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Double Jack

The Ultimate Getaway Review - November 8, 2019

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Hi All -
Just off the NCL Getaway on its inaugural sailing out of New Orleans. It was a 9-day cruise that started with two sea days and followed by port stops in Falmouth, Jamaica/Georgetown, Grand Cayman Islands/Roatan, Honduras/Costa Maya, Mexico. The itinerary concluded with one last sea day. I'm going to break this review up in sections so folks can read the parts they are interested in and skip the rest. I'll cover our pre/post-cruise 3-night stay in New Orleans, ports reviews, food, service, embarkation/debarkation/tendering, Vibe Beach Club Review and random thoughts. The first topic is one in which NCL continues to excel and this is entertainment.
 
Production Shows
Burn the Floor - An entertaining, high energy show filled with Latin music, great dancers and two amazing drummers/percussionists. The show includes Latin twists of rock songs by Cream and Led Zeppelin. The shows were at 7:30 and 10:00 on day 2 and 3. You don't want to miss it. Book early to get good seats so you don't have to wait stand by.
Million Dollar Quartet – We loved this show! The show is about the night in December 1956 that Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash came together and played together. The show features several of the hits of each star. The music as amazing. The show runs long at 1 hour and 40 minutes and was held at 7:30 and 10:15 on day 8 and 9. One last point, the performers were out and about in O’Sheehan’s after the 10:15 show and could not have been more friendly and grateful for the support. Did I mention we loved this show?
Comedians
There were 3 comedians on the ship, and it was a bell-shaped curve (One was excellent, one was average, and one was terrible).
Andrew Sleighter – Very funny guy without being vulgar and dropping f-bombs. His humor regarding cruising life was spot on and hilarious. His imitation of the ship’s captain had us in tears. We saw several of his shows including his adult show.
Carl Guerra - His shows were good but not great. I would not go out of my way to see his shows.
Christina Walkinshaw – HORRIBLE! Unfortunately, she was the host of the above comedians show so you had to sit through her garbage act to see them. A vulgar act that is completely unfunny.
Music
Epic Eagles – Fantastic!! They are an Eagles Tribute band that just rocked the house. We saw them at Syd Norman’s and their show in the theatre. Both shows were great, but we preferred the atmosphere in Syd Norman’s. It was a giant sing along. Get to Syd’s AT LEAST 1 hour before the show if you want a seat. If you see one show, make it this one.
Ultimate Dance Battle – This is a takeoff on "Dancing with the Stars" type show featuring ship dancers and passengers held in the Atrium. This is always one of our favorite shows on any NCL cruise ship. It was a lot of fun.
Howl at the Moon – Always a good time!
OK – that’s it for now. Next, I’ll move to food/dining.
Edited by Double Jack

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Installment #2 - Food 

Let’s talk FOOD!

 

We did not purchase the dining package, but our Platinum status allowed us to choose between Cagney’s or Le Bistro and La Cucina or Moderno.  We chose Cagney’s and La Cucina.   The remainder of our meals were split between the Garden Buffet, main dining rooms (Taste and Savor) and O’Sheehan’s Pub.

Cagney’s

 

We enjoyed our meals.  The food was good for the most part. Both of us ordered the filet and they were cooked perfectly.  My starter was the Tiger Prawns in which there is a $6 upcharge, but it is well worth it as the shrimp was very large as compared to the free shrimp appetizer. I also had the lobster bisque but disappointed in the flavor as it had a strong tomato base.  In my previous visits to Cagney’s the lobster bisque was delicious. GF had the Caesar salad only because the wedge salad was not available.  For desert we had the caramel cheesecake which like all NCL deserts was just meh!

 

The service did have a few bumps…. mostly due to slow service.  I had to ask 3 times for the waiter to bring a Mountain Dew before finally receiving it.  To their credit, the Mountains Dews kept coming non-stop after that.  Also, several of us ordered coffee to go with dessert and a couple guys ordered espresso shots which they had to go down to Starbuck’s on the 6th deck to get.  The guys that ordered the espresso from Starbuck’s received their shots before we got our coffee.  In fact, our coffee did not come until after I was half finished with my desert.  Not showstoppers, more of an annoyance.    

 

La Cucina

Great dining experience! Both the food and service were outstanding.  I started with the lobster ravioli which was probably the best thing I ate on the cruise.  Pro tip:  save some of the bread delivered to the table to “sop up” the leftover lobster sauce.  My main course was a wood fired pizza that I could not finish but had wrapped up to take with me.  GF had Caesar salad and sea bass.  She thought both were good.  For desert we split the cannolis…. again…. meh

 

Garden Buffet

We ate several meals (mostly breakfast and lunch) at the Garden Buffet and were generally pleased with the food.  We did not have difficulty finding a table ever.  Our “go to” seating area was at the back of the ship. 

Breakfast consisted of the usual items: scrambled eggs, eggs benedict, oatmeal, meats and cheeses, cold cereal, fruit, hash brown potato cakes (my personal favorite) and more. There also are stations where you can get omelets and fried eggs cooked to order. Unlike previous cruises, the lines were not long. Two eggs over-light started most of my mornings.  I also enjoyed the biscuits and sausage gravy…just pour it over everything.

 

Lunch at the Garden Café was a mixed bag.  The food was good, but it lacked variety.  The fare was almost the same every day. For example, the vegetable lo mein was delicious but after having it 4 days in a row, I was ready for a change.  The pizza was just fair…. not good but not horrible. I also like the burger/hot dog/chicken sandwich grill. There are a couple of days when they serve onion rings…. don’t miss those days. 

 

Other lunch items we enjoyed included: breaded chicken breast patties, mac and cheese (mix in some chilli from the burger bar and boom… you’ve got chilli mac).  GF loved the salad bar as well as fish selections.   There is also a vegetarian section, but I can’t comment on the quality. 

 

Finally, they serve late night snack consisting of chicken wings, salad bar, pizza, burgers & dogs and deserts.  Don’t wait too late because I think they stop serving at 11:30ish.  After that your only choice is O’Sheehan’s (not that there is anything wrong with that).

 

We did not have dinner at the Garden Café.

 

Main Dining Rooms

There are two main dining rooms on the ship (Taste and Savor…..or Saste and Tavor as I said one night after 5 or 6 double Jack and Cokes)  We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner in the main dining room at some point during the cruise and found the food to be generally good.   Pro Tip: My favorite time to have lunch in the main dining is embarkation day.  The Garden Buffet is jammed and way too busy.  Not how I like to start my cruise.  The crew will direct you to the buffet but stay the course and head to the main dining room.  My favorites at lunch are the popcorn shrimp (order 2), chicken nachos and the tuna salad sandwich.

 

The breakfast menu offers several dishes including made to order omelets, eggs, chocolate pancakes, oatmeal and more.  Hours are limited… generally 7 am to 9 AM and service was slow.  That said, it’s a nice relaxing way to start the day.  

 

Dinner at the main dining room was hit and miss.  GF had fish just about every time and enjoyed them all.  I had mostly chicken dishes…some were better than others.  We really enjoyed the appetizers.

 

 

Hits

French onion soup

Spring rolls

Potato cheddar soup

Caesar Salad

Asian Spareribs

Fish entrees

Misses

Rotisserie chicken (awful)

Broccoli soup (way too watery)

The deserts in the complimentary dining options leave much to be desired. They are great on the eyes and disappointing in the mouth

 

 

O’Sheehan’s Bar and Grill

I know O’Sheehan’s has its share of detractors but I’m just going to come out and say it “I LOVE O’SHEEHAN’S”.  We ate there several times including a couple of late-night stops at 1:00 am for wings and nachos. The food was mostly good. Don’t get me wrong, they have some losers, but we enjoyed most of it.

