We just got back from a great Spring Break vacation aboard the Getaway. It was my husband and I (in our 40's), dd (15) and ds (12). It was our first time cruising but we were with a party of 24 and everyone else were experienced cruisers. I'll give a run-down of our personal experiences.
First day (March 10) - we had a package from our travel agency that included flights (from Toronto). Everything worked out totally fine with no rush, despite some minor delays due to a bit of an ice storm. I don't think that I'll fly in the same day again though just because I found the worry too stressful. We landed in Miami around 11:30 and were around the ship maybe around 2ish? Can't quite remember. We had 2 rooms - one balcony and one inside, both on the 14th floor, aft. I really liked this location as I found it really close to the buffet, aquapark, video arcade, etc. Both rooms were very comfortable and clean. Arnold did a fantastic job of cleaning our room, most days twice a day. He was lovely. After muster and getting something to eat at the buffet, we explored the ship. Dd's best friend was also traveling with us and needless to say, we didn't see the girls too much on the ship. Surprisingly, they didn't enjoy Entourage (tried a few times but found it boring), but they found loads to keep them occupied. I'll mention a random bit here - we had paid for myself, dd, her bff, and bff's mom to have the social media package. NCL "messed up" and gave us all the highest internet package instead (but only charged us the social media package). Bonus! Now, I will say that connectivity was sometimes sketchy. But towards the end, the girls went down to the internet cafe. The guy there did something or other to their phones and they were able to connect much more consistently after that. Before the trip, ds had broken his finger and had a splint covering his palm and fourth and fifth fingers. We were prepared for him to not be allowed to do the water slides or ropes course but he was thrilled that he was able to do both. He only did them once each but he was so happy that he got to experience it. He spent the rest of the time on the ship doing things like playing pool, mini golf and in the arcade. He also had a friend traveling with us and both boys shared the arcade package. There were no issues with this and we found that they made great use of it. Our weather was beautiful the whole trip, although there were a few nights where we could feel a lot of movement from the ship. I was the only one in the family who got seasick, but that was just one night.
I'll give my take on food throughout the trip, keeping in mind that we only ate at the buffet, Savor, Tropicana and O'Sheehans: I thought that the buffet was great. Lots of different choices, and everything tasted great. We ate breakfast there every day and lunch on sea days. Our group ate at Tropicana most evenings. Most of us were fairly underwhelmed. The menu is not huge, and only a few items change each night. Each time, we'd order something expecting it to be amazing. It was often plated beautifully, but didn't taste amazing. Don't get me wrong- most things were good, just not great. Same with the one night we went to O'Sheehans. We also thought that we'd try something different and go to Taste/Savor only to find that it was the exact same menu. It got a bit old. The number one complaint though was how long the meal took. The shortest amount of time was 2 hours. We sat and sat between courses.
Now I'll give my take on our ports, from least favorite to most. It should be noted that our most favorite were the absolute highlight of our whole trip:
Harvest Caye was our least favorite, although it was still ok. The pool was beautiful, but it was very difficult to find any loungers. It was much easier to find some on the beach, but the beach was not enjoyable. The water was murky and the "sand" (crushed sea shells) was painful. Dh and some friends played beach volleyball for a while and his feet hurt after.
I liked Costa Maya more. Originally, our plan was to find a nice beach in the neighboring village but the water was really rough that day so that plan went out. Instead, we found a beautiful pool in port. All of the loungers were on sand, making it a makeshift beach, and there were inflatable rings to lie on in the pool and pool volleyball. The kids all had a great time. We had to agree to spend $15 a person at the restaurant there, which was fine. There were different free shows around too, kind of like buskers. Ds won a free pass to the treetop aviary so he and I spent probably about an hour up there. It was neat and I got some beautiful pictures.
We all LOVED Cozumel, because of where we chose to go - Paradise Beach. There were 14 of us that day and we had all booked the all inclusive package (online ahead of time, separate from NCL). It was very easy to get 8 and 6 passenger vans to take us there. The 8 passenger van was $32 each way. We were treated VERY well at Paradise Beach. Now, we got there early - probably about 9:30, which helped us secure plenty of loungers right by the water, as well as a large table in the restaurant just steps away. I was nervous because there were 7 ships in port that day. It got busy, but never jam packed. Christian and Paco looked after us all day, and kept the food and booze coming and coming (so.much.tequila!). We are a really fun group and I think that that definitely helped, and they fed off that. Everyone raved about what a great time they had.
Our most favorite day of all though was spent in Honduras. I booked 22 of us a "Monkey Fun and Beach Break" tour through Roatan Ocean Adventures. I cannot stress enough how amazing it was. And very reasonable, too - $35 a person. It was easy to find our guide once we got out of the port. First, we went to Daniel Johnson's Monkey and Sloth hangout. We got to interact with the birds, have monkeys climb over us and cuddle with a sloth. We were really looking forward to this and were not disappointed. The next part was a total surprise. I knew we were going to a beach, but I wasn't able to find anything online about it so I didn't know what to expect. We ended up at the most beautiful beach I had ever been to. It's hard to describe, but the way it's set up has different beaches that are fairly inaccessible from each other (all equally gorgeous from what I could see). So different parties were dropped off at different parts. The end result was that it was very quiet. It felt like we had our own private beach. On this beach was also things like swings, hammocks, and a high up pier that we had fun jumping off of. There was also a shop and a bar and restaurant that was reasonably priced. It was the most perfect day. I think the whole day cost my family $200 which included lunch and drinks. If anyone reading this is going to Roatan this excursion will seriously make your vacation.
I should also mention how much our family loved the Glow Party. Seriously, what a great time. I heard fantastic things about the 80s party as well but dh and I were worn out that night. We had such a fun time at karaoke one night as well - ds even got recognized a few times from it throughout the cruise which was hilarious (it's not every day that a 12 year old will belt out Twisted Sister and Kiss to a room full of adults, lol).
All in all, it was a great time. We loved it, although all the experienced cruisers in our group said that they prefer Carnival. I'm thinking that we'll be needing to try that line out as well to see which we prefer.