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eroller January 29th, 2015 03:50 AM

Got Away on the GETAWAY!
Got away on the GETAWAY!

Over 500 ship photos covering all public areas:

Freestyle Daily, Invitations, Menus, Price Lists, etc:

I just returned home Saturday (Jan 24, 2015) from a fantastic cruise on NORWEGIAN GETAWAY. I've been wanting to sail on the Breakaway Class since NCL first released details, but somehow I never got around to it until now. Trying out new ship designs is sort of a hobby of mine, so GETAWAY was up against some tough competition. In the past few years I've sailed the latest designs of all the major cruise lines, including the Oasis & Quantum Class with Royal Caribbean, the Solstice Class with Celebrity, Fantasia Class with MSC Cruises, Dream Class with Carnival, Royal Class with Princess Cruises, Dream Class with Disney, and Signature Class with Holland America. So how did GETAWAY stack up? Extremely well! I could not have been more impressed with the ship and in fact how the entire NCL experience has evolved since my last experience a few years ago. My last few cruises on NCL were mediocre at best so the line sort of fell out of favor with me. All that changed with GETAWAY and now NCL is a new favorite! Perhaps not quite a new favorite since I started sailing on NCL back in 1980 on the legendary NORWAY. They were a favorite back then, went through many years of management changes, no direction and hard times, and now have come back with a vengeance to be an industry leader. I'm so pleased to see Norwegian back on top, with a great product that is well executed and excellent new hardware that can go head to head with any other new mega-ship out there. It's funny because I honestly wasn't expecting to love GETAWAY so much, especially after sailing on Royal Caribbean's latest the QUANTUM OF THE SEAS just a few months ago. She is an impressive ship to be sure, but I actually preferred GETAWAY. It's hard to pinpoint exactly why, except to say the ship had a fantastic vibe about her that just hit home with me.

Booking GETAWAY was a last minute decision. I only booked about six days before my sailing and being that my partner and no friends were available on such short notice, I went solo. This prospect left me a bit apprehensive but in the end it was a non issue. I met so many great people onboard and never had to be alone unless I wanted to be. I was hoping to book one of the solo Studio cabins but they were sold out. Fortunately NCL extended the single rate to a standard inside cabin so I was able to enjoy a full sized cabin to myself with no single supplement.

I decided to arrive at the pier early for one particular reason. I wanted to secure a weekly pass to Vibe, the private sun deck. I figured with 4000 other passengers onboard and my love of spending peaceful time on deck in the sun, a spot at Vibe might be crucial to my enjoyment. I discovered only 60 spots are sold to Vibe and you cannot pre-purchase online. The key is being one of the first to embark and going directly to Guest Relations to purchase your pass. My partner dropped me off at the pier around 10:40am and even that early I was in Group 10 to board. Thankfully my plan worked and I succeeded in scoring a Vibe pass at $79 for the cruise. By the time I arrived at Guest Relations there were only about 20 Vibe passes left. They go quick! More on Vibe a little later. The embarkation process was smooth and I felt like I was boarding the ship in no time. The now infamous "washy washy" girls were the first to greet me with a quick squirt of hand sanitizer, then it was onto a red carpet lined with balloons and welcoming staff members along with music. What a nice and festive welcome! First impressions make lasting impressions right, and I immediately felt like this ship and cruise were going to be something special and I was right.

First stop was Guest Relations then a quick tour of the ship and a bite to eat in the Garden Cafe. The cabins were ready around 1:30pm so I made my way down to 12651. When I booked there were not a lot of cabins to choose from, so I was a bit uneasy about this cabin location. It's only a couple cabins away from the aft elevators down a center hall right off the foyer. Surely it was going to be noisy. The reality was it was one of the most quiet cabins I've ever sailed in. I heard absolutely nothing from either side of me or from the foyer. The cabin was small, but extremely functional and well appointed. For one person it was perfection. For two it would be tight (especially the closet space), and for three good luck! I grew to love this cabin with its hidden cubby holes for storage, large bathroom, and super comfy bed and linens. Included were an interactive TV, safe, hair dryer, mini-bar, ice, and soap/shampoo dispensers in the bathroom. One clever feature were two switches that indicated if you wanted the cabin to be serviced or not to be disturbed. When pressed, these lit specific colored lights outside the cabin door so the cabin steward always knew what was desired and if the cabin was occupied. It worked like a charm. Like all modern ships there is an energy saving feature where a card has to be inserted into a slot by the entry door to activate the electricity. The idea is to use your cruise card but any card will work. A word about the interactive TV and iConcierge App available on your smart phone. From the TV you can book and reserve shore excursions, featured entertainment, and times for dining. You can also view everything you have booked on a calendar feature. In addition there are pay per view movies (some are free), regular programming and news channels, ship information channels, and the ability to view your shipboard account. The iConcierge App for your smartphone works very similar to the interactive function of the TV with some important exceptions. While you can book and reserve events just like on the TV, you can't change or cancel them, and there is no calendar function to view your entire weeks schedule. I hope this is something that future releases of iConcierge will include.

