12th Jan 2024 | 5 nights | Norwegian Cruise Line | Norwegian Getaway
Getaway simply oozes Miami, and that's exactly what Norwegian Cruise Line was going for when it built the ship. It starts with the hull, with art designed by Miami artist David "LEBO" Le Batard. It's impossible to miss the painting, which features a mermaid and pelicans and employs the colours of the sea. Inside, the overall colour palate successfully melds bright purples and turquoises with more muted browns and gleaming silvers. Even the public spaces feel like Miami. Passengers can grab a variety of signature cocktails at Sugarcane Mojito Bar and eat rice and beans and other Latin-inspired cuisine at the Flamingo Grill. Then there's The Waterfront, an outdoor space that encircles Deck 8, where passengers can sip drinks or dine alfresco. While the innovation debuted on twin sister Norwegian Breakaway, it just really works on Getaway, which sails year-round from Miami, where the weather is always ideal for spending time enjoying dinner, drinks and uninterrupted ocean views.
Getaway scores huge points for entertainment options with 28 restaurants, more than a dozen bars, Broadway-caliber theatre and a large sports complex that boasts a ropes course, climbing wall and zip line. Passengers on Getaway would have to go out of their way to squeeze in everything. It's almost impossible to be bored. Highlights include Howl at the Moon, an outrageous sing-along duelling piano show; musical "Million Dollar Quartet"; dinner theatre production The Illusionarium; and five multistory waterslides, including the scream-inducing Free Fall.
The ship was built for socializing, with most of the action taking place around 678 Ocean Place, the three-deck open space around which many of Getaway's bars are located. Have dinner in Le Bistro on Deck 6, catch a Second City improv comedy show across the way at Headliners, and then climb the stairs to hit the Casino on Deck 7 before finishing the night at Sugarcane Mojito Bar on Deck 8 without missing a beat. The area is packed with activities, which also means it's packed with people. The casino encircles the area on Deck 7, and smoke drifts to restaurants and clubs on the decks above and below. It also leads to some bottlenecking as passengers make their way through. Adding to the chaos is Norwegian's Freestyle dining concept which, while much-adored on the line's smaller ships, can seem onerous on a ship of more than 4,000. A vacation on Getaway requires planning ahead to get seats in the venues that you want.
It also can make avoiding the crowds somewhat of a challenge, though it's entirely possible. Set off from the rest of the ship, the Vibe Beach Club and the Thermal Suite spa lounge provide sanctuary, but you'll pay for the privilege. Of course, luxe-lovers can head off the crowds before boarding by booking a room in the Haven, Norwegian's ship-within-a-ship enclave, which has a small pool, restaurant and lounge exclusively for Haven suite residents.
Generally, cabins are comfortable though snug, with balconies that are small, even at the suite level. Still, Getaway is a perfect option for passengers who consider the ship to be the destination. Options for entertainment are plentiful, and outdoor spaces work in harmony with the Miami theme and Caribbean sunshine.
Editor's Note: As of May 2017 Norwegian Getaway will be based in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the summer.
Daytime: With its Freestyle dining program, Norwegian broke cruising's formal night tradition years ago, and the casual concept has only gained in popularity with casual clothing the norm during the day.
Evening: While passengers are encouraged to "dress up" (meaning suits for men and cocktail dresses for women) one night, now called Norwegian's Night Out, only a fraction of people do. On this Miami-based ship, women should be fine with sundresses, skirts or nice pants with blouses most evenings, while men can get by with khakis or linen pants and collared shirts. Note that some of the nicer restaurants, such as Le Bistro and Cagney's, do require men to wear slacks; you'll see few shorts at an event such as the Chef's Table.
Not permitted: Tank tops and baseball caps are prohibited in the main dining rooms. Shoes must be worn in all dining venues at all times.
For more performance-based entertainment options, start with the Getaway Theater. With an art deco-inspired entrance and box office area, the venue hosts the majority of onboard shows, including the Broadway musical "Million Dollar Quartet" (beginning May 15). The show follows a night in the recording studio with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, and features many of their crowd-pleasing hits. Passengers can also head to the theatre to check out dance revue "Burn the Floor," a riveting 55-minute production taking place in Havana, as well as other more traditional entertainment options.
Game shows, such as "Jeopardy" and "Deal or No Deal," are held in the Getaway Theater on select evenings. A popular draw is the current movies shown in 3D in the theatre in the evenings.
During the day, Headliners comedy club, near Le Bistro on Deck 6, is used for Bingo and several art auctions. The big screen on Deck 6 in the atrium is used for a larger view of towel animal-folding and fruit-carving demonstrations, as well as a variety of Q & As with entertainment acts, such as performers from the Grammy Experience and the magicians from Illusionarium. Dance classes, casino raffles, arts and crafts, behind-the-scenes tours and other free events rotate throughout the cruise. Cupcake- and cake-decorating classes are for-fee and held during select times. You can also elevate your lunch into a show with "Wine Lovers, the Musical" (see Dining section).
At night, Levity Entertainment Group's comedians perform 12 shows per week at Headliners, a combination of scripted standup and improv sessions by Second City. Warning: These are not necessarily kid-friendly, so make sure you check beforehand about the content if you are thinking of bringing children. Reservations are necessary for the show, but we easily got seats several times by showing up early and waiting to see if empty seats were available.
Headliners also doubles as home to the impressive "Howl at the Moon" duelling piano show, which pits two pianists against each other as they play passengers' requests. The show generally lasts for several hours, allowing you to come and go as you please, but with a bar in the same room, there's really no need to leave. The piano players perform a variety of classic songs across the ages and invite requests and participation in the form of dancing. It can get pretty raucous.
