Our December 2018 cruise on the Norwegian Getaway was the 45th cruise for me and my wife, Kellyn! After that many cruises, we've got a pretty good idea of what we like in a vacation, and we've tried enough different cruise lines and cruise ships that we know how to get what we like. While we've done more cruises with Carnival than any of the other cruise lines, in recent years we've come to think of Norwegian as our cruise line of choice. This cruise in The Haven on Norwegian Getaway had a lot going for it, and will be a cruise we won't soon forget.
This review will be a little different than the ones I've done in the past, because I shot very few still photos on this cruise. Some of my previous cruise reviews have featured over a hundred still photos in them, but these days I think of myself more as a YouTube video creator than a photographer, so this review will go much heavier on videos and lighter on still photos than other cruise reviews I've done.
I hope you aren't in a hurry right now, and have some free time to enjoy the full story I have to tell you about our cruise. It's not going to be quick!
When I was a kid in the 1970s, people used to shoot movies about their vacations on 8 millimeter film. After a particularly great vacation, a friend might come over to our house, set up a movie projector and a screen, and start showing some of the film they shot on vacation, and as it was being shown, they would narrate and explain what we were seeing. Or sometimes rather than film, they'd shoot slides... and present a slideshow, with narration.
What I'm going to do right now is the 21st century equivalent of that. I've edited all the most interesting parts of my vacation together in a video, and narrated it to provide some context to it all. In other words, here's a 25 minute long YouTube video featuring all the highlights from my vacation:
To start the video playing, click the triangle in the middle of the video screen
To make the video fill the screen (recommended) click the little symbol in the lower right corner of the video player
There's one very important fact about the cruise that I didn't mention in the video! We were among a group of approximately 200 passengers who paid extra to participate in a special country music fan event. Country stars Bryan White and Collin Raye, who each produced a string of #1 hit songs in the 1990s, were on the cruise and did two concerts and several meet-and-greet events. These were private events that 95% of the passengers on the ship never knew about. Only the several hundred of us who are big Bryan White and Collin Raye fans got to participate. Since this special fan cruise occurred in mid-December, it was known as the "Christmas In The Caribbean" cruise". I got to be the official videographer of all the events with Bryan and Collin, and produced three videos about them.
The first video covers the meet-and-greet event with Bryan and Collin on day two of the cruise:
The second video covers the first of two concerts, which occurred on day #4 of the cruise:
And the final video covers the second concert, which occurred on day #7 of the cruise:
While the concerts were great, you can go see a country music concert on land. What was unique about this fan cruise was the ability to mingle with the two stars and actually have a real conversation with them. Plus, the fun of just bumping in to them in various places around the ship! On our flight from California to Florida, I said to Kellyn that I wondered how far in to the cruise it would be before we bumped in to either Bryan White or Collin Raye unexpectedly. Well, it didn't take long! On day one of the cruise, at the mandatory passenger safety briefing in the ship's theater, Bryan and his wife, Erika, sat in the seats right in front of us! I recognized them immediately, greeted them enthusiastically, and let them know that they were the reason that I was on this cruise.
Brian White's wife, Erika, with two fans at one of the meet-and-greet events
You might be surprised to hear that the highlight of the cruise, for me, was not either of the concerts, or chatting with Bryan or Collin... it was chatting with Bryan's wife, actress Erika Page White. We talked for ten minutes or so, after the second concert, while Bryan was busy signing autographs. She's enthusiastic, entertaining, and it doesn't hurt that she's drop-dead gorgeous! I would have loved to have had an hour to sit and chat with her. If you're wondering where you might know her from... she played the role of Roseanne Delgado in the soap opera "One Life To Live" for several years, and later the role of Dr. Amber Kress on "Days Of Our Lives". She has also had smaller parts in numerous television shows and television movies. More recently, in 2014, you might have seen her as herself on the TNT network show, "Private Lives Of Nashville Wives". These days, she's busy raising two boys with Bryan, and not doing any acting gigs... but I bet after the boys grow up and move out of the house, Erika will get back in to acting.
