An energetic evening at sea

By Tom Steighorst

*InsightOne of the drawbacks to a long, late dinner on a cruise is that it sometimes doesn’t put me in the mood to explore the rest of the ship. It sometimes puts me in the mood to head for my cabin and that nice, comfortable bed.

On other cruises, I wonder how I’m going to spend the rest of the evening, especially if I’m at the first seating and done with dinner by 8 p.m.

During the preview sailing of Norwegian Getaway this past weekend, I was seated early, slotted for dinner at Norwegian’s newest iteration of the dinner-th*TomStieghorsteater concept it offers on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic.

I will write more at a later date about the Illusionarium and the show itself. Suffice it to say that it is one of the most unique entertainment offerings at sea, and you should make every reasonable effort to see it.

But beyond that, my dinner companion and I found that merely having the show as a focal point for the dinner left us with a lot more energy to enjoy the evening ahead. It was better for that purpose than even the most enjoyable sit-down meal with the wittiest table companions. It really gave us a charge.

It’s nice to have a tailwind like that on a ship the size of Norwegian Getaway, which has three decks devoted to bars, restaurants and entertainment. I wanted to see and do it all but,  let’s face it, the prospect can be a bit daunting.

We were tempted to stop for a refreshing chill at the Ice Bar. It has been warm in Miami this winter. But it seemed a little out of keeping with the Getaway’s tropical theme.
Instead we wandered by the Grammy Experience, another new space unique to Getaway (the same space is a blues-music bar on Norwegian Breakaway).
The Grammy Experience will feature former Grammy-winning artists and memorabilia chosen by the Grammy museum in Los Angeles.

On the inaugural cruise, the showcase performer was Latin jazz flautist Nestor Torres, who continues his run this week on the first full cruise.

Torres and his band were in their element: An intimate club in front of a Miami audience that knew his music and bantered back and forth with him in Spanish.

In between sets we caught part of Legally Blonde, the Broadway musical in the Getaway’s main theater, and we took in a beautifully calm moonlit Miami night on the Waterfront promenade.

Torres played with intensity and inspiration until well after midnight.  By the time I finally hit that comfortable bed it was 1:30 a.m.
The energetic evening started with the dinner theater, which I really think set the tone for the whole night. It’s a winning idea both for both and for a cruise line bent on maximizing the use of its bars, casino and other sources of onboard revenue by keeping the party going long as it can.

Getaway looks like older sister, with a different personality

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 rNorwegian Getaway hulleflects 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.NorwegianGetwaway-GrammyExperience-AW

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.”