This is a fairly in-depth review of the Norwegian Getaway that sailed on Jan 10-17, 2015 for a party of 2 - Me (41) and Wife (45). This was an Anniversary, Thanksgiving, college graduation, Christmas, and New Year cruise rolled into one. ... Read More
This is a fairly in-depth review of the Norwegian Getaway that sailed on Jan 10-17, 2015 for a party of 2 - Me (41) and Wife (45). This was an Anniversary, Thanksgiving, college graduation, Christmas, and New Year cruise rolled into one. We were excited, but leary to do our 5th cruise, 3rd on NCL, on the Getaway. Excited because hey, we're cruising again... we will have fun no matter what... right?!?! Leary because we weren't sure what to expect with a 4,000+ passenger ship. How will the embarkation be handled? Will it feel like there are too many people on board? With 4 days full days at sea, will we just want to be locked in our room?
By accident, we were the first in line at the port. The person driving us had a prior engagement at 10am, so she dropped us off about 9:40. We waited for about 10 minutes outside and the doors were opened. The few of us that were there at that time were seated in the chairs around the outside of the queue line. As more showed up, the put them standing in the queue line. About 10:30-10:45, the security waved us up to start scanning us and our bags. We then went to ticketing and received our cards and "Group 1" boarding card. We went upstairs and sat for about an hour before they started boarding. Up to this point, we were excited. I was even able to setup and test the iConcierge app by connecting to the ship's WiFi (more about iConcierge later).
We walked along the gangway and stepped foot on the ship as 4 or 5 crew members welcomed us on board and through the doors. I don't remember which deck we entered - I think 6 or 7. With no map and no directions, we walked into an elevator on the left and stairs on the right. We were surprised! The Dawn and Pearl seemed so inviting into the Atrium, everything was laid out in sections with music playing, and they about pushed the Sail Away drink in our hand (then had us sign the bill for them 2 steps later). Yet the enormous Getaway shuffled us into nowhere to pick your unknown direction. Even with days of memorizing the ship's layout and main area locations, I was lost. Disappointment #1... so we just went up the stairs one level and started exploring.
~~Muster Station - Decks 6 & 7 Mid~~
The required drill at the muster stations are on decks 6 or 7 depending on the code on your key. We were B9 which was in the O'Sheehans area on deck 7, but we did not have specifics as to where the meeting point was at first. I tried to ask several people in O'Sheehans where B9 would be and they all of a sudden, they don't speak English. About 15 minutes before time through waiting crowds, the crew come out with numbered signs which you can barely see and are at random areas. We got to the "B" area early and took a seat, but then had to move when we finally saw the B9 sign and chased the lady to the other side of the deck, now having to stand. Every card has to be scanned by the crew holding the sign. Then they go through the safety lecture and life vest usage.
We were in a balcony room, deck 13 forward. The standard balcony on the Getaway is 32 sq ft, smaller than the standard on other NCL ships (our Pearl balcony was at least 2x the size). The small balcony was a complaint by many. There is also a medium (~60 sq ft), large (~102 sq ft), and aft facing balcony, but the price per sq ft to go larger is expensive. And while the aft balconies are spacious, all we noticed was everything is wet and salty from the sea spray at the aft of the ship. This will be our last balcony for awhile since we want to take at least 2 cruises a year. We just don't use it enough to justify the price. We will make an exception in the future for our Alaskan and Panama Canal cruises.
We did the Cruise Critic Cabin Crawl and saw almost all the different staterooms from the Studio to the Haven Suite (thanks to everyone who volunteered to show their rooms)!
~~Garden Buffet - Deck 15 Aft~~
We were not impressed at any meal with the buffet, unlike the Dawn which was great, and the Pearl which was good as well (but seating was atrocious). There was enough seating inside and on deck which was good. But that's about where the good ended. We tried just about everything they had in small portions. Everything was bland, over/under cooked, or not the right temperature. The salad bar had the worst selection we've seen on any of the 5 cruises we've taken. The kiddie corner with the mac and cheese, pizza, and nuggets probably tasted the best! Best dessert was a bowl of ice cream.
~~MDR (Taste & Savor) - Deck 6 Mid~~
If you're tired of the Buffet, try the main dining rooms. Both offer the same menus, but different items are on the menus each night. It's a sit down meal with waiters, but the food isn't much better than the buffet. My wife liked the Steak Diane, I like the rolls that are served at the table.
~~O'Sheehans Irish Pub - Deck 7 Mid~~
This is the 24-hour restaurant, the place to get wings, a pot pie, or dessert at 2am. The wings are delicious - I had 50 of the hot ones throughout the week. They weren't really hot, but they were good and probably the second best thing I ate on the ship! We also had the prime rib on the 2 nights it was here. Check the back of the Freestyle for special lunch and dinner meals and the times they are offered. Prime Rib is from 5:30pm - 9:30pm. After that it's not served anymore even though O'Sheehans is open 24 hours. The cheese sticks were hit or miss - sometimes hot, sometimes cold. NOTE: This is also the place to get decent (but not the premium) coffee. It's better than what comes out of the coffee makers in your stateroom (unless you're in the Haven with the k-cup makers). If you're a big coffee drinker, bring a refillable cup with you in your luggage and fill that thing up at O'Sheehans.
