Not long ago, we boarded the Norwegian Getaway and made an Atlantic crossing from New York City to Southampton, United Kingdom. We made two stops along the way in France and Belgium, which made for a ten-day cruise. The weather was somewhere between cool and cold for this crossing so much of our time was spent indoors, but we still ended up with a good feel for what this ship has to offer. While this cruise marks our seventh Atlantic crossing, we think we have a good feel for how this is supposed to go.
Here are some of our thoughts about Norwegian’s Getaway:
The boarding process for Norwegian Cruise Lines is pretty much what you would expect from any other cruise line. At the terminal, you check your luggage with a Teamster, then proceed inside to the actual check-in. After you check in and receive your Sea Pass Card, you’re given a numbered card that represents the order in which you get to board the ship. For some reason, we have a status of “Platinum” for Norwegian, which seems to be similar to the “Diamond” status of Royal Caribbean. Not many perks that matter to us except that we can board pretty much anytime we want.
The closet was awkward. It seems like an extreme afterthought, tucked in behind the couch. In rough water, it was difficult to access because we had to twist around and stand in a precarious position to get at the hangar section. It was also quite small compared to other closets we’ve seen on other ships. But to be clear, there was nothing we brought with us that was not accommodated in the closet, and nothing we could not do with the closet. But it was awkward. People who may have mobility issues could have a problem accessing the hanging portion of this closet.
The rest of the cabin had lots of storage. The entire left side of the closet was made up of generous shelving, including the safe. There were two nightstands next to the bed that made room for all our reading material and some extra storage. A cabinet under the TV had more shelving and there were two drawers under the couch. One was mostly full of bedding for the couch, which makes into a bed, but the other drawer was empty and available for storage. As is usually the case on cruise ships, most of the underside of the bed was available and made for ample storage of our empty suitcases.
There was a desk with a reasonable amount of counter space; enough for a laptop at least. That’s also where the single cup coffee pot and all the hot water accessories was located too.
At the desk, there were four power plugs; two 120 volt and two 240 volt plugs. We always carry the European Union type of power converter plugs with us, so we essentially had four plugs at our disposal. We’ll talk a bit more about power in the room later.
The chair for the desk was a small stool, about 18 inches square. There was a matching hard top that let it double as a coffee table (sort of) for the couch. While the design is ingenious in terms of space utilization, it was somewhat impractical for us since we were trying to spend large blocks of time at the desk writing or editing pictures and videos. For us, the more practical solution was to bring in a chair from the balcony. For interior rooms, the balcony chair isn’t an option. Of course, we think that we’re probably not a “main stream” example of most folks who might utilize the space, and if you’re trying to use the stool for short periods as you get ready to go out for the evening, it should be just fine. There was a small refrigerator in the room, stocked as a mini-bar. We don’t usually have much need for a refrigerator except to hold a couple of cartons of milk if we’re lucky enough to snag them at breakfast, and there was plenty of room in the fridge to hold the milk even with the contents of the mini-bar. We’re told that on some ships you can get the cabin Steward to remove the mini-bar contents if you need the room. We didn’t (need the room), so we didn’t ask on this trip.
Let’s talk a bit more about power. As we mentioned before, there were four plugs in the room at the desk. There were no plugs at the bed near the nightstands, which is actually the norm aboard a cruise ship. The reason for no plugs at the bed is most likely because the bed is capable of different configurations. In our case, it was a single large bed with a nightstand on each side. But in other circumstances, it can be separated into two single beds with the nightstands in the center. There’s no way to place the plugs so they will work in all cases.
Be careful when using converter plugs. In most cases, unless you spend lots of money, the converter plug simply converts the plug type and not the voltage. In most cases these days, your power supply for your laptop, tablet, and phone will work with all voltages. Some items like razors (or anything that may have a motor) might not. Be sure to check your device to see what kinds of power it can handle.
The Bathroom in this cabin is roomy and quite well thought out. There was ample counter space and shelving both above and below the counter. Plenty of room to spread out and still not be cluttered.
The shower is the real star here. It’s quite possible the best shower we’ve encountered aboard a ship. While it was close to an “average” width for a ship-board shower, it was much deeper than normal; making for one of the roomiest showers we’re seen. The water hardware was normal for a ship, with the water on/off valve on the left side and the temperature adjustment on the right. The middle was a good place to start for temperature.
The bathroom came with the necessities including soap and shampoo dispensers inside the shower as well as a couple of shelves in case you have your own products.
