Norwegian Getaway Cruise Review by JasonV1: Excellent service, but room for improvement in ship design
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Excellent service, but room for improvement in ship design
First of all understand that I had a Haven suite, which can dramatically alter your opinion of the ship. I've been cruising for 19 years at I'm more interested in relaxation than a crazy pool deck. I've also sailed on Royal Oasis class boats, which hold slightly less passengers/ton (35.7 vs. 36.9), but are admittedly much larger (225K GT vs. 146K GT). I've sailed the NCL Epic, so I was already aware of the types of amenities the Getaway would have.
For the record (since there are some critical points below) I will definitely sail NCL again (even bought 2 future cruise credits). The Haven experience is unmatched for a mass market line, and they have some itineraries (Hawaii, some Alaska) that are unmatched.
The Getaway is a beautiful ship, no issues there. Clean design that isn't overly modern. Not including the food served on deck 15, everything you want is on "678 Ocean Place", which is obviously decks 6-8. These decks are open near midship, with a 2 story staircase More connecting them. Beautiful area, but not as grandeur as the many story atriums that you may be used to. While the decks are nice, and filled with very nice bars and restaurants, there isn't as big of a wow factor (in my opinion) when compared to other ship designs. The waterfront area is nice, but since it was August I think many avoided it (very hot and humid and often windy, which doesn't work with many peoples choice of evening clothes/hair).
We had the UDP and ate dinner at Cagney's, Moderno, Teppanyaki, Le Bistro, La Cucina, and the Illusionarium (plus O'Sheehan's one night). Illusionarium aside, none of those restaurants are new to those of you are around here, so I won't go into details. Service was great, food was excellent, no issues at all. The Illusionarium food was average, not what I would have gotten myself but tasty for what it was. Given the format of the show the fixed menu is required, so I took it for what it was. Since it is indeed a show I imagine they aren't worried too much about repeat visitors. For lunch I usually used the Haven restaurant, Flamingo Grill (nice selection of latin-themed dishes), or the buffet. I was able to eat well at each. For breakfast I mainly used the Haven restaurant.
By far the best public bar was the Sugercane Mojito Bar. Amazing staff, and you can throw out the menu. Talk to the bartenders about what flavors you like, and trust their instincts. Stay away from the right side of the bar unless you like getting blasted by outside air from the door to the 678 waterfront area (one of my issues with this design as it created a lot of hot spots all along 678 near those doors).
The waterslides and rope course had enough lulls in the crowd to give everyone a chance to try them. Since there are actually 5 waterslides (3 different types), even the longest lines weren't that bad (compared to Carnival, which has 1-2 at most). The ropes course gets busy when the weather is nice and/or calm as everyone uses that time to get a good "walk the plank" and zipline photo. Even so, I'll guess that the wait was 15 minutes at most (ultimately depends on how long people stay up there, as there are only so many spots available at any given time). I did not try the trampoline/bungee or spider crawler as those are mainly for kids. During port days, or after 5:30, you could very easily visit either attraction multiple times in a row.
The Prime Meridian (in area with Cagney's and Moderno) is probably your best chance for a "quieter" bar. It is far aft, past the stairwells, away from the craziness that is 678 Ocean Place. Due to the design of 678 the rest of the bars have far too much traffic to be what I would consider relaxing.
Getting off and on at port was a breeze. The cold towels and drinks were REALLY nice. When parked next to Carnival in Nassau they pulled out all the stops; you could tell they are trying to lure away passengers. This included jello shots, more dancing crew members, Sponge Bob dancing, etc. NCL really put Carnival to shame when it came to welcoming people back on-board (Royal too based on my cruise experience).
Entertainment was excellent, but you already knew that right? Live music, shows, etc. We saw all of it and were entertained by it all. I give them the edge over Royal on this one.
The NCL iConcierge app is a MUST HAVE for keeping in touch (call or text) with others on the boat, especially if you have kids. Well worth the $7.95/stateroom member. Much better than having people lug around portable radios/walkie talkies. You can even activate it while sitting in the port (assuming you can reach the ships wifi from the port building). DOWNLOAD THE APP BEFORE YOU SAIL AWAY or you'll be paying ship wifi and/or cel data rates to download it (yes, I knew this). Other lines need this capability ASAP.
My daughter really enjoyed Entourage (14-17), as did many others in her age group (very popular).
Obviously the Haven area was amazing if you are trying to relax. No waking up early to snag seats even in the lower Haven courtyard area; those were available as late as 11-12 even on sea days. The upper area never filled up, and you could find a chair in the sun or shade (as needed) at any time of the time. Little known fact: The Haven pool and hot tubs (all fresh water) NEVER close. They wait for the area to be empty before they do any of the minor cleanings during the week. Since they (Haven pool/hot tubs) are lightly used when compared to the main deck pools/hot tubs, I don't think they drain them until the final night (which is what we saw). Getting seats in the courtyard (first level, near pools/hot tubs) is nice as you can slide over the to (outside) tables nearby and order from the restaurant.
Not staying in the Haven? Well the pool deck is a zoo (hard finding chairs nearby, pool is very crowded and loud) on sea days. Plus the smoking "enclosure" is fairly close to the main (adult) pool, and I have to wonder what it will be like when the smoking rules change. Maybe they will install some sort of fan system to help keep smoke away from the pool area. I"m just a bit disappointed that the pool situation isn't any better on this ship than any previous NCL ship; this is something they should have learned from the Royal Oasis class boats. Yes you can buy your way into Vibe (or the spa) and get an adult only area with hot tubs (plus other little things), but those passes are gone quick; you have to be among the first on-board to get them (and pay the cost). If NCL could have just copied the Royal "Solarium" 16+ area as that would make up for the pool deck craziness (after all, I realize that some prefer it). In this case, with my preferences, this ship is not suitable for me due to this (unless I'm in the Haven of course).
As I said earlier, they could use air curtains or a rotating door design for all entrances to the 678 waterfront area. Too much hot air (and occasionally wind) was entering through these doors and it was annoying at times. It may seem like a petty thing to complain about, but to go from between 70 and 90+ (deg F) several times while drinking a single drink, or standing near the elevators, can get frustrating.
The fitness center seemed rather small based on the number of passengers. What they had was nice, but there was not enough equipment to go around. The Haven cabins on deck 15 take up space that could be used to expand the center, but obviously those cabins aren't going away.
Post-smoking ban, without enforcement I wonder if the placement of the casino on deck 7 (including around the atrium area) will cause issues. Might be a non-issue, but it seems like if the smoke increases by any significant among it could easily carry to decks 6 and 8 via the open atrium. I did not notice any smoke issues on this past cruise, but then again the casino is fairly spread out and didn't seem as busy as I remember it on other ships.
Excellent experience overall, but I am scratching my head with regard to some of the design choices. NCL delivers the best entertainment, suite experience, and variety in premium dining options without a doubt, but I just keep coming back to the design of the pool deck. If the ship had a wider variety of itineraries this would be less of an issue, but unless you are new to cruising you've probably been to everywhere it goes to already. In my opinion if I've visited the ports many times over the ship has to be part of the experience, and a crazy pool deck makes it hard for those of us who like to use the pool from time to time (let alone be somewhere near it). So while NCL will get my "special event" cruising where I would get a (Haven) suite (milestone wedding anniversary, etc), or other unique itineraries (Hawaii), for non-suite cabins I would probably pick Royal due to their 16+ Solarium area. Less
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