Heaven on the Norwegian Escape June 2017

Day 1

Norwegian Escape

Haven

 

We pulled up in front of terminal B at the Port of Miami around 11:15 on Saturday, June 17 and it was a bit of a nightmare. There were many cars still picking people up from the last cruise. We finally found a place to briefly stop the car and with the help of a porter, we unloaded our bags along with me and the kids while my husband went to park the car in the garage.

 

Same cruise line, different cruise, different experience. When we walked up to the terminal, there was a line to get in. We got into line all the while looking at the beautiful ship. What a tease!

 

The line did not move quickly, but on the bright side, my husband caught up with us before we got to the front. We showed our documents and passports and walked through the security area. Right on the left in Terminal B after security is the Haven area. In Terminal C there is a separate check in and snacks area, but in Terminal B it is all in one room.

 

It was crowded, but soon enough a helper came to take folks who had already checked in up to the ship leaving those of us who still needed to some space. When she came back, she also cleaned up the snack area and put away empty glasses and such so that it looked nicer.

 

We filled out our health forms and after a few minutes, we were called up to check in. Unfortunately, my sea card was wrong, again. This is two cruises in a row that Norwegian had my amenities wrong. It was right on my reservation (I know, because I made it and I had it printed out and with me), but somehow it wasn’t right in their computer. FYI, the person at the computer in the terminal can’t do anything about it. She was going to get a supervisor, but my husband wisely said, we are in the Haven, let’s get on board and have the concierge fix it. Stress level down. Great idea.

 

We were escorted passed the lines and up to the walkway where we merged with others, but stayed with the person escorting us up to the Haven. We walked on and were up in the Haven by 12:00. The Concierge, Rishida, was very welcoming, gave us the spiel about the Haven and that the first day lunch at Margaritaville was complimentary and that evening only Food Republic was 50% off for Haven guests. We could eat at the Haven restaurant, but we wanted to try Margaritaville. After she was finished, we approached Rishida and she immediately took care of the amenity issue. Ah … I was officially on vacation! While the presentation was ongoing, waiters were handing out plates of sliders and fries and nonalcoholic drinks. Our boys were ecstatic. I looked over and they were all sitting down with the plates and drinks. Vacay had officially begun! I walked over to the Haven bar and got my first official drink, a Miami Vice (half Pina Colada, half Strawberry Daquiri and blue curucao liquer). Yes, I paid tax, but no worries, I was on vacation.

 

We dropped the bags we brought on board at our room, which was not ready yet and met our lovely Steward Marta. She was amazing throughout the cruise. Our room was spotless and she was very nice. We toured the Haven pool area including walking up to the sun deck and then walked across the ship to Margaritaville. Our cabin was on deck 17 and so was Margaritaville so we walked straight to the back of the ship. We gave our key cards and were immediately escorted to a table. Not everyone was hungry since the kids had just had sliders, so two of our kids went to play minigolf, my husband and remaining kid had nachos first. I had fish and chips. It was good, but nothing really special. A fun experience to be able to try for free though. My son had a cheeseburger in paradise for lunch – and that is a neat treat!

 

We then split up and my husband took my older son to Entourage (right next to Margaritaville inside) to sign up and I took the two younger ones down to Splash Academy on Deck 5. Signing up went smoothly. We then returned to our cabin, which was ready.

 

We had 17106, a two bedroom and it was beautiful. We loved the bathroom with the double sinks and being able to look outside and the bedroom had enough room to walk on either side of the bed. As many say, the second bedroom is tight, but it was perfect for two teenage boys who like to sleep late. They shared the second bedroom and bathroom and our youngest slept on the couch in the living room. There is plenty of storage. One thing I haven’t read about before is that that bedroom has a door, but no lock. I was pretty surprised, but it was not an issue. We enjoyed our room and toured the ship and before we knew it, it was time for sail away. So exciting! We changed for the pool and we went up to the Haven Sun Deck for sailaway. It was very windy up there, but great views from the front and sides of the ship of us leaving. Bye Miami!

 

At this point, I got my second drink, a Strawberry Daiquiri and we hung out at the pool until it was time to change for dinner. We had dinner at the Haven. Service every meal at this restaurant was fantastic. The manager of the restaurant, Maria, made every experience really enjoyable. We were so spoiled and it felt amazing. Not only was the service good, but the food was also really good. Every night the menu is the same, but there is so much on it that it would take more than a week to be able to try everything! My kids and I had a pork belly appetizer (that they then ordered every night we ate there!). My youngest son really wanted lobster, but the only restaurant that has it now on the Escape is Bayamo. He had a soup that had seafood in it at the Haven, it had lobster, and he loved that. The other kids got surf and turf and I had a delectable duck dish. It was all delicious. We were completely full and decided to take a walk. The sun was setting and the views were just gorgeous. The kids went to Splash Academy and Entourage to meet kids and my husband and I went to the District Brewhouse. There was a singer playing the piano most nights. He was from Texas and very good. We were surprised on the screens there to see that the person with the most brews the past cruise only had 29. What?!

