Norwegian Escape: My First Norwegian Ship

Norwegian Escape

Norwegian Escape cruise ship is the first of the four Breakaway-class ships of Norwegian Cruise Line vessels –  together with Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Encore. When I transferred to NCL, this became my first ship. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is a subsidiary company of the shipping corporation Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH) with headquarters in Miami, Florida.

Norwegian Escape Beginnings

Escape received its name from a contest that was traditionally called “Norwegians Name Their Ships”. It was selected through a Facebook contest that ran from September 10 through 24 of 2015. People from the US, Canada, Spain, Germany and United Kingdom participated. They were asked to vote for their favorite out of the line’s top 10 name prospects – Bliss, Discovery, Dreamaway, Escape, Journey, Muse, Passion, Sailaway, Treasure and Triton. The lucky winner got a free cruise for two during the ship’s inaugural activities. The liner’s christening ceremony was held on November 9, 2015. This was led by the ship’s godfather Pitbull where he performed a live concert and sang some of his best hits.

Norwegian Escape is an exciting ship that looks like a mega-resort at sea. The ship is so big that when I saw it for the first time, I felt like standing in front of a giant hotel. It’s super long extending to more than a thousand feet and towering with 20 decks. It was so much bigger than Pacific Dawn, my very first cruise ship home.

I remember fixing my eyes on its haul while walking towards it when I embarked in April of last year. I never saw a ship looking very much alive with colors for underwater creatures adorned its haul. The theme was designed by Guy Harvey, a famous marine wildlife artist and conservationist.  

Norwegian Escape used to be based in Miami but it moved to New York City last year, making it the ship’s new home port. It goes to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Canada & New England, and Bermuda. By April next year, it will start doing a transatlantic cruise to cross over Europe. It will stay there until summer season is over.  


OwnerNorwegian Cruise Line
BuilderMeyer Werft, Papenburg, Germany
Launched15 August 2015
Maiden voyage9 November 2015
Class and typeBreakaway class-plus Cruise Ship
Tonnage164,000 GT
Length1,069 feet (325.9 m)

Norwegian Escape and I

New Home

Joining Norwegian Escape was one of the best days of my ship life. I was away from the sea for months because my mom was sick. At first, I hesitated to go back to ships because there were so many things to do at home. Then the “sea” called me and I realized I missed it too. When my application went through and I was accepted to be part of a new company, I grabbed the chance.

The flight was long compared to what I normally had when going to Australia. I traveled for almost one whole day. The time difference was huge too. It took a toll on my sanity and productivity during the first few weeks of my stay on board.

I joined in Miami on April 7, 2018. My heart leapt when I first caught a glimpse of the Escape. That was my new home for 6 months straight. I was in awe when I stood in front of the enormous ship. It looked so beautiful and I felt quite excited.

You can imagine the surprise and wonder that followed me when we finally boarded. It was even more impressive when you go inside. We quickly looked around before heading to our welcome meeting. I saw a gorgeous chandelier hanging at the top of the ceiling. Its long body looked so elegant with all its magnificent lights and blings.   

As days rolled by, I realized that Norwegian Escape is the ship to go to for people wanting to have unforgettable holiday. It has pretty much everything – from dining, recreation, entertainment, relaxation and many others. No wonder why it’s very busy. There are so many things to do both for the adults and the kids.

The ship offers more than 25 dining experiences. You can choose to go French, Mediterranean, Spanish, Italian, American, Brazilian, and Asian. There are 14 bars and lounges if you wish to party and have fun with friends. There are Broadway shows almost every night, hilarious live comedy, and performances by very talented artists who offer different types of music.

There’s the spa and salon, gym, casino, shops that sell all kinds of stuff, and the youth clubs where I work. I will never forget the expansive Aquapark, looming above the main pool while boasting 4 exhilarating water slides. There are hot tubs, a soothing waterfall grotto, a 3-storey ropes court, mini-golf, basketball court, bocce ball court, and a video arcade.

Yet no matter how lavish and grand the things around me were, there was a special place on deck 5 that I really loved. It was a tiny room that would pass for a big box. This box housed a little bed, a narrow closet, a modest table, 2 luggage, fears, frustrations, joys, hope and dreams. I was lucky to have a solo cabin. This small room became my haven when I transferred to NCL.

New World

A cruise ship is a melting pot of different cultures. One can meet people from other countries around the world. When I was still with my previous company, most of the crew members in the youth team were fellow Filipinas. My other colleagues were English, Kiwis, South Africans and Canadians. There were a few Scottish, Portuguese, and Americans. I also had one boss from Chile. Outside our department there were so many Indonesians, Malaysians, Indians, Ni-Vans, Tongans, and Fijians.

When I moved to NCL, it was not only my ship that grew. Literally, my world expanded, too. There were so many people. Imagine being surrounded by crew members amounting to approximately 1700. That was a lot. They hailed from all over the globe, even from places I never even heard of.

Next to the Filipino community which always accounted for the most number in all the ships I’ve been on, were workers from various Latin American countries. I met crew members from Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. There were people from Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Russia, Spain, Mauritius, St. Lucia, Belize, Zimbabwe, and Senegal. My very first friends were from India, China and Honduras.

Different nationalities mean different languages. In the beginning it was crazy to sit and eat while hearing words that sounded so weird and were meaningless to me. There were a lot of times when I found myself feeling offended by people who won’t speak English and used their first language instead. I thought that was rude. Eventually I began to understand that it was never their intention to make me feel out of place. Rather it was more of convenience. Knowing this, I tried to sharpen my understanding of non-verbal communication. I deliberately tried to study another language, too. Right now my Spanish is getting better. 🙂  

Aside from these people, I was very blessed to be on a ship that goes to beautiful places. It was my first time to be in the US and it felt like a dream. I only spent one day outside Miami then the ship sailed for 3 days to go to New York. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to see it up close. I was not allowed to go outside NYC since I was on my first contract.  

Nonetheless, I was able to visit other countries and new places that were exquisitely mesmerizing. I saw lovely beaches in Jamaica and Bahamas. When the ship home ported in New York, it started running 7-day cruises with 2 overnights in Bermuda. I won’t forget swimming with the turtles and frolicking at the beach that has pink sand. Towards the end of my contract, we traveled to other parts of the US. We also went to Canada where I saw maple trees for the first time. Holding a real maple leaf was like touching the cherry blossoms of Japan. It was so special.   

New Me

The new ship environment demanded something new from myself as well. You cannot go to a new place and expect to remain the same. I would like to believe that my half a year stint on Norwegian Escape changed me for the better. This went both on professional and personal levels.

In terms of work, I would say it was the same and yet different. Physically, I was well-rested. Mentally, it was challenging. Unlike in my previous company where I used to do everything, on this ship I was only working with the teens. This enabled me to focus on them more and to come up with activities that they would really enjoy.

I guess the biggest difference between the American teens and the Australian teens that I used to handle was their sense of freedom. Based on observation, the Aussies were a little bit more conservative and had higher level of cooperation and respect for authority.   The teens from the US were wilder and were harder to please. It took a while for me to understand them. Thank God for music which paved the way for me to have a look into their world. I painstakingly listened to rap and hip-hop. I familiarized myself with Drake, Nicki Minaj, Post Malone, 6ix9ine, Cardi B, and many more gangster artists that they idolize.

Compared to my old company where there were more Filipinos in the team, on this ship there were only a few of us. The 3 other Filipinas were working with the smaller children and so I rarely saw them. Working on this new ship made me opened my doors to new friends from other countries. I realized that no matter how different we all look, we still share so many things in common. This includes the need to belong, to be respected, to be loved and to be accepted.

Despite meeting new friends, there were still many days when I went to the ports alone. There were just times when I couldn’t find anyone to hang out with because their schedules and their plans were different. But then, that was alright. I found ways to keep myself entertained even when I didn’t have anyone with me. I took responsibility for my own joy.    

What I Learned from Norwegian Escape

My biggest takeaway from my Escape experience was “I CAN!!!” I should not be scared to start over again. This starting over required me to “escape” from situation, people, and old beliefs that made me feel sad, defeated and small. It led me to a new place that enabled me to find my stronger, wiser, and better self. Norwegian Escape will always be special for me because it taught me so many things. It gave me the means to escape the following:


My last contract with my other company was very challenging. I was so drained because I was all over the ship and was doing so many things. It got even worst when I was sent to smaller ships. There were only a few staff even when there were so many kids. It came to a point when no matter how much I love my job, it was a struggle to carry on. I lost a lot of weight because not only was it physically demanding, it was mentally taxing too. Going to the Escape made me realize that I have the power to change my environment. I can always choose to go to a new place where I can work, have fun and still be able to take good care of myself.


