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Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Breakaway

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
  • Service

  • Food

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  • Value

Aug 17, 2016

Bahamas

We were looking forward to this first cruise with our three grandchildren, son and daughter in law, neice and husband and her two teenagers. My husband and I have cruised many times on several lines, but the Breakaway seemed to have everything for kids. I am so disappointed in this ship (not NCL in general.) Too many people and all public spaces crammed together! Our mini suite was much smaller than most balcony staterooms on other ships. Our

grandson was in our room and you could barely squeeze past the bed to get to the balcony. The larger bathroom and shower made the mini-suite worthwhile. Service was excellent and the entire staff friendly and efficient. No complaints there. The weather coming out of NY in March was freezing, so everyone was forced inside for half the cruise. Hard to even find a spot to sit, let alone 11 people. Getting off the ship at Port Canaveral was a nightmare...all 6,00 wanting off at same time! Shore excursion in Nassau disorganized and frustrating. The food was very good, and we were always able to get a table together, or two side by side. Had a wonderful, memorable evening in the Hibachi restaurant. Loved having two smaller no cover restaurants for breakfast and lunch. Room service, which my grandson used to the max, was fast and good. As stated above, our stateroom was just too small...it's how they get all of those people aboard. Our attendant was great and did a wonderful job. Onboard activities OK. Due to weather, I'm sure we missed out on lots of outdoor activities. We didn't get to the private cay at all, something we were all looking forward to, but I understand that safety must take priority and the surf was rough. Played a lot of trivia and the activities staff made it fun. The swim with Dolphins was wonderful, however the process of finding our correct excursion and getting bracelets was a total zoo. Only 4 of our 11 participated and the rest paid to be on the beach observing. One poor girl trying to check us in ( outside on the pier) with constant interruptions from people trying to find their excursion. Really needs to be better organized. All in all, our family had a good time, grateful to be able to do this together. I was just very disappointed in the layout...no quiet out of the way spaces that I always find on other ships. All the bars were like New York City bars...few seats, always taken, and standing room only in the evening. We just gave up and went to bed. As noted in other reviews, you must have a reservation to see the shows, and show up very early to get a good seat. They charge for many things, slowly nickeling and diming you to death. Instead of a cover charge at specialty restaurants, they have changed to a la cart pricing, driving the cost way up. I didn't complain much, because it was my neice and family's first ever cruise, and I wanted them to love cruising like we do. Any future spring break cruises will be from a warm weather port!

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Aug 17, 2016

Bahamas

We were looking forward to this first cruise with our three grandchildren, son and daughter in law, neice and husband and her two teenagers. My husband and I have cruised many times on several lines, but the Breakaway seemed to have everything for kids. I am so disappointed in this ship (not NCL in general.) Too many people and all public spaces crammed together! Our mini suite was much smaller than most balcony staterooms on other ships. Our

grandson was in our room and you could barely squeeze past the bed to get to the balcony. The larger bathroom and shower made the mini-suite worthwhile. Service was excellent and the entire staff friendly and efficient. No complaints there. The weather coming out of NY in March was freezing, so everyone was forced inside for half the cruise. Hard to even find a spot to sit, let alone 11 people. Getting off the ship at Port Canaveral was a nightmare...all 6,00 wanting off at same time! Shore excursion in Nassau disorganized and frustrating. The food was very good, and we were always able to get a table together, or two side by side. Had a wonderful, memorable evening in the Hibachi restaurant. Loved having two smaller no cover restaurants for breakfast and lunch. Room service, which my grandson used to the max, was fast and good. As stated above, our stateroom was just too small...it's how they get all of those people aboard. Our attendant was great and did a wonderful job. Onboard activities OK. Due to weather, I'm sure we missed out on lots of outdoor activities. We didn't get to the private cay at all, something we were all looking forward to, but I understand that safety must take priority and the surf was rough. Played a lot of trivia and the activities staff made it fun. The swim with Dolphins was wonderful, however the process of finding our correct excursion and getting bracelets was a total zoo. Only 4 of our 11 participated and the rest paid to be on the beach observing. One poor girl trying to check us in ( outside on the pier) with constant interruptions from people trying to find their excursion. Really needs to be better organized. All in all, our family had a good time, grateful to be able to do this together. I was just very disappointed in the layout...no quiet out of the way spaces that I always find on other ships. All the bars were like New York City bars...few seats, always taken, and standing room only in the evening. We just gave up and went to bed. As noted in other reviews, you must have a reservation to see the shows, and show up very early to get a good seat. They charge for many things, slowly nickeling and diming you to death. Instead of a cover charge at specialty restaurants, they have changed to a la cart pricing, driving the cost way up. I didn't complain much, because it was my neice and family's first ever cruise, and I wanted them to love cruising like we do. Any future spring break cruises will be from a warm weather port!

