It’s been a week since we arrived back from our Cruise to the Bahamas, and I must say I am wishing we were still there. Coming home to snow and bitter cold is not fun, but escaping the cold weather for a week was well worth it. While on the cruise I had countless people reach out asking if I liked the cruise line, if it was worth it going to the Bahamas (the news warned about traveling to Nassau), and if this ship was kid friendly. In this post I will give you my honest opinion on everything, as well as what we did at port, what restaurants we liked most on the ship, and the best kid friendly excursions we found. So, today I bring you our review on the Norwegian Cruise line Escape. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions.
This is not a sponsored post, Norwegian did not ask or pay me for this review; I just thought I would share our experience if any of you are thinking of cruising with them. 🙂
I’m going to be totally honest with you, we had no idea what to expect when it came to our ship. Our neighbors had gone on a cruise with Norwegian on the Gem. They mentioned it was an older ship, and they didn’t like it. I’ve talked to others who said it was awesome. So, like I said; we had no idea what to expect. The Norwegian Escape (the ship we went with) is a newer ship, and in my opinion; seems a lot nicer than the Gem. We were blown away with how gigantic it was, and how it dwarfed all of the other ships at port. The first day we spent exploring the ship. They had an arcade, water park/splash pad, multiple pools, gym, spa, basketball court, rope obstacle course, etc. Not to mention, multiple complimentary restaurants as well as fine dining for an extra price. There were all kinds of show rooms, party rooms, and activities for singles, and families alike going on all day up until the midnight hours. The main eating buffet was surprisingly delicious. On other cruises I’ve been on, I always got sick of the food by day 3. On Norwegian, I could have eaten the food in the main dining buffet every single meal. They always changed things up, and it was always yummy. I’ll get more into that below.
Our Room- When it came to our room on the ship, we were pleasantly surprised. It was somewhat narrow, but there was room for luggage, and multiple closets. The room could easily fit a family of 5, maybe more. There was a decent size couch that folded out into a bed for the boys, and every night room service would come in and pull out a bunk bed from the ceiling. The boys thought this was SO COOL! Our bed was very comfortable, and honestly we don’t have much complaint about the room. Id say our only complaint would be that in the mornings while we were getting ready the boys would want to watch TV, but it was very limited on kids shows and there was a 10 min break between each show. Our boys don’t really watch much TV and weren’t bothered by this, but this was a biggie for our neighbors. SO if your kids love TV, this might be worth noting. For us it wasn’t a big deal at all. Pleasantly surprised is all that comes to mind. We were very happy with our room.
Dining- My husbands exact words the first night were “There are too many options. Im overwhelmed. ” Isn’t that a great problem to have? We were happy to learn that not only did we have access to a delicious buffet of food in the main dining area, but there were also multiple restaurants on the ship that were also complimentary. On Norwegian you get to choose free add on’s to your ticket, so we chose the dining package. (Ill talk more about the different packages below) Basically what that means is that you can go to three fine dining restaurants for free. Id say our very favorite of them all was Le Bistro. Oh my heavens, it was SO good! I ordered the veal Medallions; they were juicy and tender, and totally hit the spot. For dessert we had the Profiteroles. Oh my word- SO GOOD! Basically its pastrys filled with vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce on top. Looking back I wish we had gotten a picture, but it was eaten in the blink of an eye. My husband and I decided to share and were literally fighting each other for it!
Here were some of our favorite Restaurants on the ship– Please be warned that if you do decide to go with the dining package, make reservations THE FIRST DAY!!! They fill up fast, and we learned that the hard way. 9:30 dinners some nights. Whoops!
- Le Bistro- Fine Dining This was our favorite on the ship. Not only was the food delicious, but what made this experience even greater was the staff. This ship has some of the best customer service I have ever experienced. Again, I chose the veal medallions and the Profiteroles for dessert. Amazing. We decided to drop the older boys off at the Splash Academy this night. So, the only downside would be that it didn’t seem extremely family friendly. A little more formal.
- O’Sheehan’s- Can you believe our #2 choice wasn’t even a fine dining restaurant? Honestly we liked O’Sheehans because they had good ole comfort food and their apple pie was delicious. They never had a wait, so if we weren’t feeling like heading to the buffet; we’d go here. The boys loved their food and we’d always order a fruit plate for Cruze for dessert. He would go to town on that. Living his very best life for sure.
