Cruising Diaries: Visiting Tortola on the Norwegian Escape
We had a chance to cruise the brand new Norwegian Escape last year on an Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Cruising as a family is one of the easiest vacations for us since we live in FL and are within driving distance of the main cruising ports here. Our itinerary on the swanky, uber modern Escape included St. Thomas, Tortola and Nassau.
Our fifth day on the Norwegian Escape dawned way too early. We arrived in port on Tortola at 7am and with a departure time of 3pm we didn’t have much time to explore.
I had decided that we should spend a couple of hours at Cane Garden Bay, which I had the opportunity to visit during the summer with hubby. I figured if we got out in time we could spend a few hours at the beach in the morning and be back onboard for lunch.
We dressed and prepared for a day at the beach. Today we decided to have breakfast in one of the main dining rooms, Savor. Savor is located on the 7th floor and with the ship’s exit on the 5th floor we knew it would be a short distance to cross after we had finished our meal.
We were very impressed and happy with our meal in Savor. The service was impeccable and we had lovely views of the island from the large windows.
Upon disembarkation the skies were partly cloudy with warm rays of sun peeking through. We liked the openness of the port which was much less busy than the busy Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas the day before.
We strolled along the pier, taking pictures of the ship and surroundings. Walking through a quaint shopping district we soon came upon a taxi dispatch stand. This area was bustling with cruisers looking for a ride to the local beaches and joining tour buses.
We were ushered into at taxi van headed with directly to Cane Garden Bay. The driver was friendly and expertly navigated the winding, steep roads on the way to the beach, providing bits of history and pointing out landmarks, briefly stopping for photo ops along the way. The taxi ride was $8/person and he allowed my girls to ride for half price.
Cane Garden Bay was absolutely lovely, just as I had remembered. It was quite busy today, as I had expected but we were easily able to find chairs and an umbrella to rent ($5/chair, $5/umbrella).
The girls immediately loved the beach. The water was crystal clear and so calm that it was easy to look straight down and see your feet.
Gentle waves lapped at the shore. We spent a lot of time in the water that day, taking in the beautiful mountains surrounding us and the views of Jost Van Dyke in the distance.
At 1pm we planned to head back to the ship for lunch and some time on the pool deck (as requested by my oldest daughter). We easily caught a taxi from the group of waiting taxis near the beach and soon we were on our way back to the Escape.
Onboard we headed straight to the Garden Café buffet on the pool deck. It was soon clear that everyone had the same idea; the buffet was packed. It was difficult to find a seat at first but with some patience we did eventually find one. We enjoyed lunch as usual at the buffet and then went out to the pool deck to relax.
It was a marvelous experience watching the Escape leave Tortola and slowly glide through the Virgin Islands on it’s path back to the western Caribbean. It seemed to take forever for us to leave the lush clusters of islands and it was simply breathtaking.
I rode the water slides with my oldest and my youngest spent some time on the splash pad. Later on, I went up to the sports desk and played miniature golf with my youngest for a bit.
At about 4:30pm we decided to call it a day and went back to the room to bathe and change out of our wet swim wear.
We tossed around a few ideas for dinner and settled on the Manhattan Room. We arrived around 5:50 pm and didn’t wait at all; though there was a line of people waiting to be seated, the staff moved everything along quickly.
The entertainment for dinner this evening was a Soul Revue with 7 singers and dancers performing classic soul hits with a live band. They were a lot of fun and were received well by the cruisers enjoying dinner.
Service that evening was a little slow and dinner seemed to drag on a bit. Fortunately my girls kept themselves happily occupied with the provided kids activity menu sheets and apps on my phone. The staff were friendly and apologetic for the delays and helped to make the evening quite enjoyable despite these issues.
After dinner we wanted to drop the girls off at the Splash Academy kids club together but only my oldest wanted to go. After we signed her in I took my youngest up to Spice H2O where they were playing a movie on the huge outdoor screen. Back to the Future was the selection that evening and the movie was well attended. It was a nice setting for taking in a classic film; the aft location allowed for warm breezes and a relatively quiet area away from the other activities on the lower pool decks. I hadn’t seen the movie in years and my youngest lost interest about 20 minutes in so we didn’t stay long. We decided to call it a night shortly thereafter…
This cruise was during Hurricane Matthew and though we were safe at sea (cruise ships, in most cases, can easily maneuver their courses to avoid storms altogether) we were waiting to see if we would be able to visit Nassau as our final stop. Nonetheless, there were no complaints coming from us as we were having a total blast!
Have any of you cruised recently? What is your favorite place that you’ve visited while on a cruise?