Live from….Norwegian Getaway: Hits & Misses

January 17, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

After two days and nights onboard Norwegian Cruise Line‘s newest ship, Norwegian Getaway, our U.K. reporters Adam and Jamey give their verdict on what wowed them and what they think didn’t quite hit the mark.
Hit: The Illusionarium (Adam)
Confession: I did not like Cirque Dreams. I think it promised a lot, and did not deliver. I also found it off-putting trying to eat while watching a man writhe and gyrate around a few feet from my table.
So, I was really looking forward to the Illusionarium, and I’m pleased to say it really delivers.
You enter via a corridor, lined with faux antiques and weird-shaped model heads and old posters, before the double doors are opened with a flourish and you are ushered into a round space, decorated with arcane magic-themed memorabilia.
The first thing I noticed were the waiters, all poised and still, as if frozen in time. All wore natty Indiana Jones-style clothing, complete with aviator goggles.
So the scene is set. You’re immersed. And you’re invited to take part in a bizarre auction, by a wonderfully camp and highly entertaining magician… or are you?
The beauty of this show is that it runs as a story – complete with astral projections, long-dead grandfathers coming back to life and a ‘competition’ of sorts to find the Grand Master magician – that draws you in.
If you pull back from the story, what you have a is a pretty average set of magic tricks – woman in box, disappearing woman, knives in box, some stuff with bubbles etc. – but because it’s wrapped up in a narrative it hooks you and draws you along.
The highlights for me were many and numerous: I loved the audience participation (especially getting a kid on stage who was wide-eyed with wonder), the camp compere, who gets camper as the show goes on; the lighting and Planetarium-style projections; and the old-school magicians (who looked as if they had stepped out of the movie The Incredible Burt Wonderstone).
At two hours long it could sag, but it never does, the pace, the music and the narrative are so strong.
Just two negatives:I’m not big on using animals in magic. (I was assured by a Norwegian rep. that the doves in question are well looked after and inspected by the US Authorities every 60 days. She declined to comment whether they were housed in the Penthouse Suite, however). And the food, which is a set menu of deep-fried shrimp and tepid filet mignon.
Apart from that, though: I urge you to check out this show, and pay the extra $5 for Premium Seats: It’s worth it. Highly recommended.
Hit: The Waterfront (Adam)
I’ve said it before (see my Norwegian Breakaway blog), and I’ll say it again: The Waterfront is an inspiration. Even in soggy Southampton, being able to sit outside and enjoy a drink outside is a wonderful feeling, especially when the ship is really busy inside. For readers who are not aware, Norwegian decided with Breakaway to give a number of dining and drinking outlets some outside space. Obvious you’d think, but this hasn’t been done before (except for pool bars). Restaurants have all traditionally been inside. This might not have been ideal for chilly New York (where the ship is based year-round), but for Miami – where Getaway will be homeport – an outdoor area is essential. Having a meal and a glass of wine watching sunset over a Caribbean island is what this space was made for. Massive hit.
Hit: Tropicana Room (Jamey)
There’s no question in my mind about the Tropicana Room: It just works.
As the third complimentary main dining room accompanying Taste and Savor, the Tropicana Room (like the Manhattan Room onboard Norwegian Breakaway) has its own menu, representing the “flavor of Miami,” according to the line. There are plans to include several Latin-inspired choices like ceviche, churrasco steak with chimichurri, and chicken with yellow rice (although the menu was the same as in the other two dining rooms on our sailing).
With the Tropicana Room (and the Manhattan room), Norwegian was aiming to capture the feel of a mid 20th-century supper club. And they nailed it. Situated under Cagney’s steakhouse, the Tropicana Room is surrounded by floor-to ceiling windows, and the central stage/dance floor opens the room upwards, creating a two-story space. The Latin jazz band playing at the front of the room helps to cement that 1940s feel, but the space also plays host to smaller performances of the “Burn the Floor” Latin dance show.
Miss: Bliss (Adam)