Going in to this cruise, I considered myself more of a Bryan White fan than a Collin Raye fan. I had seen Bryan in concert here in California in 1998, at the height of his popularity... and he put on a great show! I've been listening to his 1990's hits ever since, on my MP3 player, in my car, and in my office. Regarding Collin Raye... while I was certainly familiar with his music -- a string of big hits in the 1990s -- I had never seen him in concert. As far as I was concerned, I was on this fan cruise as a fan of Bryan's, and Collin was just a nice bonus.
But by the end of the cruise, Collin really won me over! He totally enjoyed being on the cruise with his fans, and you could tell he genuinely enjoyed meeting people and chatting with them. There was a sense of fun to everything he did. He was totally charming both on stage and off! And what really impressed me most was how well his voice still sounded twenty years after the peak of his career. If he comes to California sometime in the next few years, I will definitely go to one of his shows!
If you're a fan of Bryan or Collin, you might enjoy hearing a couple of full length-songs from their concerts on Norwegian Getaway. Let's start with one of Collin's biggest hits, "Love Me":
Of course, I loved hearing Collin sing his hit songs during the concerts, but I also got a kick out of hearing him do a few cover versions of other people's songs. My favorite was a cover of the old Don McLean song, "And I Love You So":
And here's the full-length version of Bryan White's song "God Gave Me You", which unexpectedly became a huge hit in the Philippines in 2015, sixteen years after Bryan first released it, after it was featured in a popular television show there...
Something I'll probably never forget is the night that Collin Raye decided to drop in on a karaoke event on the ship! It was really funny to see him cut loose and show the world his inner rock star, with a high-energy performance of the hard rock song that Queen made popular in 1976, "Tie Your Mother Down"...
Four Extended-Length Videos
That 25-minute video I showed you earlier had all the highlights of the cruise, but there were some things I only briefly showed you in that video which actually I'd like to show you in a little more detail. For example, the "humans in hamster balls" on Roatan island... I've got a two-minute video of just those girls falling down over and over again, which I think is hilarious! I added music and sound effects to make it even funnier, too. Here it is:
I've also got a three-and-a-half minute video of
people having fun on those waterslides where the floor drops out from under them:
The full version of that time-lapse video of our beautiful sailaway from the Port of Miami,
with Allure Of The Seas leading the way, is three minutes long. Take a look:
And in this next video, I give you a more complete tour of our Haven Spa Suite:
Some Still Photos
While I mostly shot video during the cruise, I did shoot a few still photos that I'd like to share with you...
The iconic lighthouse on Harvest Caye actually functions as a waypoint for several of the zip lines
In one of my videos, I mentioned the incredible amount of loungers on Harvest Caye.
The video didn't even come close to showing the full extent of it.
Here are a bunch of them not far from the big swimming pool...
I could see how these lockers on Harvest Caye would be very useful,
if you want to go swimming and don't want to worry about your stuff.
Here's a map of Harvest Caye...
If you'd like to download a higher resolution of the map, click here
Jimmy Buffett fans will enjoy his restaurant on Harvest Caye...
Not surprisingly, they play a lot of Jimmy Buffett music there!
The seats in the comedy club have no padding at all and are incredibly uncomfortable!
During one show, I joked with Kellyn that we should have brought pillows from our suite.
Incredibly, at a later show, we actually saw someone who did it!
For several years now, I've been getting recognized on cruise ships... thanks to my YouTube videos and Internet cruise reviews. Usually people will stop me and ask me if I'm Jim Zim, or if I'm busy with a camera they will ask Kellyn. A few months ago, on our Panama Canal cruise, I got recognized before we even got onboard the ship... and about 7 or 8 more times during the duration of the cruise. But during this cruise on Norwegian Getaway, it went to a new level. Two different groups of people stopped me and asked to take selfies with me!