 

Our favorite thing to do is relax and people watch so we walked around the ship for a bit doing that and we walked up to the buffet to see what there late night options were so that we knew for future notice. We hung out, enjoyed the relaxation and eventually got the youngest and called it a night. The older ones had a curfew each night and were very good about coming back when it was time.  End Day 1 – great start!

 

 

Day 2

 

We started each morning with breakfast out on the patio at the Haven restaurant. We had it mostly to ourselves just my husband, my youngest and me. Great views, always yummy food and great service. Almost every morning I had Tahitian Vanilla Challah French Toast with a berry sauce (it comes with marscapone cheese, but I get it without). They had lots of good options, but I had this on our last cruise on the Getaway, and I really liked it! One thing we really like about the Haven restaurant is that they always serve French Press coffee. It is so good!

 

After breakfast, my son, husband and I got changed and went to be by the slides for when they opened. They were so much fun! I only wish I had done them more. There is so much to do and seriously not enough time to do everything. After we did the slides a couple of times, they went to the pool in the Haven and I got changed and went to the atrium to watch a Food Republic food demonstration. The chefs had a lot of personality and the demonstration made me hungry again (why are we so hungry doing nothing!!) Soon it was time for our Meet & Greet.

 

Our Cruise Critic M&G hostess did an amazing job and NCL went all out. Our hostess had name tags for us and cards with all of the officers names on it. It was fun meeting folks from the forum! Waiters walked around with food and brought flights of beer to the tables. It was in the District Brewhouse and was completely packed!

 

A couple of the officers spoke including the amazing cruise director Tyler. One thing he said that really rang true is that they are here to make our experience better. If there is something that we aren’t happy with, to say something to one of the officers on the card so they have a chance to make it right! The hotel director Deepak came by to our table and we told him how much we were enjoying the ship – our youngest son was with us and he gave us a business card to take to the Gelato shop for free gelato. They were all very, very nice!

 

After the Meet & Greet, we decided to try Food Republic for lunch. Obviously the food demonstration was still on my mind. It was really, really good. It is seriously a no miss. We had great drinks, great food and it comes pretty quickly. It was quite busy, so the word is out on how good it is at Food Republic! We had eel rolls and crunchy spicy tuna along with Pad Thai, Edamame and some sort of fried rice dish. Everything was delicious. My drink was called a Ciao Venezia and had Aperol, pineapple juice, fresh lemon juice, rosemary and sparkling water. Seriously, really good!

 

After lunch we went to see if the ropes course was open. It was very windy Saturday through Tuesday and the ropes course was not open yet so we played Mini Golf. We did mini golf and then went back to hang out at the Haven pool area. There were always snacks and drinks in the courtyard. We were spoiled and relaxed and it was a good time. We got changed for dinner and had dinner in the Haven again. It was delicious once again. We walked around the ship for a bit, tried to get in to see Howl at the Moon, but couldn’t even get in to stand and eventually went back to the Haven to have dessert. This chocolate layer cake was so good.

 

The boys were at Splash and Entourage and we went to the Haven bar. Guess who was there? Bong! He had been there for about 2 weeks and was so much fun to have in the Haven! This night we had our first towel animal – a puppy. So cute! It was a late night (for us) as the older two wanted to stay out late, but by 1 am we were all in the cabin and it was the end of another amazing day on the Escape.

 

Day 3

 

It looked like a beautiful day, and the wind started to die down. We had our regular breakfast out on the patio at the Haven restaurant and spent most of the day at the Haven pool. The best part of the Haven pool is that they can keep it covered or not depending on the weather. This day they opened up the roof. That was pretty cool to see. We ate lunch at the buffet to check it out. The options for lunch at the Haven aren’t great for kids (they can always order from kids menu), but we wanted to try out the buffet.

 

We went up to try and do the ropes course, but it wasn’t open yet. Part of the mini golf course was closed while they were fixing something on the ropes course, but we were still able to play. People were lined up at the ropes course waiting for it to open, but eventually someone came over to tell everyone it wasn’t opening. Our little one wanted to try the splash area. He had a great time in it.

