Just returned from an incredible week on the Getaway which, despite being brand new, runs like a well-oiled machine. This is my 5th cruise (3rd with NCL, I've also done Celebrity and HAL) and my friend's 2nd (first was 20+ years ago). I'll begin by saying that we are pretty go with the flow people and think that some 'complaints' we've read in prior reviews are incredibly petty and nit-picky. At the end of the day someone else is cooking and cleaning for us and we're happy!
We arrived in Miami 2 nights before departure and stayed at the Hotel Urbano on Brickell Ave. I can't have enough good to say about this boutique hotel. Set away from downtown in a more residential upscale area but easily accessible with Miami's free trolley service the staff at the hotel are phenomenal, accommodations are comfortable and the pool area is great. We took the opportunity during out full day in Miami to go on a Miami City Tour and Everglades Tour with Miami Tour Company - highly recommended! It was only about $50 for a 7.5 hour tour and well worth it. The Everglades airboat ride is especially a necessity, so fun!
On cruise day we headed to the port via car service around 10am and were quickly through check-in and sitting comfortably to review our day 1 Freestyle Daily for things to do once on board. We were on board the ship by 11:30 and ready to start the cruise! I'll break it down now by different parts of interest.
Up-sells: Yes, NCL does have quite a few up-sells and you'll find people complaining about them. This seems to becoming pretty standard across the board with cruise lines but let me assure you - you can have a fabulous vacation with ample good food and relaxation without ever spending on any of them.
Technology: The ship is definitely using technology well. Your stateroom TV easily connects to review your account, the day's schedule, book restaurant and shore excursions. Small tip, you can access all of the restaurant menus for each day from the TV so if you're trying to decide where to eat, it is very helpful. We didn't discover that until the second to last day. Also in many places throughout the ship they have giant touch-screen TVs that allow you to map yourself to any location on the ship from where you stand, book shore and restaurant reservations and other things. Very useful! There are also two SnapIt photo booths on deck 8 that allow you to capture your picture and for FREE send it to facebook, twitter or e-mail to folks back home.
Cabin: We had a large balcony port side forward stateroom (9122). The cabins are very well appointed with ample storage (we didn't even use half of it for 2 of us). The bathroom is great (again, plenty of storage) and is the least small feeling of any ship I've been on. The balcony has room for a good size table and 3-4 chairs or two loungers and a table. We originally had 3 chairs and the table and asked Leslie (the floor supervisor) if we could exchange for 2 loungers and within an hour or two, Rommel our cabin steward had it done. He was great and we never went without our entire cruise. He took good care of us all week.
Dining: Fantastic. We can't say we had a bad meal the entire week and were always happy with the choices we found. We didn't take in any of the specialty restaurants because we had enough to choose from in the complimentary category. The food was delicious, at a good temperature and service was great. Maybe if you're extremely picky or used to eating at high end restaurants you'll complain, but we had no issues and raved about our meals. Note to coffee drinkers - the coffee is not bad but it is very strong!
Public Areas: I did not find the issues with smoke to be bothersome at all. When right in the midst of the casino you could smell it somewhat but I didn't find it at all bothersome anywhere else. The people next door to us did smoke on their balcony but again, wasn't too bothersome (and we're not used to having any cigarette smoke around us in life back home). One thing I noticed on this ship that set itself apart was that there are AMPLE chairs and many, many chairs in shaded areas. We never had a problem finding a spot. There are many places indoors to sit as well. The ship is incredibly well laid out.
Entertainment: This is truly where the Getaway has set itself far above the rest. Sinan the hilarious cruise director from Turkey just set the scene for a wonderful experience. The quality of entertainment on the ship is phenomenal. The Illusionarium, while it is an additional cost it a MUST SEE! It is a dinner theater (set menu, steak and shrimp) but the meal is beside the point, it is the magic show that is the main draw. Burn the Floor is phenomenal - it is a show with six professional ballroom couple from around the world and it is not to be missed. Legally Blond: The Musical is fantastic and a full-length Broadway quality show. The Headliners comedy shows are great. Note that unlike other ships you do have to reserve in advance (even though Burn the Floor, the comedy shows and Legally Blond are complimentary), no big deal and you can do it online before you leave or easily from your stateroom TV. They open it up 10 minutes before the show, so if you don't show up and have reservations they'll let others in to fill up the place. So, don't be late! Don't miss the farewell show, it is quite fun and worth it to listen to Sinan's comedy.
Shore Excursions and Activities: There is no shortage of things to do when you're on the ship. We didn't take any scheduled excursions in St. Maarten or St. Thomas. We did to the Seahorse Sail and Snorkel in Nassau and I highly recommend it. Great catamaran out to the snorkel site and an hour of snorkeling. Don't worry if you're not a strong swimmer, you can wear a life jacket and just bob on top of the water.
Spa: I did take in a Fire and Ice Pedicure which was very reasonably priced at $70. The spa is beautiful and Mollie from Australia who did my toes was delightful. I highly recommend it if you enjoy the pampering!
Disembarkation: We did the quick walk-off and carried our own bags as many do. Don't be deterred by the long lineup in the morning, it goes extremely quick. We were off the boat and on the bus to the airport by 8:30am. Plenty of time until our flight which was at 12:30pm.
Summary: NCL Getaway is a great ship and NCL is general is my favorite cruise line for its laid back atmosphere and freestyle cruising. You can dress up if you want, you can dress down...basically you do what you feel comfortable with and enjoy yourself! I won't hesitate to sail on the Getaway again and am very much a fan of cruising like a Norwegian!