While not in the bathroom, the hair dryer was a good one, located under the desk in the space where the chair/stool is stored. It is always plugged in, so there was no problem to get it out and simply use it.
There are fifteen restaurants of various kinds aboard the Norwegian Getaway. Truly, if you like to eat, this could be the ship for you. Of the fifteen restaurants, six are complimentary while the remaining nine have some kind of fee applied at least some of the time. Many of these are fee based for dinner, but free for lunch or breakfast. The list is long and complicated.
Clearly, we didn’t have the opportunity to visit all fifteen restaurants during our ten-day cruise, so we’ll be commenting on only the restaurants and facilities where we have first-hand experience. To learn more about what this ship has to offer in terms of dining and food in general, we suggest that you take a look at the NCL website.
Rather than get too wrapped around the axle about which is which here in this article and end up being in error in a month when NCL changes something, we’ll simply refer you to their web site for the most up-to-date information. The point we’re wanting to bring out is that, like most other cruise lines, most of the food is complimentary, but if you want something that’s just over the top in terms of quality and service, they have several restaurants that operate for an extra fee. If you feel like a treat, these can be well worth the money.
On Norwegian Cruise Lines, Freestyle dining means exactly that; freestyle. You arrive at the restaurant you want, when you want, dressed how you like.
There are three “formal” dining rooms. They are the Tropicana Room, Taste, and Savor. All three are Freestyle dining, meaning that you show up when you want. You’re not assigned a particular dining room either. You pick the restaurant you want on any night and simply show up. There is truly no dress code either. You come as you want. The ship does announce a night that is designated “formal” but the formal designation is only a suggestion and is in no way enforced. We noticed that it wasn’t really observed all that much on the cruise we were on either.
Like any well designed cruise experience, there are some exceptions to what we just said about “Freestyle” dining times and relaxed dress codes.
A word about Reservations:
Reservations are available in the three main dining rooms, which, like any restaurant pretty much anywhere, will get you in the door a bit sooner than the regular crowd. Some folks like the routine of the same dining room and same wait staff for the entire cruise, and this option is a good fit for them. We’ve done it both ways but didn’t find it necessary on this last cruise.
For some of the specialty restaurants, and for some of the shows for that matter, you should consider having reservations before you board the ship. We were not able to get reservations for one of the dinner shows because we booked this cruise at the very last minute. Had we made our booking well in advance like we usually do, we would no doubt have had ample time to get reservations to see the shows we wanted with ease. Reservations before boarding the ship are handled through your account that’s set up when you book.
Now, the Dress Codes:
Norwegian is probably one of the more casual cruise lines when it comes to dress codes. They don’t have a specific “formal” night in the dining rooms, for example, preferring instead their Cruise Casual designation on most nights and in most restaurants. For the most up-to-date information, take a look at the Norwegian Line’s “What to Pack” website.
Here’s another link from the FAQ pages that speaks to the clothing that should be packed for a cruise aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines.
The Garden Café is the main buffet, located on Deck 15 aft. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus late-night snacks. There is an overlap between meals where at least one line is open while they’re setting up for the next meal, so you can almost always get something.
There’s a good selection of foods here, and we think the quality is like most cruise lines we sailed with. If we were forced to rank this buffet, we might say that it’s not quite up to Disney standards, and a little above most Carnival standards (with some exceptions), and just about on par with Royal Caribbean.
We liked the modern décor in the Buffet. It reminds us of the newly refurbished buffet facility on the Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2.
There are at least two soft-serve ice cream machines in this buffet, serving vanilla, chocolate, or both at once. There are also usually two stations serving a selection of at least eight flavors of regular ice cream. There is also a variety of toppings, but you might need to hunt around a bit for the ones you want. The ice cream, of course, is only available for lunch, dinner, and snack time.
One thing that was conspicuously missing from the desert area of the buffet was a selection of cookies. We had some chocolate chip cookies delivered to the room from Room Service, and our past experience from other Norwegian ships is that you could get cookies at the buffet if you asked for them, but we didn’t try on this cruise. And to be fair, we did see a small selection of cookies at one lunch service, for one day. There was Chocolate with Chocolate Chip, and Oatmeal/Raisin. One thing we found interesting at the Garden Café was a bar. Actually, there’s a bar at the entrance in the breezeway outside and one located aft, between the port and starboard serving isles. Also, on each side of the ship, about midway through the serving area, there’s what appears to be a wine vending machine. You can select your desired glass of wine for dinner, lunch, whatever. And of course, the bars and wine are for an extra fee.
