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!