I’m a lurker and this is my first review. I figured that since this is a new ship that’s only been sailing a few months, there aren’t already a lot of reviews on it and I might be able to contribute something back.
I went on the cruise with my wife and 6-year old daughter, along with friends and their 13-year old daughter and 11-year old son. We decided to fly down on Friday and stay overnight. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Miami. It’s about 1 ½ miles from the Port of Miami, and 7 ½ miles from Miami International Airport. The taxi that took us from Airport to hotel cost about $24.00, and from hotel to Port we took a shuttle for $7 per person because it was there and big enough to take all of us. The hotel was perfect for the overnight stay. At $110 per room it was reasonably priced. It had nice rooms, a decent pool, and a great lobby. It’s next to the convention center so if you decide to stay there, check the convention center More
calendar and make sure nothing major is going on. The only complaint I had about the hotel was that the pool area was a little noisy due to being close to a major roadway.
One of the surprising events of the over night was the great food we had for dinner. We walked to a hole in the wall BBQ place called Sparky’s Roadside BBQ. The restaurant itself looks like it belonged in a bungalow on beach boardwalk, but the food was awesome! The catfish was so good it actually made me sad that I would probably never eat there again. Everyone enjoyed their various meals.
The next morning we decided to get to the port at 11am, figuring we’d be able to board before the noon time they tell you. We got there, went through check in with no lines, and went upstairs to wait for our group to be called for boarding. We sat for less than 15 minutes before our group was called, and then we boarded by around 11:30. We headed straight for the Splash Academy on deck 12 (the kid’s club) and signed up, again with no lines. We were told that for our cruise there were to be 1600 kids, of which about 600 were teenagers.
With business out of the way, it was time for lunch. We probably could have eaten at the Garden Café buffet without difficulty because of how empty the ship still was, but headed to the Flamingo Grill instead. They had a buffet there too with a Latin flavor. There were only three other groups up there also having lunch. The only downside is that it’s an outdoor covered restaurant, and it was hot in there! I worried that it could be a constant problem while cruising in August, but once we set sail, there was a constant breeze that made outdoor places comfortable. They announced the rooms were ready around 1pm.
Our friends had signed up for the soda plan, which basically meant we had it too. The bartenders and waiters couldn’t care less who was on it as long as someone had it. You just flashed your card with the sticker on it and could order as many sodas at a time as you want. If I wanted soda alone, I just borrowed his card for a minute.
There was also an offer when we signed up for the cruise for a free Ultimate Dining Package for the adults. We took advantage of that for a few nights and hit some of the premium restaurants. Cagneys, the steakhouse, was great. Food was delicious and they didn’t charge the kids the cover price. In all the premium restaurants she went to, my DD ordered from the ship wide kids menu, so we were never charged a cover charge for her going to the premium restaurants.
We also went to La Cucina, the Italian Restaurant. Again, very good food. The waitress brought out an extra appetizer and main course, just so we could sample different things. My DD chose to hit the buffet and go to the Splash Academy instead. My friend’s kids were charged the cover charge, one regular price and one half price.
Le Bistro, the French Restaurant was really good. I was never big on French food, but thoroughly enjoyed it. Our waitress was so good, she made it an incredible night. No cover charge for anyone.
My DD loved the Splash Academy. When we went on the NCL Jewel last year, my DD, then five, wanted nothing to do with it. She went a couple of times, and only because we really didn’t give her a choice. This time we made sure to bring her the first night when they do the get to know you stuff, and she LOVED it. She wanted to spend all her time there. The events they had seemed almost custom made for her. Pirates and Princesses, Superheros and Super villains, secret agents and more! My friend’s 11 year old went sometimes, other times he wasn’t interested. The 13 year old wanted nothing to with the teen club and didn’t even visit it.
The 10 and 13 year old enjoyed climbing the rock wall, doing the ropes, and playing mini golf. The plank portion of the ropes course was open, and it takes you out over the side of the ship. They of course liked the slides as well, although the 10 year old was too light to meet the minimum 100 pounds for the two advanced slides.
My 6-year old was in my judgment too small to do the ropes course. I saw younger kids climbing the wall, but she wasn’t interested, and she was intimidated by the slides. She spent a lot of time in the Spongebob water park area and the pool. She was also excited to find the giant chess game on deck 8, and we played a game which she was surprisingly good at.
The ship is huge and it took us longer than normal to remember how to get everywhere. A good tip to remember on the floors with the room cabins, is that the fish on the carpets always swim towards the front of the ship.
Our room was pretty nice but felt small. You have to squeeze between and bed and closet to get something out of the closet. The room felt smaller than the same type of room we had on the Jewel. We had outside balcony rooms with a connecting door between them. There are only two outlets in the room, both on the table area, so it was good we brought a power strip. The room safe was pretty small. Too small for us to keep an iPad in unless it was the only thing and it stayed at an angle. There’s no usable clock in the room, so bring one with you if you want one, although there’s a very small one on the phone.
