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Norwegian Getaway Cruise Review
Eastern Caribbean Itinerary
Sept. 27-Oct. 4, 2014

By Mary & Vincent Finelli

The beautiful Norwegian Getaway sails out of the Port of Miami, Florida, her home port from where she will be cruising year-round to the tropical Eastern Caribbean islands. She has the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders as godmothers. Never has so much pulchritude christened a new ship except when Sophia Loren became godmother of the MSC Divina in 2012.

In homage to the Miami Dolphins football team the Getaway library displays Dolphins memorabilia and, like other Norwegian cruise ships, the Getaway shows a colorful hull design, a festive mermaid created by Cuban-American artist Devid “Lebo” Le Batard. During the Getaway inaugural season, which began on Feb. 8, 2014, Captain Rune Myre, from Norway will be in command of this elegant ship.

Highway I-95 has now a direct access to the Port of Miami through a newly opened tunnel which simplifies the route to the piers. Check-in was simple and fast. We dropped off our luggage, proceeded for priority check-in and headed for the gangway in 15 minutes. However, the gangway proved to be a hurdle, Vincent went first in his motorized wheelchair and Mary followed just in time to see his wheelchair flipping over backwards due to the unnecessary steepness of the ramp. Fortunately, two crewmen caught the wheelchair in the air preventing a very serious disaster. Naturally, Mary proceeded with trepidation with a crewman holding the handles of her wheelchair. We don’t know who is responsible for the gangways, the Port Authority or the cruise line. However, it is evident that the slopes of the gangway are unnecessarily much too steep to be easily crossed by wheel chairs and scooters. We hope that some corrective action will be taken very soon.

Once aboard the ship, we were truly impressed by what Vincent called “sober elegance--nautical style”, with lots of dark walnut wood and white walls accented by brass--just beautiful!

As all the Norwegian fleet, the Getaway is designated as free style cruising: There is no traditional dining with assigned table and time. The passengers can choose wherever and whenever they prefer to dine. Since there are numerous venues they have their choice from dinner theater to pub style dining with French, Italian, Oriental and Steakhouse restaurants to boot! On board there are 27 dining options, 22 lounges/bars (including an ice bar, the Svedka/Inniskillin); there are also lots of places for entertainment and activities such as the Aqua Park, Sports complex, Spa and Fitness center, Internet Cafe’, etc.

This ship is a mammoth 145,645 gross tons. She is 1,068 ft long and 175 ft across the beam, with a draft of only 27 ft. With her 18 decks she sits high in the water and has a cruising speed of 22.5 knots. Her guest capacity is 3,969, with a crew of 1,640, which makes a nice crew to passenger ratio (less than two and one half passengers per crew member). We term the service on board as “stupendous”!

Decks 1 to 4 are reserved for crew.
Deck 5. There are Ocean view and Inside cabins and midship is the Medical Center.
Deck 6. Aft are the Taste and the Savor Main Dining Rooms, then the Mixx Bar and going toward midship are the Teppanyaki (Japanese) and the Bistro (French) specialty restaurants, then the Headliners Comedy Club followed by the Art Gallery and the Atrium with a giant screen and Internet Cafe’, Shore Excursions and Guest Service Desks, Library and Card Room; aft there is the Illusionarium (dinner theater).
Deck 7. Aft is the Tropicana Main Dining Room, with music and floor show, then the Shanghai Noodle Bar and the Bliss Ultra Lounge. Midship is a large Casino, then the O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill (very popular Irish pub). All the way forward is the Getaway Theater.
Deck 8. All the way aft are on portside the Cagney’s Steakhouse and starboard the Moderno Churrascaria (Brazilian), both restaurants have tables on the Waterfront which is an easily accessible second Promenade. Going forward is Carlo’s Bake Shop with Dolce Gelato, also accessible from the Waterfront. Next on starboard Waterfront are the Tides Boutique, the Photo Gallery and Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian (Iron Chef) while on the portside are the Tradewinds, Tax-&-Duty-Free Shops. Midship portside are the Sugarcane Mojito Bar, the Svedka Ice Bar and La Cucina, Italian Restaurant (in need of an Italian chef), also with dining “al fresco” on the Waterfront; Starboard are the Humidore Cigar Lounge, the Sunset Bar and the Grammy Experience also with seats on the Waterfront. Forward there are balcony cabins, mini suites and some inside cabins.

