I am 62 and my wife is 57 and we are from Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is our third cruise. We were on the NCL Epic last year when there were numerous engine problems and our ship crashed into mooring pillars in San Juan. We received 100% credit for that cruise…this is our replacement cruise.
Pre-Cruise: New Orleans
We wanted to experience New Orleans, so we decided to spend a couple of extra days downtown. We arrived around 4pm at the Marriott Springhill Suites after a bumpy flight from Minneapolis (with a layover in Atlanta). We easily found a cab at the airport and the ride to our hotel was quick ($37).
It’s an easy walk from hotels near the cruise terminal or casino area to the Bourbon Street area (about 8-10 blocks). We ate at two restaurants Ralph Brennan’s Redfish Grill and Pier 424 Seafood Market. Both were excellent for getting authentic Louisiana seafood dishes.
We enjoyed walking up and down Bourbon Street, listening to the street musicians. We also stopped into several bars to listen to some great live music.
Another can’t miss attraction is the Cafe Du Monde at the French Market. We had to try the Coffee and Beignets. They were delicious. Other attractions that we checked out were Jackson Square, the St. Louis Cathedral-Basilica and the RiverWalk. We did some shopping at the RiverWalk Outlet Mall and hopped on the trolley ($3 for 24 hours) to get around.
Day 1 - New Orleans
Day 2 - At Sea
Day 3 - At Sea
Day 4 - Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Day 5 - George Town - Grand Cayman
Day 6 - Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras
Day 7 - Harvest Caye, Belize
Day 8 - Costa Maya, Mexico
Day 9 - At Sea
Day 10 - New Orleans
WHAT A MESS! We walked to the Outlet Mall (next to cruise terminal) at 9:30am for some last minute purchases. The Getaway was just docking at that time (it was scheduled to disembark at 7:00am). This made us worry, since we had an 11:05am return flight at the end of our cruise. We waited until 11:15 to head to the terminal (5-10 minute walk). As we got close, there were porters collecting our baggage. We dropped them off and then went into the terminal. People were just starting to leave the ship and there were already 200-300 people in line for check-in. The line stretched down the hall intended for the returning passengers, so things were getting crowded and chaotic. After an hour of waiting, the line started moving. It went fairly well, though it seemed to take a long time having our passports checked. There was additional staff looking at each page (assume looking for recent China stamps…Coronavirus).
After getting our key cards, we sat in the waiting area until 1pm (we were in boarding group 4). Even though we never heard an announcement calling any group numbers, they told a few in group 1 that they could start boarding. Immediately, everybody got up and crowded the line (including us). I guess we were lucky, as we were let through right away, but those behind us were stacked pretty deep pushing for position. We were on the ship by 1:15. Later, I talked with many who waited in line for 4 plus hours before boarding. One guy I talked to showed up at the terminal at 1pm and didn’t get on the ship until 5:30. He missed muster and had to do that on Day 2.
We wanted Vibe passes, so we did as noted on CC and went straight to guest services. They pointed us back to Headliners. So we went there and were given a number for Vibe passes (we got #24 & #25). The line was short, so we didn’t have problems getting the passes. ($229 each).
Next, we went to the next line (still at Headliners) and made or adjusted all our dinner reservations for the week.
Our stateroom was 14870 (BC). It was on starboard side, the last room before the aft facing balconies. It was a very convenient location. We had a short walk to stairs/elevators to go up to 15 (Garden Café/main pool area) or 16 (H20 Spice, Margaritaville, Vibe Beach Club). At night we spent time on decks 6-8, then took one last trip back up to stateroom.
There was plenty of storage in the room. The bathroom was well designed, and the shower was roomy with plenty of water pressure.
Last year on Epic, we had our steward put one lounger on the balcony and still had room for 1 chair and small table. On Getaway, this was not possible. The balcony was way too small for a lounger.
NCL states that this room has a queen bed. It was very comfortable, but seemed more like a king size to me, though somewhat short for me at 6’ 1”.
There was one duplex outlet on the counter across from the sofa. We plugged a 3-gang outlet into one side and were able to keep 4 devices charging at one time (2 phones, Kindle, Bluetooth speaker, Fitbit, Galaxy watch). There were zero USB outlets in the room.
