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LovesPurple

Escape Review including Priority Access Part 1

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We are first time NCL cruisers and booked the Escape western Caribbean itinerary leaving Miami on Saturday Dec 28. Because of the size of the ship, and timing of the cruise, we figured it would be packed (and it is) so getting passes for the Vibe lounge was very important. When we checked in, we were offered Priority Access as part of our check in.  It was about $250 Canadian for the cabin. 
 

On the 28th, we decided to arrive at Terminal C in Miami at 9:15, our scheduled arrival time was between 10:30 and 11 but I didn’t think that would be early enough. The porters were great with our bags and then we went to the security line. There were about 50-70 people ahead of us in line at that part. Security opened Before 10 and after going through, there was a priority access line with dedicated agents. Check in was smooth and we proceeded to the waiting area. Someone tried to give us Boarding Group 2, but they let us pass by when we should our key cards (they say PRTY on the front of the card). There is one large waiting area with chairs and then at the end of that area, there are glass doors to another waiting area. No one told us to go to the second waiting area, but you need to in order to access the priority only waiting area. you need to be in this area to use your priority boarding. 

 

At about 10:30 am there was an announcement that boarding would begin just before noon. However at 10:45 they announced access for travellers with special needs. Then at 10:50 an employee came to our waiting area with a sign and said priority boarding should follow him. Keep your card out for this process as they look at it at 4 different check points but then we were on the ship. Before 11 am! The only people in before us were Haven guests and special needs travellers (and possibly an on-board wedding group). We were on before the Latitude platinum etc cruisers who went on after us. After all of these groups were on, then they started with Boarding Group 1. 
 

Once on, we walked as quickly as possible from deck 7 to Guest Services to get Vibe passes. However, we were redirected to Headliners, also on deck 6, for Vibe passes. There were other priority access boarders doing the same thing and everyone was good natured about the ‘competition’. We got to Headlines and got numbers 20-22 for our group.  We all had to be there in person. There were only 50 Vibe passes available (it seemed like others had been requested for Haven guests?) so we never would have got one without the Priority Boarding. Even without any other benefits, I felt it was worth the money just for that as I’m not a fan of the crowded, loud main pool area. 
 

Will write more about the ship and cruise a bit later. 

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It seems crazy to me that you have to pay another $250 just to have access to an adults-only pool! Glad it worked out for you though! 

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6 minutes ago, Love my butler said:

The fact you can buy priority boarding in front of Platinum cruisers is such a slap in the face.  What next NCL?  Pay for cuts in the buffet line?

NCL hates Platinum cruisers. It's so obvious. 

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5 hours ago, LovesPurple said:

Will write more about the ship and cruise a bit later. 

Thank you.

Edited by NoobCroozer

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Thank you for the review. Its seems like you could easily miss out by going to the wrong waiting error. Was the priority waiting area clearly marked.

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$250 is just robbery, plus the cost of the Vibe pass. As Cramer would say, NCL is a buy!buy!buy! stock lol.

Edited by JustAPilot

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12 hours ago, Love my butler said:

The fact you can buy priority boarding in front of Platinum cruisers is such a slap in the face.  What next NCL?  Pay for cuts in the buffet line?

 

Loyalty means nothing to NCL but $250.00 from a first time cruiser does.

 

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3 hours ago, NJGeorge said:

Loyalty means nothing to NCL but $250.00 from a first time cruiser does.

 

Once they get you into the spa, more freestyle opportunity to upsell their products & services, for your convenience, especially on port days - discounted bundling 👎  :classic_rolleyes: 

 

... just sign on the dotted line, so to speak; and, worry about paying the full balance later ... easy, pleasy. 

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So sad that I have sailed with NCL so many times and am now a Platinum Plus only to allow "paying extra" passengers to board before me.  That will give those of us less chances of getting the Vibe passes because we are not even offered the priority access.  As others stated loyalty does not seem as important as $$$

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Even those who dont pay extra get to board first. We are no where near platinum but my mom uses a wheelchair. I am treating her to a cruise. I'll be sure to get in the special needs boarding area.

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There isn’t an adult only pool in the Vibe area on Escape - the only pools are the main ones and then one in the Haven. I was very surprised there wasn’t a quiet pool (other than the thermal one in the spa) on a ship this size. The Vibe has nice lounge chairs (that you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to reserve), a hot tub and excellent bar service. 

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Thanks for the heads up about the Prioroty area beyond the normal waiting area. Vibe passes in Headliners ....got it. Leaving on Saturday. Still flip flopping on Vibe.

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Review Part 2

 

After getting our Vibe passes we went for lunch at Savour - it was very quiet compared to the buffet and I’d recommend it for lunch while waiting for your cabin. The service was good and the food was okay - certainly better than the lunches I’ve had in the buffet.  There are a number of reasonable wines available for less than $15 (Max price for premium beverage package) and another few good ones that are only a couple dollars more. 
 

We then went to check out the Vibe. As soon as we entered I the extra hassle and cost to get the passes were more than worth it. On deck 19, there are about 50 padded lounge chairs and 4 or 5 dual loungers. There is a hot tub with an amazing view and a misting station to cool down. People don’t reserve chairs here and then leave, because there are always nice ones available. The best thing about the vibe is the great staff and wonderful service. Pitchers of water with fruit brought to you on a regular basis along with frequent requests if anyone can get you anything. The bar tenders are fun, friendly and excellent mixologists. This has been a huge highlight of the cruise for us. It has also been a great place to watch the sail always and sunsets. 
 

 

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Part 3 - Our Cabin
 

Rooms were ready when promised and we had a balcony cabin on the 10th deck. The room is very clean and Overall well laid out. There is plenty of storage and hangers for two average packers and our large suitcase easily fit under the bed. The bathroom has a nice shower and lots of storage for toiletries bags, hair products etc. Our bed is closest to the hallway and couch is closest to the balcony - our room is designed for 3 people.  I think the ones that can sleep four have the bed closest to the balcony, which I would have preferred as the bed where it is does make accessing the closet a small challenge. Karen was our steward and she did a great job of keeping the room very clean and nice. We ended up not using our balcony all that much due to the amount of time we spent at the Vibe, and the fact that we were almost always on the sunny side of the ship and I prefer a bit of shade. 
 

The walls are pretty thin between cabins and we had a family next door with kids who were very active a couple days at 6 am, but what can you do? We didn’t hear any noise from elsewhere on the ship unless sitting on our balcony and even then it was remote. I would recommend deck 10 for cabin location. 

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