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Mar 6, 2016

Bahamas

This was our second NCL cruise ( 7 overall ) and will be our last. We enjoyed the staff and the food, which were both outstanding, but didn't enjoy common areas that were way to small given 4,600 people are onboard together every night. Example: the piano bar has 25 seats, one of the other entertainment venues had a singing duo, but had only 200 seats. Another area where there was entertainment was by the atrium customer center, but only 12 people

could fit on the dance floor. Most of the room onboard went to the 23 bars and large restaurants. If your into drinking and eating, you'll be in heaven. 23 bars and more than enough restaurants to choose from. I do credit the wait staff for fabulous meals and very little, if any, wait time at the main dining halls. The specialty restaurants had great selections, but the main dining rooms did as well. There is actually no need to go to pay extra for meals that you get in the main dining areas. You can purchase Surf & Turf at any main dining room for $19.99. There is the buffet that's always stocked and a free burger bar one level up from the deck 15 buffet. Be aware that there is 8 upcharge restaurants onboard. We had a mini-suite which was the same size as a balcony room, but with a bigger bathroom. If you don't need the extra room for combined $300.00 extra, book the balcony. There is a small fridge mini-bar, but you can put some of your own items in it. The shows were great, but you need to get there at least 30 minutes early, as there may be 700-800 seats, but 4,600 people on board. The dancers were fabulous. We did our own local excursions in Port Canaveral and Bahamas, both had good weather. This was our first and only " Supership " cruise, as we grew tired of the mass of humanity every time we wanted to do something. The staff were outstanding and the food in both main dining and specialty venues was great. The only turnoff was the too small common areas.

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Oct 21, 2015

Bermuda

First of all it was a beautiful ship. I, however, would recommend sailing without children. On the positive side, Ina in excursions and Leo who serviced our floor were excellent. In fact, I cannot fault any of the service staff at all. They were all very friendly and cheerful throughout our stay. I do feel Ina and Leo went above and beyond to make our stay a nice one. We booked two rooms for a family of four. Our two boys were 13 and 15. As

far as swimming on board you can forget it. I understand the concept of not letting kids go into deeper water because of a recent tragedy in which a child died, but instead of training the staff who are poolside to be lifeguards, they just didn't let my kids in at all. They did have one kiddie pool area which was quite small and adorned with Dora and spongebob characters. Show me one tween/teen who is content with swimming with the infants and toddlers in this environment. So pool activities were out for us. I probably would not even be as upset as I was except for the fact that Norwegian also charged us adult prices for everything even though for some purposes they were not allowed since they were children. In addition, we had a few issues with our room being overcharged and if there is a problem with anything on board, you would think you could go to the main guest services desk to have your issue resolved. THIS IS NOT SO! We had to go to each department separately to resolve our issues. And not every department has someone to help you all the time. For example, for an overbooking on a show I was told to come back 3 different times before I finally put my foot down and demanded to speak to someone. Why was I planning my vacation time around them?? I would not consider it all inclusive either, there were many "extras" to consider. I guess they figure that by the end of it all, Whats a couple hundred more and that if it is hard enough to resolve an issue then maybe the passenger will just pay the overcharge? Bermuda was amazing, next time I will skip the ship. The food was average. The specialty restaurants a little better than the rest, but nothing special for the extra price. The best dessert on board was the ice cream machine in the buffet. Clean and adequate cabin. Nothing more than that. Not enough suitable activities for the tween age group. Activites in Bermuda are cheaper and just as adequate when planning on your own.

