Norwegian Getaway Cruise Review by bazbaz65: Norwegian Getaway was still a fun time...
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Norwegian Getaway was still a fun time...
We have just recently returned from a cruise onboard the Norwegian Getaway sailing out of Miami. I have to be upfront right from the start about the fact that we are fans of Carnival. We had been on the Norwegian Sun in 2010 and didn’t enjoy the whole pay-more-for-everything way of doing things. However, as we had bought one of those “future cruise” vouchers, we had to give Norwegian a second chance. This schedule was perfect for Spring Break with the kids and was hitting one port we’d never been to which I really wanted to visit so we hoped for the best and booked.
First thing you need to know is that you will be doing A LOT of walking! Our cabin (9423) was "forward" – almost to the very end. I don’t know if this is because we specifically like inside rooms and I noted that as we hiked to our cabin, there didn’t appear to be inside cabins on the right as we saw all the oceanview and balcony cabins on the left. It’s not the More worst thing in the world but I have to confess there was a time or two when I thought about going to my cabin to get something and opted not to because “it’s so far away!”
Back to my confession – we like Carnival and so you may hear me say (as I said way too many times during the cruise), “Well…on Carnival, they did x-y-z.” So, with that caveat, here’s how our cruise went.
Typically we like to get to the cruise ship by around noon but that didn’t happen this time! Miami port is not fun! We got a little lost getting there and then my husband dropped us off while he went to park the car. I know many people ask about where to park there and we had trouble deciding where to go – we ended up using Port of Miami Parking at 150 NE 7th St., Miami, FL 33132. Each of us (three cars) paid a different amount because the prices vary by the day you book…the closer it is to departure date, the more it will cost. For us, for one week, it was from $48 to $50. Can’t complain versus what it costs at the port!
So, the husband dropped us off and took the car to the parking area. Yes, it is in a “seedy” area but he never felt “in danger” or anything like that. He was quite content with it and it was only about a mile away from the cruise terminal – he walked back from there because there were several people waiting for the shuttle with lots of luggage and he figured it was easier to do the 20 minute walk over the bridge than to wait. (Upon our return, the three drivers took a taxi to the parking lot – it cost about $8 for the one mile drive!)
So, we got on the ship and our luggage arrived shortly afterward. We met our room steward and, upon advice I’ve learned here, we pre-tipped him which seemed to help in getting us some ice quicker than would normally occur. We had wine to chill! Also, we asked that the fridge in the boy’s room be emptied (but not locked as we wanted to use it) and he had no problem with taking care of that.
Dinner in the main dining room. I usually love doing this! I prefer the sit down meal to hitting the buffet. Unfortunately, our experiences in the dining room were…well, slow! Every time we were there it took well over two hours to get through the meal. I’m not one for rushing through but when you wait twenty minutes for the dessert to come and you need to get to a show – well that’s not cool! As for the food, it was just ok. The soups I had were typically lukewarm and on the last evening we ordered French onion soup where they brought the broth (with barely any onions) and then brought a separate plate with a piece of bread and cheese for us to add to the soup. Huh?! I also had crab salad one day without any lettuce; I had the same thing another day and it came on a bed of arugula lettuce. It was much better. Prime Rib was good. The salmon was good. Fettuccine with clams where the clams were barely visible. A yummy variety of desserts though – tiramisu, flan, crème brule, and various cakes. Some at my table ordered “molten chocolate cake” on our last evening and I took a taste – it was not as good as Carnival’s melted chocolate cake which you can enjoy every single evening on their cruises.
I did go up to the Buffet one evening – to get the lobster for an appetizer! There was someone dishing out the lobster and the melted butter so I expected a limit on them but there was not; she put two on my plate and asked if that was enough or did I want more. I also went by the buffet once in the late afternoon and once for lunch – there seemed to be a nice variety of sandwiches etc. My son said “It’s the same food every day” so I don’t know much more than that. We had breakfast in the main dining room once and that was beyond slow! We sat there for so long waiting to be served. My hot chocolate was not even lukewarm and we waited a very long time before she brought us the fruit, juice, or the breads. Speaking of bread, we ate lunch in the main dining room twice and I was disappointed that they didn’t come around offering bread (I love the baguette!) as Carnival does. On top of that the bread was never fresh, not once, whether I had it for dinner in the dining room or for breakfast in the buffet.