- Main Dining- (Not to be confused with the buffet) This area is a bit more formal, and the dining menu changes every night. It is family friendly, so we decided to dress up as a family this night. Didn’t the boys look dashing in their little outfits? One night they had a pecan crusted chicken. It was either chicken or maybe even turkey? I can’t remember for the life of me, but it was DIVINE! You dipped it in an apricot sauce and it was pure heaven. Id definitely ask waiter when they will be serving this dish and plan to attend that night. Worth it! I wasn’t ever a huge fan of their dessert, but my boys loved their chocolate ice cream with chocolate chip cookies on the side.
- Teppanyaki- Fine Dining We loved Teppanyaki because it was great as a night out with the entire family. The server was hilarious, and the boys loved watching all of his tricks. It’s a great option if you are going to dinner as a family. We weren’t able to go to Moderno (an authentic Brazillian steakhouse) but we heard from multiple people on the ship that it was incredible. So, it might be worth checking out if you are planning a cruise. I can’t say much other than that, because again; we weren’t able to get reservations there.
- Buffet- Who am I? Never did I think I would rate a buffet as top 5 on my list of restaurants! BUT I do have to admit, there were a few nights their food was better than what was being offered at the complimentary restaurants. Every morning they had flower shaped waffles as one of their (many) options, with a banana caramel sauce you could put on top. WOW! I think I will be craving this for years to come! My boys loved the night they had nachos. You could choose whatever toppings you liked, and it was delicious.
What we didn’t like-
Okay, I should rephrase. I wouldn’t say there was a single restaurant on the ship we absolutely DID NOT like. There were just some we didn’t care for as much as others.
Cagneys Steakhouse– Fine Dining We really wanted to love this restaurant, but the wait was so long that by the time we got our food; we just felt a bit grumpy. We had to take our dessert to go because it was taking so long, which meant I missed out on my fried ice cream! Dang it! My husband said it was “good,” but he liked other restaurants a lot more. I would agree. If we could do it all again, we would have chosen Moderno over Cagneys. Also, this restaurant is not kid friendly. Definitely a more upscale restaurant.
Taste- This is a great option if you’re wanting to go to a sit down restaurant with kids that’s not the buffet. However, it wasn’t our favorite of the complimentary restaurants. We liked O’Sheeehans, or even the buffet more. The food was “good” but not great like most of the others.
Ship Activities- One of my most asked questions was, “Is this ship kid friendly?” My answer to that is ABSOLUTELY! They had so many options of family activities we could do together, or even just for them. Including a family dance night with balloon making. The boys loved their balloon pirate swords and hats, They danced around all night! Another night they had a family glow party. Also, the “Splash Academy” (Ill tell you more about that below) had events every single night for the kids including a circus where they learned to juggle and balance plates on sticks. They put on a show for us on our last night on the ship. It was too cute! The boys had a blast! There is also miniature gold, a ropes course, basketball court, and of course water slides, pools, and a splash pad. All were very fun! I’d say my boys loved the water park, and miniature golf the best.
What we didn’t like- The only downside to the ship activities was that you had to pay to use the arcade games, which were pretty expensive. You also couldn’t take a non potty trained baby in the pool. 🙁 There was one splash pad area he could go in, so it made it a bit hard when the older boys wanted to go to the pool. One of us would have to stay with Cruze in the splash area. It didn’t really turn out to be a huge deal, and he of course had a blast!
The Splash Academy– Now, on to the Splash Academy. This was one of the best parts of the cruise. Basically its a day care for kids. The hours available were pretty much all day and even into the late night (although we never did do late night). Like I said above, every night they had a different theme which made the boys so dang excited every time we dropped them off. By day 2 the staff knew the kids names, as well as mine and my husbands. We were very impressed with the staff and how great they all were with the kids. I never for a moment worried about them while there, and this is coming from someone who does not like leaving her kids. I’m a bit of a paranoid mom, so this was huge for me.
The only thing i’d say is that we weren’t huge fans of the “guppies” day care. This is for babies to up to three years old. I only say we weren’t fans because the hours weren’t nearly as great as Splash Academy, and the facility was a lot smaller. They are only allowed 10 babies at a time, which in my personal opinion is actually a very good thing. However, whenever they had hours available we would have to be there with Cruze. The point of us even dropping off the kids was to get a break. Not do something with them. I mean I love our kids, but mama and daddy need a break every once in a while! They did have hours where we could just drop him off, but it was $20. The Splash Academy was completely free most hours. So, paying $20 every day so we could simply go to the gym alone, just didn’t seem like the best plan. We ended up having to rotate in the morning to go to the gym, and would usually drop the older boys off at Splash Academy and brought Cruze with us to dinner a couple nights. Not a huge deal, but still a slight inconvenience.
