A little background information about us for frame of reference:
My wife and I are Disney Vacation Club Members, frequently stay at the top tier resorts (Polynesian, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, etc.) and DVC offerings at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort (Grand Californian). Additionally we frequent various Las Vegas Resorts including the Signature at MGM, Vdara Las Vegas, The Bellagio, the Cosmopolitan and Elara Las Vegas. We are in our mid 30s and do not have children. We are former Disney Cast Members (employees). We both work an average of 100 hours per week, 7 days a week. We live in Orlando, FL and are surrounded by world class dining, resorts and entertainment. It’s quite difficult to impress us and very easy to disappoint us. We like to travel whenever possible as our work schedules are intense. We like to relax and have fun when we travel.
We have been on other cruises before including Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas (2x), Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas (1x) and Holland America Oosterdam (1x).
Ship info and Travel Dates:
We sailed on The Norwegian Getaway from May 17th, 2014 to May 24th, 2014.
Aside from a little traffic, getting to and from the port in Miami is very straight forward. It’s much larger than Port Canaveral, but we had no issue getting to the parking garage and to the terminal. We arrived at the port around 10:30am and was on the ship by 11:15am. Parking was a bit steep in price, it cost us $90 for 7 days. Other ports cost us about $60 in the past. Getting in and out of the parking garage was easy, they have pre-pay machines on each level so you can avoid waiting for an attendant at the bottom of the garage. Getting in and out of the terminal was quick, it only took us about 15 minutes to go through security and get our ship cards. It only took us another 10 minutes to get on the ship from there.
We opted for the guaranteed balcony and ended up on the 13th floor. We were in cabin 13112 on the Forward portion of the ship. This is a balcony room and was quite enjoyable. Lots of storage space under the couch and bed as well as all around the television and of course a nice sized closet. The bathroom is a nice size and the shower was tall enough for me, I'm 6'2" and most showers do not accommodate me well. The room is large and very clean. The balcony was nice, not big enough to dine on really, but certainly large enough to spend time watching the ocean and the ports, etc. This was a great room and I highly recommend it. Our Cabin Steward Christian was super friendly and always very kind. The room was always clean and well maintained.
I've never been to a resort, hotel or cruise ship that has had this many exceptional staff members. The kindness and attentiveness of the Norwegian Getaway rivals ANY Disney resort, and I would never say that if I didn't feel that way. I hold Disney in the highest of regards when it comes to service and amenities. The Norwegian Getaway staff exceeded my expectations daily.
Restaurants and Dining:
My wife and I purchased the Ultimate Dining Package and the Ultimate Beverage Package and I can honestly say I won’t sail again without purchasing both. The dining package included the majority of the specialty dining offerings on the ship. Both packages are worth every penny and then some. We dined at Cagney’s Steakhouse (2x), La Cucina (2x), Moderno (1x) and Teppanyaki (2x). Dinner was always a pleasant experience. The staff were always happy, friendly and provided for a remarkable dining experience. We also dined at several of the complimentary dining locations including the Garden Cafe, O’Sheehan’s, Savor and Taste. We even tried the 24/7 Pizza delivery service. The specialty dining offerings were so fantastic, I could never sail this ship again unless I had the Dining Package. These restaurants are not to be missed.
Garden Cafe: (Overall rating A)
I’m not a huge fan of buffets, especially on cruise ships. However NCL got it right with this one. The buffet is very spread out and seems to go on for ages. This allows for more variety and less crowding. The seating is very clean and modern and because it’s so big there are tons of seats by the windows. We had a meal here when we first arrived on the ship and one time for breakfast as we stayed up super late the night before and missed out on other breakfast opportunities. We had a snack or two here as well throughout our stay. The food was all very good and well prepared.
O’Sheehan’s: (Overall rating A+)
If you like bar food or family bar atmosphere this is a fantastic place. We tried the burgers, the chicken tenders, the wings and several of the beverages. The food is fantastic and rivals most bar type restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings, Beef O Bradys, Wing Shack etc. The bartenders here are super friendly and great to talk to. This place is HUGE and wraps around both sides of the ship. We also enjoyed the bar here as well as darts, skeeball, basketball and bowling. We spend time here every day, this is also a great place to watch events one floor down in the atrium. O’Sheehan’s offers amazing ocean views as well as a fantastic view of the movie screen in the Atrium.