 

Here are some of our winners and losers:

 

Winners

Nachos with bacon, cheddar cheese and jalapenos

Wings…duh!

Caesar Salad with Salmon

Chipotle Grilled Chicken Sandwich

 

 Losers 

Grilled Reuben on Rye (corned beef was chewy)

Chicago Style Hot Dog (bun was so dry it literally fell apart when I bit into it– tried it twice)

Desserts – all of them


O’Sheehan’s also serves breakfast and is a great option. It can be crowded, and the service is a little slow (mostly due to being under-staffed). The menu is reduced but you can easily find something you like. My favorite was the egg and corned beef hash.  Sometimes you are just not up to standing in lines and battling the crowds in the Garden Cafe’.

 

Room Service – We used it few times to have coffee, fruit, yogurt and pastries delivered to our stateroom. There is no charge unless you are having a hot meal delivered (i.e., eggs, sandwiches).  You hang a tag on the cabin door before you go to bed with your selections checked.  You also, select a time range (i.e. 8:00 am – 8:30 am, 8:30 am – 9:00 am, etc.…)  Be forewarned, they will arrive at the front end of your chosen range (maybe be even 10 minutes early). A couple of times we were still in bed when they knocked on the door and announced, “Room Service”.  That will wake you up better than coffee.  And speaking of coffee, the room service coffee was inconsistent.  Some mornings strong, some mornings very weak.  Don’t forget to tip the delivery person a few bucks!

 

Random Food Thoughts

 

The raspberry lemonade served in the Garden Buffet is delicious

The desserts?  Don’t bother...save your calories for booze.  

Stop and have late night wings and nachos a O’Sheehan’s at least once.  Do it…. You’re on vacation

The salad bar in the Garden Buffet is a good fresh option

More options to eat cleaner in the Garden Buffet than past cruises

Hand dipped ice cream is a nice treat

The Garden Buffet ran out of a few items late in the cruise (milk, shredded cheese)

The vegetarian selections have been expanded compared to past cruises

 

That’s it for food.  Next topic up is embarkation, debarkation and the Quest for Vibe Beach passes.

 

Cheers!

 

Edited by Double Jack

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Here is a better version of my original post. I copied from Word...not sure what happened

 

Hi All -

 

Just off the NCL Getaway on its inaugural sailing out of New Orleans. It was a 9-day cruise that started with two sea days and followed by port stops in Falmouth, Jamaica/Georgetown, Grand Cayman Islands/Roatan, Honduras/Costa Maya, Mexico. The itinerary concluded with one last sea day.  I'm going to break this review up in sections so folks can read the parts they are interested in and skip the rest. I'll cover our pre/post-cruise 3-night stay in New Orleans, ports reviews, food, service, embarkation/debarkation/tendering, Vibe Beach Club Review and random thoughts.  The first topic is one in which NCL continues to excel and this is entertainment.

 

Production Shows

 

Burn the Floor - An entertaining, high energy show filled with Latin music, great dancers and tow amazing drummers/percussionists.  The show includes Latin twists of rock songs by Cream and Led Zeppelin. The shows were at 7:30 and 10:00 on day 2 and 3. You don't want to miss it.  Book early to get good seats so you don't have to wait stand by.

 

Million Dollar Quartet – We loved this show!  The show is about the night in December 1956 that Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash came together and played together.  The show features several of the hits of each star.  The music as amazing.  The show runs long at 1 hour and 40 minutes and was held at 7:30 and 10:15 on day 8 and 9.  One last point, the performers were out and about in O’Sheehan’s after the 10:15 show and could not have been more friendly and grateful for the support.  Did I mention we loved this show?

 

Comedians

 

There were 3 comedians on the ship, and it was a bell-shaped curve (0ne was excellent, one was average, and one was terrible).

 

Andrew Sleighter – Very funny guy without being vulgar and dropping f-bombs. His humor regarding cruising life was spot on and hilarious. His imitation of the ship’s captain had us in tears.  We saw several of his shows including his adult show.

 

Carl Guerra - His shows were good but not great.  I would not go out of my way to see his shows.

Christina Walkinshaw – HORRIBLE! Unfortunately, she was the host of the above comedians show so you had to sit through her garbage act to see them.  A vulgar act that is completely unfunny. 

 

Music

 

Epic Eagles – Fantastic!!  They are an Eagles Tribute band that just rocked the house.  We saw them at Syd Norman’s and their show in the theatre.  Both shows were great, but we preferred the atmosphere in Syd Norman’s.  It was a giant sing along. Get to Syd’s AT LEAST 1 hour before the show if you want a seat.   If you see one show, make it this one.

 

Ultimate Dance Battle – This is a takeoff on "Dancing with the Stars" type show featuring ship dancers and passengers held in the Atrium. This is always one of our favorite shows on any NCL cruise ship.  It was a lot of fun. 

 

Howl at the Moon – Always a good time! 

 

OK – that’s it for now. Next, I’ll wrap up entertainment and move to food/dining.

Edited by Double Jack

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I have sailed on the Getaway twice this year.  The ship in fact has three main dining rooms (Savor, Taste and the Tropicana Room). 

 

I, too, enjoy a lunch in the MDRs of popcorn shrimp and the open-faced tuna salad sandwich on hearty bread.  In my experience, the latter alternates with a similar chicken salad sandwich.  For breakfast in the MDRs, I like the sliced smoked salmon on a bagel with cream cheese, onions, tomato and capers.  Goes well even with the second-rate orange juice. 

 

Some of the "one time only" specials I enjoyed in the buffet were a hunan duck carving station, unlimited peeled shrimp and mussels on the half shell on ice, and a whole pig (snout to tail) on a spit carving station.  At lunch, I checked out the "sandwich of the day"in the buffet, which was, on occasion, creative and appetizing. 

 

I find the buffet's burgers to be bland, but dressed up with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and steak sauce they are decent.  I object to the ice cold slices of cheese they leave for passengers to fashion their own cheeseburgers. 

 

On my first Getaway cruise this year, the buffet dinner included a selection of tasty soft cheese with various cold cuts, breads, nuts, figs, etc.  On the second cruise, there were just precut small chunks of cheddar and swiss and slices of salami. 

 

You lost me at "I love O'Sheehan's."  I don't. 

 

I would be happy to join you for filets at Cagney's anytime. 

 

Over the past 18 months, I think the NCL meal I enjoyed most was at "Food Republic" on the Escape. 

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16 minutes ago, Double Jack said:

 

 

Howl at the Moon – Always a good time! 

 

 

 

Did they mention Jeff Lebowski when they played an Eagles song? 

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Just now, fastpitchdad said:

 

Did they mention Jeff Lebowski when they played an Eagles song? 

I hate the ****ing Eagles, man

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1 minute ago, Double Jack said:

I hate the ****ing Eagles, man

 

Did they say that? I wrote that on my request form a few weeks ago and then they repeated it every time they played an Eagles song for the rest of the cruise. 

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1 minute ago, fastpitchdad said:

 

Did they say that? I wrote that on my request form a few weeks ago and then they repeated it every time they played an Eagles song for the rest of the cruise. 

No they didn't.  I wish I would have thought of it like you!

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Going on Getaway out of NOLA in January.

Are they  blasting music in the atrium like the other ships, so you cant have a conversation in O'Sheehans?

Are they holding the game shows in the atrium with a 1000 people trying to see/play?

How was the casino? win anything? smoky? 