These people were so friendly and interesting to talk to that I ended up emailing them
the dates for all of my future cruises in hopes that they might be able to join us for one!
The big Christmas tree across the street from our hotel in Miami...
There was something about the contrast of the tree and the high-rise buildings that I found interesting!
A New Airplane Time-Lapse Technique
I always enjoy flying to and from our cruises... and as a videographer, it's a challenge to capture the beauty of it in a video. I'm still experimenting with different techniques and learning things by doing them. On the way home from this cruise, I wanted to get time-lapse videos of the plane landing taking off and landing. I tried a technique I had never used in an airplane before. I used removable 3M command strips to attach a GoPro to the window next to my seat:
One of the stewardesses got a little concerned when she saw something attached to the window, since she had never seen anyone do that before! She checked with the pilot to see if he had any problem with it, and he did not. So, I got to shoot some time-lapse video from the plane, and I really like the way the video of this landing at the airport in Phoenix turned out:
Speaking of flying, I just have to say what a pleasure it was for us to fly out of California in our favorite type of airplane... a Boeing 787 Dreamliner!
Those big seats in first class, which can fully recline, are pretty darned great!
Here are a few files I brought back from my cruise, that you might want to download and look at:
All 7 Freestyle Daily Newsletters (Big high resolution scan, 24 megabytes)
List of all the shore excursions offered, including prices
A Simplified Map Of The Norwegian Getaway
NCL Fleetwide Dining Guide
NCL Fleet Facts
Need A Travel Agent?
Booking a cruise can be confusing, especially if you haven't been on many cruises before. There are lots of first-time cruiser mistakes that a travel agent can keep you from making.
If you're interested in booking a cruise with any cruise line... please feel free to use the services of my travel agent, Caitlin Gallagher. She's extremely pleasant to deal with, easy to talk to since she lives in the United States and speaks without any kind of an accent, and quite experienced and knowledgeable about different types of cruising. Caitlin is the owner of Ambren Travel. Visit her web site, check out the Ambren Travel Facebook page, or contact her using the information below.
The Cruise Ships We've Been On
If you've enjoyed this page, you would probably also enjoy reading my web pages about:
May 2018 Panama Canal cruise on the Norwegian Bliss
January 2018 cruise on MSC Seaside in a suite with a private Jacuzzi
September 2017 Carnival Vista cruise in a Havana Suite
October 2017 Norwegian Sky cruise in the owner's suite
The $1600 per night owners suite: January 2017 Norwegian Pearl
An Un-crowded Small Ship Experience: Viking Star
One Of The Best Waterslides At Sea: Liberty Of The Seas
Quite Possibly The Best Cruise Ship In The World: Anthem Of The Seas
January 2017 Allure Of The Seas
One of the best cruise ships we've ever experienced: The Norwegian Escape
2015 Carnival Breeze back-to-back cruises
Back-to-back cruises on Independence Of The Seas
World's largest cruise ship: Allure Of The Seas
2015 Carnival Freedom repositioning cruise
Our first VIP cruise in The Haven: The Norwegian Getaway
Our June 2014 Alaska cruisetour with Princess
Our first cruise with Princess! January 2014 Sapphire Princess
2014 back-to-back eastern/western Caribbean cruises on the Carnival Glory
The completely refurbished Carnival Sunshine
One of Carnival's best ships, the Carnival Breeze
A sister ship to the Breeze, the Carnival Magic
Our 2013 cruise on the Carnival Conquest
One of the oldest ships in the fleet, the Carnival Inspiration
Our first Caribbean cruise: the Carnival Glory
Our many cruises on the Carnival Spirit
Our February 2010 cruise on the Carnival Splendor
Our January 2008 cruise on the Carnival Elation
Our April 2008 cruise on the Norwegian Star
Our first cruise! 1996 on Carnival Cruise Line's MS Holiday
Click here to see the complete chronology of all the cruises we've ever taken.
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