First reactions to the GETAWAY were an instant like! The public areas are very attractive and flow extremely well. There are lots of places to eat, drink, and be merry! One of the greatest features that I was perhaps a bit skeptical about is the Waterfront. It's an outdoor deck and promenade on Deck 7 where most of the interior public spaces flow to the outside. The majority of bars, lounges, and restaurants you stroll through on Deck 7 also feature al fresco seating out on the Waterfront. It's a fantastic connection to the sea that just doesn't exist on most new builds these days. Adding a bit of fun to The Waterfront are a couple telescopes fixed to the rail on each side which I enjoyed to spot passing ships. They worked so well I could usually determine the name of the passing ship even at night when they were ablaze with lights. The Waterfront doesn't go around the forward section of the ship, but it does go all the way around the aft section for great unobstructed views of the wake and even the sea below through windows built into the deck. Other features that impressed me were Mixx, which is a great bar between two of the included dining venues. This was a wonderful place to relax and have a drink if a table wasn't immediately available, and something sorely lacking on QUANTUM OF THE SEAS. 678 Ocean Place is the center atrium and so called because it spans decks 6, 7, and 8. The centerpiece is a beautiful chandelier that changes colors throughout the day and night. Another atrium is just forward and this might be considered the heart of the ship. It includes service outlets like Guest Relations and the Shore Excursion Desk, but also a festive and busy bar, a giant video screen, and O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill which is a great 24/7 spot for a meal, some drinks, or even a bit of bowling! Many activities take place in the atrium such as dancing, games, demonstrations, etc. It seemed there was always something going on.

eroller January 29th, 2015 03:51 AM

<Part Two>

Moving outside and topside is the Aqua Park with five fun filled water slides that I enjoyed over and over again. The blue slide was my favorite, maybe because it's the first one I tried. There is a rock climbing wall, mini-golf course, the spider net, bungee trampoline, a full size basketball court, and the Ropes Course. I especially enjoyed the Ropes Course as it features The Plank, which is a narrow plank extended over the side of the ship which proved to be a harrowing experience to be sure. Not so harrowing that I didn't do it twice! Don't forget to pull the chain to have your picture taken! The toddlers have a great splash pool area featuring all their favorite characters from SpongeBob Squarepants as well as a full size family swimming pool just adjacent. Not to be left out the adults have their own area all the way aft called Spice H20. It includes a large video screen, a full bar, a couple hot tubs, and a waterfall splash zone to cool off. There is another pool midship that is designated adults only and might be considered the main pool and the most active on the ship. The topside space on GETAWAY does not feel spacious and open like on other ships. It's more sectioned off and a bit disjointed, but somehow it works and I really liked it. Up one deck on 17 is the Vibe Beach Club. I touched on this earlier but let me go into more detail now. $79 for the week gets you an uncrowded and quiet deck with two hot tubs, a full bar, a rain-shower type shower to cool off, luxury cushioned chairs, unlimited towels, and superb service! The service from a dedicated staff throughout the day included cold towels, water spritzes, cookies, lemonade, and fresh fruit skewers all brought directly to your lounge chair. Talk about service! Having access to Vibe really enhanced my experience as I prefer a quiet spot where I don't have to fight for a chair even if I don't make it outside till noon or 1pm. I felt it was worth every penny. If you like to be in the center of the action by the main pool then Vibe is probably not for you. As much as I enjoyed the upper decks of GETAWAY, another main pool is badly needed as the two pools for 4000+ passengers are simply not enough. Just forward of the main pool area is the Mandara Spa and fitness center. I enjoyed a week pass to the Thermal Suite in the Mandara Spa, and this included a thermal pool, saunas, a Salt Room, steam room, heated loungers, and fantastic views over the bow of the ship. Just aft of the Mandara Spa is the fitness center. It's actually divided into two sections, with cardio facing the ocean with large windows while bodybuilding and weights were across a hall in an interior section. The fitness center is one of the few opportunities for improvement as it was far too small and crowded for a ship the size of GETAWAY.