In 2017 Mama was diagnosed with cancer. I was on board when they broke the sad news to me. It was tough because I had to keep working and look happy even when emotionally I was shattered. Aside from the worries brought by the thought that we might lose her, the medical bills were so high and insurance can’t cover all the expenses.  It also didn’t help that my vacation was long. It was more than 3 months. I was running low on budget and we were paying so many things. By accepting the new job offer I was able to solve my problem because my salary was higher. This allowed me to help my family again.   


I guess we all have that little dark corner inside our heads. It limits us from doing what we want to do because we’re too scared to fail. I wanted to leave but there were voices inside me that told me “You can’t do it. You’re old. You’ve been here too long. You’re not good enough.” Choosing to leave no matter how scary it felt made me learn to trust myself and to have more faith. I disciplined myself to ignore those voices that spoke of ugly things. I prayed my deepest prayers and believed with all my heart that the God I know and worship is the king of everything including my fears. And there can’t be fear where there is faith.


For years, I dreamed that one day I’ll get promoted. I was doing this job for a long time and I was good at it. Foolish and naive, I made myself believe that in exchange for all my hard work I can climb the ladder. By mistake, I thought that it would automatically come. I desired it because I thought having it can make me win the respect of others. When I transferred, I realized how shallow and superficial my ambition was. I was surprised because even though I was new, I gained the respect of my colleagues after they saw how I worked. This experience polished my rough edges. I realized that I am not my job title. My self-worth should not depend on it. I should strive for excellence rather than recognition from others.


Mama, being sick, has been one of the lowest and highest point of my life. It brought us closer us a family. It brought us closer to God. I must say it also helped me discover who my truest friends are. Real friends will care and support you during trying times. Sadly, I learned that not all my friends were that. Having spent a few good times with them doesn’t automatically make us “good friends.” I may have had thousands of pictures with them, but it doesn’t mean they will be around to offer help. It made me reevaluate myself and the kind of relationship I’ve established with the people around me. When I joined the Escape, I was more careful and more selective of people to spend time with. I looked for authenticity, genuine love and care that I found in my family.


By this I meant the greatest enemy I have – MYSELF. “We are so accustomed to the comforts of “I cannot”, “I do not want to” and “it is too difficult” that we forget to realize when we stop doing things for ourselves and expect others to dance around us, we are not achieving greatness. We have made ourselves weak.” These were the wise words of a best-selling author named Pandora Poikilos. For the longest time that was my story. I’ve gotten used to my “old world” and I embraced it’s predictability. It became too safe that the mere thought of taking risks and trying new things became so scary. It was liberating when I was finally able to escape. I discovered that new doors are waiting just outside my comfort zone. I only needed to be brave.

Before You Go

Don’t get me wrong. I wrote this not to list down things I didn’t like about the company where I used to work. On the contrary, I will always be thankful for my 6 fruitful years with them. My stay there honed me into becoming an excellent youth worker. I learned so much from them.  When I think of my old ships, I remember the good times more than the bad. I met good friends there too and some of them I consider like my own family.

This article was written only to suggest that when things no longer work, we should stop lying to ourselves. We always have the option to go. We shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. Or better yet we should try new things even when we’re scared. If not, we’ll never know what rewarding opportunities await.

So if you find yourself lost, discouraged, sad, or even when you just feel like you had enough you can always choose to leave and escape. After all, you are never alone in your journey. There are loving people around you who will support you. Most importantly, there’s someone up there who will guide you. Go where you really want to go. Always remember that there is no place so desolate that you cannot find God there. No set of circumstances can ever isolate you from His loving presence.

Follow your dreams.


Pacific Dawn: My First Cruise Ship Home

Pacific Dawn is a cruise ship home for many Filipino seafarers.

Pacific Dawn was my very first cruise ship home. I joined the ship in December 2011. It was Christmas season. Back then I was clueless and naïve. I really didn’t know what to expect. I remember the super cold wind that welcomed me when we arrived in Sydney. From there, we rode another plane that brought me to Brisbane where me and the Dawn first met.


Capacity  1546 guests and almost 700 crew members
Maximum Speed22.5 knots
Length245 meters/ 811 feet
Weight70 285 gross tonnage


Pacifc Dawn is a cruise ship owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by P&O Cruises Australia. P&O Cruises is one of the oldest cruise lines in the world. They were the ones who introduced cruising to Australia and up to now continues to be a mainstay in the Australian cruising industry.

