In June of 2023, we took a 12-night, transatlantic cruise on the Norwegian Getaway from Port Canaveral to Lisbon, Portugal. We had talked about doing a Mediterranean cruise this summer, but this cruise originally caught my eye because of the ports. The Getaway is in Norwegian’s Breakaway Class and its sister ship, the Breakaway, was our last cruise before COVID, so everything about the Getaway felt familiar. We were excited to get back to Norwegian because they were our favorite cruise line before COVID, but having sailed the Celebrity Solstice a few months earlier, I was worried Norwegian wouldn’t hold up. Read on to see how NCL compares.
I picked an 11:00 check-in time because that is usually around the time boarding begins and the lines aren’t usually too long. I was surprised to find that the NCL app wasn’t working that morning so I couldn’t retrieve our edocs from the app. Luckily, I had saved our cabin number on the ShipMate app so we were able to check in without a problem. We were all checked in and we were waiting to board when we realized that everyone else around us had a card with a number on it for their boarding group and for whatever reason, they didn’t give one to us. So, we had to go back up to the check-in desk and get one and the lady was very confused about how that could’ve happened. In the end, we got our boarding number and got on the ship not too much longer, but it was an annoying glitch that added stress to our morning. Unlike on Celebrity, cabins on Norwegian are not ready when you get on board so if you have to carry your carryon bag around with you for a bit before you can put it in your room (they do have a place to check them, but since we just had backpacks, it wasn’t that big of a deal for is).
We had originally booked an oceanview cabin for this sailing, but I noticed the price drop as we got closer so I called my travel agent and was able to upgrade to a Club Balcony Suite. This is the fanciest cabin we’ve ever had on a cruise ship. It had a little bit more room than a traditional balcony stateroom but the bathroom was HUGE. It. felt like a regular hotel bathroom and since most cruise ship bathrooms you can easily reach out and touch all four walls, this was a luxury for such a long sailing. This cabin also came with some extra perks like canapes and cookies delivered throughout the sailing. It was nice but with all the food available on a cruise ship, it wasn’t something I would pay extra for. This was the first time we had ever had a balcony on a Norwegian ship and it was much smaller than on the other lines we sailed. It was not really comfortable to sit out there for any length of time. Norwegian recently switched to only cleaning cabins once a day. During COVID, I got used to not having my room cleaned daily so I didn’t really mind this, but since the room stewards are cleaning twenty-some rooms, it took a few days to figure out when we would need to be out of the room so he could clean it. Maybe it is because we were in a Club Balcony Suite, but our room steward did still make us towel animals every day without having to ask for them.
You would think with 12 nights at sea, it would be boring, but there was always something going on. Yanique, the cruise director made sure there was always something to do. There were many game shows but I really enjoyed any time there was a Q&A with the captain. He was surprisingly funny. There were so many different musical acts around the ship, even with 12 nights, I don’t think we got to see them all. There were two comedians on board and one of them was Frank Townsend who was also the comedian on our Celebrity cruise in March, and even with some repeated jokes, he was still managed to crack us up! There were two production shows that each ran for two nights, Burn the Floor (a dance spectacular) and Million Dollar Quartet (a Broadway-style show). Big dance shows aren’t really my thing, but I really enjoyed Million Dollar Quartet, which is based on a true event when Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash got together for a jam session one night. Reservations could be made in advance for the production shows and they filled up so I can’t imagine many people from the standby line were able to get in. The Breakaway Class ships have a rock venue called Syd Norman’s Pour House that had a line out the door each night. I would love to get to see a show there, but I don’t want to spend my cruise waiting in line. I wish Norwegian would come up with a solution for that, like maybe accepting reservations for some nights.
Norwegian is known for Freestyle Dining, meaning there are no set dining times and no formal nights. The Getaway had plenty of dining options and in twelve nights we didn’t have time to try them all. As on all the Norwegian ships we have been on, the buffet, Garden Cafe, was very crowded but it is where we ended up eating breakfast almost every day. Tropicana is the Getaway’s more formal main dining room with nightly music and a dance floor and where we chose to dine most nights when we didn’t have a reservation for specialty dining. If you’re looking for a more casual dining experience, Taste and Savor serve the same food as Tropicana without a dress code. All the food that we had in the main dining rooms was very good and there were plenty of options each night. The other complimentary restaurant available on the Getaway is O’Sheehan’s Pub which is open 24 hours a day. The late-night food ended up being very handy when they changed the time back for the fourth day in a row and I had no idea what time it was anymore and was hungry for dinner around 10 pm after all the other restaurants had closed for the night.
This cruise came with three dinners in the specialty restaurants and since we had 12 nights at sea, I decided to buy a package for two more, so we had five dinners at specialty restaurants on this cruise. One of my favorite thing about the Breakaway class ships is that they have the Waterfront, which gives most of the specialty restaurants tables outside. We chose to eat outside whenever possible including a late meal at Ocean Blue when we were getting close to Europe where our server asked us if we were from someplace cold. We chose to dine at Cagney’s (the steakhouse), Moderno (Brazilian Churrascaria), Le Bistro (French), and Ocean Blue (seafood). All of the food we had at the specialty restaurants was phenomenal and the service was outstanding. My only complaint is that the portions (especially at Cagney’s) are enormous and I wasted so much food. There were several mornings I woke up after these meals feelings like I might never eat again. The Getaway also has La Cucina (an Italian restaurant) but we chose to skip it mainly because the other restaurants seemed like a better value with the dining package. I love pizza and pasta, but when the price is no object, I’m going to pick a steak or a fancy seafood meal over that any day.
As I mentioned in the embarkation section, we started having problems with the app before even getting on the ship. It is very important that you print your edocs or download them to your device before embarkation (I had done this but forgotten about it and found them in my Google Drive when I got home). Luckily we knew our cabin number or I don’t know what we would have done. A few hours after embarking it began to work, but it would randomly crash throughout the trip. When I made my dining reservations at home before we left, it wouldn’t let me double-book them. Once we get on the ship, it let me make reservations whenever but I could only cancel them by going to guest relations or to the restaurant. That made no sense to me.
We were only able to take this trip because my husband got permission to work from the ship for the first week. Most of that time the internet was slow but worked fine. Friday of the first week it stopped working completely and the following Monday was spotty. For the average person who just wants to check their email and share pictures on social media it was probably fine, but trying to actually get work done was challenging at times. The captain told us they were installing Starlink when we disembarked in Lisbon, but I’ve heard from more recent guests that it is not yet up and running so I don’t know what’s going on there.
Disembarking the ship in Lisbon was a breeze. We decided to do self-assist like we always do and we just got off when we were ready. We did have to wait in line to get our keycards scanned, but then we were in Lisbon. It was not a big deal at all compared to disembarking in L.A. on our last cruise!
At the end of the cruise, I was sad to leave the Getaway even though we still had a week and a half of our trip left to explore Europe. I really enjoyed the freestyle nature of dining on Norwegian, although if you want to catch a show you do have to do a little bit of preplanning. The food was fantastic and there were so many options. All the crew we encountered was super friendly. I would book another cruise with Norwegian or Celebrity again. It’s possible that I have two favorite cruise lines, now.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop by next week as we disembark the ship and explore Lisbon. To read more about this trip, check out Cruising the Atlantic to Portugal and Spain trip report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.