Like all cruise ships, the walls are covered metal, so we brought along a couple of magnetic clips and used them to keep that day’s daily on the wall and convenient. Also like mentioned elsewhere, there’s a slot when you get into the room to put a room card in and that turns on the room electricity. You can use any card in it, including a rewards card from your local supermarket. Ours already had a blank ship’s card in it when we got there and we left it there the whole time. There is a refrigerator in the room with convenience stuff in it that gets charged to your room if you use it. We had our steward clean it out and we used it to keep milk in, and a snack or two from the buffet. The room TV is interactive and you can make restaurant and spa reservations, check your account, buy PPV on demand movies, reserve excursions, etc… There are some free movies on demand, so check them out if you feel like watching a movie.
The bathroom was nice with a great shower. I’m tall and felt comfortable in the shower. It has an adjustable water pix type shower head with handle to remove it from the wall and use it. I was able to easily raise it up enough to be under it. The shower has shampoo and shower gel pumps, so if you don’t care what brand you use, you can leave soap and shampoo at home. There was sort of an outlet in the bathroom. It said for shavers only, was on the ceiling, and shut off with the bathroom light.
Tropical Storm Bertha was in the area when we left, so they took the ship on a different route to St Maartin to avoid the weather. The route took us past Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The Captain came on the PA and told us we would be able to see the lights of Puerto Rico at around 10pm the 2nd day. It was funny to watch all the teens outside on the decks trying to use the cell signal from Puerto Rico to text and get their Twitter feeds. The ship’s detour worked. We had beautiful weather.
I didn’t sign up for the internet package, but the wireless signal was strong all over the ship, including the cabins. There’s also an Ethernet port on the back of the room phone if you have a laptop with no wireless.
The iConsierge app was pretty useful on my smart phone. It’s free to download and use, but try to download it before you get onboard, and lose your mobile data. It was nice to be able to look at activities around the ship during the cruise, or make a reservation from anywhere on the ship. Perhaps the coolest feature is that it gives you an ID number, that for example the kids club can use to call your cell if your child gets sick. Also, for $9 for the whole cruise, you can get unlimited onboard only calls and text messages with whoever else on the ship signs up for it.
On St. Maarten we skipped the ship’s excursions and took a taxi from the seaport to Orient Beach, the nicest beach on the island. It’s about a 20 minute drive and cost $7 per person each way. That, along with the $7.50 for each lounge chair with umbrella at the beach was significantly less than half the price of the similar ship excursion. Our driver was a good guy and gave us a history and details about the island.
On St. Thomas, we did local shopping. We also walked to the Kmart that is near the port to get some things we needed. We noticed that there were also crew members who were doing the same thing. The Kmart also offers free wifi so there were maybe 20 people sitting out front of it from the cruise ships with phones and tablets. I think that may have been the best part of the cruise for the 13-year old. She was so excited to be able to access the internet.
In Nassau, we got off the ship for a while and did some shopping, but mostly took advantage of the largely empty ship.
The Getaway really welcomes you back at the ports, and it really stands out from the Carnival ships that were also at port on each island. The Carnival ships just had a gangway back onto the ship. Not NCL. The Getaway had music pumping, rolled up cold damp washcloths being passed out by dancing staff, gazebo tents setup with a beach towel exchange to get dry ones, cold juices or water, and cushioned chairs if you just wanted to relax for a while in the shade or wait for someone. The guests from the Carnival ships had to notice the difference.
We loved the cruise and the ship, but these are the things we would change:
- The Pools: The adult pool is 7-feet deep. Everyone was hanging out, literally, on the edges because you couldn’t go away from the side unless you felt like swimming or treading water the whole time. Getting into or out of the pool required someone having to swim away from the side to clear a spot to get in. A bit annoying. The general pool was weird. It was divided by a high solid wall. On one side was 3 - 4 feet, and on the other smaller side was like 4’ 10”. Just seemed a strange way to make a pool. I’m sure there was a reason for designing them like that, I just don’t know it.
- The Casino: Its right in the middle of the ship’s Atrium and kind of forces you to walk through it and it’s cigarette smoke. Even if you walk through the Atrium on the floor above, you still smell the smoke from the casino.
- The restaurant reservation system: On the room TV, online, and on the iConsierge, the limit to the amount of people you can make reservations for is 6. So when my DD went with us to the restaurant, it was a surprise of a 7th person each time.
- We had an outside balcony room. The balcony was certainly smaller, but the room, or maybe just the layout, made the room seem like it was smaller than other ships we’ve been on.
- Mini golf: The mini golf course was just grab a club and a ball and play. Since there was no supervision, it was kind of the Wild West with pre-teens and teenagers. I was playing a game with my DD and a 12ish year old came up from behind us and was trying to play the same hole as us while we were playing it, as if we weren’t there. I set him straight and he skipped the hole and went ahead of us.
- The first two days are at sea. People try to reserve lounge chairs near the pools for the day. You can watch towels sit on lounges for hours with no one going near those chairs. By the 2nd day, people were starting to observe and sit at lounges that weren’t active, moving towels and such aside until someone came. By day 3 at sea (Thursday), it seemed like most people weren’t allowing lounges to be reserved if no one was there.
I really like NCL as a cruise line, and the Getaway is a gorgeous ship with a lot to offer. Less
Norwegian Getaway Cruises to the Eastern Caribbean