Pacific Dawn was built in 1991 by Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone , Italy. It was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. From 1991 up to 2007, it sailed for Princess Cruises and was known as the Regal Princess. It has traveled across the Caribbean, Australia, Mediterranean and Baltic Sea. In 2007, the ship underwent an extensive refurbishment and was renamed Pacific Dawn by Olympic gold medalist Cathy Freeman. It was also during this year when Carnival Corporation acquired the Dawn from Princess Cruises.


They say that, “Home is not where you are from, but rather where you belong“. After working on ships, I would say I found it to be true.

When I was younger, I used to be burdened by the idea of having double lives that come with being a  seafarer. A life back home and to where the ship goes. Now that I’m older, my perspective has changed. I now look at it as a privilege. An amazing favor that not everybody gets to experience. An opportunity that can bring outpouring blessings, depending on how you will receive it and what you will do with it.

My first room on the ship was a passenger cabin. I shared it with Mary, another Filipina who was also a first timer. That tiny room was our safe haven for a few weeks. Until some crew cabins were vacated and we got transferred. The new cabin was way smaller. Nonetheless it was okay. Its walls had witnessed crying moments brought by being away from family and joys that came with finding new friends.

And then there was the Kids club, my area of work. My happy place, too. It was in this room where my love for the youth grew. I met wonderful kids and teens from Australia, New Zealand, England, India, China, Fiji and many more. There were times when I didn’t understand how they spoke. There were moments when I didn’t get their ways because their upbringing was so different from how I was raised. Despite those differences, most of them became my friends. Not just them but even their parents.

I remember the crew mess where I sat and ate. There were always chicken and fish. At some point I didn’t like to go anymore. I craved for food my Mama cooked when I was home. But I will never forget how things changed on certain nights of each week. Amazingly, when it got dark this tiny place transformed into a church. This is where I met fellow believers who became brothers and sisters. In this little place, we gathered to sing and give praises to the Lord. To get to know His words.

At the top of the ship was the Lido deck where you can find the pools for the guest passengers. This was where I saw creatures scantily clad. They worshiped the sun hoping get toasted or to simply just relax. This was where most people, guest and crew, went to on the first day of the cruise. We partied as we sail away from the home port. I remember dancing here in front of many people for the first time. It was Island night and I wanted to cry. I didn’t know I had to do things like that.

This pool deck was also where I took the teens for their pool party. There were dancing and good music, team games and races. I remember the water splashing as they compete against each other. And when they misbehaved, we had the microphone to make announcement. Just to make sure they will listen and no one will get hurt.

When you look up towards the front you will see the big screen where they broadcast full-length concerts, live sports and movies. There was a mini stage facing it where the children and I stayed to play Just Dance or Mario Kart on the Wii.

At the very back was the Pantry where the guests eat for free. We were lucky to be allowed to eat there when it’s not busy. They served different kinds of food from various countries. There were curry, tacos, freshly baked breads, sandwiches, salads, soups, chicken, steak, and fish. I get hungry when I think about all the mouth-watering desserts. There were pizza, shrimps and chicken wings from the Grill. When we’re starving at night or someone’s having a birthday, we patiently waited for our orders.

And there was the Marquee Theater where I first encountered TC and Skipper. They were the cute turtle and friendly shark which our junior cruisers from the Kids Club love. We held our show in this big theater. We danced, sang songs, took pictures and threw balloons at each other.

There was a place called the Atrium. Passengers preferred it for lively mornings and afternoons. Here, there were always activities happening like trivia and game shows. I remember hosting paper plane challenge with kids and their families. Everyone was on their toes even from their seats. Those who happened to just walk by couldn’t hold their breath. The evening of the last day of the cruise was my favorite. All the musicians on board played really good music and showcased their talents.


Jaime Lynn Beatty said, “Jobs fill your pocket. Adventures fill your soul.” Imagine the thrill and joy brought by getting both. When I was on the Dawn, I got to see beautiful places in Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific Islands.

In Brisbane, I remember going to the Lone Pine Zoo where I fed kangaroos and cuddled a cute koala for the first time. On turnaround days, I religiously took quick visits to the Queensland library for Internet and free wi-fi. Airlie Beach was another port that can be warm or chilly but always gives bliss. I walked its shoreline many times with friends. I saw shops that sold lots of interesting things.

