Norwegian Getaway Review
We’ve just returned from a seven day cruise on board Norwegian’s Getaway Ship. We booked this cruise last minute without much thought about the ship but it was the ports that we wanted.
In our past, we had an amazing experience on Norwegian’s Jade Ship in Europe and wanted to see what Norwegian was like in the Caribbean. There’s something about Norwegian Cruise Lines that matches our personality better.
We have done three Carnival Cruises and have something to compare to as far as comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges.
We learned after booking that our cruise would be on board one of the largest cruise ships for Norwegian. Realizing that there could be potentially over 4,000 passengers, it occurred to us about the possible congestion at the terminal and within the food services and shows while on board the ship. We went with an open mind.
Photo Galleries from Our Cruise
- Leaving Miami
- St Maarten
- New Friends on Board (Just us Boys)
- Ship Tour
- Glow Party
- St Thomas
- Nassau Bahamas Blue Lagoon
We arrived at the terminal at 11:45 am and was expecting to wait until 1 pm to board as that’s normal for Carnival. We were expecting a chaotic waiting room with anxious passengers waiting to get onto the ship. We were surprised to board the ship right away with no lines. We’ve never been on a cruise that early before and it made it feel like we had an extra day on board as we were able to settle quicker.
I was hoping to get photos at the terminal but we literally arrived, registered and then walked onto the ship. I couldn’t believe it.
We were absolutely floored by the decor of the ship. Cruise ships are like floating hotels as it is but this was like a hotel + mall + street + more. The decor was exceptionally tasteful as you could loose yourself into the theme of the restaurant without feeling like you were still on a ship. It felt elegant without having to pay for elegant pricing. Pricing is comparable to Carnival.
I was expecting, based on Carnival, to have photographers hounding us to take our photos and push buying the photos. We were so delighted by the fact where the staff on board will leave you alone and not push for extra sales in anyway.
The cabins are definitely smaller, they were on the Jade as well. However, we don’t spend a lot of time in the cabin so it’s not a deal breaker.
The balcony’s of regular staterooms are not as deep as other cruise ships we have been on. The services and areas on the ship make up for this in my opinion.
Based on our walk through, we knew instantly this would be an amazing ship to cruise.
While on the ship, there are meet ups scheduled into the ship’s programming. We went to the ‘Friends of Dorothy’ meet ups each day. While we have attended these types of meet ups on Carnival and Norwegian, for this particular ship, we would astounded by how many people were there. This particular meet up is what made our trip outstanding. With about 30+ gay men meeting up, most being couples, it allowed us to socialize and be ourselves.
There is no one that hosts this meet up. It’s up to the guests to figure it out on their own and be social to make it work.
We have attended Friends of Dorothy on Carnival Cruise Lines and barely anyone shows up. I think what made this meet up place is that is was central to everything on the ship. It was on the direct path in the mid ship on Deck 8. It was comfortable. The services extended by the crew were superb.
It became the meeting point for most of us throughout the entire cruise.
Throughout the week, I would describe that we were doing the gay square dance. The men formed about 4 large groups. Daniel and I bounced between a couple of the groups but by the middle of the week after getting to know people better, we formed a solid group of 11. I speak for all of us, it made our trip the best ever. The laughter, sharing and feeling like you can connect with others is so important.
Solo travelers are encouraged as there are cabins meant for solo travelers. That’s right, you don’t need to pay for a full double cabin if you are by yourself. People staying in the solo cabins have regular get togethers, meet ups and as designated lounge just for the them. Norwegian, in my opinion, goes out of their way to ensure the passengers get a sense of connection with others if a passenger would like that. Everything is optional, of course.
Certainly, with any cruise ships, the amount of food is overwhelming. Of course, your cruise ticket includes 4 restaurants + massive buffet. There are many specialty restaurants that are extra. Food is available 24-7. Room services between Midnight and 5 am is available at an extra cost.
We found the food that is available without extra fees is diverse, well prepared. The main buffet is massive. Best yet, because it’s so big, there are many repeat stations set up so that if you prefer Italian, Indian, Asian and many other types of foods, you are not overwhelmed to wait in long long lines. The biggest lines I did see where for the customized eggs such as omelets and etc.
Many people love to the specialty restaurants so the main inclusive dining areas were not congested like I would have expected. We heard the most positive from Cagney’s Steakhouse. We didn’t go there ourselves to render an opinion.
