Monday, 30 November 2015

Norwegian Cruise Line Confirms Margaritaville at Sea Will be a la Carte

Norwegian Cruise Line Confirms Margaritaville at Sea Will be a la Carte
Dawn at Margaritaville at sea and waitress Agthea Ragina photo by Dave Jones

Article by

Norwegian Cruise Line has confirmed that Norwegian Escape's Margaritaville at Sea -- a previously complimentary dining venue in partnership with musician Jimmy Buffett -- will now operate as a speciality a la carte restaurant, a month after opening.
Margaritaville at Sea has proved a huge hit from the moment the ship debuted in Southampton, U.K. on October 27.
By the time the ship officially launched in Miami on November 9 we reported waiting times of more than an hour -- prompting President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Frank del Rio to hint that a fee would be introduced.
In a press conference onboard Norwegian Escape on November 10, Del Rio said: "for business and crowd-control reasons [introducing a la carte pricing is] always a possibility".
Vanessa Picariello, Sr. Director, Public Relations at Norwegian Cruise Line confirmed: "The first Margaritaville at Sea aboard Norwegian Escape has proven to be extremely popular. We have listened to our guests' feedback regarding the overwhelming demand and, in an effort to deliver the highest quality experience, we will be implementing a la carte pricing at the restaurant as of the ship's November 28 sailing".
The possibility of a charge first came to light on the Cruise Critic Message Boards when TracyE stated that "while this venue was free on the TA, beginning November 14th, there will be a la carte pricing".
In a subsequent thread, the decision to charge has angered many members, including Lily815 who complained that "they are changing the rules… again. It is beyond frustrating" and MalervyC who stated that "[Margaritaville at Sea] was a big draw for us to book this cruise".
Sample prices from the menu (pictured below) include burger and fries at $9.98 and fish tacos at $6.99, excluding an 18% gratuity.

Royal Caribbean: Completion Of Accelerated Share Repurchase

Royal Caribbean:
Completion Of Accelerated Share Repurchase

Royal Caribbean Cruises today announced that it has completed the $200 million accelerated share repurchase program announced on October 23, 2015.  
Under the terms of the program, the company repurchased a total of 2,103,288 shares of common stock at a price per share of $95.0892.
The repurchase price was determined based on the average of the daily volume-weighted average prices of the stock during the term of the transaction, less a discount.
The ASR transaction was executed as part of an authorization by the company's Board of Directors to repurchase up to $500 million of common stock.  
With the completion of the transaction $300 million remains under the share repurchase authorization.  The company expects to complete the program by year-end 2016.

Why Paris is of concern to the river cruise industry, too

Why Paris is of concern to the river cruise industry, too

It just so happens that France has been on the rise in the river cruising world. The Seine River and cruises on the Rhone and Saone rivers in the south of France have been gaining popularity in recent years, and last year Bordeaux became a new river cruise region that lines have since jumped on with new capacity. 
So, in the wake of the deadly terror attacks in Paris earlier this month, river cruise lines also have a lot to potentially lose if travelers become nervous about upcoming sailings in France — or in the rest of Europe for that matter.
Michelle Baran
Michelle Baran
Having been on an AmaWaterways river cruise on the Rhine River in Strasbourg at the time of the attacks, I spoke with Ama’s executive vice president and co-owner Kristin Karst in their immediate aftermath.
The company had a river vessel sailing the Seine back towards Paris several days after the attacks and decided to disembark passengers in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a bit further up the Seine from Paris, given the uncertainty in the capital as events unfolded there. Karst noted that AmaWaterways offers a two-night post-river cruise program in Paris, and gave the guests the option to continue with their plans or fly home.
“We had one very large group [and] they wanted to continue and do the two nights in Paris,” said Karst.
AmaWaterways had two more Rhone cruises this month, on Nov. 19 and Nov. 26, and did have some cancellations on those cruises, for which the line offered a 100% future cruise credit. While the news is concerning, Karst noted that an agent had emailed the company several days after the attacks to open up a group booking request for a cruise in Bordeaux, which she found hopeful.
The Paris attacks come at the tail end of what was a challenging 2015 for travel in Europe between the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris at the start of the year, and the migrant crisis that remained in the media spotlight throughout the summer. River cruise lines had the added challenge of low water levels, a nagging problem in Europe since July.
After several years of boom times for the river cruise industry, there is now a large amount of inventory sailing through Europe, and a lot of hype and investment on the line. Like other sectors of the travel industry, the river cruise segment is likely watching closely and hoping this all blows over before the selling season gets under way after the start of the new year. Either way, they’re probably well aware that the Paris attacks will pose some challenges, however short or long-lived.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Two Le Boreal cruises canceled to repair ship