Being on the 14th deck aft meant that we could feel the ship move more than I am used to. We had to take some hangers out of the closet…they were banging against the wall as the ship rocked back and forth. As far as sleeping, we both slept well and the rocking didn’t bother us.
Our cabin steward was Keshena. She was very friendly and did a great job keeping our stateroom in order.
We had the specialty dining package (4 dinners). Our daughter also bought us the Romance Package, which included one more specialty dining dinner. In general, we were very happy with the specialty options. A quick summary:
Teppenyaki – Good food, but very noisy environment. We didn’t think food was as good as last year on Epic
Moderno – The salad bar was very good. I thought the sushi was delicious. The table service for the meat entrees was timely. The meat was good, but nothing exceptional. The server also brought by roasted pineapple. We both were full and declined. He insisted that we try it. We’re glad that we did. It was wonderful.
Le Bistro – This was the best meal of the entire cruise!
La Cucina (Romance Package) – The dinner was OK. We had Tiramisu and Cannoli as desert, both were excellent.
Cirque Dreams + Steam – Another very good meal. The Cirque show was very entertaining.
Main Dining – We also ate at all 3 MDR. The atmosphere in the Tropicana room was busier. They did have live music performances, but we ate early and had a show to see, so we missed this. Both Savor and Taste were much quieter and the food at all three venues was above average.
We also had 2 breakfasts at Taste. The breakfast menu had plenty of choices and the food was served timely and were tasty.
O’Sheehans – We had 2 lunches here. Both were very good. I sampled the BBQ wings and we had Fajitas and Open Face Beef Sandwich. All were excellent.
Garden Café: Lunch – I was not impressed with the lunch at the Garden Café. Compared to last year on the Epic, I thought the selection was limited and didn’t change much day to day. We usually stopped in buffet if we were in a hurry and wanted a quick bite to eat. The burgers and hot dog buns were very dry, pizza was not very good. We did find things to eat, but it never seemed like I was having to choose between two things that I liked. We usually just settled for something.
Garden Café: Breakfast – We had several of our breakfasts in here. I always went to the omelet station and had the made-to-order omelet. Always a good choice.
Margaritaville – The also had a limited breakfast buffet at Margaritaville each morning. The had the basics (French toast, pancakes, eggs benedict, sausage, bacon, fruit, cereal) along with cook to order egg station. This became our location of choice from breakfast.
Specialty Lunch Buffets – On several days, there were special complementary buffets in Moderno (extra seating in Cagney’s) for lunch (12:00pm – 1:30pm). We at there for their BBQ and Mexican buffets. Both were very good, but get there early, since it got busy.
Vibe Beach Club:
As stated earlier, we decided to get Vibe Beach Club passes. The Vibe area on the Getaway is significantly bigger than what is shown on the several YouTube videos that I watched. After entering, the entire left side of deck 16 if Vibe, as well as bar area and area where cabanas and hot tubs are located.
On the sea days, it was extremely windy in Vibe. There was one section on port side (farthest forward section of Vibe) that supported about 30 loungers with umbrellas. Once those filled up, the staff tried as best they could to find other spots to place people out of the wind.
The bartenders did a great job and kept things light and fun when sitting at the bar. The bar waiters were prompt in keeping drinks coming, bringing carafes of water and fruit kabobs.
Each day, we would hang out at the Vibe bar in midafternoon. We met some fun people and enjoyed this part of each day.
I asked the waiter about the Vibe capacity. He stated that they limit sales to 200 passes and on our cruise, they only sold 90.
The Getaway has numerous bars throughout the ship. We especially liked these:
Sid Normans – the outside bar on the waterfront has 8-10 barstools and additional seating nearby for about 25 people. This was a fun spot to hang out, especially if there was live music inside and it was too crowded.
Sugarcanes Mojito Bar – Both the inside and outside areas had totally different experiences. Outside, on the waterfront, it was very relaxing and quiet. Plenty of seating with small tables. Inside, there is a pianist performing most evenings. The nights started out quiet inside, but seemed to get quite busy later at night. Still a lot of fun.
Skyy Vodka Ice Bar – Why? For me, I just step out of my Minnesota kitchen door in January and I’m there…no charge.
Generally speaking, we usually were able to find a drink without a long wait anywhere on the ship.
This is why we choose Norwegian! We had a great time last year on the Epic and this year’s options were even better.