~~Wasabi (Sushi) - Deck 8 Mid~~
We were looking forward to Sushi on the ship. It was wonderful on the Dawn and Pearl. But yet again, it seems like even this a la carte venue had a pre-made taste. To start, the rice was not fresh. It was probably made in the morning, but then pre-made into flats and put in the fridge until ready to be used - kind of like Subway does with their pre-measured meats.
~~Food [In General]~~
The food was marginal at best. We stuck to O'sheehans and the buffet mostly. We spent $1,700+ on our trip, we weren't going to pay for specialty restaurants as well which is what it felt like they were trying to make everyone do to get decent food. It seems like the food is rushed and/or low quality in the buffet and MDR to service the increased number of guests. I couldn't find a decent chocolate dessert anywhere on the ship. NCL has stopped the Chocoholic Midnight Buffet!! Everything varied from day to day as far as taste, preparedness, or temperature. Somehow we still gained about 3-4 pounds each on the trip, but it's probably because we tried to try everything.
~~Latitudes Special Party - Deck 16 @ Spice H20~~
All I can say is windy, loud, and rushed! Such a disappointment after the nice party we experienced on the Pearl in the Spinnaker Lounge on our last cruise. First of all, since when did music have to blow your ear drums out? We all wanted to enjoy drinks and talk to other cruisers, not yell to talk and barely hear the other people! Drinks were Bahama Mama's and Chard or Cab wine. We saw the waiter in our area once. I had to get up and chase one down to get a second drink. The captain spoke and introduced the head members of each department. Then the music blared again for about 15-20 minutes. The party lasted all of 30 minutes because of the wind and loud music. I went to get a second glass of wine for my wife toward the end and they said "Sorry, no more". I turn and see someone had NINE full drinks still sitting on their table! Talk about abuse, but I guess they knew what the price of drinks were, yet seemed like the type that already had the drink package!
While the ship is bigger for more people, the venues are smaller and crowded or have to book everything in advance (most by the end of the first day)... then if we saw something else we wanted to do later in the week in the Freestyle, we would have to decide what to do. We can't book another show/venue as the rest are already sold out. Smaller ships, such as the Dawn and Pearl, if you show up early you get good seats, show up late, you still get seats but on the side or in the back. The BA/GA may sport the biggest stage on a cruise ship, it is offset by the [fewer] number of seats. "Burn the Floor" was outstanding, despite the dancers sweaty clothes after 10 minutes... but they danced non-stop for an hour! "Legally Blonde" was good, but if you've seen the movie then you've seen this already!
The Illusionarium, for what it's all hyped up about, was not "Amazing". The usual illusions/magic mixed with corny jokes, too much smoke effects, and over dramatic grandmaster scene changes made it an overall "OK" at best. This is a dinner show with a 3-course meal (so don't eat before hand). Italian salad - tomato & mozzarella slices to start, main course is a steak and mashed potatoes and 3 large breaded shrimp, and dessert is a mini-medley of 4 desserts on a plate. If you want to watch the magic, don't eat as you'll miss stuff left an right. It's $25/pp for Banquet seats which are the booths along the back of the venue, and $30/pp for Floor seats which curve around the stage in 4 rows. Watch in the Freestyle for the night they give you 20% off (so it will be $20/pp Banquet or $24/pp Floor) - it's usually the first night. The discount has to be done manually so you won't see it until the 2nd or 3rd day.
Howl at the Moon was a great show of dueling pianos at Headliners, but if you weren't in line 45 minutes early, it was standing room only every night it was on! The Levity comedy shows, also at Headliners, only seat about 80 people so reserve (and arrive) early. We saw Rodney at the 18+ late show and he was funny. We didn't get to see Mark. We did not see the GRAMMY Experience so we can't comment on it other than the seating in that venue is even smaller than Howl at the Moon!
I was excited to try the iConcierge app on our iPhone 4s (both of us) to text and talk to each other for $7.95/pp for the whole trip ($1/day). We don't spend too much time apart, but this would make it easier to find each other. There are 2 parts to the iConcierge app - the informational part, and the text/call part.
Informational: This FREE part of the app I would give a 4 out of 5. It gives you the Freestyle for the entire week in your hand, ability to reserve venue times (paid or free), see dining options (no times or specialties like Prime Rib night, but all restaurants and daily menus), buy Future Cruise Credits, and a host of other features. I recommend loading the app before boarding, then put your phone in Airplane mode but turn on the Wifi and connect to the ship's wifi. You can only use the features while on board the ship and connected to the wifi. There are no internet charges to just connect to the ship's wifi and use this app.