O’Sheehan’s is open for Breakfast and lunch. Snacks are available 24/7. Breakfast, snacks, and lunch are complimentary. We ate lunch there a few times and the food was great. There’s a choice of Irish pub food, like fish and chips, bangers and mash, hamburgers, and open face turkey or roast beef sandwiches, plus more.
Margaritaville is on Deck 16, aft. It’s an open air restaurant that’s reasonably well protected from the wind and sun, but not the cold as was the case in our Atlantic Crossing. They serve a complimentary breakfast buffet but a cover charge of $14.95 per person applies for lunch. The cover charge includes appetizer, entree, and dessert. The hamburger and fries were very good. We did not have dessert, we were cold, but they sounded very good. We would have gone back for another lunch but it was just too cold to eat outside. Seeing a theme here about this cruise? Yeah, it was cold.
Dinner is not served but there’s a bar that is open during most times you’d expect a bar to be open.
The Atrium Café
On Deck 6 midship is the Atrium. It’s the location of various services desks, but there’s also a full-service bar and a café where you can get coffees, pastries, cupcakes, and so on. Everything here is for an additional fee.
Many ships have a central area like this, and most of them operate in much the same way. There are services like alcoholic drinks, but the coffees and snacks are almost always for an extra fee too.
We did not try any of the cupcakes or pastries but the hot chocolate was good.
The exception to this model is in the Royal Caribbean Freedom, Voyager, and Oasis class ships, where instead of an Atrium, you will find an inside “Promenade” that runs most of the length of the ship. In the Promenade, you can find many different shops and bars. Some offer complimentary food and coffee while others offer their services for a fee. Some offer both, depending on what you order.
Cagney’s is a fee-based American style Steak house. It’s open for dinner only and we recommend that you get a reservation before visiting this restaurant. Also, if you enjoy a good steak, we recommend that you spend an evening here.
When you’re on a ship that has mostly complimentary food, a restaurant like Cagney’s seems a bit expensive, but by our way of thinking, it was worth every penny. Every part of our meal here was excellent. And to be clear, this last cruise wasn’t our only experience with dining at Cagney’s. We had dinner at a Cagney’s a couple of years ago aboard the Norwegian Epic and it too did not disappoint.
At every evening meal, and most meals otherwise, there’s an opportunity for dessert. But if you want something that’s a bit more, there’s a small outlet on Deck 8 called Dulce Gelato and The Bake Shop. This is a “for fee” shop where you can get various flavors of gelato and baked treats, like cupcakes or macaroons. You can also find a selection of individual chocolates.
You might also try the Atrium Café for a cupcake or other sweet morsel.
We’re no strangers to reasonably good entertainment. We live in an area where we constantly see quality entertainment from Disney and the other theme parks, and we often see theater productions from various Broadway plays when they tour through Orlando. To say that we’re entertainment snobs or experts might be a bit of a reach, but we know a good show when we see one.
The entertainment aboard the Getaway was, in our view, excellent. We’ve seen many shows on several cruise lines too, and the shows we did see this last cruise were considerably better than the rest.
Burn the floor
Reservations can be made online when you book the cruise or once you are on-board.
This was a very enjoyable dance production, featuring Latin and ballroom dance. This show ran a couple of times during the cruise. We recommend this performance and found it to be better than much of the cruise ship entertainment we’ve seen.
We recommend that you make reservations for the main shows aboard this ship. The reason is that the theater is small and seemed to fill for each show we saw. For the shows we were able to attend, we had reservations so we were let in before the guests that were in the “standby” line. Our seating was easy and we were able to pick from pretty much any area in the house. We have no idea if everyone who was waiting in the standby line made it into the show. We’re assuming that some were left out since the theater was full.
Not to minimize the talent, because it was excellent, but we were especially impressed that this production made use of lots of LED based sets, allowing for seamless scene changes during the performance. We first saw LEDs used extensively in a performance of Beauty and the Beast aboard the Disney Dream and we’re glad to see that it’s catching on.
Million Dollar Quartet
This is a variation of the Broadway play of the same name. We saw this once when the Broadway series played in Orlando, and to be honest, we thought the production aboard this ship was better. The talent used in this show was over-the-top, and made you think you were seeing Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins in the studio of Sun Records of the 1950s’.