Bliss Ultra Lounge, Getaway's Deck 8 nightclub, gets a nod as the best place to bump and grind until 4 a.m., should that be your activity of choice. In the evenings, Bliss hosts karaoke, but after dinner, it turns into a trendy lounge with funky chairs and tables, purple and blue lighting, and a DJ who plays lots of hip-hop. Nights are themed, ranging from '50s and '60s to hits of the '90s. Be sure to check your Freestyle Daily for the night's music selection.
Each night seemed to end at the sun-deck-by-day Spice H2O, with a variety of themed dance parties. The most popular, by far, was the Glow Party. (Get there early for glow face painting.) We were surprised to find it was appropriate for all ages, and having cruisers ages 2 to 82 getting down makes the event that much more fun for families. An '80s party, complete with flash mob of Michael Jackson's "Thriller," was also a night of nonstop dancing and "This is my song!"
As of November 2015, The Grammy Experience has been replaced by Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club, also on Breakaway. This is your late-night hangout to grab a drink, hear some live music and saunter out to the Waterfront portion of the venue for some fresh air. (Music is piped outside so you can still enjoy the blues.)
The sprawling 18,000-square-foot Getaway Casino on Deck 7 fans out around the main staircase at 678 Ocean Place. But rather than being contained in one room, it stretches from just outside the bar of O'Sheehan's all the way to Shanghai's Noodle Bar, so you'll find slots and tables lining the corridor and spaces as you walk along the ship. Although smoking is only allowed in the centre area of the casino (and not in the corridors leading to O'Sheehan's and Shanghai's), the smell still permeates the midsection of the ship. Norwegian says it has installed adequate ventilation and has no plans to change its smoking policy. The casino has more than 300 slot machines and 26 gaming tables, featuring poker, blackjack, roulette and craps.
And, finally, combine dinner and a show at the Illusionarium (see Dining section). We were surprised to find that, six months after the ship's launch, the acts had almost entirely changed, bringing new life to the show and making it more entertaining the second time around.
If you're in search of a beer or a cocktail, you have plenty of choice on Getaway, which has nearly 20 bars. Deck 8 is a hotspot, including a dance club, mojito bar, ice bar and cigar bar. The Waterfront is also a fantastic place to sip a drink among the ocean breezes. Bars and venues on Deck 8 spill outside, providing an entirely new nightlife scene.
The Bar at the Atrium (Deck 6): Ideal for a tipple in the middle of it all. Positioned centrally in the main atrium -- near the guest services and shore excursions desks, the Internet cafe and a giant movie screen -- you can absorb your surroundings, drink in hand, while watching your fellow passengers come and go or participate in activities like "sing it if you know it" karaoke.
Mixx (Deck 6 aft): Located between Getaway's two main dining rooms, Taste and Savor, Mixx is pretty standard as far as bars go, but its proximity to both restaurants makes it a good choice for after-dinner drinks.
O'Sheehan's (Deck 7): This spot is the place to go for beer (it's on tap) and an order of wings, burgers, and fish and chips while watching one of several TVs positioned throughout the restaurant and bar areas, which span a large portion of the atrium. If your team isn't playing, you can also bowl, test your skill at arcade basketball or enjoy video games like PAC-MAN. Note: Food is free at this 24-hour venue, but drinks and game play cost extra.
Bar 21 (Deck 7): This bar gives off an upscale ambience in spite of its location in the Getaway Casino. Easily accessible and done up in light, neutral colours, it's a nice spot to sip a drink, whether you're betting the night away or just passing through. Amid the gorgeous tile work, individual betting machines are embedded within the bar so you're never too far away from the action.
Sugarcane Mojito Bar (Deck 8): Sugarcane offers plenty of Latin flavour. With palm tree decor, live music, aqua-blue lighting, tropical chairs and, of course, mojitos served with raw sugarcane, this cosy bar is reminiscent of what you might find at an upscale Miami resort. We recommend getting a flight -- six sweet and savoury varieties, starting at $15 -- to select your favourite for the remainder of the cruise. It's a lot to drink for one person; try sharing among friends. Outdoor seating is available.
Sunset Bar (Deck 8): Sunset Bar channels the spirit of Hemingway with dark woods, plush seating and a literary theme, just across from La Cucina. It's quiet and intimate -- perfect for chatting without having to shout. Note, however, that it also leads to the Humidor Cigar Lounge, so you might get an occasional whiff of smoke. An outdoor bar extends onto the Waterfront.
The Svedka & Inniskillin Ice Bar (Deck 8); $20 per person: The Ice Bar offers a change of pace for anyone who has had it up to here with the standard bar scene. For an added fee, ice bargoers gain admittance for a limited time, as well as two drinks from a predetermined list and the use of oversized silver parkas to keep them toasty while sitting on giant ice cubes.
Prime Meridian (Deck 8 aft): Prime Meridian is a relaxing, dark-wood bar, located smack in the middle of the giant room that houses Cagney's Steakhouse and Moderno Churrascaria, the ship's Brazilian steakhouse. If you'd like pre-dinner drinks while you wait to be seated or after-dinner drinks to chase your filet mignon, it's the perfect spot. It is large, and was never crowded during our sailings.
The Grammy Experience (Deck 8): This venue (Fat Cats on other ships) spills out onto the Waterfront and is decorated with various bits of memorabilia, curated from the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. This spot is a must for any music-lover. By day, you can grab a drink and check out the exhibit. By night, it hosts guest performers (see Entertainment).
Waves Pool Bar (Deck 15): Waves is the ideal choice for sunbathers who need only walk a few steps to snag a pina colada or a bucket of beer.
The Flamingo Bar & Grill (Deck 16): Another underrated spot at Flamingo is its bar, beautifully surrounded by blue tiling in a quiet, shaded area with a television playing international sports. A full bar is available, and seating is plentiful. There was never anyone there, save for the occasional walk-up to bring drinks back to a table or the pool area.