Savor: (Overall rating A)
We had purchased the Dining Package so we never had lunch or dinner here but breakfast was AMAZING. This and Taste became our morning routine. The staff was always happy and attentive and the food was oh so good.
Taste: (Overall rating A)
For the most part Taste is identical to Savor, this was our other breakfast place. Always sat by a window, always had an amazing breakfast and fantastic service.
Cagney’s: (Overall rating A+)
I don’t know much, but I know a great steak. I’m always weary of steak on a cruiseship, especially when I hear the “seasoned” cruisers gripe and whine about how it’s most likely the same steak that you get in the complementary dining room. I can assure you that it’s not. We dined here twice and never left unsatisfied. The food was phenomenal and the staff were so kind and a joy to be around. The restaurant is perched above the Tropicana room and we had windows that allowed us to watch the band and dancing below. The restaurant is quiet and dark, which is like having your own personal space on the ship. It was never crowded. It’s important to note that the food, food quality and service were consistent both times. To answer a consistent gripe that we’ve read: It took about 60-90 minutes for the complete dining experience, I loved every minute of it. What’s the rush? This isn’t fast food. That’s what O’Sheehan’s is for. If I was told that I had to eat at Cagney’s every night of the cruise, you wouldn’t hear me complaining. The food is spectacular and not to be missed.
La Cucina: (Overall rating A+)
Goodness gracious this restaurant was so good it should be a crime. Some of the best Italian food that I’ve ever had. From the bread to the soups to the entrees it was a total delight. We ate here twice and the food, food quality and the service were all consistent. This food is so good you’ll forget that you’re on a cruise ship.
Moderno: (Overall rating B)
Ok, so I’m glad I experienced this restaurant but I won’t try it again. I’ve been to many Brazilian Steakhouses including Ohana at the Polynesian Resort in Walt Disney World and Texas de Brazil in Orlando, Fl. The food was cooked properly and again the staff was awesome. I simply didn’t care for how they prepared their chicken, pork or sausage. The beef was good, but hardly compared to that of Cagney’s or Teppanyaki. For me, if I could go back in time, I’d prefer to go back to La Cucina instead.
Teppanyaki: (Overall rating A+)
Another one of those places on the ship that make you forget you’re on a ship. The theming is top notch, as is the service, the staff, the food and of course the chefs. We loved the food and the experience so much that we did this twice during our stay. This too was consistent both times.
24/7 Pizza: (Overall rating D- for the Pizza, A+ for the service)
Ok so this was really the only bad experience that we had on the ship. We didn’t quite know how the system worked but the advertisement on the TVs across the ship say “Anytime, Anywhere” So we called from our room but wanted the pizza delivered to O’Sheehan’s as we didn’t have much space to dine or drinks in the room. They told us you have to order from the location that you want to dine in, that makes sense. That didn’t bother us one bit, we were just trying to make use of the 45 minute delivery time and order from our room, then walk to the bar, etc. So we headed over to O’Sheehan’s and ordered a pizza via a waiter. About an hour or so later the pizza arrived and it was undercooked and resembled cafeteria pizza. It simply was no good. (NOTE: There is a $5 upcharge for Pizza delivery on the ship.) I’m not going to go into detail about how I didn’t like the pizza, it just didn’t work for us. So I found a house phone and called the Pizza delivery number and told them we weren’t happy with the Pizza. A few moments later the Maitre D’ of the ship appeared and told us she was unhappy with the Pizza and that this is not typical of the ship. She offered to get us another Pizza but we didn’t have time. She insisted that she do something for us to make up for our inconvenience, we weren’t looking for anything. She refunded the price of the Pizza, again we didn’t ask for that, and gave us her card in case we needed her for anything in the future. We said we appreciate her kindness and thanked her for time. A few hours had passed and when we went back into our cabin we found a plate with chocolate covered strawberries along with a card that said compliments of the Maitre D’. We thought that was a very kind gesture and more than generous considering that we were just talking about Pizza. So all in all, NCL more than made up for a bad experience and went way over and above considering it’s just Pizza.