We only ate at one of the specialty restaurants – Cagney’s Steakhouse. The food was awesome and we left feeling much too full. Note that you cannot order more than one entrée in this restaurant (unless you’re willing to pay extra) but you certainly don’t need it! The ribeye was delicious but I do NOT need a 16-oz steak so would have liked it if they had offered a smaller portion on that. This was where I had the crab salad with the arugula which was good. Other people had the shrimp cocktail - can't go wrong with that. For other appetizers at the table, someone had some type of beef sliders which they enjoyed. There was also wedge salad and potato soup (one of the soups that could have been a little hotter). The side dishes were all good – the broccoli was cooked perfectly, garlic mashed potatoes were tasty, onion rings were crispy but my husband said that the parmesan fries were just ok. Save room by skipping the bread buns – I did not think they were so great. The Oreo cheesecake and raspberry crème brule were great and others enjoyed the chocolate fudge brownie.
There are a lot of activities going on around the ship but I wasn’t the only person who wasn’t thrilled to have to sign up for shows. As one man said to me, “I don’t know what I’m doing on Thursday!” We had signed up for Burn the Floor and I was really looking forward to it given the taste from the Welcome Aboard show. I ended up being a little disappointed though as there was no story to the show – just several dances. After about thirty minutes, I was ready to go but that’s not really possible given that the theatre is all auditorium seating (unlike what I’ve experienced on Carnival with the lounge atmosphere). There are no tables and the drink holders are too small for many of the glasses. There is one good thing to this set up though – the bar staff is not able to walk up and down the aisles pushing the drinks!
This leads to one other thing that I liked – it does seem as though the Norwegian staff does not push drinks as much as they do on the Carnival cruises. I suspect that this is because Norwegian charges for so many other things so they don’t need to make up as much money – but, whatever the reason, that was a nice change of pace.
I was not as impressed as many have been about the Illusionarium show. I have to say that it was probably because I didn’t really see any of it! We arrived early and when we were being seated, I saw that there were many tables open but they sat us along the back wall in the booths. I asked why and she said, “It’s first come first served,” which made NO sense to me as we were first come! In any case, Do NOT let them sit you there – especially if you paid for the “premier” seats ($29.99) as we did. All I saw throughout the evening was the back of some man’s head…and all of the wait staff as they walked in front of us. It was extremely frustrating but I’ll have to not complain too much as, when I spoke to the manager later, I was reimbursed half the price for the six tickets I’d bought. In any case, I heard a lot of “oohs” and “ahhs” and spoke to a woman later who advised that she arrived as the show was beginning and she was seated up near the front; she enjoyed the show. So, I guess it was good.
We also went to Legally Blonde and we all enjoyed that show. I knew the story (of course) but enjoyed the Greek Chorus and just losing myself in a show for about an hour and a half. Good job!
Another good time was Wine Lovers: The Musical. This was a lunch time show and we were served lunch (which was almost the same as what we’d had there for dinner for The Illusionarium); this is a fixed meal and is not too bad but not what I’d typically want for lunch – steak and shrimp. My barely adult son found the musical to be cheesy but I enjoyed it and liked the comedy of it.
The Comedy Club – well, we are used to seeing a comedy show every evening on a Carnival cruise so this was odd to have to sign up. We went on Thursday at 11 p.m. and Friday at 7 p.m. (the ship left Nassau at 7 p.m. so you can imagine this was a pretty empty show!). I was once again struck by the less appealing atmosphere (as compared to the comedy shows on Carnival). This room has only a few tables and, instead, they line up a bunch of hard seats as though you’re back in grade school with chairs lined up in the auditorium for assembly. Every couple of seats, they put box like stands for tables between the seats – be careful you don’t knock your drink right off of that! We were surprised when we went to the 11 p.m. show expecting an "adult's only" show and saw some kids coming in. The material absolutely leaned towards “adult’s only” and the M.C. for the evening made a request at the end that everyone should fill out the comment cards to let Norwegian know that an adult’s only show is needed at least once per the cruise. I thought his show (opening for the headlined comedian) was ok the first time I saw it. I couldn’t believe it when we returned on Friday and he used the exact same material. I don’t know how the other shows were that week but this seemed strange to me; you’d think a comedian would have enough material to get through a week! But then again, I suppose he figures people will only be able to sign up for one show.
