First time NCL cruiser here. We were a party of six - myself, wife, son (7), daughter (5) and my inlaws. Because this sailing occurred during the traditional Spring Break for many, it was a particularly full sailing. I was told that the normal double occupancy capacity is 3,600, but because of all the children, there were actually an astounding 4,600 passengers onboard.
Layout was good. It was very easy to get around the ship. All of the main public indoor spaces are on decks 6, 7 and 8. There is a very nice outdoor promenade called the Waterfront on deck 8. Nice to take a stroll on, especially right around sunset. All of the restaurants on deck 8 have al fresco dining, which is a nice touch. My one complaint about the ship is that I didn't feel like there was any indoor feature that was truly eyepopping and magnificent. Royal Caribbean has the Royal Promenade and the 3 story dining rooms, Carnival has the 10 story atriums and glass elevators, but nothing really like that on this ship that made me go wow.
We had connecting balcony cabins on the 11th deck. I thought the rooms were nice. The colours and decor were very pleasing. Each child alternated between the couches in the two rooms. Having connecting rooms was great, the kids could pass freely between the two rooms and never felt like the rooms were too small. The balconies are indeed pretty tiny. TV didn't carry traditional network channels (CBS, etc) so when I wanted to watch the basketball games I had to go to O'Sheehans. Since they have a contract with Nickelodeon, there was no Disney channel, which my kids missed. But they got to see Spongebob for the first time!
I thought the food in the main dining rooms was great, although service could be slow and spotty. It would typically take two hours for dinner. My son has some food allergies so each night we would pre-order his food for the next night so it could be prepared separately and they could ensure no cross-contaminants. The staff was especially great with this, and if you have an allergy kid you will know what I am talking about when I say that we were so appreciative of their help and understanding.
Not sure why they don't offer lobster in the main dining room... they only have it one night in the buffet. I went up there for a post-dinner snack and it was an absolute madhouse, long lines but the lobster was great once I got some.
I didn't like the layout of the buffet. Two sides offering the same thing, with multiple stations repeated sometimes twice in each line. The passageway was so narrow, which made getting food often hectic and chaotic. Just not as open as other buffets I've seen. I particularly dislike the doors on the fruit/dessert station. 3 shelves, with plastic doors that opened up. Problem was if anyone was getting stuff from the first or second shelf you really couldn't get anything from the shelf just above it because the door would block it. A minor complaint, I know, but I'm not really sure why they just could leave the doors off.
We only ate at one specialty restaurant, Le Bistro. I thought it was fantastic. Just like the main dining room, you can order as many appetizers and desserts as you want. Extra entrees carry a $10 charge. Between the two of us my wife and I tried every appetizer. Don't miss the escargot and the cones. We shared a chocolate fondue and the cheese plate was outstanding, much better than the cheese in the main dining room.
Fantastic amount of things to do. The ropes course is simply amazing. My 7 year old and I walked the plank multiple times. It was a bit unnerving at first, but so much fun. Mini golf course is also great. Each hole had real obstacles like you would find at a mini golf course at home, instead of a plain green and hole. Unfortunately, even though Getaway is very new, the course was already showing lots of wear. Some of the fingers were already broken off the skeleton tunnel on one of the holes, and I saw parts of other features which were chipped or broken, exposing the hard polyurethane foam, such as on the cannon on hole 6 and the sign near hole 1.
Can't say enough about how much we liked the waterslides. My daughter loved the easier purple slide while my son spent most of his time on the corkscrew red and orange ones. I wasn't as big a fan of these two. Completely enclosed, which wasn't great for a claustrophobe like me. They whip you around in a circle about four times and the g-force actually gets quite intense. I did do the free fall slides. The first time, it was terrifying, especially since I have never done a free fall slide before. As soon as I stepped into the rocket pod and the clear plastic door closed I started hyperventilating (claustrophobia again, even with the clear door). Then it counts, 3, 2, 1 and I have rarely been more terrified at the anticipation. The floor drops and off you go. It was fun though on repeat rides, after knowing what to expect.
My kids also really liked the Spongebob Aqua park. However, I am quite surprised that Norwegian doesn't post someone from the activities staff to monitor this area. I guess that's up to the parents. There were so many kids in the little pool and the little slide they had was a disaster. Kids would try to run up the wrong end, some bigger kids would sit at the top and bully smaller kids and not let them pass, kids would push each other down the slide head first, kids wouldn't wait for the bottom to clear before sliding down, etc. I am not proud that I actually yelled at a kid that I saw punching and kicking my son. My son was standing on the little hill with the palm trees and some kid wanted him to move and he wouldn't. Then the punches and kicks started flying. I told the kid to stop and asked him where his parents were. Nowhere to be found of course.
The fitness center was way too small for the size of the ship. On some mornings, every single piece of cardio equipment was in use and people had to wait. The other room with the weight machines was really crowded, especially in the tiny corner with the dumbbells.
My kids really enjoyed it. The activities didn't always seem to follow the program. My daughter was all excited to help some fish find the mermaid but then they ended up doing something else entirely. However, they always came back happy and said they had a lot of fun. My daughter loved getting her face painted up as a lion, and on the last sea day there is a Big Top Circus show where the kids can participate and show off skills they learned during the week. My son was a juggler and my daughter of course was a lion again.
First rate. I went to both the Burn the Floor show and Legally Blonde with low expectations and ended up really loving them. The Burn the Floor dancers were amazing. We saw the show on Sunday and then I saw them seemingly everywhere. Some would teach dance classes throughout the week. They have two nights in the Tropicana room later in the week where they do a short performance on the dance floor while you eat. And I would see them just walking around the ship at night or on the pool deck.
I read about the mostly negative reviews of Legally Blonde here, but I surprising enjoyed it a lot. So much fun that I went back and saw it a second night.
Veterans know these of course, but thought I would share several tips and stuff I learned and discovered.
1. If you want an omelette in the morning, don't stop at the first station. Go farther towards the back and go to the second one, the line is usually a lot shorter.
2. If you are using the aft elevators, press the buttons on both sides, because the elevators are on different systems. One side goes all the way up to 16, the other stops at 15.
3. They don't provide little bottles of toiletries. As a result, there is no lotion in the room, so bring your own.
4. Outside on the 8th deck at the very aft of the ship there are these cool little windows in the floor that look straight down at the ocean.
5. Bring a hotel room key to leave in the slot to keep your lights on so you don't have to use your NCL card.
There's the infamous Key Master machine in the casino which had 3 iPads. You basically have to raise the big key up and then it extends and you have to fit it through a hole. Sounds easy, right? It's not. If it were, everyone would have iPads. Unfortunately I saw a guy carrying one around on day 2 and he said it only cost him $30, so I spent way too much money trying to win one!
With such a big ship and variety of people, unpleasantness was to be expected. I just don't understand why people have to be so rude and grumpy when they are on such an amazing cruise. Like the 50ish year old man who sat on the end of the aisle at Legally Blonde and then made it very clear that he was irritated beyond belief that my family wanted to pass by him to the open seats in the row. Or the lady in the elevator that said to me as I entered that she'd get to where she wanted to go a lot faster if she didn't have to stop on every floor to let people like me on. Or the lady trying to get off the elevator while my 5 year old was trying to get on who exclaimed "Jesus! How rude!". I have tried to teach my kids to wait for people to get off before getting on, but face it, she's 5, and still learning.
To all these people, I say.... if you don't want to be on a cruise with children, then DON'T SAIL DURING SPRING BREAK.
Overall, a fantastic cruise. Had an amazingly great time and wish I was still onboard!!!