Colchester - Southampton
Sometime before our cruise, we decided to stay overnight in Southampton as we have done previously with many of our cruises, but this time rather than driving we got the coach. The coach journey with National Express from Colchester to Southampton via London Victoria was very good and we were lucky to have no major hold ups on the roads.
Leaving Colchester at 09:00 we were due to arrive in Southampton at 14:45, but arrived a little earlier than planned, which was good. Our friends Christian & Anthony, who also act as our Executive Volunteers had kindly offered for Gavin and I to stay at their home overnight prior to the cruise. They too, were both sailing aboard the overnight cruise on Norwegian Getaway. We had a really enjoyable evening chatting about all things ship related and ended up heading to bed quite late!
Norwegian Getaway Southampton Arrival
On the morning of January 14th 2014, Gavin and I got up around 06:30, as did Christian & Anthony, as we had all decided we would walk down to Town Quay to watch Norwegian Getaway arrive into Southampton for the very first time.
We decided to book a taxi, as Gavin and I wanted to go to my student residences to leave our luggage. Christian & Anthony continued in the taxi down to Town Quay. At this point I had just decided to withdraw my place at University and following the overnight cruise we would be heading back to my room in the student residences to pack all my things to take home. My Dad was coming to pick us up for our return journey home to Colchester on January 16th 2014.
After leaving our things Gavin and I quickly walked from the student residences to Town Quay, which only took around 15 minutes. It was a particularly cold morning, with a sharp frost and ice in places. Once at Town Quay we met up with Christian & Anthony again, who were joined by Daniel Gosling, to wait for the new ship to arrive! Later we were also joined by Jordan Bailey, who foundered RCI Fans. Jordan was also sailing aboard Norwegian Getaway with his grandmother.
If I remember correctly Norwegian Getaway was due to berth alongside City Cruise Terminal at 10:00. Of course we had all got their sometime before, in case the ship was a little earlier and it did! We all waited with excitement and then finally, off in the distance we spotted the bow of the ship peering around some other ships docked. Before long the whole ship was in sight and slowly headed towards us at Town Quay.
As the ship got closer to Town Quay, Gavin and I decided to quickly run round to Mayflower Park, which is located next to City Cruise Terminal where the ship would be berthing. As the paths were icy, our run became more of a brisk walk. As we entered Mayflower Park, Norwegian Getaway was now quickly approaching the Cruise Terminal.
We walked along the park as the ship slowed to manoeuvre alongside the Cruise Terminal, which meant spinning the ship around 180 degrees. We eventually came to the railings at the end of the park closest to City Cruise Terminal and watched the ship turn. A fair amount of other onlookers were there to see the ship arrive. Christian, Anthony, Daniel and Jordan decided to join us too, having watched the ship pass Town Quay.
Norwegian Getaway looked stunning as she manoeuvred right in front of us and we got a close up look of her amazing hull art! The sheer size of the 145,655 GRT ship was really apparent from this prospective.
Gavin and I watched until the ship was nearly alongside and then decided to head back to my room at the student residences to get out of the cold.
We had been informed that embarkation was to begin at 11:00. Gavin and I left the student residences around 10:30 with our luggage cases and walked down to City Cruise Terminal. We were very surprised when we got to the Cruise Terminal to see a very long, disorderly queue of passengers and visitors waiting to embark. We were directed to join the back of the meandering queue. Shortly after we arrived, many more passengers arrived and the queue began to back up outside the Cruise Terminal. We waited for what seemed like forever, until the queue slowly began to move, but only a few feet. Slowly but surely, inch by inch we made our way closer to the front of the queue. Many passengers like us, were very unhappy and disappoint with the embarkation procedure and were only to be more disappointed.
Once we got to the front of the queue we were directed where to go next. Round the corner we were met by an equally long queue of passengers waiting to pass through the security checks. Again we waited for what seemed like ages and finally passed through security, to only be met by even more queues, this time to check in. At this stage, passengers were directed to queues which referred to their stateroom number, as we had not been allocated our stateroom yet, we had no idea where to go; neither did the member of staff we asked, who eventually directed us to a queue anyway.
Although on every cruise, you have to pass through security checks, on this occasion there was no was embarkation lounge to sit and wait and there seemed to be no order by the staff at the Cruise Terminal.
Finally after queuing for almost two hours we checked in and were given our boarding cards and stateroom number; 14623, which I quickly found out was a Mid-Ship Inside Stateroom. We had booked this category of stateroom and we were hoping for an upgrade, but unfortunately did not get one. Some of our friends who had booked the same category stateroom weeks after us got an upgrade, which was quite disappointing.