Burn the Floor – Saw this on the Epic and enjoyed seeing again on Getaway. The production was simpler, but the dancing was still fantastic.
Million Dollar Quartet – Fantastic! Excellent musicians. We didn’t have any problems imagining any of the actors as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins or Jerry Lee Lewis. The story was interesting, and the music was very enjoyable.
Cirque Dreams + Steam – This act was a combination of acrobatics, balancing acts and juggling. The talent is amazing. The show lasted about 45 minutes but seemed much shorter. One of the stunts was quite scary; one slip-up and an 8’ x 8’ square pipe (spinning) would have flown wildly into the audience.
Headliners Comedy Club – We saw comedy acts at Headliners and also in the Getaway Theater. The host comedian was Ivan Martin. He did a great job of warming up the audience. The two headliners were Clinton Jackson and Tyrone Hawkins. Both were very funny. We saw the Clinton Jackson show after 11pm and expected a more adult theme. His show was still funny and could have played well on network TV. There was a short wait for some of the shows but arriving 5-10 minutes early was all that was needed.
Howl at the Moon – We usually finished up each night with some time listening to the dueling pianos show. The show usually started at 8:30pm and lasted until 12:30am. Two pianists were always performing while the third took a 30 minute break. All three were entertaining. Cal and Anna have been performing together for over 10 years and could cover almost any genre. Tom (we saw him on Epic last year), was also entertaining and usually started or ended his sets with a toast…funny, but not often repeatable. Be sure to bring cash if you want to hear your favorite song. Howl wasn’t as popular as I remember…we never had to wait for a seat and usually could sit near the front.
Syd Norman’s Pour House – Syd’s was our go-to place. We first heard the Rock the Pour House (house band). We arrived late and had to stand near the door. It was very crowded. For their second set, we waited in the bar and found a seat. We thought the band was very good, covering many 80’s hits from Bon Jovi to Michael Jackson. On the next night, we got in line 20 minutes early and got a good seat for the second band, Back in the Day (from Boston). They were another 80’s cover band focusing on hair bands. They were fantastic! We ended up seeing them 3 more times and also went to the Getaway Theater on the last night for their final show.
We had an early flight out (11:05am) of New Orleans and were worried since the previous cruise got in three hours late due to high winds in the Mississippi delta. Nothing to worry about, we docked at 5:30am. We got up early, finished packing and went to Garden Café for breakfast. We were in line for Self Assist by 6:45am. The line was long and wound throughout deck 7. At 7:05, they announced that customs had cleared the ship. The line moved to customs quickly, though there was about a ten-foot section open to the pouring rain.
Once through customs, we found a signup table for the Norwegian transfer to the airport ($20 each). We opted in, got our passes and headed to the bus. It was a coach bus. We missed the first bus but were the first people on the second bus. This meant a 20-minute wait before we left for the airport. Still we were at the airport well before 9:00am. After getting through TSA security, we still had to wait almost an hour before boarding.
We had decided before the cruise not to do any shore excursions. We enjoyed the port days in the Vibe Beach Club. We did go ashore to shop in Roatan and Costa Maya.
At Harvest Caye in Belize, we were looking forward to a day on the beach. We found out two days prior that we would be tendering into Harvest Caye (no explanation why). We later found out the the pier had been damaged recently. We waited until all of the tender groups had been called and headed down to catch a ride to the island. Each tender held 300 people, so it took a while to fill up. We finally got to shore around 11:00am. We searched and finally found a couple of loungers on the beach under a palm tree. I swam in the ocean and in the giant pool. It was very nice and clean. We headed back to Vibe about 2:30pm. The tender ride was about 20 minutes each way.
New Orleans is a fun city to cruise out of, though the cruise terminal is small and only seems to work if everything goes as scheduled.
The Getaway is a beautiful ship and we will cruise on her again. We experienced some minor frustrations at times, but had a great time and will never let the small things ruin a vacation.
I never felt crowded. Sure, Syd Normans, Headliners and the Getaway Theater were full for some performances, but this can’t be avoided with 4000 passengers. Anytime of the day or night, we were able to find a quiet spot to relax. The Water Front on Deck 8 is a great area to see the seas, feel the sea breezes and get away.
Nice cabin, but small balcony.