Getaway's main pool area is located on Deck 15; it's a relatively small pool, considering the size of the ship. It's surrounded by four whirlpools, which were packed during our sailing. A secondary kids pool area is also located on Deck 15.
Those who long for action will be at home on Getaway, which features plenty of activities to get your heart pounding. We love the five waterslides that make up the ship's Aqua Park on Deck 17, especially the two fast-and-furious Free Fall slides that send riders on a scream-inducing plunge. The other slides offer tamer but still fun options.
Those who want a dryer thrill can take to the pirate-themed ropes course, also on Deck 17, where passengers are hooked into harnesses before climbing over various obstacles. The brave can try out an 8-foot plank, which extends over the side of the ship. Once at the end, smile for the camera; you can buy the photo at Click Photo Gallery. The course also features a short zip line. A 48-inch minimum height requirement applies for passengers who climb the ropes course. The area also features a 33-foot-high rock climbing wall (height restrictions also apply) and a nine-hole mini-golf course (also pirate-themed) below.
Spice H2O (Deck 16) and Vibe Beach Club (Deck 17) are the ship's adults-only spaces. Spice includes hot tubs and a waterfall. Once the sun goes down, passengers can dance the night away; this is where the bulk of the ship's theme night events take place. Vibe is a much quieter space, where passengers can chill on loungers to the sounds of a water feature or take a dip in the oversized hot tub. The venue features cabanas and caps the number of passengers at 60 for crowd control. While Spice is free to use, Vibe requires a fee ($79 per week, $20 per day), and passes can sell out quickly. The two-person cabanas in Vibe require a separate reservation of $299 per week, but this includes access to Vibe, as well as a food and beverage credit. Vibe's claim to ultimate sunbathing fame is complimentary spritzes, water, chilled towels and fruit skewers while you bake.
The Deck 6 atrium offers the usual guest services and shore excursion desks, a coffee shop and a bar. Tucked away in a corner of the ship, off the starboard side of the central atrium, the traditional public areas -- library, meeting rooms, card room and Internet cafe -- are gathered almost as an afterthought.
The Internet cafe consists of 12 computer terminals oddly arranged next to a stage that hosts live performances in the evening. The layout rarely affords passengers a quiet space to check email and surf the Web. Wi-Fi is also available throughout the ship. Prices for getting online include both a pay-as-you-go option (95 cents per minute) and packages (100 minutes for $85 or 250 minutes for $129). Packaged minutes can be used interchangeably on ship computers and personal computers, and a $3.95 activation fee is levied on all users on initial login. Printing is available for 50 cents per document. The manager's hours vary, depending on whether the ship is in port or at sea; you can find hours posted each day in the Freestyle Daily, Norwegian's daily schedule.
The small but attractively decorated library is laid out like a comfy little lounge and offers books and e-books for borrowing. The selection of titles, as on many ships, is relatively limited. The card room is elegantly decorated, with maritime photos and posters lining the walls; it offers a small collection of games, as well as tables and chairs for playing them. The tiny and sparsely decorated Atlantic and Pacific Meeting rooms are across the hall from the library and card rooms. The rooms have a retractable wall, which, when opened, leaves a space that would still struggle to accommodate anything but a small group.
Click Photo Gallery and shopping are on Deck 8. Getaway features all the traditional cruise-ship shopping, including fine jewellery, duty-free alcohol and cigarettes, various sundries, clothing and accessories, and lots of Getaway-branded items. The photo gallery offers a cruise ship standard selection of cameras, binoculars and bric-a-brac (bobble-head dolls), along with photo packages. Passengers can get a 10-photo package for $129.95 or 20 photos for $199.95. Full price lists are available on request.
There are no self-service laundry facilities on Getaway.
At 23,000 square feet, Norwegian Getaway's Mandara Spa, Salon and Fitness Center is located aft on Decks 14 and 15. The opening hours are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, except for the last day, when it closes at 8 p.m. Spa treatments run the gamut from massages and teeth whitening to facials and cellulite removal. Before your treatment, you're ushered into a Relaxation Lounge on the spa's lower floor, which features cushy brown loungers and an array of flavoured waters and teas. The treatment rooms themselves are spacious, with doors thick enough to muffle sound from the hallway.
Couples treatments are also available (at a significant cost) in the ship's Spa Villa. Men can get shaves and facials, while teens and kids have specific (and fun) treatment options. Various mother/daughter and father/son treatments are available, too.
The spa also offers a Thermal Suite with a steam room, dry sauna, thalassotherapy pool, hot tubs and heated tile loungers. The area also features a salt room, a trendy land-spa experience reputed to provide therapeutic benefits for those who breathe in the salt air. Use of the Thermal Suite costs $45 per day or $199 for a weeklong sailing. Access is not included in the cost of your already pricey treatment.
The fitness centre on Deck 15 is pretty sizable and cleverly separates cardio and free weight/weight machine spaces, which eases crowding. Cardio equipment includes treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes and a rowing machine. The weight room features a small (and quickly crowded) mat area that's set aside for stretching. Getaway offers a number of exercise classes. TRX suspension training, Fly Wheel cycling and a boxing class require signup ahead of time and carry a fee. Other classes, such as stretching and abs, are offered for free. Zumba was offered on our sailing at the basketball court on Deck 17. It was hosted by one of the Burn the Floor dancers, it proved a fun workout, and it was free. Check your Freestyle Daily for days and times.
