My Background (point of view for how I assess this ship):
I have taken over 25 cruises on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess, and Disney before now. I’ve worked at sea so have a decent idea of the maritime operations side of things. I’ve sailed inside cabins all the way up to the largest suite on a large cruise ship. Although I enjoyed the super-sized suite there is more to a cruise ship than the square feet in your cabin. Outdoor and indoor activities play into what makes a ship nice or not so.
I mix of incredibly favorable and confusion. The confusion is not all bad though it is more of a why use these colors etc…sort of thinking. To that end no decorator will satisfy everyone’s personal color choices so it’s not a big deal really.
The ship in in great shape which is to be expected for one with only about a dozen cruises under her belt depending on how one counts the shakedown cruises etc.
The choice of many dark colors around the public areas in the Centrum area does close the space in a bit…not seeing much of the sea outside is disappointing to me, but they have the space set up nicely with loads of seating for folks and a couple of big video screens on deck 6. The Casino, which allows smoking is open to the Centrum area allowing the smoky smell to move more between decks. (Perhaps the casino could be non-smoking eliminating that problem.)
It’s a big ship, one of the largest at sea. It is currently the newest cruise ship at sea and the newest sailing from Miami. For NCL it’s the second ship in the class and is decked out in the South Beach/Miami style, as opposed to the New York style for her sister ship the Breakaway.
So far as I write first impressions on day one of the cruise, the crew, are fantastic. They are very welcoming and friendly. They seem eager to help those who are looking for something or someplace.
Overall impression of the ship facilities:
The ship is nice as it is brand spanking new. I give it high marks (other than the overuse of dark colors around the ship) for the facilities. Offering many dining and bar venues to suit most all tastes and many sport activities really makes it possible to satisfy most all family members. Of course this is a contemporary cruise line not a super luxury line, so despite having The Haven (which I toured and feel is a great place for the suite guests to enjoy more luxurious surroundings with only other suite cruisers), if someone is looking for a super luxury line this is not the right ship. It is a great ship for an active family or a multi-generational family looking to spend a quality week together but where everyone can do some of their own things so everyone is not always on top of one another. I’d sail it again and as much as I’ve cruised I can be a picky cruiser.
Impression of dining options:
The Norwegian Getaway offers so many options that it can be hard to choose each night. I went ahead and booked my specialty dining ahead of the cruise which helped ensure I was able to get what I wanted each night. Booking ahead is a good idea if willing to make some assumptions about what will be desired each night.
The food was generally good as was the service. I never tried the free sit down venues, other than O’Sheehans which is a pub with food 24 hours. The food there was good and was served fairly quickly at breakfast. Lunch service was good although not as fast as breakfast. I only ate a couple of meals up in the buffet and they were good and on temperature. Serves were ever present in that venue so tables were bussed timely. Drinks were self-service (in part because we were not on a noro-virus watch.)
Crowds, how bad are they?
One issue that concern many about sailing larger capacity ships are the crowds that may occur on the ship specifically using the popular venues. I never felt overly crowded at any venue. Yes there were some short waits at the rope course when it first opens for the day, but then again it’s a very popular venue and the line of people was only tens of people not hundreds long. Elsewhere on the ship I never stood in line other than to be served and then it was never more than a few people ahead of me and the lines would move fast.
One specific issue with crowds I’ve hears is the elevators. I walked the ship a lot and nearly always used the stairs. I never witnessed too many people waiting for elevators so it did not seem to be too big of an issue. Of course the stairs are never too crowded and work great for exercise.
Debarkation was set up to flow smoothly. I left the ship with probably a couple hundred others who were on various debark day tours that dropped them either back to the cruise ship or to either of the two major airports nearby, Miami International or Ft. Lauderdale airports. I didn’t feel like there were too many leaving the ship at the same time and it was not long before I was with my bag and thru CBP and off to my tour bus.
The boarding process was a bit slow, but then again I am being treated like al first time NCL cruisers which means we are among the last to board. On all my other cruises I get priority boarding as a past passenger from that cruise line. What this meant on Saturday was nearly an hour and a half from the time I arrived at the port until I crossed the threshold to get onto the ship. It was late enough that I was able to go straight to my cabin which was nice.