The idea of the Waterfront on the second outdoor promenade (the other promenade is on deck 7) is a wonderful one: It has automatic door openers and flat thresholds to facilitate the access to wheel chairs and scooters. The passengers can stroll around the deck, savor a gelato, sit and relax, enjoying the sea breeze or dining al fresco. Excellent first at sea.

Decks 9 to 14. These are all staterooms.
Deck 15. Aft there is the Garden Café for buffet dining. Midship are the Aqua Park, the Kids’ Aqua Park and the Market Place, the Wave Pool and 4 whirlpools. Forward there are the Spa with Barber Shop, Salon and Fitness Center. Portside are the Haven Courtyard Penthouses and Haven 2-Bedroom Family Villas.
Deck 16. Aft there is the Spice H2O with two whirlpools; then, at starboard is the Flamingo Bar & Grill and portside are the Entourage Teen Lounge and Video Arcade; midship are the Climbing Wall, the Free Fall and the Whip Water slides, the Jogging Track and the Kids Area; forward are the Haven Restaurant, the Haven Lounge, the Haven Courtyard with Private Spa and all around are the luxurious Haven Suites.
Deck 17. Aft are the Sports Complex, the Ropes Course, Mini Golf, Spider Web, and Bungee Trampoline; midship are the entrances to the water slides; forward are the Vibe Beach Club and the restricted Haven Private Sun Deck.
Deck 18. Aft is the Basketball Court and forward is the Free Style Sun Deck.

This is a beautiful ship with lots of innovative ideas. There is much to see and do for passengers of all ages. Actually a 7-day cruise is too short for enjoying all the dining venues aboard.

Our cabin #13884 is a very spacious wheelchair accessible one with an automatic door opener. It is a neatly decorated cabin with beige walls, sand dune carpeting and walnut wood furnishings. When entering on the left is a double armoire with a full length glass mirror and multileveled hanging rods for clothing. Next there is a bureau with six drawers and a built in TV console; then there is another double armoire with a mini refrigerator in the center at a perfect height (no bending, everything at eye level) and in the second section there is the safe, also at a perfect height (just right for us with limited mobility) with plenty of storage space. When entering on the right is the huge bathroom with safety rails all around, a fold down shower bench (convenient set up for wheelchair passengers) and a single sink, alas, there are no shelves for toiletries.

The bed is a king size, 30 inches high, quite inconvenient for short people, especially for those with limited mobility (Mary is 5 ft tall). Rene, our steward, removed the tall mattress from Mary’s section of the bed and replaced it with a thinner mattress. On the right side of the bed there is a narrow desk with mirror, telephone and a coffee/tea set up. The bed is flanked by two night stands with lights and two shelves; There are also two adjustable reading lights and a shelf over the bed.

A pleasant blue color accents the room, the drapes are light blue with dark blue mini stripes. The far wall is all glass windows and sliding doors to the balcony which is long and narrow. On the balcony there are two metal chairs and two small tables and a chaise lounge, brought by Rene for Vincent, who spends long hours on the balcony.

Under Hotel Director Errol Bailey, the service on board is excellent. Executive Housekeeper Ronney Dsouza and Floor Supervisor Mickle Crisostomo were most helpful in making our week comfortable and allowed Rene to assist us in every need we had. Whether at the buffet in the Garden Cafe’, in the restaurants or other dining venues, the service was top notch, the crew was always pleasantly smiling and helpful.

We like room service for breakfast, so we set up a standing order of two eggs sunny-side-up with bacon, hash brown, white toast, and coffee/hot chocolate. Every morning they arrived consistently at 7:30, as set up. Thanks for the excellent service!

Lunches we had at various venues, but our favorite was O’Sheehan’s where chicken wings and artichoke dip were appetizers, as main dishes we had chicken pot pie or fish and chips or a terrific hamburger (Vincent’s favorite, accompanied with Grolsch beer). At night they served delicious BBQ ribs and Prime Rib in a congenial atmosphere. Desserts were cheese cakes, brownies, and apple pie.

For dinners we tried a different restaurant each evening. Le Bistro (French) restaurant, is quiet and elegant. Jennifer was our very pleasant and efficient waiter (Tres Bon!). As appetizers we had Escargot Bourguignonne, Cream of four mushroom soup and Onion soup Gratine’. As main dishes we had Roast Rack of Lamb and grilled Filet de Boeuf. For dessert we enjoyed Creme Brulee and Profiteroles together with a cup of French Press Coffee. It was a really delicious dinner!

