This was a 10-day transatlantic crossing from New York to Southampton with calls at Le Havre, France and Zeebrugge, Beligium.
This was a controversial cruise. Not because of anything that happened aboard the ship but rather because of something that occurred prior to embarkation.
Originally, the cruise was scheduled to be a 12-day cruise with four ports including Ponta del Gada, Azores and Portland, England in addition to the aforementioned ports. As will be discussed below, Norwegian decided to shorten the cruise. As a result, some passengers were unhappy and made their voices heard throughout the cruise. Others regarded the compensation offered by Norwegian as adequate and just enjoyed the cruise.
Norwegian's reason for shortening the cruise relates to the reason why Getaway was going to Europe in the first place. Every five years, regulations require that a cruise ship be taken out of the water for inspection. This is done in a drydock. Most of the cruise lines seem to prefer that such inspections be done in European drydocks and so ships that are usually based in the United States usually make a trip to Europe for the inspection. It is also common practice for cruise lines to do maintenance and refurbishment while a ship is in drydock.
Since Norwegian Getaway would reach her fifth year in service in 2019, Norwegian scheduled a drydock session for the ship in France in May 2019. While she was there, Norwegian planned, among other things, to overhaul the ship's propulsion system and to refurbish the cabins and public rooms of the ship.
As it had with Norwegian Breakaway in 2018, Norwegian scheduled a transatlantic crossing with passengers just prior to the drydock session. Once again, this is a common practice and the Breakaway crossing had been very successful. (See review).
Shortly before the Getaway's sailing date, Norwegian announced that the crossing would be cut short by two days in order to give the ship more time in drydock to carry out the inspection and do the planned maintenance and refurbishment. At first, the revised itinerary would have eliminated Le Havre and Zeebrugge, which had been scheduled for the last two days of the original itinerary. However, a second revised itinerary was issued soon thereafter that eliminated Ponta del Gada and Portland and reinstated the more popular Le Harve and Zeebrugge, albeit on different dates than on the original itinerary.
While there was a valid business reason for changing the itinerary, the change in the itinerary was disappointing to many guests. In addition, for many guests, it necessitated making changes in their post cruise travel arrangements such as booking new hotel accommodations and flights.
Under the terms of the ticket contract that guests must agree to if they want to obtain a boarding pass, the cruise line has “sole discretion and liberty” to “deviate from the purchased voyage” and it can do so for “any purpose.” Thus, the contract gives the line very broad, if not complete, discretion to change the itinerary and length of the cruise. Furthermore, the contract contains several provisions that make bringing a lawsuit against the line very unattractive including an arbitration clause and a waiver of class action relief.
Even though it had these legal defenses, Norwegian offered compensation to the guests saying: “We know that the change of itinerary to Norwegian Getaway's April 27 voyage left you disappointed . . . .” It offered a 25 percent refund, a 25 percent future cruise credit and an allowance of up to $300 for changes post-cruise travel arrangements. There were also pro rata refunds of various fees.
Nonetheless, some guests remained dissatisfied, including some who demanded a complete refund of the cruise fare.
While some things (e.g., communication with guests) could have been handled better, I did not think Norwegian's offer was unreasonable. The length of the cruise was cut back 17 percent but we were receiving a refund of 25 percent of the fare. The change in the itinerary required making additional travel arrangements but we were receiving a $300 allowance and a 25 percent future cruise credit. Moreover, Norwegian provided transportation across the Atlantic, which certainly has value and as discussed in the following section, it was a good cruise.
Norwegian Getaway is a large resort-style ship. She is the sister ship to Norwegian Breakaway, the two ships only differing in that the décor on Breakaway has a New York theme while on Getaway it is a Miami theme. Getaway is very similar to Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Bliss but those ships are slightly larger and have more features. Like all of the aforementioned ships, Getaway was built in Germany by Meyer Werft.
Getaway is instantly recognizable by her colorful hull art created by Miami-based artist LEBO, (See separate article). However, inside the atmosphere is more contemporary than flashy.
Consistent with Norwegian's Freestyle approach to cruising, the ship offers an array of options in dining, entertainment and activities. Most of the public spaces are on decks six, seven and eight. However, she also has a lot of features on her upper decks and on her wide outdoor promenade. Due to the weather, her outdoor features did not receive much use on this voyage.
It is an axiom in the cruise industry that once something goes wrong for a guest, everything that follows is seen in a negative light and reinforces the guest's initial negative impression. Due to the itinerary changes, I arrived aboard Getaway somewhat grumpy. However, the genuine friendliness of the crew quickly changed my attitude. This was especially true of the waiters and waitresses in the main dining rooms. My room stewardess was very efficient, the cabin was cleaned promptly each day and everything was always there when needed. She was also was careful not to intrude. Indeed, for the first few days, I was not sure who my cabin steward was. Things just magically appeared and things that were no longer wanted disappeared.
Getaway has three main dining rooms. The largest, the Tropicana, was only open for dinner. The smaller rooms, Taste and Savor were open for breakfast and lunch (sea days). For variety, I generally had breakfast in Savor, lunch in Taste and dinner in Tropicana.
I enjoyed the food in all three restaurants. Usually on a mass market line, I tend to stay with well-known dishes on the theroy that the kitchen probably has the most experience preparing such dishes. However, on this voyage I tried some of the more exotic offerings and was pleased that I did. I also thought that the kitchen did a particularly good job when I ordered the various salmon dishes that appeared on the menu during the voyage.
The only problem I had with the main dining rooms was that there was a substantial wait to be seated during the first two days of the voyage. This appeared to be attributable to two factors.
First, the weather on those days was cold and rainy and so no one was using the pool deck. Since people using the pool deck often eat in the nearby buffet restaurant, fewer people go to the main dining rooms for breakfast and lunch when the weather is good. When the weather is bad more people than normal go to the dining rooms, leading to longer waiting times for tables.
Second, mature passengers usually prefer to be served rather than go to a buffet. Inasmuch as the passengers on this voyage were mostly mature, with very few young families with children, a higher percentage of passengers than usual gravitated to the main dining rooms.
In any event, this issue disappeared by the third day. Passengers tried the various alternative venues and/or adjusted their schedules so that everyone was not arriving at the dining rooms at the same time.
One of the alternative venues on Getaway is O'Sheehan's, which is an informal New York-style bar and grill. It offers a range of complimentary comfort foods. The concept premiered on Norwegian Breakaway and has been repeated on subsequent Norwegian ships.
I was a little disappointed in the O'Sheehan's on Getaway. The burgers were not as good as the burgers at the O'Sheehan's on Breakaway. The bun was different and the meat did not have much flavor. Also, one evening during the cruise, O'Sheehan's had a special roast beef evening. However, the beef was reminiscent of the beef served in a school cafeteria.
Getaway has an array of specialty restaurants. I dined at three of these during the voyage. La Cucina (Italian-inspired cuisine) and Cagney's (American steakhouse) were very good. The dishes were composed of good quality ingredients and were nicely prepared. The portions were also quite substantial.
Still, the best specialty restaurant experience I had on this voyage was at the Moderno (Brazilian-inspired steakhouse). The meal begins with a visit to the buffet bar where there is an array of appetizers, salads, soups and breads. Then servers come around to the tables with various spits of meat. If you want to try that offering, the server slices off some onto your plate. I have been to the Modernos on several Norwegian ships and I always enjoy this show. However, here I found that the chef had prepared the various offerings so that the flavors and spices were more evident thus making the food more special.
I was pleased that Norwegian included a guest lecturer on this voyage. Linda Adams spoke on various topics relating to British history. Her talks filled the ship's theater even though they were scheduled early in the day. Once again, we see that there is a demand for mental stimulation on a mass market voyage.
The only problem with the lectures was that they were scheduled so as to overlap with the progressive trivia contest held each sea day. People that enjoy lectures often enjoy the mental stimulation of a quiz.
Nonetheless, the progressive trivias were very well attended. Indeed, they were so well-attended that the venue had to be changed to the large Tropicana dining room. Another plus was that the contest was not delegated to a member of the cruise staff reading from a set of questions prepared by someone else years before (a common industry practice) but rather was hosted by the cruise director who showed an interest in the game.
Hypnotist Brenda Kaye was aboard and in addition to giving a show in the main theater, presented a series of talks on her subject. These were well done and well-attended.
Getwaway's production shows are “Million Dollar Quartet” and “Burn the Floor”. The former recounts a recording session in which Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins participated. Inasmuch as it includes hits made popular by those artists, it is not surprising that the show was well-received. Burn the Floor is a program of virtuosso dancing. In contrast to my last cruise on Getaway, the show seems to have less of a Latin-flavor.
Another change in Getaway's entertainment line-up was in the dinner theater. Last time on Getaway, the show was an interesting magic show involving a number of artists. It has been replaced by a cirque show and a wine-lovers mystery.
In addition, the ship had stand-up comedy in Headliners and various visiting artists appearing in the theater on the nights when there was no production show. There were also game shows and theme parties.
Even though she was about to go in for her five-year overhaul, Getaway appeared to be in good condition. There was no visible signs of rust, which is an indication that a ship is being well-maintained.
The weather on a North Atlantic crossing is rarely like the Caribbean. For most of this trip, the sky was cloudy and the temperature cool. Getaway did encounter some rain storms that caused some motion but the public areas of the ship remained well-populated with passengers out and about enjoying the ship.
Getaway is not an ocean liner built for speed. However, she was sped along by a strong following current for much of the way across the Atlantic.
On this voyage, we had a balcony cabin. It was decorated in a contemporary style and was quite comfortable. There was good storage space in the closets and on shelves in the cabinets.
Getaway also has more than 80 cabins designed for solo travelers. These are efficiency cabins that are grouped together around a dedicated lounge. A member of the cruise activities staff is assigned to look after the solo travelers. On this voyage, he held a daily meeting with the solo travelers and arranged group dinners and activities, which the solo travelers had the option to attend.
Solo travelers not staying in the solo cabins were able to attend the daily meeting and participate in the solo activities. However, they did not have access to the dedicated solo lounge. There were a large number of solo passengers on this voyage who had booked cabins designed for two or more people single occupancy.
FOR MORE ABOUT CRUISING ON NORWEGIAN GETAWAY
Norwegian Getaway home page
Click here for our Norwegian Getaway daily programs page
Click here for Norwegian Getaway menus page
Above: Captain Roger Gustavsen.
Above: Each morning near the lobby the "Pastry Girls" would greet passengers, often with a song, and offer complimentary muffins and pastries.
Below: A server in Moderno offers filet mignon wrapped in bacon.
Above: Linda Adams giving a talk on English castles.
Below: Hypnotist Brenda Kaye.
Above: Getaway in Zeebrugge.
Below: Sunset at sea.
Above: A balcony cabin.
Below: Some of the food served on Getaway.
Cruise ship review - - Norwegian Cruise Line - - Norwegian Getaway - - transatlantic crossing