 

We also love O'Sheehans for a late night snack. Glad they had nachos. Last 2 ships we were on they didn't have nachos as a late night snack. 

 

Great review. Thanks

 

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Installment # 3 Embarkation, Debarkation and The Quest for Vibe Passes

 

 

Hi All -

Just off the NCL Getaway on its inaugural sailing out of New Orleans. It was a 9-day cruise that started with two sea days and followed by port stops in Falmouth, Jamaica/Georgetown, Grand Cayman Islands/Roatan, Honduras/Costa Maya, Mexico. The itinerary concluded with one last sea day.

I'm going to break this review up in sections so folks can read the parts they are interested in and skip the rest. I'll cover our pre/post-cruise 3-night stay in New Orleans, ports reviews, food, service, embarkation/debarkation/tendering, Vibe Beach Club Review and random thoughts.

 

Embarkation: The Quest for Vibe Beach Club Passes begins!

 

 

We stayed in downtown at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside which is right near the port.  I booked it on hotwire for $185 per night including all fees and taxes (which are STEEP!) If traffic was clear, it would literally be a 3-minute cab ride…, it is that close to the port.  Unfortunately, it was anything but clear traffic.  We caught a cab at 9:05 am and the ride took about 25 minutes. It was a little…no check that…it was a lot chaotic.  The cabbie didn’t know where to drop-off and the signage/city personnel were less than helpful. 

 

We finally arrived at the port, gave our bags to the porter and hustled into the terminal at exactly 9:30 am. So far, so good.  Security was already open, and we breezed through.  After clearing security, we grabbed a couple health forms and filled them out in line.  At this point we were just waiting for the check-in to open.  We were feeling pretty good at this point as there were only 15 people in front of us in line.  Keep your eyes open as this one guy blew past me and jumped us in line because I didn’t move my luggage quick enough.  Total jerk move but whatever…. now we are 17 deep. 

 

And then it happened.  While waiting in line before the check in process was opened an NCL representative started passing our Boarding Group passes.  We scored Boarding Group #1 passes!  This is different from other embarkations in which Boarding Group passes are not handed out until AFTER you have gone through registration.  We are feeling really good, but not ready to bust out our touchdown dances quite yet. There is still work to be done!

 

We complete our registration (more on that later) and proceed to the waiting area and it is very organized.  Groups are sat in numerical order. Haven guests have a separate waiting room.   After waiting about 45 minutes boarding begins.  Physically challenged first, followed by Haven.  Then they call Platinum guests. Hey! That’s us! Off we go! 

 

We hustled through the gangway and boarded on Deck 7. We knocked over an old lady with a walker and she may have broken her hip, but we were on a quest.... just kidding. Vibe passes are handed out at either Guest Services or Headliners which are on Deck 6 and not far from each other. Having previously sailed on the Escape (which is a sister ship of the Getaway) we were familiar with the ship layout, so we immediately turned right upon entering on Deck 7 and darted down one flight of stairs and headed straight to Headliners.  We got there and they said Vibe passes we sold at Guest Services.  One more sprint and we were in line at guest services were given a card entitling us to Vibe passes.

 

SCORE!!!!

 

 

We were probably #s 7 and # 8 to get the Vibe.  The passes were $229 each so it came to $458 for the both us.  Yes – it is a lot of money.  But here is our thinking:  We stay in an inside cabin, we don’t get the meal package, we don’t do ship excursions, so this is our indulgence.  We do get the drink package as a free perk and pay for the gratuity. After all we’re not barbarians 😉.

 

It was not a crush of people at Guest Services seeking Vibe passes, more of a steady stream.  We did see a few people, pass after hearing the price.  I Know people that were in Boarding Group 6 that still got passes.  Even heard a rumor some were available on Day 2 but cannot verify.

 

Now…. Off to the Vibe!

 

The Vibe Experience

 

It was fantastic!! We made several friends we spent time with throughout the cruise. It is a private area in which access is gained via swiping a separate card. You also have wristbands, but we never wore them after the 1st day as the bartenders knew you by name.

 

 Highlights include:

Private bar and bartenders (Darwin and Dipak will take good care of you).

Comfortable loungers that are wide and cushioned

Large umbrellas for shade

Shot O’clock (this is when the ship leaves port.  The bartenders concoct a different specialty shot each time (birthday cake, coffee flavor, mudslide, etc.…)

2 hot tubs

Private bathrooms

Peace and quiet……no thumping, loud music and no silly pool games.

Misting area

Even though over 100 passes are sold – it seemed like we saw the same 20-25 people using the Vibe

NCL Beach towels are available so no need to bring yours from the cabin

Bartenders pass out cold towels cookies, and delicious fruit on a stick.

Cost was $229 per person

It can be windy at times so hold onto your hat and drinks
 

But what truly makes the Vibe special is the people.  We met so many great people of all ages and backgrounds.  We reconnected with friends we met on the Escape at the Vibe two years ago and made several new friends that we plan to cruise with again.  I sat on a bar stool and had conversations with CEOs, heavy equipment operators, Accountants, Vietnam War heroes and many more.  It was great to share stories with all of them.  We had dinner with several of the folks we met at the Vibe.

 

It truly was worth every penny and extra effort to obtain the passes. If you have the means, treat yourself………you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

Additional Embarkation Notes

 

I already mentioned the chaos getting to the port, but the bottom line is get there as early as possible (9:00 am – 9:30 am) to avoid frustration. Especially if you are chasing a Vibe Pass.

 

 

One other item that did not meet expectations was the registration process.  Since this was NCL’s first cruise out of New Orleans for the season, the registration counter was manned by Carnival staff, so they were not familiar with the computer screens and related processes.  It was clear the staff had not been properly trained for the task. Our registration took 25 minutes (usually takes no more than 10 minutes, tops) as the counter person had to call the supervisor over several times.  I probably had my picture taken 8 times before is finally worked.

 

 

None of this was anywhere near a showstopper……more like annoyances. 

 

 

Debarkation Notes

 

Self-assist, self-assist, self-assist!

 

 

While we were in the waiting area awaiting boarding between 9:45 am – 10:30 am, we noticed the passengers in line waiting for a taxi after debarking were moving slower that a one-fingered typist. I heard folks waited 1 ½ – 2 hours to get a taxi.  It was right then we decided to use self-assist when we debarked in 9 days.   The challenge of 4,000 passengers both coming into and leaving the port was overwhelming.

 

 

The downside of self-assist is we got called at 6:45 am so it’s an early start.  One last tip: Take the forward elevators down to deck 7 as that is where you can join the line.  The line snakes though the casino so trying to get from the aft to forward to join the line is like running the gauntlet.  And nobody will let you cut in line. So, make your way to the to the forward part of the ship on the deck your cabin is located. 

 

 

Following this strategy, we were in a taxi and on our way to the French Quarter for breakfast by 7:15 am.

 

 

That’s all for embarkation, debarkation and THE QUEST FOR VIBE PASSES!

 

 

Next up is Port review and the tendering process….it was a cluster bleep! 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Edited by Double Jack

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15 hours ago, Double Jack said:

While we were in the waiting area awaiting boarding between 9:45 am – 10:30 am, we noticed the passengers in line waiting for a taxi after debarking were moving slower that a one-fingered typist. I heard folks waited 1 ½ – 2 hours to get a taxi.  It was right then we decided to use self-assist when we debarked in 9 days.   The challenge of 4,000 passengers both coming into and leaving the port was overwhelming.

I was also on this cruise.