Two Le Boreal cruises canceled to repair ship

Ponant has canceled the Nov. 30 and Dec. 10 departures of Le Boreal, a yacht that was damaged by a fire on its previous cruise.
Ponant evacuated all of the passengers from Le Boreal after a fire “of a technical nature” broke out as the ship was cruising near the Falkland Islands. The passengers were repatriated last weekend, Ponant said.
The ship is now at the quay in the East Cove Military Port in the Falkland Islands, and will be towed in the next few days to Punta Arenas’ shipyard in Chile for repairs.
The 264-passenger ship had just started a 15-night round trip Antarctica sailing from Ushuaia, Argentina, on Nov. 15. The itinerary included a visit to South Georgia before landing in Antarctica and touring Deception Island. 

Royal Caribbean's 'Come Seek Live' an innovative draw for millennials

Royal Caribbean's 'Come Seek Live' an innovative draw for

Come Seek Billboard.
The range of activities passengers can do on a cruise was demonstrated for countless New Yorkers during their daily commute last week, as Royal Caribbean International streamed live images directly to outdoor ad screens on 230 subway kiosks and display spaces on digital newsstands.

Commuters learned they could dance in Martinique, feed a monkey in St. Kitts, go on a sailboat regatta in St. Maarten or go cliff jumping in Barbados.

All were excursions offered on Royal Caribbean's 4,180-passenger Anthem of the Seas, which recently arrived at its Bayonne, N.J., homeport, as it toured the southern Caribbean. 

The images were streamed via Twitter's new video application called Periscope, a fast-growing social media platform. Royal said New York Transit officials believe it was the first time that its network of digital billboards has been used to show live video via Periscope.
Royal Caribbean’s “Come Seek Live” display at the Union Square subway station in New York. It featured streaming Periscopes and video images from the campaign’s TV ads. Photo Credit: Johanna Jainchill
Royal Caribbean’s “Come Seek Live” display at the Union Square subway station in New York. It featured streaming Periscopes and video images from the campaign’s TV ads. Photo Credit: Johanna Jainchill
Jim Berra, chief marketing officer at Royal Caribbean, said the outdoor effort was part of a larger bid to bust through advertising clutter with Royal's "Come Seek" marketing message. 

"In a world where consumers tune out a message if it is overly produced or directed, we want to show the experience as it is happening in real time," Berra said before the campaign's launch.

By streaming video to new-age billboards, Royal sought to target new-to-cruise millennial generation consumers with a type of technology that resonates with them. In addition to the videos, the displays featured running comments sent via Twitter, and a stream of colored hearts, the Periscope equivalent of Facebook "likes."

New York was picked to pilot the marketing because it has the most advanced outdoor ad market in the country, Berra said.

Berra also said the New York project launches a new, more aggressive regional approach to marketing at Royal that, "given Anthem's arrival and the fact that New York is a huge fly market into central and south Florida," will continue throughout the year. 

"Come Seek Live" ran from Nov. 13 to 20. During the run, Periscopes streamed three or four times a day on the displays, generally for an hour. They could also be seen via Twitter on mobile or desktop devices.

The rest of the time, the displays showed video images from "Come Seek" television ads.

The larger idea of "Come Seek" is to challenge stereotypes of cruising, tourism and the Caribbean. 

To aid that process, Royal Caribbean enlisted several "influencers," footloose social media nomads with high Twitter numbers. They included a group of 20-something Canadian lads who brand themselves as "High On Life" on YouTube travel videos, and Dan Moore, an Australian travel blogger. Each functioned as makeshift tour guides in the Periscope videos.

Sam McCully, vice president of marketing at Avoya Travel in San Diego, said the approach will engage the younger customers Royal Caribbean has focused on with "Come Seek."

"Social media allows you to add another dimension in starting a conversation with people," McCully said. "It's no longer a one-way (communication); it's very conversational, very two way. 

"Especially the younger type of customer they're targeting, those people are used to having direct engagement with brand, having a conversation with a brand." 

However, it is the outdoor dimension that really makes it different, McCully said. 

"They're not just shooting the content and putting it out there on their site and via Twitter, but there's a live component in a key market. So they're not just pushing the boundaries of social media, social marketing, but it's also pushing the boundaries of your traditional outdoor advertising," he said.

