First off let me state that my review is a bit unfair considering how jaded my wife and I are, due to Oasis and Allure of the seas. With that being said, I think its a plus for the NCL Getaway, because our standards are set pretty high. FYI We were a party of 4 two 40+ adults, and a 15yr old girl, and 12 yr old boy. This was kind of a last minute trip we decided on 3 weeks prior….at a great price!!!
Embarkation - 3 of 10 (would be less but can't blame them for baggage handlers)
Unfortunately, my wife and I arrived (out of character) late to the Miami port, at approximately 1:30pm. The port baggage handlers, were not very attentive (unless you arrived in a luxury car), nor helpful. After 5 minutes with bags on floor, we called one of them over, where he rudely asked to see our tickets. After some quick instructions, he then left us with baggage tags which you have to fill out on your own!! NOT EVEN ASKING IF WE HAD A PEN TO FILL OUT TAGS, EXTREMELY RUDE!!!! 10 minutes later, AFTER WE CALLED HIM BACK, he finally said thats it, to leave bags there. (his $10 tip turned into a mean sweaty stare, needless to say!) NCL then separates everyone into 2 boarding groups A or B (depending on even or odd cabin #'s) From this point on, the line took about 50 min before we arrived at a check in counter. Although a bit chaotic on first glance, NCL reps were there making sure things were right. Once at the counter, the process was pretty fast, less than 5 minutes. We finally boarded around 3pm (1.5 hrs after arriving curbside). Once on Gangway you start hearing the pleasant greeting NCL puts together, smiles, music, and optional beverages.
Ship overall - 8 of 10
Like I stated earlier, I believe it would have been a 10, if not for previous trips with both, RCCL's Oasis and Allure. The ship is beautiful, and the layout is almost perfect. My only real disappointments were 2 things, 2 major things!!! First is the pools, there a bit small for a ship of 4,000 guests. There is a adult only pool where most the action takes place (music, games, etc..). Good luck getting in the pool, and unless you want to wake up at 6am forget about getting a lounger near there! The kids pool is kinda enclosed near all the water slides, and is a bit uncomfortable, but less crowded. Our second complaint, has to do with the main buffet (Garden Cafe), although probably extremely functional for the staff, we felt the walking area around buffet were a bit narrow, especially factoring in kids and slow walking elders, especially near "omelette" line. I will say our party of 4 never had a problem finding a clean table at any time of day (first time I can say that). Besides those 2 things, we felt ship was perfectly planned out. The heart of the ship, which is the 6th, 7th, and 8th floors were planned quite well. If I had to change anything it would be the casino's location, right dead smack in the middle between 6th and 8th floor. I know thats the norm on cruise ships but for some reason the smoking allowed in casino really affects the main indoor attractions of the ship. On the 8th floor, all the restaurant, stores, and bars, are part of the "Waterfront", which is very nice for an afternoon stroll or for a night of romance. Elevators ran pretty quick and efficiently, although on the first day they seemed overcrowded, and slow for obvious reasons. Water slides are all great (be advised for the 2 "free fall" slides, must be 48 inches and weight at least 99lbs), and the "rope course" is lots of fun with no time limit.
Food overall - 7 of 10
We are only referring to the included dining rooms/meals. NOT ANY OF THE "SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS". Overall the food was a tad bit above avg for a cruise, nothing to write home about. Some items were well above avg, but then some were well below, and typical "all you can eat" buffet style. We will recommend the "Flamingo Bar & Grill" buffet on 16th floor, its latin style and delicious!!! FYI….FYI…FYI…THERE IS NO LOBSTER NIGHT IN ANY COMPLIMENTARY RESTAURANT…although they do have a "lobster" night in the buffet. Room service was slow, and food arrives cold….even with small amount of choices, very disappointing. FYI everyone raved about "O'sheenans" (also included), although we never tried it.
Activities/Shows/Parties - 9 of 10
The two headliners shows (Legally Blonde & Burn the Floor) were incredible. A must see for both, do yourself a favor and reserve in advance to get better seats. They allow guests with reservations upto 45 min before showtime, whereas the standby guest have to wait till 10 min prior. The activities and games all were pretty avg, for a cruise, but yet fun thanks to the always high energy entertainment staff. NOW THE PARTIES WERE ALL GREAT!!! They have a Sail-a-way party (ok but not everyone out of shell yet). Now the 80's, 70's, Glow, Norwegian's Night Out parties were all great!! Lots of energy, and decent variety of music….not always your typical line dancing music as are on most cruise DJ's playlist. Beware of the "adult" night club onboard Bliss. We noticed a lot of teenagers in there at times. FYI the Magic show dinner we here were incredible at an extra cost. Book early, as we figured we could book it onboard, but it was all sold out every day!!
Crew/Staff - 7 of 10
Overall pretty good….really depends on department. Entertainment staff were great, cruise director JC Sanchez was ok, but his staff was awesome. Specifically a young gentlemen named Adam had all the makings of a future cruise director (witty, funny, energetic). Housekeeping staff were sub-par. Rooms were not done properly in our opinion. Not one time in 7 days and 2 different rooms did we get a cute towel animal (maybe our steward is new, or maybe because we booked a inside state room)!!! Dining room staff were a bit slow. We would be seated quickly, which is great, but after bread and orders were taken, it took an avg of 20 minutes to receive appetizers, and another 20 for main course and 15 more for desserts. Assume dining for 1.5 hrs on avg.
Cabins - 8 of 10
We booked our cruise last minute and on a budget, so we can't say much here as we booked 2 inside cabins on 5th floor. They were pretty small upon first glance but turned out to have plenty of hidden compartments, thus making it comfortable. Im realistic, for what we paid (about $75 a person per night after taxes), we were extremely pleased!!!! The room key needing to be inserted for electricity, became a simple routine after the first few hrs. Inside tip …any card works ….LOL
Ports - 8 of 10
What can I say, if you have cruised the Caribbean's before, most likely you have been to these three ports. I must admit it was nice to be handed a nice cool towel, and cold drink or water once getting back to ship. Being able to cool off, and even having the towel exchange awaiting you before boarding was a nice touch, not to mention that high energy friendly staff cheering you on as you dance your way back on ship.
Disembarkation - 7 of 10
Pretty average, and entire process takes about 30 min. You have the option of picking your time according to the color of the baggage tags you decide to pick up the nights before! Inside tip….they have no way of knowing what color bag tag you chose, so technically you can leave at anytime….NOW IF YOUR BAG WILL BE READY IS A DIFFERENT QUESTION!!! (we were lucky our bags were down there already amongst the sea of bags)
Bottom line is everyone cruises, and have different expectations. There are those that expect high energy activities/parties, and those that want to just relax. Then there are those as my wife and I are, we like a mix of both, and I feel this cruise satisfied our appetite. Overall NCL has a great product here. Its nice to be on a new ship, a new... great ship with lots to do that is…..I feel there staff and the personal touches are the reason we really enjoyed our cruise!! I would definitely freestyle cruise like a Norwegian again, especially on the "Getaway"!!!!