Those who want to take their exercise routines outdoors can hit the jogging track, located on Deck 15, but because it's in a high-traffic area (near the rock climbing wall and dining venues), it's only open before 9:30 a.m. and after 6 p.m.). The track is on the small side: Eight laps equal a mile. It's also just one lane, meaning it can get quite crowded during peak times. We found that passengers tended to use the jogging track space more for standing on than for running, so if you want to get in some mileage, try lapping the Waterfront early in the morning.
Norwegian Getaway Restaurants
As with other ships in Norwegian's fleet, Getaway practices Freestyle dining, meaning there's no early or late assigned seating, and reservations are not allowed in the complimentary dining rooms, except for Haven passengers. We found quality varies depending on the venue, and while you will pay for better quality in the speciality dining venues, Norwegian has been working hard to upgrade its main dining experience fleetwide. On Getaway, this is reflected in dining choices that showcase a bit of international flavour and variety. Think innovations like Vietnamese pho soup for lunch or a vegetarian Indian curry for dinner. The options now extend beyond cruise-ship standards like steak and fish, expanding the menus in line with cruisers' more adventurous palates.
Savor and Taste (Deck 6): Getaway has several complimentary main dining rooms. Located on Deck 6, across from one another, Savor and Taste share the same kitchen and same rotating menu but are broken up into two spaces to provide a more intimate experience. Decor is similar with slight colour variations. Both dining rooms are furnished with dark woods and glass accents, but Savor's colour scheme incorporates blue tones, while Taste's includes red ones.
On our cruise, Savor served breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and lunch on sea days from noon to 1:30 p.m. Both restaurants serve dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 or 10 p.m. Expect dinner entrees that include pork loin, chimichurri skirt steak salad, Szechuan chicken and Indian curry; lunch offerings like salmon burgers, meatball subs, shrimp and arugula salad, and even Vietnamese chicken pho (soup); and desserts like pecan pie, creme caramel, Caribbean pineapples or a warm chocolate volcano. Breakfast items are a traditional mix of eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, French toast and waffles. Hot and cold cereals, pastries and fruit are also available.
Tropicana Room (Deck 7): The third complimentary dining room, the Tropicana Room, has the same main dining menu, enhanced with the feel of a 1940s supper club -- and Norwegian nailed it. The Tropicana Room features floor-to ceiling windows and a central stage with a dance floor. The Latin jazz band playing at the front of the room helps to cement that 1940s feel. Dinner is served from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. nightly, and the space also hosts smaller performances of the "Burn the Floor" Latin dance show.
Garden Cafe (Deck 15): The ship's main buffet serves breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. A smaller breakfast selection is available for early risers from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., and snacks are served from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and again from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
The space is open, with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow ocean views. It's where you'll find buffet staples like made-to-order omelettes and waffles, pasta and carving stations, grilled items and dessert. We enjoyed many of the premade cold salads like curried chicken salad with apples. The popular soft-serve ice cream machine is up there, too (with a hard ice cream station at mealtimes). The counters wind around, stations like the salad bars and sandwich-making areas are repeated. Still, walk as far down as you can to weigh your options before filling your plate.
Flamingo Bar & Grill (Deck 16): If you don't want to brave buffet lines, the Flamingo Bar & Grill on Deck 16 is conveniently located near the pool and Spice H2O. It serves Latin dishes like pulled pork, rice and beans, and empanadas. The yucca fries with cilantro sauce was delightful, and we couldn't get enough. Recipes were developed by Norwegian's Miami-based staff, and, in general, they deliver an authentic flavour. The space is a light-filled sanctuary to grab breakfast, especially when pulling into port. Breakfast items range from Cuban specialities like pastelitas (guava and cheese filled pastries) and ham, swiss and tomato puff pastries to breakfast sandwiches, fruit and more traditional American breakfast items. Hours on sea days are 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and noon to 5 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on port days.
O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill (Deck 7): O'Sheehan's is the de facto place for late-night munchies, with pizza, hamburgers and other comfort food available 24/7. With a two-story TV screen, a miniature bowling lane, pool tables and arcade games, the venue tempts you to never leave -- unless you're sensitive to noise. The decibel level there can be deafening. It's a good option for breakfast, with standards like omelettes and French toast, and around 8 a.m. on the first sea day, it was a ghost town. Each night one special entree is featured -- such as prime rib, fried chicken or chicken and waffles -- in addition to regular menu items. This is also the place for tap beer; if you order one from anywhere on the ship, chances are it's coming from O'Sheehan's.
Shanghai's Noodle Bar (Deck 7): With long counter seating around an open kitchen, you'll find traditional Chinese noodles, wok-fried dishes and dim sum at the Noodle Bar. Tucked back behind the casino, Shanghai's is unassuming but authentic, hot, fresh and delicious. If you can snag a seat facing the kitchen, it becomes a meal and a show as you watch the chefs expertly prepare your meal pulling noodles from a refrigerated door, chopping the vegetables and putting things in and out of large, steaming pots. Our favourites were the spring roll, char siu noodles in broth (the Chinese barbecue pork was deliciously melty), vegetarian fried rice and fried pork dumplings (or steamed if you prefer), but really everything on the limited menu seemed well done.
Haven Restaurant (Deck 16): Haven passengers have their own separate main dining room within the enclave, where breakfast (7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. sea days, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. port days), lunch (noon to 2 p.m.) and dinner (5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.) are served. The Haven does take reservations for its passengers, which is a nice perk, particularly if the ship is at capacity. The quality of the food in the Haven Restaurant is a standout. The fettuccine with porcini mushrooms in a truffle sauce (served at lunch) is one of the best things we had all cruise. Standard breakfast items include steak and eggs, Tahitian vanilla challah French toast, buttermilk hotcakes with walnut butter and caramelized bananas, smoked salmon frittata and fruits de mer in brioche. Coffee comes in a French press, but you'll still pay more for fresh-squeezed juice. In addition, a breakfast buffet with a variety of fresh fruit and accoutrements is available each morning. One chef's special is featured each evening for dinner, in addition to menu items like roasted salmon, beef short ribs and wild mushroom ravioli.