In terms of reaching new customers, "I wouldn't be surprised if it was a major success," McCully said. 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

New Princess ship to debut in Europe before China deployment

New Princess ship to debut in Europe before China deployment

Majestic Princess.
Princess Cruises’ new ship Majestic Princess is to make its debut in Europe before being deployed to its year-round base in China.
The 3,560-passenger vessel enters service in April 2017 with a short maiden season of five to 28-day Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona, Athens and Rome before moving to China in July.
Sister ships Royal Princess and Regal Princess will be among a further six ships to be based in Europe in 2017.
Royal Princess will run new 11-day Grand Mediterranean and 10-day Western Mediterranean itineraries which can be combined into a 21-day sailing. Seven, 14, 21 and 28-day sailings throughout the Mediterranean will also be available.
Regal Princess, launched last year, returns to northern Europe for cruises to Scandinavia and Russia including an overnight stay in St Petersburg.
The 3,080-passenger Crown Princess will be based in Southampton from April to September to run seven and 14-night cruises to the Mediterranean and Scandinavia.
The 3,140-passenger Caribbean Princess will operate the line’s largest British Isles season with 12 departures from Southampton including  a new late evening stay in Belfast and overnights in Dublin on selected cruises.
Smaller Pacific Princess, carrying 680 passengers, will sail from Dover from June to September on northern Europe itineraries.
Both Crown Princess and Pacific Princess will offer North Cape voyages to the Arctic Circle during the peak midnight sun period around the summer solstice.
The 2017 sailings, covering 153 departures to 119 destinations across 27 countries, are open for booking on December 3 from 4pm.
Princess Cruises’ president, Jan Swartz, said: “Our 2017 Europe season is sure to inspire our guests with our newest and largest ships in the Mediterranean and northern Europe.
“We’re especially excited to debut Majestic Princess in the Mediterranean before she officially sails to Asia for her maiden China cruise season.”

Monday, 23 November 2015

Southampton's QEII cruise terminal set for £5m upgrade

Southampton's QEII cruise terminal set for £5m upgrade

A £5 million revamp of Southampton port's QEII cruise terminal will begin this winter.
ABP Port of Southampton and Carnival UK are jointly funding the improvements.
The work is being carried out over two phases in 2015/16 and will include a ship-to-shore walkway to replace the existing one, which was initially installed for Cunard’s.
This will ensure a greater range of ships can use the terminal with new technology, improving passenger flow and experience.
The terminal upgrade will also include improvements to the existing check in, baggage and passenger X-ray areas, installing a new 46-person lift and re-organising the passenger drop-off area.
The first phase of the work is due to be completed in spring 2016. The second phase, which includes the installation of the new walkway, will be finalised in winter 2016.
ABP Southampton director, Nick Ridehalgh, said: “The number of cruise passengers coming through Southampton’s port continues to rise, with 1.75 million expected to pass through this year.
“It’s therefore vital that we ensure our facilities are in the very best shape to accommodate these passengers and that they are laid out in a way that gives people a seamless and stress-free start to their holidays.”
Carnival UK port services and government affairs director, Steven Young, said: “We are delighted that these works, following on from recent improvements to both the Ocean and Mayflower cruise terminals, will give our guests a consistent and improved experience regardless of the terminal at which they join or leave the ship.
“As well as Cunard and P&O Cruises other Carnival brands including Princess, Holland America and Aida will benefit.”

Oasis of the Seas getting Tiffany jewelry shop

Oasis of the Seas getting Tiffany jewelry shop

Image above is not the Oasis Rendering.

Tiffany is coming to Oasis of the Seas. The luxury jeweler will locate a store in the ship’s Central Park neighborhood.
The shop will offer a full selection of Tiffany jewelry, including engagement rings and the recently introduced Tiffany T and Atlas collections, as well as Swiss-made CT60 watches, Tiffany said.
“Tiffany & Co. is a distinguished global luxury brand and having a boutique on board will truly enrich the premium onboard experience for our guests,” said Mark Tamis, vice president of hotel operations at Royal Caribbean International.
Oasis, currently sailing from Fort Lauderdale, moves to Port Canaveral next year.