 

To be more specific on the very long wait time in getting to and from the port, the problem is all of the road closures due to road construction in New Orleans.  We stayed at Harrah's and decided to use Uber.  Fortunately the driver knew of an area before the port that had been set up for luggage drop off.  It was near train tracks and I'm sorry that is all I know as I don't know New Orleans - maybe someone else can help with more info.

 

We did decide to walk back to Harrah's after debarkation.  We had a later flight home.  A short walk even with my luggage and a walker.  So if you have the time before your flight home think about walking away from the port and grabbing a cab away from the chaos.  Even walking to the closest hotel for a cab will save you the time in a horrendous line.

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We were on this cruise too.   Yes, with all of the construction (same as last year!) it looked like a mess for those who were attempting to drive to the port.   However, we were grateful that the check-in process seemed much smoother for this first cruise out of NOLA than last years.  There seems to be a learning curve each year for the new land-side employees.  We did feel sorry for that long line of departing passengers waiting for transportation.   

 

We have sailed several times out of New Orleans and always stay at Harrahs.  Love it when we have a good river view and can see our ship😊  After our first cruise we figured out how close it was to walk over.  You just walk to the end of the mall parking lot.  If I stayed at the Hilton I would just roll my luggage through the connected Riverwalk Mall to the opposite end.  From Harrahs, we just walk down Fulton street and then cross over to mall parking lot.  There are usually porters right there by the back corner of the parking lot who can take your luggage or you can take it with you over the tracks.  You cross the tracks (there is always a police officer there directing) and you are right at the port building.

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Nice review, thanks for posting.  I am still hoping after many tries, to make a cruise on Norwegian.  I have had several booked in the past, but had to cancel, due to family issues here at home.  I still hope to get one in some day in the future.  Enjoyed your review, especially the info on the entertainment, sounds like we have similar tastes there, and the food reviews too.  Whenever I do eventually get to cruise again, I will not likely go to specialty restaurants, but will go to Savor/Taste, Osheehans and the Buffet.  So always nice to see reviews on those places. thanks again...and again!

 

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Installment # 4 Ports Review and Tendering Cluster Bleep with Bonus Bar/Lounge Review

 

Hi All -

Just off the NCL Getaway on its inaugural sailing out of New Orleans. It was a 9-day cruise that started with two sea days followed by port stops in Falmouth, Jamaica/Georgetown, Grand Cayman Islands/Roatan, Honduras/Costa Maya, Mexico. The itinerary concluded with a final sea day.

 

I'm going to break this review up in sections, so folks can read the parts they are interested in and skip the rest. I'll cover our pre/post-cruise 3-night stay in New Orleans, ports reviews, food, service, embarkation/debarkation/tendering, Vibe Beach Club Review and random thoughts.

 

Port Review

Falmouth Jamaica (8 AM – 4 PM) – The interesting excursions for this port required at least a 45-minute drive so we opted to walk around the port shopping area. The port shopping area is very nice. There are a variety of shops carrying the usual tourist stuff. You can even have lunch at a Quizno’s or Dairy Queen.  I mean, why wouldn’t you travel to Jamaica to have the same food you can get at home?

 

We did not venture outside the port area this time.  We did a couple of years ago and were offered “free wi-fi” down an alley.  Hard pass!  Based on that experience we walked around for about 45 minutes, got back on the ship and had lunch. 

 

This cruise was originally scheduled to go to Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  NCL changed the itinerary exactly 1 day after final payment.  I’m sure it was just a coincidence… (where is that sarcasm font when you need it?)  Anyway, I’m not a fan of Falmouth but it beats a day at work. 

One last note: We moved our clocks ahead one hour the night we sailed into Falmouth so keep that in mind if you schedule any early excursions.

 

 

Grand Cayman (8 am – 4 pm) – Our destination was Royal Palm Beach Club on 7 Mile Beach.  I knew going in there would be 5 ships in port that day so, I was prepared for it to be crowded.  The Getaway was the 3rd ship in port so I figured as long as we were on one of the first tenders, we would be OK.  Luckily our Platinum status allowed to be the 3rd tender. Unlike other cruise lines, NCL uses its lifeboat pods for the tendering process.  The boarding process is slow, you are crammed in like sardines, it’s muggy and they will not open the windows.  It was an uncomfortable ride for sure.  Several older passengers appeared particularly uncomfortable. 

 

Upon arrival, we hopped in a van to Royal Palm Beach Club on 7 Mile Beach. Thankfully it was a short ride. It is $5 per person each way. The ride to Royal Palm took 10 minutes but the ride back to the ship was 25 minutes due to traffic. Grand Cayman is one of the more expensive ports.   Due to the crowds, there were only about 10 beach chairs left.  We quickly grabbed two of them.

Entrance Fee - $2 per person

2 beach chairs and umbrella -$45 (they were in very good condition)

Bucket of 5 Beers - $30 (Caybrew, a local brew that tastes like Heineken)

 

Note: 15% service fee is included in food and drink prices so there is no need for an additional tip.

 

The beach is beautiful but bring water shoes as it is a little rocky in the water.  Not sharp just uncomfortable to walk on.  I know….. because I was the doofus that left his water shoes in the cabin.  Also, there is a bit of a drop about 10 feet in.  It goes from knee deep to hip deep in in a couple steps.  It is trickier getting out of the water than getting in the water.

 

The club itself is very nice with a large well-maintained bathroom/changing area with showers. There is also a pool and restaurant with deck seating. We did not eat this time but have enjoyed our food there on previous visits.

 

Afterwards, it was back in the van and back to port for the submarine ride back to the ship. 

 

Roatan, Honduras – (Noon – 7 pm) Another tender port.  There are two ports in Roatan (Coxen Hole and Mahogany Bay).  Our port was Coxen Hole.  My understanding is Royal Caribbean has 1st dibs at Coxen Hole and Carnival has 1st dibs at Mahogany Bay (which can handle two ships docked at the pier). Since Royal Caribbean had a ship docked at Coxen Hole and Carnival had 2 ships docked at Mahogany Bay, the Getaway was forced to use tender boats.

 

Even though the Getaway arrived in port about 1 ½ hours ahead of schedule the tendering process did not begin until Noon.  Platinum folks with priority tendering like us waited in the Tropicana Dining room to be called.  Finally, we boarded the tender for a ride that should take 10 minutes.   Instead, it took about 25 minutes.   Each tender boat had to navigate beneath the anchor lines of the Royal Caribbean ship so obviously speed was dialed way back.  After doing the limbo beneath the anchor lines, the tender had to spin around and back into the pier in which 2 other tender boats were already docked. Essentially, the pilot had to back in and parallel park the tender boat. They did a fine job, but it is a time-consuming process. 

 

We booked a tour Roatan Island Tour through a local vendor.  The vendor had good reviews on Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic, so I did my due diligence.  It was a complete fail.  We followed our “tour guide” to her car and proceeded to wait 10 minutes while she backed her car out from its parking spot.   

 

Once finally in the vehicle, our guide looks at us and says, “Where do you want to go?” GF and I looked at each other dumfounded so we responded, “We booked the Island Tour, so show us the island”.   She was an absolute dud.  She had no stories or historical anecdotes to share at all.  She basically drove around and told us:

 

 “There’s a school.”

“There’s a bank”

“There’s a water treatment plant”

“There’s a bakery”

 

It did not meet our expectations at all.  It was supposed to be a 3-hour tour but after 45 minutes, I politely asked to be returned to port so we could do some shopping. I’m not going to name the Tour Operator here as this is how they make their living.   We paid for the tour and gave her a 20% tip and got in the tender line to return to the ship. 

