Just wanted to post a mini review of our February cruise for anyone who is booked or considering it for the future. This cruise was a first for us in that we have always cruised alone, but this time we were with our son and daughter-in-law. We had a a lot of fun, but honestly we would have probably seen and done more if it were just the two of us. The youngsters just can't keep up with us!
TIP. A great aid to anyone needing to communicate with family and friends on board is the iConcierge app. Be sure to download it to your iPhone ( or samsung in my case ) before the cruise and then activate it once on board. You can use it to message and call family or other cruisers while on board, check ship's activity schedule and info, etc. using the ship's wifi. It was a godsend in helping us keep track of each other. On the Epic the charge was a one time fee of $7.95, but service was bad. On the Getaway, it was FREE to activate, and service was excellent.
Boarding inMiami was very efficient. We got to port about 10:30, taking a short taxi ride from the Miami Downtown Hilton. TIP: There are two terminals for entry to the ship, B and C. Be sure to check your boarding pass to see which is yours. If you enter at the wrong one, you will be redirected. We did not notice this on Epic and ended up walking the length of the ship to the correct door. No lines outside or inside the terminal. Boarding started at about 11:30 and we were were in the first group on after suite passengers.
We were in an M6 mini suite which are all located on deck 8 forward. It is an ideal location close to the midship atrium areas on 6, 7, and 8 which contain many dining, shopping and entertainment venues. It is also easy access to the Waterfront Area. The cabin is only slightly larger than a regular balcony cabin, but the balcony is huge in comparison to the tiny ones everyone complains about. The bathroom is bigger, with double sinks and a glass doored shower with 6 body jets and a rain shower head. Good water pressure. Good storage. Very quiet location. We heard no noise outside the cabin or from the cabins next door. No smoke smells from the Waterfront. We were starboard side.
For debarkation, you may choose colored luggage tags which correspond with the time you think you want to leave the ship. You can pick these up in the atrium on the 6th and 7th day of the cruise. You can walk off anytime after that color is called. There is also a color for "Easy Walk Off", the first group called, but you have to be willing to carry off all of your own luggage with no assistance. Luggage to be sent to the pier is collected outside your door around midnight on the last night. Not having a flight to rush to, we chose 9:30, had a leisurely breakfast in the buffet, and then just walked off when we were ready. No lines and it was very quick. The first group off was probably called around 7:30. Luggage is grouped by color in the terminal.
Can't say enough about the Waterfront concept with the bars and restaurants with outdoor seating along the deck 8 Waterfront which wraps around the ship. We did sailaway outside at the Sugarcaine Mojito Bar. Love this place with it's comfy chairs and couches and had many Cucumber Jalepino or Pineapple Mojitos there. Try the mojito flight for $15 to find out which are your favorites, or go to the Mojito Tasting, $15 pp. Check the freestyle dailies to see when the various ones are offered. They have Beer, Margarita, Martini, etc. and all great fun.
We did the Wine Lover's Musical Lunch and Wine Tasting on a sea day. It was $25 pp. The tasting is incorporated into a musical ( no dancing ) play about a girl and guy who meet at a wine tasting. There is a full meal, steak, shrimp etc. the food was just OK . It is one of those things you are glad you did once, but would probably never repeat.
Illusionarium. We did enjoy this show which was $29 for premium seating. It gets off to a slow start, but the final act was hilarious. I hate magic shows and this kept my interest. The steak was much better than we expected and better than the one at the Wine Lovers Lunch.
Cagney's. We chose this venue for our son's birthday celebration and I have to say it was one of the best meals we have had anywhere, on or off a ship, and we do get around a little. The filet was done to perfection. Melt in your mouth good. Between the 4 of us, we sampled several things on the menu and all were excellent.
Moderno. Love the very extensive salad bar, full of dishes you won't find anywhere else, like cerviche. You could make a meal there. The guys enjoyed the nonstop meats. There is a lovely bar located inside the entrance between Cagneys and Moderno. Good place for a quiet drink, but easy to forget it is there.