Haven's lounge and pool also have their own menus, which don't change during the cruise. Menu items include homemade potato chips with warm blue cheese; grilled asparagus and prosciutto; house-smoked salmon; Serrano ham, Manchego cheese and marinated olives with grilled country bread; and a tunatini (ginger soy tuna tartare, seaweed salad and sesame seeds). The Haven Bar, within the lounge, is open 9 a.m. to close.
Room Service: In-cabin dining is available at any time. With the exception of Haven and suite guests, all passengers are subject to a $9.95 convenience fee per order. Breakfast is continental with fruit, yoghurt, pastries and cereals; other menu items include chicken soup, sandwiches, salads and a few dessert offerings.
There are 28 restaurants on Getaway, meaning diners are spoiled for choice, especially if they don't mind paying extra for meals. Our favourites were seafood standout Ocean Blue and the ship's two steakhouses, Cagney's (classic) and Moderno Churrascaria (Brazilian). Other highlights include outdoor dining along The Waterfront and a choice of ethnic cuisines. Foodies might want to look into Norwegian's Ultimate Dining Package, which allows passengers to dine every night in a different restaurant for a set discounted price; cost varies by length of cruise.
Keep in mind that popular extra-fee spots like Cagney's and Teppanyaki fill up fast, so if you have your heart set on a particular venue at a particular time, reservations are essential. Make them well before you board the ship. Judging from the reservation lists, the most popular speciality restaurants seem to be Le Bistro (French), Cagney's (steakhouse) and Teppanyaki (Asian). Teppanaki receives high marks for entertainment value, while Le Bistro and Cagney's deliver a more "foodie" experience. Most venues are open from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner. Wasabi and Shanghai's are open until 11 p.m.
Teppanyaki (Deck 7); $25 per person: If you like some patter with your dinner, you'll love the hibachi-style Teppanyaki. Eight tables/cooking stations (12 people per table) serve 96 diners, so you'll probably sit with people you don't know, but conversations start flowing pretty quick as the "show" begins. Diners are entertained as the two chefs make chit-chat, tell bad jokes and send onions, eggs and vegetables flying through the air (and into the passengers' mouths). Miso soup is served as the starter; entrees include combinations of chicken, beef and seafood (including lobster), as well as a vegetarian option, all served with ginza salad, vegetables and garlic fried rice. Ice cream or fresh fruit serve as dessert.
Le Bistro (Deck 6); $19.95 per person: Le Bistro is the place for Francophiles to get their escargot fix; they arrive swimming in garlic butter, with baguettes for sopping. Diners can enjoy a variety of French fare and a better-than-average wine list. The executive chef mentioned Le Bistro is the most popular venue for celebrating special occasions. Located midship, the restaurant has seats outside in 678 Ocean Place that are meant to evoke a sidewalk cafe; be warned that this option can get noisy and smoky from the casino above. We prefer the more romantic indoor seating. Les quatre cornets (four cones) was an appetizer of tiny cones containing a variety of fillings like duck confit, smoked chicken salad, salad Provencal, and blue cheese and walnuts; everyone at the table wanted to know what they were, and they were a great choice for an indecisive diner. Our roast rack of lamb was cooked to perfection -- no easy task -- and we heard good things about the duck and coq au vin, as well. Three bistro specials, including fruits de mer, are listed at an additional $10 per diner. Dessert features a two-person fondue (more chocolate than we knew what to do with) and an exceptional cheese plate.
La Cucina (Deck 8); $14.95 per person: Italian food is always a crowd-pleaser, yet La Cucina never seems to receive the accolades that other Norwegian speciality restaurants get. The Tuscan-influenced space is charming, with wooden beams, twinkling lanterns and outdoor tables on the Waterfront. The indoor/outdoor atmosphere seemed to be a draw for both couples and large parties. (We have it from a good source that this is the favourite restaurant of Rune, the ship's captain at our time of sailing.) Choose from a range of antipastos, soups, salads, meat dishes and, of course, pizza and pasta.
Cagney's (Deck 8); $29.95 per person: Cagney's has the traditional steakhouse feel, with warm wood and leather. The most popular dining venue onboard Getaway, the steakhouse sticks to basics with four varieties of certified Angus beef from 5 to 18 ounces with seven toppings and four sauces to choose from. From the five starters, the shrimp cocktail with Jack Daniel's cocktail sauce was a popular choice; two soups and three salads round out the pre-entree dishes. Chicken and ribs are available as alternatives to steak, and three options are listed under Fisherman's Corner, with the grilled sea bass drawing our attention as a potential hidden gem. If you're vegetarian, be sure to request ahead there -- there are no listed options. The highlight of Cagney's is its addicting truffle fries, but don't overlook the other sides. The grilled beetroots and shallots were expertly prepared and a nice break for the palate from the heavier fare. Desserts lure even the most meat-stuffed diners with a popular raspberry creme brulee and a rich Oreo cheesecake. Other options include a brownie, fruit salad, ice cream sandwich and apple crisp.
Moderno Churrascaria (Deck 8); $19.95 per person: Moderno serves grilled and roasted meat tableside via roving waiters (called passadors) in a manner meant to evoke a Brazilian experience. You can try all 10 options, including garlic beef, lamb chops, marinated pork ribs and bacon-wrapped chicken. There's a huge salad bar, too, for those who need some greens to accompany all that meat, but it's also stocked with a range of cold pasta salads, cheeses, meats and ceviche. Be warned: Four sides (mashed potatoes, fried bananas, beans, etc.) will arrive at your table just after you've dug into the salad bar. Combined with the delicious pao de queijo (cheesy bread) that's offered, it's easy to fill up before you've even selected your first piece of meat.