Now clear to board the ship, Gavin and I briskly made our way along the passenger boarding gangway and boarded Norwegian Getaway on Deck 5. We made our way to the aft stairwell and took the lift up to Deck 14 where we were directed to our stateroom. Although our stateroom was nicely decorated with a stylish and modern design it was somewhat small and cramped. We would certainly consider booking a larger stateroom next time, probably a balcony stateroom too!
Day 1 - Southampton
After exploring our stateroom and taking a well-deserved rest and sit down, Gavin and I headed down to Guest Services on Deck 6. Thankfully there was not much of a queue at all and we were quickly seen to. I headed to Guest Service to get in touch with First Officer, Jonathan Gardener, who had promised to arrange a visit to the bridge to meet with the Captain to officially present my drawing.
Coincidentally the Assistant Cruise Director was passing by and he was able to see to my request and called the Cruise Director Julie Valeriote, who had taken part in a previous drawing presentation aboard Norwegian Pearl in July 2011. Julie was unavailable so instead he called the bridge and evidently First Officer, Jonathan answered! The Assistant Cruise Director informed us that Jonathan would arrange a visit to the bridge before departing Southampton and that he would call our stateroom with details.
Having sorted business it was most certainly time for lunch, so we headed up to the main buffet the Garden Café on Deck 15. It was quite busy, but that was to be expected, however it was not too difficult to find a table.
After lunch, we went back to our stateroom to check if we had received a call. Jonathan had left a message, confirming that we would be visiting the bridge at 15:30 and that he would come to our stateroom to meet us.
With around an hour and a half left before visiting the bridge, we decided to start exploring the ship. We started our walk round the ship near the top, on Deck 16 at Spice H2O and then checked out the Video Arcade and the expansive sports deck which includes a rock climbing wall, mini golf course, rope course and many other sporting facilities and activities.
Next we took a close look at the remarkable water slides. Norwegian Getaway features five slides in total, two of which launch passengers at over 30mph! From the top high above the rest of the ship we had an amazing view and spotted Christian & Anthony about to take a dip in the pool. We headed back down to deck level and chatted to them for a short while. Thankfully the temperature was somewhat warmer than it was when we watched the ship arrive.
We continued our walk around the top decks of the ship and also took a quick look at the Vibe Beach Club. Heading down to Deck 15, we explored the Spa and Fitness Center on board, including the Salt Room which was somewhat different and I believe it is one of only two at sea.
Now approaching 15:30, we made our way back to our stateroom to wait for First Officer, Jonathan to come to meet us. Shortly after we arrive back at our stateroom there was a knock on the door and Jonathan had come to escort us to the bridge. It was great to finally meet him having been friends with him on Facebook for some time.
Day 1 - Bridge Visit & Official Drawing Presentation
Upon entering the bridge with Jonathan, both Gavin and I were surprised at the sheer size of the bridge. We were allowed to walk round and take plenty of photos! The bridge offered an incredible view along the sides of the ship.
A little while later the Master of Norwegian Getaway, Captain Rune Myre entered the bridge and came over to introduce himself to us both. He was very welcoming and invited me to unveil my drawing on one of the chart tables on the bridge. The Captain and other crew members on the bridge were quite surprise at the size of the drawing as it was rolled out across the table. Cruise Director, Julie Valeriote arrived a few minutes later to meet with us and see the drawing.
Julie remembered my previous drawing presentation, which our Volunteers@Sea, John & Marilyn presented aboard Norwegian Pearl in July 2011. It was wonderful to meet her in person myself. Many of the crew members on the bridge spent quite some time studying the drawing. The Captain promised that he would find a place on board to display the drawing.
I rather optimistically asked the Captain if it would be possible to have one of the ship models in return for my drawing. He agreed and Jonathan promised to arrange this and invited us to return to the bridge again the following morning before disembarking to collect it. In addition to this Captain Rune Myre invited Gavin and I to dine in a restaurant of our choice that evening, along with our friends Christian & Anthony. We took some time to decide which restaurant to choose but in the end opted for Cagney’s Stakehouse.
Following the presentation of my drawing, Jonathan invited us to explore the bridge a little more and talked us through some of the various navigational equipment and controls. I took the chance to have a photograph taken with Jonathan on the bridge wing and he took a photograph of me and Gavin together.
Day 1 - Southampton
After leaving the bridge we went to find Christian & Anthony to invite them to join us in Cagney’s Stakehouse for dinner after sailaway. Just as I was about to call them, we spotted them on the Waterfront. They had booked to see a show in the Getaway Theatre so Gavin and I went to Guest Services to change the time, only after Gavin and Anthony had played some chess together on the deck. Guest Services were very helpful and had no problem changing our reservation time.