Free Shows/Entertainment. Favorite show was Burn the Floor which was excellent. Legally Blonde was good. We went to the Welcome Aboard Show which had a bit of these shows as well as Illusionarium and a comedian from the Headliners Comedy. If you plan on seeing these shows anyway, I would just skip this and spend your time elsewhere. We never made it into Howl at the Moon although we really enjoyed these dueling pianos and sing along on the Epic. Also never caught any of the comedy acts. My biggest regret was not being able to spend time listening to Sammy Figueroa in the Grammy Experience. We caught only a few minutes of this as it was not my son's taste. There were activities in the atrium drawing huge crowds such as Dancing With the NCL Stars, Deal or No Deal, Newly Wed Game and so forth. We did not go to any of the deck parties such as the Glow Party, 80s Party, Fireworks show, but heard good reports from others who did.
Casino. We found it to be smaller and smoker than the one on the Epic, which I think may be billed as the largest at sea. It just seemed cramped and we did not care for the slot machine selection. Did not gamble nearly as much as we did on Epic.
Spa. We toured on embarkation day, but did not buy the passes to the Thermal Suites which were $199 per person for a weekly pass. No daily passes sold. We did buy these on the Epic which has a huge thermal suites area and a large outdoor balcony overlooking the aft of the ship. Again, this area seemed smaller on the Getaway, was located forward, and no outdoor area.
Pools/Slides/Ropes Course/Mini Golf. Did not pay much attention to the pools. They never seemed too crowded as we passed by. There were tons of deck chairs available. Wanted to try the ropes course but we never got around to it. Son and his wife did try the slides and enjoyed them. No huge line ups.
Spice H20. We had a little difficulty locating this area. Nice Adult Only area to hang out. Plenty of chairs and umbrellas. Had a drink there on a sea day and then had lunch at Flamingos Cuban ( free ) which is near. Loved the food. Parties are held here at night.
Buffet. We had breakfast here nearly every morning. Never had any difficulty finding seats and this had been a real challenge on the Epic. Excellent selection of food. Loved the French Toast with bananas foster topping. Lunch was also good here. We had dinner here a couple times. There was a seafood buffet one night, Tuesday, I believe, with lobster tail and grilled shrimp skewers as well as other seafood items. Having had poor quality lobster in the MDR on previous cruises, I was pleasantly surprised. The lobster was of good quality and was plentiful, even late in the evening when we arrived after a show. No traditional lobster night on the first night in the MDR on the newer ships. Had an excellent beef carving one evening and chicken dishes always good.
O'Sheehans Bar and Grill. Great place to watch a game on the two story screen in the atrium below or one of the game shows from the circular seating area above in O 'Sheehans Bar. The opposite side is the restaurant which is open 24 hours and free. We had breakfast here one morning and it was very good. They also had rib and prime rib nights throughout the week there in addition to their usual fare. The prime rib was just OK. A little tough. Set meal with baked potato and corn on the cob.
Tropicana/Taste/Savor. All MDRs. Menus may vary a little between the 3. Some items offered daily, others change daily. We were able to walk in to the Tropicana, which is the larger and more formal of the three, and were seated with no waiting near the entertainment and dance floor. We really enjoyed this. A guest surprised his SO with a song accompanied by the band. It was Andrea Bocelli's Con te Partiro, ( Time To Say Goodbye ) and he obviously had some operatic training. Also walked into Taste for a quick bite one night before a show. ( we ate again somewhere else later, lol ). Soup and salad for some of us and I had a chicken dish which was excellent. Service was quick in both venues and the food was excellent.
General impressions. There is a ton to do on this ship. Plan your time wisely. The specialties are an excellent value, especially Cagneys at $30 and Moderno at $20. Yes, I know you have already paid for food, but a meal like this would set you back a bundle anywhere on dry land. And if the budget does not allow, the free venues have very good quality and variety. Service all over the ship we considered to be very good. Can't say enough about the staff. Always smiling and greeting you everywhere you go. You can dress up as much as you like and never feel out of place, but a pair of long pants, close toed shoes and a collared shirt for men will get you in anywhere on the ship. Shorts are ok at all but Tropicana and LeBistro, but in general, people seem to dress up a little in the evenings, country club casual or coctail. We had no issues with crowding. Easy to get around, no real lines, even in the buffet. Great ship. We would definitely sail this ship again!
