Norwegian Getaway Cruise Review by ACSWILM
- Sail Date: January 2019
- Destination: Western Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Family Inside Stateroom
Cabin: Granted, if you book only 3 days out from sailing, your "guaranteed rate" (ie, assigned by the cruise line) cabin won't be the best available, but we were assigned #13445, which is nowhere near the bottom, so I was enthused. Upon entering the cabin, we realized it was the smallest we had ever been in, and the quarters were tight, with very little storage space: no drawers at all, two tiny nightstands wedged into the far corners of the cabin with little access (even getting into bed was a bit difficult, as we had to lean away from the wall to avoid bumping our heads on the upper beds that were folded up onto the wall), the vanity/desk area had only an ottoman seat (no back) and the space underneath was taken up by the unnecessary (to us) minibar fridge. The closet had no light, but did have a safe and two and a half skinny shelves and lots of hangers. The best thing was the bathroom, with good storage (shelves next to mirror and lots of space under the sink) and a relatively large shower with actual glass door!). We found the system for alerting our cabin steward to our need for cabin refresh or do no disturb very good: one presses a button in the cabin and either a green or red light appears above the door in the hallway--no more stolen or misplaced do-not-disturb signs.
Activities: there were waterslides for both kids and adults, a separate pool for children, and an adult-only pool, but to have only one pool for a ship with nearly 4,000 passenders is inadequate. The # of hot-tubs could also be increased, as 4 around the main pool and 2 in the adults-only SpiceH2O area were not enough: there was always great demand, again not unexpected given the # of passengers and the Caribbean itinerary. Of the 5 waterslides for the brave, 2 were loops that launched you from a platform with a trapdoor!! More fun than I expected at my ripe old age:)
The mini-golf area had few edges, so the balls inevitably landed on a different hole, but was a popular place for less daring folk and families with kids; shuffleboard was somewhere but I never saw it. The climbing wall looked like fun, but I'm a wimp, so I surprised myself by tackling the ropes course, which is ~15 feet above the upper deck, with multiple routes and bridges to cross, as well as a mini-zipline near the end. Got my heart pumping!!
There were 2 ping-pong tables used mostly by youngsters--no competitions among passengers that can be so entertaining--Beside the daily trivia games in the Atrium, there were few group activities where one could meet other passengers, except I have to say the Burn the Floor dancers conducted several great dance lessons.
Entertainment- This was by far the best thing about this ship- great and varied entertainment. No magician, which I'm OK with, but several comedians who could be raunchy at the late-night adults-only shows but had us in stitches, a wonderful troupe of dancers called Burn the Floor were outstanding, and singers entitled the Million Dollar Quartet were spot-on in their performances. In the smaller lounges, there were some good small bands, particularly the female singer in the small lounge near the piano bar room. The piano guys called Howling at the Moon were FANTASTIC--again, raunchy after 11p but very talented, especially Jordan Jenkins, a new hire from Chicago--looks like an unprepossessing young Bill Gates but can play the piano, guitar and drums and knows so many song lyrics, it's crazy.The late-night -disco-, Bliss, had some good music to dance to at times, but often devolved into undancable tripe. The dance parties held on the outdoor deck of SpiceH2O, weather willing, were great and prove that loads of folks will get out and dance the night away if there is a theme of music that the DJ sticks to, rather than going off on musical tangents of apparent personal preference-
Ship interior: the outfitting of the public spaces was adequate, but there was no "wow" factor to the atrium, unfortunately. The chairs there were far too deep for most clients to sit comfortably, and many of us angled to get the throw pillows that were scattered about to support our backs; the atrium is where many of the trivia games and some movies were held, so seating should be comfy. The lounges were numerous, but some were not ideally used.
Several of the major things that turned us off about this ship were the following:
The copious amount of prime ship "real estate" designated for specialty restaurants (some of which stayed largely empty whenever we passed by them during the dinner hours) as well as the obtrusiveness of the casino, which was not confined to a definitive space, but rather seemed to invade the entire level of that deck (as did its smokiness and incessant ding-ding-dinging of the slot machines). I prefer to enter a "den of iniquity" and be there with other gamblers and smokers in a private space, rather than scattered about. There was an interesting noodle-house restaurant which we went to one evening (not a specialty place, but included in options for paying passengers) and our pleasant meal was ruined by the smell of tobacco wafting over from the adjacent casino tables, even though there was clear signage in the pits "NO SMOKING"--I don't think this was policed at all.
There was an "Ice-Bar" which required an admission fee and which we never entered: as a couple traveling without extended family or friends, the ship may have garnered our business if they had whipped up some interest for groups to experience this IceBar--who wants to pay $20pp to be given a thin jacket and be alone in an icy cold bar without entertainment?
