Norwegian Cruise Line just christened its newest ship, Norwegian Breakaway, last June at Manhattan Cruise Terminal’s Pier 88. Presiding as the ship’s “Godmothers” were the legendary Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was also on hand to lend the honorary title of “New York’s Ship.”
But while Norwegian Breakaway was grabbing all the headlines, behind the scenes Norwegian was preparing a rare break from tradition and a surprise for its loyal fans: Breakaway’s forthcoming sister ship, Norwegian Getaway. This newest ship, coming to Miami in February, 2014, will offer a much different onboard experience than Breakaway and other Norwegian ships, especially in terms of entertainment.
Miami - the Magic City
Similar to Norwegian Breakaway’s ties to New York, Norwegian Getaway is committing to Miami as the largest cruise ship yet to homeport from the city year round. The art adorning the hull of Getaway comes from renowned Miami artist David “Lebo” Le Batard, already famous for his Cuban-inspired work in Miami public projects, plus a Gloria Estefan album cover and work on products by Gibson Guitars, Harley Davidson and Ferrari.
Miami was nick-named “the Magic City” for the way it grew to over 5.5-million regionally in just over 100 years. So the same “magic” theme will play a big part in the Getaway experience. Lebo’s original artwork for the ship’s hull depicts a “mythical mermaid, an iconic image that represents humanity's connection to the sea.”
Entertainment unique to Getaway
The unique Getaway magic-themed entertainment starts with The Illusionarium (replacing the Spiegel Tent for Cirque Dreams and Dinner on Norwegian Epic and Breakaway). “The centerpiece of the Illusionarium is a 30-foot (diameter) video dome that will transport audiences to mystical places,” according the line’s spokeswoman AnneMarie Mathews. This is part of a dinner show that incorporates world-class magicians and special events. “It will be amazing,” she says.
Another radical change in the entertainment lineup will be the replacing the Fat Cats Blues Club on deck 8 with a brand new concept room called “The Grammy Experience” created in conjunction with the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE in downtown Los Angeles. It will serve as an exhibition space for objects important to the Grammy Awards, according to Mathews, and in the evenings it will feature live performances by past GRAMMY winners and nominees. Importantly, while “Fat Cats” on earlier ships is dedicated to blues music, the Grammy Experience will not be limited to blues or even jazz. It will offer performances by Grammy-winning and nominated artists of all musical styles.
The main stage in the Getaway Theater will be showing the only full Broadway production at sea of “Legally Blonde, the Musical.” This adaptation of the movie starring Reese Witherspoon was created in 2007 and has grossed over $1m a week on Broadway. The show also won three Laurence Olivier Awards in 2011 in London’s West End and garnered a Tony Award nomination.
Sharing this main showroom, as well as space in the yet-to-be-named main dining room on Getaway, will be “Burn the Floor” a 45-minute dance extravaganza. This professional dance show replaces “Legends at Sea,” the musical tribute show on Norwegian Epic.
Another all new entertainment feature unique to Getaway will be a lineup of stand-up comedians from the “Levity Entertainment Group” in Los Angeles performing in the Headliner’s Comedy Club. This agency represents some of the world’s most renowned comedians, from Bill Cosby to Dan Tosh, although who they will send to the ship remains to be seen. Levity Entertainment Group will replace The Second City improvisation comedians present on most ships in the Norwegian fleet.
The audience-interactive dueling piano show “Howl at the Moon,” another popular Norwegian act, will have its players aboard Getaway.
Other Getaway features
In terms of restaurants and nightclubs there are few differences between Getaway and Breakaway. There will be 26 different eateries and 22 bars or lounges onboard. One mystery remains; Norwegian has yet to confirm whether there will be an Ice Bar – where everything down to the drinking glasses is made of ice as found on Norwegian Epic and Breakaway. It is possible there will a different themed lounge in its place.
The kids will certainly enjoy one of the biggest Nickelodeon programs in the fleet – as well as the five water slides, the expansive sports complex with rock climbing, basketball, mini-golf, bungee trampoline and a 24-foot enclosed climbing cage. For the ultimate thrill, they can walk “The Plank” which extends eight feet over the side of the ship – (they will be wearing a harness, of course).
Each cruise will also feature one full fireworks show – the same as Norwegian Breakaway.
Classic features return the cruising
Getaway’s decks plan and itinerary remind me of one of the most iconic cruise ships ever, the former SS Norway. It was also once the biggest cruise ship to sail out of Miami year round, and upon the same itinerary as Getaway. The Norway was one of the last true ocean liners, built in 1961 by the nation of France and then purchased and converted into a cruise ship by Norwegian Cruise Line in 1979.
One lovely feature of the Norway was its long promenade deck with the sea on one side and a bevy of public rooms on the other side, very similar to open-air “Waterfront” found on Norwegian Getaway, although the Norway promenade was glassed in.
The more southerly itinerary that Getaway will sail to the Caribbean from Miami should lend the Waterfront on Getaway a more temperate climate throughout the cruise, while it will be interesting to see how the Waterfront works out on Breakaway sailing from New York year round.
Getaway will begin its regular eastern Caribbean cruises in March, 2014. Cruises are already available through your travel agent. Details and special offers can be found at the Norwegian Getaway Web site.
The current best bargains are in early May and after summer break starting in September. The best prices for balcony cabins are under $900 per person.
Paul Motter is the editor of CruiseMates.com, an online cruise guide. Follow him on Twitter @cruisemates.