“Cruise like a Norwegian” is the slightly-clunky tagline for the Norwegian Cruise Line company.
But step aboard their wonderful new ship the Norwegian Getaway, and you’ll soon see it’s the only way to travel, a floating world of luxury that will take you to some fabulous places on the holiday of a lifetime.
The only problem is: it’s difficult to imagine why on earth you would ever want to get off.
First impressions count for so much, and in every respect the Norwegian Getaway gets everything spot on. But the lovely thing is that as you explore the boat further, you’ll find yourself marvelling more and more at the way that absolutely everything has been thought through to perfection for the best possible cruising experience.
We were lucky enough to be invited on board the Norwegian Getaway one ghastly January night when the ship, newly arrived from Rotterdam, docked in Southampton.
Our delight was a one-night cruise around the Isle of Wight before the ship headed off on its maiden transatlantic cruise to New York. From the Big Apple, it will sail south to reach its new permanent home in Miami, from where it will regularly cruise.
So as far as Southampton was concerned, it really was a ship in the night just passing through. How lucky we were to catch it and savour the enormous pleasures it offers.
No wonder the Norwegian Cruise Line company is convinced that the Brits will be flocking to the airports for the fly-cruise pleasures of joining this superlative ship in warmer climes the other side of the Atlantic.
Arriving at the dock, all you could do was stop, stand and stare at the sheer size of the Norwegian Getaway, a 145,655 gross ton cruise ship which manages to combine immensity with gracefulness of proportions – an impression which continues as you are ushered on board.
It’s the kind of ship which makes you want to gobble up the statistics: 325.70m long, 18 decks, 3,969 passengers, 2,014 cabins, approx 1,640 crew, 815 theatre seats and 28 dining options. Oh, and you can throw in around 400 km of pipes.
But the bare figures don’t remotely do justice to the experience, and the experience is what it is all about.
Stick so many people on board on a ship, and you’d expect to feel cramped. Far from it. There’s presumably a science somewhere which explains the flow of people around a boat; it’s a science that’s been put to good use here. Wherever you go, there’s space, not least in the beautiful atrium which links the three main dining and entertainments decks.
At no point do you feel shoved or shepherded; quite the contrary. Instead, you lapse into an all-enveloping sense of freedom as you test out your sea legs and murmur contentedly something to the effect that this is indeed the life.
The kiddies will be thinking exactly the same. The Kids Club is a treat, with plenty of films on tap, trained supervisors and a changing programme of different themes to settle the youngsters in on board, giving them space from their parents if they want it.
Meanwhile, the fitness studios rival anything you’d find anywhere, and again, trained help is at hand so your can tailor your fitness regime to your fitness requirements, including classes you can prebook, after which you might want to reward yourself with a trip to the thermal room where saunas and a salt bath await.
Everything seems luxurious, but if you want to penetrate to the very lap of luxury, book yourself into The Haven, the ship’s super-deluxe ship-within-a-ship experience, which offers 82 suites for 170-180 guests max for an experience which gives you all the intimacy of a smaller cruise ship with all the facilities of a larger one.
The Haven includes a private restaurant, a cocktail bar and a concierge desk where Haven guests can relax, have a drink and make dining, entertainment or spa reservations through the dedicated concierge. The Haven’s exclusive benefits also include priority embarkation and disembarkation; distinctive platinum keycard; priority boarding of tenders to shore; in-suite espresso/cappuccino machines; gourmet treats delivered each evening; Bliss Collection by Norwegian pillow-top mattress; fine linens, feather duvet and pillow menu; along with plush bathrobes, slippers, oversized towels; and much more. In short: everything you could wish for at the upper end of the scale.
Elsewhere, around the ship, touch-screen computers keep you fully up to date with all that is happening. If you want to know where something is, just touch the screen. If you want to survey all the meal options that night, just touch the screen. And booking your table couldn’t be simpler. Yep, just touch that screen again.
It all adds up to the most delightful time. As the staff explain, the fact that congestion has everywhere been minimised means that people stay up much longer, and everyone consequently benefits. The buzz on board grows as the night grows long.
The huge range of dining choices offers a chance to reconnect with the sea. Many offer inside and outside dining, the latter a chance to take in the sea stretching for miles around you. The point is that this is a floating resort – and that’s a big part of the charm.
As for entertainments, one of the highlights is The Grammy Experience featuring artefacts from the Grammies including a dress worn by the late Whitney Houston. Adding to the live thrill is the fact that every night a Grammy winner is headlining.
Nearby you can dine to your heart’s content. Options include the Tropicana Room, the Garden Café, the Flamingo Bar & Grill, O’Sheehan’s Neighbourhood, Ocean Blue, Cagney’s Steakhouse, Moderno Churrascaria, La Cucina, Le Bistro, Shanghai’s Noodle Bar and the Norwegian signature restaurant Teppanyaki plus Gelato bar and Carlo’s Bakery.
Another first of its kind at sea, The Illusionarium is an all-new dining and entertainment experience that will envelop guests in the fascinating world of magic, inviting them to experience the astonishing illusions of world-class magicians and supernatural special effects. In addition, Norwegian Getaway boasts sizzling Latin-inspired dance productions by Broadway sensation, Burn the Floor; performances of the seven-time Tony Award nominated musical Legally Blonde; hilarious comedy headliners produced by Levity Entertainment Group; and the sing-along fun of the dueling pianos of Howl at the Moon.
To cap off a spectacular cruise experience, every sailing will feature a dazzling fireworks show at sea, set to music, as part of a dance party in the ship’s outdoor club, Spice H20.
To see the ship on its short stay in Southampton was to glimpse cruising at its finest. Just think how much finer it will seem if you hop on the plane to Miami and catch up with the ship somewhere hot.
Think of the fun out on deck in the Aqua Park. Guests can twist and shout with excitement on five multi-story waterslides, two swimming pools and four hot tubs. For a twisted thrill, the Whip is two racing, side-by-side twister slides that deliver one unforgettable rush. Or, the Free Fall is one of two drop-slides that rapidly plunge riders feet first.
There is even a three-story sports complex featuring a nine-hole mini golf course, a basketball court, a rock climbing wall, a bungee trampoline, a Spider Web climbing cage and the largest ropes course at sea. The ropes course with its multi-level structure will challenge guests to more than 40 different elements, including a zip track. For a thrill like no other, guests will confront The Plank, a platform that extends eight feet over the side of the ship.
Cruise like a Norwegian? Clearly there’s no other way to do it.
More details on http://www.ncl.co.uk/