Norwegian Getaway Christmas Cruise
Norwegian Getaway Cruise Review to Caribbean - Eastern
Sail Date: December 20, 2014
Ship: Norwegian Getaway
Cabin Type: Inside
Cabin Number: 11675
Traveled As: Family (young children)
Reviewed: 3 years ago
We traveled on NCL Getaway Dec 20-27. Was a fantastic Christmas vacation for a family from the cold Midwest!!! A little background... We were a group of 7ppl - ages 5 to 59, I myself am a 34 year old female. This was my 16th cruise, first on NCL for my whole family. Previously tried Carnival, Disney, Princess and a diamond RCCL member. I love food, I love good shows and I love good service. This is why I/we cruise!
We flew into MIA on Dec 19th and pre cruise stay was at the Miami Biscayne Bay Marriott Hotel. While waiting for taxis, we found a van to fit us all (and our load of luggage) to the hotel for $50. He ended up being very friendly and offered to take us all to the Port of Miami for $40 the following day. Perfect.
Our van driver picked us up at 11am from the hotel, only 15 minute ride to port. We were greeted by porters immediately and were thru the terminal and check in quickly. Waited for a short while in the holding area for our number to be called. Total from drop off outside to onboard the Getaway about 40 minutes.
When you walk on the Getaway, there is not a grandiose promenade or atrium to awe you. It's just like "oh we are on the ship now". Pretty uneventful and unimpressive entrance compared to past cruises. Lots of decorations for Christmas though, many lovely trees and some tacky red and green stuff around too.
We made our way up to the pool deck to walk around and grab lunch in the Garden Cafe (buffet).
The main pool is very small. I'd be tempted to say tiny in fact. While there are an abundance of pool chairs all over the deck above the pool, the space by the actual pool is either covered or wasted space. It was disappointing for a ship that size. Most of the typical "pool space" gets hogged up by the Haven (super suite members) or the ginormous water slides. Yes my family thought the slides were fun but after the few minutes of fun on the slides, there was no space for them in the packed-in-like-sardines pool. The kids area is nice, also small, with no chairs in the sun. The Nickelodeon splash pool was packed all week. I did see several children in swim diapers in that pool, pretty sure that wasn't supposed to be allowed.
The Garden Cafe was very typical cruise ship buffet. Go way to the back and it's less busy!!! We never had a problem finding seating. I will mention, the salad bar was always very fresh and my brother said the Indian food was fantastic. Head chef is from India so that's why!!! Morning omelet/egg station is great too.
Side note-- One of the first things I noticed was the hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE. Crew has spray bottles and there are standing dispensers all over. I appreciated that as I personally know people that have fallen to the masses of norovirus passengers on a cruise ship before. The sanitizer continued to be everywhere the whole week also - kuddos NCL.
Cabins were ready by 1pm. We had an interior cabin on deck 11 aft. My parents had a standard balcony on deck 11 aft also so I will make mention of both. Our interior cabin was the smallest cabin I have ever seen on any ship. And it was equipped with 2 pull down beds to sleep up to 4ppl. Wowza. No drawers at all anywhere. A few cubbies proved to be a space gold mine. At first glance we thought "no way we can unpack for 3 people in this cabin". Somehow, we did fully unpack 3 large suitcases and a carry on. I'm still unsure how. There were about 18" of space on either side of the bed, a nightstand on each side. With the pull down beds above the side of bed, smacking your head as you try to wedge beside the bed is likely (speaking from experience, ow). Bathroom was average size for our cabin category. Shower is a tad larger than the rounded capsules on RCCL or Carnival. And there is a little foot pedestal to help with shaving your legs, nice touch! Dispensers are in shower with shampoo and body wash. And a dispenser by sink with hand soap, no bar soap. 2 outlets by vanity only, none in the bathroom, I recommend bringing a small outlet plug in with additional spaces if you plug in multiple electronics to charge at night like we do. Note about cabin electricity --- you have to place a key card or credit card, etc in the main light switch to power your cabin. If you take that card out at night, your outlets go dead also and nothing will charge! We saved our pre cruise hotel key card so that we could always have a card in that slot. The room attendant didn't have a problem with us keeping our hotel key card in the slot, either. The one or two times we pulled our hotel key card before dinner, he put it back in so that the lights were on and the room was cool when we returned.
