June 2016 - 7 Night Western Caribbean (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Getaway
The best thing about NCL's Getaway Western Caribbean that visits Roatan, Honduras, Belize City, Belize, and Costa Maya & Cozumel, Mexico is the bang for your buck during the off-season. The Free at Sea offers are exceptional, with the best value being the Unlimited Beverage Package (UBP). A friend recommended spending the money on the Vibe Beach Club, and it was worth every penny. Located on Deck 17 Forward of the Getaway, this place that only accommodates 65 people and has 6 huge 2-person round cabanas (reservations required) offers cold towels, chilled fruit skewers and butler service, with a private bar offering ultra-premium drinks. It's a stark contrast to the insanity of the main pool area of Deck 15. My only complaint about Vibe is that it closes too damn early - at 7 pm every day. It should remain open until at least 10 pm, because while it's nice to lay out, the bulk of the folks I met there and chatted with were there to just hang out at the bar and in the hot tubs and enjoy the view. NCL needs to seriously reconsider the hours for Vibe.
That said, for being a newer ship, and having been on the Oasis Class ships of RCCL, I was disappointed with the feel of the Getaway. It feels cold and lacking of character and space. You feel cramped and congested anywhere you go except for the open air decks and the Waterfront areas. The ship's finishes are sleek and contemporary, but the lack of open spaces internally is really no different of the cruise liners of old: Low ceilings and cramped quarters.
The Free Fall Water Slides are really a lot of fun, and a must do. Didn't do the Ropes Course, but it looked awesome. The Rock Climbing Wall has a super hard path, so if that's your thing, give it a try.
The fitness classes are actually pretty good. I was thrilled to be able to spin 3 times during the cruise, but the timing of the classes are tough if you have shore excursions. You'll be exhausted before you even get off the ship!
The Mandara Spa was excellent and the Thermal Suite was awesome. That said, the Salt Bath is bogus at best in my opinion. My biggest complaint about the spa is the hard selling that the therapists do before and after your treatments. This totally ruins the point of the spa experience, and I made a point of saying as much when I was there. It's enough to make me skip the spa next time (if there is a next time). The treatments are on-par with a high-end spa on the mainland in Miami, and with the discounts they offered, it wasn't a bad value overall, though still pricey.
Our mini-suite wasn't much better than a regular cabin, other than offering a double vanity — which to me was a waste of precious space — and a large shower with body jets which was nice. The closet space was decent, and I appreciated the concealed storage areas throughout, which were really helpful. Of note, practically ALL the cabins on the Getaway have TINY balconies. The chairs can barely fit on them, and cannot be turned to face the sea - there simply isn't enough distance between the door and the railing to do so. The two chairs and tiny side table take up about 75% of the space on the balcony, and so it begs the question "why bother with a balcony at all?."
The food at the specialty dining venues we went to were generally very good. Cagney's Steakhouse was excellent. Period. It was really, really good. We also went to Cocina which was also excellent. Moderno Churrascaria was a big disappointment. The meats were under seasoned, and the service was slow.
Surprisingly, Savor and Taste, the complimentary dining rooms, which are more set out like traditional restaurants, were really, really good. I expected buffet-quality food as I have experienced with other cruise ships, but not so on the Getaway, and for this they deserve kudos.
The entertainment offered was really good. I didn't do Million Dollar Quartet because I had seen it on Broadway already, but the Illusionarium, Burn Up The Floor, Comedy Shows and Howl at the Moon were all excellent. The Ice Bar was cool, but a bit of a disappointment because there really wasn't much to do in there, and it IS really cold so you're not wanting to stick around for long - it needs some work, but the irony of a Miami Beach scene in ice is amusing.
The biggest issue we had was this. My son is 19 and I did the parental waiver for him to have beer and wine if he so chose during the cruise. This meant that his card was not cut to indicate he was allowed to make these purchases. For the entire cruise, he was literally harassed by the bartenders who refused to serve him SODA (for the record, he only purchased beer and wine with me, in my presence, anyway - he spent the bulk of his time playing basketball and ping pong, so was always getting non-alcoholic beverages) simply because they did not believe his cruise card was legitimate. This happened despite my son having his government-issued ID to prove his age. Nothing we said or did worked to alleviate this problem. It was absurd and enough to make me not want to cruise NCL again, because it spoiled the experience for us.
I'll end my review with this overarching thought. In terms of value for money, this cruise was terrific. In terms of service throughout the ship, it was so-so to poor, especially from the beverage staff. The exception to this was at Vibe Beach Club, where Jeff and the other bartenders were EXCEPTIONAL!!!!