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Itinerary: We were booked on the RC Oasis of the Seas but it was cancelled after a crane fell on the ship, so we booked this transatlantic crossing on NCL's Getaway about three weeks before sailing. With only A WEEK TO GO, we were informed that the 12-day itinerary (which it still shows here on CC) had been modified to a 10-day journey, cutting out two ports, Le Havre and Zeebrugge, and coming into Southampton two days earlier than anticipated. Actually, NCL didn't even communicate with us directly, but we found out from our travel agent. Apparently, it had to go into dry dock two days earlier than originally scheduled. We would not have booked the trip with the modified schedule and itinerary, but decided to make the most of it. NCL did offer a partial refund (it finally came through while we were on the cruise) and a future credit, as well as allowances for airline change fees. After hearing from many disgruntled passengers, NCL expanded their allowances to cover other travel expenses such as additional hotel and other transportation charges. FOUR DAYS BEFORE SAILING, they added Le Havre and Zeebrugge back into the itinerary, and cut out Ponte Delgada and Portland. While most were happy to have France and Belgium back in, the last-minute nature of these changes created a lot of hassle and confusion. We also received refunds of the port fees from the two missed ports as credits on our cabin accounts while on the ship. Ship: The ship is relatively new (2014), and everything was clean and felt up-to-date. I believe the carpet is being replaced in dry dock. It has swimming pools, hot tubs, water slides, mini golf, and a ropes course. This would be a much better ship for a warm weather cruise. However, our itinerary was a cold-weather cruise, which meant that most of these amenities were closed/unused, and the indoor venues were overcrowded. The ropes course was fun, but not for those afraid of heights. While there is an indoor pool, it's part of the spa, which you have to pay for. The public toilets, sinks, and soap dispensers were all automatic and functioned on sensors. However, they rarely worked as intended. Everyone was doing a dance trying to get the toilet to flush or the soap to dispense. It was really to the point of ridiculousness. Even the comedian did a routine about it. For an industry so concerned about the spread of germs and sanitation ("happy, happy, washy, washy"), they sure did make it hard to wash your hands. Entertainment & Activities: In warmer weather, people might have spread up to the pool and sports decks. But ours was a cold-weather cruise and the schedule of activities did not reflect that. The cruise had about 3700 passengers (max is 3900), and all the indoor venues were always crowded...not just crowded, but can't-find-a-chair-or-move crowded. Usually, that meant standing in long lines or having to be at activities 30-60 minutes before they started in order to get a seat. They had so many people show up for progressive trivia the first day in the Atrium, that they had to move it to the main Tropicana dining room. Other activities were few and far between. There were large gaps in the schedule and then three events happening at the same time. But in reality, you couldn't plan to attend that many events because of the waiting times. The cruise director, Vincent, was outstanding! He led progressive trivia and was a constant at activities and events. Also, Romeo did a good job. However, most of the cruise director staff didn't seem to have the same energy or interest in interacting with guests. Activities seemed to be run of the mill for them and they made little effort to change things up based on our cruise itinerary/climate. They had enough staff and venues to keep things active and accommodate more guests, but didn't take advantage. I've been on other cruises with half the staff members with twice the activities and a lot more fun. As far as the evening entertainment, the shows were great, particularly "Million Dollar Quartet" (advanced tickets required). All three house bands were good, and we enjoyed the Bankaoke and Adele tribute. The Headliners venue served as a comedy club (advanced tickets required) and dueling piano bar. Both were great fun. One thing we enjoyed on this cruise was a guest talent show, which was much better than anticipated. Dining & Food: Three dining rooms (Tropicana, Taste, Savor), the buffet, Shanghai Noodle Bar, and O'Sheehan's were all complimentary. Margaritaville had free breakfast (a smaller buffet), but it closed after the second day. We were told that no one was going up there (it's outdoor, but covered) so they closed it. This left us to fend for a table in the buffet most mornings. We ate lunch in Taste/Savor two days. However, they maintain the same lunch menu from day to day and it never changes. Service for both lunch and dinner was painfully slow. One day, we sat for lunch at 12:40pm and didn't get our entrees until 1:50pm. O'Sheehan's was typical pub food, but sometimes a better option. The fajitas were good. The service in Tropicana for dinner seemed to be better than the other two dining rooms. A band played music during peak hours and people danced on the dance floor in the center. However, if seated anywhere in the center section of the restaurant, the volume of the music made it impossible to talk to others at the table. Getting reservations for the complimentary restaurants was impossible. We were told by a restaurant manager that all reservations were fully booked through online booking before the cruise even left. So much for "Freestyle" cruising. Every night, regardless of the hour, we had to wait in a long line (typically 20-30 minutes) to get to the host desk. Then we were usually given a pager and had to wait even longer. One night, we waited 90 MINUTES from the time we got in line until the time we were seated. This is unacceptable. The food itself was ok, not great. The buffet had a lot of options for breakfast and lunch. The quality of the food in the dining rooms did not meet the standard of past cruises, both on NCL and other cruise lines. They also didn't feel very balanced. If a dish included vegetables (some did not), they were minimal. One night I received two baby carrots, another night three small broccoli florets. Service: We had two wonderful, attentive, and hardworking waiters, Yuli and Mohammed, in the Tropicana dining room. Vincent the cruise director was fantastic. But otherwise, service was just ok, but not great. I don't know if it was because the ship was going into dry dock and some people were leaving or if this is always the case, but the staff seemed to lack energy. They very happily told you if something was not their job, handing you off to wait in another queue. All in all, with the final itinerary, we probably would not have booked this to start with. It has yet to be seen how easily they will handle reimbursement for travel expenses under the allowance. Regardless, after our experience, it is unlikely that we will cruise with NCL beyond our next cruise (using our future cruise credit), which will be cheap and cheerful.