Text/Calling: This is the part you pay for. It costs $7.95/pp (for the entire trip) to use to text or call others with the app on the ship including calling directly to staterooms. Also, you can call outside numbers (and others can call you) for $0.79/minute (whereas using your stateroom phone will cost you $4.99/minute). HOWEVER, texting and calling is VERY temperamental and may or may not work for you. It worked find for us on the first day, but after that, texts would only be received intermittently and calls sounded horrible. We stopped trying to use it after the 4th day and spoke to guest services to get a refund. I had iOS 8.1.1 and my wife had iOS 7.1.2 (both model 4s). It may work better on other models but it's definitely YMMV!
~~Thermal Spa - Deck 15 Fwd~~
I was upset to hear a few days before leaving that the Thermal Spa on the Getaway would cost $199/pp for 7 days instead of $129/pp as it was on the Dawn and Pearl. I guess their thinking is "more people, more money"! We loved the Mandara Spa on the other ships, and we wanted to make sure we got it this time again. 7 day use of the Thermal Spa from 8am to 10pm whenever we wanted/had time. We paid the extra $70/pp to experience it on the Getaway as well, so we went straight to the spa and looked around, signed up, got our stickers on our cards.
I would go to the Spa every morning after working out in the Fitness Center. I have a gym bag with all my stuff in the morning. I could change in the locker room and secure my bag and personal items, grab a robe and towel, and head into the spa area. After, I could do a full shower (nicer than in the room) and get dressed for the day and bring the bag back to the room. We would also go in the afternoon/evening. We booked late shows (10:15-10:45) so as not to take time away from the spa in the evening. Trying to do the many parties, shows, eating, and other "freestyle activities" AND fit in the spa is challenging. You want to get the most out of the $30/pp/pd and use the spa!
For the most part, it was relaxing. There is 1 jacuzzi, a heated pool with massage jets and seats, 2 sauna's, 1 steam room, 1 salt room, 10-12 heated stone chairs, and about 20 cushioned loungers. At busy times, you couldn't find a chair to put your stuff on, but people were scattered through all the areas so no one area seemed over crowded. We went in the salt room once - I guess it's supposed to be salty beach air. I wasn't impressed or felt any "special healing" properties of the salt air, but then again we're from Florida and lived near/on the beach. The steam room was nice, but it was a constant steam and you could barely see the person next to you. The stone chairs and loungers had a nice forward view of the ship - windows from one side to the other. Overall, it's a nice place to getaway from it all. If you don't care for kids in your jacuzzi, don't want to be in the sun/rain on deck, or want to just truly relax then get the Thermal Spa package!
~~Water Slides/Rope Course~~
Sadly, we did not get to experience these attractions. I would have liked to do the ropes course, but the water slides are just 4 seconds of fast water in your face.
~~Movies, Movies, Movies~~
There are 3 full-size LED movie screens on board, and throughout the cruise they show many movies. The first is in the Atrium on deck 6 mid. A lot of events happen here including movies in 3-D. The second is the outside screen in Spice H20 on deck 16 aft. Aside from all the late night parties (70's Groove, GLOW Party, 80's Remix), there are several movies shown on this huge screen as well. The third is in the Getaway Theater.
Most of the movies are for the kids, but adults love them too. A few I can think of off the top of my head are Despicable Me 2, Amazing Spiderman 2, and Iron Man 3. There were about 6-8 others. Also on your stateroom TV, channel 31 shows free movies (old and new) nonstop throughout the cruise. Channel 30 is called "Favorite Shows" and plays episodes of popular TV shows.
~~[Get] What You Pay For~~
As others have stated, they have made this ship to nickle and dime you to death. It wasn't enough that I spent over $1,700 on the cruise itself, but it felt like if you wanted anything more while on the ship, you pumped out more money to NCL. From booking the Illusionarium at $25/pp, to Wine Lovers: The Musical (also $25/pp), to a $5 anytime pizza, to expensive drinks with/without alcohol, to photos, to specialty dining, to gelato and cupcakes, to auto gratuities (and port gratuities on top of them), to tips, to many desserts, to... well, I think I'd spend less walking into Disney World!
Overall we give the Getaway a [barely] Good Rating (3 out of 5). There are a lot of little things that we noticed that should have been though of. There are no plugs next to the beds which means you can't plug in your phone/alarm next to you. There are 2 plugs across the room from the bed. Also, only 1 person gets control of the light switches next to the bed. Technically, the ship tries to be state-of-the-art with things like touchscreen tv's on every deck to find places throughout the ship, reserve shows, and view excursions. We made the best of the issues and enjoyed our vacation. Nothing bad happened, no one got sick, we weren't delayed, we enjoyed the ports, and we made some new friends. Read Less