I hope to write a thorough review of the Getaway ship when travelling with kids. We were a family of 7 (hubby, son 8, son 5, daughter 4 and my inlaws). We spent the night before and after the cruise at the Homewood Suites on Blue Lagoon Dr. If you're looking for a hotel with a 2 bedroom suite for under $300, this is the place. Taxi to the port cost us $40.
We had 2 balcony rooms on the ninth deck (mid-ship aft). It was the ideal location for 2 reasons: close to the elevator for my father in law who has difficulty walking; and the balcony was above the waterfront and so beneath us was a small awning. My fear of the children ever falling off the balcony into the sea was rest assured. If the worse case scenario ever happened, there was that patio covering underneath to break their fall. The great thing was, although we were near elevator and above waterfront, we never heard any noise inside our cabin.
The kids enjoyed the Splash Academy very much, however, my eldest thinks the RCCL kids club had more activities. I thought the paperless computer sign in sign out for the kids was great and made me feel the kids were safe in their care. Nicklelodeon characters made some appearances on the ship, and there were a couple of "dance parties" in the Atrium where kids can go up and dance with Dora, Diego, SpongeBob, Ang the Avatar etc. There was also an "extra-fee" Pajama Jam breakfast, where they serve "kid-friendly" breakfast items and you can watch a short dance show and get photos taken with all the characters. The food was much too sweet and unappealing to me (but I'm no longer a kid), but my little ones were so enthralled with being up close with the characters that it made the event worth it.
The main pool is a salt-water pool, which is unfortunately always kept cool and is much too small for the number of passengers on the ship. In addition, the most shallow end is about 4ft, so my youngest was not able to enjoy this pool. They spent most of their time in the SpongeBob splash area, which could entertain them for at most an hour or so. However, there are numerous other activities to do: 5 waterslides (all really fun) but 2 free-fall ones require a minimum height of 100lbs; rock-climbing; trampoline jump; big slide; ropes course (even the little ones have their own mini course) and miniature golf.
There was a dance class offered everyday, and of course lots of fitness and spa demonstrations. We enjoyed as a family many of the Trivia events, and a few movies. Our favourite was the make your own Glow shirt (check this one out).
The best entertainment we have ever since on any ship was the Illusionarium magic show. We arrived early and got the front table. The food was not bad as some have indicated, but you are so engrossed in the show, you really won't care what you put in your mouth.
My husband and I enjoyed Burn the Floor and Legally Blond. My children all chose to skip both shows(which I'm glad they did), and my in-laws were disappointed with both (not their style). It is more suitable for the younger generation and I too thought the singing was a little too loud. Furthermore, Hubby and I spent many evenings at the Sugarcane Mojito bar listening to the piano player or at the comedy club Headliners. My in-laws (late 70's) did not find the comedy funny, but rather crude, esp. the lady comedian.
As for food, compared to other cruiselines, it was good or better. The buffet was a favourite of the kids, as was O'Sheehan Pub. Check out the lobster night in the buffet (although small, but plentiful) and the Prime rib night at O'Sheehan. We only went to La Cucina, my husband's choice and it was very good. The only one meal that we were disappointed in was at the Taste dining room, where service was very slow (2 hrs to complete dinner) and the food that night was mediocre (French onion soup had no onions and the salmon was overcooked).
We had a wonderful time on the Getaway and enjoy the Freestyle cruising. The smoke from the casino was not bad at all (maybe it was Spring Break and our fellow passengers were more family oriented?).