Ocean Blue (Deck 8); $39 per person: Ocean Blue is a seafood restaurant helmed by Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian. Unlike other speciality restaurants, where you can order more than one appetizer or entree, you're only allowed to choose one option within each category. (Still, if one of them is Zakarian's famed Dover sole which goes for $68 in his NYC restaurant, you're ahead of the game.) Although the space is small, it's cleverly shielded from the hubbub of the 678 Ocean Place; a meal there does indeed feel like a meal at an upscale restaurant. Service is also impeccable, complete with waiters who know their wines. Even kids benefit from the upscale atmosphere -- they're given tablets to play with for the length of the meal. Save room for tea with dessert, as the menu boasts nine gourmet varieties that include a Turkish recipe called the du Hammam. Editor's Note: Ocean Blue is moving to a la carte pricing October 2015.
The adjacent Raw Bar focuses on crustaceans and wines by the glass at a la carte prices. You'll also find an Ocean Blue on the Waterfront takeout window that serves a la carte "beachy" favourites like lobster rolls during the day, but only from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on sea days (so a total of six hours on a weeklong sailing).
Chef's Table (Deck 16); $99 per person: Foodies will adore the Chef's Table, a nine-course meal designed to rival onshore restaurant tasting menus. The meal includes a glass of Champagne and two glasses of wine, selected by the master sommelier and paired with your courses. You also get to meet the chef and tour the galley. While the Chef's Table takes place in the Haven Restaurant, anyone can pay to attend, but take note: The dinners are only held once or twice during a cruise, and they fill up quickly.
Wasabi (Deck 8); a la carte: Wasabi is a bar, rather than a restaurant, and it's located in a great spot at the top of the spiral stairs and directly opposite Ocean Blue. Sushi starts at $3 for a vegetarian roll and $3.50 for a California roll. The Godzilla roll costs $4.25, but it's worth it: sweet shrimp, mango, avocado, caramelized cashews and coconut. Combos start at $12, and if you're after hot food, try delicious yakitori chicken, prawns and our favourite, boneless beef short ribs ($3.50). It's great for a quick lunch and good value for money. If you're feeling adventurous, ask the chef to prepare something special according to your tastes. We received something called a volcano roll with tuna, cucumber and scallions covered in tempura crumbles and tobiko (roe) with a spicy chili mayo and Sriracha sauce, all topped with seaweed salad -- excellent. All speciality rolls are listed at $4.75. Take note there is no dessert menu provided with lunch (not that you'll need it), and with dinner, dessert can be ordered from the menu used at Ocean Blue and Raw Bar.
Illusionarium (Deck 6); $24.99 for banquette seating, $29.99 for floor seats for the dinner show; $24.99 for Wine Lovers the Musical: The Illusionarium on Getaway is a for-fee dinner experience in which an old-style magic show runs as a story, complete with astral projections, long-dead grandfathers coming back to life and a "competition" of sorts to find the Grand Master magician. If you pull back from the story, what you have a is a pretty average set of magic tricks -- woman in box, disappearing woman, knives in box, some stuff with bubbles, etc. -- but it's the extraordinary attention to detail that really creates an atmosphere that is carried on seamlessly throughout the show. Arrive early to make sure you can get seats in the front.
The food is the weakest point of the evening. It features a set menu of prosciutto, followed by deep-fried shrimp and tepid filet mignon, redeemed by the selection of miniature desserts. Waiters wear aviator goggles on their heads and exude a steam punk vibe. Note: A vegetarian dining option is available, but let staff know in advance.
Making another use of the funky Illusionarium space, Norwegian has taken a traditional event like wine tasting and turned it into a 50-minute comedy/musical/lunch-and-a-show called "Wine Lovers, the Musical." Mimicking a wine class with a guy and girl from different backgrounds (one's a free spirit, the other's a workaholic -- comedy and romance ensues), the host, "Charlie," guides the onstage actors and the audience through an educational and giggle-worthy series of quizzes, lectures and musical numbers during which you are encouraged to sip and swish your three reds and three whites. (A Prosecco is reserved for a toast at the end, when the actors jump off stage and clink glasses.) Refills are offered, but after seven "tastes," you should be feeling just fine. A duck and asparagus salad, steak and lemon pepper shrimp and mochaccino cheesecake help to soak up the laughs and the libations. The show was held at 12:30 p.m. on each day during our sailing.
Carlo's Bakery (Deck 8); a la carte: Dessert-lovers will seek out Carlo's Bakery, an outpost of Buddy Valastro's famous "Cake Boss" empire. The shop has Oreo cakes, cannolis, cookies and other sweet treats. We found the cupcakes pretty to look at, but on the dry side. The cannolis, however, were scrumptious. You can also order custom cakes for birthdays and other special occasions. Tip: If the lines there scare you off, you can order some of the same desserts in the Atrium's Cafe & Bar. Carlo's Bakery hosts a limited number of cupcake and cake-decorating classes that range from $39 to $69 per person, held in Teppanyaki.
Dolce Gelato (Deck 8); a la carte: The Waterfront has a Dolce Gelato bar (connected to Carlo's Bakery) that serves up the Italian treat. Flavours range from vanilla, strawberry and chocolate to cheesecake and nougat. There were also two sorbet flavors listed. A regular cup runs $2.50. A single-scoop cone is $2.75, while a double-scoop cone will cost $5. Gelato ice pops are $3.50. Baked goods and coffee are available at Dolce in addition to its frozen desserts.
