John and I love to cruise. So it only makes sense that we became a cruisin’ family. Our very first cruise as a family of 4 was this Norwegian Escape Cruise. This was the 6th cruise for John and me together, Rohan’s second, and Kaya’s first. I was a bit scared as this sailing was a bit of a last minute surprise and I am definitely of the planner persuasion. But to all of our delight, it turned out to be absolutely perfect. We sailed out of Miami on the Norwegian Escape for a 7-day eastern Caribbean itinerary. We had 3 days at sea, and 3 ports: St. Thomas USVI, Tortola British VI, and Nassau, Bahamas.We drove to the pier and used Safe Cruise Parking to keep our car for the week (totally recommend them, btw. Last place took forever to take us to pier and never came and picked us up after the cruise, we had to taxi back to the parking lot!) A short drive from the lot to the pier, and 20 minutes after that we were getting on board. The embarkation process was super quick and easy. (We arrived at the pier around 1 btw)Our cabin was 10800 a mini-suite with a balcony and it was juuuuust a hair bigger than the balconies we normally get on Royal Caribbean. The bathroom was cuter though. This was the first time we had a room that accommodated 4 and the kids LOVED the murphy bed thingy that came down from the ceiling.
Kai slept on bottom bunk, and Ro slept up top. John and I shared the king bed (not pictured). Everything I (over)packed fit nicely in the closets and drawers and our empty suitcases fit under the bed easily…with space left over for the kids to play under there as well. The balcony was standard/small with 2 chairs and a mini table just big enough for a couple cups of coffee and maybe a bowl of fruit.
The ship was big and beautiful! It was sparkly! The Escape is the newest ship in the Norwegian fleet and has so much to offer for any style of cruiser. I met a lot of solo travelers on board. NCL has studio cabins to accommodate 1 person traveling alone. We loved all the random places to just chill out and hang as a family or solo. The coffee (and cupcake) shoppe saw us a few times a day. There was a mall on board for anything you want, and a great photo gallery to check out all the shots taken of you while on board. I loved how grand some of the touches were.
As a family with two little littles, we were excited to see all the family-focused events. We took part in the family dinner which had face painting, build your own cupcakes, balloon animals, and hula hooping. We didn’t attend the shows but we heard there were lots of clean comedians and shows. (There are adult-only options as well.) We made use of the gym, gym classes, mini golf, ropes course, all the slides, the pool, and the kid’s water park area.
Though poorly attended, the total body conditioning class was great (and the instructor was a hottie) and had me sore the next day. The gym facilities were sparkling clean, smelled great (not sweaty), and was a hair cooler than other indoor spaces on the ship. It was large enough to accommodate several cruisers at once, but I never saw it even 1/2 full on the times I went to work out.
The kids loved the ropes course more than I expected. Kaya was the smallest one to do it, and she wasn’t afraid after her first few steps. She and Ro even ziplined like pros. Unfortunately, John and I didn’t make it on the adult ropes course. But next time….
Some disappointments outside of service were the library. We are used to grabbing a book at random, and on our last cruise with Ro we got a little pile of books to read to him during the week. This library was all locked up with random open hours for taking books out. We didn’t make use of the adult-only zone Spice H20 but I visited and it was lovely…though only a hair quieter than the main pool area…which was SUPER loud at all times and always had a million towels on chairs and nowhere to sit.
We enjoyed most of the meals we ate. There are 4 restaurants and the buffet included in your cruise price, and then there are a la carte restaurants and cover charge restaurants. We mostly took the kids to dinner at the buffet, then dropped them to the kids club, then we had a grown-up dinner at one of the included restaurants. We tried one a la carte: Pinchos Tapas restaurant (so good!) and Moderno Churrascarriabecause: meat. (Also really delicious) If you’re not familiar, Churrascaria is that Brazilian style of restaurant where you have your apps at a delicious buffet, and then you start getting bombarded with various grilled meats brought over in never-ending succession and carved at your table until you tell them to stop. (John’s heaven.) Service was a mixed bag. Some folks were great and some looked like they’d rather be anywhere but here.
Roey’s Buffet Plate
Our ports of call were St Thomas, Nassau, and Tortola. In St. Thomas we stayed on board and enjoyed having the ship all to ourselves. We used the empty pool and playground without fighting for a sunbed, we enjoyed the restaurants with no wait and the buffet with no lines. (We stayed on board the Majesty of the Seas when it was in the private island last year, it was the best decision ever.)In Tortola, we took an excursion through Norwegian. We booked a tour that took us through the mountains of Tortola and to the 2nd highest point on the island. We then took the winding tour back down the mountains and to the beautiful Cane Bay beach.It was informative and fun thanks to our tour guide, Henry. I’m surprised at how well the kids did on the jitney tour. Only one meltdown to speak of:In Nassau, we spent the day at Atlantis thanks to some blogger perks. I have a full recap/review coming, but I gotta tell you, I LOVED that place and so did the kids. John even said he wants to come back to spend a few days there. Atlantis just had so much to do for kids and adults and it was gorgeous!
We found ourselves doing a lot of comparing to Royal Caribbean as it’s what we’ve cruised together on 4 out of 5 times before this one. A few things were better on Norwegian, some weren’t and a few were equal. Overall we had an amazing time. All four of us! We are already talking about when we’ll be able to fit in our “annual family cruise” in next year’s travel calendar.Any questions about the ship or cruising in general, please send em my way! I could talk about cruising all day long.