We did attend Le Bistro with our group of friends. For myself, the food was a bit too elegant for my personal taste. I’m not a fancy eater. Daniel, on the other hand, loved it.
Kids on Board
Norwegian seemed to keep the kids busy. There are plenty of activities going on giving parents some freedom. We did see some parents with a Walkie Talkie to keep in communications with their kids.
According to one of our friends, they were told about 300 kids were on board. You wouldn’t have noticed there were so many. The ship’s layout is ideal to allow passengers who are kid free not to bothered by kids running all over the place.
A handful of times, you see parents not respecting the designated areas of the ship where kids are not permitted to enter as it’s designated 18+. This includes the back deck, some hot tubs, pool and etc. You occasionally see staff asking parents with kids to leave explaining the rules. They handled it professionally even if the parent didn’t appreciate having to leave the area.
As a person without kids, I prefer not to be in a hot tub where kids are treating it like a swimming pool with splashing and even worse, wearing goggles under the water.
One element that I kept commenting on is the lack of hearing the engine of this particular cruise ship. In every ship I have ever been, you can hear the constant hum of the engine. This ship didn’t have any of it from our cabin or just generally around the ship. When the seas were flat, you are liking gliding on air with no vibrations or engine noise.
I’m astounded by the engineering of this ship. The only time you would feel any friction was with the side thrusters to turn the ship around in ports.
Another really great area of the ship was the Waterfront on both port and starboard that runs the length of the ship. It’s a simulation of being on the waterfront with restaurant seating, casual seating and bars.
I’ve never seen a ship utilize so much of the side of the ship. Upon my initial walk around, you felt like you were on a pier over looking the water.
To me, the Waterfront Deck, is the gem of the ship. When you go to walk outside, you are instantly blasted with wind and giving the impression that the outside is exceptionally windy that you will hate it. This causes many passengers to turn around and not walk far enough to realize the wind is the suction of the ship’s air control pulling into the interior of the ship as the doors are open. Once the doors close, it’s a serene area.
You barely see kids on this deck. You barely see any passengers with exception to a few that have realized that the wind when you go outside is only in the door area. Soon as you sit down on a couch or more, you realize it’s probably one of the most relaxing areas on the ship. You can walk around the ship too on the outside on this deck. There are many restaurants on this deck that have exterior patios using this space.
We watched two shows while on board. Both were in the Getaway Theatre. We watched Burn Up The Floor (Ballroom Dancing) and Legally Blonde (A Musical).
Burn Up The Floor was the talk of the ship. The energy of the dancers were, without question, incredible. Most of the music is very quick paced with non simple moves. Due to the exceptionally quick pace, it was awesome to see the entire cast to be in time with each other. A loud standing ovation at the end was well deserved.
Legally Blonde was either a hit or miss. Personally, I didn’t enjoy it and caught myself falling asleep. Humour doesn’t really hit until the last 15 minutes of a 90 minute show. The lady beside me kept nodding off banging her head on her purse each time. She was drooling too but she was doing what I was feeling too. There were several attempts of humour put into the show but most of it tanked as I think the humour was a bit childish or they were trying to too hard.
I would guess about 20 guests walked out of the theatre in mid show. I considered it myself. I don’t think it’s the singers. I think it’s the overall concept of the musical theme itself.
None of our friends attended Illusionarism. I didn’t hear any feedback from this show and wasn’t enticed to go based on not getting a real time review from someone who attended it on the ship.
We had three ports and they were St Maarten, St Thomas and Nassau Bahamas.
St Maarten, we decided to go to Orient Beach where it’s partially clothing optional. We did exercise our right to strip off and I felt very comfortable in doing so. I was partially expecting fully clothed people to pass on by being nosey but I didn’t see that happen. It was $70 each to go to this beach through the ship.
Our friends grabbed a taxi at $7 each to go to the beach… Then $7 each to return. In retrospect, I wish I had done the taxi too to save money. Though our excursion had lunch and 2 free drinks, the money savings is substantial enough to figure out your own transportation to the beach. It took a while to organize the entire group prior to getting onto the bus to get there. We could have stayed much longer if we went on our own.
