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The Norwegian Escape.  (Photo courtesy of ncl.com)


By L.P. PELAYO
Exclusive to the Filipino Reporter


On Sept. 9, 2018, my family and I went on a seven-day cruise to Bermuda aboard the 20-story, 165,300-tonnage behemoth called Norwegian Escape, one of the largest in the Norwegian Cruise Line worldwide fleet.

Crew number is 1,733.

We boarded the Escape on Pier 56 off the West Side Highway shortly before 12 p.m.

It sailed at approximately 4 p.m., passing through New Jersey, Statue of Liberty, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and out to sea in the Atlantic Ocean.

Due to the impending Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas, the Captain informed passengers and crew of a direct sail to Florida to insure our safety and avoiding a potential landfall on Bermuda.

As New York sealine receded into the dark, nearly 800 of about 4,266 passengers started filling seats at the ship’s theater for the Welcome Aboard Variety Show.

We had the pleasure of meeting with Charry Sabanal, a Filipina, who is the Hotel Director’s Secretary.

She accommodated our seven-day cruise — meeting with the Captain and officers at the VIP reception, booking shows, dining and disembarkation.

The Hotel Director is Deepak Punia from India.

We made landfall on Tuesday, docking at Port Canaveral in Florida, the first stop.

Majority of passengers took a tour of NASA, Cocoa Beach and other sites.

Next stop was Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island, to revel on its wide white sand, swim, snorkel, parasail, or simply bask in the sand under palm trees.

With no breeze, it was Bahama hot.

It was our last stop as the ship headed back north to New York.

Of course, the Escape features a crowded casino aboard, where slot and blackjack tournaments are hotly contested.

But there was a wide variety of activities for all ages from the gigantic pools; rope-walking atop the ship; basketball and soccer area; and the popular water slides.

Buffet food and fine dining are available most hours at their restaurants.


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The Garden Café Buffet.  (Photo courtesy of Beyondships.com)


It was a delight to meet Restaurant Manager Melroy Rebeiro, who is just outstanding at his job, overseeing the entire ship's food — from the restaurants to the bars to the buffet.

The Garden Café Buffet on Deck 16, Aft has an Asian section that offers Indon, Chinese, Korean and, occasionally, Filipino food.

Patrolling the buffet area and making sure everything is in tip-top shape each morning is Venus Bernaldez, a Filipina, who is the Assistant Maitre’d.

For gourmet (reservation), the bill should go up a bit, at Bayamo, Cagney’s Steakhouse, Food Republic, La Cucina, Le Bistro, Moderno, Pincho and Teppanyaki, where we met with another Filipina, Ria Sanchez, also an Assistant Maitre’d.

For complimentary (non-reservation) restaurants are Garden Café Buffet, Manhattan Room, O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill, Savor and Taste.

When the Philippine Government calls the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) “Bagong Bayani” or “Modern Heroes,” it should do so kneeling.

For the OFWs virtually keep the economy afloat, with their hefty $40 billion remittances.

And they earn every penny of it.

The crew in this NCL ship accounts for 70 percent of the manifest, including some top-ranked officers.

I met Jing Perucho who hails from Aklan at the sporting facility.

He is an arduous worker being the Recreation Supervisor.

Most Filipino housekeepers make the rooms tidy, twice a day.

They have no day off to speak of.

What they have is from to two-to-three hours break during an exhausting round-the-clock shift.

But they get a huge four-month vacation every year, then rejoin their ship on six to nine months contract, renewable especially for those in service for many years.

Tagalog appears to be the most spoken language, in restos, in theaters, in casinos, in the galleys.

Filipinos everywhere are known to be good workers — mostly educated, artistic, kind and helpful.

Is it any wonder why they are the preferred employees worldwide?


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Appreciation: Thank you to Ed and Corky Ledesma for facilitating our stay at the Norwegian Escape.

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