On the first cruise of the brand new, biggest ship from PortMiami
We are now at the midpoint of the first full cruise on Norwegian Getaway’s regular seven-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Today we are in St. Thomas, where it is sunny and in the 80s.
It is time for me to report on this ship and I am not known for the casual use of hyperbole, so when I tell you the Norwegian Getaway is an exciting ship with excellent food at every dining venue, outstanding entertainment and spacious public areas that are beautifully decorated and inviting, I am giving you my frank opinion. And it isn't just me. I have yet to hear a complaining passenger. Instead every comment I've heard has been lavish in their praise for the ship and the crew.
Norwegian Cruise Line hit the mark with this beautiful new ship. So far I am finding plenty of things to praise and hardly anything that needs improvement. Let’s look at some of the key areas.
I have already tried several of the many dining options on board, both fare-included and alternative options with a surcharge. In each case I have been pleased with the food quality and preparation.
Taste, Savor, and the Tropicana Room are the three main dining rooms included in the cruise fare, and each features the same menu nightly. Seating has never been a problem even when I walked up without a prior reservation. As a single passenger I have been seated at my own table. However, if I wish to share a table (a good way to meet new people when sailing as a solo cruiser) I can sign up for an open seat at a populated table with the maître D's desk.
The largest dining room, in the stern, is the Tropicana Room and it features entertainment during dinner with the "Burn the Floor" the new Latin flavored dance show which is excellent whether or not you love dancing, but especially if you do.
I've eaten in the Teppenyaki (the Japanese grill where every table gets its own chef), Moderno Churrascaria (the Brazilian style of preparing meat on skewers slow cooked over an open pit), Le Bistro (the original French restaurant seen on many Norwegian Cruise Line ships), and La Cucina (the family-style Italian restaurant).
In each case the size of the food servings are enough for two people and simply delicious. Examples include the veal osso bucco in La Cucina, which was falling apart tender and full of flavor. In Le Bistro I had escargot and "duck two ways," which includes a perfectly cooked medium rare duck breast and duck confit, which had wonderfully crispy skin.
The churrascaria starts with a very large salad and hot side-dish bar, before an endless parade of servers comes to your table repeatedly to offer you more and more freshly cut hot meats. I soon had to turn my card from green to red before I burst at the seams.
Teppenyaki is always fun as the chef is also an entertainer as he or she grills up oriental style food. I enjoyed it so much the first time that I am going again later this week.
Getaway is a departure from previous Norwegian Cruise Line ships in terms of the included entertainment. While her sister ship Breakaway has many of the same entertainment options as offered on Norwegian Epic, Getaway has decided to replace some of the shows with new ideas.
“Howl At The Moon” has returned and is proving very popular. When they are on the schedule the room is overflowing. This is a team of gifted musicians who tag-team playing the dueling pianos and engaging the crowd to sing along as they can play almost any song imaginable by request.
The other musical combos on the ship, such as the ones who perform in the main atrium, are good but this is one area that has not overly impressed me. They are good but that is all.
I already mentioned the Burn The Floor program and it is smoking hot good. If you like Dancing With The Stars on television you will love this show. Technically, the show replaced the tribute show called "Legends at Sea."
I attended the Illusionarium dinner show last night. This has two price tiers which determine how close you will sit to the action. They have a set dinner of surf and turf, but the show is creating quite a buzz among the passengers. Here is how it is described in the Freestyle Daily: "Built by the eccentric but brilliant Professor Vernon Royce in the late 1800s, the Illusionarium is a place of joy and wonder transporting you into the steampunk world and beyond." The show features world class magicians, illusionists, and mentalists.
It was a fun show where illusionists and mostly standard "central casting" magicians ala Ed Sullivan performed. The show is loosely tied to the theme of the deceased professor who returns to this special room in human form to seek a new caretaker for the magical "toys" he accumulated in life. The new caretaker must be a "master" magician and he auditions several. It was a pleasant and enjoyable show. The meal was a pre-set menu and fairly predictable; a small filet mignon and a lobster tail that was like a prawn in size. I couldn't help feeling that they should focus more on the show and that the meal was just an excuse to charge $30. Seats on the periphery are $25. I was seated directly in front of the circular stage.
Showtimers Comedy Club was next up on my schedule. 45 minutes with a warm up act and the main comedian. These shows are presented by Levity Entertainment Group. My show had Pete Correale and he was very funny. As with the other shows, a reservation was needed although no fee was involved. This is the program that replaced "The Second City", comedy troupes which are present on nearly every other Norwegian ship.
On the Waterfront
The Waterfront, the long open Promenade Deck with alfresco seating and opened air drinking at various nightclubs, is very popular. Every afternoon and evening the bars out there are full and it is “the place to be” for sailaway. It helps that we have had excellent weather and calm winds, and thankfully in the Caribbean so the weather is fairly predictable. I have never felt it was too muggy or windy out on deck.
This ship sails the same Eastern itinerary to St. Thomas and St. Maarten week after week. I think the repeated itinerary could get tedious and I really wonder why they don't rotate eastern and western itineraries so people can do back to back cruises. Right now Norwegian Epic is doing the Western Caribbean routes, but that ship is moving back to Barcelona soon.
By the way, there are many different nationalities on board. There are a lot of French speakers, possibly French-Canadian, and even some Russians. During the boat drill the announcements were made in six languages.
I am in a studio stateroom designed for single passengers. Every day in the studio lounge there is an open bar happy hour between 5pm to 6pm that attracts a decent sized crowd. The bar does a brisk business. A cruise staff person comes in and creates a daily activity and posts it on a community bulletin board. Oddly, many activities do not seem that popular on this cruise, and in the mornings the lounge is empty. Although it is nice to see that every dinner meal has a planned meeting place so single cruisers can easily find companions.
The studio cabins themselves are a huge hit. They are largely populated by single women on this cruise; in their 40s and 50s who dress more like school teachers in many cases. The men appear to be mostly retired although I met a couple of young men in their twenties who were pleasant and looking to cruise and save some money. I am quite pleased with the 100 square-foot cabin. I really don't feel cramped although the closet space is limited.
For the "first cruise" from Miami this has been almost flawless. I expected some hiccups but none have occurred. We had the fireworks show last night that will be featured on every cruise on this ship and on Norwegian Breakaway. The fireworks are fired from the ship, which is a pretty cool thing. The other ships in the area came closer to "steal" the show for their guests.