12/13 – 12/20/15
We had just finished a cruise on the MSC Divina a week before going on this cruise, so it’s only natural that I’ll be comparing some of that cruise with this one. Please keep in mind that on the Divina, we were in the Yacht Club, whereas on the Getaway, we were in a standard junior suite, but not in The Haven, which is comparable to the Yacht Club
This was our 50th cruise! Definitely a milestone in our cruising career. We decided to go on NCL as we hadn’t been on any of their new ships for several years and even though we had just done the Western Caribbean a week earlier, we did this cruise more for the ship than the itinerary. On our MSC cruise, we were docked right next to the brand new NCL Escape in Nassau and this got us excited to sail on its sister ship, the Getaway.
As with our last cruise, we parked in the Safe Cruise Parking lot at 650 NW 8th Street in Miami. Price for this was $7.99 per day. We got there about 1:30pmand since we were the first ones on the van, we had to wait about 20 minutes to fill it up before we departed the lot. We got to the pier about 2:00pm and found the line for checking in to be about a 45 minute wait – longer than we expected and much longer than we would have liked. Once on the ship, we found another line to get on the elevators. There are only two sets of elevators, one forward and one aft, on this ship. With the exception of tender times, this was really the only time we found the elevators to have a crowd.
We got to our junior suite on Deck 13 and found it ready for us. The size of our suite was basically exactly the same as our deluxe suite on the MSC Divina. Neither of these is what I would call a junior, mini, or deluxe suite since they are just a tad bigger than a regular balcony cabin. For example, on the larger RCCL ships, a junior suite is roughly 1-1/2 times the size of a balcony cabin, whereas the junior suite on the Getaway is only bigger in the bathroom area and not in the main part of the cabin. However, what makes this suite really nice is the size of the bathroom. It is larger than a regular cabin with a two-sink basin and a large shower with a full-body shower unit that was awesome! It had 6 small body directional shower sprayers along with a large rainfall shower head and made for a wonderful shower.
The suite itself is nicely appointed with an average-size closet. One thing we liked on this ship was that the TV is in the middle of the suite and not in the far corner from the bed as was the case on the Divina.
Our son went with us on this cruise and the couch served as the third bed in the suite. The cushion was a bit hard, so we requested a topper for it. The egg-crate foam padding made it a little more comfortable. Our bed was a bit softer than our bed on the Divina and we found it rather comfortable. Because we were in the Yacht Club on the Divina, we were offered a pillow menu, whereas in this suite we were not. (Not sure if they are offered a menu pillow in the Haven area or not.)
The balcony was the same size as a regular balcony with two chairs and a small table. Again, smaller than the comparable junior suite on a newer RCCL ship.
The first order of business would have been to get something to eat, but by the time we got into our cabin it was almost 3:00pm and everything was closing because the lifeboat drill was scheduled for 3:30pm. We were on Deck 13 and had to go down to Deck 7 to the Bliss nightclub for the drill. Unlike every other drill we’ve done, we were permitted to take the elevator down, which made it nice for Nancy, since it’s tough for her to do stairs because of her bad knee. And also, unlike on the Divina, we did not have to take our life jackets with us. When we entered our assigned area, they scanned our sea cards to verify attendance. We only had to wait about 5 minutes before they explained how to put on the lifejackets and then we were dismissed. Overall, the whole process took less time than what we’ve experienced on other cruises.
As soon as we were done, we went up to the buffet area to see what was available. We found the buffet to be very nice, well laid out, and the food was rather good. We much preferred this buffet to the one on the Divina because it had plenty of space to walk around and allowed for a smooth flow of traffic.
Of course, as with just about every cruise, the first thing I wanted to try was a piece of pizza. The slice I had on the Divina was not very tasty, but this one was actually pretty good. And as is usually the case for us on the first day, we chose to make a small chef’s salad to hold us over till dinner. We didn’t want to fill ourselves too much because they were having prime rib in O’Sheehan’s later that evening.
After eating, we went up to the top deck to watch as we left port and then took a stroll around the ship.
There are a lot of activities for children on this ship – enough to keep them happy and, as those of us with kids know, if the kids are happy, the parents are happy. The first thing you notice when you get to the upper decks is the 4 big waterslides. Two of these have straight drops and provide a great thrill. The other two are spirals types and while not as fast, are very nice. There’s a %u2018getaway’ bounce for younger kids where they are attached to bungee cords while jumping on a trampoline.