The balcony cabin was average sized, typical layout. There was a couch in this room, unlike our interior cabin. Same bathroom as interior. Slightly larger closet. A single cup coffee pot was a surprising and fun find! The balcony was the smallest I've ever seen in our travels. 2 metal chairs and a small metal table. But hardly any depth to the space at all...someone with long legs would probably bump their knees on the glass in front of them when sitting out there.
We all had the same room steward - Oliver. He made us 5 different animal towels over the week and was very kind to our 5 year old daughter. He didn't always bring ice or remember wash cloths but hey, whatever. If we asked, he was on it right away. He clearly had a lot of rooms, we couldn't quite figure out if he got a break from 8am-10pm because we could always find him. He became our daughters buddy by the end of our cruise. He even left her a note and tiny towel sting ray the last night.
SEA DAYS (3 of them)
I'm going to lump sea days together as we tend to do the same things. Eat/drink, sun bathe/swim, nap, eat/drink....
The towels-on-chairs pool hogs were rampant on this cruise. We were on the prowl for sun chairs by 9:00am each day. On the pool deck they were all "held with towels" by that time. We always went up a deck to find 3 chairs.
Drink of the day was quite good, we tried them on sea days. Usually $6.95 so affordable. The NCL mini fish bowl was a cute favorite. Lots of servers walking around often. Deals on buckets of beer or bottled water daily.
Shopping on this ship is horrid. Selection is virtually nothing. NCL Getaway tees, etc very limited or gaudy. Didn't buy anything onboard, except for 1 family photo we had taken. $25 for one 8x10. Photographers are everywhere as usual, however I felt they were slightly less annoying/pushy as I've experienced in the past. We did a group photo on day 6 and the photographer worked great with our group of 7 ppl and the pic was wonderful of everyone.
I will admit to being a crazy food lover. I'm not picky, I like most types of food and can pick apart a crappy meal when I receive one. I will not say I am a "foodie" as I don't necessarily like the assumptions that some associate with that word. :) Anyway, we all agreed the food on this cruise was as good as our other cruises. We ate in the "free" dining rooms 5x, the Illusionarium and LaCucina. My brother and SIL had dinner at Ocean Blue one evening also and being Geoffery Zacharian fans were not disappointed- said it was innovative and scrumptious. Now to the "free dining" evenings- all but 1 night, service was prompt and took approx 90 min start. Servers were chatty and friendly. Drinks always took a bit coming from the bar. We enjoyed the selections available each day. Food was plentiful and flavorful. Almost always nice and hot, which can be a cruise food complaint sometimes. Beef was cooked perfectly medium or medium rare each time. The chocolate volcano molten cake is available daily and was a great dessert. The plain ol coffee you get anywhere on the ship is DARK roast, which is our fav so a big hit with our group, especially at dessert time.
Illusionarium food was a set menu. App was a procuttio caprese salad, dinner a surf and turf with steak fries and a mini dessert trio. The app was my favorite of the week and the surf and turf was very good and piping hot also. Kids get chicken fingers and fries. I heard some other passengers requesting a fish only option and received a garden greens salad and salmon main dish.
La Cucina is a casual Italian specialty restaurant. Cost was $15 for adults and $7.50 for kids under 12. Starts out with fresh warm italian bread and 4 dipping oils. Calamari app was great, as was the Caesar salad with lots of fresh shaved Parmesan. My mom and I shared main entrees - a creamy lobster pasta and a shrimp garlicky risotto. Both great. I was too full for dessert but my the tiramisu looked wonderful.
We did lunch at OSheehans one sea day. Burgers, sandwiches, buffalo wings, etc. Good fast service, my daughter loved having an order of mozz sticks to herself. Standard sports bar quality. We liked it for lunch, did not try for dinner although were tempted by their all-you-can eat prime rib which was offered 2 different evenings.
Being Geoffery Zacharian fans, we had to try the lobster roll and crab tostada at the Ocean Blue Oceanfront another sea day. $9.75 and $2.50 respectively. Both were delicious. Not a hearty lunch at all, but perfect when doing an earlier dinner.
Ordered room service 1 time for breakfast, just for fun. For breakfast, you put a little card outside your door by 4am with requested delivery time and food choices. The breakfast room service menu was VERY limited basic cold continental breakfast only. No hot food items at all, not even toast. I chose 8:30-9:00am as my delivery time. At 8:12 there was a knock at the door from room service. My 8:15 alarm hadn't even gone off yet, how embarrassing to fly out of bed with crazy wild hair to get your breakfast at the door. It was presented well however and my daughter thought it was cool to eat breakfast in bed.
