I recently had the pleasure of sailing on one of Norwegians biggest and newest cruise ships, The Getaway. Overall, I had a great time. I had a group of 13 people on this cruise. I had some family and friends traveling with me. I think this cruise is a perfect vacation for a mixed group of people. We were able to meet up almost every night for dinner, see each other throughout the day and able to do some things on our own.
We sailed away on March 5th, 2017 for a week long Western Caribbean cruise out of Miami. Most of us flew into Fort Lauderdale the night before and stayed in Miami. We arrived at the port at 11:30a and checked in. We went upstairs to find the rest of our group and get our boarding group number, which was 19. I thought this was high, but we waited no more than 30 minutes to board. As our number gets called, my one friend with no concept of time saunters up the stairs right before we turn the corner to board the ship….don’t tell anyone, but she definitely cut the line.
I had a balcony cabin on deck 12. This is considered the family section, because it is on the same desk as Splash Academy. It had the basics of any cabin and then some. So let’s talk about the ‘more’ part. The cabin had some nice storage features. There was a stoll under the vanity that had a lid and you were able to store things inside of it. On either side of the bed was a tiny little nightstand with little cubbies you could put more items in. Under the TV was a couple more cabinets. These cabinets where not very deep, but it as the right amount of space to store all of my toddlers clothes, shoes and my collection of ‘just-in-case’ medicines. Some other features of the cabin I really liked was the door to the balcony, it was a sliding door vs. a hinged door. The lighting in the cabin was neat, it had basic lights, but also some ‘mood lighting’. There was a light switch by the bed so you didn’t have to get up to turn the lights off. You also needed a room key to have any power in your cabin. Many people were probably annoyed by this, but I thought it was pretty cool, I didn’t waste energy and I never forgot my room key when leaving. The bathroom was small as usual, but had lots of storage, as well. I also really like the glass shower door vs. a curtain. The last thing that stuck out to me was the ‘do not disturb’ and ‘clean my room’ switches. Pressing these switches would illuminate little lights outside your cabin for your room steward to see. Only issue with this is, I would sometimes forget to shut the ‘do not disturb’ one off, resulting in no evening towel animal.
Per usual, I ate a lot of food on this cruise. Norwegian Cruise Line was the first cruise line to do something called ‘Freestyle’ dining. Other cruise lines have another name for it, but what it is – is no set time dining, no same waiter every night and no same table every night. Because I was traveling with such a big group I made dinner reservations every night. I would suggest anyone with a large group to do the same. The Getaway featured 3 main (complimentary) dining rooms; Savor, Taste and my favorite, the Tropicana Room. All 3 dining rooms had the same menu each night it was just a matter of where you wanted to sit. Taste and Savor were right across the hall from each other and were very similar and the Tropicana Room was in the back of the ship and featured a live band and dance floor. Unlike the Tropicana room, Taste and Savor were open for breakfast and lunch. We had breakfast in Taste one morning and it was very good. If it wasn’t so drawn out, I would have went more often, but with a 3 year old in tow…ain’t nobody got time for that. Other complimentary options included O Sheehan’s, Shanghai’s Noodle Bar (dinner only) and the Garden Café Buffet. The buffet was great. With so many germs around, I really liked that they had sinks at the entrance and crew members spraying sanitizer on hands as people entered. The buffet had many options; it had a grill section, salad bar, desserts, soups, ice cream, kids foods, carving station, Asian entrees and lots more. While all the complimentary dining options are good, they always save the best for specialty dining. For a full review on the specialty dining restaurants I visited, click here.
