Norwegian Getaway - ULTIMATE GETAWAY, pt I

Okay, so the trip started with a small panic attack.  At 3:05 (I was planning on leaving the house around 4), I get a text that my flight to San Francisco has been cancelled.  I immediately got online to try to figure out an alternative.  Unable to do so, I got on the phone with United.  During the call, the United rep figured out that, in fact, they had replaced my plane with another and changed the flight number, and I already had a confirmed reservation on that flight.  So, all that adrenaline was for naught.
But I decided I best hightail it to the airport in case anything else happened.  So, off I went on the beginning of my Ultimate Getaway.  As it turns out, my flight left right on time, got me to SFO and there, a bit of magic happened.  I was sitting close to the gate waiting for my flight to Philadelphia and heard a lady talking to the gate agent about wanting to trade her window seat for an aisle.  I had an aisle seat, but since I planned on sleeping my way to PHL, I wasn't really emotionally invested in the seat I had.  So I offered to trade seats with her.  Turns out she didn't just have *a* window seat...but THE window seat...exit row, with about 4 feet of leg room. So, SCORE!  Quite comfy, I stretched out and dozed my way to The City of Brotherly Love, home of Liberty Hall and the Constitution, and some really ferocious early morning traffic.  After a smooth landing I spent the next couple hours getting test updates of the progress of I95 from my friend Alyona, as she inched her way to the airport to rescue me.
Finally managed to get there and we turned around to do it again, this time heading away from town in fairly light traffic, heading to Fieldsboro, NJ to pick up another friend, the awesome Ms. Crickett.  Managed that, and, with a brief stop at WaWa for some coffee, we tooled northish to Manhattan and our date with the Norwegian Getaway. 
One of the upsides of being late is we missed the morning rush to board, and when we finally got to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal we danced right on the ship, took a quick run to the room and headed to lunch to meet up with a few more friends.  Lunch was at Savor.  They have a few new things on the menu.  One of them is a chicken Pho.  All things considered it was very good.  Not what you might find in Orange County or Houston, but a creditable job just the same.  Paired that with a nice open faced omellete with mushroom and arugula.  I was joined at lunch by Alyona and Crickett with her friend Andy, another agent Lisa and her friend Carmen a guitar player I knew from Roadside Louie on the EPIC a couple years ago.  And during the meal we had a few drive bys from various travel agents, Norwegian employees and other friends I've made in my years in the biz.
After lunch we did a whirlwind tour of the ship, mostly noting where she differs from her sister, the Breakaway.  The most notable is the Illusionarium, and the Grammy Experience.  Honestly, I was not impressed with the Grammy Experience when we walked around.  The walls are adorned with instruments and costumes and other memorabilia of famous musicians.  Not all that awesome...but later in the night when we went in to watch Nestor Torres perform, it all seemed cooler somehow.  Anyway, so we also checked out some of the show cabins, mostly in the Haven, and got a few pictures.
I should probably tell you about my cabin.  It is, in a word, PERFECT for families.  The Family Oceanview his pretty big, at 230 something square feet with a large bathroom with tub, closet, double bed, another small closet and then a most comfortable couch, and a pullman bed up above.  There is a curtain to divide the double bed in the middle from the couch (which makes a double bed) and pullman.  So, a little privacy for mom and dad.  While it lacks a balcony, it does have a nice picture window.  And whoever decided to put that extra closet there is a genius.
Anyway, back to the story.  Muster drill, then another little while spent wandering the ship, checking out the spa and even the pool deck (though that was a rush job given the temperature, and down to get ready for dinner. 
We had a table at La Cucina.  Just as we sat down, the ship pulled away from the dock and headed down the Hudson.  I have to say, when I heard we were not leaving New York til 8pm, I was a little bummed.  I love the sailaway from here.  Watching as we go past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on our way to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge is about my favorite.  ON THE OTHER HAND, I have never sailed away at night.  And we were on the other side of the ship, at a table by the windows.  The sailawyay with Manhattan all lit up turns out to be cooler than I would have thought.  So that was cool.
Dinner at La Cucina was Insalata Caprese with the best, freshest mozzarella I've had in a minute, a nice plate of carpaccio and for the entree, since I just couldn't decide, a 14oz ribeye steak AND shrimp rissotto (don't judge me).  The steak was perfect, tender, cooked nice and rare and with a nice garlicy butter slathered on.  The risotto was also very nice with a half dozen large shrimps onboard, though the cook leaned on the salt a bit much.  Just a personal thing.  Oh, and the bread!  Between 7 of us at the table, we sent them back 3 or maybe 4 times for more bread and those lovely flavored olive oils.  Along with me and Alyona and Crickett and Andy, we were joined by my partner Micele, her daughter Morgan and Karolyn from Norwegian.  A nice bunch.  We discussed all the skyscrapers in Manhattan, Mo and Michele's shopping and food adventures of the day before, dogs, kids, cruise ships, etc.  I have to say a large party of talkers sitting at a round table with good Italian food is a lovely way to spend an evening.
We talked about trying to get in to see Legally Blonde, but by the time dessert came around it was showtime, and we were just having too much fun.  So we took a pass on that.  Finally left the restaurant and looked around for something to do.  No deck parties on this 27 degree night, but we did happen by the Grammy Experience just as Nestor Torres was killing it with his flute.  So we stopped in, and ended up staying the rest of the night.  I know flute is not the first instrument that comes to mind when you think great jazz or Latin or, frankly, any music.  But the dude really does jam with it.  It occured to me while watching him that Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull is probalby the only other flautist I can name, right off the top of my head.  Nestor was awesome, though, mixing styles and sounds.  And his back up, while "just" some of the guys from the ships show band were excellent musicians who really seemed to be enjoying the high energy music.  And as I said before, the whole room there of the Grammy Experience was different and very cool with live music and a crowd in the room.  While we were there Jeff Hobson, the magician responsible for the Illusionarium idea stopped by and we spoke briefly.  Also Kevin Sheehan stopped in for a few minutes, and seemed relieved at the positive feedback on the Grammy Experience.
Anyway, after Mr. Torres concluded his performance we peeked into Bliss which was drunk-white-girl-central by this time.  Decided to leave before any of them fell down ON me.  It's fun to watch them fall, but not so much when you're at the bottom of the dog pile, knowwhatimean?  Also checked out Howl at the Moon for a few minutes, but frankly, it was late, and we'd both been going since early, so down to the room to call it a day.
Tomorrow will be filled with meetings and seminars and such, but I am sure I'll find time for a little fun...
I'll let you know...

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