Getaway is equipped with 2,014 cabins. Of those, 42 are within Norwegian's signature all-suite complex, The Haven. Notable cabin categories include 59 Studio cabins for solo cruisers and 42 wheelchair-accessible cabins.
The cabin decor is clean and modern, with echoes of art deco in suites (reminiscent of Miami's most famous oceanside hotels). The colour palette is awash with jewel tones: ocean blue for oceanviews, pops of turquoise in balcony cabins and purple in minisuites. Cheerful orange accents brighten up insides. Glossy dark-wood closets, tan carpeting and light walls are featured in most cabins, and colour-saturated panoramic photos of nature liven up neutral colours.
Two twin beds can be converted into a queen-sized bed in any cabin in any category. Each cabin is equipped with a hair dryer, safe, flat-screen TV, writing desk with four outlets (two U.S. standard and two European) and minibar. Closets and shelving around the room provide plentiful storage. All cabins are designed to be energy efficient, utilizing keycard access to control the lighting. Of note: Electronics will not charge unless a keycard is in use to activate the outlet; any type of card -- even those without magnetic strips -- can be used to activate the lights and electrical outlets.
All cabin bathrooms feature sinks with tile backsplashes and storage underneath, toilets and showers with glass doors. Shower dispensers have shampoo and body wash. Elemis bath products are available in The Haven and Spa cabins.
Interior: There are 449 inside cabins on Getaway at 135 to 201 square feet each. Many inside cabins are connecting and sleep up to four with the help of pull-down bunks. For families, inside cabins are available near children's facilities.
Oceanview: Outside, or oceanview, cabins come with large windows and 161 to 218 square feet of space. About 44 of the 162 cabins in this category are Family Oceanviews that sleep five people.
Balcony: Getaway's 962 balcony cabins are 207 to 550 square feet and feature sofa beds with large drawers underneath for extra storage. In the bathrooms, showers offer shaving bars for women. On each balcony, you'll find two blue mesh chairs and a small metal table. We measured an aft-facing balcony to be about 99 square feet. Midship balcony cabins, on Deck 13, offer balconies that are about 24 square feet.
Minisuites: The 246 Mini Suites are essentially slightly roomier versions of balcony cabins, with better bathrooms. Large double sinks are set against mosaic glass tile backsplashes. Multiple body spray jets, along with handheld showerheads, are also included in the oversized showers. (Note: Be careful with the body jets. They're powerful and can hit you where it hurts, depending on your height.) A king-sized bed that can be separated into two singles, a sofa bed with additional storage, full-sized closet with sliding doors and the bathroom compose the 239 to 585 square feet of each room. Balcony furniture includes the same two blue mesh chairs and small metal table. The verandah of a Mini Suite with Large Balcony on Deck 8 measured about 96 square feet. On Decks 12 and 13, specialized Family Mini Suites are located near children's facilities, and many feature bathtubs. Balconies in these cabins measure about 30 square feet each.
Suites: There are 22 Penthouse Suites outside of The Haven (Forward/Aft-Facing Penthouses), which also maintain access to all the amenities of The Haven. Enjoy more space with 419- to 824-square-foot accommodations, which each include a dining room and living area that features a double sofa bed. Each bathroom has two double bowl sinks, a curved oval bathtub (most with lovely ocean views) and a separate shower. Elemis bath products and an enhanced vanity, including an illuminated magnifying mirror and cotton swabs, are offered at this level and above. A balcony in a forward-facing cabin on Deck 11 is small at around 30 square feet. The wraparound balcony for an aft-facing penthouse on Deck 13 measured 7 feet wide from the handrail to the sliding-glass door and 30 feet in length along the railing.
There are 42 suites inside The Haven on decks 15 and 16. The Haven includes a private restaurant, a cocktail bar and a concierge desk (open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.). Exclusive benefits also include a private concierge and 24-hour butler; priority embarkation and disembarkation; priority boarding of tenders to shore; priority seating at shows; in-suite espresso/cappuccino machines; gourmet treats delivered each evening; Bliss Collection by Norwegian pillow-top mattress; fine linens, feather duvet and pillow menu; and plush bathrobes, slippers and oversized towels. On embarkation day, we received beef sliders and fries in the lounge but no welcome drink, which would have been a nice touch.
At the heart of The Haven is a two-story courtyard area that features a pool, two whirlpools and a private sun deck, along with two private massage rooms, changing areas and a sauna. Haven passengers also have direct and private access to the ship's spa and fitness centre. We found some of the best views in port to be all the way forward on the upper level of the courtyard; oddly enough, it's an area designated for smoking.
Cabins in The Haven fall into four categories. There are 18 Courtyard Penthouses, from 328 to 349 square feet, including king-sized beds, living and dining rooms and single sofa beds. The walk-in closets are humongous. Each balcony features two camel-coloured wicker chairs with tan cushions and a small, circular wicker table. Balconies in these penthouses (on Deck 16) are about 48 square feet.
The 20 two-bedroom Family Villas each feature two bedrooms and two bathrooms with separate living room and dining area, single sofa bed and bar. These cabins can sleep five or six and make the Haven popular with families. The master bedroom contains a king-sized bed, floor-to-ceiling windows and a private balcony. The master bath features a shower, an oversized oval tub with sea views and two vanity sinks. The second bedroom includes either a single or double sofa bed, a Pullman bed and bathroom. These villas run 543 to 545 square feet. A balcony in a Deck 15 Family Villa cabin is about 40 square feet.
The two Owner's Suites, on Deck 16, are sizeable at 572 square feet each. Each suite includes a living room, dining area and vanity. In the bedroom, there is a king-sized bed that faces floor-to-ceiling windows, a large walk-in closet area and a large balcony. Each master bathroom features a large bathtub, luxurious cocoa-coloured vanity sinks and a shower. The Owner's Suites can be joined to the Deluxe Owner's Suites creating one grand suite that can sleep eight people.