OK ship, but bad for cold weather

Norwegian Getaway Cruise Review by mkesolo

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2019
  • Destination: Transatlantic
  • Cabin Type: Family Inside Stateroom
Itinerary:

We were booked on the RC Oasis of the Seas but it was cancelled after a crane fell on the ship, so we booked this transatlantic crossing on NCL's Getaway about three weeks before sailing. With only A WEEK TO GO, we were informed that the 12-day itinerary (which it still shows here on CC) had been modified to a 10-day journey, cutting out two ports, Le Havre and Zeebrugge, and coming into Southampton two days earlier than anticipated. Actually, NCL didn't even communicate with us directly, but we found out from our travel agent. Apparently, it had to go into dry dock two days earlier than originally scheduled. We would not have booked the trip with the modified schedule and itinerary, but decided to make the most of it. NCL did offer a partial refund (it finally came through while we were on the cruise) and a future credit, as well as allowances for airline change fees. After hearing from many disgruntled passengers, NCL expanded their allowances to cover other travel expenses such as additional hotel and other transportation charges. FOUR DAYS BEFORE SAILING, they added Le Havre and Zeebrugge back into the itinerary, and cut out Ponte Delgada and Portland. While most were happy to have France and Belgium back in, the last-minute nature of these changes created a lot of hassle and confusion. We also received refunds of the port fees from the two missed ports as credits on our cabin accounts while on the ship.

Ship:

The ship is relatively new (2014), and everything was clean and felt up-to-date. I believe the carpet is being replaced in dry dock. It has swimming pools, hot tubs, water slides, mini golf, and a ropes course. This would be a much better ship for a warm weather cruise. However, our itinerary was a cold-weather cruise, which meant that most of these amenities were closed/unused, and the indoor venues were overcrowded. The ropes course was fun, but not for those afraid of heights. While there is an indoor pool, it's part of the spa, which you have to pay for. The public toilets, sinks, and soap dispensers were all automatic and functioned on sensors. However, they rarely worked as intended. Everyone was doing a dance trying to get the toilet to flush or the soap to dispense. It was really to the point of ridiculousness. Even the comedian did a routine about it. For an industry so concerned about the spread of germs and sanitation ("happy, happy, washy, washy"), they sure did make it hard to wash your hands.

Entertainment & Activities:

In warmer weather, people might have spread up to the pool and sports decks. But ours was a cold-weather cruise and the schedule of activities did not reflect that. The cruise had about 3700 passengers (max is 3900), and all the indoor venues were always crowded...not just crowded, but can't-find-a-chair-or-move crowded. Usually, that meant standing in long lines or having to be at activities 30-60 minutes before they started in order to get a seat. They had so many people show up for progressive trivia the first day in the Atrium, that they had to move it to the main Tropicana dining room. Other activities were few and far between. There were large gaps in the schedule and then three events happening at the same time. But in reality, you couldn't plan to attend that many events because of the waiting times.