 

And it was good thing in the end as the tender line was already long.  We waited about 30 minutes to get on the tender but that was good compared to the horror stories I heard from other cruisers.  I was told the line snaked all the way to the back of the port and around.  Folks said they waited over 2 hours to get on a tender.  The cluster bleep was caused by all the maneuvering I described earlier.  The tender boats could only move at a slow pace.  NCL needs to address this situation.

 

A few other items of note:

1) We set our clocks back an hour the day we arrived, so you pick up an hour of sleep.

2) Good news - Another pier is being built in Coxen Hole that will be able to accommodate another large ship docking.  Bad news – it won’t be ready for 3-6 month.

3) The port area has a lot of construction going on so keep your eyes open for safety hazards. 

4) If you are looking for a great beach club on Roatan, then try Bananarama Dive and Beach Resort on West Bay Beach.  We’ve been there a couple of times and it is nice.  DM me for more information.

 

Harvest Caye, Belize (8 am – 5 pm) – We really like Harvest Caye! It has it all......a beautiful pool with swim up bar, large sandy beach with plenty of loungers, restaurant, Zip Line activities, souvenir shops and extremely clean bathrooms as well as well-maintained public areas.

 

We snagged a couple of loungers under an umbrella by the pool and decided to quench our thirst.  A draft beer of Belikin (local brew.... very tasty) was $8.50.  Holy cow!!  I felt like I was at Detroit Lions game.  We were in Harvest Caye in February 2018 and the same beer was $6.  A 20 oz. Bottle of Coke cost$3. Yes, it was Coke not Pepsi.   We hung out and worked on our tans for a couple of hours then walked back to the ship and consumed the food and booze we already paid for. 

 

Costa Maya Mexico (7 am – 3pm) – Our original plan was to go to Tropicante for the day to for tequila, fun and sun.  It is a PAYGO place.  Two things changed that plan:

1) I may have been over-served the previous night.

2) We moved our clocks ahead 1 hour…. yes again. 

 

So not only we did we get to port at an absurdly early hour, we ALSO lost an hour of sleep.   All of that equated to scrapping our Tropicante plans and opting to do some port shopping instead.  I bought a couple of t-shirts and picked up a few things at the pharmacy and headed back to the Vibe.

 

Our usual “go to” place in Costa Maya is Pez Quadro Beach Club.  We book the all-inclusive package ($50 per person last time we were there) and get our money’s worth in tequila alone. The package included open bar, lunch, lounge chair and shade palapa/umbrella. Free wi-fi is also included.  Let me know if you’d like more information.

 

Bonus Bar/Lounge Review

There are several bars and lounges on the ship and despite our best efforts we did not hit them all. The following is a review of the some of the Getaway watering holes.

 

Mixx Bar – This bar is located between the two main dining rooms (Taste and Savor).  It is a great place to get a pre/post meal drink.  Its location makes for a great place for people watching and it is located just down from Headliners Comedy Club.  Meet me at The Mixx!

 

Bliss Ultra Lounge – This is the dance nightclub on the ship.  I was busting out some of my best dance moves like “Snaps and Claps” and “the White Mans’ Overbite” there one night.  Tons of fun.  The bar is crowded so getting a drink can take a little time.  Pro Tip: Right outside the Bliss is the casino bar called Bar 21 with much shorter lines.   NCL also host various get-togethers here such as the Age 18-21 Cruisers Get Together gatherings, LGBTQ informal meet n greet, etc…

 

Atrium Bar – As the name indicates this bar is located in the Atrium and is a very large. Many of the game shows and dance lessons are help in the Atrium so it’s a busy place. The Starbuck’s is located right next to the Atrium Bar.  Prices at Starbuck’s are the same you would pay on land. 

 

O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar &Grill – This bar is pretty much always open and after midnight it is the only bar that is open so it can get crowded.  They have TVs that are playing sports.  NFL games are shown on Thursday night, Sunday all day and Monday night.  There is no college football.  But if you like soccer (futbol) then you will be in heaven as it is shown non-stop.

 

Sugarcane Mojito Bar – A nice bar that hosts various musical acts ranging from a piano player to 3-piece funk bands.  The only problem is the seating is very limited.  We arrived 45 minutes before a show and could not get a seat.  No worries…. there is no shortage of activities.  This is a bar located on The Waterfront meaning seating is available outside.

 

Sky Vodka Ice Bar – We did not try this bar, but the concept is you put on coats, sit on ice blocks and drink cocktails.  In Michigan, we call this a typical Saturday night in January, so we passed.  We go on cruises to get way from the cold.  Oh, and the kicker is there is a $20 charge per person for 2 drinks in 45 minutes.

 

Sunset Bar – Another bar located on the Waterfront.  We sat out here catching up with old cruise friends after we left New Orleans and were heading down the Mighty Mississippi.  FYI – It takes about 8 hours or so to reach the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River after leaving NOLA. A good place for the Cigar smokers as it is located right next to the Humidor Cigar Lounge.

 

Prime Meridian Bar – This bar is located right next to Caney’s Steakhouse on deck 8. It’s a good size bar with plenty of chairs and is not crowded.  A great place to meet up with friend before dinner at Cagney’s.

 

That wraps up the Port Review and Bonus Bar/Lounge Review.  Next up is pre/post-cruise 3-night stay in New Orleans.  It was our first visit there but won’t be our last.  We packed a lot into three days and can’t wait to share with everyone. 

 

Also, don’t hesitate to ask any questions.

 

Cheers!

 

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Great review Jack and we were right there with you at the back of the Garden Cafe. We're local so the traffic at embarkation really affected us. But by the time we got there they had the computer issues fixed.

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On 11/23/2019 at 4:20 PM, Double Jack said:

Installment # 4 Ports Review and Tendering Cluster Bleep with Bonus Bar/Lounge Review

 

 

 

Hi All -

 

Just off the NCL Getaway on its inaugural sailing out of New Orleans. It was a 9-day cruise that started with two sea days followed by port stops in Falmouth, Jamaica/Georgetown, Grand Cayman Islands/Roatan, Honduras/Costa Maya, Mexico. The itinerary concluded with a final sea day.

 

 

 

I'm going to break this review up in sections, so folks can read the parts they are interested in and skip the rest. I'll cover our pre/post-cruise 3-night stay in New Orleans, ports reviews, food, service, embarkation/debarkation/tendering, Vibe Beach Club Review and random thoughts.

 

 

 

Port Review

 

Falmouth Jamaica (8 AM – 4 PM) – The interesting excursions for this port required at least a 45-minute drive so we opted to walk around the port shopping area. The port shopping area is very nice. There are a variety of shops carrying the usual tourist stuff. You can even have lunch at a Quizno’s or Dairy Queen.  I mean, why wouldn’t you travel to Jamaica to have the same food you can get at home?

 

 

 

We did not venture outside the port area this time.  We did a couple of years ago and were offered “free wi-fi” down an alley.  Hard pass!  Based on that experience we walked around for about 45 minutes, got back on the ship and had lunch. 

 

 

 

This cruise was originally scheduled to go to Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  NCL changed the itinerary exactly 1 day after final payment.  I’m sure it was just a coincidence… (where is that sarcasm font when you need it?)  Anyway, I’m not a fan of Falmouth but it beats a day at work. 

 

One last note: We moved our clocks ahead one hour the night we sailed into Falmouth so keep that in mind if you schedule any early excursions.

