I spent Christmas at Sea on the Norwegian Escape this past December. Our destination was the Eastern Caribbean. We visited Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas, as well as Nassau.
Over 1, 500 of the passengers were youth ranging in age from infants through 18 years. On board activities in the Splash Academy for children and Entourage for teens gave participants the option of participate in programs throughout the day and evening hours.
The Norwegian Escape’s Kids’ Aqua Park was a big draw for many young cruisers especially the enclosed tube slide. Another favorite, which was always busy, was the two-story climbing structure.
Families could be seen on the Sports Deck playing miniature golf together, shooting hoops, or playing bocce ball. Additionally, there were the many video games to share. Of course, there were also all the Christmas activities to enjoy.
Getting into the Christmas Spirit
The Christmas holiday began as soon we boarded the ship. Brightly decorated Christmas trees lit up the public areas. Holiday favorites and carols played softly in the background.
The dining rooms and buffet areas featured displays of creative winter scenes made of foodstuffs. Each of the specialty dining restaurants also had their own unique decorations that added to the spirit of the season.
Besides the dining room decorations, staff and crew created a village display in the small atrium. A set of trains chugged their way around the display. The train whistle would blow every few minutes and small puffs of white smoke would come out of the steam engine’s smoke stack. This display put many a fussy member of the under five set in a good mood almost immediately.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day there were traditional holiday meals including prime rib of beef and turkey. Dessert offerings included pies, puddings and Christmas cookies.
Christmas Eve was our first port of call day. Guests going ashore boarded tenders for the trip from the Escape to Great Stirrup Bay. Besides enjoying beach activities, guests had five excursion options:
- Marine Life Encounter Eco Boat Tour
- Kayak Tour
- Stingray City Bahamas
- Wave Runner Tour
For guests staying on the ship on Christmas Eve, holiday activities began in the AM. Christmas trivia was followed by Christmas crafts. In the afternoon, Christmas movies trivia drew a huge crowd!
The Escape choir and crew led guests in singing Christmas carols in the Atrium at 9 PM. At midnight, there was an Interdenominational Christmas service in the Theater.
Christmas Day dawned early with Santa’s arrival in the Atrium. He didn’t come alone. Mrs. Claus made a rare appearance, as did some of his elves. Santa didn’t come empty handed either. He brought gifts and invited the children to have their photographs taken with him.
Guests spending the day in Nassau, our second port of call, had a choice of five shore excursions:
- Atlantis Aquaventure
- Discover Atlantis
- Discover Nassau by Land and Sea
- Blue Lagoon Beach Day
- Charm and Beauty of the Bahamas
Ship Christmas activities included a viewing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” on the large screen in the Atrium. A family holiday glow party was well attended.
Evening activities included a performance by four time Grammy winner, Melba Moore, in the Escape Supper Club. Overflow crowds attended the Escape Holiday Spectacular, in the theater at both the 7 PM and 10 PM performances.
Many families chose to celebrate Christmas at sea on the Norwegian Escape. As a result, they got to enjoy being together at Christmas without all the work of holiday preparations.
In December 2018, I had the opportunity to experience family friendly cruising on the NCL Escape. The Escape calls NYC its home port and cruises to destinations in the Eastern and Western Caribbean, and Bermuda. After spending three weeks on this ship, I can say that the NCL Escape is a family resort at sea!
When it comes to making family members comfortable, from the youngest child to grandparents, Norwegian has thought of it all. Beginning with the staterooms, the Escape has accommodations that include family mini-suites, balconies, oceanviews and inside staterooms. Multi-room suites and interconnecting staterooms offer additional options for families. The Haven by Norwegian™, the line’s exclusive ship-within-a-ship concept, offers stateroom categories perfect for the multi-generational family. Families staying in The Haven have access to their own private lounge, restaurant, courtyard and pool. Each suite has a 24-hour butler.
The Escape features one of the largest Aqua Parks at sea. It includes four multi-story water slides, a dedicated Kids’ Aqua Park, two pools and four hot tubs. Slides include the Aqua Racer, Norwegian’s first tandem water slide at sea, Additionally, it has the Free Fall, the fastest water slide at sea. For those who prefer a more relaxing ride, there is a family-friendly open-flume body slide. Norwegian Escape’s Kids’ Aqua Park features a multitude of splashing fun including an enclosed tube slide. There is also a two-story climbing structure for kids to explore. Family members looking for adventure, can conquer the three-story Ropes Course with two planks and five sky rails. There is also a Kids Ropes Course for young children who don’t meet the Ropes Courses’ height requirement. Members of the family who like to take it easy can play mini-golf while enjoying the ocean views.
The parents I spoke with, that had young children, had high praise for the kids water park. They shared that, weather permitting, their children spent hours a day in the water park. While their children made new playmates, parents got to socialize while supervising their children’s activities in the water park.
Splash academy is a complementary youth program offered on all Norwegian ships. Splash Academy hours begin in the AM and continue throughout the day and evening, usually until 10:30 PM. Programs break for lunch and dinner so children can join their families for meals. Splash Academy is split into four categories for ages 3-12 and Entourage for ages 13-17.
The Norwegian Escape is the only ship in Norwegian’s fleet to offer childcare services for children ages six months to three years. It is part of the Guppies program. Before spending time by the pool or enjoying the many on- board activities, parents head to Guppies Program. Here they can drop off their children with an early years coordinator at the nursery. The nursery includes an active area for play time, and a separate space for napping. In addition to the nursery services, the Guppies program offers a dedicated open play area for parents and babies to play together. The play area features sensory-based games, interactive media and themed activities.
Splash Academy Space
The Splash Academy areas are colorful, inviting, immaculate and attractively furnished. Staff are educated and experienced working with children. I had the opportunity to see teens enjoying their evening activities around the ship. It was also great to overhear kids at breakfast hurrying their parents to finish so they could get to their Splash activities.
While kids had fun in the youth programs, during the day, parents enjoyed a variety of day time activities. When kids participated in the evening Splash Academy, some parents had a romantic diner in one of the specialty restaurants. Others attended award-winning entertainment in the theater, many enjoyed the comedy club, visited the casino, or had drinks with new friends.
The complementary dining rooms and the buffet restaurant offered kid friendly foods at every meal. Menus were varied, foods well prepared, and had eye appeal which is so important to young diners. Even fussy eaters found something they liked. Dining wait staff asked about any food allergies and other food restrictions at every meal. Every dessert menu included one or more no sugar added desserts, including ice cream.
Each day, following lunch and dinner in the buffet area, you could watch children headed to the soft serve ice cream machines. They would take their cones and fill them with as much ice cream as their cones could hold!
Family friendly cruising on the NCL Escape is the perfect family vacation any time of the year!
To Be Continued on February 7th-Christmas at Sea on the NCL Escape
Thanks for visiting!