I was with a few people that really liked to drink, so I checked out lots of bars. Everyone in my party had the Ultimate Beverage Package. The only drinks it did not cover were drinks over $15, which is great cause I’m not that classy anyways. It also did not cover special coffee drinks, which disappointed everyone in the group except for me, since I don’t drink coffee. The Getaway had over 20 bars, so its safe to say I did NOT make it to every since bar, but I did make it to a good portion. I found the drink quality at most of them to be similar. I did like that many of the bars had their own drink menu and it wasn’t the same drinks at every bar. My favorite bar was the Chill Bar at Margaritaville. As I mentioned in my specialty dining review; this bar was often not crowded and I think that was because people think they had to pay to go there, but you’re more than welcome to drink at the bar. The Chill bar was usually where I could find someone in my group at any given time prior to 5p (when they close). The bartenders at this bar were my absolute favorite! I hope to see them again on another cruise! After the chill bar closed, our next favorite bar was the sugarcane mojito bar. I love mojitos, so that was the selling point for me, but I really enjoyed the feel and the fact that we could go inside or outside on the waterfront. The Waterfront had many bars on both sides of the ship that you could visit. I absolutely loved the Waterfront; What an awesome idea this was! My next favorite would be the sunset bar. This bar also had a very relaxed modern feel. Plus, one of the bartenders from the chill bar worked there, so we were kind of VIPs there, too. Aside from that, a bars a bar.
We did however visit the Ice Bar. Let me start with, you have to pay for it. It’s costs $20 and you get 2 drinks and you’re allowed to stay in the
freezer bar for 2 hours or something, which doesn’t really matter cause you’ll only last like 10 minutes. They do give you parkas and clean gloves. I think the only thing you’re paying for here is a photo opp. I just wanted to take some pictures, toss my 2 drinks down and get outta there, fast.
The Entertainment & Fun Stuff
The Getaway had a lot of fun stuff going on. The daily sheets were action packed full of all sorts of things to do or watch. The only show I ended up going to was The Million Dollar Quartet. I thought for sure my daughter wasn’t going to make it, but she enjoyed this show more than I did. I found the show to be very good, the performers were great and I sincerely enjoyed the story line.
A few others in my group went to the Illisonarium for the dinner show and enjoyed it. My brother especially enjoyed the scantily clad ladies assisting the magicians.
In addition to the entertainment, this ship had a lot of recreational areas. Sadly, I didn’t get to any of it. The good news is, I took lots of pictures at 6 in the morning. Enjoy!
The Getaway had 5 waterslides. 2 Spiraling slides, 2 racing slides and 1 lazy river-ish slide.
Above is the ropes course and pirate mini golf course. I really wish I did the ropes course, but I was too lazy to wait in mine.
This is the rock climbing wall, right outside Margaritaville. There was also a running track around this.
I spent a lot of time here at the Splash Pad. My 3 year old thought this was the absolute best.
The kids pool is on the other side of the splash pad.
One of the main reasons I selected this cruise was the itinerary, the other reason was the ship. This cruise was scheduled to visit 4 ports; (1) Roatan, Honduras, (2) Harvest Caye, Belize, (3) Costa Maya, Mexico, and (4) Cozumel, Mexico. The weather for the first 4 days was very windy. On day 3, the ship was rocking so bad that a couple people in my group got sea sick. For our first stop (Roatan), we visited Little French Key. I had done a lot of research and wanted to just have a fun beach day and Little French Key looked like a slice of paradise. When we got off the ship, we walked through the port area to find the shuttle. The biggest turn off about this island was the amount of vendors shouting at you; begging you to come to their beach or whatever it was they were offering. I had never been to a third world country and as I sat next to my 9 year old nephew; I began thinking how eye opening for both me and him this was. I saw many men with large guns, a few homes without a roof, a few “ladies of the night”, as my brother would say and some other disheartening things. After a 20 minute van ride and a short boat ride we had finally made it to Little French Key. The island was very unique; it had many shaded areas, animals to see, plenty of loungers and beautiful water. I was not a fan of the super loud music playing, but we were able to find few nice seats on the water and had a nice time. We called it quits a little earlier than I anticipated, but the wind was too much to handle that day. Over all, we had a nice time and I would go back if the weather was perfect. If not, I would have just stayed on the ship.