We also hit the Auction on the first sea day. It’s pretty much the same art we see on all of the other cruises but I was surprised by all the bidding! I don’t recall every seeing it like that on a Carnival ship! We missed the preview time for this as we were sitting in the main dining room (Taste or Savor) waiting for our lunch; but they hold these in Headliners with everyone sitting on the rock hard chairs. And, of course, the champagne is gone quickly and the auction takes over two hours to get through everything.
We spent some time in the Spice H20 area which is “adult’s only” for sunning during the day. The only thing missing is a pool! There is a hot tub and then, along the wall, they have some sort of waterfall area. I never went in there but my husband said it was ok for cooling off briefly. This was even less crowded when everyone was in Nassau but we were a bit disappointed when they turned the music off and put a basketball game on the big screen. Apparently someone had requested it. At least they turned the volume down on that after I asked; and the music resumed. Once in a while I did catch a whiff of smoke – apparently it is ok to smoke at the bar that is in that area. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I also could not figure out the smoking rules in the pool area. I was pleased to not see ashtrays all over the place (they had one area that was sort of closed off – but there were openings for venting the area so don’t sit there if you don’t like the smell) but I did see one woman light up near the waterslide landing area which is always great for little kids.
Speaking of smoking, I have to agree with what I’ve read from others – that it is odd the way you have to walk through the casino to get from one end of Deck 7 to the other. It’s hard to hold your breath that long! We do enjoy the casino though and were very grateful for the small non-smoking area aft. Fun times at the $6 table though it was sometimes difficult to get a seat.
We also had fun at the Margarita tasting in the Sunset Bar on Deck 8 on the last sea day; it was pretty packed so get there early to be sure you get a spot. My husband also went to the beer tasting on an earlier sea day and it was not nearly as well attended.
We don’t do a lot of “dancing the night away” but I slipped into Bliss Ultra Lounge on Deck 7 on the last evening – there were maybe ten people in there. I also attended the 80’s Night dance party in the Spice H20 area which was a blast. It had already started and then the fireworks took place so this was a good spot to watch those. I ended up staying just to watch the people and listen to some great music – saw videos I haven’t seen in a very long time!
The Atrium is the “hub” of the ship. Lots of events are planned there it seems and they show movies there as well. It is connected to the Guest Services area though which made it difficult to speak with a customer service person if there was something noisy going on. I didn’t spend much time there but I did get caught up with watching “White House Down” on the last day of the cruise and missed out on some of my sun time!
Teen Club? My 13-year-old had a blast. That’s pretty much all I know. He also did the Rope Climbing but every time he wanted to do the other things (rock climbing, the trampoline) those things were closed. Very limited hours so check that out first thing and put them into your “freestyle” schedule! He and his father also headed to the water slides one day and enjoyed that – apparently that free fall one is quite speedy!
My 18-year-old was bored most of the time. Since he had just turned 18, he was not allowed in the Teen Club. I know this is typical but it would seem to me that if a kid is still in high school, there could be some sort of exception. I didn’t look around too much but I also didn’t notice any activities aimed at 18 to 21 year olds as it would seem that might have helped with the “I’m bored” whining. He spent much too much money on the video games and renting movies to watch in the cabin.
One of the biggest “What?!” moments for us was when we first saw the Jogging track. It was during the afternoon and some woman was trying to run around it. This jogging track is part of the walkway on the 16th floor. People were walking everywhere and she could barely get through. It was only later that we saw that the path is only officially open from 6 to 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. I was up there again during those times and noticed that it was a struggle even then. Walkers who don't know to stay to the outside, people crossing the path, and the floor! It is the same flooring material that is throughout the rest of the ship – unlike the ones we’ve seen on Carnival that have special flooring to be better on your body. One plus to this set-up though is that the runner is right near Flamingo Bar & Grill so can always stop for water.