The cruise director, Vincent, was outstanding! He led progressive trivia and was a constant at activities and events. Also, Romeo did a good job. However, most of the cruise director staff didn't seem to have the same energy or interest in interacting with guests. Activities seemed to be run of the mill for them and they made little effort to change things up based on our cruise itinerary/climate. They had enough staff and venues to keep things active and accommodate more guests, but didn't take advantage. I've been on other cruises with half the staff members with twice the activities and a lot more fun.

As far as the evening entertainment, the shows were great, particularly "Million Dollar Quartet" (advanced tickets required). All three house bands were good, and we enjoyed the Bankaoke and Adele tribute. The Headliners venue served as a comedy club (advanced tickets required) and dueling piano bar. Both were great fun. One thing we enjoyed on this cruise was a guest talent show, which was much better than anticipated.

Dining & Food:

Three dining rooms (Tropicana, Taste, Savor), the buffet, Shanghai Noodle Bar, and O'Sheehan's were all complimentary. Margaritaville had free breakfast (a smaller buffet), but it closed after the second day. We were told that no one was going up there (it's outdoor, but covered) so they closed it. This left us to fend for a table in the buffet most mornings. We ate lunch in Taste/Savor two days. However, they maintain the same lunch menu from day to day and it never changes. Service for both lunch and dinner was painfully slow. One day, we sat for lunch at 12:40pm and didn't get our entrees until 1:50pm. O'Sheehan's was typical pub food, but sometimes a better option. The fajitas were good. The service in Tropicana for dinner seemed to be better than the other two dining rooms. A band played music during peak hours and people danced on the dance floor in the center. However, if seated anywhere in the center section of the restaurant, the volume of the music made it impossible to talk to others at the table.

Getting reservations for the complimentary restaurants was impossible. We were told by a restaurant manager that all reservations were fully booked through online booking before the cruise even left. So much for "Freestyle" cruising. Every night, regardless of the hour, we had to wait in a long line (typically 20-30 minutes) to get to the host desk. Then we were usually given a pager and had to wait even longer. One night, we waited 90 MINUTES from the time we got in line until the time we were seated. This is unacceptable.

The food itself was ok, not great. The buffet had a lot of options for breakfast and lunch. The quality of the food in the dining rooms did not meet the standard of past cruises, both on NCL and other cruise lines. They also didn't feel very balanced. If a dish included vegetables (some did not), they were minimal. One night I received two baby carrots, another night three small broccoli florets.

Service:

We had two wonderful, attentive, and hardworking waiters, Yuli and Mohammed, in the Tropicana dining room. Vincent the cruise director was fantastic. But otherwise, service was just ok, but not great. I don't know if it was because the ship was going into dry dock and some people were leaving or if this is always the case, but the staff seemed to lack energy. They very happily told you if something was not their job, handing you off to wait in another queue.

All in all, with the final itinerary, we probably would not have booked this to start with. It has yet to be seen how easily they will handle reimbursement for travel expenses under the allowance. Regardless, after our experience, it is unlikely that we will cruise with NCL beyond our next cruise (using our future cruise credit), which will be cheap and cheerful.
mkesolo’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Family Inside Stateroom
Cabin I1 13637
The cabin was typical for an inside stateroom. The bed was comfortable and the bathroom was actually more spacious that other ships. However, storage is difficult with only a small closet, no drawers, and limited and shallow shelving. There are various, random cubbies to tuck things away, but it was even difficult to get the suitcases under the bed with life vests, ladders, and extra bedding already stored there.
Deck 13 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Brugge (Bruges)
    Brugge is a delightful medieval city and perfect for a day in port. The port is actually Zeebrugge, about 18 km away. There are various ways to get into Brugge:
    1) Paid NCL cruise shuttle from ship to Blankenburge train station ($15) and train in/out of city. However, we were told that the train only ran once per hour.
    2) Free cruise shuttle to port entrance, public tram to Blankenburge train station, and train in/out of city. Less expensive than the cruise line transportation, but one extra step.
    3) Free cruise shuttle to port entrance and taxi to/from city. This is approximately 50 Euros each way, but could be split with other passengers. The taxi queue was quite long.
    4) Free cruise shuttle to port entrance and Express Bus (https://www.cruise-express.be/en/) for 20 Euros pp. I think you can book tickets in advance, but we stood in a line and bought them at the cruise terminal. The gift shop clerk said there was another non-sanctioned bus across the street, but we opted for the sanctioned one., which ran more frequently and was a known commodity. The Express Bus into the city ran frequently as everyone was getting off the ship. Coming back, it ran every half hour. While it may be more expensive than the train option, I think it was worth it in time and ease.

