Difficulty Level: 7/10
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We boarded the Norwegian Cruise Line "Getaway" cruise ship at the end of May for an incredible journey from Denmark to Norway, Iceland, and Scotland. Of course, our journey was filled with escape rooms in these locations (check out our YouTube channel for our incredible trip)! We were super excited when we found out that there’s an actual escape room on the cruise ship - "Escape The Big Top"! We signed up right away as they do book up quickly as this experience is complimentary. We also have an exclusive video on our YouTube channel touring the ship along with a preview of the escape room itself!
Now going back to NCL’s “Escape The Big Top”, the story line is that an onboard carnival takes an unusual turn when an act goes wrong. It’s then up to the guests to solve the clues and escape the spell before the time runs out. The location of the escape room was quite fitting as it’s in the "Illusionarium" where they showcase their “Cirque Dream and Steam show” performance (by the way, this is a must see if you are on the ship; the show and dinner are both “delicious’). This is a very different concept than your typical escape room. Since it’s in a “movable” setting, there’s really no finding puzzle pieces or looking for an exit to get out kind of scenario. Each of our teams had a total of 10 people so if you didn’t have enough people in your own group, you will be paired with strangers. There are 10 groups total, so the max capacity is 100 people for this game.
We liked how the show started out with a mysterious announcer explaining the game rules but thought it would've been even more immersive if a real actor (like a ringmaster or something) would come out and debrief us. We thought we had a total of 60 minutes, but it seems like our time included the debriefing. Therefore, we only had about 45 minutes left or so. This was a bit different from the normal escape room since most of the time you get debriefed prior to game and you have the full hour. When the game started, the situation became a bit chaotic since everyone’s clues are the same. Even though everyone is working on something different, there’s still a lot of people standing in front of the puzzles blocking others and making it difficult to see with the limited amount of time. Later, we did suggest to the NCL crew that we think maybe a second set of these puzzles can be set on the other side of the room since there wasn't enough space. Maybe 5 groups on one side and the other 5 on the other side? This will make the game less frustrating for people (we noticed a bit of tension during the game play). We also thought it was a bit odd that different teams could potentially hear what the other teams answers were since we were all so close to each other. If this was a competition, then perhaps each team needed to be spread out a bit further apart (although our teammates were giving other teams the wrong answers, not sure if was intentional or not, har har). We liked the puzzles that they had as they incorporated different ways of thinking and teamwork was definitely a requirement. The end goal was for the team that could unlock the combination to the treasure chest first to solve the puzzle in it. None of the groups that day were able to get there. But for those of you that are interested (if you did win), everyone in your team will receive a water bottle from NCL as a prize.
In the future, we would love to see more escape rooms being built on these cruises as we see how much people enjoy them. We do however like to see a more structured set up and perhaps a more traditional setting of an escape room concept being built. Also, a smaller group would be more adequate. We can’t wait to try another escape room on their ship. Why? Because what else is there to do in the middle of the ocean?
* Check out our YouTube video above for a sneak peek of the location, interview with the owner, the room and more!
ETR Overall rating: 7.5/10
(If you do decide to try this room, please remember to let them know that "ESCAPETHEROOMers" sent you!)
** We don't want to go into detail and ruin any surprises for you, but you want more info like if the room is a multi-room or what other additional tips we can provide to you, feel free to email us.