This was one of our top 3 family vacations!
We are a family of four - kids are 12 & 15. This was the kids first cruise & hubby & my second so we don't have a lot of cruise experience to use as comparison. So our impressions are based solely on this ship, staff, etc & not a comparison of other trips, ships, or lines. A fresh slate, so to speak.
We drove into Miami on Friday night so we wouldn't have to worry about getting to port on time. We arrived at the Port of Miami around 11:15, dropped our bags with a porter in the drop off area & went to park the car. We were parked, through security, corkage fees area, check-in and on board by 12:30. Everything went smoothly & swiftly.
To say the Getaway is an impressive ship is an understatement at best! She is absolutely beautiful! Inside & out! When you stand in the middle of the atrium & look around, you're awed by all the colors & beauty. The atmosphere is elegant and fun.
Once on board we went to the Flamingo Grill to grab a bite of lunch while we waited for the cabins to be ready. There was quite a selection to choose from. Cheeseburgers, pulled pork sandwiches, chicken croquet, chorizo sausage & chimmichurri sauce sandwich, waffle fries & fried polenta - it was all tasty. The announcement that cabins were now ready was around 1:30. We made our way to our cabins on deck 10. Being non experienced cruisers we didn't know the difference in aft & forward elevators & we took the wrong set and had a very long hike to our cabins, lol! We found our rooms just down the hall (a short stroll, lol) from the forward elevators.
Our cabins were next door to each other but not connecting, #10192 & #10194. Mini suites category & quite nicely appointed. Not lavish but more than adequate. Space to walk around without bumping into anything. The bathroom was very nice. Double sink made it easy for 2 to share space when getting ready. The shower with the multiple jets was a very welcome addition, especially after shore excursions! The bed was ok. Nothing to write home about but comfortable enough. Our room steward, Putu, was the absolute best! Friendly, attentive & very good at his job. Granted we did tip him nicely the first night, something we read on here ;-) I was worried the balcony would be too small to enjoy but happily it was plenty useable. There's room for 2 chairs & a very small table. You can sit & enjoy the view comfortably if you turn the chair on an angle to maximize leg room. If you're wanting to stretch out & sunbathe, you'll be disappointed but otherwise the balcony is fine. There's plenty of closet & shelf room even the bathroom has a good amount of storage space.
We did many of the on board activities & had a great time! Sinan, the activities director was awesome! He is a riot and made the activities fun & funny!! We played Deal Or No Deal, didn't get picked to go on stage but everyone gets to play along using cards in the audience & win prizes. We played Bingo & it was fun. We didn't win but we laughed a lot! There are several craft opportunities on sea days. We did one where we made scrapbook pages. It was a basic level activity but since we scrapbook it was fun for us. There are several dance classes available & we did a couple. They do take place in the atrium in front of everyone & are shown on the giant 2 story screen, so it can be a little nerve inducing. My daughter & I took a big leap out of our comfort zone here but it was a good time! Origami lessons are fun, our son enjoyed them. Between the origami sessions & Putu showing him how to make towel animals he's quite a little creator now! We saw Burn The Floor & it was good. The dancing is phenomenal! That said, we did leave feeling it was somewhat lacking, still can't figure out what was missing but left feeling unsatisfied. Legally Blonde was good. Our 12yr old wasn't over joyed when he found out we were going to the show but he left saying it was a good time. Hubby & I went to the Wine Musical...it was an ok show. The story line is predictable, the food was mediocre & personally I only found 2 of the wines palatable. Admittedly I'm picky about my wine but I wouldn't do this one again & didn't find it worth the price of admission. On the other hand I can't recommend enough going to see The Illusionarium show! This is one wonderfully put together production! The whole family really enjoyed it! We didn't try out the ropes course or plank, we'd planned to but got busy doing other things & never got around to it. We did give the water slides a go & the kids really enjoyed them! I did one & had a comical experience! I have an issue with claustrophobia but try to not let it rule my life. I enjoy trying new things & decided to do a slide. Figuring it was a quick ride I'd be fine. So in the tube I go & part of the way down it goes from some light coming in to total darkness! I start to hypervenilate & without thinking I attempt to sit up, bashing my head on the top of the tunnel & tweaking my neck! Thankfully the ride was over soon after & once the pain subsided I laughed it off:-) Moral of the story; if you're claustrophobic maybe skip the tunnel slides, lol! The guys played a few games of bowling in O'Sheehans & had a great time. Not sure what it was about bowling with those mini balls that was so amusing but they sure laughed a lot! The ice bar was neat. Go by the hostess podium outside the ice bar to make a reservation. The drinks were tasty & being as you can't go to a bar made completely of ice everywhere, I say go. It was a quick experience thanks to the temps but fun nonetheless:-)
We tried to do the cupcake decorating class but we didn't realize you needed to sign up early. If you may want to do the cupcake ($39 for 4) or cake ($69) decorating class I suggest you visit the customer service desk sooner rather than later. The classes are only held one time & are limited to around 20 people so they fill fast!