L'Boreal expedition ship evacuated after fire

L'Boreal expedition ship evacuated after fire

The French luxury expedition ship L’Boreal was evacuated after an engine room fire, but there were no casualties or injuries, according to its operator, Ponant.
The incident took place around 2 a.m. on Nov. 18 as the ship was sailing near the Falkland Islands as part of a cruise to Antarctica. The line said a fire "of a technical nature" broke out in a compartment of the engine room. As a precaution, guests were evacuated to another Ponant ship, L’Austral, which happened to be positioned nearby.
The two ships are similar: each has a capacity of 264 passengers.
Ponant said the balance of the cruise has been canceled and passengers are en route to Port Stanley, the capital of the Falklands, from where they will be “directly repatriated."

A guide to social media advertising

A guide to social media advertising

Social Media By Carrie Finley-Bajak
Finding leads online, either by ranking in organic search results or from social media interactions, can yield results. However, it is often necessary to supplement marketing efforts by deploying social media ad campaigns to remain competitive. 

The quest to stay relevant online takes effort. One way to keep a pulse on trends is to explore advertising options available on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Getting started: plan, buy, optimize

Social media ad campaigns don't require long-term contracts, enabling travel professionals to stop ads at any time. Most channels will offer an option to pay for clicks or impressions. 

Prior to spending money on paid or targeted advertising campaigns, make sure to have a keyword strategy. In general, try to stick with a list of three to five keywords to remain consistent. Search on Google for "keyword generator" to get ideas. 

Buy targeted ads based on location, demographics and/or device type. 

Optimize and analyze ad campaigns on a regular basis. Make sure to stay agile, making adjustments as necessary. 

Social media ad channels

After a travel professional makes the decision to allocate time and resources to finding leads through paid advertisements, the next step is to figure out where to deploy ad campaigns.

• Facebook: According to Facebook, there are more than 1.4 billion people who use Facebook to connect with what matters to them, and more than 900 million visit every day. At the end of July, Facebook reported that ads brought in $3.8 billion in advertising revenue for the three-month reporting period that ended in July. As far as social networking sites go, Facebook is a great option for travel agents looking to get started with a social ad strategy. Ads can appear in news feed on a desktop, news feed on a mobile device and in the right column of Facebook on a desktop. 

Facebook does a great job collecting information about people. Take advantage of this data and target ads according to location and interests. 

With Facebook Ads, travel sellers can create targeted ads to reach different audiences while meeting business goals. Among the things you can do are: build ads that promote clicks to your website, create ads that increase video views, create offers for prospects to claim and increase attendance at a special event, product launch or cruise night.

To learn about Facebook Ads, visit

• Instagram: Although still in its infancy, Instagram recently opened up its ad platform to all companies in 30 countries. 

The service is evolving, and the company recently announced it was launching more ad products to use on Instagram. One thing definitely worth trying on Instagram are carousel ads, which are a compelling way to tell a brand's story. 

Create and target advanced Instagram ads based on custom audiences, look-alike audiences, Facebook categories and partner categories. Facebook's Ads Manager is the easiest way for small businesses to start running ads on Instagram.

To learn more about Instagram for business, visit

• Twitter: Whether you're looking for more followers or website traffic, Twitter ads might be a good option. 

To make the most of Twitter ads, make sure to understand where potential leads spend their time on the service. For example, one way travel agents can generate leads is by using promoted tweets during travel-related Twitter chats. (For a list of weekly chats, visit Another way is running ads on popular hashtags. 

There are three kinds of Twitter Ads. 1) Promoted tweets (with or without an image or video) are messages like an announcement of an upcoming product release, a sale or an event you're hosting; 2) A promoted account is an ad that invites targeted Twitter users to follow your brand; and 3) Promoted trends are leverage time-, context- and event-sensitive trends promoted by Twitter's advertising partners. These paid, promoted trends appear at the top of the trending topics list on Twitter and are clearly marked as "promoted." 

Like most platforms, Twitter enables you to target your ads based on location, gender, languages, interests and devices. 

To learn more about Twitter ads for business, visit

• Pinterest: Ads on Pinterest consist of "promoted pins," which refer to content that will appear in search results. As with other pay-for-click models, a travel professional will only pay for promoted pins when a viewer clicks on or otherwise engages with an ad. There is no minimum cost to run an ad campaign. Instead, it varies based on targeting audience and bid amount.

Pinterest wants promoted pins to be among some of the best pins members see on the social network. According to Pinterest, ads should contain "beautiful, actionable and interesting" content. Before getting started, make sure to review Pinterest'sadvertising principles and rules

In May, Pinterest offered a new motion-based mobile ad format called cinematic pins, which are a nice way to enhance storytelling for a brand.

