I like to center my reviews on things I do not see in other’s reviews….and as always food and entertainment are subjective.
Embarkation: Arrived at the port around 9:30, they allowed us through security at 10am and boarded around 11:30. The Miami terminal is FREEZING, so bring a sweater. I saw more than one person wearing a winter coat with shorts in there. As soon as we got onboard DH ran to deck 6 to get a Vibe pass and got the first cabana, but the others sold out in less than 5 minutes.
Ship Impressions: The Getaway has “upgraded” décor more like RCI or Celebrity, very understated and classy compared to the more garish décor (some of the Carnival ships are just too much. Scary masks on Dream, anyone?) or bright Caribbean flavors (bright pink/green) of some of the other NCL ships.
Room 9102 is a forward window room, great space, looks over the crew bar. Great location, but downside here is you can hear noise every time they are docking or undocking and during night parties in the crew bar. You can see past the tent that covers their bar to see over the ship and get a little view coming into port, but for good pictures, just go up on deck.
There are no real large gathering areas other than the theater for shows (such as a forward lounge, or nightclub) so all the “light” shows like Newlywed, Dancing with Stars, etc. are held in the Atrium, which is relatively small for those sized events. The second floor of the Atrium upstairs area by O’Sheehan’s has chairs around the open area but is really one row deep, so we missed all of these type shows on this trip. This gets VERY crowded quickly, so if you are interested in seeing these, get there very early (on a similar note, the latitudes party was held in spice H20 on the back deck- usually held in a forward lounge or such). I missed the back deck area with the buffet like Pearl/Jewel class and the forward lounge on this ship.
Very few daily announcements overhead- they are not piped into the rooms.
Shows: Very high quality more like the Jean Ann Ryan Company of old NCL days. I think that the Oasis/Allure have brought up the quality of shows on their line and NCL has to compete. The only magicians and jugglers we saw were in the Illusionarium, which was still excellent for the upcharge. We did not see the comedians at all this week. If you like blues, see Sugar Blue and his group in the Grammy Experience, two shows each night. We were there almost every night. Some song repeats, but the musicality and band quality are incredible and they really look like they are having a good time. (I believe they are on the ship for 3 more weeks)
Vibe: They reportedly sell around 80 passes to this private adults only area but we saw a consistent group of about 25. There are five cabanas, two smaller covered cocoon chairs in the corner close to the Haven side, plenty of standard cushioned loungers, several bed-like flat cushion loungers, 7 or so umbrellas, and a private bathroom. At the bar, Alvin and Sean were great! Besides the cold towels they also bring water, juice, cookies and chilled fruit around. We did see people smoking in the Vibe area, usually at the bar.
We only saw one other cabana being used…..so 3 cabanas empty the whole week after rushing to get one. Would love to understand the reasoning behind that! The cabanas themselves are not full canvas covering, so you can still get fried without sunscreen depending on the angle of the sun. There are two cold storage areas in each cabana as well. If you open each side door, you will get a nice breeze through.
NCL: In general, there are things we like about every line/ship we have sailed as well as things we don’t. We are not complainers, but we did have an incident with the room that we reported on our 5th day. Within seconds two room stewards were there checking things out, and then the hotel director was there within minutes. They said they would get someone on it and let us know the outcome. On returning to the room, there was a note to call guest services. They immediately informed us we would be changed to a new cabin, and someone was there within 20 minutes to take all our stuff to the new room, minus the laundry they offered to do for free. In addition, they offered us a free specialty restaurant, which came with a bottle of wine. We were VERY impressed with the speed at which this issue was handled, as all we did was report the problem (not complaining or requesting anything, just reporting).
Things we particularly liked: Flamingo is a great place for breakfast or lunch if you want a smaller, latin themed buffet style without the crowd. I never saw an empty seat in the garden café which was generally chaotic.
The dance parties were usually well attended and the DJ did a pretty good job with the music for 70’s, 80’s. He got confused with the 90’s however and was mixing 70’s/80’s songs with 90’s dance music, which was a little strange. People kept asking what time the 90’s music started….
St Thomas port we did a private charter with Sail with Liberty which took us with 4 other people from cc roll call to a great snorkeling location on St John. This is a great way to get to the island without wasting a ton of time on a ferry. Open bar, no food so bring your own. They provide snorkeling equipment and life vests.
Interesting things: We got the Vibe pass as we heard the spa was charging $199/pp for one week (this is what we paid for our Panama Canal repo each for a 2 week cruise!) and this was unfortunately true. The only thing that is different about this spa compared to Pearl class is the “salt room”. This is a huge jump in price and we will not be paying that much more for just one more small area in a spa (We have always gotten spa passes in the past and love it).
The latitudes party was nice, free flowing alcohol, but they did not give away anything like in the past.
We did the Thriller class (third time on an NCL ship for us doing this) and each time I swear they teach you a different section of the song. It is still a ton of fun.
DH liked the ropes course and the slides. We never got to mini golf, but the course looked good.
There was not a lot of music on the ship in general in the evenings. There was a piano guy, the pool music group and the scheduled Grammy performances, Howl at the Moon, and a standard reggae band in the pool and atrium areas. Other than that we found limited options if you didn’t have a show scheduled. Someone next to us fussed one night (loyal Royal and first time on NCL) that there wasn’t anything to do, but we didn’t find it to be much different than other NCL cruises other than the lack of music.
One thing that particularly annoyed DH was the fact that they have LCD televisions at every bar, restaurant, and hallway it seems. Some may have ESPN running on it but most have advertisements for their specialty restaurants and bars on a continuous loop. After seeing it in the background a million times you can’t help but feel “Wow I should really try Wasabi since it looks so good.” Or maybe not! The Pearl class of ships has a list of all the restaurants at peak times and how full they are, where this ship only had the specialty restaurants listed and they were hard to find on that board as it was not available in the stateroom TV. In general the TV selections were limited and at least in the gym, nothing available under the Shore Excursion channel at all, which is always fun to watch and make the time go faster in the gym! J
Altogether a great vacation and cruise!