The previous year we took a two-week-long vacation to Europe. The trip was absolutely amazing—the best we’ve ever done—but it was exhausting. We packed every single day with non-stop action, and while we had a very memorable time, it was punishing. When we got home, we decided to make the next vacation one where we did as little as humanly possible, and I’m happy to say we largely succeeded on this cruise.
In the Freestyle Daily left in our cabin the night before, there was a note about moving clocks forward one hour to account for Bermuda time. I was expecting this, so we did as instructed without question. However, we didn’t think closely enough (or read the Daily closely enough), because the Daily was for day 2 of the cruise—meaning clocks were to be turned back at 2:00 AM on night 2 (Monday night), not night one. The result was we were up way before we’d intended, thinking that we were now an hour later. At the buffet for breakfast at what we thought was 9:00, we were very surprised by how light the crowds were.
Likewise, when we walked up to check out the adults-only sun deck, Spice H20, we were again delighted to find very few people out and about. We enjoyed exploring the cave-like water feature with no one else around.
We only became aware of our mistake when we attempted to grab lunch at O’Sheehan’s at what we thought was noon, but was actually only 11:00. The hostess informed us of our error, and we had a good laugh. Because we had a little extra time, we wandered down to the dining room to check out the lunch menu. We dined at Savor, which would be our only trip to a main dining room the entire cruise. I enjoyed the Philly cheesesteak, which I’ve had on prior cruises and which is shockingly delicious.
We finished lunch just in time to make it to Cellars for the 1:00 PM black glass wine tasting. This was a for-fee event ($20 per person) which included tasting five different wines. The thing that made this more fun than a typical tasting was the black glass challenge, where you’re given three wines in black glasses and asked to identify the wine within simply via taste. This was much harder than I expected. While I’m still a wine novice, I thought I would do better than I did, though I came very close on a few of my guesses. For folks who enjoy wine, it was definitely a fun way to spend an hour while onboard.
After the wine tasting we made our way to the pool deck for our first fruity outdoor drink of the cruise. When we got our drinks, we noted an interesting/annoying thing: the drinks no longer come with straws. Most of the time, straws are completely unnecessary, but try to drink a frozen daiquiri without one—it sucks. Actually, it doesn’t suck, which is why you need a freaking straw. We met a couple people later in the cruise who brought their own straws, which seems like a good call in future.
One other note about the pool area: I know the pool areas on NCL ships leave a lot to be desired. The only time we ever even attempt going in the pool is while the ship is in port. But the pool on Escape was a whole other level of bad. People were jammed in so close together it looked like a swingers cruise. I can’t imagine that’s much fun, but if that’s your thing, you’ll be right at home on this ship.
Seeking a more peaceful getaway, we left the pool deck and made our first visit to the thermal suite. The thermal suite is a wonderful section all the way forward on deck 16 which can only be accessed by passengers who’ve purchased spa passes, or in our case, passengers who book a Spa cabin. It’s a much less busy area because they only allow access to approximately 100 people per day. Since Kathleen and I are both averse to the sun (which begs the question, why do we keep cruising), we were both very happy to have a quiet, sun-free place to relax.
The main area of the thermal suite has a hot tub, a thalassotherapy pool, and a good number of very comfortable padded loungers. It also features some heated, hard-as-rock loungers, but I couldn’t see laying in one of those things for longer than about the thirty seconds I attempted. The padded loungers, though, were my favorite destination for lounging on this cruise.
The thalassotherapy pool was very large and quite hot (like a hot tub), and it features a number of jets to give your body a good pounding. There’s a waterfall-like thing in the middle of the pool which provides a heavy massage to your neck and shoulders. There’s also a part that, well, I have no idea what its purpose was, but which basically fills the water with bubbles and tosses you about like you’re in a raging river. I have no idea if that had a positive effect on my body, but it was fun. We both felt more limber after spending time in the thalassotherapy pool, so there may be something to it, but I wish they told me whether it would “hurt my brain cells.”
The thermal suite also has a number of rooms that are supposed to offer various health benefits. We briefly opened the door to the steam room before taking a hard pass (again, we’re not heat people). The snow room was much more our speed, and I always enjoyed cooling off there after a swim in the hot thalassotherapy pool.
The salt room was also nice, and is supposed to improve your breathing. Again, I have no clue if that’s actually the case, but it was very easy to relax in there and I found myself nearly falling asleep more than once.
Speaking of falling asleep, we spent a solid couple hours in the spa, and I nearly fell asleep while lying on those comfortable padded loungers. We eventually had our fill of relaxation and made our way back to the cabin to shower and change before our evening activities.
Before leaving for the cruise, we’d made reservations for both theater shows, After Midnight and the Brat Pack. After Midnight was up first, but before heading to the theater for the 7:30 show, we had enough time to pop in the District Brew House and check out their beer selection.
I enjoyed the beer—I chose something light and summery, though I forget which one specifically—but I would say their beer could have been a bit colder. That may just be me, though, since I typically like my beer just this side of frozen. There was a piano player playing music sans singing (think cocktail hour), and he was excellent. We’d stop in to hear his more lively sets later in the cruise.
We made it to the theater on deck 7 just after 7:00 and quickly found seats. I would highly recommend making reservations for any show you might want to see because this theater is tiny, especially for a ship this size. It’s only on a single deck, and there seemed to be an unusually high number of seats reserved for Haven passengers. The show was well worth it. The musicians were fantastic, and the singing was some of the best I’ve heard at sea. The Brat Pack was even better, though, but more on that in a bit.
The show let out at about 8:45, which left us with an hour to kill before our rescheduled reservation at Le Bistro. This was just enough time for us to grab a quick drink up at Tobacco Road, where the Latin duo was playing. We grooved to some familiar songs while I enjoyed a Getaway, which is probably my favorite drink on NCL ships. It’s like a mojito on steroids, and I could drink them anytime, anywhere.
Thankfully, we managed to be seated at an inside table at Le Bistro this time. We proceeded to have a lovely meal, occasionally chatting with a very nice couple at the table next to us. The food was good, though a bit short of great. The exception was the French onion soup, which was crazy delicious. I also really enjoyed Kathleen’s butter-poached shrimp, though she (rightfully) thought they were a bit rich. We’d booked a trip to Paris for a week the following November, and this definitely put us in the mood for a Paris getaway.
Since we were both quite full and had no more room for drinks, we decided to make our way to the cabin for some post-dinner relaxation before bed. We enjoyed some quiet time on our balcony (night time is my favorite balcony time), and then we hit the sack. We had another busy day of doing nothing scheduled for tomorrow, and we wanted to be well-rested for that.
Up next in cruise day 3: I’m now in a relaxation coma.