The ship was clean and the crew friendly as I walked around to explore the ship. I left a bit more exploring for the first sea day, as it’s no fun to be bored. I also listened to some of the live music in the atrium areas (sometimes called a centrum on other cruise lines). I also enjoyed a nice meal in the Brazilian Steakhouse specialty restaurant on the ship.
On my first full sea day, we enjoyed generally very nice weather. I walked all of the decks to see how everything looked. It was quite nice to see how active the outdoor areas had become as the day progressed. With plenty of Spring Break kids aboard I saw many racing one another on the water slides and kids as well as adults on the rope course. I plan to try it tomorrow and make a video of my walk. Ideally winds will be fairly calm allowing me to go out on the plank.
I attended the shopping show and lucked out winning a Del Sol t-shirt along with a nice bracelet and charm from Diamond’s International. It’s a nice extra treat to take home to the family. I also enjoyed a great dinner at another specialty restaurant called Cagney’s Steakhouse. The food there was great!
The second sea day started off nicely. I was up for a long walk around the ship. Using a FitBit makes one far more aware of the steps taken and stairs climbed each day. I expect out of myself at least 50 flights of stairs each day on a ship and at least 15K steps. I am managing to hit my goals so far while on the ship. Tomorrow is a port day so we will see if any of that changes.
Breakfast was nice in O’Sheehans, which is also where I chose to eat lunch (their famous chicken pot pie). Aside from eating and exercising I attended some sows and chatted with crew and fellow passengers. After lunch, I walked the rope course on the ship. It is really quite a fun experience. There is even a short zip experience (similar to a zip line) that gets one to the end of the course. I took video (see it here) of my walk. I have to go again to get a picture taken of me out at the end of the plank. I’ve seen pictures of senior leadership from NCL on the end of the plank so look forward to getting my picture taken out there.
The day was nice both from a weather perspective (which is no way controlled by any cruise line) and from a variety of activities perspective. There was plenty to do, including some overlapping activities.
Onto our third morning aboard the ship and we are having even more fun. We arrived early into St. Maarten (the Dutch side) where many will shop and others will try water sports and yet others will enjoy some time trekking around the island. Due to recent construction in the past few years a lot of new shops are open in downtown Phillipsburg so there is no requirement to head to the French side for serious shopping.
After dinner I got to watch a fireworks show out on the outside decks. I believe at least one other cruise ship had an opportunity to watch them fired off as well, although from several miles away. The show was quite nice and for those on deck 8 watching, we had lots of space compared to the crowded upper deck areas.
Our next port was St. Thomas, part of the United States Virgin Islands. Yes, that makes it part of the USA. I decided to walk to town to see what is happening and got some good exercise at the same time. I bought a couple shirts to add to my collection of shirts from my travels. As I finished up my shopping it started to get really busy in town as there were 5 cruise ships visiting including the Carnival Conquest and Royal Princess. I saw over at the Crown Bay pier a Royal Caribbean ship and saw the shopping guide from a Celebrity ship as well.
We left St Thomas around 4pm today for a nearly 44 hour haul at fairly high speeds up to Nassau, The Bahamas for our last port of call. That will be after a sea day tomorrow first. We departed right about on time and hit 20kts of speed fairly quickly. As the evening came on we hit some rougher seas, but nothing too bad.
Dinner was good tonight as it was Cagney’s once again. I saw many families and couples alike enjoying their dinners in various specialty restaurants on the ship. Of course there is the buffet where I saw many dining as I went up to the sports deck. Of course the main dining rooms are always there for folks to use as well.
The rope course, rock wall, and other venues were opened late in the evening for a few hours. They were active with both adults and kids. I ran the rope course several times and saw many others up on it going on back to back runs thru the course. Others were climbing the wall several times in a row. Even the little kids were going on the rope course and I learned that there is a course designed for small children that is only a couple feet off the ground for those young kids afraid of going a dozen feet up in the air for their walk.