 

 

 

 

Grand Cayman (8 am – 4 pm) – Our destination was Royal Palm Beach Club on 7 Mile Beach.  I knew going in there would be 5 ships in port that day so, I was prepared for it to be crowded.  The Getaway was the 3rd ship in port so I figured as long as we were on one of the first tenders, we would be OK.  Luckily our Platinum status allowed to be the 3rd tender. Unlike other cruise lines, NCL uses its lifeboat pods for the tendering process.  The boarding process is slow, you are crammed in like sardines, it’s muggy and they will not open the windows.  It was an uncomfortable ride for sure.  Several older passengers appeared particularly uncomfortable. 

 

 

 

Upon arrival, we hopped in a van to Royal Palm Beach Club on 7 Mile Beach. Thankfully it was a short ride. It is $5 per person each way. The ride to Royal Palm took 10 minutes but the ride back to the ship was 25 minutes due to traffic. Grand Cayman is one of the more expensive ports.   Due to the crowds, there were only about 10 beach chairs left.  We quickly grabbed two of them.

 

Entrance Fee - $2 per person

 

2 beach chairs and umbrella -$45 (they were in very good condition)

 

Bucket of 5 Beers - $30 (Caybrew, a local brew that tastes like Heineken)

 

 

 

Note: 15% service fee is included in food and drink prices so there is no need for an additional tip.

 

 

 

The beach is beautiful but bring water shoes as it is a little rocky in the water.  Not sharp just uncomfortable to walk on.  I know….. because I was the doofus that left his water shoes in the cabin.  Also, there is a bit of a drop about 10 feet in.  It goes from knee deep to hip deep in in a couple steps.  It is trickier getting out of the water than getting in the water.

 

 

 

The club itself is very nice with a large well-maintained bathroom/changing area with showers. There is also a pool and restaurant with deck seating. We did not eat this time but have enjoyed our food there on previous visits.

 

 

 

Afterwards, it was back in the van and back to port for the submarine ride back to the ship. 

 

 

 

Roatan, Honduras – (Noon – 7 pm) Another tender port.  There are two ports in Roatan (Coxen Hole and Mahogany Bay).  Our port was Coxen Hole.  My understanding is Royal Caribbean has 1st dibs at Coxen Hole and Carnival has 1st dibs at Mahogany Bay (which can handle two ships docked at the pier). Since Royal Caribbean had a ship docked at Coxen Hole and Carnival had 2 ships docked at Mahogany Bay, the Getaway was forced to use tender boats.

 

 

 

Even though the Getaway arrived in port about 1 ½ hours ahead of schedule the tendering process did not begin until Noon.  Platinum folks with priority tendering like us waited in the Tropicana Dining room to be called.  Finally, we boarded the tender for a ride that should take 10 minutes.   Instead, it took about 25 minutes.   Each tender boat had to navigate beneath the anchor lines of the Royal Caribbean ship so obviously speed was dialed way back.  After doing the limbo beneath the anchor lines, the tender had to spin around and back into the pier in which 2 other tender boats were already docked. Essentially, the pilot had to back in and parallel park the tender boat. They did a fine job, but it is a time-consuming process. 

 

 

 

We booked a tour Roatan Island Tour through a local vendor.  The vendor had good reviews on Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic, so I did my due diligence.  It was a complete fail.  We followed our “tour guide” to her car and proceeded to wait 10 minutes while she backed her car out from its parking spot.   

 

 

 

Once finally in the vehicle, our guide looks at us and says, “Where do you want to go?” GF and I looked at each other dumfounded so we responded, “We booked the Island Tour, so show us the island”.   She was an absolute dud.  She had no stories or historical anecdotes to share at all.  She basically drove around and told us:

 

 

 

 “There’s a school.”

 

“There’s a bank”

 

“There’s a water treatment plant”

 

“There’s a bakery”

 

 

 

It did not meet our expectations at all.  It was supposed to be a 3-hour tour but after 45 minutes, I politely asked to be returned to port so we could do some shopping. I’m not going to name the Tour Operator here as this is how they make their living.   We paid for the tour and gave her a 20% tip and got in the tender line to return to the ship. 

 

 

 

And it was good thing in the end as the tender line was already long.  We waited about 30 minutes to get on the tender but that was good compared to the horror stories I heard from other cruisers.  I was told the line snaked all the way to the back of the port and around.  Folks said they waited over 2 hours to get on a tender.  The cluster bleep was caused by all the maneuvering I described earlier.  The tender boats could only move at a slow pace.  NCL needs to address this situation.

 

 

 

A few other items of note:

 

1) We set our clocks back an hour the day we arrived, so you pick up an hour of sleep.

 

2) Good news - Another pier is being built in Coxen Hole that will be able to accommodate another large ship docking.  Bad news – it won’t be ready for 3-6 month.

 

3) The port area has a lot of construction going on so keep your eyes open for safety hazards. 

 

4) If you are looking for a great beach club on Roatan, then try Bananarama Dive and Beach Resort on West Bay Beach.  We’ve been there a couple of times and it is nice.  DM me for more information.

 

 

 

Harvest Caye, Belize (8 am – 5 pm) – We really like Harvest Caye! It has it all......a beautiful pool with swim up bar, large sandy beach with plenty of loungers, restaurant, Zip Line activities, souvenir shops and extremely clean bathrooms as well as well-maintained public areas.

 

 

 

We snagged a couple of loungers under an umbrella by the pool and decided to quench our thirst.  A draft beer of Belikin (local brew.... very tasty) was $8.50.  Holy cow!!  I felt like I was at Detroit Lions game.  We were in Harvest Caye in February 2018 and the same beer was $6.  A 20 oz. Bottle of Coke cost$3. Yes, it was Coke not Pepsi.   We hung out and worked on our tans for a couple of hours then walked back to the ship and consumed the food and booze we already paid for. 

 

 

 

Costa Maya Mexico (7 am – 3pm) – Our original plan was to go to Tropicante for the day to for tequila, fun and sun.  It is a PAYGO place.  Two things changed that plan:

 

1) I may have been over-served the previous night.

 

2) We moved our clocks ahead 1 hour…. yes again. 

 

 

 

So not only we did we get to port at an absurdly early hour, we ALSO lost an hour of sleep.   All of that equated to scrapping our Tropicante plans and opting to do some port shopping instead.  I bought a couple of t-shirts and picked up a few things at the pharmacy and headed back to the Vibe.

 

 

 

Our usual “go to” place in Costa Maya is Pez Quadro Beach Club.  We book the all-inclusive package ($50 per person last time we were there) and get our money’s worth in tequila alone. The package included open bar, lunch, lounge chair and shade palapa/umbrella. Free wi-fi is also included.  Let me know if you’d like more information.

 

 

 

Bonus Bar/Lounge Review

 

There are several bars and lounges on the ship and despite our best efforts we did not hit them all. The following is a review of the some of the Getaway watering holes.

 

 

 

Mixx Bar – This bar is located between the two main dining rooms (Taste and Savor).  It is a great place to get a pre/post meal drink.  Its location makes for a great place for people watching and it is located just down from Headliners Comedy Club.  Meet me at The Mixx!

 

 

 

Bliss Ultra Lounge – This is the dance nightclub on the ship.  I was busting out some of my best dance moves like “Snaps and Claps” and “the White Mans’ Overbite” there one night.  Tons of fun.  The bar is crowded so getting a drink can take a little time.  Pro Tip: Right outside the Bliss is the casino bar called Bar 21 with much shorter lines.   NCL also host various get-togethers here such as the Age 18-21 Cruisers Get Together gatherings, LGBTQ informal meet n greet, etc…

 

 

 

Atrium Bar – As the name indicates this bar is located in the Atrium and is a very large. Many of the game shows and dance lessons are help in the Atrium so it’s a busy place. The Starbuck’s is located right next to the Atrium Bar.  Prices at Starbuck’s are the same you would pay on land. 