Flamingo Bar & Grill seems to be a well-kept secret. It’s much quieter up there so we would get our breakfast in the Garden Café and then head on up to Flamingo Bar & Grill for seating. Plus, you could find some Latin type breakfast entrees there for a change of pace. I didn’t see what they served for lunch so don’t know about that.
O’Sheehans Bar & Grill is the Irish pub on Deck 7 which overlooks the Atrium on the Deck 6. As I understood it, this was the only place to get food after hours. My kids were greatly disappointed in all of this! They have been spoiled with the ability (on Carnival) to have pizza and ice cream any time of the day or night! On the Getaway, pizzas cost $5 and I’m not sure if there would be the $3.95 charge which is in effect for room service during the night hours. As for the ice cream, it gets turned off overnight until around lunch time. I don’t know about you but I’d much rather have pizza at two in the morning than a hamburger or fish and chips! In any case, the fish and chips here were better than what they served in the main dining room so give them a try. And, if you’re in the casino area, check around the corner from O’Sheehans – in the smoking part of the casino. There were trays of sandwiches, veggies, and desserts. Not sure the hours on those snacks but I thought that was a nice touch as I headed back to my room after giving them my casino allowance. ï
I downloaded the Norwegian I-Concierge app and used it for checking out the daily entertainment. I’d recommend getting it for this purpose but would like to see Norwegian expand it so that when I clicked on something, it would give me details about the event (other than just the time and where it was). You can also pay $7.95 (per phone) so that you can phone and text other people who have the app and have paid the money. We did not use this so I can’t say anything about it. Another function which we liked is that you can look on the TV (for the same info as on the app) and check out your bill each day; unfortunately for us, everything was on my husband’s credit card and he was booked into the other room where the boys were sleeping – so none of that info came up on my phone app or on the TV in the room we were in; had to go to other room to check it out. No big deal at all but just mentioning it so that you know what’s going on if your TV or app keeps telling you there are no charges to your account!
Oh, I have to mention this! At first it seems like a “what a cool idea” but the novelty quickly wears off. You have to put your key into the light switch pocket as you come into the cabin. I cannot tell you how many times I almost left without taking my key; how many times I opened the door and reached for a light switch that was not there; and how many times I heard people saying that they did not have their card because “it’s back in the room in the light switch.” I never got used to it the whole time we were there! Also, be very careful when you leave your room. Our door was fine but the boy's room was often "open" because you had to really pull it hard to make sure it closed/locked. And, while it is probably good that you don’t have kids stealing the “Do Not Disturb” signs, we did forget to switch the light from “Do Not Disturb” to “Please Make Up the Room” – it’s much easier to remember to put the sign out than it is to remember to make the switch. That one could just be me though!
I did think the bathrooms on this ship were a little bigger than what I’ve seen on Carnival. They should consider putting robes in the rooms though, as Carnival does. It’s a nice touch. One of the reasons that we like to get inside cabins is because we like to take afternoon naps and sleep in each morning since we’re typically out late at night. We liked that there was no light coming in under the door or through the peephole but I must be ultra-sensitive because the red light from the TV and blue/green lights from a/c unit were annoying. Was able to put a towel over the TV but not much I could do about the other thing. And, we couldn't figure out how to keep cool air going throughout night. Had to keep getting up to push the button which activated the a/c.
I know it seems like there are a lot of complaints and I hope it doesn’t come off completely like that! These are just my observations of what things were like on this ship. We certainly didn’t have a “bad” time at all! We were on a cruise and didn’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning for 7 days. How can that ever be “bad”?! And, while we had several moments of “well, Carnival does this better,” I can’t say that (outside of the very slow service in the dining rooms) we thought badly of the staff at all. Everyone was really friendly and certainly hard working. A few of the Casino dealers could use a little more “personality” but most of them seem to enjoy their job and interacting with the people sitting at their tables. Anthony Haw at Guest Services was particularly helpful and such a pleasant personality when we sought his assistance a couple of times.
