This was our first experience with Freestyle cruising and I must say it was a different experience than we are used to. Over the years, we've traveled aboard Carnival, Costa, HAL and RCL before "finding ourselves" aboard Celebrity's Solstice class ships. Our group bridges the 50's - 60's in age so it's no shock that the more mature clientele on Celebrity was a better fit. Norwegian's target market is decidedly younger and their cruise agenda, co-branded with Nickelodeon, dovetails well with families bringing young children on vacation. The Getaway is literally a playground with a water park, video arcade, mini-golf, ropes course, climbing wall...even a rubber room where toddlers can safely let their freak-flag fly. Activities include plenty of opportunities for kids to interact with Spongebob or Dora the Explorer and adults are presented ample opportunity for entertainment as well. In short, the shows and entertainment on board Getaway were superior to any we had experienced at sea until now. Performances of "Legally Blonde, the Musical" and "Wine Lovers, the Musical" were brilliantly staged and sparklingly performed while their Havana-inspired "Burn the Floor" was simply the hottest dance show I've ever seen anywhere. Coupled with the amazing "Illusionarium" magic show where an ensemble of gifted magicians wowed us with world-class effects, we were never disappointed. Even "Headliners", their intimate comedy venue, and "The Grammy Experience", home to Grammy-winning guest performers were exceptional. The acts were fresh and packed with 1st quality talent.
Now...the other side of the coin. NCL's business model seems to be to provide the bare minimum of quality in their three main dining rooms and buffet in order to prompt you to buy their up-sold specialty restaurants. Due to the youth of this ship there was not much in the way of cruiser feedback on which to base our decision to forgo purchasing the meal plan that would allow us a different specialty restaurant each night. In retrospect, it would have been very welcome and I'm sure given us an opportunity to rave about the food.
At some point in the cruise a comment card appeared in our cabin which asked us to identify any vacation heroes who made our trip remarkable. Were it not for the warm smile, happy demeanor and attentive service we received from our cabin attendant Jonah, the card would not have been necessary. Don't get me wrong, I couldn't point a finger at anyone for bad service but she was the only crew member who seemed engaging and intent on providing an above and beyond experience. Kudos to her for doing more than just going through the motions.