Norwegian Escape arrived in the United States this week. The biggest Norwegian Cruise Line ship ever reached its homeport in Miami with a lot of fanfare. If Miami's favorite native son, Pitbull, is the ship's godfather, you know it's gonna be a big deal.
The christening ceremony under a blazing sun in the first week of November really heated things up and helped make the ship's debut a big media event.
Now that cruisers can begin sailing on Norwegian Escape, what should they expect? Here are my first impressions.
Note: These observations are based strictly on my personal preferences for a cruise. You know by now that I'm all about the fun stuff you can enjoy onboard. That, and the beer.
Bayamo is a restaurant curated by celebrity chef Jose Garces. This is a seafood heavy menu with a Latin inspiration. I don't like seafood, but I really liked the Wagyu beef main course and crema de quinoa appetizer. The items are priced a la carte at this specialty restaurant. Norwegian Escape has 28 places to eat onboard, and while many are included in your fare, some have an added fee. Norwegian Cruise Line touts its "Freestyle" concept, which means you can show up to dine at the main included restaurants whenever you feel hungry. The specialty dining options recommend a reservation.
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville at Sea on Norwegian Escape will have a $5 cover charge going forward, according to several crew I spoke to on my sailing. This is aimed to helped control the crowds. I can see spending a fiver a couple of times during a weeklong cruise to have a relaxing lunch in the sunny outdoors (the area is covered, so you are protected from the beating sun) away from the buffet lines. It really was a pleasant experience â once we were able to be seated, that is. We attempted a lunch around 12:30 p.m. and were told of a 90-minute wait, which is unacceptable anywhere, especially a cruise ship. Later, we were seated quickly when we stopped by for a 3:30 p.m. snack and a couple drinks.
I loved "The Brat Pack, Live at the Supper Club", a dinner show that is a must for fans of John Hughes' movies. There is a cover charge (between $24.94 and $29.95, depending on where you sit). A couple of notes. The performance is awesome, especially for people who remember the storylines in the movies like "Pretty in Pink" and "The Breakfast Club." But if you haven't see them, the flow of the production might not be so well understood. Also, the meal was average -- at best. Finally, this is really geared toward adults, with both language and some body-baring scenes.
Water slides and ropes course. The top-of-ship activities are a blast. We enjoyed the ropes course, which offers several challenging paths, two narrow planks to walk out over the edge of the ship (pictured at the top of this post) and two ziplines. One of the ziplines swings out over the water, too. If you are afraid of heights, this will require you to steel your nerves, but you can choose any number of paths around the course to make it as easy or as hard as you dare. Plus, you are securely harnessed and attached to a line so you won't fall to your demise.
Thanks for reading.