We didn't dine in the main dinning rooms so no input there. We did try out Teppanyaki one night & it was good. Our cook was amusing & put on a good show. Plus his karaoke back and forth with the other cook was fun/funny! We did feel bad throwing out so much food. It was delicious but there was SO much of it & no way to rewarm it later so it got tossed. NCL might think about cutting portion sizes a bit here. I understand wanting people to feel like they're getting their moneys worth but hate the thought of how much food is wasted! LaCucina was nice, not wonderful but a step up from Olive Garden. Our favorite specialty restaurant was Moderno! We went twice it was so yummy! The "cheese balls" are so good! The salad bar is awesome & the selection of meats is so delicious!!
Oh & then there were the lobster tails, YUM YUM YUM! We probably indulged more than we should have but they were so worth it!
We were celebrating our 19th Anniversary & I was window shopping on a sea day in the onboard jewelry store & found an absolutely gorgeous ring. The sales woman, Elizabeth from Kallati, was knowledgeable but not pushy in the least. My hubby went back with my daughter & secretly purchased it! If you're looking for something particular or just happen upon the perfect piece don't be scared off by the price tag because the sales force will work with you & the quality of the jewelry is wonderful!
We went parasailing in St.Maarten at SXM Water sports. It was a first for all of us & was amazing!! We made our reservation directly instead of through NCL. They're located just down the beach from where the water taxi docks so no worries about missing the ship.
St.Thomas was a good time. Again we booked our excursion directly. Tried to go through NCL but it was fully booked. We did the Sea Lion Swim at Coral World. A truly lifelong memorable experience! They are fun, beautiful, amazing animals! You get to interact in & out of the water with them. The trainers are awesome! They really want you to get everything you're hoping for from your experience & work with such love with the Sea Lions. It cost $80 round trip, with tip, for the 4 of us to & from Coral World. I will say the taxi drivers were a bit scary! The roads & driving patterns are a little hairy at times but we got there & back ok so I guess it all was good :-)
Nassau was a bit of a let down. We had a private excursion planned with Blue Hole Water sports but the seas were too rough for it. It was a pleasure meeting Basil, owner/ operator of Blue Hole. Even though we weren't able to go on our planned trip I would recommend him! We're hoping to go back & do our snorkel & sight seeing trip another time. We ended up walking around for a bit but went back to the boat by 2:00. We didn't have much interest in being in the shopping area to begin with & after someone tried to open my husband's backpack while we were walking we decided to leave! Not a great stop in our opinion!
This may have been our first NCL cruise but it won't be our last! The ship was beautiful, fun & a never-ending supply of things to do! With the exception of a couple people, the staff was smiling, friendly, helpful & generally just amazing! To think we could've been cruising for years, man I wish I'd known how wonderful it was! I do all the research, planning, packing & executing of our vacations & I am usually exhausted by the time we leave & am going on fumes by the time we get home. This is the first family vacation I was relaxed & felt like I had a vacation, instead of doing everything I usually do just in a different location! I LOVE CRUISING! Totally hooked!!
Overall this was definitely one of our favorite family vacations! I have to admit that being without technology was wonderful! The kids not having cellphones & continually texting or snap chatting or whatever & spending uninterrupted family time was the best! Many memories made & happily planning our next cruise!