New Zealand was certainly a great treat. I will never forget Fiordlands that gifted my eyes with the most beautiful scene. I remember waking up so early just to go to the top deck. There, I would meet other crew members enchanted by a picture that almost looked perfect. Akaroa was lovely with all its colorful flowers. Wellington was charming with its winter chill. I can still imagine the many chocolates in Dunedin.

We also went to New Caledonia. Here, there’s a small place called Noumea. Many times I planned to take the bus that goes around this French territory. However, the ride was long and my time was short. So I always ended up walking to an old church where I prayed many prayers, most of which were answered. Almost every cruise, we went to Lifou island. I swam its water and lied down on its sand many many times. The picturesque Isle of Pines lingers in my mind. I can still see that giant piece of rock on the water with a tiny cave inside.

Vanuatu was forever nice and hot. We explored Vila’s incredible beaches and kayaked under the sun. We went to Cascade Waterfalls and had so much fun. And there was the uninhabited Mystery island which offered pure white sand, palm trees, coral reefs, and many other reasons to unwind. But my most favorite was Champagne Bay, the ultimate beach getaway. Its deep blue water was always soothingly warm. The were also cheap lobsters that the locals sell around. 


I read a quote before that went, “We met for a reason. Either you’re a blessing or a lesson.” I guess it’s the same with ships and people.

I never really planned to work on cruise ships. Allow me to believe I was serendipity led me to it. When I first joined the Pacific Dawn, I didn’t have the slightest idea that I was up for a roller coaster ride.  

spent three contracts on this ship. Each of those contracts was different. Each had a part in shaping who I am today. These are the lessons that I learned from Pacific Dawn, my first cruise ship home.

D – from Dependence to Dauntlessness

I remember asking myself, “Can I do it?” It’s not comfortable and convenient to be away from family and friends. Now, I’m grateful to have taken the challenge. You’ll grow up when you’re away from your support system. You make your own decisions concerning work, money, health, personal well-being, relationships and faith. I learned to look after myself and do things on my own. There were many days when it felt a little scary. I realized being scared is okay. You do what you need to do anyway. There were countless times when I ate, watched shows, and went ashore alone. Yet I was never lonely. It’s not because I preferred to do things solo but because others were not always around. No matter how close you are to someone on the ship, there are times when they just won’t be available. But you still go because you’re in charge of your own joy. Your happiness does not depend other people.    

A – from Agony to Awakening

When I started working on the ship the work itself didn’t bother me. It was environment. Dancing aside, work has always been fun because being with kids is something I like to do and something I’m good at. It’s the “ship culture” that took a while for me to adjust to. The culture of permissiveness that allows people to do whatever regardless of whether it’s right or not. I saw ugly things – from infidelity, stealing, power tripping, crab mentality, indifference and prejudice. I didn’t feel I belong and I didn’t want to belong either. But through the years I learned to look at the mess from a mind seeking to understand instead of casting judgment. Also, I realized I don’t have to look elsewhere. I can always be the difference I seek.

W – from Whining to Winning

For me, Australians had a funny way of speaking. Not just them but also the English, the Scottish and the Kiwis. They all sounded weird. Imagine the struggle I went through on my first week on the ship. I was hearing all these words that didn’t make sense. They all spoke in English but the sound was so different. I felt so dumb. I couldn’t understand what they were saying. And not everyone was kind when asked to repeat what they said. I remember talking to my mom and my sister over the phone just to cry and complain. Good thing despite the distance they were there to give encouragement. And I’m glad I listened. I persevered until I finally was able to break into their language. And sooner into their culture which made it easier for me to give them better service. Learning and winning, as all other things, require time and willingness to do it.    

N – from No to Next

“This is not for me. I will only do one contract and that’s it.” I told this to myself and to a preacher friend who laughed at me when we met again on many other ships. Sometimes things happen along the way and the very thing that we said no to can actually bring us immense joy in the end. Only if we’re happy to wait. Thankfully I didn’t quit. I would have missed seeing the person I am today. My stay on the Dawn taught me I can do this job and be good at it. That I can walk to the next ship and the many other journeys ahead.  After all, I am never alone. For I believe in God who walks with me wherever I go.


Pacific Dawn is still in service. However, it looks very different now compared to when I was there. Ships also have their own journey. I’m glad it’s not just the Dawn that changed. I, too.

Follow your dreams.