The most disappointing thing for us was that there was no locker room or showers or sauna attached to the exercise facility; on every ship we have every been on, that has been available, and it came in handy, especially when the cabin quarters are tight: we would work out before dinner and one of us would go to the room to shower and the other would use the public facilities. When we inquired about this, we were told that we could pay for access to that on a daily basis--no thanks. The proliferation of all these "private" "exclusive" "for a fee" spaces on ships nowadays is a turn-off: "The Haven" aboard the Getaway is apparently for the "haves" not the "have-nots" among cruisers.
Restaurants: NOTE: I will here only refer to Non-specialty restaurants, ie those that are "free" for paying customers.
In addition, I will here state that the concept of "freestyle cruising" is a bit lost on me: instead of having a set time for dinner where one has the same table with the same waitstaff whom one gets to know over time, it is purportedly better according to Norwegian to walk up to the desk during dinner hours and be given a beeper-thingie (just like on land) and told to wait 20-40 minutes? When this didn't sit well with us, even though it was just the two of us (can't imagine the hassle-factor for large groups), we thought getting reservations would solve the problem, but they were only offered at 530p or 9p, every time in between was first-come, first-served. Why is this better than the classic way of having an early and a later seating for dinner? There would still be the option for some walk-ins, but a majority of folks would probably just plan around their dinnertime and it would actually make it far easier on the waitstaff and cooks, no?
As to dress code, there was none. Now, I will tell you this was supposed to be a 5 star ship and there are posted guidelines for what is acceptable dinner wear: not very demanding to ask for no flip flops or shorts at dinner, but did we see them? Yes we did.
There was no formal night, no policing of what could be worn into the nicest dining rooms--can you imagine paying an up-charge of $40pp for a specialty restaurant and than seeing such sloppiness at the neighboring table?
The main restaurants, Taste and Savor, are across one another on the same deck with a bar in the middle and the only thing that distinguishes them from one another is the slight color difference in their decor. The Tropicana was very nice, with a dance floor and band playing for the first half of the dinner evening, but could get a bit loud for conversation. O'Sheehan's Bar was generally lively and had a bar area near pool table and dart boards (get ready to pay to play) and a restaurant section. We found out that they had a special on pitchers of beer or carafes of wine that you had to ask for, but most of our fellow passengers had the unlimited premium beverage package and didn't have to think twice about how much or what they drank. This led to the somewhat unusual fact, in our experience, of having to actively flag down waitstaff before shows began to get a drink rather than being asked if we wanted anything. The Garden Cafe is the buffet that served all meals every day and was buffet style; the selections were tasty and varied. We usually had breakfast or an early lunch there, but prefer to sit and be waited upon for dinner:)
The wait staff at the sit-down restaurants were of varied training and sophistication: in one instance, we were served our entrees despite my salad plate not having been cleared, and I was asked to pick up my salad plate and hold it until my entree was put down. In another our salad silverware was cleared and not replaced when we got another "appetizer", and several times we were not served from the correct side--it drives me crazy when the server reaches over the table to serve, rather than walk around (and space allowed for that).
Service: cannot be faulted save for the above-mentioned missteps by servers in the dining rooms. Our cabin steward was so discreet that we didn't encounter him in person until the second-to-last day of the cruise! Again, the fact that many passengers had unlimited beverage packages made it a bit difficult to find service if you were among those who didn't--no immediate face recognition and no incentive to please.
We took no shore excursions through the ship, and only ventured out with a private taxi guide on Roatan, where we ended up going up to Mirador to overlook the harbor and take pictures, then ended up at a beach club which charged admission but had beach chairs, changing rooms, rental of kayaks, snorkel gear, etc, a bar and restaurant, and protected beach. Not much to do except sun and relax, but next time I'll look into a snorkeling excursion on the reef.
In Belize, our stop was the semi-private island which the large passenger capacity of the Getaway apparently took over for the day: again, beach chairs aplenty, ziplining or golf or other activities for a charge, but a big pool with pool bar and music and a relaxing day with beautiful weather.
In Costa Maya, we were consumed with trying to find wifi to get some access to home news, so spent the day in the little compound there with shops, restaurants, pedestrian walkways, dolphin encounters (for a charge) but we got pretty close to see the action for free, and a spring-break-esque pool with lots of activity. The clientele here were from several different ships, so there was a bit more diversity of languages and attitudes.
In Cozumel, our energy was flagging, so we just ventured up and down the main drag and a block or two inland and relived past visits: entered a church where I had been with family several years ago, then went to the same restaurant to have a beer and use their wifi where we'd also been, and finally made it to the Walmart-like Merdi (sp?) to browse and buy some cheap beer to drink on the way back to the ship.
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