Miami's New Sizzler
Norwegian Getaway is Tropical & Cool
By Susan J. Young
If you’re looking for Miami sizzle in your cruise from South Florida, the new 3,969-passenger Norwegian Getaway may be a great cruise match.
Enjoy the Art Deco and pulsating feel of 1920s and 1930s Miami Beach in the ship’s Tropicana Room restaurant, sip on a cool mojito in Sugarcane Mojito Bar and party the night away at the Bliss nightclub.
But the sizzle is more than just a Latin flair, it’s also new spaces like the amazing Illusionarium (shown in the photo at right*).
This bold reddish-orange dinner theater venue that takes magic and illusions to a level far beyond what we’ve seen on other cruise ships.
It’s pure theatrical genius, with special effects, high-quality magicians and storytelling with Broadway ties.
SouthernCruising.com was only on the ship for one preview night cruise and the christening ceremony, so obviously not long enough for a full review. But here are our initial impressions of the ship and photos to illustrate the spaces.
A First Look
When you first spot the 140,000-ton Norwegian Getaway docked at PortMiami, its year-round home port, you’ll notice two things right away while boarding.
The first is a portion of its unusual and colorful hull artwork, the creation of Cuban-American artist David Le Batard, known as “Lebo.”
(A portion of the Lebo hull artwork is shown in the photo at left*)
It’s a fanciful representation of a mermaid figure holding the sun above the waves.
The second feature you immediately notice about Norwegian Getaway is its humongous, multi-story Aqua Park atop the ship/
It’s adjacent to the ship’s Norwegian Getaway sign (as shown in the photo at right*).
Once onboard, thrill seekers will head for the multi-story water slides. Four are designed for thrill seekers including Free Fall, consisting of two side-by-side slides.
Guests stand up, the floor drops from beneath them, and presto, they’re whisked into a watery loop.
In addition, The Whip consists of two, side-by-side twister slides (as shown in the photos below.*)
But there is one slide designed for families; it’s an open-flume style slide. Aqua Park boasts two pools for guest use, plus it has a creative Nickelodeon-character themed water park for kids.
They can splash and slide, dodge in and out of water sprays, and pose touch colorful Nickelodeon statues, such as one of Spongebob Square Pants and others from Bikini Bottom.
What’s new about this ship’s kids Aqua Park? Unlike sister ship Norwegian Breakaway, which sails from New York, the children’s splash area on Norwegian Getaway is pirate themed, appropriate for the Caribbean region in which the ship sails.
(See SpongeBob holding a pirate flag in the photo above and Nickelodeon characters with a pirate boat below.*)
If keeping fit and having a challenge in doing so is more your speed, head for Norwegian Getaway’s three-story Sports Complex.
Its core feature is the 40-element ropes course. One unusual feature is the “walk the plank” feature.
Wearing a safety harness of course, you inch out warily on a board about eight feet beyond the ship’s side.
Just below the ropes course is a nine-hole miniature golf course.
In addition, children may explore on their own ropes course.
Other Sports Complex features include a bungee trampoline and 26-foot-high rock climbing wall (as seen in the photo below*).
Island Time on the Waterfront
The ship sails seven-night eastern Caribbean sailings from Miami to St. Maarten, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I; and Nassau, The Bahamas, including three days at sea.
Sailing to the Caribbean gives passengers a chance to kick back and relax, and there’s a great way on this ship to enjoy al fresco dining, drinks or just relaxation – The Waterfront.
This quarter-mile oceanfront promenade is a great place to stroll.
You’ll walk by outdoor versions of some of the ship’s best interior restaurants.
So you might dine on Florida grouper at Geoffrey Zacharian’s Ocean Blue on the Waterfront or chow down on meat cuts at Moderno Churrascaria, a Brazilian style steakhouse.
Cruisers also might enjoy a double scoop of Italian-style ice cream at Dolce Gelato or just settle in the various seats along the way (such as the comfortable island furniture shown in the photo above right.*)
The Mystical Illusionarium
If you do nothing else on Norwegian Getaway (which you will!), reserve a spot at the Illusionarium (The entrance is shown at right.*)
It’s a magical dinner theater show with professional magicians and a theatrical script and high-quality costumes.
In the center of the reddish-orange venue is a 30-foot ceiling dome which has special effects that aid in the production.
Smaller screens allow people in the rear of the venue to see what’s happening.
Rich fabrics, magician’s props and staging provide a feel of an 1890s magician’s palace. It’s dark and eerie in some ways, but not scary. Most kids and adults will likely enjoy the show.
The show is the brainchild of veteran magician Jeff Hobson, who previously performed on the cruise line.
He took the idea to the line, and he – along with Broadway director and choreographer Patricia Wilcox and Tony Award-winning scenic designer David Gallo -- created the theatrical style production.
The plot is a mix of Jules Verne’s science fiction, Houdini’s magic and a bit of the supernatural from recent movies.
Expect to encounter “Professor Vernon Royce,” who’s an 1860s-era aristocrat, inventor and magician.
Guests sit at long tables, some in amphitheater style seating that curves around the center portion of the venue. Curved booth-like seating areas ring the rear of the venue.
Dinner is fine, but nothing exceptional, much as dinner theater often is. That said, diners receive a salad, plus surf and turf (essentially three fried shrimp and a small filet mignon), as well as a plate of dessert “samples.”