The Moderno (Brazilian Churrascaria) was an interesting departure from the usual restaurant. As appetizers there is an extensive salad bar with a vast selection of freshly prepared salads including Tuna, Beans, Shrimp and Roasted Garlic, Cured Meats, Assorted Cheeses and Ceviche. The main course consist of a variety of meats cooked in various manners, such as Rib Lamb Chops from the spit, Filet Mignon seasoned to perfection, Garlic Center Cut Sirloin, Chicken Breast wrapped in Bacon, Pork Ribs marinated in red wine, etc. A great assortment, all cooked as requested. Each guest is given a red and green chip: When desiring to be served the guest places the green chip out; when one has had enough he places the red chip out. The desserts available were Papaya Cream, Coconut Flan, and Mango Rice Pudding. Everything was great. We had a wonderful dinner!

La Cucina has outstanding decor with stone walls and pergolas with hanging grapes, etc., also it has dining al fresco tables on the Waterfront promenade. Very nice set up, much better than the one on the Epic. And most important of all, it has a mouth-watering menu listing some of the most delicious dishes such as Beef Carpaccio, Insalata Caprese, Ossobuco Gremolata, Scaloppini Marsala, Lasagna al Forno, etc.; however, not many of the items met our expectation. Some items were good but definitely did not taste Italian. We think that such a nice menu should be prepared by an Italian chef or someone who has had training and experience in Italy. The dish that tasted closest to the Italian Cuisine was Carpaccio, mainly for the fresh arugula and the raw beef. One of the worst dishes was the Minestrone Gran Farro e Fagioli, served in a dish separately, the solid ingredients and later was added the broth, in Todd English style, and that’s not Italian! We did not get impressed, we would have rather savored the taste of a true Italian minestrone. By the way, we had excellent service there.

The Taste, the Savor, and the Tropicana main dining rooms have the same menus with many choices of dishes which change daily. We enjoyed dining in all three dining rooms, but we preferred the Tropicana for the ambience with live music and dancing.

The ship is loaded with wonderful venues: Ocean Blue by Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, serving fresh seafood; Svedka/Inniskillin, the Ice Bar; the Illusionarium for dinner/theater with several shows. There are so many venues with things to see and things to do that a back-to-back cruise may not be sufficient to try them all!

There is more action on board this ship than on any other ship we experienced: Sports activities, dancing, game shows like “the newly and not so newly wed” game, “Deal/No Deal” show, Trivia, Live Shows in the theater or at the Illusionarium, and the Night Out Dance Party, etc. These and other activities are all listed in the Freestyle Daily. There is so much to do, then go ahead and do whatever you enjoy; otherwise, do like us, “Frequent Floaters”, enjoy doing the “Dolce far niente” (Sweet do nothing).

Day 1. Miami, Florida, Depart 4:00 pm
Day 2. At Sea
Day 3. At Sea
Day 4. St. Maarten, Arrival 8:00 am; Depart 4:00 pm
Day 5. St. Thomas, USVI Arrive 8:00; am Depart 4:00 pm
Day 6. At Sea
Day 7. Nassau, Bahamas, Arrive 10:15 am; Depart 5:30 pm
Day 8. Miami, Florida, Arrive 7:00 am

We were given yellow tags for priority debarkation and the Hotel Director Mr. Bailey had arranged to send a crew member to our cabin at 8:45 am to assist us off the ship. It was the same dangerous gangway that we had when we came aboard, but the crew helped us going through and we did not have any problem getting off. We were through customs and passport check quickly and we were out of the terminal by 9:15 waiting for our van. By 10:00 am we were home. Excellent!

On the Getaway, as on the Epic, we had a great cruise, with the exception of the unnecessarily steep gangway. This problem has not been fixed and this time Vincent had a frightful experience. His wheelchair tilted backward and he would have hit the floor if he had not been helped by two prompt reacting crew members. This ship is definitely more wheelchair friendly than the Epic, since she has many more automatic door openers aboard including the wheelchair accessible cabins and the Waterfront promenade on deck 8. Thus, progress toward a more wheelchair friendly ship is significant. Definitely, we had a great cruise, better than the previous one. This was our 9th cruise on Norwegian ships and the fact that we have achieved Platinum status in the Latitude Rewards, with all the perks and benefits that come at this level, has surely contributed to making this an excellent cruise. Happy Cruising!

Image Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

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