To learn more about advertising on Pinterest, visit

• LinkedIn: For B2B networking and to access affinity groups, advertising on LinkedIn can raise brand awareness, build relationships and drive quality leads. 

 LinkedIn Ads enable travel advisers to create and place ads on prominent pages on Target which LinkedIn members view ads by selecting a target audience according to job title, job function, industry, geography, age, gender, company name, company size or LinkedIn group. Advertising costs are controlled by setting a budget (paying only for clicks or impressions). LinkedIn ad formats include text and image ads, video ads or text-only ads. 

To learn more about advertising on LinkedIn, visit

Best practice tips
  • Set your advertising goals first. Create both daily and lifetime budgets for your campaigns. Ask suppliers for co-op money to help offset the costs associated with running ad campaigns.
  • Understand the types of actions available from social ads. Are you looking for an increase in reach, followers, engagement or website traffic?
  • Choose targeting keywords that make sense for ads while adhering to an agency's brand standards and travel niche.
  • Use A/B testing to see what ads perform best. A good rule of thumb for independent contractors is to use variations of popular posts from individual accounts to reduce costs associated with market testing.
  • Analyze data to determine what time of day consumers are engaging with ads, then target leads when they are most active online.
  • Don't be shy. Interact and engage with leads who respond to ads.
  • Think global, but deploy local. Take advantage of ZIP code-targeted ads to promote travel products to niche communities. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Norwegian Escape Review. Transatlantic Crossing Southampton to Miami

Norwegian Escape Review.

Transatlantic Crossing Southampton to Miami

10 Days 29th October to 8th November 2015

 Above photo courtesy of

First Impression:
As we traveled from Southampton airport and drove to the port we could catch glimpses of this huge ship waiting. When we entered the port we were stunned at not only the size of Escape, but the size of the magnificent art work on her hull; the art work painted by Guy Harvey is a realistic depiction of the sea live that can be found in the Caribbean and the Bahamas; and is huge and in my personal view the best in Norwegians fleet. 

Interior Decor:

 Photos taken by Dave Jones
Norwegian Escape is tastefully decorated, the main walkways are painted white and the support pillars have been molded to look like the trunks of palm trees. In the center of Escape there is a glass stairway that connects decks 6, 7 and 8, which tastefully has two mood lights lighting up the glass treads, blue lights during the day and red lights at night; very nice.

In the same Atrium is a massive two deck LED chandelier which changes colours, daytime a white crystal affect and at night time it comes to life changing from yellow, red, blue and even changes to a U.S flag effect; 3 quarters coloured  red, and the top quarter blue. It is a stunning sight but not obtrusive. The ceiling also has small LED lights that change colours but is all most missed due to that fantastic chandelier, but still effective. Around this area you will find; Le Bistro French restaurant, and Headliners Comedy club (howl at the moon also).

The second Atrium is just as impressive if not a bit more functional, in this area you will find the Guest relations, i-connect (internet stations), Shore excursions desk, Restaurant reservations desk, a huge 3 deck high LCD screen surrounded with comfy chairs, and the Atrium bar.

Photos taken by Dave Jones
 Connecting the two Atrium's on deck 6 is the Art Gallery, which is a large area showing off different styles of art, including autographed memorabilia. All the art is presented from Park west Galleries and they have a wide range of art and sculptures to fit all pocket sizes. They change the display on a regular basis, its a nice way to pass away a few minutes looking at the display, and you don't get hassled.

Over all impression is a well designed areas, which are light and airy.       

Food, Cafe's and Restaurants:

Photos taken by Dave Jones

There are nine Specialty Dining Restaurants offering delights from all over the world; French, Italian, Brazilian, Japanese, Chinese, and Argentina including Tapas, sushi, and Steak house restaurants. I can only review three of the above, because of the Specialty Dining package we picked, as we thought it was enough with the complementary dining on offer, but the choice is yours.

Cagney's Steak House; is exactly what it say's, it specialises in all types and sizes of steaks cooked to your own taste, I ordered a 8oz fillet mignon cooked to a blue stranded (which means its scared by the pan to sear the edges and that's it) and it came out perfectly cooked, my wife ordered the Sea Food Plater  which had King Prawn's, Sea Bass, Calamari, Crab Cake and Scallops; all tasted very nice. The deserts menu is a bit small but is very tasty and are good portions. The service was excellent, from being shown to our table, to the waitress serving us. It was my Birthday the night we went, and was given a sponge cream cake and had Happy Birthday sung to me by the serving staff, thank you. 