As I previously mentioned, my wife and I purchased the Ultimate Beverage Package. This meant I didn’t have to monitor our spending when it came to ordering sodas, beer or liquor. Which is nice. I hate having to keep a running tab in my head when I’m on vacation. If you have more than five or six drinks of soda, wine, beer or liquor per day I highly recommend the Ultimate Beverage Package. We tried to visit every bar on the ship in our seven day journey and I think we did a pretty good job. We visited Bar 21, Bliss Ultra Lounge, The Atrium Bar, Headliners, Mixx, O’Sheehan’s, Prime Meridian, Spice H20, the Mojito Bar, Sunset Bar, the Ice Bar and the Vibe Beach Club bar. We loved all the bars and the bartenders. Jane, Garret, Wade and Sean were standout bartenders and extremely friendly. By the end of the trip, they knew us by name and always were gracious and really made our stay enjoyable. The Atrium bar is the best place to grab a drink, watch a movie or watch the entertainment. There’s always a trivia show, game show, movie, band or some other kind of event going on. It was a great place to chill in the afternoon and unwind before the nightly events. Headliners is also the home of Howl at the Moon dueling pianos, which was a lot of fun.
We’ve been to the Minus5 Ice Bar in Las Vegas and Orlando many times. This one is slightly smaller than those, but don’t let it’s size fool you. This ice bar is worth the visit. We had a blast hanging out in the bar and the bartender was extremely friendly. This ice bar is much colder than those we’ve been to in the past, which was great seeing as it was 90+ degrees on the island a few hours prior.
A unique concept and a lot of fun, especially during sunsets. It’s a great way to experience the ship, the only negative being that there are a lot of smoking sections that you have to navigate past. Other than that, a real cool amenity that you won’t find on other ships. It is windy in the Caribbean, so there are times when you cannot access the Waterfront. Not a big deal though, there’s no shortage of things to do on the ship.
Surprisingly fun. We’re from Orlando and there are no shortage of water slides there. These slides are top notch and a lot of fun. We ended up riding each slide multiple times over several days. It was a great way to cool off and have some fun. I highly recommend these slides for kids and adults of all ages.
I didn’t expect much and was pleasantly surprised. The last ship I went on had minigolf (the Liberty of the Seas) but it was just a set of basic greens and holes. The mini golf on the Getaway was well themed and maintained. Not to mention quite a bit of fun.
Another surprising bit of fun. This course was a great way addition to our afternoons at sea. It’s totally worth trying, even if you’re not into heights.
We opted for a week pass to the spa and it was worth every dime. We spent the majority of our spa time in the Thermal Suite. We spent quite a bit of time in the vitality pool as well as in the various saunas and salt rooms. The spa is on the front of the ship, so you can enjoy beautiful ocean vistas or hang out in the pool and watch the ship pull into port. The spa also has these thermal loungers that will instantly put you into relax and nap mode. I fell into blissful sleep every time I tried these loungers. The next time that I sail on this ship, I will absolutely get a spa pass.
The Groove International band was nothing short of stellar. You can find them on the pool deck during the day and in the Atrium at night. There's also a fantastic piano player in the Atrium as well as outside of the Mojito bar. There was never a time where I thought the entertainment was bad. The dueling pianos at Howl at the Moon was amazing, the Fireworks show was fantastic. There's so much to do, you can't possible do or see it all, and we tried. The Grammy Experience was incredible.
It’s hot and the main pool is crowded every day, this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. However the pool by the slides was almost always empty. Another hidden gem is the waterfall seating at Spice H20, which we always had to ourselves. Nobody ever went into it, the seating on the sun deck around it was always full but the waterfall was empty.
Vibe Beach Club:
We got a chance to hang out here and if you're into sun bathing, this is the place for you. There are several private cabanas that overlook the ocean. There's also a hot tub and a bar. It's an upcharge for the the day or the week so it's very private. I prefer to be in water, but this is a great secluded getaway.
The nicest casino I've ever seen on a cruise ship. This is open and bright, very similar to the feel that you'd get in the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas.