 

 

 

O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar &Grill – This bar is pretty much always open and after midnight it is the only bar that is open so it can get crowded.  They have TVs that are playing sports.  NFL games are shown on Thursday night, Sunday all day and Monday night.  There is no college football.  But if you like soccer (futbol) then you will be in heaven as it is shown non-stop.

 

 

 

Sugarcane Mojito Bar – A nice bar that hosts various musical acts ranging from a piano player to 3-piece funk bands.  The only problem is the seating is very limited.  We arrived 45 minutes before a show and could not get a seat.  No worries…. there is no shortage of activities.  This is a bar located on The Waterfront meaning seating is available outside.

 

 

 

Sky Vodka Ice Bar – We did not try this bar, but the concept is you put on coats, sit on ice blocks and drink cocktails.  In Michigan, we call this a typical Saturday night in January, so we passed.  We go on cruises to get way from the cold.  Oh, and the kicker is there is a $20 charge per person for 2 drinks in 45 minutes.

 

 

 

Sunset Bar – Another bar located on the Waterfront.  We sat out here catching up with old cruise friends after we left New Orleans and were heading down the Mighty Mississippi.  FYI – It takes about 8 hours or so to reach the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River after leaving NOLA. A good place for the Cigar smokers as it is located right next to the Humidor Cigar Lounge.

 

 

 

Prime Meridian Bar – This bar is located right next to Caney’s Steakhouse on deck 8. It’s a good size bar with plenty of chairs and is not crowded.  A great place to meet up with friend before dinner at Cagney’s.

 

That wraps up the Port Review and Bonus Bar/Lounge Review.  Next up is pre/post-cruise 3-night stay in New Orleans.  It was our first visit there but won’t be our last.  We packed a lot into three days and can’t wait to share with everyone. 

 

 

 

Also, don’t hesitate to ask any questions.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

 

Thanks so much for your wonderful review!  Could you elaborate about getting into lifeboats?  We are used to tenders and with mobility issues, I am concerned about safety.  You did say that the older crowd was very uncomfortable.  We fall into that group and I am wondering about the specifics.  Thanks in advance for your reply.

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The last NCL ship I was on at Grand Cayman, The Escape, we used local tenders..very big and nice.  5 ships in port, may be the order they arrive, possibly last one or two in, have to use lifeboats as tenders, but if you look, on each side of the Away class ships, there are at least 2 lifeboats that are larger...maybe those are the ones you tendered on..doesn't sound fun none the less

 

..I know the HAL ship in port that day was using theirs as tenders.  5 ships in port does make for a crowded day.  

 

 

Edited by PTC DAWG

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Installment #5 Pre/Post-Cruise 3-Night Stay in New Orleans

 

Hi All -

Just off the NCL Getaway on its inaugural sailing out of New Orleans. It was a 9-day cruise that started with two sea days followed by port stops in Falmouth, Jamaica/Georgetown, Grand Cayman Islands/Roatan, Honduras/Costa Maya, Mexico. The itinerary concluded with a final sea day.

 

I'm going to break this review up in sections, so folks can read the parts they are interested in and skip the rest. I'll cover our pre/post-cruise 3-night stay in New Orleans, ports reviews, food, service, embarkation/debarkation/tendering, Vibe Beach Club Review and random thoughts.

 

Pre-Cruise Day One – Wednesday, November 6

 

We flew into the brand, new terminal at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) on Wednesday morning arriving around 10:30 am.  We live in Michigan so flying in a day early is a must.    The terminal had just opened the previous evening and still had that “new airport smell”.  The airport is bright, clean and airy.  The bathrooms have toilet seat sanitary covers that move automatically.  That’s a new one for me! 

 

We followed the signs to luggage claim and our bags were already on the belt.  We snagged our bags and set out to catch an Uber XL to our hotel.  Again, the wayfinding signage was easy to follow.  The line for Uber was just outside of the luggage claim.  I called for my Uber XL and got in line.  We waited about 10 minutes in line and we were off.  Our experience was terrific.  However, folks coming in the next day had a completely opposite experience than us.  I heard of long waits for luggage and Ubers.  My guess is they just need to work out the bugs.

 

We stayed near the port at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside located at 2 Poydras Street.  I booked it on hotwire for $185 per night including all fees and taxes (which are STEEP!). The hotel is 100% non-smoking and connected to the Outlet Collection – Riverwalk.  It is also right across the street from Harrah’s Casino.  It also has a nice workout facility (with racquetball courts) for those workout fanatics like me.

 

The cost for the trip from the airport to the hotel was $36 and took about 25 minutes.  

 

I booked it on hotwire for $185 per night including all fees and taxes (which are STEEP!) Our Uber driver was extremely helpful pointing out various highlights along the way.  We asked for a good place to get an authentic New Orleans Po’ Boy that the locals would go.  He directed us to a restaurant called Mothers Restaurant which was right down the street from our hotel on Poydras Street.

 

We arrived early and checked in but and a room was not available yet so, we stashed our luggage with the bellhop and set out for lunch at Mothers.

Mother’s Restaurant was established in 1938.  Their tagline is Worlds’ Greatest Baked Ham. You are handed a menu as you enter the restaurant and proceed to the counter to place your order.  You give your order to the counter person and pay for your food. Take a seat, place your receipt on the table and your meal is brought to you. 

 

We each ordered a John G Po’ Boy (ham, turkey, roast beef).  The regular is $14.50 and the small is $13.00.  Easy choice, right?  Here is the key to the sandwich: get it topped with “original debris” and au jus gravy.  Original debris is the shavings off a freshly carved roast beefs that had fallen into the gravy. Delicious!  I also had a side of red beans and rice.  We didn’t eat until about 2 pm and we were stuffed.  Dinner will be late, if at all.

 

Mothers was packed with locals, so we knew it had to be good.  One last point…. there are signs indicating “No Tipping”.  My understanding is the owners pay the staff a wage in which they do not need to rely on tips.  Bravo!

 

After lunch, we went back to our hotel, got our room keys and grabbed a Starbuck’s in the lobby.  We finished some unpacking.  It was raining so we and headed over to the Outlet Collection – Riverwalk to check out a couple shops and get some NOLA bling.  I picked up a shot glass for my collection and we both got beads to wear on embarkation day to meet folks from our Facebook/Cruise Critic groups.

 

Due to a delay getting our room and being a Hilton Honors member, the front desk gave us 10 coupons that could be used for:

 

Continental Breakfast – pass!

Small Starbuck’s Coffee – meh!

Glass of Wine, Beer or Cocktail at the hotel bar Public Belt – Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

 

 

We took an hour power nap and woke up about 7:30 still full from lunch and decided to cash in some of those drink coupons at the Public Belt.  Jack and Diet Coke for me, red wine for the lady.  The name Public Belt refers to the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.  The bar is very cozy with a mix of booth seating, couches, high tops as well as bar seating.  There are TVs behind the bar playing sports.  Nice relaxing place to end a travel day.  We had a few drinks each then raided the vending machine for potato chips on the way back to our room and that sufficed for dinner. 

 

Pre-Cruise Day Two – Thursday, November 7

 

Busy day ahead!  We hit the ground running…. literally.  We’re off to the fitness center for an hour run/walk routine.  While on the treadmill, I realize that I forgot to get a haircut so while I showered GF was googling up a barber.  Score!  There is one in an office building right on the way we are headed.  Canal Place Barber Shoppe at One Canal Place…$35 with tip and we’re off.    