Moderno Churrascaria; is an Gaucho style restaurant, Brazilian-style steakhouse offers succulent meat carved right at your table by experienced pasadores, ready to serve, per your table marker: red for “stop, I’m full,” green for “keep it coming!” and they do its non-stop meat fest. Indulge in a variety of cuts and meats, as well as classic churrascaria fare including imported cheeses, olives, cured meats, ceviche and specialty salads.
Teppanyaki;  is a authentic Japanese hibachi restaurant, where the chief not only cook's your food in front of you, but does it in a showman way, with twirling knives, spinning and flipping eggs, and catching them on the edge of his Spatula, and drawing butterflies out of the egg yoke. I ordered Fillet Mingnon (Blue) and Lobster, and Dawn ordered Shrimp and Scallops, and the food was wonderful. The starters were Miso Soup and Seaweed Salad with Ginger Dressing, not bad would not order it if there was a chioce. Desert was a choice between fresh fruit and Green Tea Cake, both were very nice.

Photos taken by Dawn Jones
We tried the Complementary Dining and found the food was cooked to a high standard and sometimes the Garden cafe food was hotter and fresher, for example I love eggs Benedict with ham for breakfast, downstairs in Taste they arrived cold and the hollandaise sauce was dry, while in the Garden Cafe they are freshly made in-front of you and as much hollandaise sauce as you want.

The Menus in the Manhattan, Taste, and Savoy Restaurants had two menus one side stayed the same each night, and the other side was altered nightly, the food and service in these restaurants were fantastic, I told our waitress that Fruit Trifle was my favorite desert, she turned up with not one but four Trifles, that's excellent service. 

O'Sheehan's Neighbourhood Bar & Grill delivers a good but limited menu, in what NCL presumes is a genuine Irish bar. O’Sheehan’s is a open restaurant with the O’Sheehan’s  bar just across the walkway, so it can be a bit loud and not always good if you want to have a chat over your meal.

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville at Sea; we only went the once and that was on
Photos taken by Dave Jones
the first day with decent weather during the crossing, talking to our fellow Americans who know this chain of eatery said it was very close to the onshore experience. The only problem was the waiting from ordering to receiving the meals was up to one hour, and for a burger and chips (fries) that was a bit much, in saying that it was a lovely burger with British chips and a great view outside of the ship.

Photos taken by Dave Jones
The Garden Cafe’ is a large buffet area on deck 16 which is open 23 ½ hours a day with a large selection of ethnic dishes, from Italian, Indian, Tai, and Chinese, there are cold meat, cheese and freshly baked breads. Hot meats are carved in front of you, (you can prompt them to cut it a little bit thicker) with burgers with different toppings and foot long hot dogs. There is a large selection of deserts sponge cakes, ice creams, and a crumble pie of sorts, all very nice.

Shows & Entertainment:

There are three main shows on Escape; Million Dollar Quartet, After midnight, and For the Record: The Brat Pack, Live at the Supper Club. 

Million Dollar Quartet, and After midnight, are free shows in the Escape Theater. There is a cover charge for the The Brat Pack show which is in its own theater called the Supper Club.  These shows require a pre-booking to gain entry and they book up fast, so a top tip is pre-book  the shows you want to see as soon as you have confirmed the cruise booking, as they are not on every night.

Million Dollar Quartet is the story of 'Sun Records' just after they sold 'Elvis Presley' to RCA. A new piano player called 'Jerry Lee Lewis' is after a record deal with Sun records and is an annoyance for 'Carl Perkins' who is trying to gain another hit. 'Johnny Cash' has signed a new contract with Capital Records but has not told Sun Records, who has a contract ready for Johnny to sign; opps to late. 'Elvis Presley' has dropped into the studio to convince 'Sam Phillips' owner of Sun Records to sell up and join RCA.

The show runs for 1 hour 40 minutes and is a nonstop rock fest with some of the stars greatest hits, Jerry Lee adds some light moments with some fantastic piano/singing performances. try and see the show twice, its worth every second.  

After midnight; Welcome back to that electrifying time when Harlem’s Cotton Club was the place to be. Winner of the 2014 Tony®, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Astaire Awards for Best Choreography, AFTER MIDNIGHT is the smash-hit musical that combines the big-band songs of Duke Ellington, a stageful of megawatt performers, a roof-raising onstage jazz band, and the best dancing from Broadway. Witness The Cotton Club come to life in a never-before-seen phenomenon at sea. Experience Broadway at its finest in the Escape Theater!