One of the biggest surprises on the GETAWAY was the vast improvement in NCL's food and service. I believe there are 28 dining options on the GETAWAY and during my week onboard I never had a bad meal. The included main dining rooms (Savor, Taste, Tropicana), the Garden Cafe (buffet), the Flamingo Bar & Grill, and O'Sheehan's were all included and all excellent. You could exclusively dine in these venues while not spending an cent extra and be quite content. Of course there are many speciality restaurants available as well for an added charge, and all looked very inviting with beautiful surroundings and appetizing menus. Being solo this cruise the only speciality restaurant I dined at was Wasabi. This is the sushi restaurant and I must say it was excellent. Pricing was a la carte which works well for this type of dining experience. I found the Garden Cafe to be an excellent buffet restaurant with a great variety of choices, good quality, and even some surprises like hard scooped premium ice cream with toppings daily. It's rare to find this on any cruise line these days, let alone a contemporary mass-market one. A terrific alternative to the Garden Cafe is the Flamingo Bar & Grill just a deck above. In keeping with the Miami theme of GETAWAY this venue serves Latin inspired cuisine with a Cuban flair. None of these dining options could be successful without the hard working crew that brings it all together. I found the staff and crew onboard GETAWAY to be visible, motivated, friendly, and sincerely happy to be there. Management is obviously doing something right as this is probably the most profound change I found on NCL compared to previous cruises. Visibility of officers is something I rarely see on other ships, but on GETAWAY every day in the Guest Relations area the senior officers from the Hotel Director and Cruise Director on down were not only visible but actively socializing, interacting, and problem solving with any passengers that approached them. I don't think I've seen this level on interaction on any cruise line including the luxury lines like Silversea. The closest in comparison might be Disney and Azamara both of which have top notch crews based on my past experience. Even my cabin steward left me a personalized note on the last night of the cruise, something that has never happened in the past and something I will always remember. As an added bonus on this cruise I was placed on the VIP list which entitled me to some extra special treatment and events. A private Bridge visit, VIP parties in the Ice Bar and The Grammy Experience, front row seating in the Illusionarium, dinner in The Haven (it was excellent), and special treats in the cabin all enhanced my overall experience and made GETAWAY truly one of a kind!

NCL has always been known for entertainment. This goes back to the days of the NORWAY when NCL was the first and only line to feature full scale Broadway productions such as Hello Dolly. Fast forward 35 years and NCL is still delivering top notch entertainment. I place NCL side by side with Disney and Royal Caribbean as having the best entertainment at sea. Onboard GETAWAY we were treated to the Broadway production of Legally Blonde. While I'm not a particular fan of this musical it was very well done with excellent production value and talented singers and actors. Another show was Burn the Floor which received a standing ovation and was simply one of the best shows I've seen at sea. The Illusionarium is a specially created venue to house a magical dinner show complete with special effects, a story, and slight of hand to entertain while you enjoy a lovely dinner. The entire concept really reminded me of something I might find on Disney. A hint here, request the salmon as the main course. It's not on the menu but far superior to the usual offering. Other top rated entertainment can be found in Headliners where comedians from Levity Entertainment Group perform and The Grammy Experience where Grammy award winner artists entertain nightly. While I'm not much for comics, I loved the live performances in The Grammy Experience. Sugar Blue was one of the performers and his harmonica playing is not to be missed. In addition to the shows you can enjoy a supper club in The Tropicana Room, a massive casino, a piano bar in the Sugarcane Lounge, Dueling Pianos in Headliners, a DJ in Bliss Nightclub and Spice H20 outdoors, and Groove International in the atrium nightly. NCL is also known to throw some great parties, and the tradition continues on the GETAWAY. Most are in Spice H20 located outside on Deck 16 aft. Included were the Glow Party (formally the White Party), Norwegian Night Out Dance Party, and the Awesome 80's Party & Fireworks night. Yes fireworks at sea! NCL can't claim to be the first as that honor goes to Disney, but they do a nice job all themed to an 80's party. The fireworks start at 10:45pm (day 4) and are shot off the Portside of the ship. No matter how you look at it, watching fireworks at sea from a moving vessel is a lot of fun!

The ports on this cruise included St Maarten, St Thomas, and Nassau. The "milk run" as it's known in the industry and ports I've been to countless times. NORWEGIAN GETAWAY docks in all ports so no tenders are necessary. This makes for easy on and off the ship. We enjoyed excellent weather throughout the entire cruise with the exception of the first day at sea which was a bit cloudy. I didn't book any tours and basically just strolled around each port on my own, with one mission being to photograph all the other ships docked with us in port. Perhaps you have heard of train spotters and plane spotters? Well I'm a ship spotter! Our numbers are not as great as the more common train & plane spotters, but as a group we are growing as more and more people become interested in ships. In St. Thomas I did take the Paradise Point Tramway up the side of the mountain for excellent views of the island and of course ... ships!