There’s a walking track on Deck 16. It takes 8 laps to make up a mile. Like many ships we’ve been on, the walking track seems to be more of an afterthought. It’s not big enough for the traffic it gets, and it’s too short. We found that we could extend the short track a bit by walking through another area forward of the official track, through a couple of interior doors to get from one side to another, and back to the track. It was not perfect, but it worked in our case.
The gym is on Deck 15. It has two sections. On one side you can find a reasonable selection of cardio machines including stair climbers and treadmills. On the other side you’ll find various isolation machines as well as free weights. The gym is small compared to many we’ve seen aboard ships, but it seemed to be adequate.
As with nearly all cruise ships, there are several classes offered from the fitness and wellness department related to weight control and overall health. Some are free, which is usually a prelude to other services offered for a fee, and some are a straight-up fee.
Comparison with Royal Caribbean Ships
We were asked to make a comparison between the experience on this ship with a typical cruise aboard Royal Caribbean, so here it is:
- Overall the Getaway is a very pleasant ship. It’s probably on par with the Royal Caribbean Radiance Class, or maybe the Vision Class Ships, which are the classes of Royal Caribbean without an interior Promenade.
- On our cruise which was a transatlantic crossing, the weather was not very warm, so we didn’t spend a lot of time outside. We did find lots of places inside to curl up with our Kindle, or places to set up our laptop.
- The Atrium-which is the substitution for a Grand Promenade aboard many of the Royal Caribbean Ships-has seating and there was always something going on to watch or participate in. The Waterfront aboard the Getaway is what Norwegian calls their “Promenade,” but it’s outside and this last cruise was simply too cold to enjoy it. We can’t speak to it’s strengths or shortcomings simply because of the weather.
- If the weather had been nice there are a couple of pools and several hot tubs to enjoy. There were several people that ignored the cold and enjoyed the hot tubs.
- You can eat at a different restaurant every night if you choose. As in most cruises you will not go hungry.
- They kept the announcement over the PA system to a minimum. The cruise director makes an announcement in the morning, the afternoon, and in the evening. The captain spoke at noon and that was all the announcements that were made.
- We had a balcony cabin, but the balcony was not used much on this cruise due to the weather. The inside did not feel cramped. We tend to stay in our cabin more than some and found we had lots of room.
- Norwegian does not do towel animals, which we missed.
- We enjoy the promenade on certain Royal Caribbean ships and find the atriums, which you see on other cruise lines, to be crowded. The Atrium aboard the Getaway was especially crowded this trip because of the outside weather, but we think it would have been too busy for our taste even under better conditions.
- Norwegian has some very interesting shows. Royal Caribbean does too, but the shows on the two ships are very different and can’t really be compared. We do know that the Royal Caribbean shows tend to move between ships quite a bit, and while that might be true among the simpler Norwegian shows, the bigger ones, like Million Dollar Quartet and Burn the Floor, are simply too complicated to move between ships. What we mean by this is that we think the big productions aboard Norwegian ships are somewhat better than the shows we’ve seen aboard Royal Caribbean.
- Internet is behind on Norwegian (and all other cruise lines for that matter) when compared to Royal Caribbean. While they do finally offer internet packages that provide constant access for the duration of the cruise, they still offer packages “by the minute.” To the best of our recollection, the unlimited packages on NCL are more expensive than Royal Caribbean and are not as fast. If being plugged in is a requirement, this is something to think about when cruising on a line other than Royal Caribbean. At the present time, they are still the leaders, but other lines, like Norwegian, are catching up.
The Norwegian Getaway is not the same as a Royal Caribbean Freedom, Voyager, and Oasis class ship, but is still very nice in its own right. Overall, we did not find a lot of difference between Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. The service is good on both cruise lines, and the food was similar. We enjoyed O’Sheehan’s for lunch on the Getaway, but wished it had a Starbucks like the Oasis.
We were originally scheduled to do the Transatlantic on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, but then the tragic crane accident happened. Choosing this ship was very last minute and we are not disappointed in our choice.
A Final Thought
Before we made this transatlantic crossing, we had already booked this ship for another Transatlantic Crossing, then a Mediterranean cruise for next year. We chose The Getaway because of the dates and ports of call in the Mediterranean, but were a bit worried about being on this ship for that length of time.
After making this hurried, last minute crossing, we can safely say that we are looking forward to spending more time on this ship and getting to know her in a bit more favorable weather where we can take advantage of some of the outside areas and activities.