 

We had a fantastic day of just relaxing, reading and enjoying the hot tubs and the water. Overall a very sleepy day. We aren’t used to having this second sea day and we used it to catch up on sleep and relaxation.

 

We fed our boys at the buffet and then brought them to Splash or sent to Entourage because we had dinner reservations at Le Bistro.

 

The atmosphere inside of Le Bistro is so different than outside due to the smoke from the casino and the general noise level. It’s intimate and cozy. While it did take a little while to get a server to take our drink order, we had a delicious meal.

 

We got the Seafood Medley and Green Asparagus with Puff Pastry and Lobster Bisque. I can’t eat the Bisque, but my husband had it and said it was really good. I loved the seafood and puff pastry – it was light and fluffy and delicious. For my meal I got the Veal medallions in morel sauce. Really, really good. I can’t eat dairy and they easily switched out the twice baked potatoes for fingerling potatoes. Overall it was a really lovely meal.

 

I was way too full for dessert – which pained me because I really wanted the fondue … so we said goodbye to Le Bistro and strolled around the ship to walk some of it off.

We hung out in the bar at the Haven a lot. It was convenient, and because Bong was there, it was a lot of fun. We met a lot of neat people in the Haven as well so we had a lot of people to talk to each evening. Soon enough we went to collect the kids and head back to the room.

 

We got a cute elephant towel animal tonight and called it a day early so we’d be ready for our full day in St. Thomas the next day.

 

Day 4

St. Thomas

 

We got up bright and early since we had an early excursion – Snorkeling with Turtles at Turtle Cove. We ate breakfast at the buffet, which was quick and delicious and had a great view of us pulling in to St. Thomas.

 

We headed back to the Haven to collect our things and be escorted off the ship through the priority line. This is the coolest perk. You go to the lobby of the Haven and they take you out a back staff elevator that lands you right at the podium area where you are being let off the ship. You hand over your sea pass, which they scan, and off the ship we went.

 

We easily saw the guy holding the sign for our excursion and we stood with others in our group to wait. While we waited, we put on sun block and took photos. We waited maybe 20 minutes for the whole group to get there and then they walked us about a quarter mile down the pier past the open air taxis to where the small boats are docked. We heard the safety lecture and overall what would happen and then we were escorted onto the catamaran. Please note that you have to hand over your shoes before you get on the catamaran and then they line them up on the dock for you to get when you get off.

 

As we started out, we passed by the Escape. She is so beaufitul! We sat around the netting at the front of the catamaran and it was exhilarating to feel the wind and the waves. As we hit some larger waves, our eight year old announced, “I’m having the time of my life!” That was definitely worth the price of the excursion!

 

As we went out, they gave us the equipment we would need. We headed toward Buck Island. Once we were just a bit away, they anchored and explained to us that Buck Island is a nature preserve for birds. The cove in front of it had extra salt so you float more, which is neat, but bothersome at the same time. They also have a reef from a wreck. There are so many turtles and rays. They had us split up and beginners went from one side of the boat and those with a little experience could go off the back. My husband took our youngest son off the front of the boat and I took our other two off the back. It was a little awkward, but we made it in and swum around to the front of the boat to meet up with our guide.

 

Almost right away, the guide told us to get in a large circle around a turtle that was on the bottom. I was frantically taking pictures, while being kept at the top because of the salt content in the water. Sure enough, the turtle swam up to the top. It was so beautiful.

I also saw some rays and generally just enjoyed the swimming and the beautiful water. Unfortunately, at this point, I looked over and my husband and youngest son was back on the catamaran. He’s had some issues with salt water in the past burning his skin. Is it possible to have a sea water allergy?? Of course because this water had a higher salt content, he wasn’t happy from the minute he hit the water, so I swam back to the ship and switched places with my husband.

 

He swam out to the reef with our other two children and I stayed on the catamaran with our youngest. Other catamarans were docked in our same area and we saw a lot of turtles from the catamaran. Everyone had a great time and eventually (about 45 minutes later) everyone had to get back on the boat. One side note here, you are not supposed to touch the turtles, it stresses them out and they can die from it. On one of the other catamarans, they didn’t give as good instructions and a girl near my husband was chasing a turtle and kept touching it (he got it on video). The guides on our ship were really mad and yelling at the guide on the other ship to pay attention to their guests.

 

We had a relaxing ride back to the pier. They gave us rum punch (regular punch for the kids of course), tried to sell us shirts and of course, at the end as we were exiting made a pitch for tips, which we had already had out to give them as we exited. We really enjoyed it. I’m not sure I’d do it again with my kids due to the youngest kid’s issue, but maybe when they are older if we went without them, I would definitely do again. I have to find some more catamaran excursions, because I really enjoyed that!