For the Record: The Brat Pack, Live; Relive the glorious 1980's at For the Record: The Brat Pack where classic soundtracks bring the movies to life in an immersive rock n roll concert and dining experience. Escape into an 80's teenage dream as you "Danke Schoen" like Ferris, "Try A Little Tenderness" with Ducky and heat up your night like a "St. Elmos Fire" at this nostalgic feast for the senses. No leg warmers required.

'Oh What a Place, Oh What a Night', Howl at the Moon – Duelling Pianos is a show that you must not miss, for four hours of non-stop high energy, duelling piano and drum playing, blasting hits out from a wide genre list; such as Rock, Heavy Metal, Country, Pop, and anything in between.

Send up your favorite tune you want playing, and they will play it. They do have some way of picking what comes next, if your tune arrives with some dollar note or a shot, it moves up the list, if you don’t want to hear the song then you can put a dollar down to stop it, it all makes up to a great night of music and fun.

Tickle your funny bone at Headliner's Comedy Club with performances by Levity Entertainment Group’s roster of top-notch comedians. Employing over 300 artists nationwide, Levity is the largest producer of live comedy, creating tours and TV specials for the biggest names in the industry, including Daniel Tosh, Amy Shumer, Gabriel Iglesias and Jeff Dunham. With several hilarious shows per week, prepare for a sidesplitting good time with Levity Entertainment Group.

The other performers in the Bars and spaces such as the Atrium all perform to a high  calibre, are worth sipping a cocktail and chilling out to their music. 

All the Bars offer bar stools, and comfy seating with waitress services, once again the bar staff are fantastic and will keep the drinks coming. In all bars are flat screen TVs showing the latest sports from around the world, we watch the Rugby World Cup, and Formula 1 racing live in the bars. There is live entertainment in all the bars, especially in the '5 o'clock somewhere bar' and the 'Skyline Bar' .  

Staff and Crew: 
O'Sheehans Bar and the Best Barman-Thank You
The Staff and crew are the best we have ever cruised with. With over 70 different nationality's, they are all ways pleased when you say hello or good morning to them. Restaurant staff and Bar staff always seem to have an extra second to have a chat with you, and somehow remember your name and favourite tipple when you return. 

Halloweens Ghastly Face's - just joking.
They seem willing to do anything for you so you have a great time, we like talking to the crew, to try and gauge how NCL treat/look after them, there were crew members who have been with the company for 18 plus years, some hoping that their children will join NCL. That seems to tell its own story on how well they are looked after, we've seen a few of there poolside parties after the guest's have gone to their cabins, and they have a ball.

We did have a few problems manly with Guest Relations, we actually boarded the Escape with the wrong key cards that we were given when we checked in, it took nearly a dozen times over three days to get the right key cards with our names and our packages linked to the cards, and we weren’t the only ones to have problems It seemed that a new computer system was being used and it allowed no room for flexibility, I would expect that when Escape was sitting in Miami Port the glitches would be sorted out.

Our Cabin Steward was not the best we have ever had in fact the opposite, we are high up in the Latitudes program and we had no dressing gowns, cups, ice, nightly chocolates, bin’s not emptied, I had to ask for a new bar of soap, he only left one large towel throughout the cruise, our latitudes free box of chocolates and Escape pin badges, since this was the inaugural cruise of their new flagship he was not up to standard.

Photos by Dave Jones.
The Ropes Course, is the Largest and the Highest ropes course at sea, and it’s fantastic and scary all in one go. There are two ‘Walk the Plank’ which are 172 feet over the sea. The course covers three decks in height, the last level is the same height as the top of the funnel. 

There are 5 ‘Sky Rails’ some of which swing out over the sea, and combine to make the largest ‘Sky Rails’ at sea. At the bottom of the course is the Kids Rope Course, just like the adult/kids course but only a foot off the ground compared to the 4/8 and 12 meters of the main course. It’s a test of balance and nerve even with the knowledge that you can’t fall due to the harness and safety line connecting you to the course, but the nerves still jangle.

Pools, Slides, and Spa.
Photos by Dave Jones.
Waterfall Grotto, Photo by Dave Jones
Escape has areas for everyone, there’s a ‘Kids Aqua Park’ with slides tipping buckets, water cannons and plunge pools. ‘Spice H2O’ is an adult only with two spa tubs and a first at sea a ‘waterfall grotto’, in the evening this area can be transformed into a show area with a large LCD screen or a disco so you can dance the night away. We found that the two spas were too hot, and we could not go in them.

