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Our Cruise on Norwegian Getaway
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We boarded our seven-night cruise in Miami, the ship's permanent home port for the foreseeable future. As usual, boarding a large ship in the port of Miami is a hassle with long lines of passengers waiting to get checked in. Boarding started at 11a.m. affording passengers the opportunity  to spend the afternoon aboard ship before it sailed away at 4 p.m.

The passenger demographics seemed to cover everything across the board. The median age was 40 which included couples, singles and  families spanning  49 nationalities.  The crew was composed of 61 different nationalities. This was a truly an international ship.

First on our agenda was getting settled in our category BB stateroom which was located on Deck 8. Waiting for us in the room was the excellent daily program with detailed explanations of the dining venues, entertainments and  activities.  This was one of the lower priced balcony cabins. At 172 square feet with a 30 square-foot balcony, it was manageable, but could not be described as spacious.

The cabin included  twin beds with pillow-top mattresses that could be converted to Queen-size, a couch convertible to a sofa bed, a medium-size flat screen TV, an electric safe, a stocked refrigerator/mini bar (charges applied for all beverages including the bottles of water), a coffee maker, bathrobes, a long combination desk and makeup area, both 220 and 110v outlets, a telephone, two narrow closets one with shelves, a small balcony with two chairs and a table, and a bathroom with a large glass-in shower, good storage, and a soap and shampoo dispenser, but no other bathroom amenities. There were no umbrellas for passengers other than for occupants of The Haven.

The Haven is the area with large suites at the top of the ship known as the "ship within a ship" since its occupants have their own dining room, lounge, pool, outdoor deck area, gym, spa, butler service, numerous amenities.

The Getaway has dozens of categories of  accommodations, many considerably larger (and more expensive) than ours.

Since our luggage had not yet arrived, we decided to venture out and explore the ship. As expected, this is somewhat of a confusing task; however, the diagrams we were given when we checked in, as well as the diagrams posted near the elevators were most helpful in enabling us to get from point A to point B.

From experience, we knew that it was advisable to make our dining reservations early for any of the specialty restaurants that required advanced reservations. In order to make the choices that would suit both of us, we attempted to  look  into each of the major restaurants and take a peek at their menus. The more appealing  venues had cover charges ranging from $15 per person at La Cucina to $89 per person for Chef's Table. There was even a charge at the numerous specialty venues offering gelato, freshly baked desserts, dim sum, wok-fried dishes, sushi, and seafood. I understand why ships that  run special low fares need to charge for specialty restaurants; however, for some reason it still galls me to have to pay for food aboard ship.  Of course, on the Getaway, there were some excellent "no charge" dining venues so you need not have to pay to have a meal.

There also was a charge for games in the electronic game room, to use the sauna and steam, in-room movies, bottled water in the room, all soft drinks and alcoholic drinks, specialty coffees, attractions at the sport complex and certain entertainments. This would seem to be the wave of the future. As the hotel director explained, the younger, non-seasoned cruisers are attracted by the low per diem prices and are not disturbed by paying for onboard items as they cruise just the same as on shore. Of course with Norwegian's "Free-Style" cruising, there is no obligation to pay for special dining, drinks or activities; they can just make do with what is included.


Our seven-day itinerary included visits to Phillipsburg St. Maarten, St. Thomas US virgin Islands and Nassau Bahamas, all ports in which the ship could dock and avoid using tenders. Having visited all of these ports countless times before, we did not take the excursions and settled on spending our days on a beach. The ship tour department offered a plethora of tours to suit every taste, pocket book and mobility level; however they offered little or no information for the passenger who wished to explore on their own.

The  first two days after boarding were spent at sea, and there was plenty of attractions to  keep us busy. Our daily routine included a trip to the state-of-the-art fitness facility before having breakfast at the Garden Cafe, followed by  mornings in the Aqua Park lido area. Wishing a bit more privacy  in which to relax away from the maddening crowds, we bought a day pass for the Vibe Beach Club, a private area with lounges, cabanas, whirlpools and a bar.

The second day at sea we tried all of the attractions at the Sport complex. I should say that I limited myself to the basketball court and a challenging  mini golf; whereas my son felt compelled to experience the bungee trampoline, Spider Web,  and the challenging  rope course with a multi-station zip track plus a chance to walk the plank.

That evening we attended a VIP cocktail party, largely orchestrated for guests residing in the Haven. Following the party we dined at Ocean Blue the highly touted  seafood restaurant created by celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian, TV's "Iron Chef". This was the best dining experience on the ship and for $49 per person, one would expect that it would be.

Our evenings were filled with possibilities, one being more attractive than another. Possibly the most intriguing feature of a large ship is the varied night life. One night we took in the Legally Blond performance in the theater which turned out to be Broadway quality. Another night The Headliners Comedy Club and the Dueling Piano's Show.  The evenings we ate at Tropicana and Illusionarium, shows were part of the dining experience. After dinner we either went to  Bliss Ultra Club or H2O for a bit of  jumping late night musical entertainment. Sometimes we made a brief visit to the enormous casino for a stab at black jack, roulette or the slots (without much success). One evening we donned complimentary parkas and enjoyed  an iced vodka at Svedka Ice Bar, a unique cavern-like room where the counters, tables and chairs are all made of ice. Every evening there was a variety of musical and game show entertainment in the atrium lobby in front of the giant screen.

By the time we reached St.Maartin the next morning, I was exhausted. We opted to take a bus to Orient Beach (St Martin's version of beaches at St. Tropez) where we could people watch as well as swim and have lunch. Some of the people we watched were the endless parade of lovely topless ladies.

As in each of the ports, the ship offered dozens of  excursions, mostly oriented to beaches, sailing, snorkeling, scuba, snuba, jet boating, dolphin encounters, playing with stingrays, kayaking,  and island tours. Also available in several were helmet dives, segway tours,  horseback riding and golf (in St. Thomas).  The tours generally cost between $60 and $159. Some more and some less. Children were given a slightly discounted price. As previously mentioned, there was little information for passengers wishing to explore on their own.

The next day we arrived at St.Thomas. As is our custom, we took a boat over to the island of St.John to spend the day at Caneel Bay, a resort with five of the most beautiful, pristine beaches in the Caribbean. Here again, the ship offered numerous excursions, mostly taking advantage of the beaches and sea.

Following another sea day, we visited our last port of call, Nassau. Most of the excursions here involved the water park complex at Atlantis or visits to Blue Lagoon Island. All of the water activities described for St.Maartin were offered at Nassau as well.  Prices for some of these tours were in the $199+ range.




          With the Norwegian Getaway, as with her sister, Norwegian Breakaway, the cruise line has raised the bar for number of outstanding restaurants and entertainment options, making these ships ideal for active families and couples seeking a Las Vegas type vacation, creating tough competition for Royal Caribbean and Carnival.

          At the same time, the Haven offers a more exclusive, upscale experience for passengers who wish to be separated from the action while still having the option to participate in the activities and restaurants when they choose to leave their private loft.

          Passengers seeking bargain fares will be accommodated; however they must be prepared to  pay for some meals, facilities and entertainments while aboard ship. Shipboard expenditures can easily exceed the initial cost of the cruise.













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