I would like to point out that while I have no personal opinion on the subject one way or the other (since I don't play an escort), it could be canonical for Federation escorts to have out of combat cloaks since the Defiant did. Yes, it was on loan from the Romulans under various treaties, but with the Romulans being cranky (and led by a crazy woman) and the Federation facing down several major powers at once, I doubt that anybody's worried about honoring a treaty like that.
The Escorts are meant to be damage dealers. You can do more damage than anyone else on the battlefield. As with all things you have to give up something and that something is strong shields. If you want to last longer then role a cruiser or science ship.And if you like cloaking then role a Klingon. Start giving away cloaks or stronger shields and then you will screw up the diversitty in the game.
I think the Defiant class should have a cloak, that's in keeping with Cannon, but other escorts should not.
The Defiant was the only defiant class star ship with a cloaking device, and even then it was built by the Romuluans. the only other federation ship with a cloak I can think of was the USS Incursion, but I don't think it was cannon, I think it only appeared in the Star Trek Armada games.
The Escorts are meant to be damage dealers. You can do more damage than anyone else on the battlefield. As with all things you have to give up something and that something is strong shields. If you want to last longer then role a cruiser or science ship.
AHH here we go.... Lasting longer is not the issue. Being perma dead because the CLOAKED Bop group that just popped out of stealth will kill you every single time before you can even get a shot off. If I had cloak I would be able to fire a few shots before they targeted me and owned me.
The USS Pegasus was the only "other" Fed ship which had a cloaking device - a transphasic one at that which let it fly through stuff (and get stuck in an asteroid).
Escorts are severely outmatched in PvP against Klingon ships of the same tier. I'm surprised too, since it was said that Klingon ships would have far worse shields, however in actual combat my escort was lucky to take down a shield, whereas any Klingon ship had my shields down and me to 30% hull in the first salvo. The whole tractor beam + rapid fire thing gets really old, really quick.
From what I have seen, escorts perform fine in PvP.
While it is indeed difficult to survive a full alpha strike from an opponent, it is not impossible.
I have spent nearly half my time doing PvP, and have seen escorts perform fantastically. I have also seen them burn in flames as they tend to be the favored pick of the more quick and aggressive players.