I discovered my love for travel in September 2016 when I embarked on my first cruise through Norwegian Cruise Line on their brand new ship, the Norwegian Escape. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous because I had no idea what to expect. I heard good stories, then of course I heard horror stories of cruises going horribly wrong. Nervous Nelly over here (that’s me) opted to focus on the later. Nevertheless though, I was excited.
We departed from Miami and as soon as we pulled up to the cruise port, my apprehension turned into full-blown adrenaline and excitement!
The embarkation process went surprisingly smooth! We got there in plenty of time (of course, it doesn’t hurt that we arrived the night before) and got into line to begin the check in process. We showed our passports, licenses, and confirmations (all necessary to embark on your cruise!) and headed in to go through security.
Note: If you are planning to go on a cruise and are flying to your port, I suggest you always go down the day/night before. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, flying down the day of is never the best idea. You can run into all different types of problems: delayed flights, cancelled flights, transportation issues to get to the cruise port, & so on. It might cost a wee bit extra, but trust me, it is worth it! You’ll be less stressed & can start your vacation off relaxed!
Going through security was a breeze. We put our luggage on the conveyor belt, much like they do in airports, and bam we were in. Everyone was placed into different groups and put in holding rooms until that specific group was called to board. Honestly, it was pretty organized.
Then…time to embark!
I immediately fell in love with the atrium on the Escape. A huge chandelier that changed colors. It was so beautiful. I want one for my house. 😉 Maybe someday!
For our first night, we dined at one of our specialty restaurants onboard called Teppanyaki – an extremely popular Hibachi restaurant that anyone sailing on any Norwegian ship should DEFINITELY go to. (The thing that I love the most about Norwegian is that they offer combination packages within their line. For example: you can choose from the ultimate dining package + beverage package, internet package + $50 shore excursion credit, etc.)
We chose the ultimate beverage and dining package, which meant that all of our beverages (even the ahem – adult beverages ;)) were included, and that we were able to go to 3 specialty restaurants of our choice without paying any up-charge. Best decision ever!
During dinner, was the official countdown to sailing, so my mom, aunt and I ran up to the top deck to watch the ship pull out of port! And, we were lucky enough to catch the beautiful sunset!
Once we started sailing, it was time to have some fun and explore the ship! For me, that meant checking out some of the fabulous shops on board, exploring the various other restaurants like Margaritaville and O’Sheehan’s Pub & Grill, and making a new-found friend at Mixx – the most popular bar on board! 😉
These two spots quickly became favorite hangouts of ours and we typically hit them every night! So much fun! Our fabulous bartender, Victor, made me this delicious drink called a bushwhacker. Oh. My. Gosh. It was to die for! After Mixx closed down for the evening, we all would head up to O’Sheehan’s for a little late night snack. I gotta say, out of all of the restaurants on the ship, O’Sheehan’s by far had the best french fries and nachos! 😀
*Note: O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill isn’t just found on the Escape. It’s also located on the Norwegian Breakaway, Getaway, and Gem, too! It’s quite a staple with Norwegian Cruise Line!*
Our second day was spent at sea, where we all basically did our own thing! There was so much to do and see. Literally, this ship – as most cruise ships are – was a floating city! Of course we all used our time constructively and laid out in the sunshine on deck. Tip: Ya gotta get your rear in gear and get up there early or no seat for you!
Me being me, I chose to enjoy my time at sea by being pampered at the spa 😉 manicure, pedicures, a massage, and I even took a chance at acupuncture – which I loooved!! You are missing out if you don’t at least make one trip to the spa & thermal suite! Yes, it does cost extra, BUT, it is so worth the price! Or, on the days when you’re in port, if you choose to stay on board the ship, Norwegian gives day passes for the spa & thermal suite. Whether you choose to make a day trip, purchase the spa package, or sign up for the day pass, you MUST make the time to rejuvenate here!
The rest of the week just flew by as we began day 3 in the STUNNING island of St. Thomas. We took an excursion to St. John for the day and I experienced my first catamaran adventure. Plus, I experienced what it was like to swim in actual Caribbean waters. Goodness, I have never seen such gorgeous colors of water. It was truly a tropical oasis! Words simply can’t do it justice, so here’s some pictures that I think capture the beauty quite well!
Day 4 was Tortola! Did you know it’s the largest island of the British Virgin Islands? And, if it was even possible, the water was even MORE blue! Here, we did some shopping, and straight up chillin’! 🙂 Once again, words cannot do these turquoise waters justice!
Day 5 was another day at sea as we prepared to head to the Bahamas! It was another gorgeous, sunny, relaxing day on my balcony. I used that time to rest, read, listen to the sounds of the ocean, annnd we ate at the absolute best steakhouse on the planet: Cagney’s. Cagney’s Steakhouse is also on board of several Norwegian ships, and let me tell you, it has the most delicious fillet, mashed potatoes, sautéed broccoli, and chocolate cake 🙂 Hey, don’t judge. On a cruise, you can eat to your heart’s content! 🙂
Day 6 was our turn to dock in Nassau, Bahamas! And, what were we going to do there? Why Atlantis of course! So exciting!
Sadly, like all dreams, on day 7, this one came to an end. We returned to Miami, and before you know it, it was over. But, in true Norwegian style, it wasn’t over without a few little tokens of appreciation 😉
Though it really was a whirlwind of a vacation, I learned a lot about myself, and a lot about traveling from this experience. I learned that it’s always a great idea to step outside of your comfort zone and go someplace that you’ve never been before. I learned that to experience new things, you have to be willing to take chances and you can’t let fear rule you. I learned that cruising is so much more than hopping on a boat and calling it a day. It’s magical. It’s whimsical. It’s relaxing.
Cruising makes you feel so small. Looking out into that big, beautiful ocean, you realize that you are truly just a tiny microscopic figure in this world. When you look out and see nothing but blue, you feel as if nothing can harm you. Whenever I sat on my balcony at night, I always loved to gaze at the stars as I listened to the waves. It made me feel so peaceful. It made me appreciate the little things, like the beauty of nature. It made me appreciate the fact that I have the opportunity to do fun things like this.
Yes, travel can be tricky sometimes. More often than not, you must have patience when embarking on an adventure like this one. Getting there can be a little hectic, sometimes stressful, but always exciting. This trip taught me that. This trip showed me that I really do need to step out of my own little world and embrace what’s out there waiting for me. This was my first cruise, but it certainly won’t be my last. And, that’s all I have to say about that. 🙂
For more information about Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Cruise Line, or cruising in general, contact your local AAA Travel Agent at (315) 797-6145. We have amazing partnerships with all major cruise lines and are offering some pretty sweet deals right now! So, what are you waiting for? Come sail away with me and AAA Travel!