Norwegian Getaway Cruise Review by RLloyd66
- Sail Date: October 2019
- Destination: Transatlantic
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
We took a taxi to the port. The embarkation area was already busy with a long line of eager passengers but the line continued to move. Luggage was loaded for delivery to the room and we were on the ship within 30 minutes. For the number of passengers we thought embarkation went well.
The ship is huge. It looks like a building when you first encounter all 16 stories. Exploration of the public spaces quickly made me realize that there wasn't a lot of room for the 3700 people who boarded with me. My overall impression was that the space is cramped and closed in. There are very few locations to see outside when you are inside. There were no quiet spots when everybody was out and about. Remember that the only public space is located on decks 6,7,8,15 and 16. This includes all dining options, shops, a huge casino, bars, clubs, spa, gym, thermal spa, outdoor activity areas like ropes course and mini golf, and you soon begin to understand why space is so limited. It was the public space of a smaller ship with the rooms and passengers of a big ship. Many of the activities were held in the atrium which was not large enough or have adequate sound to overcome the noise from the atrium bar on the lower level or O'Sheehan's on the upper level. The clubs and lounges which had performers would fill early which resulted in people standing in line up to hour to secure a seat. Many people were turned away. After a while you stop trying unless you get there really early. The outdoor public spaces were very nice with the waterfront but for the majority of this cruise they were blocked off due to weather conditions. This ship does not have a promenade that circles the entire and I realized how much I missed this.
The quality of the headliner Entertainment was outstanding with The Million Dollar Quartet and Burn the Floor. Unfortunately I heard people complain about not getting to see these because they had not made reservations beforehand. The theater is small for the number of passengers and the show was only offered a few times. If you are willing to pay extra then the Cirque Dreams show and the Wine Lovers musical were also excellent. We thought the meal at the Wine Lovers Musical was better than the meal for the Cirque show. Both are set menus so I would not recommend for picky eaters.
The Staff and Crew were all very pleasant but seemed to be overworked. They never complained and were constantly on the move but meal services were extremely slow. Failure to allow 2 hours for a meal would result in missing entertainment or the desert course. Personalized service was not an option because they were so busy trying to keep up. I hated to even ask for a drink refill (which was not offered).
Complimentary dining options included main dining in one of three restaurants (Tropicana is the largest with Taste and Savor being smaller), the buffet, or O'Sheehans. The noodle bar was always booked so I cannot comment on it although I would like to have tried it. Tropicana, Taste and Savor all serve the same menu. We learned to check if one seemed extremely busy because we could often get into another sooner. Since I have been cruising with NCL they had made and seem to be continuing to make cutbacks on the quality and variety of items offered on their menu. Breakfast is pretty much the same thing everyday with a few daily selections swapped out about every third day. While on an extended cruise I expected to see repeat menus but I did not expect to see the same one on back to back days or so often. The food was average-nothing really special. We prefer the more relaxed sit down instead of the hustle and bustle of the buffet but the menu did get old being so limited.
The garden buffet seemed to have more variety if you didn't mind scavenging from station to station in search of what you wanted. The seating area also had the most glass windows for actually seeing outside. The view directly out of the rear dining area is beautiful and slightly less hectic.
O'Sheehan's is good for a quicker meal or if you need a fast food fix. The spinach and artichoke dip is additive. NCL advertises open 24/7 so I was surprised to go down for breakfast at 5 only to find a plate of stall sandwiches and self serve coffee/hot water for tea. They did open for breakfast at 5:30.
The fitness and spa area is very generous in size. Services are pricey, even with specials but everyone is very professional and do an excellent job.
My overall memories from this trip are mixed with both positive and negative. It was a great itinerary. The length in port was often too short. We ran into some glitches that were out of anyone's control like two hurricanes which rocked the boat and cancelled a port. We also had some glitches which seemed to be created by NCL: long lines, extended waiting, being herded around like cattle, a lack of activities, inadequate public spaces, poor planning, and a relentless and constant up-sale mentality that was tiresome.
I have dubbed this a trip of Endurance because we endured a whole lot. We met some wonderful people who share our love of travel, chose to make the best of the situation and still managed to have an enjoyable time. There also seemed to be a large contingency of loud, obnoxious, complainers who were quick to find fault and managed to make everyone around them miserable. I did not lodge complaints on the ship but I will allow my travel dollars to speak for themselves. If this is the direction that NCL is going then I will be exploring other options.
Some overall comments about the ports. While we arrived at the stated time, we were never close to being cleared so it seemed our days started late. It often felt like a hurry up and wait. There were times when NCL seemed to manage the large crowd efficiently but more often I saw a lot of people with limited mobility forced to cue up in long lines, stand on feet and ankles that looked swollen and painful, hurry to try and keep up with a group. I saw a woman almost knock down an older person so she could get the set at the front of the bus.
There was also a lot of grumbling about passengers on NCL excursions being given priority. I know those excursions are more expensive but this is one of the reasons we chose to book mostly NCL tours. I consider the door to door service as part of the tour. If we chose to go independently we knew we would be exiting later and planned accordingly.
Rotterdam-NCL Clogs, Windmills and Amsterdam The living museum is a controlled environment to see what life used to be like, its a beautiful area and we had a quick tour of Amsterdam and enough time to grab a quick lunch.
South Hampton-NCL Panoramic London, it was a long day but we managed to hit many of the sites. We had a 1 hour stop with enough time to get lunch in a pub.
La Harve-Paris, another long day but again we covered a lot of territory. We had 2 hours to explore a little on our own which also allowed time for lunch.
Portland-Stonehenge-a beautiful drive through the country. The area was drizzly with rain and the wind is biting but definitely one to see.
Cobh- Jamison Experience and City Tour of Cork, an interesting tour of how Whiskey is made, cork is not easy to see through bus windows, everything is very close to the street
Azores- cancelled due to wind
Bermuda- independent taxi tour, it is a beautiful island
Great Stirrup Cay-explored on my own, if you are able to walk a little, you can find plenty of loungers away from the crowds
Miami- city and harbor tour The tours were interesting especially if you like celebrity talk. This was certainly better than staying in the terminal while the ship was cleared
Would I go again? Yes, I would take a Transatlantic Cruise. I do not have a desire to go on NCL's large ships if this is the format and if NCL continues to cutback more and charge extra for less then cruising with them will not be my first choice.
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