The Staff- You could be on the most amazing ship on the planet, with the best food known to man, and all the activities you could possibly imagine; and if the staff was horrible, it could ruin your whole experience! The Norwegian Cruise line staff was some of the best we have ever experienced. Not only did they make us feel at home, but they went above and beyond for our kids as well. One night our room service came in and taught the boys how to fold towels and make them into animals. They thought this was so cool! Another night they decorated their side of the room with a bunch of towel animals, and balloons. Another they brought us complimentary chocolate covered strawberries, shrimp with cocktail sauce, and wine (which we gifted to a friend). It was things like this that really put a smile on our faces and made us want to tell all of our friends about our experience when we got home. They called us all by name, and honestly by the end of cruise I almost wanted to give them all a hug. They sorta felt like family!
Excursions- My husband and I decided not to do a ton of excursions, simply because we were pretty limited on what we could do with Cruze. However, I feel I can give some good insight on which ports you should spend your money on, and which you might be safe just exploring on your own. So, if you’re wondering what excursions to do, or what ports to do them, this may help you.
Florida– We decided not to do an “excursion” with the ship in Florida. Looking back I’m actually happy about that, because it ended up being a bit gloomy and rainy that day. We tossed around the idea of heading to Disney, but decided it wouldn’t be worth it. An hour there, and an hour back. If the park were busy at all, we’d likely only get a few rides in before we had to turn around. We ended up just getting off the ship, and found our own shuttle to Cocoa Beach. The beach was nice and well kept, and the boys had a blast making sand castles with daddy! We walked around and had a blast. We made it back just in time for dinner, so we didn’t even have to spend money on food either.
Great Stirrup Cay– Great Stirrup was by far our very favorite days of the cruise. This is Norwegians private island, so it was very well kept with a lot of free activities for the kids to do. They had a family water balloon fight, tug of war, and music playing for the kids. We were able to bring our beach towels from the ship to the island, where they provided free lounge chairs for all guests. Skyler ended up renting snorkeling gear for the boys, and they had a blast searching for fish! It was also nice that all equipment rentals were simply charged to our room, so we didn’t really have to worry about brining our wallet. Oh, and did a mention the food? You know that massive buffet I ranted and raved about? Well, they set it up on the island so we could eat all inclusive at port! This was awesome, because you can really go overboard and spend a lot of money on vacation if you are not careful. It was nice to know we could eat like Kings and Queen without spending a dime.
Is it worth Paying for an Excursion?- Honestly, there is so much to do on the private Island, I don’t really feel like it would be worth paying more for an excursion. I couldn’t really say though simply because my boys just wanted to play in the water and snorkel. It was really the BEST day!
Nassau, Bahamas- I think I was most excited to get to Nassau. The pictures looked incredible and I couldn’t wait to play in the gorgeous aqua blue water. When we arrived, it was a little different than I pictured. A little run down, and some parts of the city might seem a bit sketchy. Now THIS is the Island I wish we had booked an excursion for. We walked around a bit to find some sunscreen since we quickly ran out, then found a beach that was beautiful (but not in the best area), and played there for a few hours.
We ended up grabbing lunch, and after decided to pay for a cab to take us over to Paradise Island where Atlantis is. Oh man. I wish we would have done this first! The beaches on Paradise Island (especially closer to Atlantis) are absolutely breathtaking! They weren’t nearly as crowded as Great Stirrup, and the water was just gorgeous! Everything was so nice and clean, and I could have stayed right there for a week. So, if you are heading to Nassau, I would highly recommend making a trip to the beach by Atlantis. If we do go again, we are most definitely heading to their water park! We decided not to because of Cruze, but cannot wait to go back!
**Swimsuits are from Kortni Jeane Swim**
This photo above was taken at the first beach we went to right by the port. It was gorgeous, but not nearly as nice as Paradise Island. See all the rocks by our feet? That made it really hard to chase the kids without getting hurt, and we were worried about Cruze falling.