The next thing you notice is the massive rope course that goes from one side of the ship to the other. It is quite extensive and definitely a thrill even for those of us in our 60’s. I was actually quite proud of myself for doing it. I was fitted with a climbing harness that is attached to two ropes suspended from a metal channel above each of the challenges. It was interesting to watch others give it a try; some were very apprehensive, while others had no fear. It was especially fun to watch people approach the plank. This is a takeoff on the old %u2018walk the plank’ as it’s one 4” wide plank that extends out over the side of the ship about 12 feet with nothing except the water about 150’ below! You walk out to the end, face outwards, and then pull on a string to have your picture taken. Looking straight out or down is very challenging for those of us with a fear of height. You then turn around and face inward so the ship’s photographer can take your picture. However, at $24.95 for each picture, it’s a little pricey.
Among other activities, there is a 9-hole miniature golf course and a small climbing wall that wasn’t open as often as many people would have liked. There is the teen night club, video games, and there’s a 2-lane bowling alley – cost is $5 per game. The balls are similar to the ones used in duckpin bowling and the alley is much shorter than normal.
We felt the ship is very well designed with many venues throughout to satisfy the most discerning traveler. There is a large selection of dining options from several complimentary areas and the many specialty restaurants ranging from ala carte menus or per person costs from $20 to $30. There are three %u2018main’ dining rooms; the Tropicana dining room is unique in that it has a dance floor for those who like to dance while having dinner. The other two dining rooms, Savor and Taste, are much smaller, more intimate dining rooms that have a specialty restaurant feel, yet have the same menu as the larger dining room. We purchased a dining package for $59 each that allowed us to eat at 3 specialty restaurants. We ate at La Cucina, the Italian restaurant, which was good but a little disappointing, and Moderno, which is the Brazilian steakhouse, which was good, but also a bit disappointing. As with most of these types of restaurants, the servers walk around with meat on skewers to carve as you need. Problem is as they walk around, the meat gets cold, so by the time they get to you, it’s not as hot as you’d like. We also chose Cagney’s Steakhouse, which was very good and our favorite of the three. The only real comment we had to make about Cagney’s is that while the food and service was very good and we thoroughly loved it, we had to ask ourselves is it worth $30 per person for the experience. This is a personal decision given that a really nice steak dinner at a good restaurant doesn’t cost all that much more. But I guess this argument can really be made about the charges for any specialty restaurant given the price is in addition to the food that has already been paid for with the price of the cruise. Personally, I don’t mind paying a small fee for the experience, but it appears to us the fees are getting higher, while the food in the main dining rooms are decreasing in quality. All the while, the number of specialty restaurants are increasing and cruise lines are highly pushing the options.
With that said, our favorite complimentary dining areas was O’Sheehan’s. Decorated in an old English pub style, it’s very warm and comfortable with plenty of TV’s around showing the latest sporting event, so we were able to watch the nationally televised footballs games during our cruise. They had a breakfast menu, which was the same as the dining rooms. For the regular menu, the appetizers consist of fried mozzarella cheese sticks, which I couldn’t get enough of, buffalo wings (both mild and hot – although we did not find the hot to be very hot at all), spinach artichoke dip, and country style soup. Main courses had fish & chips, chicken pot pie, chili dogs, hamburgers, fish sandwich, corned beef on rye, tuna salad sandwich, and a few other options. It’s open 24 hours a day, which was great, especially for those late-nighters. While we really loved this restaurant, the one thing we did not like was it was across from the two-story atrium area that was always noisy and, as such, O’Sheehan’s was rather noisy as well. It would have been much nicer to have a wall to separate the restaurant from the rest of the noise. I have to say this is now our all-time favorite complimentary specialty restaurant of all our cruises.
By each set of elevators, they have touch screen TV’s where we could check out the nightly menus from the various dining venues, as well as make reservations for the shows. While we could make reservations for shows, specialty restaurants, and tenders on the TV in our cabin, the nightly menus were not available, which is something we would like to see changed.