Gavin and I continued to explore the ship a little more, this time exploring Deck 6 and Deck 8, viewing some of the many dining venues on board as well as the breath-taking chandelier in 678 Ocean Place.
Having toured the ship a little more we went back to our stateroom to get changed out of our suits into something a little more relaxed before the Muster Drill took place. Once we were changed we headed to our muster assembly station, E8 which was on Deck 6 at the aft, outside the Taste & Savour Restaurants. I was very dissatisfied with one crew member who did not seem to be taking the Muster Drill very seriously at all. Once the drill was over it was time to prepare for our departure from Southampton.
Day 1 - Southampton Sailaway
Now approaching 17:00 it was of course dark. Gavin and I chose to watch our departure from the outside deck near the bow on Deck 7. Christian & Anthony were there too. Around 10 to 15 minutes later than scheduled Norwegian Getaway slowly began to manoeuvre away from her berth at City Cruise Terminal. Once the ship had moved away from the quayside Gavin and I made our way up to the very top of the ship on Deck 18 to get a better view, where we passed Cruise Director, Julie who was welcoming everyone to the sailaway party on deck.
After we sailed passed the other cruise ship Black Watch, which was docked in Southampton, we made our way down from Deck 18 to Deck 15 to join the party below. There was a great atmosphere on board. The party then moved from mid-ships to Spice H2O at the aft and we quickly followed the Cruise Director, entertainment crew and other passengers. It was great fun to watch the show and whilst there we bumped into a few of our friends, including Danielle Fear from Cruise Miss and Patricia Dempsey and Fay Jordan.
Before heading down to Cagney’s Stakehouse we went round to the side of the ship to watch as we passed Fawley oil refinery and the ships docked there. We were going to watch as we past Calshot, but as it was dark, windy and freezing cold we headed for dinner.
Night 1 - English Channel
Outside Cagney’s Stakehouse on Deck 8 aft, we found Christian & Anthony waiting for us. We then all entered the restaurant and were seated. Our table was right at the back of the restaurant; with a fantastic view over the ships wake. Despite it being dark, we still had a good view of the lights on land and sea as we cruised along. We all thoroughly enjoyed our dinner together in Cagney’s Stakehouse, the food was outstanding as was the service which we received. It was certainly the best food I have yet had on a cruise ship. Christian & Anthony even missed there show, but they didn’t mind because of the amazing time they had in the restaurant.
Following our outstanding dinner, Gavin and I headed to the shops to get some souvenirs. We also went to the Photo Gallery to purchase our embarkation and dinner photos. Next we braved the elements and took a stroll around the Waterfront on Deck 8. It was very cold and raining so before long we made our way back inside and soaked up the atmosphere in 678 Ocean Place.
Unfortunately as both of us were feeling very tired, most likely due to our journey from Colchester to Southampton the day previously and not catching much sleep the night before due to seeing the ship arrive, we decided to retired to our stateroom for the night and before long we were both asleep.
Day 2 - Southampton Arrival
The following morning I woke up at around 07:00, somewhat later than hoped and noticed on the bridge webcam on the TV in our stateroom that we had already passed Calshot and would shortly be nearing City Cruise Terminal. I quickly woke Gavin!
Once we were dressed we made our way up to Deck 16 on deck, by which time we were passing QEII Terminal. We stayed outside for a while until we had passed Town Quay and then went to get breakfast in the Garden Café.
After enjoying our breakfast and now the ship was docked we walked around the ship, exploring some of the other venues we hadn’t yet seen. Norwegian Getaway was such a vast ship that we certainly needed more than the one night to see everything.
Returning to our stateroom to pack our last few things, we then made our way to the Captain office, where the Captain and First Officer, Jonathan gave me the ship model which they had got for me from the shop on board. Although we had to vacate our stateroom at around 08:30 the Captain welcomed us to keep our cases in his office and continue exploring the ship without the hassle of carting our luggage around with us. We quickly made our way back to our stateroom, collected our stuff and then left it in the Captain’s office by the bridge.
We were able to walk round the ship a little more and even tried out the mini golf course, before the final disembarkation announcement was made. Gavin and I then headed back to the Captain’s office to collect our luggage and disembark.
Day 2 - Disembarkation
The disembarkation procedure was very smooth and we did not have to queue for long. We swiftly made our way along the gangway back to City Cruise Terminal and then got a taxi back to my room at the student residences, before we returned home to Colchester later that evening.