Line: Norwegian Cruise Line
Built: January 2014
Routes: Seven-day cruises to the Eastern Caribbean, round trip from Miami, anchoring in St. Martin, St. Thomas, and Nassau, The Bahamas.
Amusement-seeking families, couples, and groups; Florida residents who want to venture out on the high seas without hopping on a plane.
The crowd- or stimulation-averse; those looking for an off-the-beaten-track Caribbean itinerary.
- Cuba-inspired touches, such as empanadas at Flamingo Grill and salsa dancing in the Tropicana Room, hit a home run with lovers of Latin culture.
- The wide roster of entertainment is one of the best at sea.
Norwegian Getaway is the little sister of Norwegian Breakaway, and like many younger children, the ship follows in the footsteps of her older sibling. She offers the same signature features — the Haven and Waterfront, for example. But she won’t just accept hand-me-downs: The Illusionarium, Grammy Experience, and “Legally Blonde” are her own impressive debuts.
Just as Norwegian Breakaway pays homage to the Big Apple, Norwegian Getaway channels the pulse and energy of her home port, Miami. You’ll find art deco sculptures in the Svedka Ice Bar, mojitos at Sugarcane, and the beats of Latin music around every turn.
Tip: You’ll want to bring your dance shoes for a cruise on this ship.
There are a total of 2,018 staterooms aboard Norwegian Getaway, spread out over 10 decks. The basic cabin categories break down into inside, ocean view, balcony, mini suite, and penthouse, and then are further distinguished by location, balcony size, or whether they’re configured with extra beds or connecting doors for families.
Standard cabins start at 129 square feet, which is considered small by cruise ship standards, but design-wise, they have pizzazz. South Beach-inspired, they have art deco-style fixtures and sand-colored carpets. The bathrooms, though by no means palatial, have ample shelving and some thoughtful touches, including a shaving bar, body wash and shampoo dispensers, and unusually flattering light.
Though Norwegian’s spa cabins don’t have a dedicated restaurant, as do those on Celebrity Cruises’ and Costa Cruises’ ships, they offer access to the private Haven area and the Mandara Spa’s Thermal Suite plus upgraded amenities such as multiple-jet showers, Elemis beauty products, and bath robes and slippers. Apart from the Haven spa suite, mini-suites and balcony cabins don’t feel very different than their non-spa counterparts (they’re a comparable square footage), though there’s a $300 bump in price. So are these cabins worth the splurge? Only if you’re planning to use the Thermal Suite daily, as passes otherwise cost $45 per day.
The Haven isn’t the only ship-within-a ship complex at sea, though compared to MSC Cruises’ Yacht Club, it offers more cabin choices and far better service. Suites range from 328 to 932 square feet and cost more than double the price of a regular balcony stateroom. But the dedicated restaurant alone elevates the experience: My shrimp cakes were delicate yet crunchy and by far the best dish I tasted on the ship. Guests also get added perks, such as priority reservations, concierge service, in-cabin espresso machines, Bose® docking stations, and chocolate-covered strawberries or canapés.
Norwegian Getaway also offers the studio concept, the, a cost-effective solution to those burdensome single supplements, which originally debuted on Norwegian Epic. For 40 percent less than the next category up, you’ll be granted a space — albeit a tiny one, at 99 to 131 square feet — that’s all your own. Though the tightest quarters onboard, studios don’t feel as claustrophobic as you might expect, thanks to recessed nooks, split shower and toilet areas, and oversized interior portholes. Each evening, the ship makes a (much appreciated) effort to connect singles with a mix-and-mingle hour hosted in the Studio Lounge, enlivened by beverages from the bar.
Norwegian Getaway also caters to the special needs community with 42 wheelchair-accessible cabins with push-button doors, guardrails, shower stools, and pull-down racks in the closets. Wide doors and ample space allow for greater ease of mobility. Though ADA-compliant staterooms offer more space for your dollar, non-disabled passengers are strongly discouraged from booking them.
Tip: If you want to get more for your money, consider a large balcony room. For the same cost as a balcony stateroom, you’ll get 36 more square feet.
Activities and Entertainment:
With 28 restaurants, including six complimentary venues, weighing your options may take more time than actually eating. Breakfast is the simplest decision: Served in the Garden Café and at up to four sit-down spots, the morning meal is a standard but no-complaints affair: omelets, French toast, pancakes, hash browns, and sausages.
Lunch and dinner get more interesting. The Flamingo Grill’s midday spread of pulled pork, spinach empanadas, chorizo and chimichurri sandwiches, croquettes, and guava and cheese pastelitos is a true novelty, but some of the items were more tantalizing than tasty; others just needed to be served hotter.
Another new venue, the Tropicana Room is designed as a Miami-style supper club, with mirrored columns and a stage for live music and dancing. While the restaurant serves well-executed entrées such as braised short ribs and roasted rack of lamb, the real star is the entertainment. Latin bands jazz up some nights; three times per week, Burn the Floor dancers really heat things up.
Frequent Norwegian cruisers will recognize the specialty restaurants from other ships, though some menus have been adapted to this ship’s theme. Ocean Blue, for example, a Norwegian Breakaway first, features a beet salad with pink shrimp and smoked trout roe and grouper with forbidden rice and cauliflower, both made with fresh catches off the Florida coast. My mussels tom ka gai and lobster risotto were equally divine. But with the restaurant’s cover charge of $49 per person, only true foodies choose to splurge. One quiet night on my sailing, I dined among empty tables.
The ever-popular Moderno Brazilian steakhouse also makes an encore, with items such as filet mignon, bacon-wrapped chicken breast, and garlic and herb sausages to satiate carnivores. The cuts arrive on skewers sliced tableside and are best devoured with red wine. Most diners were impressed with the promptness and flair of the service, and with the exception of a round or two, the meats arrived juicy and piping hot.
As repeat cruisers will attest, the quality of a specialty restaurant can depend on the sailing. One guest raved to me about her experience at Le Bistro on Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Breakaway, but on Norwegian Getaway remarked that “it was just OK.” Though the food (picture bouillabaisse and coquilles St. Jacques) was underwhelming, the tables that spilled out onto the deck like a sidewalk café charmed me.
La Cucina, the Tuscan-style trattoria hidden away on Deck 14 on Norwegian Epic, has a better location and more traffic on this ship. The stone arches and vine-covered pergolas may appear to set the scene for a serenade, but La Cucina is a boisterous venue that’s popular with families, thanks to a modest cover charge ($15) and a kid-friendly menu of crusty pizzas and creamy pastas. My osso buco melted in my mouth, and I was impressed with the speedy service.
Tip: Mandara Spa, Pulse Fitness Center, and Tradewinds offer seminars, consultations, and tastings, but they’re often sales pitches for products and services. Not looking to buy? Skip them.
This is not a quiet ship. If you’re looking for a break from the crowds, head to Deck 17 forward, a quiet spot full of empty lounge chairs, the library, which is located off a discreet corridor near the Illusionarium Theater, or (during the day) the Prime Meridian Bar, a lounge between Cagney’s and Moderno.