My wife and I just returned from our cruise on the Getaway May 31st to June 7th and it was exactly what we needed. This was a great vacation with the variety of opportunities to let everyone find lots to enjoy. I think that is the goal of the free style they were hoping to achieve with this wonderful ship. This was our third cruise in about 12 years, the previous two with Carnival and Princess.
SHIP: The ship was wonderful and has spaces for all of your different goals for the voyage. Whether you are a sun worshiper, foodie, looking for unique entertainment, or really want to experience the wonderful programs going on throughout the day and evening. The style was very appealing, the only place with in-your-face decoration is the hull of the ship and the rest is tasteful, functional and with that wonderful wow factor you expect from the larger ships. I did agree with people who felt the one negative was when everyone wanted to gather for sun around small pool area.
EMBARKATION: My wife’s goal was to experience the vibe club and it’s uncrowded and private amenities. She wanted a cabana for the week and people were right about how you had to plan to get the small number of passes. So we arrived at the terminal a little before 10 AM and being the third family in line. We boarded with Group 1 and rushed to Guest Relations on deck 6 to snag the last of 5 cabanas that can be reserved for the week.
FOOD: The food in the open/included venues was very good and the service was excellent whenever we ate there. My wife and I wanted to try every one of the specialty restaurants so we purchased the dining plan. The Moderno and Tepanyaki were fantastic and we even went back to the Moderno again on the last night. Wonderful service through every course. The Cagney’s steakhouse had the best steaks and service was good, but we thought the deserts were just ok. The La Bistro had wonderful food and the service was good, but escargot was served so hot that we burned our mouths twice, the second time because it was so good we didn’t wait long enough.
The only real disappointment was La Cucina. We had two great dishes that were a fantastic soup and lasagna my wife thought was the best since we left Italy. What really fell short was the service. Some real problems surfaced that made us doubt what management was doing to set the expectations for the staff. They placed a champaign cooler behind my chair and I knocked it over spilling under an unoccupied table. The waiters looked at it and left it. We had to call the manager over when they seated another couple there. I used my birthday card and they forgot to mention my cake until we stood up to leave. One of the waiters lost balance of a tray and I helped her out, but none of the staff seemed to care.
SHOWS: With the dining package we got to see the Illusionarim the night we sailed for free. Because of this plan on arriving at least 45 minutes early opposed to the 30 minutes suggested by many reviewers. We arrived only 30 minutes early and we were placed behind a pillar, and had to swing back and forth to watch the show which was exciting with a few minor exceptions. The food was very good, but the waiters have to work around the show and sometimes fail to make the transitions. We had reservations for other shows, but only made it to the Comedy show. There was just not enough time and our priority was relaxing, sun, excursions and eating. Yeah, Freestyle.
ACTIVITIES: I loved the rope course and the water slides were excellent for the available space. My wife was not interested in either one, but appreciated the breaks when I was enjoying them. The pool activities and the events in the Atrium were very popular and very, very crowded. We visit Las Vegas each year and so after the first time on the slot machines we decided to save our money for other things.
In St Marten we did the ATV excursion in the morning which was fantastic. The guide and his crew were great and it was a wonderful sightseeing opportunity. There was no off road travel but over 15 miles of driving through the full spectrum of life and neighborhoods on the island. The vehicles were almost new and ran very well. You do get the chance to get going around 30 mph a few times which is fun. The beach was very nice. In the afternoon we did the Afternoon Beach Bash and went back to a nicer section of Orient Beach than was visited in the morning with the ATV Tour.
In St. Thomas we got to do some shopping near the ship which resulted in my wife picking up a fantastic evening dress. Then we were off to the Zip Line tour. Great people, maximum safety, and wow the views were absolutely fantastic.
In Nassau we decided to just tour the city on our own and arrived during a big parade. Ended up in Senor Frog’s and if you go there get the Conch Salad and also the ceviche. Both prepared on a rolling cart and it was a wonderful experience.
The Miami Bus tour to the airport was well run and really does take you around the city. The guide was knowledgeable and focused on giving you a real feel for the history, growth, and expenses of the city. It was a great way to use up an hour and a half on the way to the airport. No stops, which is why the tour is short. If your plane leaves at 5 or later take the shopping option so you don’t end up at the airport for so long.
THE VIBE CLUB: Sorry folks, but this is where we spent our time. This limited availability space is kept underutilized which is what you are paying for in this add on service. We were there every day we were not in port. Our cabana was very private looking out over the sea and makes you feel like you paid for a luxury suite. The rest of the area has higher end beach furniture, cushions, umbrellas, and space to spread out that is not the norm on the public decks. Now let me talk about Kervin our primary bartender throughout the week. He was exceptional, made fantastic drinks and was really good at listening to the small crowd that gathered and got to know each other throughout the week. He knew our names and individual likes/dislikes. Wow!!!
Overall: No matter what you are looking for it is available on this ship. It succeeds because everyone has different interests and crowding is only an issue at the most popular of the activities. We did everything we wanted to do and will definitely be comparing other cruises to this one as our new standard.