Overall, while I still consider myself a “Carnival person” and am not sure that I’d head back on Norwegian again, we definitely had a great time and I look forward to reading other reviews on this ship to hear about the things I missed. Happy Sailing everyone! Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
I was very much looking forward to St. Maarten as we had not yet been there. I had prebooked with Amigos Tours for the 10 people in our party. Since there were that many of us, we were able to book a private tour and had a bus with plenty of room and lots of drinks for us to share (including two bottles of rum punch, beer, and various sodas and water).
I had been told to meet at 9:30. Oscar was waiting for us and said that we were supposed to have been there at 9 a.m. but I had specifically asked via email and was told 9:30 would be better/good. Though it was a private tour and therefore any "wasted" time was my time, he seemed a little irked when we had to wait a few minutes.
The "allure" of this tour is that you can plan to do whatever you want. There was no pre planning which I figured was my fault as I waited till about a week before we left to make the reservation. In any case, I felt as though there's really not much to see/do on the island other that "which beach should I visit?" I was hoping the driver would have some places to suggest. But, nope. It pretty much boiled down to "which beach do you want to go to?"
Enjoyed the beach - I believe it was Orient Beach (but, no, not the nude part). The boys went parasailing right near where he dropped us off - another group arrived after us and they were taken care of first which was strange. Didn't matter to me, though, as I enjoyed a walk on the beach while waiting for them.
There wasn't much "tour" to this day for us. I had been expecting something like the Godfrey Tour on St. Thomas and thought Oscar would tell us some historical information about the island and the people. I tried to get him started by asking about schooling as we passed by a school but all I got in return was, "Yes, they go to school for 12 years." I think he should take a little trip over to St. Thomas to take Godfrey's tour to see how it's done. :)
For lunch, he dropped us off in front of a row of restaurants and we went into Lola's; I suspect he gets a kickback since he suggested the place. The food was pretty good but it took a LONG time to be served and that killed any shot of us getting to the airplanes on time. If you're traveling with a child who wants the "side order" of mac and cheese ($6) - one order is enough (my son ordered a double order thinking it was "just a side") but you should know that it is Kraft Mac 'n Cheese! My Mahi Mahi was tasty and the husband had spare ribs which he enjoyed...though he kept complaining that the rice wasn't like the rice and beans he gets in Puerto Rico (was it perhaps from a box too?)
We did eventually get to Maho Beach. It was very crowded. The beach is small and rocky. We did get to see a few small planes coming in and saw the big KLM plane take off. I think I might have had more fun with all of that if we'd had a seat in the Sunset (?) Bar and could hang for awhile.
This tour cost $405 for 10 people.
My husband and I had been there in 2012 so, when we were returning with more people, we knew immediately that we wanted to take the Godfrey Tour with them. I made the reservation for all ten of us and we waited for him where told to. All the other guides know him so when they asked if we were looking for a ride and we said we were looking for Godfrey, they told us to stand to the side and he'd be by in a bit.
This tour starts with time shopping. I could do without that part but many people like to shop. We headed to Side Street Pub down one of the alleys and enjoyed morning cocktails instead. :-)
The meet up back at his open-air vehicle was at 11:30 and as he'd picked up a few more people, a couple were relegated to his second vehicle. They still got the benefit of Godfrey's talking at each of the main stops but, during the ride etc., his helper was their guide. Not sure if that's as good or not. He is very informative providing information about the island and its people.
There was a stop at a beautiful lookout point as well as at Mountain Top (I believe it is called) where people were invited to try out ($$$) the banana daiquiris. Before long the tour part was over and it was time to hit the beach. Half of our group opted to head back to the ship but the rest of us enjoyed an hour at Coki Beach (our ship was leaving early so we didn't get the two hours we'd had the last time we were on the island). The kids rented some snorkeling equipment and my husband had to swim out to them to bring them back in - they were having a great time. Such calm water here and just so beautiful.
This tour cost $30 per person though the ones who chose not to go to Coki Beach paid $25 per person.