Speaking of the TV, the selections of shows was a little better than some cruises in that they had the usual news channels, such as MSNBC, CNN, and Fox, but they also had a couple of channels showing current TV shows. They only had one movie channel – we like to see at least two or three. One thing that was strange is that while watching some of the TV shows, they’ll put on the current weather in various cities. Problem is, it was weather from the Summer months and we were cruising in the middle of December!
My wife misses reading the newspaper while on a cruise. On the MSC Divina, they delivered a shortened version of the Washington Post every day to our suite, which was great! Of course, we were in the Yacht Club and this was not something made available to all passengers. However, on most cruises, they provide a 4 to 6 page version of USA Today or something similar we can read to keep abreast of news in the U.S. Unfortunately, on this cruise, there was no news to be found, except on the TV with MSNBC and such.
There are only two pools on the ship; one is for adults only and it appeared they police this as we never saw any kids in the pool or hot tubs in this area. Of course, there weren’t a lot of kids on our cruise, so it would be interesting to see if this holds true during next week’s cruise when school is out for Christmas and the ship is inundated with kids. The other pool was rather shallow and definitely for kids. Right next to this was a water park for children and everyone seem to really enjoy it. We did hear complaints about the fact there was no large family pool, as we have found on most ships.
They had a %u2018party’ area on the back of the ship called %u2018H20’ where there was the large outdoor screen prevalent on most ships nowadays. We sat back there to watch Monday Night Football.
We tried to eat in as many different places as we could, but we still did not get to some of the other specialty restaurants as it tends to get a bit expensive with three people. So we never made it to some of the other areas such as Teppenyaki, Illusionarium, the Noodle Bar, etc. We heard from others they were very nice, but some of them, with the exception of the Illusionarium, were never crowded and not very popular. We thought it would have been better to do away with one of the not so popular restaurants and put a Mexican one in its place.
Speaking of Mexican food, that’s something we really love and were disappointed that we could not find at least some chips and salsa somewhere on the ship to enjoy with our beer and tequila. In fact, it wasn’t until the very last day of our cruise that we actually found some items in the salad area of the buffet to make some nachos for a snack.
Okay, enough about the food, let’s talk about entertainment. We went to both shows – yes, you read that correctly, there are only two basic shows offered in the main show lounge; Burn the Floor and Legally Blonde. They were repeated a few times to make sure there were enough seats for anyone wishing to watch them because the theater is relatively small compared to other large ships of equal size. In fact, we were very surprised as to how small it was given the size of the ship. Quite frankly, neither of the shows were worth the time. They were not very good and many people walked out because of their disappointment.
The spa area was very nice, but we thought the $119 for the use of the Thermal Suite for the length of the cruise was a bit much, albeit equal to many cruises.
The gym was very nice, but again, it was small given the size of the ship and the number of passengers.
The casino is separated into two areas connected by a hallway with slot machines. The gaming tables had a minimum of $5 bets. We did find it interesting they had 1 cent slot machines – don’t think I’ve seen those in decades! But the entire casino permitted smoking and as such, it all smelled.
Overall, the service throughout the cruise was very good. We never had any problems and did not hear any complaints. The only problem we encountered was with our nextdoor neighbors. They had two small children, ages 5 and 7, who insisted on jumping on the beds. This was very disturbing, especially the next morning at 7:00am! After being rudely awaken, I walked over there, knocked on their door, and asked them to keep the noise down as we were still sleeping. He apologized and the noise ceased, at least until later that night. Again, I walked over and asked them to have their children stop jumping on the beds. His comment was, “Kids will be kids.” I went back to my cabin and called security, who came up and told them they would need to control the children and the noise. That did the trick and we didn’t have any more problems. Customer Service did offer to move us to another cabin, which we declined, as we thoroughly loved our cabin steward. Plus, it would have been a hassle to move. I was impressed in that Customer Service contacted us three times to insure we were still happy with the outcome and even sent us some chocolate covered strawberries.
We had to tender into two ports; Great Stirrup Cay and Grand Cayman. They utilized large tenders, instead of lifeboats on some cruises, which made for rather quick and easy transport. The only time it was a problem was getting back on the ship in Grand Cayman. As usual, everyone waits till the last minute to get on a tender, so the line was rather long. Not a problem for us as we have our favorite bar on the second floor of a building overlooking the pier and we just chill out over a couple of beers and shots of tequila until the line gets short. Then we casually walk across the street and are among the last ones on the last tender.
