You might have seen her while driving along the MacArthur Causeway. She's the gigantic ship with the colorful mermaid, designed by Miami artist Lebo, dancing on her hull.
That's Norwegian's newest cruise ship, the Getaway. The massive, 145,655-ton vessel can accommodate nearly 4,000 passengers on its weekly sailings from the Port of Miami. It boasts an on-board water park, performances of Broadway shows, a Grammy museum complete with music memorabilia (including Whitney Houston's dress), and a dinner theater-in-the-round. Of course, there's plenty of food -- nearly 30 dining options, to be more specific.
In addition to the standard buffet fare and frozen "sail-away" drinks, the Getaway offers innovative dining and mixology programs. Celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian has partnered with Norwegian to present Ocean Blue, a fine-dining restaurant, as well as a raw bar, sushi bar, and takeaway casual "seafood shack." There's also an outpost of Carlo's Bakery -- Cake Boss star Buddy Valastro's Hoboken baked-goods emporium -- as well as an authentic ice bar where the temperature is a frigid 17 degrees Fahrenheit (parkas and gloves are provided in case you didn't pack them with your swimsuit and resort wear).
Also notable is the fleet's commitment to serving quality cocktails aboard its ships. For those of you who still want a yellow bird or piña colada by the pool, don't worry -- they're still there. But other bars on the ship will now feature cocktails by Miami's own Bar Lab.
Bar Lab's Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi were tasked with the challenge of designing a cocktail program that reflects all of Norwegian's ports of call and using local spirits and ingredients whenever possible. The result is a collection of about five cocktails: Bermuda, Caribbean, Hawaii, Europe, and Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
We were invited to board the ship to try some of the cocktails, hand-crafted by the Broken Shaker's Randal Perez and Orta, before having lunch at Zakarian's Ocean Blue. Here's what we enjoyed.
The Broken Shaker's Randal Perez mixes one of the cocktails featured on Alaska voyages, made with Hendrick's gin, mint, lime, and sugar.
Visitors to the Hawaiian isles will enjoy a cocktail made with Kona beer, Whaler's rum, ginger, and lime.
The breakaway mai tai, featured on Bermuda sailings, highlights the island's Gosling's rum. This traditional tiki drink is made with almond syrup, orgeat, and cinnamon.
Miamians cruising on Caribbean sailings will enjoy the spicy piña punch. Caribbean rum is mixed with pineapple and a kiss of jalapeño for a cool, sweet, and spicy sensation.
Norwegian ships sailing to Europe will feature the French old-fashioned. Orta explains that every bar should have a good old-fashioned on its menu. This one is made with Hennessy, orange peel, and two kinds of bitters.
All cocktails cost about $8. A shipboard cocktail program is $49.95 per day and offers unlimited drinks, including many wines by the glass and beer.
Celebrity chef Zakarian has his mark all over Ocean Blue, the ship's luxury dining room. With rich wood paneling, leather banquettes, and a killer view of the sea, the space is as elegant as the chef who spearheaded its concept. The restaurant's seafood-centric menu is an additional $49 per person for a three-course dinner. Zakarian's favorite cocktails, such as Hemingway daiquiris and Moscow mules, are also offered.
Grilled prawn panzanella is paired with heirloom tomatoes.
Beef tartare with mustard dressing and house-made chips.
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Risotto of Jonah crab with mushrooms.
Black sea bass with basil seed vinaigrette.