the ropes that seemed the most difficult because mamma didn't raise a quitter and discovered that the most challenging course is not that difficult. The most exhilarating part was "The Plank" which juts out over the ocean 30 feet 😫. This activity is a great time filler, and I'm sure is fun for the youngsters, but adults maybe stick to the freefall waterslides! For those who are wondering then other Breakaway Plus class ships, Joy, Bliss, and Encore have Go-Kart tracks in place of the ropes course and sports court!
The complimentary "Adults Only" sun deck is nestled at the very aft top of the ship, this transformative venue features the only "Water Grotto" at sea, multiple whirlpools, a bar and outdoor smoking area. After the sun goes down, Spice H2O becomes the best nightclub under the stars hosting an 80's party, White Party, and more every cruise!
Disembarkation: The day we all dread the most because the cruise lines expect you to leave your new home so easy is even worse when the process is unorganized. After arriving a little late back to Manhattan and customs taking longer to clear us for disembarkation the madness began. Norwegians process itself is a thought out process. However, because we arrived late, there was a mad dash to get off the ship so guests could catch plans, trains, etc. Due to this deck seven, disembarkation deck, was not set up to handle the number of people it did at one time, this made for angry passengers and a very long wait. I passed the time by taking more pictures of 678 Ocean Place and luckily was not rushing to catch a plane, so I stayed calm throughout the process. My advice if you are not rushing to a flight or train just stayed onboard until the very last minute, yes you are allowed to stay after your luggage is called.
TIP: If you have an early flight to catch make sure you input your flight number into the cruise online check-in system this way you will get the earliest luggage tag called so you can disembark first. You also have the option to carry all of your luggage off yourself with "Express Walk Off," this is the earliest option!
My first Norwegian cruise was spectacular, a few areas of improvement, of course, but overall this cruise was fantastic! Freestyle cruising is a wonderful change from the traditional slight regimented cruises and opting for a "smaller" ship than I am used to was a refreshing change as well. If you have never taken a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise, I highly suggest you do, and if you have never been to Bermuda you need to stop what you're doing and fly, cruise, row or run there because you will fall in love!
I will be back both on Norwegian and to Bermuda!
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