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By LT0502

  • New

Jul 26, 2015

DISGRUNTLED STAFF, TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE

I just returned from a 7 day sail to Bermuda out of NY. Our group of 21 people all experienced the same incredibly rude and unprofessional staff on this ship. If there are 1,640 crew members, I'd estimate 60 of them did their jobs well or at least had a smile on their faces. These people made our trip miserable and we'll never sail on NCL ever again. It was so bad that we often took trips over to Guest Services (because no one ever picked up the

phone), which was of no help. They were dismissive, rude, and unhelpful as they tried to get through the line of people that were always there complaining about something. They brushed off complaints without so much as an apology. They told one guy, who was trying to get a lost and found item, to watch his tone of voice and get in the back of the line. It was as though customer service was never a part of their training or that we were inconveniencing them by choosing their ship. I don't know if it was the end of their tour or it was the final leg of their season, but everyone was just over it. One of the photographers, KARA, was so inappropriately rude for no reason at all. She just happened to be in a bad mood when we took our family photo and refused to help organize or direct the shoot. She yelled at our 5 year old niece for having a clutch purse (which was about 6 inches long) and told her she couldn't hold it because there was no room (there was plenty of room and a clutch would not have taken up any space). She just stood there with an attitude and kept yelling to move but did not direct her barking orders at anyone in particular. She threatened to call security after my husband got upset with her for being out of line when he walked away from the photo shoot. She yelled at him and kept talking back and told us we 'can take a picture of her name tag if we'd like' after we asked her why she was being so rude and that we'll talk to our friends at Guest Services. She cut off two of our bodies in the photo and absolutely could have put in the effort to make the picture come out nicely. She was so nasty. We had suites on the 9th floor and spent a week long vacation without the ability to sleep as the Fat Cats jazz club was directly below our rooms on floor 8 and had music blaring until 1am 5 nights of the cruise with ZERO soundproofing between their ceiling and our floor. We heard everything... the bass was so high we were able to feel the room thumping. It was so loud we were able to hear the lyrics of the songs and the crowds singing along and clapping in our rooms. It took 5 different family members and 3 nights of complaining for Guest Services to even attempt to recognize our issue. The first time my husband went to Guest Services he explained that we have kids who can't sleep and they said "give it a few nights". Excuse me, but I get off the ship in "a few nights". Real thoughtful. This cannot be the only time people on the 9th floor complained about this. It was just ridiculously loud and the staff had no interest in even attempting to solve the noise issue with the club and counted on the fact that we'd be gone in a few days. The wait staff was completely disorganized and slow, the bar staff was unresponsive and distracted, often leaving guests waiting for 10 minutes to order a drink. During dinner, our large group was always split up to two tables (which was fine) but most nights one table would finish their appetizers before the other was able to even order their food. At Teppenyaki, we were the first table to sit in the restaurant and the last to get any service. We sat there for 15 minutes before anyone greeted us, about another 15 minutes for drinks to arrive, and we were definitely the last to eat. Some restaurants were so unorganized, we had several waiters trying to take our food and drink orders and we never knew who our actual waiter was. Often times we had to remind them someone else took our orders. The food was good in the restaurants we had to pay for, but was nothing special in the buffet or freestyle locations. The pools were small and overcrowded, you literally have to sit thigh to thigh with strangers to get any action in the water. One pool for nearly 5000 people. Witnessed several fist fights as well with almost no reaction from the staff. These happened in front of children both day and night. If you do book this hell-ship for your next vacation, try to avoid interacting with the staff, eating, drinking, and trying to sleep and maybe you'll enjoy yourself.

