Last month I was lucky enough to have the most incredible opportunity of my blogging life so far, and was taken on a press trip to the Caribbean with Norwegian Cruise Lines! We were invited to spend a week on board the Norwegian Getaway cruise ship, departing from Miami and travelling to Honduras, Belize and Mexico. I honestly couldn’t believe it when I got the invite, it seemed waaay too good to be true. I didn’t even tell most people I was going until the week before because I was so sure it was somehow going to turn out to be a joke or something! Despite how good I thought it was going to be, it was still beyond my wildest expectations – I had never been on a cruise and it was such an amazing experience, honestly one of the best weeks ever! It’s taken me a while to write this post and it’s mostly because I didn’t even know where to start…but here goes… Also I’m hoping to make Travel a bigger feature on my blog in 2017 so let me know if you make it through this post and would like to hear more travel stuff in the future!
I’ve always loved to travel – it’s one of the things that makes me feel the most alive – but I’d never considered going on a cruise before. I love to explore and I always thought that cruising wouldn’t be for me because it wasn’t adventurous enough. I like to really explore a place so I thought I’d want to see more of the places you dock in and wouldn’t want to be there with a deadline to get back on the boat so I didn’t get left behind! Although that remains true and I would have liked to see more of the places we went to, after travelling on the Norwegian Getaway, I realised that maybe I’d been looking at it all wrong, and the places you stop off in are more of an added bonus to being on the cruise itself – yes you get to travel and see some amazing places but it’s less about the destinations than it is about the journey! I’d totally forgotten to think about the ship itself as the main element of the trip, and the general experience of sailing in the middle of the ocean.
The Norwegian Getaway is absolutely huge (bigger than the Titanic, in case you were wondering!) and it’s basically a huge floating resort, with everything on board that you could possibly want. Want to sunbathe all day? There’s hundreds of sun loungers on the top decks for you to soak up some rays. Want to try out some new sports or adventure activities? Take your pick from the gym, sports courts, water park, climbing wall or high ropes course that are all on deck. Want to sing karaoke or go see a musical? There are bars and a theatre for that! Want chicken wings at 3am? Head to the Irish bar that’s open 24 hours and better yet is all inclusive with your cruise ticket. Honestly, being on this ship was like being in a holiday bubble where you could do anything you wanted, and it was all within walking distance and all inclusive! We were pretty spoilt and were lucky enough to do so much both on and off the ship while we were there, from trying out a new on-board restaurant every night, to quad biking and snorkelling in Mexico to visiting traditional villages in Honduras. I can’t possibly write about it all, so I’ve covered some of my personal highlights from the trip below, otherwise you’d be here all day reading this post! People have been asking me tons of questions about cruises since I got back, so if you’d like to know more about anything on the trip, please leave a comment!
You must know by now that I’m a massive foodie, so getting an itinerary for a trip where one of the main events each day was trying out a different restaurant on board the ship was pretty much a dream come true for me! There are a whopping 27 different dining options on the Norwegian Getaway so you’d be hard pushed to visit them all, although we gave it a pretty good go! There are 5 restaurants included in your cruise ticket price which between them serve up buffet-style and a la carte options for every meal, then there are speciality dining options to try for something a little more special with a la carte menus that you add to your bill and pay for at the end of the trip. My favourites were Cagney’s Steakhouse – an American style steakhouse with the biggest choice of steaks I’d ever seen, including a whopping 32oz Porterhouse steak, Ocean Blue – a delicious seafood restaurant where I feasted on an amazing selection of lobster, giant shrimps and snapper fish, and Teppanyaki – a Japanese Hibachi restaurant where your chef cooks on a huge grill in front of you (and in this case, sings and practically does a stand-up routine at the same time!) All the food we tried was amazing, I felt utterly spoilt by the end of the week (and about a stone heavier!) I’d heard before I went that the food on the Norwegian Getaway was supposed to be amazing, and it definitely lived up to the hype!
Harvest Caye Island
Part of the reason for our trip on the Norwegian Getaway was to check out their new island resort in Belize, Harvest Caye. An island owned by Norwegian Getaway, this was the newest stop-off on the trip and had only been open a few weeks when we were there. It was pretty amazing, a private island in the midst of the Caribbean with beautiful white beaches and turquoise seas, the kind of horizons that melt into the sky because the sea and sky are both the same blue, incredible weather and tons of amazing things to do for the day while you’re there. The funny thing about cruise ship ports is that they’re basically an on-ground extension of the ship itself, and this was the same but in the best possible way! There were beach bars, huge pools (one with a bar in the actual pool itself), beaches full of sunbathing spots and some awesome activities to get involved with. You could go boating, paddle boarding or kayaking in the lagoon and they also had huge zip wires stretching across the bay that you could pay to zoom across. We spent a fun-filled day there soaking up the sun, swimming in the sea and chilling in the pools. It was pretty special to land somewhere that had no one else there except those of us who had sailed there on a cruise ship, and it gave you both the experience of being in a beautiful destination whilst also delivering the sea, sand and poolside resort vibes that you couldn’t have on the ship itself. Apart from where we stopped off later in Mexico, I think the beaches of Harvest Caye have got to be the most amazing I’ve seen so far!
