The Escape, during sea trials.

The Escape, during sea trials.

Norwegian Cruise Line announced they will add a smoking section into the casino, which will serve as a test, before potentially adding similar to other ships in the fleet. The enclosed smoking section will have a number of table games and slots, and will be fully ventilated.

The Escape will remain smoke-free until Caribbean itineraries begin November 9th, 2015.

It seems Bermuda has a plan; one which it hopes will help lure additional amounts of cruise ships to visit the beautiful island.

Next time, there will be people in this photo!

Next time, there will be people in this photo!

In their most recent attempt at allowing cruise ships’ casinos to open while in port, the Bermuda Cruise Ship (Casino) Act 2013 passed last October. On-board casinos can now operate between 9pm and 5am, in return for a license fee per ship payable to the Bermuda Government. Smaller ships, with a passenger capacity not exceeding 2,000, would not be charged the fee. It is interesting because Bermuda has seen a decline in attracting smaller, high-end cruise ships. The Parliament feels the exemption would encourage more visits.

Bermuda from above!

Bermuda from above!

At the same time, Bermuda does not want to discourage the larger, newer vessels; ships like the forthcoming Quantum-class of Royal Caribbean, for example. In the news recently, Parliament is investigating ways in which narrow channels can be widened to enable mega-cruise ships to visit Bermuda. In order to allow bigger liners access, Parliament is considering realigning either the North or South Channel or upgrading the existing route of the South Channel.

Whether you are a fan of mega-ships or not, the real news here is the fact that Bermuda is open to all of this. In past years, Bermuda has had some of the most stringent policies regarding what cruise companies may and may not do while visiting. It seems the  Bermuda Cruise Ship (Casino) Act is a sign of things to come.

Another full day at sea and one day closer to Bermuda! Here are today’s experiences and observations from the Norwegian Breakaway:

1. Seems like a definite pattern. Breakfast at the Garden Cafe (Buffet Deck 15) is fully open by 7:30am (all stations). If you want to avoid the crowds, have your plates filled and be seated before 8:30am. By the way…the eggs taste real (not the powdered stuff!). In addition, don’t miss the hash browns! They are like miniature potato pancakes and have great flavor!

2. Foods that are supposed to be hot are hot; consistently now for three days.

3. We enjoyed an international beer tasting today! $15 per person for five samplings and lots of history and information. It all took place at Maltings Bar. We also experienced a Michael Jackson dance class, featuring the song “I Want You Back”, and prep for a flash mob!

4. We enjoyed a game of miniature golf on the 9-hole course. It was crowded but we only had to wait about two minutes for clubs and balls. In addition, deck space was not an issue…if you did not have to be by the two Main Pools.

5. One of the highlights of the day was a photo with two of the Radio City Rockettes. All of our photos will be posted when we are in a fast and reliable WiFi zone. Sorry to say, the satellite service still doesn’t cut the mustard.

6. The casino has an addicting “crane game” that gives you a chance to win lots of cash and iPads. The object is to make an over-sized key-shaped object fit perfectly into an opening, so that it will latch on to the prizes of your choosing. All it takes is a $1 swipe of your room key. But beware, it is not easy, although it seems so simple, and it is easy to lose track of how many turns you have taken.

7. Dinner tonight was in Le Bistro, a French restaurant venue with a $20 pp cover. Service and fare were each excellent, and the food continued to exceed our expectation, especially on a line better known for its entertainment. We have heard comments from several about their pleasant experiences with the meals and food venues.

8. An observation…seems there are more smokers on cruises out of the Northeast than on cruises out of Florida. Keep this in mind if you plan to dine outdoors, as the Breakaway has an abundance of outdoor dining venues.

9. “Rock of Ages” in the Breakaway Theater was amazing…full set, just like on Broadway. The music, and how it was used to tell the story…brilliant, and brought back fond memories. Loved the cast…and they were available for FREE meet and greets and photo opps (with your own cameras) as you exited the Theatre!

Overall, the staff and crew have been very friendly, and we are often greeted with smiles. A couple of times we encountered a shy bartender, but after a few minutes, each seemed to loosen up a bit. However, you can tell which ones are going to be more successful in the long run! That’s it for today. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow!