Norwegian Getaway Cruise Review by CruiseRookieSteve
- Sail Date: July 2019
- Destination: Baltic Sea
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony Stateroom
We had a great time on this cruise but I really don't think Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) knows how to build good Mega Ships.
A lot of people don't like big ships as they feel they are too crowded. I can now see what they are talking about. I cruised on the new Carnival Horizon Mega Ship on its maiden Transatlantic crossing in May 2018. The Carnival Horizon is about the same size and carrys about the same number of passengers as the Norwegian Getaway, but other than embarking and disembarking, I never felt the ship as being crowded.
I think the problem is that Norwegian has tried too hard to monetize all the extra space on their Mega Ships. The Carnival Horizon feels spacious with all the extra room in that Mega Ship. The corridors feel bigger, the main theater is multilevel and huge, and the two main dining rooms are quite large. There was just a feeling of spaciousness in the Carnival Horizon. Most important is that Carnival increased the size of all the bars and lounges in order to handle the larger passenger count of the ship. This meant when you went to see a live performance in one of the bars and lounges, you could almost always find a seat. Even in the rare times the seats were all taken, you just had to wait a short while before some party would leave and open up seats for you. None of the bars or lounges ever felt over crowded.
In contrast, Norwegian seems to have filled up all the extra space of the Getaway Mega Ship with upcharge specialty restaurants. The Norwegian Getaway actually has over 20 different dining venues! Many of these are not even open until dinner time which means they are dead space for much of the day. What Norwegian has done is added a lot more passengers, but not added a lot more space for those passengers to hang out except for dinner. Also it seems like they kept their main theater as well as most of the bars and lounges about the same size as on their midsized ships. If you want to see live music in the evening in one of the bars or lounges, you are very likely going to have to stand if you don't arrive early. And, since the bars and lounges are not large enough to handle the additional passengers on the Norwegian Getaway Mega Ship, they feel quite crowded.
I love Mega Ships as long as they are designed right. A ship can have 4000, 6000, or even 9000 passengers and not feel crowded as long as the designers take advantage of the extra space on the Mega Ship and give passengers the extra space that is possible on a larger ship. The theaters, bars, lounges, and main dining rooms all have to be bigger on a Mega Ship. The extra space should not be set aside for venues that will only be used for a small portion of the day. This is the mistake that Norwegian made with the Getaway that makes the ship feel overcrowded.
If you have cruised on a Norwegian Mega Ship and felt too crowded, don't give up on Mega Ships. Try sailing on one of the Carnival Mega Ships such as the Vista, Horizon, Panorama, or the new Mardi Gras. If after trying one of those ships you still think Mega Ships are too crowded, then Mega Ships are definitely not for you. But I've cruised on the Carnival Horizon and did not think it felt crowded at all other than the initial embarkation and disembarkation. That is understandable as that is the one time that almost 4000 people are all trying to be at the same place at the same time.
I will definitely cruise again on Carnival Mega Ships and already have booked cruises in 2019 for both the Carnival Panorama and the new Carnival Mardi Gras. However, I think I will avoid Norwegian Mega Ships in the future except when they might be the only ships going to a cruise destination that I'm seeking. The midsized Norwegian ships are fine, but I just don't think they know how to properly design Mega Ships so that passengers don't feel crowded.
One thing that Norwegian wins hands down over Carnival is the selection and quality of food.
Norwegian has a huge selection of excellent food in the buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. The buffet selection on Carnival cruises is quite a bit more limited and not as delicious as that on Norwegian. The Norwegian buffet has stations that sort of repeat, but not totally. You really have to check the entire buffet to make sure you are not missing anything. One day I found that each of the carving stations were almost identical, but one carving station was serving one kind of meat and the other was serving a different kind of meat! You'll also find that each salad bar station is almost identical, but one might be serving some different items than the other one. It pays to check EVERY serving station at the Norwegian buffet or you might be missing out on something you like.
My wife and I both love Indian food. Carnival has an Indian food station in their buffet area, but it is only open at lunch time and the selection and taste is mediocre. Carnival also usually features Indian food in the main restaurant as their vegetarian option, but it is always the same and also of mediocre quality. Norwegian has delicious Indian food options in their buffet every day for both lunch and dinner. The food compares to that in some of the best Indian restaurants and is spiced just right!
The Norwegian Getaway has 3 main restaurants. I think this might be true on a number of Norwegian ships. They have the "Taste" and the "Savor" restaurants which are right across from each other with the Mixx Bar in between them. On a different level they have the "Tropicana Room" restaurant. All 3 restaurants have the exact same menu. Norwegian features "Freestyle Dining" which means you can go to any of the main dining rooms for dinner anytime you want to go to eat. Unlike Carnival and most other cruise lines, there is no "Early Seating" or "Late Seating" for dinner. Carnival does have a "Your Time Dining" option that allows you to eat dinner on your own schedule, but you have to book that option in advance of your cruise. "Early Seating" and "Your Time Dining" are the most popular eating time options and they fill up fast. Whenever we have not booked a cruise early we've always ended up with the "Late Seating" option. Thus it is nice that everyone gets "Freestyle Dining" on Norwegian and can eat when they want. The food in the main restaurants was also always excellent. The food in the main restaurants on Carnival is good, but not as good as that on Norwegian.
I know I complained about Norwegian devoting too much space to the Specialty Restaurants on the Getaway, but the food in the specialty restaurants that we tried was excellent. We tried the Teppanyaki Japanese Restaurant and the Moderno Brazilian Churrascaria Restaurant. The food at both was absolutely excellent! The quantity of food at Moderno was beyond what anyone could consume. Our booking for this cruise included 2 free specialty restaurants for each of us so we only booked the two free meals that came with our package. The size of each of these restaurants was quite large which relates back to my comments about how much of the extra space of this mega ship has been set aside for specialty restaurants which greatly reduces the space available for other venues on the ship.
A couple of the shows that we attended featured a meal with the show. In both cases the food was excellent, as were the shows.
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