I purchased an internet package so I could keep in touch with my clients. They offered one that was 100 minutes for $75, plus $3.95 connection fee. Because I bought it on the first day, they were also offering an additional 10 minutes with that package. The other packages available were; pay as you go - $.95 per minute, 15 minutes for $9.95, 30 minutes for $14.95 and unlimited for $29.95 per day of the cruise ($209.65). No matter the package chosen, the additional $3.95 one-time connection fee was charged during the first usage.
We knew that NCL allows passengers to bring soda and water onboard, so like many people, we brought a case of water and 3 six packs of sodas with us. For those not wanting to bring their own water, NCL offers a deal with 6 large bottles of water for $22.95, 12 bottles for $39.95, and so on. You can do an unlimited soda package for $6.95 per day per adult or $4.95 per day per child.
For those wanting a more spirited libation, they do offer a bucket of beer where you pay for 5 and get 6. Prices ranged from $5.95 to $6.50 per beer (plus the usual gratuity of 18%). If one is a big drinker, the unlimited beverage package is $64 a day per person and must be bought by each person over 21 in the cabin.
Unlike many cruises we’ve been on, this ship did not offer much in the way of live entertainment, such as a piano bar or classical music. Not a big deal, but we definitely noticed the lack of it. They did offer a comedy club, which we never got to try, but heard was very good.
As in the past, we loved the private island, Great Stirrup Cay. It’s a beautiful day in the beach, plenty of chairs, and lots of bars and places to eat. As with all private islands, the further you walk from the pier, the less crowded it becomes. What most people don’t know is that there is a tram that goes from near the pier to the furthest point on the island, which saves a long walk. The only problem we’ve ever had on this island is finding a place in the shade. While they have plenty of chairs, there’s not a lot of shade. Luckily, we know a few out of the way places to go and usually manage to find a nice shady spot near a nice beach without a lot of people.
Overall, we found this ship to be very nice and would definitely recommend it to those with families or couples who like an inexpensive, but nice cruise with plenty of amenities, good food, and very good service. You definitely cannot go wrong with this ship. While we did not do the Haven on this cruise, we’ve seen the suites and the amenities offered. They are very nice and if one can afford them, it is definitely the way to travel on this ship. With that said, one cannot go wrong with just about any type of cabin as they are all very good for the money.
As I said in the beginning, we were just on the MSC Divina two weeks ago followed by a week off before going on this cruise, so it’s only natural we would compare the two. While we absolutely loved the Yacht Club on the Divina and did not do the Haven on the Getaway, which would really provide a true comparison, we feel we experienced enough on both ships to at least provide a relative comparison. With that said, we found the food overall to be better on the Getaway in the main dining rooms. There’s no comparison on the specialty restaurants, as we ate in La Muse, which is the Divina’s restaurant for Yacht Club guests only. So the Getaway was better for the many specialty restaurants offered. The service on both was very good. The Divina is a much prettier ship, but the Getaway has more amenities. If we were traveling with a family, we would prefer the Getaway. If we were traveling in a regular cabin, we would also prefer the Getaway. Being foodies while on a ship, we preferred the Getaway overall. However, if we were traveling just as a couple and wanted to be pampered, it would be difficult to choose between the Yacht Club on the Divina with the Haven on the Getaway. We have no doubt that both of them would provide a wonderful experience for those willing to spend the extra money, keeping in mind that alcohol is included in the Yacht Club whereas it’s extra in the Haven. We’ve toured the Haven area and it offers some very nice amenities for those who prefer a more pampered environment. The entertainment is much better on the Divina, but the Getaway has more amenities for families.
We were really glad we glad we took the opportunity to sail on the Getaway as we had a wonderful experience. I have no doubt that those who are use to Carnival would find this a very nice upgrade without paying a higher price. Those who are use to Royal Caribbean would find it comparable in many ways while incurring a slightly lower price.
You’re welcome to contact us if you have any questions or need additional information. And when you’re ready to book your cruise (or land vacation), we’re here when you need us.
Pete & Nancy Peterson
Cruise & Land Specialists
Cruise Planners, Inc.