My wife and I do not smoke, and we really don’t like to be around smoke. We read that the casino on the ship was so smoke heavy that it directly affected other areas of the ship. This is, at least in our experience, a major over exaggeration. While there was a distinct smoke smell in the casino, it really didn’t smell bad around the casino.
Additional Fun Side Note:
We noticed that Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Kevin Sheehan was onboard our cruise. We saw him several times in multiple locations. For me it was great to see the CEO interact with so many of the crew on board. I like to see that NCL has a vested interest in it’s employees, you don’t see that often. I would have introduced myself and told him that I was forever a huge fan of NCL, but every time I saw him I was in a bathing suit and felt strange approaching a CEO in that manner. Nonetheless it was awesome to see him interact with the staff and walk around the ship.
Oh yeah, we went places. The ship is so awesome that I forgot that we stopped and visited ports. In all honesty if this ship was seven days at sea and never went to port, I don't think I'd mind one bit. Our ship stopped at St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Nassau. St. Maarten is a beautiful island. Maho beach is a must see for first time visitors. It's an entirely surreal experience to hang out on the beach or in the water and have massive commercial jets pass over you and land feet away from you. Be prepared to be inundated with requests for cabs. There isn't much to do or see at the initial port. You can do a 15-20 minute walk to see more, but I highly recommend taking a cab to your destination. All of the best parts of the island are 20-40 minutes away via cab rides, so take that into consideration when traveling around. St. Thomas has the most beautiful water and landscape, however is the most tourist heavy island I've been too. I don't mean lots of tourists, I mean lots of sketchy tourist attractions. The butterfly exhibit is run down and depressing. Of course there's a Senior Frogs, as there is everywhere. The ocean is gorgeous as are the beaches. We opted to walk around the beaches and explore things ourselves, the only negative was that I got tired of the locals attempting to sell me various illicit materials. The skyride is sketchy. Beautiful views, but in dire need of some maintenance. If you've ever been to Nassau, you realize very quickly that it's equivalent to a highway rest stop. Getting through the port is a nightmare and the island is just not anything to write home about. You have Atlantis, but you have to work hard to get there, Atlantis is in no way near the port. Give yourself at least 25-30 minutes to get there, if you're lucky. It took us an hour to get there due to the congestion at the port, it did only take 45 minutes to get back. To be honest, the ship was so amazing that the ports didn't compare. There's plenty of amazing scuba, snorkeling, swimming, zip lines, ATVs, beaches, etc. at the ports. Be prepared to leave St. Thomas at 3pm and not get into Nassau until around noon. The only real full day at port, in my opinion, was St. Maarten.
I’m typically unenthused when it comes to cruising, sure I have fun and always enjoy time off, but the ships I’ve been on in the past are either old or tacky in design, small in size or lacking in amenities. In my experience, the ships usually do not compare to the resorts or hotels that I’m used to. I'm not into hokey activities and I don't need to have every second of my day planned out for me. I enjoy exploring and relaxing. I’ve never had an overwhelmingly pleasant experience with the staff of any Royal Caribbean ship. The staff are usually mildly friendly, but nothing like I’m used to when compared to Disney. As a former Disney Cast Member I have high expectations of what great customer service should be. I had no prior experience with Norwegian Cruiselines and was unsure of what to expect due to the diverse reviews of this ship. I’m not a fan of older ships and ship design. I don’t like seeing wear and tear or being reminded of what cruising must have been like a decade or two ago. I like open spaces, modern design and genuine thought in layout and offerings.
I can say in all honestly that across the board, the Norwegian Getaway floored me and excelled beyond all expectations. The ship is phenomenal. The layout, the design and the offerings are unparalleled compared to the other ships that I have sailed on. If you’re a fan of modern resorts, The Norwegian Getaway will not disappoint. The food, entertainment, cabins, layout and the staff were all exceptional. This is the first time that I've ever been on a cruise and immediately wanted to get back on and go again. The Norwegian Getaway ruined other ships for me. I simply will not be able to enjoy a lesser ship as this one has everything that you could possibly want on a ship and more. As of this trip, I'm forever a NCL fan.