I’m a bit of a theatre and musicals buff so another element of the cruise that I really loved was the fact that there was so much entertainment on board. There are two theatres on board the Norwegian Getaway and we saw three different shows on our trip! The first was Burn the Floor, a dance show that has toured on Broadway and worldwide. It features a cast of seriously incredible professional dancers performing ballroom and latin routines to an amazing soundtrack (the on-stage band and singers were amazing) – think Strictly, but sexier. It was fast paced, fun, fierce and completely electrifying! The second was The Illusionarium – a magic show accompanied by dinner with some seriously impressive tricks including tons of disappearing acts that totally blew my mind! On the penultimate night we watched Tony Award winning Broadway musical The Million Dollar Quartet – a show about the legendary ‘jam’ session with Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins featuring tons of great songs from each of the musicians. With all the shows, the thing that struck me was how high quality they were – the performers were all incredible and the whole atmosphere was brilliant – I sat there in disbelief that I was watching this on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean! There really was an incredible amount of entertainment on offer – we also saw live performers and musical comedy acts in various bars around the ship!
In general the amount of entertainment and activities on-board was astonishing. As well as the music & theatre, there were dance classes, bingo, a casino, art auctions, pub quizzes, exercise classes, poolside games & contests (including a Mr Sexy legs competition which might have been the funniest thing I’ve ever witnessed), spa sessions and classes in things from wine pairing to towel-animal folding! Every evening you had a program delivered to your room with all the options and the choice was endless, with at leaf 50 different things happening each day. And then on top of that there were the stop offs where you had yet more choice of tours and activities to get involved with on shore! I think the sheer volume of things that were going on was what blew my mind most about the cruise and what made me realise it wasn’t just a trip for whoever you might think of as the stereotypical cruiser, there really was something for everyone. And the plus side of this was that there was so much to do and so many people doing different things that despite being on board with 4,000 other people, it never really felt crowded!
I’m not going to lie, there were a hella lotta bars on board the Norwegian Getaway and we did sample quite a few of them while we were on the trip (I mean, it’d be rude not to right?!) As with the entertainment, when it came to drinking and partying you were spoilt for choice. Whether you wanted poolside cocktails delivered to your sun lounger (or hot tub), a glass of prosecco overlooking the ocean on the Waterfront terrace around the outside of the 10th deck, a pint in an English-style pub, or a cocktail from an ice-glass in the Ice Bar, anything was possible! One of my favourites was Sugarcane Mojito bar, where there were countless different types of mojito to try. We also went to the Ice Bar – a very surreal (and freezing!) experience when you were sailing in the Caribbean, Fat Cats – a late-night jazz/karaoke bar, Headliners bar for some comedy with our drinks and Sunset lounge for a dimly-lit evening tipple after dinner. It was kind of like being in a huge floating town where anything you wanted to do was in very short walking distance! When it came to later in the night, there were two ‘clubs’ on board that were open later. Spice H20 became our regular haunt, a top deck, open-air party that had music and DJs on until late. Every night they had a different themed party at the end of the night, from 80s night to a Latin dance party complete with salsa lessons from the cast of Burn the Floor. Yes, it was a bit cheesy at times…but also SO much fun! The feeling of carefree freedom that dancing around a ship deck in the open air while you’re sailing in the middle of the ocean gave me was pretty amazing, and definitely something I won’t forget in a hurry!
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Overall, I had an absolutely amazing trip. The PR team were so lovely and the rest of the trip group were an amazing press trip family, we had a blast and it honestly felt so strange to be back and not hanging out with them all every day! For anyone who has never tried a cruise or maybe had the same preconceptions about them as I did, I would definitely urge you to consider it and give it a go if you get the chance. With a group of friends or family instead of going on a normal resort or poolside holiday, it would be an amazing alternate and one I really hope I’m able to try again one day! I was describing the trip to someone recently who said it sounded like Freshers week but on a boat, and I guess in a lot of ways it kind of was (or like being at a festival), but isn’t that feeling kind of what you want out of a holiday? Living in a fantasy bubble of ‘holiday’-ness for a week where you feel like you want to stay forever but at the same time know that it tastes so sweet because it can’t last! Thank you so much to Norwegian Getaway for an incredible experience and a trip I won’t be forgetting any time soon!