For obvious reasons, photographs are not allowed to be taken on this beach. Photo above is Orient Beach but not the Clothing Optional Portion of the beach. You have to go out of your way to get to the Optional Clothing Portion of the beach. Meaning parents can go to this beach without worry of accidentally running into this portion.
The water was exceptionally warm and wonderful.
St Thomas, we decided to wander and do our own thing. We went up into side of the mountain using the Gondola. It was nice and we didn’t say up very long. We wandered and it was exceptionally hot.
We found the stores had people in the streets being somewhat aggressive to get you to go into their store. We found a couple art shops to visit. Most stores who claim they have art, they have mass produced items from China that they are trying to sell.
Nassau, we went to the Blue Lagoon. It’s about $60 each to go. It’s a private beach. It comes with 1 non-alcohol drink and lunch. It’s heavily commercialized once you on the beach. You get nickel and dimed if you want the little things that make your visit more enjoyable.
It looks like a fun playground but realize that almost everything comes at an extra charge. Daniel and I didn’t do anything extra.
There are also dolphins called the Dolphin Encounter. It’s penned off inside the lagoon where the dolphins cannot leave. I actually felt sorry for them. Who doesn’t want to see a dolphin? However, I prefer to see dolphins in their natural habitat verses being trapped in a pen. I’m not a fan of dolphins being captive and will not knowingly support it.
To me, what makes this worse is the fact that these dolphins most likely can communicate with free dolphins in the ocean but are trapped behind fencing. Food isn’t natural as they must be fed. This excursion was hugely attended so I don’t see it going away any time soon. It breaks my heart.
While on board, we purchased 1 Ultimate Beverage Program for each of us. After buying the first alcohol drink, we realized it’s going to add up quickly. Never before have we purchased this program. To pay for itself, we needed to buy a minimum of 7 drinks under $10 each. Speaking honestly, we never purchased enough of these drinks to warrant buying the card by the end of the trip. We don’t drink that much. However, a couple days, we did go over 7 when at sea and those days paid for itself. I wasn’t upset that I didn’t get my monies worth out of the card because there is peace of mind knowing you don’t really need to monitor your drinks and worry about extra purchases. This program also included Soda, not all of our drinks were alcohol based.
The automatic gratuity is not included with the card. So you will end up paying the gratuity separately which may be $1 – $2 extra per purchase.
You need to ensure your drink is under $10 to ensure it qualifies for the card. For examples, Bottles of Wine and drinks over $10 cannot be included into this program.
Room For Improvement or Heads Up
I was really disappointed that our beverage program didn’t include specialty coffees, hot chocolate and etc. Based on alcohol drinks being between $6 – $10 for the beverage program. I felt that specialty coffees should have been included with the card as it’s called the Ultimate Beverage Card. I actually thought the coffees were included with the card. I probably would have got my monies worth out of the card to get to the minimum 7 drinks I needed each day for the card to pay itself. I think in future cruises, we will not bother with the beverage program and just cut back. If specialty coffees are included, that would change my mind.
All shows that are free need to be reserved ahead of time. For me, I prefer to carefree cruise. I don’t usually plan ahead and suddenly realized someone is talking about a show and realized I haven’t booked ahead. For both of the shows I attended, they were spur of the moment decisions and I showed up at the entrance and they scanned my card without giving me a hard time. There was space in the audience and not much to worry about. Booking in advance is due to the amount of passengers on board the cruise ship. I am sure when the ship is at it’s limit for passengers that it can get really booked up and crowd management such as this is required.
I was a tad disappointed in select serving staff which trying to communicate with guests. Asking for a screw driver drink or even a fuzzy navel wasn’t understood. If you have a menu, you can grab it and just point to what you wanted. If not, you may have did what I did and just asked for something different until they understood what you were wanting. This wasn’t a deal breaker for me.
The smoking on deck 15 mid ship in the adult pool area was a bit much. Smokers do deserve their own space and I won’t discriminate on that bases. You have to walk through the smoking section to get to the buffet from where our room was. The smoke travels down the deck area so you really cannot escape it. There was a designated area that surrounded in partial glass. There is also a bar areas where smokers can congregate or sit on a fixed stool. I found the smoke smell tended to linger this area making it part of the ship we avoided from hanging around.