There are two large slides that go out over the side of the ship, a large blue slide that you slide down on either single or double inflatable rings, over a see through Perspex section of tube. The next slide is the ‘Aqua Racer’ where you race with your friends in a adjoining slide, this slide was not available on the crossing, as it had not been certified by the US Coast Guard.

Spa area, Photo by Dave Jones
There are Jacuzzi tubs on the pool deck which always seemed open. Altogether there are 12 pools and hot tubs to choose from.

Mandara Spa & Salon is the same as the one on the Norwegian Epic and other Breakaway class of ships, with the exception of a ‘Salt room’ and a ‘Snow room’, this area is a limited area so book early if you intend to use the spa, saunas, hot stone beds, and various water treatment areas. There is a large fitness area with all the up to date equipment, from treadmills, bikes, weight machines and dumbbells.
basketball Court Photo by Dave Jones

To help you stay entertained and under the ‘Ropes Course’, there is a 9 hole crazy golf course, that looks like it’s in a industrial area; and is quite challenging. Next to that is a greened strip that can be used in a various ways from, a putting green, crown green bowls, and croquet. There are also four table tennis tables in a area away from any wind, and Shuffle board courts to while away any time at sea.
There is a large area where you can play Basket ball, Tennis, 5 aside football and even dodge ball. One evening we watched the engineering crew playing Basketball and they were good.
In O'Sheehans Bar there are two pool tables, two ten pin bowling lines, and various other games such as Darts and quiz's to be played.

Casino; Escape’s Casino is the largest in the Norwegian fleet. Escape casino offers plenty of thrilling casino games for every type of player. Whether you’re a beginner or regular at the poker table, there’s something for everyone. There’s Blackjack, all types of Poker games and roulette and hundreds of slot machines with different themes. It nice that NCL have made it a non-smoking casino, and it didn’t seem to affect the amount of people playing the tables.

BA Cat. Balcony Cabin Photo by Dave Jones
Staterooms; We stayed in a cat. BA Balcony cabin on deck 14, the room it’s self is nothing special, with a double bed that can become twin beds, flat screen TV and a settee/3rd bed. The bathroom consists of the normal shower, toilet and sink with a large mirror. The room seems to be a bit on the narrow side with a lack of storage space. The balcony is the standard balcony with two chairs and a table, it was great sitting on the balcony looking out on to the Atlantic Ocean and seeing absolutely nothing, and pitch black at night, wonderful.

Haven Pool area photo by Dave Jones
We also visited some of the staterooms at the upper end of the scale in the

Haven suite. Haven guests all have Butlers and Concierge to look after them 24 hours a day, they also have their own Guest Relations, Bar and Dining room. They have a private sun area with a pool, spa and sun chairs and a retractable roof for all weather use. The Haven area is only accessible by a key card so only Haven guests can enter.

They have large Spa suites for 2/3 guests, a Family suite that fits 6 guests (I think 6 is a bit tight), and then there’s the Owners Suite which has the largest Balcony that wraps around the corner of the aft ship to nearly half way around, it has a large bathroom with a his and her sinks, large shower and bath tub, a changing room and a large living area. There is also another bedroom which has its own shower/bathroom, and a pull out bed. 

My opinion is if you know and travel with six other people (family/friends) and weigh up the benefits of the extra person discount offered in the stateroom (all staterooms offer the same discounts) times by 4, it will bring down the cost of the suite to around £1500/person, and compare that to a BA cat. Room of £1300/person is worth checking it out. NCL even offers, (sometimes), OBC, Drinks packages, Speciality Dining packages included in the Haven price.

Overall impression: In our impression of being on the Escape for 10 days with no chance of getting off, I was concerned that we would get bored and long for land after three days, Not so. This ship has so much to offer as you have already read, but what I have not mentioned yet is all the daily activities put on by Julie or Cruise Director (yes the same as the Love Boat), with Zumba lesions, dance classes, cooking demo’s, bingo, quiz’s, film s shown in the theater, poolside activities, and to many to mention.

We have been on five different cruise companies, and rightly or wrongly compare all the ships we’ve been on. Escape comes on top for Entertainment, crew friendliness, and standard of the food in all areas, and we will defiantly sail on her again and soon. Escapes Hull artwork by Guy Harvey is the best in the Norwegian fleet, and can’t be compared to any other company’s ships. Escape is airy and light and most of all smoke free.