Thursday is a sea day, meaning we spend the entire day sailing towards our destination, Nassau. The weather outside is fairly nice which really makes a sea day more fun for everyone. I took a good hour in the morning to walk around the decks to see what was going on. Sad to say I saw that the chair hogs (people who go out first thing and reserve prime chairs for use later in the day) were out in force. Fortunately the folks at Norwegian do a fairly good job of removing those items and moving them to the towel exchange area, when they are left out to “save” a chair too long.
The sports deck actually opened a bit early today, which was nice because a crowd was already there to enjoy the rope course and bungee trampoline. I ran the rope course a couple of times, as when I finished the first time it was slow enough they let me run it a second time. I then walked around and watched part of the family games contest on the pool deck. It looked as if the kids and their families were having a really good time.
Dinner tonight was in the Japanese Steakhouse where the show was fantastic. We had a great chef. I was glad to taste good food there, as I heard others complain their chef put too much sauce on everything and that ruined their meal. I suppose it is a chef by chef situation. I was pleased with the dinner. Also very glad I took advantage of Norwegian’s Ultimate Dining package. That package saves some money if you choose to dine in a specialty restaurant each night of the cruise as did I.
Friday started out well with nice weather at sea. We spent the morning at sea before arriving just a bit ahead of schedule to Nassau. There I was one of the first off the ship and got thru the shopping area fairly quickly. I had already decided to wait until the whole family would be with me before going to spend the day at Atlantis Resort. We were joined in port by the Carnival Sensation and the Disney Dream, another fairly new and very nice ship.
Once we were in port and it was possible to look down into the water it was great to see how nice and turquoise it is in the Bahamas. I heard folks talking about how they’d like to live in the houses that surround the port area. Most are waterfront with docks for their privately owned boats. I’d agree it would be a great place for the view. (Maybe not directly across from the cruise ship port though.) The weather was very nice for a port day as well.
As the day wore on I took in the sights of the Nassau waterfront from the ship. Having 18 decks of height really provides the opportunity to see far away from the ship and there is a lot of beautiful sights to see around Nassau. I shot some additional video in order to help show others some of the things you can see while on a cruise aboard the Norwegian Getaway.
As we sailed out of Nassau the sun was setting on the horizon. It was a beautiful picture (too bad I left my camera in the cabin and had to rely on my memory to relive the beautiful sight. We departed a few minutes early because everyone was back aboard the ship timely today. Sailing back to Miami I can see out my cabin window another cruise ship on what appears to be generally a similar course a few miles North of us. I assume it is the Carnival Sensation but can’t see the ship name so don’t know for sure.
The last day of the cruise never fails to be filled with lots of last minute activities among all cruisers. For me I spent a lot of time looking the ship over once again. I filled out a kudos card for my cabin attendant and made sure to secure a ticket for a hop-on hop-off tour of Miami tomorrow which will ensure I make it to the Miami airport for my flight home. (It is of course my responsibility to ensure I am back at the main meeting point timely to make my ride out to the airport.) Then the worst part of the last day on a cruise, unless planning to self-disembark, I had to pack and put my bags out in front of my cabin. (Always double check you have anything you need for debark morning before putting the bag out front.)
Debark day back in Miami is always a sad day (regardless of what port is being used). I had a good time though as I took book loops of the Hop On Hop Off tour around Miami Beach and the greater Miami area. It was fun to learn more about the area while burning up some hours before it was time to fly home to my family. All in all it was a good day, especially arriving home within 3 minutes of the scheduled arrival time.
Final Rating on a Five Star basis, with summary of reason for the rating:
I give the ship a (4.5) ****1/2 rating. The ship and crew are clean and service is good. Some of the more popular activities should be open more of the time to allow even more use by all. More activities and brighter colors would go a long way in addition to even a higher level of service of all passengers, towards making it a five star ship. For the mass market of cruise customers this is a top pick ship on which to cruise. A good cruise agent can help you know for sure what ship is best though, based on your specific need.
To view the handouts given to the passengers each day click here.
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