To keep the show fresh for cruisers who are going for the first time, we won’t describe it in detail. Just assume you’ll see a half dozen excellent illusionists and magicians. Yes, there are card tricks, white doves that disappear and reappear, and the “lady in the box” illusion with swords.
Reservations are essential for the Illusionarium’s 12 performances per cruise; cost is $29.99 per person for floor seats and $24.99 for banquettes.
Grammy Experience at Sea
One of the neatest spaces onboard Norwegian Getaway is the new Grammy Experience at Sea.
You might hear a world-class musician here – jazz flautist Nestor Torres and jazz percussionist Sammy Figueroa were among the lounge’s first performers.
What we really liked about this space, however, were the display cases. They include Grammy awards from various eras.
Also, colorful costumes are displayed around the room, also in glass cases. The “stars” among them are the five bright yellow costumes worn for a Jackson 5 record cover; the record jacket is also displayed (as shown in the photo below.*)
Other clothes include a dress worn by the late Whitney Houston, a quirky L.L. Cool J outfit and a cape from Edgar Winter. (See photos at right and below*)
678 Ocean Atrium
A stunning white chandelier extends down several decks within 678 Ocean, the three-deck atrium area that’s ringed by restaurants, lounges and entertainment spots.
It’s cool at night when the space is programmed with pink or other colored lighting. (See the photos below.*)
On Deck 6, you’ll find Le Bistro, the line’s signature French restaurant, as well as Teppanyaki (think Benehana of Tokyo on the high seas). The Headliners’ Comedy Club is directly across from the two dining venues.
Deck 7 is filled with slot machines and table games in the sprawling Getaway Casino.
Heading to Deck 8, you’ll find the cool Ice Bar (parkas are provided for your comfort), as well as the Wasabi sushi bar, the Sugarcane Mojito Bar and two dining venues by “Iron Chef” Geoffrey Zacharian – the Raw Bar and Ocean Blue. The Humidor Cigar Lounge is also in this area.
On Deck 8, you can head outside to the Waterfront, if you prefer al fresco dining or just to enjoy a drink at sunset.
So this is Miami’s ship, what’s the Latin draw onboard. There are several spaces that deliver the energy and flavor of Latin culture.
The Tropicana Room (shown in the photo at right*) restaurant exudes a look and feel reminiscent of Miami Beach supper clubs of the 1920s and 1930s.
Art Deco styling, rich dark décor and a large dance floor await.
You might order Miami's signature drink, the mojito, at Sugarcane Mojito Bar.
Spice H2O is an adult-only venue that changes from night to day. Movies, special events and other adult offerings are here.
This is where Pitbull (see photo below*) performed during the ship’s christening in early February 2014.
Accommodations on Getaway
Most mega-ships have varied accommodations for every price range. Luxury travelers, though, have their own ship-within-a-ship on Norwegian Getaway.
It’s a bit more intimate, quiet experience. The Haven is accessed via key card only, it has its own private courtyard, sun deck, pool, lounge, bar, restaurant and concierge desk.
We toured the Haven’s Two-Bedroom Family Villa during our brief time onboard. (The villa spaces are shown in the photos above and below.)
This villa includes a spacious living area, dining area with entertainment bar, master bedroom, master bathroom with soaking tub and ocean views, and a second TV room with sofa bed and a full second bathroom.
Travel agent Shaiy Howard with Travel by Shaiy LLC in Miami says Norwegian Getaway works for luxury customers seeking a ship-within-a-ship concept in The Haven, as well as more budget minded “clients who are looking for a great getaway with the family and not [wanting to] break the bank without sacrificing quality.”
For example, outside the Haven, many guests stay in a balcony cabin. Here’s a look below at our stateroom, #9198.
We most liked the spacious bathroom with a dual sink concept (one basin, but an elongated horizontal one and two separate faucets). The sink area had a nice tiled backdrop. Also, this bathroom has a spacious shower.
The bedding was comfortable, the stateroom had a large couch that turns into another bed, plus there was a large entertainment/desk area. Perks of the cabin include a small refrigerator and a coffee machine.
The small balcony, however, overlooked the wide roof of The Waterfront, so we looked out – not directly down – to the ocean. For some guests, this isn’t an issue, but it’s good to be aware of this if you’re booking a stateroom on Deck 9.
In general, “I love the staterooms, they appear a bit more spacious [than those on some other ships],” Shaiy said.
She also felt the dining choices – the ship has 28 restaurants – were “amazing, especially the Illusionarium dinner show.” Howard also liked how guests may make dinner reservations using the touch screen panels on each floor near the elevators.
In addition, she describes the entertainment as “certainly five star.” Norwegian Getaway offers a new Broadway-style production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” as well as a sultry, energetic “Burn the Floor” with a Latin flair.
Our one-night foray onto Norwegian Getaway wasn’t enough to fully evaluate the ship’s experience as guests would experience it on a seven-night Caribbean cruise.
Given the range of restaurants (Le Bistro is shown in the photo above*), onboard activities, a robust AquaPark and Sports Deck and new features like the Illusionarium and Grammy Experience at Sea, Norwegian Getaway adds much to the portfolio of cruise choices from PortMiami.
*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used courtesy of Susan. J. Young, with the exception of the Tropicana Room photo, which is used courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line.