    The bus drops off at the edge of the city, and it's an easy walk across a bridge and into the city. I'd recommend a half-hour boat ride on the canals (10 Euros pp) in the morning, as it's more crowded in the afternoon. We also went to the Choco Story chocolate museum (9 Euros pp with free samples). It's a quirky museum but something to do. Otherwise, we spent the day walking around and eating. Points of interest: Begijnhof, a UNESCO heritage site and community of whitewashed houses belonging to members of a Catholic order of lay women; Church of our Lady with Michaelangelo's sculpture (featured in Monuments Men) - church is free to enter but sculpture and museum are 5 Euros; the Belfry in the Markt square surrounded by restaurants and cafes; Burg square, Streenstraat with shops. We stopped at Chez Albert, a waffle take-away stand, on Breidelstraat, a pedestrian street on the southeast corner of Markt square. So, so good! Also, we sat at one of the cafes on the square for local Belgian beer and frites.
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  • Le Havre
    This was my second time in this port. The first time, I took a ship excursion to Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery, and Bayeux. It was a long day on a coach bus with limited time at any one location. Also, it was very expensive (around $250 pp). This time, we decided to rent a car and visit the sites that were most important to us. Because our ship was in port on a Sunday, most car rental agencies are closed, as are a lot of business in the town of Le Havre. However, although their websites say they are closed, both Rent-a-car and Sixt were opened on Sunday with limited hours for cruise passengers. Sixt is located in town, so I would recommend Rent-a-car (le_havre@rentacar.fr), which has a desk in the cruise terminal. Many of the cars are manual transmission, but we were upgraded to an automatic for free. Our car cost 90 Euros. The service at the desk is slow with one clerk, so I'd recommend getting off the ship as soon as possible to get going.

    Once on the road, we took the Pont de Normandie toll bridge to save time and get on the highway going west. We went to our furthest point west and worked our way back. Our first stop was Pointe du Hoc, the site of the US Ranger assault between Omaha and Utah Beaches. We got a little turned around when first out of Le Havre, but got there in about 1:45 hrs. We spent over an hour at the visitors' center, walking the paths to the point, going in German bunkers and looping back to the parking lots. The German cemetery La Cambe is nearby, but we didn't realize it so didn't take the time to go back once we were already heading east. Our second stop was Omaha Beach and the memorial. There are two parking lots. We spent a little time walking the beach and imagining what it must have been like for the soldiers. Then we traveled to the nearby American cemetery, which contains 9387 graves of soldiers killed in the events surrounding D-Day. The visitors' center was closed for renovation (scheduled to reopen June 1, 2019), so we spent our time walking around the cemetery and memorial. They offer free tours at certain times. We caught the tail end of a tour so asked the guide a few questions. From there, we felt like we were running out of time so we got back on the road. We stopped in Benouville. British gliders crash landed and captured the Pegasus Bridge in the hours leading up to the D-Day beach invasion. A modern draw bridge crosses the canal now, but the original is housed in a park at the memorial museum down the street along with a glider. From there, we hurried back to the port just in time for all-aboard. We cut it a little close for comfort and didn't even have time to gas up our car. Regardless, renting a car was totally worth it. It was a lot less expensive than the tours and we had the flexibility to do what we wanted.
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  • New York (Manhattan)
    We embarked from New York Manhattan Cruise Terminal. We used public transportation to get there (bus drop off a block away). Security and check-in went quickly, but then we had to wait to board. They had an issue with one of the ramps that further delayed us.
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  • Southampton
    We disembarked in Southampton. Unfortunately, we had to do face-to-face customs on the ship, which significantly delayed our departure. Everyone was getting off at the same time so the taxi queues were incredibly long. Once in a taxi, it's an easy, five-minute ride to the central train station and cost 7 pounds. I'm not sure if the taxis take credit cards, so you'll want to make sure to have local currency first. From Southampton, we took the train to Victoria Station in London. We had bought advanced tickets online; however, we missed our scheduled train due to the long lines at customs and in the port. We were able to buy tickets for the next train (they depart once every hour) for less than 20 Euros pp. The journey is 1:45 hrs. There were also trains to Waterloo Station. From Victoria Station, you can take the Underground to other parts of the city. We stayed in a hotel near Victoria and walked.
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