The two Deluxe Owner's Suites are the largest suites within The Haven, at 932 square feet each. They feature a living room, dining area and vanity, and a wet bar for entertaining. The wraparound private balcony is a highlight, measuring about 50 feet around and 6 feet across.
Studios: At 99 square feet, Studios are specifically designed to accommodate solo travellers. Most of the 59 Studios connect, and these rooms have private keycard access to the Studio complex and exclusive two-story Studio Lounge (with a bar). Cabins feature full-sized beds and have windows to the corridor so you can check out what's happening on the other side. The lounge is staffed with crew who help arrange group meals and activities with passengers staying in Studio cabins, making it a social and comfortable environment for singles.
Spa: For those looking to bliss out, Getaway has 36 Spa Balconies, 20 Spa Mini Suites and 16 Haven Spa Suites, all located on Deck 14, adjacent to the spa and fitness centre. Passengers sailing in all spa categories get complimentary access to the Thermal Spa Suite and plush bathrobes and slippers for use onboard. Suite passengers also have access to a portable phone that's usable anywhere on the ship and handy for staying in touch onboard. At 207 and 239 square feet, respectively, Spa Balconies and Mini Suites are laid out like standard cabins but feature tranquil, nature-inspired spa decor. Haven Spa Suites upgrade to 309 square feet of space with a king-sized bed, dining area, hardwood floors and in-suite whirlpool. Each suite bathroom features an oversized shower with a waterfall showerhead and multiple body spray jets, along with a separate handheld shower head and two vanity sinks. Spa suite passengers have access to all the Haven facilities and amenities. A balcony in a Haven Spa Suite measures roughly 39 square feet.
Accessible: There are 42 wheelchair-accessible cabins onboard, including one suite, four minisuites, 13 balconies, nine outsides (including four Family Oceanviews) and 14 insides. Each deck features accessible cabins, but Deck 5 has the widest hallways if you're concerned about navigating with a wheelchair or scooter. The balcony in an Accessible Balcony cabin on Deck 11 is about 16.5 feet across but only 3 feet wide. The room and bathroom offer plenty of space, but without push-button access, we found the balcony door could be difficult to open from a wheelchair. All cabins feature collapsible shower benches mounted on shower walls, toilets with collapsible arm guards and lowered ADA-height wash basins. Amenities for the deaf include vibrating alarm clocks, door beacons (light flashes when someone knocks on the door), televisions with closed caption decoders and flashing-light fire alarms. Each cabin has permanently lit emergency lights in the living area and bathroom. Braille text is available in all cabins and elevators. Kits for those with hearing impairments are available by request.
Active families, picky eaters, and couples/groups who love to bar hop
People who can't stand crowds, or those seeking a relaxed onboard environment
Norwegian cruise ships draw a diverse crowd, though the majority of passengers on ships sailing to the Caribbean and in Alaska and Hawaii hail from North America. You'll find a decent number of people from other English-speaking countries, and smaller numbers from South America and Europe. On European cruises, North Americans still dominate but you'll find more people from the United Kingdom and other European countries. You'll find plenty of young families onboard Norwegian ships, especially during holidays and school breaks. However, the line's newest ship, Norwegian Bliss, is less family-friendly than the line's other ships, with all the kids clubs on the lowest levels of the ship and onboard entertainment that is decidedly adult. Generally speaking, Norwegian Cruise Line attracts mostly middle-aged and older couples, as well as groups of friends of all ages.
Norwegian Cruise Line maintains a casual atmosphere onboard; during the day, casual wear is the norm. There's no formal dress code at night either, though most people do change into something slightly less casual for dinner. Additionally, some of the speciality extra-fee restaurants do require long pants, collared shirts and closed-toe shoes. Most evenings you'll see men in dark jeans or khakis and collared shirts, and women in blouses with slacks or skirts, or sundresses. Don't be surprised if you see people in shorts in the main dining rooms. Norwegian doesn't have any formal nights, but there is an optional Norwegian's Night Out at least once per sailing, for which passengers are encouraged to dress up. You'll rarely see a tux or gown, but suits and cocktail dresses are not unheard of. Norwegian ships also typically hold several themed nights (glow party, '70s or '80s, etc.) during a typical sailing. You might want to bring a few appropriate items, such as white clothing for the glow and white parties or bell bottoms for '70s night.
No. Unless you have an all-inclusive dining or beverage package (which you can buy), you'll have to pay extra for most gratuities, speciality dining, room service, all drinks (alcoholic and non, except water, select juices at breakfast, and coffee and tea), shore excursions, visits to the spa and any retail purchases, including photos. On the newest ships, you'll also have to pay for some of the entertainment options and even some of the top-deck fun: On Norwegian Bliss, for example, the laser tag and go-karts cost extra.
On warm-weather cruises, the main pool is the line's most popular spot onboard. On ships with water slides, ropes courses, go-kart tracks and laser tag, these are also popular and often require a wait of up to 30 minutes or more. Inside, you'll find activities that range from trivia, bingo and Deal or No Deal during the day to song-and-dance revues or Broadway shows in the theatre and live music or cabaret shows in the evening. Norwegian ships also have a lively bar nightlife. There's also an always-busy casino, which opens when the ship is out to sea.
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NCL offer two simple price models. The base fare is available on all stateroom categories and includes:
NCL's Free at Sea option allows to you add on your choice of perks. Usually, you can choose two but during selected promotions, you may receive all perks. Prices vary by duration but start at just £149pp for a 7-night cruise. You can choose the following:
Suites & The Haven Suites
Guests staying in Suites and The Haven accommodation can enjoy a host of upgraded services and amenities including: