Hi there! My name is Cortney and I'm a 36-year-old cruise addict from Michigan. To give you a little background about where I'm coming from, this was my 15th cruise overall, and my ninth on Norwegian Cruise Line, which is our ... Read More
Hi there! My name is Cortney and I'm a 36-year-old cruise addict from Michigan. To give you a little background about where I'm coming from, this was my 15th cruise overall, and my ninth on Norwegian Cruise Line, which is our favorite. We have previously cruised on Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean, with Carnival being our second favorite. I sail with my husband, also a cruise addict. :)
This was our first NCL cruise as platinum members, so you can imagine that we are pretty big NCL enthusiasts. It would take a lot for me not to like an NCL cruise — or any cruise, really. A day at sea is always better than a day on land, in my opinion. :)
I'll try to keep this succinct, as brevity is not my strong suit, and I tend to get a little overly enthusiastic when writing about cruising.
EMBARKATION: Smooth, fairly fast and organized. We are big fans of the Port of Miami.
STATEROOM: See below.
SHIP OVERALL: Just a lovely, lovely ship. We have been on Getaway's sister ship, Breakaway, and were dazzled, so we knew we'd love Getaway too. Very clean, very new, very well maintained. Just enough elegance and whimsy to create a great cruise atmosphere.
CREW: This was, by far, the happiest, friendliest NCL crew we have ever encountered. It's not that service on other NCL ships has been poor, but we have just noticed that sometimes the crews aren't quite as effusive or willing to go out of their way on NCL vs. lines like Carnival. We have always chalked this up to the freestyle cruising philosophy: Since you rarely have the same crew member assisting you at dinner, etc., you don't build any type of bond. However, we were constantly commenting to each other throughout the cruise about how everyone went out of their way to greet us, say good morning, etc. We had many memorable pleasant encounters, but they included Ronel at the CruiseNext desk, who told us all about NCL Epic, which we'll be going on next year; Jarred in the Pulse Fitness Center, who knew my name by the second day; Isabela, who led our Behind the Scenes tour; and Christopher at the Prime Meridian bar, who was never seen without a grin.
SPA: On NCL, we always book a spa balcony, which gives you access to the Thermal Spa Suite, one of the best kept secrets on the ship. If you're more of a quiet cruisegoer like me, who wants lots of quiet time and peacefulness, this is the place to go. There are lounge chairs looking out walls of windows and onto the sea, a thalassotherapy pool, a hot tub, locker rooms, showers, various saunas and steam rooms, etc. They also have fruit-infused water and tea; Getaway even had fresh oranges each day. It is a very nice place to kick back and relax. If you don't have a spa room, you can also purchase access to the Thermal Spa Suite for the week, but I advise doing that early on after embarkation, as spaces are limited. I also had a hot stone massage during this cruise, and it was very relaxing. I recommend waiting until later in the week to get the best deals and packages. There also are discounts when you book services on port days, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that platinum members get 25% off select services.
GYM: So, I'm very particular about cruise ship gyms, because I enjoy working out daily, especially when I'm stuffing my face as much as I do on a cruise. Carnival's are often shoved into the most uncomfortable place on the ship, but true to past NCL ships, Getaway's was clean and bright and colorful, with nice, well-maintained machines. I very much enjoyed the spinning classes with Jarred and the yoga and Norwegian Fight Club classes with Thomas. If you like working out, I would definitely recommend these classes, which are available for a nominal fee. You usually get a deal if you sign up for more than one.
DINING: The dining on this ship is very good. We ended up eating at specialty restaurants every night of the cruise, due to getting the dining package as a perk when we booked and getting two free dinners for earning platinum status, but on other NCL ships, we've been very happy with the traditional dining rooms as well. My favorite is Moderno, the Brazilian-style steakhouse, but more because I love the various salads they have on a buffet vs. the never-ending courses of meat. :) The French onion soup in Le Bistro is to die-for, also. For lunch, we mostly ate in the Garden Café; in my opinion, NCL has the best salad bar at sea. We splurged one day and at at Margaritaville at Sea, which is a la carte priced. The burger was delicious, as was the lime dipping sauce for the pretzels. We had the drink package also as a bonus from when we booked. It's mega expensive if you have to pay for it, but if you can get this as a free perk (as of this review, it was still a perk available), I would highly recommend it. You can get any drink under $15 for free, and this ship had a pretty nice wine selection, as well as a mojito bar. Also, pro tip: The cupcakes at the atrium Bake Shop are to die for (a la carte).
PORTS: Our cruise hit four ports: Roatan, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel, Mexico. We had been to the two Mexican ports previously and to Belize, but not to the port of Harvest Caye, which just opened in late 2016.
Roatan we found to be pretty lackluster; there are some shops etc. at the port but otherwise it seemed like the kind of port where you really would need to take an excursion to make it worthwhile. It reminded me of Dominican Republic; lots of pushy salespeople in a clearly impoverished area with not a lot going on.
Harvest Caye was GREAT if you're looking for a nice beach day. NCL sunk a gazillion dollars into constructing this port, so it's basically like a private island, except you don't have to tender, which is a relief. There are tons of lounge chairs available, both near the beach and near a beautiful pool. Some are shaded by umbrellas and are first come, first served, and complimentary. You can pay to rent a clamshell for the day, and I heard there were also some luxury cabanas, but did not check them out. There are water sports — including stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, etc. — and multiple zip lines. There's a series of shops that seemed slightly nicer/unique/more upscale (or maybe just because they're newer?) than the usual cruise port shops. There was a stage where local folks sang, danced and performed musical instruments. There were a few bars/restaurants (the shrimp quesadilla from Laughing Bird was delicious). And, in my opinion as a nature lover, a nature center. They did not have scarlet macaws yet when we were there, but they were supposed to get them soon. They had several toucans and someone there to tell you about them; they were amazing! And a butterfly house where you could walk through giant blue butterflies. Pretty neat.
Costa Maya is a lovely port — again, especially if you don't feel like wandering far from the pier — and has changed quite a bit since the last time we were here. They now have swimming with dolphins and a lot more stores. My favorite addition was Aviarius, a self-guided aviary right in the heart of the action. For $10, you walked up onto these rope bridges high above the town. The bridges connected various huts and areas that contained exotic birds. Some really wanted nothing to do with you, but there were a few areas you could feed the birds. It was truly spectacular if you enjoy that sort of thing, which I do. I had an arm full of jandaya parakeets in 10 seconds flat. They were on my head, crawling on my shoulders ... ha. Very fun for a bird lover like me. You also could feed these giant blue macaws. And all of this was while looking down at the very pretty Costa Maya area. Best $10 I've ever spent.
Cozumel, we didn't have great weather at first, so the first part was spent wandering around in ponchos like big dorks. We finally parked at La Casa de la Habana for the day, since my husband is a cigar aficionado. They had great food, great cigars (for him), a clean and comfy atmosphere and a nice wine list. On past trips, we've booked an afternoon at Nachi Cocum, which I'd also recommend if you're looking for a secluded beach day.
ENTERTAINMENT: Meh. We're not big "show" people, but I also felt like (a) we didn't do our research on this ship and other stuff didn't seem to be thoroughly promoted. We went to a comedy show with Andrew Sleighter, which was funny. A lot of other stuff was already full by the time we decided to investigate, so definitely check everything out on your app or on your stateroom TV and book things early if you want in. We did see "Million Dollar Quartet" on a previous NCL ship and while I was lukewarm on it, my husband loved it. We also adored the Cirque Dreams show on Breakaway and the John Hughes show on Escape. In general, I was partial to the shows on Carnival Splendor, which were shorter and more palatable for someone like me with a short attention span. ;)
DISEMBARKATION: We self-assist disembarked and it was one of the most organized disembarkation we have ever encountered.
- While we were not Haven on this cruise, we have been very fortunate to have sailed Haven twice on other NCL ships: Breakaway and Escape. I can tell you firsthand that if you can get a deal on Haven — do it. The Haven spa balconies are gorgeous, and they still give you access to the Thermal Suite. You also get a concierge; a butler (?!); a special lounge, bar, restaurant, sundeck and pool area; priority embarkation and disembarkation; and plenty of other perks.
- If you have a chance to do the Behind the Scenes tour, it's very cool. I think you can pay to do it, but we were excited to get it free as platinum members, and it was neat to see the giant machines that suck in sheets and towels and spit them out folded, where the crew dines, "I-95" (the loooooong walkway that traverses the belly of the ship), etc.
- Miami is the best. We often Uber everywhere. Our favorite places to go are Bin 18 and Uvaggio, both wine bars; the Prime Cigar Lounge in the Bricknell area; and Cigar Boutique of Little Havana (ask for Cesar!) on Calle Ocho. We also like to walk and take pics in South Beach ... though we never drink or eat there because everything is so expensive. ;)
I hope you enjoy your cruise on the Getaway. We are already planning two additional cruises, on NCL Epic and the new NCL Bliss, in 2018, and couldn't be happier with cruising NCL. It is definitely our style of cruising. Happy sailing! Read Less