Love it or loathe it, but Bliss Ultra Lounge onboard Norwegian Epic leaves all cruise ship night clubs in the dust – and that includes, sadly, the one on Getaway (and Breakaway). I know Norwegian wanted to group all the dining, drinking and entertainment options on three floors and centered around 678 Ocean Boulevard, but as a result Bliss has become sandwiched somewhere in the never-ending casino area, between O’Sheehans and Shanghai Noodle Bar. It doesn’t even have an outside space. Gone is the corridor complete with horse’s head and extraordinary décor, gone too are the reclining beds and huge chairs round the dance floor that were in Bliss on Epic. Instead you have one space with a long bar and a DJ at one end and a few seats at the other, with minimal décor. Deeply uninspiring.
Miss: Legally Blonde, The Musical (Jamey)
I’ll preface this with a disclaimer: I am not much of a fan of either musical theatre or the Legally Blonde movies.
You may be thinking, “Well, he wasn’t the best choice of reviewer.” And I couldn’t agree with you more, but in my own defense, I will say that I tried to keep an open mind and focus on both the positive and negative aspects of the show.
First, watching this stage production made starkly clear one of the movie’s (and not the musical’s) strengths: The movie, at least, had a clear genre and sense of itself.
In the film, the writing and Reese Witherspoon’s portrayal of Elle Woods are fun, silly,and  lighthearted. It’s a farce. A playful gag that we’re all in on – a seemingly vapid Valley Girl learns to trust herself and her capabilities and overcomes the cold snobbery of the East Coast, Ivy League establishment by dent of her irrepressibly bubbly personality, her dedication to the color pink and her love of small, handbag-sized dogs. And, speaking of dogs, Elle is an underdog, so we root for her.
The musical theatre adaptation, on the other hand, waivers between farce and melodrama, and doesn’t convincingly achieve either. The dialogue is so simplistic and the song and dance numbers are so half-hearted, I struggled to see an original thought or creative risk taken anywhere. And disappointingly, it eschews the humor and fun of the original for sentimentality. The cheerleading routine that takes place in the Harvard Law School admissions office and the song that follows, “What You Want,” in which Elle asks to be admitted on the basis of true love was particularly trying. And the song is a refrain that’s repeated at various points during the play.
As far as the performances by the actors and actresses on our sailing went, I’ll mention the highlights. The “Greek chorus,” only visible to Elle, is a passably funny bit, and hairdresser Paulette Bonafonte’s character is a scene stealer, just like she was in the movie version. On Getaway, the actress playing Paulette is an African-American woman with a great voice … and the ethnic history her character claims is hilariously suspect: ¾ Italian and ¼ Irish.
Perhaps my favorite line from the show came from her song, and I think it speaks volumes: “The Irish fear nothing and no one.
They keep fightin’ ’til everyone’s dead. I’m not sure where this metaphor’s goin’. I just felt like it had to be said.”
I started with a disclaimer, and I’ll end with a caveat. I spoke with a few people after the performance who thoroughly enjoyed Legally Blonde. So, if you like musicals and you liked the movie(s), this show’s probably a safe bet.

    Comments

    One Response to “Live from….Norwegian Getaway: Hits & Misses”

    1. Denise
      January 18th, 2014 @ 7:39 am

      I was also on board on Wednesday, and agree with you regarding Legally Blonde – it is a musical you either like or hate – I didn’t like it, however that is not a reflection on the guys playing the parts – i spoke to two of them in a lift and they said they have heard mixed reviews.
      As a ship, The Getaway isn’t my favourite (I have been very fortunate to have visited numerous ships as a Cruise Specialist) however I have been on a lot worse. My main observation, as someone who stayed in a Spa Suite, was why are the light switches located on the side of the bed nearest to the wall and not on the both sides of the bed? If the person nearest to the switch falls asleep, the person next to them needs to lean over to turn off the light! Major design fault. I could only find one set of plugs by the tv which meant if I needed to charge my ‘phone overnight and put the alarm on for the morning, it wasn’t next to me in the morning. Little, but important things. I was also surprised that in a suite there was no clock radio

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