Now compare the above photo to this beach. Look at that gorgeous white sand! It was absolutely breathtaking here. That water! <3<3
Is it worth paying for an Excursion?- 100% YES!!! Id say if we could re-do one day of our entire trip, this would be it. I wish we would have booked an excursion with the ship instead of wanting to explore and playing it by ear. Although the island is absolutely gorgeous, there are some areas you might not want to take your family. I would highly suggest Atlantis, Paradise Island. The beach itself is amazing, but there is also a gigantic water park, dolphin encounter, pools galore, etc. Everything was very clean and well kept, and the beach itself was not crowded. Another activity we thought about doing was the Stingray encounter, or pig Island. Both sounded like a blast!
Questions- If you follow me on Instagram, you might have asked me a question regarding the Cruise. Here are a few of your questions answered.
Would you recommend going to the Bahamas after the warning put out against traveling to the Bahamas? – I kind of touched on this above, but yes I would still travel to the Bahamas. Absolutely. Now obviously Great Stirrup does not really count because it is Norwegians private Island, and therefore very safe. I would suggest booking an excursion with the Cruise Line in Nassau. That way you can have peace of mind and you won’t have to worry about finding your own transportation. I would highly suggest finding a beach near Atlantis on Paradise Island. The beach is incredible, very well kept, and not as crowded.
Did you feel there were enough activities to keep the kids entertained?– YES, there was honestly so much to do on the ship it was a bit overwhelming at times. Not a dull moment, that’s for sure.
Did you ever worry for your kids Safety?– Like I mentioned above, I’m kind of a paranoid mom that can be a bit overprotective. So, ill be totally honest. The first day I was a bit nervous and I had a hard time sleeping that night. By the second day I realized that it would be near impossible for one of them to jump off the ship or get hurt in any way. Everything was very safe, the staff was impeccable, and I never really worried for their safety after that. I would go again in a heartbeat!
Were you and Skyler ever able to get any alone time to do anything?– Yes and No. Because Guppies (not to be confused with Splash Academy that does not charge) charged for day care, we decided to just keep him with us. Compared to having THREE kids with us, it felt like a break, and we were happy with that!
What Kind of room would you suggest?- The room we chose could fit up to 5 people nicely. A bunk bed for the kids, with enough space for two kids on bottom. We chose to do a window view, just because I felt that being able to see outside would make me a little less nervous. I would suggest a room like this if you have a family with young kids. A balcony is always great, but it is also a lot more expensive. This was the perfect compromise.
Did you or the kids get sea sick?- Honestly this ship was so massive we could barely feel it move. Most of the time I forgot we were on a ship! Aside from night one, no one got sick. Beckham got sick that night, but he had also taken off his sea band earlier that day. I would highly suggest grabbing a few pairs of sea bands for you and your kids just in case. They worked great! Other then that, no one really got sick or even complained of the ship rocking. We honestly couldn’t feel it.
I’ve never been on a Cruise, is it like a resort?– Yes. The most amazing all inclusive resort on water!
I’ve always heard you gain about 5 lbs a week on a Cruise. Is that true?– You guys, I think this was the #1 question I got. Over 300 of you wanted to know. Haha! Okay, so for me the answer to this questions is YES I totally gained a solid 5 lbs on the cruise. The food was just so dang good, and I’m fairly certain I ate at least three desserts every day. BUT, I also came into it knowing that I wasn’t going to be watching calories, and that I was going to allow myself to indulge for one week. For those that are trying to keep a healthy diet, there are TONS of great options and varieties for you. Plus we hit the gym while on the ship, so that made me feel a little better about all the sugar and carbs I was eating every day.
Is Cruising Expensive?- Yes, It can be. It honestly depends on the ship you’re on, how long, and if you’re also having to pay for a flight. Some are fairly inexpensive, but you get what you pay for. Another thing to think about, is that the food is all inclusive and included in the price. For us, we just drove to NYC and left from there. It saved us on flights, and was SO. DANG. CONVENIENT! We didn’t really do any crazy excursions at port, and kept things pretty simple. We also used our free packages with ticket purchase, to buy the dining pass. This was great because never had to pay extra for fine dining, and we only drank water. All in all, I think we probably spent less than if we had taken a plane out and bought a hotel somewhere tropical.
How were you able to post? Did you have internet on the ship? Yes, I purchased the unlimited internet package with my ticket. We could choose up to three packages for FREE, and that was one of them. It made staying in touch so much easier. 🙂
Would you recommend or even go on another Norwegian Cruise again? HECK YES!!! I think I had a glistening tear as we were departing the ship. It was the best week ever!!
I hope this answers all of your questions. Please feel free to reach out if I missed anything!