ABOUT THE SHIP
Getaway is clean and new looking still, coming upon her 1st anniversary sailing. Public areas are well appointed and each area unique. Savor and Taste are the 2 main dining areas, nearly identical, one blue tones, the other red. Tropicana is the third dining room, nicely adorned with the addition of a dance floor. If you are lucky, you will be there a night the Burn the Floor dancers are performing!!!!
Atrium area has a large screen where movies are played and various entertainment activities are held. I felt it to be kind of a strange space right by the guest services and shore excursion area.
Theater is beautiful although rather small for a ship this size. No balcony seating at all in the theater. Shows fill up early, be there 40 minutes early for the good seats. Legally Blonde and Burn the Floor are both held in this theater.
Illusionarium is a unique mystical venue. Perfect for the magic show performers that make up that performance. Fee for Illusionarium was $___pp but worth the unique experience and really good meal. Something different that other ships do not have.
Casino was decent size, yes it is smokey in spots. We found a few favorite penny machines with the wacky loud bonus games and played there several times- was a hoot. No one ever asked us about drinks once while we were playing, perhaps since we were on the cheap penny slots, who knows.
A side note about the casino-- on the last night, we were playing our usual machines, were done for the night and hit the button to cash out. Nothing happened. Long story short, right after we hit "cash out" all the machines went crazy and you couldn't cash out. They kept saying on the intercom "Machines all have a glitch, we are working on a fix. Please do not cash out. Keep playing if you can." Nice one NCL. We got an eye roll from a casino staffer when we said we had cashed out before the announcement. 15 minutes later and 2 forms completed, we had our cash out. My sister-in-law had another issue - she hit cash out approx 2 min before we did. She took her little $7 ticket to an automatic payment machine, stuck it in and nadda. A technician opened up the machine and said, "sorry there is not a $7 ticket stuck in here" and walked away. So she got a manager. He just gave her $15 of free slot play since he didn't know what else to do. Problem was -- with the machines all in a glitch, she couldn't use the free slot play until things were fixed. Pain in the rear. So she went back an hour later, and machines still were down. Being 10:30pm by now and the night before debarkation, she just said forget it. Thumbs down for casino service.
There are many other little venues with treats for a fee or specialty restaurants that we never visited so I cannot comment on-- a coffee shop, gelato, bake shop, or Cagneys steakhouse, a Brazilian steakhouse, Le Bistro French restaurant, Teppaniyaki hibachi and more. Even an ice bar- which to just step foot inside you pay a $20 fee (that does include 2 drinks). Many offerings for that extra charge!!
I highly recommend booking all entertainment and dining online as soon as booking becomes available so that you get what you want. Although it's a pain you can't make changes online and have to call NCL to do so.
Burn the Floor - one word... AMAZING. We all said it's one of the best shows, cruise or on Broadway, we have ever seen. We would have tried to go again but it stops midweek to change the stage for Legally Blonde.
Legally Blonde - it was a good show with some good voices. Not quite like the movie but very similar. Really liked it but didn't love it like Burn the Floor.
Mentioned Illusionarium above
Grammy Experience this week was harmonica extraordinaire Sugar Blue. He put on a great hour of jazz. My hubby claims to be a jazz aficionado and thought it was unbelievable! Felt bad for Sugar Blue as his little venue was quite empty.
Dueling pianos - maybe I am spoiled with a really great local dueling pianos because I thought this group was terrible. They could really play the piano but could not sing well at all. Fun for kids maybe early in the evening. I'd check it out again if different performers. Great concept and the little venue was packed!
Skipped the Comedy club... It seemed to be busy.
Splash Academy - the kids club! We have a 5 year old so she was in the 3-5 year old turtles group. She went daily and loved it, loaded with activities. They had a strange schedule, closed for 2 hours sround mealtime, very different than our previous few cruises with the munchkin along. They too sprayed kids hands with sanitizer coming and going and had safe check in check out procedures. All in all a great time for our daughter.
Nickelodeon Pajama Jam - yes it's $20 per person for the same breakfast food you get in the Garden Cafe but it's a great way to see Spongbob, Patrick, Sandy, Dora, Diego and a few others and snap fun pix! And dance in your pajamas! Come on and be a kid again!!!! It was cute and the little ones loved it.
