This is my 8th cruise, 2nd on NCL (Previously was on EPIC a few years ago). We wanted to try out the new class of NCL boats and love water slides, plus one of our party had a ticket "deal" so we chose the Getaway this time around. Here are my thoughts, observations, and some tips mixed in:
- Getting on the boat was easy. They were taking photos before embarking, vs. during, which I think helped. We got on just before noon. When you arrive at the port you will be given a group number, and any kind of standing with the cruise line seems to make no difference.
- Once on the boat we immediately went to get Chef's Table tickets. They were sold out already... or so they said. After speaking with someone else, they had enough for all but one of our party. With some pleading, they gave us the extra seat. This was nice - HOWEVER - we were told we could not book these seats prior to the ship, but spoke to many at the table that night that had gotten theirs via telephone prior to the cruise. Inconsistencies was a big theme on this cruise.
- Our first night was supposed to feature 2 bottles of free house wine for 6 of us because we booked a specialty restaurant the first night. We were told when we ordered that we didn't qualify, even though we had verified this with NCL prior to sailing. More inconsistencies. They apparently revoked that deal just before our cruise. With some arguing we got one bottle... but it set a negative tone for the cruise.
- The staff were mostly from the Philippines. I'm not racist, its just an observation based on past cruises being a real mix of people from all over the world (including Europe). I don't believe we met one person from Europe working on board.
- This cruise featured the least amount of friendly smiles and service, though there were a couple stand-outs at the water park.
- We didn't meet our cabin attendant until day 2. Since that time we saw her maybe 4 times. We often did not get the daily news, and weren't provided disembarking information or customs forms. The worst cabin service we have ever had.
- We had adjacent rooms, but they would not open the deck divider stating it was now policy not to do it. (so why build it with opening doors then?) We opened our own... all you need is the cruise free pen - jam it in the square hold and turn.
- Deck chairs were not hard to find and there were very few chair hogs. Wow, did I just say that? This is normally a major point of frustration. This ship has chairs everywhere.
- The running track was ridiculously small. (8 laps = 1 mile) I do a 10k so ran just over 50 laps each morning. The biggest frustration were pairs of walkers (this elderly female pair in particular that walked every morning around 7am) that refused to go single file. The way the track is, if you block the path the chairs make it difficult to get around. This meant I was running into the lady on the left each time around. We even spoke to them but there was no changing their minds. Selfishness and ignorance has no place on a cruise ship.
- Food was sub-par compared to other lines we have been on. (Royal Caribbean, Celebrity)
- We constantly compared the boat to the Allure, which is our favorite.
- The water slides were SUPER FUN! (and I admit a bit scary) You can't wear jewelry on the drop slides so be prepared to leave all that stuff behind.
- Cagney's gave us the best meal and value, even considering we had the Chef's table. That was a bit of a bust, but it was fun to see the Heaven area...
- The comedians were good.
- Legally Blond started late so we didn't go, but others in our party said it was not good.
- I liked the french toast with caramelized banana sauce in the mornings. I'm paying for that now even running 10k a morning.
- Decent beer and wine selection. Seemed like less exotic drinks than others, and all served in cheap plastic glasses.
- We put wine in our checked bag and were notified it was confiscated and we had to pay $15 a bottle to get them back, but then could take them wherever we wanted (dinner, etc.) Not sure I like that policy, but a bottle we paid $12 + $15 corking fee was going for over $50 so I guess its a savings. They did not confiscate my Diet Mt. Dew :)
- The ropes course requires fully covered feet, so not even sandals that *mostly* cover your feet. If your heel or toes are exposed they won't let you on. Don't forget that the plank features a camera (front and side shoot simultaneously) so its worth the scare.
- Pictures were way too expensive, with no way to buy just digital ones... so we bought none. They were watching for people taking pictures of their pictures, so no sneaking shots that way. Have they learned nothing from the app market where a few $ per item will get you more sales?
- Nickel and dime was how we felt wherever we went on the boat. Its like the Spirit Airlines of the cruise industry. Soon you will pay to go to the bathroom... I S#$()** you not :)
- SMOKING WAS TERRIBLE. Almost worse than our Princess cruise. They allow it not just on one side of the ship but at nearly every bar and of course in the casino, which ruins deck 7. They were out on the balconies as well polluting the air. I heard this comment from a lot of people, not just our party. For this reason alone we will not return to NCL.
- Look for the flights of drinks.. good value.
- Elevators were not set up well. There were often two separate sides, which meant everyone pressed both sides up/down button then only got in one... so lots of elevators stopping on floors with nobody getting in. Very poorly designed.
- Getting off the boat went fairly fast, though the front was let out before the back was so there were lines for those early walk-offs.