For the Glow Party, I wish there was someone monitoring the people leaving with glow wands. There were a select number given out which builds the ambiance. I wish people who decided to leave early had to give up their glow wand to the people who still wanted to party on. I was disappointed to see people leaving early taking their wands with them. It eventually leaves the dance floor with less wands flashing and creating a really fun vibe.
I felt that some of the stuff you could enjoy on the boat came with a price tag, which is a bit much. We only went to one specialty restaurant during our cruise, Le Bistro. At a usual $20 minimum per person. A specialty meal is about $40 for the couple plus drinks. Our drinks were covered by our beverage program. However, though we had friends trying many of the restaurants, we felt that we wanted to spend extra money such as this on excursions. The meals in the main buffet and formal dining rooms that are included were sufficient for us.
We really wanted to try the Ice Bar where you are practically in a freezer. Cover charge was $20 per person which included 2 drinks. The drinks weren’t part of the Beverage Program allowance. We didn’t hear many positive comments about the ice bar. Positive meaning, ‘You Need to See It For Yourself!’ type of comments. I think this type of situation would be better in a group of people you know to share the experience. I believe the Ice Bar is novelty. It’s so cold, as expected, but you will not stay long. Whether it’s worth it is a personal choice.
Kudos, Above & Beyond
Norwegian is about carefree cruising. At times, it’s really hot especially as you head south. There are parties outside virtually every night. Out of personal choice, I wore a dress shirt and tie. With the option of carefree cruising, I could wear dress shorts and, in fact, many passengers did to the dining rooms. It was more comfortable over all and I really appreciated to be able to dine in a nice setting without being sent to the buffet like you would experience at Carnival Cruise Lines. It saves from dashing from dinner to the night party to change.
I was really impressed with the option to purchase down payments for future cruises of $250 giving us $100 on board credit for this cruise. You could purchase down payments for each person in the cabin instead of just one per cabin like you can on Carnival. You could have purchased up to 4 future cruises credits per person. You have 4 years to use them. With Carnival, you can only purchase one advance $250 per cabin regardless of the number of people who are in the cabin. Norwegian’s options give passengers more options and sign up for more than 1 credit to ensure passengers will return more than just once.
The Glow Party was a lot of fun. The opening presentation of the kick start of the glow party was amazing. I cannot even describe it and wish I would have filmed it. It was beyond cool. It was highly popular and many who attended said it the ultimate party of the ship.
One of the evenings, there were fireworks being launched from the ship. I wouldn’t say the fireworks were mind blowing but they were neat. Clear starry lit sky with colourful fireworks to music was really cool. I’ve never seen that before.
I enjoyed being left alone by the crew. If I wanted a drink to be served, they weren’t far.
The waterfront on Deck 8 was my most favourite area to hang out. It was out of the way, relaxing and I enjoyed being able to sit, have service if I wanted it. There’s not many people out there and you can escape the majority of the passengers without being confined to your quarters.
The Serenity Area of Carnival was forever kicking out our group off the deck during 1 week of the crochet cruises last February. Carnival Miracle. While it was comfortable to be out, cleaning of the deck was happening at times where people still wanted to be outside and enjoy it further. I found with Norwegian, areas stayed open later and you didn’t encounter staff cleaning major areas of the ship during any times that I would consider to be an inconvenience.
Would I Cruise Norwegian Cruise Lines Again?
Absolutely. We have had two cruises with Norwegian and both cruises have been absolutely incredible and relaxing. I would even go as far to say they provided dream vacations for us. The service, atmosphere, food choices and over all feeling at home on the cruise ship meets and aligns perfectly with our personalities. We are not heavy party people such as Carnival’s fun ships of being known to party. Norwegian is a cross of being somewhat sophisticated without being snobbish.
I believe for others who have kids, you are good hands with quality programming to keep the kids busy.
The layouts and contemporary decor is cozy making you feel like you are home throughout your cruise. For private vacations, though we have only done Norwegian in comparison to Carnival. Norwegian best aligns with our personalities. It made for choosing to rebook a very easy decision. In fact, all of our new friends that we made on the ship committed to future cruises taking the deal without any hesitations. Many of them it was their very first ever Norwegian Cruise.
I can see us moving The Crochet Cruises to Norwegian Cruise Lines for 2016 but is not confirmed at this time. We are unsure how they can handle groups and everything involved in doing so. We will have to get our agent to do a bit of digging to see if this is possible.