By Arnie Weissmann
ABOARD THE NORWEGIAN GETAWAY — As agents, packagers and media filed aboard the Norwegian Getaway on Monday for its introductory sailing, Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Kevin Sheehan sat in an unmarked conference room and summed up the differences between the ship and its structurally identical older sister, the Breakaway.
“The Breakaway was a very immersive experience, a very New York experience. This is Miami,” he said in an interview with Travel Weekly.
Sheehan cited the ways that each ship reflects its home port. The bows were painted by different native artists (Peter Max for the Breakaway vs. David “Lebo” Le Batard for the Getaway).
Shaker’s Champagne Bar has been replaced by the Sugarcane Mojito Bar, the Uptown Bar and Grill has given way to the Flamingo Bar & Grill, Maltings Whiskey Bar is now the Key West/Hemingway inspired Sunset Bar, the bluesy Fat Cats morphed into the Grammy Experience and, most symbolically, the Manhattan Room has been transformed to the Tropicana Room.
The Burn the Floor dance show remains, but it’s now ballroom dance to a distinctly Latin beat.
The other entertainment offerings don’t carry the Northeast vs. Southeast theme, with Broadway show “Legally Blond” replacing Broadway show “Rock of Ages” in the main theater, and the magic/special effects Illusionarium standing in for the Cirque Dreams in the dinner theater.
That leaves 23 dining options and 18 bars and lounges identical to the Breakaway’s older sibling.
One aspect that certainly will not be changed — and which Sheehan predicts will be widely copied by other cruise lines — is the Waterfront, which provides outdoor seating for many restaurants.
Sheehan said that the some changes were made in the décor and color schemes of the staterooms and suites, but that aside from fixing some “nits and nats,” they are identical to the rooms on the Breakaway.
Pressed for what those nits and nats were, Sheehan, after taking a long pause to think, couldn’t come up with any.
He credits extraordinary attention to detail in the planning and execution of the Breakaway in making the building of the Getaway relatively painless.
“We were literally done [with the Getaway] well before delivery,” he said. “We had said we wanted it completed in mid-December to give us a month of wiggle room, and we didn’t need it. We were in such good shape that the night before there was nothing to do, so we had a cocktail party.”
Sheehan also said that an inclusive, team approach ensures a better product.
“The more people involved, the smarter the ship will be designed, and the better the flow for the whole guest experience,” he said. “These ships are designed to make guests into brand ambassadors. When they get off, they’ll talk about their great experiences.”
Forward bookings are doing well, he said, but admitted they “always could be better.”
“We’re in an environment that has changed since the incidents that affected the industry,” Sheehan said, in a reference to the sinking of the Costa Concordia and fires that disabled Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships. “It might mean an extra promotion or marketing activity, but at the end of the day, you get where you want to be and get the right customers who will fill the ships and receive the right value.”