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First Time Reflections - Norwegian Getaway


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We just returned from our first cruise - a beautiful week on the Norwegian Getaway. Here are a few points I wanted to contribute to the board....with thanks for ALL that I learned by reading and lurking here in the weeks before we left!


So in no particular order....


* OK yeah, this one IS first and IS important. We cruised during hurricane season. We live in FL so we know the lingo, and we knew that Christobel was forming up as a tropical storm. Kudos to our crew who rerouted us a bit south and west to skirt the storm. We cruised along the north coast of Cuba and Hispanola for our first sea day, then cut south to St. Martins. We had one morning of overcast skies and you could definitely see the heavier chop on the water, but essentially our cruise was not affected by the storm.


* The Getaway is a new ship and there was no need for a lot of the "extras" mentioned in threads on packing. Draperies were weighted to stay closed. Storage areas had doors that closed securely. The bathroom had ample storage for 2 and an automatic door closer - so the over the door hanger would have been in the way. (In fact, a lot of hooks, tape, etc. would probably have marred the finishes in this beautiful ship!) There was a retractable clothesline in the shower. The closet held about 18 hangers - we had brought a few extras and I was glad for that - but way better than hotels offer.


* Norwegian provides hair dryers and is very specific - do not bring your own! It is considered a fire hazard (maybe due to the high wattage? who knows?)


* There is a safe in the room. We never felt that our property was at risk but better safe than sorry esp if you carry a lot of cash.


* Yes, I overpacked. Best clothing options for me were summer "crinkled" skirts and t shirts or tank tops. I took one long skirt and one easy-to-pack dress and used both. Hubby lived in shorts and golf shirts - one pair of long pants and a couple of nicer shirts rounded out his wardrobe. While Norwegian is known for its "freestyle" cruising, there are dress codes for a few of the nicer restaurants and we saw one man "invited" to remove his fishing hat and put on a shirt over his tank top.


* We had often heard that "your room doesn't matter" - but we LOVED our balcony mini-suite! So...if you can spring for a balcony, I'd recommend it. Beautiful to sit out at sunrise or after dark....just to breathe the tropical air! But be advised that if the balcony door is open...the a/c turns off. So no sleeping with an open door if you want the a/c running.


* For those who speculate that the buffet is something like Old Country Buffet or Golden Corral - nope, you're setting the bar way too low. The buffet was surprising in its constant variety and high quality food. Even a burger was fantastic - super lean and quality beef. Ours included salads, asian foods, grill items, pizza, sandwiches, breads, fresh fruit, desserts, soups, and specialty items (4-6 specialty entrees per meal, plus various side dishes). A few dinners offered made to order crepes for dessert. Breakfast was as simple or as lavish as you wish.


* We opted OUT of the upgraded meal plan offered by Norwegian and stuck with the restaurants that were included at no extra charge. We were NOT disappointed! We had 6 options and rotating menus daily - but yes, we returned to some favorites, too.


* For us, it made sense to get the soft drink package - diet pepsi addict that I am.


* The entertainment was fantastic! FAR better than I'd expected! This will be a whole separate part of a review I'm working on!


* Do research on your ports of call ahead of time. I wish I had! The initial impression of each port is touristy with a capital T. We live in south Florida, so beach excursions were not something we needed to do - but I wish we had researched a bit more about the cultural offerings and history of each location and we could have rented a scooter and done some exploring on our own. Just my opinion/preference.


* OK here it comes. Be aware of the fact that the cruise lines have some kind of close tie to jewelry stores in major ports (from the Caribbean to Alaska, from what I have read). The stores are not owned by the lines, but there is obviously some connection there. If you are considering buying jewelry on your trip - DO YOUR HOMEWORK and LET THE BUYER BEWARE. Whatever cruise you are on, you are likely to hear a lot of promotion of the Diamonds International stores. Read up on this store. They have a "D" rating by the BBB. We purchased a watch for my husband (not a Rolex by any means!) and were pleased with a small, long established jewelry store in St. Thomas - NOT one hawked by the flashy brochures and high pressure sales tactics. And for goodness sakes, what on earth is a "shopping consultant"? There were 2 on our ship - but nowhere did anything say that they were gemologists. I got the feeling they could just as well be hawking diet aids on late night infomercials.


* Muster drill is mandatory, so don't play with that.


* We chose the easy walk-off disembarkation at Miami. So simple! We were off the ship and on our way home before 8 am.


* I loved the pre-paid gratuity system. It felt odd to eat a lavish dinner and just walk away! The only additional tips we paid were to the luggage porters when we arrived at the port, and an added tip to our room steward.


* Some people seem to love building a "relationship" with their steward, but ours was very discreet and we liked it that way! We didn't meet him until Tuesday but the service was impeccable.


* The Getaway is a huge ship which means we felt very little motion even as we skirted a tropical storm. We brought along bonine and took it for a couple of days, but no issues.


* DO take along your basic OTC medications just in case. No need to let a headache or indigestion ruin a day of your trip.


* Sanitize and wash your hands often! Our ship had positioned towel dispensers in rest rooms so that you could use your towel to open the door - excellent!


* You'll lose internet and cell service as soon as you leave port. I was worried about that, actually....but it turned out to be a true blessing of the trip! Unplugged is great!


Hope you all enjoy YOUR first time out as much as we did!

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