 

We trek through the various streets (Decatur, Canal, St. Peters) just taking in the vibe of the city. We’re finally hungry and there is no shortage of options.  We come across Pat O’s Courtyard Restaurant on Bourbon Street (Home of the Hurricane).  We order two Hurricanes and they are quickly delivered.  Not only are they thirst quenching (it was in the mid 80’s and muggy) but they each have 4 shots of rum!   Our waiter was Les and he took great care of us.

 

I ordered fried shrimp platter and GF had the special of the day - chicken salad sandwich. It was a nice leisurely lunch. We start to get our stuff around and notice a couple of rain drops.  We check our weather app and it said, “heavy rain for the next 60 minutes”.  We have no choice but to order another round of Hurricanes and wait it out. After the rain ended, we decided to continue our trekking.  There are so many quaint little shops to check out.  Feeling the effects of several shots of rum we decide to get some coffee.  Where can we get coffee?  Café Du Monde of course. 

 

We make our way to Café Du Monde, get in line and order up 2 Café Au Laits and some beignets.  The place is crowded, and it is warm out.  We find a couple of seats and enjoy our goodies.  The beignets are delicious and served hot.  Feeling the effects of the heat, 20,000 steps and 8 shots of rum, we head back to the hotel for a nap.  After all we need to be rested for our Haunted Pub Crawl at 8 pm.

 

We zonk out for a couple hours, shower up and make our way to Tujagues Bar on Decatur where our Haunted Pub Crawl starts.  We booked the New Orleans Haunted Pub Crawl through Ghost City Tours. It was a blast!  Our tour guide John was very entertaining and informative.  We hit 5 separate bars on the tour.  Each with their own unique story and drinks.  One bar served absinthe and we learned all about how it is served.   My personal favorite was LaFitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar. You spend about 20 minutes at each bar.  I would highly recommend this tour, but you must book online in advance… $25 per person (use the offer code to save $5).

 

Our walk from the final bar on our crawl takes us down Bourbon Street.  It is about 11:15 pm on a Thursday night in November and you would have thought it was New Year’s Eve. People dancing, music was blaring and all kinds of fun. 

 

After drinking our way through New Orleans and over 30, 000 steps, we made it back to our hotel and collapsed into bed.   

 

Post-Cruise Day – Sunday, November 17

 

Cruise is over and we are staying in New Orleans one last night before flying home Monday morning.  Since we used self-assist, we are off the ship and in a taxi on our way to the hotel just after 7 am.  We did not have time to get coffee or eat on the ship, so we are hungry and a little cranky.

 

We arrive at our hotel Chateau LeMoyne in the French Quarter.  It is run by Holiday Inn.  We are waaaaay early, so we leave our luggage with the bell hop and head out in search of caffeine and food….in that order. GF fires up the google machine and finds a joint called Café Fleur De Lis on Chartres Street.

Café Fleur De Lis is a quaint restaurant with two levels and balcony seating that serves a French/southern fusion cuisine.  We each got a coffee and I throw in a double shot of espresso for my headache.  I ordered the Seriously Southern Breakfast with 1/3” cut bacon and GF orders the Croissant Sandwich.  We split an order of French toast as well.  This place was just what the doctor ordered.  The food was awesome!  There was a line out the door and into the street when we left.

 

We walk back to the hotel and crash in the lobby for until our room is ready.  Feeling good, we shower up and set out to find a watering hole to watch our lovable loser Detroit Lions play the dirty stinking Cowboys.  We head down Bourbon Street, but every bar with games on also had ear drum splitting music blaring.  We turn off Bourbon Street onto Toulouse Street and come across Molly’s Irish Pub.

 

Molly’s Irish Pub is a quiet place to watch football, drink cocktails and maybe shoot a game of pool.  It is not fancy but was perfect for the occasion.  The Sunday drink specials are Mimosas $4.00 and Bloody Mary’s were $3.50 all day.  They also served bar snacks. After consuming some adult beverages and watching our Lions lose yet again, we realized it was feeding time.  We were in the mood for a burger so asked the bartender where to get the best burger.  Her reply was Port of Call.  We make like a bread truck and get our buns out of there and head to Port of Call. 

 

Port of Call is in the French Quarter on Esplanade Avenue.  Not only do they serve burgers but steaks and as well.  Vegetarians probably should pass on this place.  Their signature drink is Neptune’s Monsoon.   They do not serve French fries with their burger/steaks……only baked potatoes.  We ordered mushroom cheeseburgers and baked potatoes loaded with sour cream, cheddar cheese, mushrooms, chives and bacon bits.  It was as good as it sounds. My mouth is watering as I write this. It is always crowded.  We sat at the bar and it worked just fine.  Two thumbs up!

 

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and got ready for the trip home in the morning.

 

Party over.

 

 

Final Thoughts on New Orleans

 

- There was a strong police presence in the areas we visited (especially Bourbon Street/French Quarter)

 - Like most major cities, New Orleans has a homelessness problem.  I never felt threatened, but it was a little alarming to see people laying in the middle of the sidewalk passed out during the middle of the day.

- We never made it to Frenchmen Street to listen to jazz

- The port is not very big and there needs to be infrastructure improvements in the port area if New Orleans is to host large cruise ships like the Getaway. 

- The people of New Orleans were friendly

- We did walk though Harrah’s Casino briefly and noticed it was non-smoking expect for some slot machines located on a patio. 

- Watch where you walk.  There are several trips and fall hazards on the sidewalks due missing stonework, grout, concrete, uneven surfaces, and spilled drinks. 

- Stay in the main areas. If you head down a street and your 6th sense tells you to turn around and head back to where you came from... do it.  Stick to populated streets especially at night. 

- This was our first trip to New Orleans, but it will not be our last.  The downtown area is so unique.  The buildings are mostly 3 to 4 stories high with porches adorned with potted plants.  So many things left to see!

 

 

That’s it for our Pre/Post Cruise Stay in New Orleans.  Next up is my final installment:  Ship and Service Review/Random Thoughts/Final Tips & Tricks

 

Edited by Double Jack

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On 11/23/2019 at 5:20 PM, Double Jack said:

 

 “There’s a school.”

 

“There’s a bank”

 

“There’s a water treatment plant”

 

“There’s a bakery”

 

 

 

It did not meet our expectations at all.  It was supposed to be a 3-hour tour but after 45 minutes, I politely asked to be returned to port so we could do some shopping. I’m not going to name the Tour Operator here as this is how they make their living.   We paid for the tour and gave her a 20% tip and got in the tender line to return to the ship. 

 

Honestly, you should name the tour company.  Yes, it's how they make their living, but how does that change anything?  You had a bad tour and by not telling us the company, what is to stop us from unknowingly book this tour and having the same bad experience you did? 

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    WOW !!  What a lengthy, well-written review.  Thanks very much.  We'll be on her this Sunday.  Steve

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7 hours ago, aubreyc1988 said:

 

Honestly, you should name the tour company.  Yes, it's how they make their living, but how does that change anything?  You had a bad tour and by not telling us the company, what is to stop us from unknowingly book this tour and having the same bad experience you did? 

 

I'd be happy to share the company name.  Send me an e-mail at double_jack@aol.com

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22 hours ago, Double Jack said:

Installment #5 Pre/Post-Cruise 3-Night Stay in New Orleans

 

Appreciate you writing so much...very helpful.

 

We will be on the Gateway for xmas cruise, and staying at Hilton day before/day after.

Is the Hilton walkable as noted?  Also is French quarter walkable from Hilton?  We live in Downtown Chicago, so walking is normal for us.

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