I visited Getaway, at Southampton, in January 2014 and stayed on-board for two nights. This brand new ship had come straight from the shipyard, via Rotterdam. She was berthed at Southampton’s ‘City Cruise Terminal’ before she crossed the pond to her home port of Miami. Getaway is the sister ship of Breakaway (both the ‘Breakaway’ class) which entered service in April 2013.
It is impossible to fully experience all of the 20+ dining options, bars and entertainment options of this big ship within a few days. This review will just feature some high-lights and my conclusions
The first thing that you notice when arriving at the cruise terminal apart from Getaway’s size (big) is her colourful Hull Art. It was created by popular Miami modern artist and muralist David “LEBO” Le Batard. As the ship will home-port in Miami, much of the ships décor has a ‘Miami’ theme.
Getaway is an almost identical design to Breakaway, although some of the public spaces have been re-named/re-themed. ’Freestyle’ has determined her design and she is packed with dining areas and bars. These often have an open-plan design, with some of the bars, and dining areas seamlessly blending into each other, sometimes without walls. It is quite an assault on the senses. What you do not get on NCL ships is any big ‘wow’ spaces such as tall Atriums, ‘Royal Promenades’, Parks or many double height rooms.
Getaway has 14 passenger decks numbered from 5-18. Deck’s 6, 7 and the rear half of deck 8 accommodate most of the public spaces. The ship only has two stair towers/elevator banks, which is not ideal for such a big, long ship. However there are some stairs between decks 6, 7, and 8 amidships, at ‘678 Ocean Place’. This is a sort of mini-atrium with giant LED Chandelier. The elevators are large and efficient.
Décor: NCL have now dropped the prime colours and embraced a more classy ‘Cappuccino lounge’ style. Internally Breakaway has lots of tasteful brown wood (effect) and beige décor, often creating an understated look. In fact, some public spaces on-board Breakaway could easily be on-board a Celebrity or Cunard ship. There have been comments that Getaway is a little more subtle in terms of internal colours than Breakaway.
I saw ‘Legally Blonde’ in the main theatre, which is Getaway’s signature show. It was a full production (1.5 hours) and features some excellent singers and dancers. It is definitely quite a few notches above some cruise ships almost amateur ‘Red Coat’ style entertainment.
Getaway’s illusionariun (forward deck 6) is a re-branded space replacing Breakaway’s Spiegel Tent, which resembled a big-top style circus tent. The illusionarium is a relatively intimate venue, with a circular stage and domed ceiling, hosting a magic show. The nice thing is that it is close-up magic in the round, with no dark back-stage area for the magicians to hide things. For a surcharge you get a set meal (surf & turn) and the show. The show was very good and featured a compare, a narrative and maybe five (?) magic acts. Very clever moving graphics were projected onto the domed ceiling, although this was done a few times too often.
To be honest I could have done without the narrative and extensive dialogue, but this will probably be edited in the future to make the show tighter. Some passengers felt the meal was mediocre, but I spent most of my time concentrating on the magic and not really noticing what I was eating too much.
Getaway is going to be a massive ‘hit’. She makes ‘regular’ ships look boring. NCL are now providing direct competition for Royal Caribbean’s newer ships. It’s not just media hype, Getaway’s design really does take NCL’s ‘freestyle’ concept to the next level.
Getaway is built for ‘fun’. She will suit those wanting a casual, but ‘busy’ cruise experience, packed with multiple dining and multiple entertainment options. Families are well catered for. She will not suit those looking for tradition, relaxation and tranquillity. NCL’s dining flexibility is second to none, compared to the other mass-market cruise ships, although their food and service can be inconsistent at times.
It is worth remembering when you are comparing fares of the rival cruise lines, that NCL are market-leaders in the additional on-board surcharge. Although the many surcharges are optional, they are very tempting. However you are paying for ‘choice’.
It is important to note that these big ships are designed on the premise that not everybody on-board will want to do the same thing, in the same place, at the same time. This premise largely works, but when it doesn’t, expect queues and congestion. Breakaway is definitely a ‘busy’ ship. I do wonder how the ‘Aqua-Park’ might cope on a hot sunny day at sea, and ‘The Waterfront’ and ‘H2O’ on a warm evening.
Although a very simple idea,
Getaway’s ‘Waterfront’ makes her much less ‘inward’ focused that some other mega-ships. After all cruising should be about connecting with the sea, at least occasionally.