 

Our plan after the snorkeling was to go back to the ship, change our clothes, eat and then walk over to the tram to take us up to Paradise Point. I was really excited to see those views.

 

The walk back to the ship seemed longer than when we went, but we were probably a bit tired from all of the swimming. We easily exchanged our towels at the checkpoint in front of the ship, got back on and went back to our room to change.

 

We ate lunch at the buffet to save time and then off we went. It’s very easy to walk to Paradise Point, but you do go through a little bit of a shady area. We stayed on the sidewalk in front of the shops across from the pier and then walked through the shops just past the shopping center to cross the street to Paradise Point. At this point, we were approached by a man trying to sell us a drive around the island and we quickly said no thank you.

 

There was a bit of a line at the tram center. I’d say we probably waited 20 minutes to buy our tickets. I had thought kids were $10, but they were now $18 and adults were $21. You also wait for the trams to come down and around, but waited maybe 10 minutes and then we were able to get on. The windows of the tram are open (they are slat windows) so there was a breeze. It was a beautiful view.

 

It was really cool to see the homes as we rose up the mountain and the view of the harbor and the cruise ships in port. Once we got up there, we took pictures from the highest point and then walked down to the bar/restaurant area.

 

They had some fund photo areas set up and then we sat down once a table of folks got up and ordered drinks. They have plenty of food there too, but luckily we filled up on the ship.

 

Just a word about their drinks – they are no joke. They don’t give you half alcohol or hold back at all so be aware. I had a key lime pie frozen drink that was ah-mazing, but after one drink I was completely tipsy. My husband had a raspberry other berry thing and our boys got similar berry/strawberry drinks made alcohol free. They were delicious!

 

I really couldn’t get over the views from this point. I saw it in so many reviews on Cruise Critic, but seeing it in person was truly amazing. We spent about an hour up there and then went down the tram and walked back to the ship.

 

There was a bit of a line to get back into the port since you have to show your driver’s license and see pass, but it went quickly. We love coming back to the ship on Norwegian. The music and party atmosphere is so much fun. They always offer cool drinks and cool towels. Then washy washy, go through security and back on the ship you go.

 

Our older kids went on the ropes course. According to them, this course is much harder than the one on the Getaway, but it did have more zip lines and another plank. They were just happy to finally be able to go on it.

 

My husband and I and our youngest went up to the top sun deck in the Haven for sailaway. We had a great view from the hot tub.

 

We ate dinner in the Haven that night, which we loved since the service is so amazing. Our youngest ate from the kid menu that night. Our oldest went to Entourage, middle went to Splash and our youngest hung out with us in the Haven courtyard in the hot tub/pool area. We called it a night since Tortola is an early port. We had a cute little mouse/rat towel animal when we got back to our room.

 

Day 5

Tortola

 

Each port we go into in the Virgin Islands is more beautiful than the last. Just gorgeous views, incredible blue water and nice breezes. We had a leisurely breakfast out at the Haven restaurant and then got our things to get off the ship. We decided to do an excursion to the beach. The walk to the parking lot to find out excursion host wasn’t bad, but we did wait a bit (they had a covered area) before we got our ride to Cane Bay. The beach was gorgeous and we had an awesome day.

 

Day 6

Sea Day

 

There is so much to do on board the Escape that we never had time to do it all. We spent the day lounging around the pool in the Haven and in the evening at the District Brewhouse. It definitely felt like a home away from home

 

Day 7

Nassau

 

We’ve ben to Nassau a number of times and debated not getting off the ship at all. We decided to go to Blue Lagoon. We weren’t impressed despite the fact we had been there before to meet dolphins and Sea Lions. This excursion just wasn’t planned well. We waited outside in the sun and heat for a very long time before being walked in a long line (of which we didn’t retain our place) to where the boat to the island was located. Why didn’t they just have us meet them at the boat?

 

The 45-minute ride to the island was lovely and the views are gorgeous. When we got to the island, there wasn’t a seat left. All the other ships or however other folks got there prevented us from really enjoying our time on the island.

 

The lunch wasn’t bad at all and there was plenty of food, but with no shade and no seats, it didn’t make for a very comfortable, relaxing day.

 

The kids really enjoyed the inflatables, but there was no relaxing beach day for the rest of us.

 

Day 8

 

Disembarkation could not have been easier. I can’t say enough how wonderful it is to be in the Haven. The ship within the ship really is a slice of heaven. From being helped by everyone we see, to extra help from the Concierge, a little bar and restaurant of our own and a pool that wasn’t crowded, it was well worth the money.

 

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