Not sure where to put this so since it was in the theater, it goes here. NCL asked for a volunteer to hold a Christmas service. A pastor from Sweden and his family put on a short but nice ceremony on Christmas morning.
Freestyle dining took some adjustments as we are used to fixed dining times. We had a good experience with Freestyle. But we did miss the comrodere you build with your wait staff when you have the same servers a whole week. Side note- We never waited more then 5 minutes to get a table for 7 in any venue.
Dress is by far the most casual we have ever experienced. On "Norweigans night out" aka formal night, I seriously saw 1 other man wearing a jacket, outside the handsome suit or tux wearing men in our group. Jeans are very normal and dressy shorts are common also.
My only real complaints with this cruise are service related. And rather detailed I apologize.
#1 had an issue on day 2 with extremely loud metal on metal banging the entire afternoon. It finally put our daughter in tears so we called the service desk. Someone from maintenance was in our room within 10 minutes to check things out. Of course the banging stopped then... But we never heard it again after that. For the trouble, we received a bottle of wine and 4 chocolate covered strawberries. A lovely gesture I thought, until I found out my brother had called the desk twice regarding the same issue and he got a $100 onboard credit. Same issue, different perk. I did go down to the guest services desk to ask why the discrepancy (hey... $100 is $100) and i was told it is manager discression and that extra phone call my brother made must have deemed theirs a worse issue. Our cabins were side by side by the way....
#2 The NCL app. They now have an app that you can use for $7.95 per cell phone for the week so you can text or call others in your party that also have the app. Great concept!!! Horrible in application. The wifi that the app uses kicks you out of the app many times a day. iPhone users can get back in if you totally shut down the app and reopen it. Droid phones had to input their name and info every single time that happened. It gets about a 5/10 tainting from me because of the constant loss of wifi to the app.
#3. My husband was walking by the pool one sea day and a lady fell out of the bathroom and landed on his feet. She had passed out in the bathroom, hit her head, got up and tried to exit the bathroom and passed out again. My husband stayed with her for 20 minutes while trying to summon help. A couple of ship staff in white officer like uniforms came and called the onboard medic several times. No one from the doctor on board area ever came. The lady did wake up and wasn't having pain so they found her a wheelchair and when they tracked down her husband, they got her down to the medical facility. I have zero faith in the onboard health care after this.
#4 Not a complaint but worth the mention. We came back to our cabin one evening to find 2 housekeeping staff in the hallway with a mattress and 2 full biohazard bags. Also a housekeeping manager of some kind with a clipboard and checklist making sure all was handled properly. Apparently they have strict cleaning regimens when someone gets ill. I also noted many room service dishes outside that cabin for a few days so the sick person must have been quarantined for awhile. NCL seems to really be on top of the spreading of germs!!!! I already mentioned the hand sanitizer everywhere. Kuddos!
St Maarten - we booked a 6 hour private van for our group thru Bernard Tours. Our driver was David in a closed air conditioned van. Very informative island tour. Shopping, sightseeing with photo stops and airport beach fun watching the planes land. The airport beach is packed and the waves are a little bit of a problem if you have small children. During the tour, David talked the entire time, so we got a lot of info about the French side vs the Dutch side. He had a huge cooler filled with drinks for us also. Recommend Bernard Tours.
St Thomas - we booked Sunny Liston in a private van for 4 hours. There are 2 gates leading directly off the Getaway (which we did not know) so we were late finding our driver. We had Angela aka Gie Gie for the tour in an open air van. She didn't say hardly anything on the sightseeing portion, stopped 2 places for photos and again to let us shop. Then an hour at Maegans Bay which is beautiful and a calm bay but packed with people. Also had to pay an unexpected $4 each for entry to Maegans Bay. So so on the recommendation here - probably would recommend a different guide if you want more island info in your tour.
We booked a day pass at the Hilton British Colonial hotel. Very nice pool and beach to use within walking distance of ship port. Very calm beach with chairs in the sand. Not over crowded. Service was very slow from the beach/pool bar and 1 server in particular was rude. But we all agreed the nice beach and drink specials would bring us back there if we stop in Nassau again.
Being a pretty seasoned cruiser, we know the things we like and don't like by now. Would I sail NCL again, yes. We did enjoy it. And the ship was lovely. Would NCL win over the other choices... It's a toss up and would come down to price for me. Being a diamond member on RCCL, it's hard to give up the perks.
Another cruise in the books. When can I go again?!