Disembarkation was as easy as embarkation and I was off the ship in no time. It was well organized and I truly left the GETAWAY feeling that I had a vacation of a lifetime on a ship I loved and on a line I have a new admiration for. Onboard I took advantage of a future cruise deal where you put down a $250 deposit towards a future cruise and receive a $100 onboard credit on the current cruise. It's a great deal if you're certain you want to sail NCL again, and I was! It didn't take long to decide on the next one, which will be the maiden voyage of NORWEGIAN ESCAPE sailing 10 days from Southampton to Miami this October. It's hard to imagine ESCAPE will be an improvement over GETAWAY, but I'm willing to give it a shot! NCL is once again finding itself in the midst of management changes as a new President was brought onboard from Darden Restaurants and chief Kevin Sheehan abruptly resigned. Mr. Sheehan has been credited with the reinvention of Norwegian that I so enjoyed on GETAWAY, so it's a little unsettling to see him depart just as I've become reacquainted with the line. My wish is that the new leadership team can stay focused on what was started, keep the momentum going, remain innovative, and continue to evolve Norwegian into a world class cruise company.

Please enjoy the pictures that accompany this review at the links provided (top of page), and any questions are welcomed.


eroller January 29th, 2015 03:59 AM

Some preview pics from my picture gallery:

Travelbuggs January 29th, 2015 09:12 AM

Thanks, eroller for a great review. I couldn't agree with you more! I have been a big fan of NCL for the past few years. You took the words right out of my mouth when mentioned the "vibe" of the ship. I felt that same vibe on our first NCL cruise and every one since, including our last one, also the Getaway in Feb. 2014. That combination of Freestyle atmosphere, happy and interactive employees, and top notch entertainment and amenities really works! And I do agree that NCL has the most interactive senior staff I have ever experienced.

I am itching to book the Escape, and maybe I should, before that Freestyle Choice promo expires.:wink:

eroller January 29th, 2015 11:43 AM


Originally Posted by Travelbuggs (Post 1513542)
Thanks, eroller for a great review. I couldn't agree with you more! I have been a big fan of NCL for the past few years. You took the words right out of my mouth when mentioned the "vibe" of the ship. I felt that same vibe on our first NCL cruise and every one since, including our last one, also the Getaway in Feb. 2014. That combination of Freestyle atmosphere, happy and interactive employees, and top notch entertainment and amenities really works! And I do agree that NCL has the most interactive senior staff I have ever experienced.

I am itching to book the Escape, and maybe I should, before that Freestyle Choice promo expires.:wink:

Glad you enjoyed!! Hey you have just a couple days to take advantage of the Freestyle Choice promo! Better get on that!! ;)

TimmyK February 1st, 2015 11:28 AM

Thank you for a wonderful review. Love the pics. I do have a few questions
1. How crowded was Breakaway?
2. With up to 4,000 guests did it feel crowded or did you feel people spent time in various areas which made the ship feel less crowded?
3. You mentioned you were given VIP privilege; was this because of your status or because you signed up at guest relations?

Travelbuggs February 1st, 2015 05:06 PM


Originally Posted by eroller (Post 1513549)
Glad you enjoyed!! Hey you have just a couple days to take advantage of the Freestyle Choice promo! Better get on that!! ;)

I took your advice and booked Escape for January 2016! Free Ultimate Beverage Package. I see you have posted a great deal of info on that ship elsewhere. I have not had a chance to read through it yet. Are you booked on one of the early sailings? If so, I hope you will come back to post a review with plenty of pictures.

eroller February 25th, 2015 11:51 PM


Originally Posted by TimmyK (Post 1513658)
Thank you for a wonderful review. Love the pics. I do have a few questions
1. How crowded was Breakaway?
2. With up to 4,000 guests did it feel crowded or did you feel people spent time in various areas which made the ship feel less crowded?
3. You mentioned you were given VIP privilege; was this because of your status or because you signed up at guest relations?

Overall GETAWAY did not feel crowded, and the ship was full. The one exception is the pool deck which is very crowded and there are not enough pools for the amount of passengers. The ship is designed very well and disperses passengers nicely throughout the ship so no one area feels crowded (again with the exception of the pool deck).

Can't really elaborate on the VIP status but it had nothing to do with Latitudes status and it's not something you can sign up for. It was totally unexpected but a very nice surprise!

Mike M February 26th, 2015 01:59 AM

Thanks for the great review. Breakaway or Getaway will be the next NCL ships I sail. I loved what Epic had to offer, except the ship itself. The design, layout, flow and cabins were not to my liking. I loved everything, in the way of dining and entertainment that Epic had to offer.

I think NCL took what was good about Epic and put in a better package.

Take care,

rollerdonna April 22nd, 2015 08:16 PM

Thanks eroller for the great review. We have just booked Getaway for my 60th in June, this will be our 1st try on Norwegian, and your review has reassured me we made the right choice!


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