Speaking of the wind; Our next stop was NCLs newest private island, Harvest Caye. I was super excited to see this new island, especially since cause we had rented a beach cabana. Well as we approached the dock and spun around, the captain came on and said that due to the wind the ship was not able to safely dock, so we would have another day at sea. Although I was very disappointed, I was happy that we had 4 stops, instead of the usual 3. After they announced they were going to have a sea day, they said they were going to work on a new daily and add a few more things for guests to do. A couple hours later they handed these updated dailies out at the buffet.
Our next stop was Costa Maya, Mexico. My in laws (mostly my father in law) had been expressing their concerns about traveling to Mexico and eating and drinking there. I attempted to calm their nerves many times, but I had never been, so I was not sure what to expect either. When we got off the ship I was pleasantly surprised. Mexico really had their sh*t together! I found the port area to be very nice. They had a few performers and many shops. What I liked most about it, was how authentic the area was. Of course, they had shops with everything you can think of. Many beautiful hand painted items, tequila shops, cigars, t shirts, jewelry and more. On this particular day, I was feeling a little under the weather. I may had had too many adults beverages the previous night, so again, I wanted to just find a beach and veg out. Once you get through the shops and to the end of the area, there were many buses and vehicles. We found a little open air tram that takes you to the beaches for $3 per person (kids were free). The shuttle drivers try to get you off the at the first stop, but I was told the better beaches were at stops 2 and 3. When we got to our stop we hopped off and found a beach and just hung out for a while. Many vendors came by offering their goods, luckily they were not overly pushy and would keep walking if I said ‘no thank you’. As we walked the boardwalk area, there was more vendors with many of the goods they had in the port area, only much cheaper. After shopping we got a taxi back to the port area. The taxis were very clean and the drivers were in uniform. The ride back cost us $3 per person. I really enjoyed this port and would love to visit again.
Our last stop was Cozumel, Mexico. The only thing I had planned this day was a manatee encounter in the afternoon. My husband has a strange liking for manatees, but I’ll get to that later. The port area in Cozumel was less cultural appealing than Costa Maya was, but was still very clean and had a ton of shopping. The port area goes straight into a mall and you have to walk into the mall to get to the street. I just did some shopping and bought a few things, then we headed to the boat for lunch before going back to land for the manatee encounter. I booked this encounter directly threw Dolphin Discovery at Chankanaab National Reef Park. We took a 10-15 minute cab ride to get here. The grounds were very nice and clean. They had free lockers, a pool area and a couple places to eat and shop. My husband and I waited a short while before we were given life vests and taken the area with the manatees. There was about 20 people or so in our group. We hung with the manatees for at least 30 minutes and they very gentile. I will say; they definitely took me by surprise when they grabbed my leg with their fins to give me a kiss. After our cuddle session, the manatees were called to spend some time with everyone else. It was obvious that they liked us a lot and we didn’t want to be manatee hoarders any longer, so we decided to get out of the water and stop temping them. Just kidding…my husband was afraid we were going to miss the boat. Don’t worry, we made it back to the boat with an hour to spare. After that, he rushed me out and wouldn’t allow me to purchase a picture of him kissing a manatee. I’m not holding any grudges or anything.
I really liked the ports in Mexico and would go back to them again. I could do without Roatan, but I would definitely not rule a cruise out if it went there. My scuba friends say it has some of the best diving, so if you’re a diver, it’s a sight to see.
Overall, we had a fabulous vacation. I thought the service and food were both great. The specialty dining restaurants were phenomenal and I would have paid for them, if they were not free. The ship was stunning. It really was. I know it was only 3 years old, but I absolutely loved the layout. The crew was good. As I previously mentioned, I really enjoyed the entire crew at Margaritaville.
The crew members on any cruise ship are what make your vacation so special. They work around the clock, are typically away from their families for 7 or 8 months and always have a smile on their faces and for that, they are Norwegian calls my ‘vacation heros’.
Here’s my favorite crew members, Chris, Merwyn and Pravin with my daughter…or as they call her, “Angel”.
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