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Nov 24, 2014

Bahamas

Sailed in the Breakaway out of New York to the Bahamas. Due to rain the stop at Ncl's private island was cancelled. Instead we arrived in Nassau in the early evening the night before we were due to be there. It was explained that the sea was too stormy for guests to use their tenders to get to the island. However the entertainment they currently have aboard made up for the off and on rain and lower than usual temperatures. In fact an unadvertised

group called Fire and Ice performed regularly in the Atrium and they were awesome. During most of their perfomances they received standing ovations! This made seating in the Atruim very competive. The other groups appearing in the other venues were also good. The other highlighted shows also performed well as expected. In summary the entertainment far exceeded my expectations. The crew were always pleasant and went out of their way to be helpful. I also sailed on this ship in June and it is clear that the Breakaway is striving for perfection! The food was tasty, However the variety in the main dining rooms and the Garden Cafe could be improved upon. They should also improve on their serving times. On a couple of occasions it bordered on the ridiculous. Give yourself plenty of time to eat before shows. Also ate at Moderno. The food was very good and the service excellent. Had an Aft balcony and the location was excellent. I was directly under the casino and directly over the Garden Cafe. More free activities wouldn't hurt. Didn't do any excursions this time. I brought my mother on this cruise to celebrate her 80th birthday. She told me that this was one of her best cruises and she is a platinum member on a rival cruise line. We have also cruised other lines as well.

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Jun 17, 2014

NY to Bahamas

Over the years, my husband has been a little hesitant on cruising, saying that the "first big boat ride" didn't turn out too well for our ancestors (LOL!) so this was our Family's first. Wow! and Wow! It was awesome! This ship cruises out of NY we live in NJ (no flying), and its a new ship, these are the main reasons we booked it. Since it departs out of NY please, please, please bring jackets & fall clothing or at least a hoody, especially if

you're departing in the Fall. Once you leave the cruise terminal, you're literally in traffic on 12th Avenue. We were freezing! The Haven had its own restaurant, pool, lounge, bar, and sunning area only accessible by Haven 'dwellers" for lack of a better term. Upon arrival, while awaiting room assignment, we were served sliders & fries (yum, yum). The food, service & drinks in the Haven restaurant were excellent. The boneless Beef Ribs unbelievable especially since as non-pork eaters we were surprised that the ship would have such a treat. The only issue is that the menu got old. After a few days, we needed some diversity so we wandered to the other restaurants which were equally good. The café had pound cake out of this world, grilled fish and something for everyone! One daughter caused a ship wide ice cream shortage while the other is responsible for the pasta shortage. One night I didn't feel well so I stayed in my cabin and ordered a corn beef sandwich w/fries and an arugula salad and I was highly satisfied. We ate in the Italian specialty restaurant one night and it was way too much food, but whose complaining? We were very blessed to have been upgraded to a 2 bed, 2 bath concierge level family suite called "The Haven" which was perfect. We live in a good deal of space at home and usually share a hotel room or suite with our daughters aged 16 and 10, but for 7 days, a family of 4 can go to blows in a tiny cabin. Our room was modern, spacious and the master bathroom had a jetted tub, with floor to ceiling windows, jetted tub, double sink and heated floors. Bdrm#1 had a king sized bed, Bdrm#2 had bunk beds and its own bath. The living/dining area was pretty large with coffee maker, fridge etc. Our states room had 3 televisions -- not that anyone watched them. Overall, the suite although clean was a tad dusty which gave me the impression that it had not been used prior to our stay -- overall I am not complaining. At the time of our sailing, the ship was fairly new having made its maiden voyage I think April of 2014. They were ok, the wall climbing was close as well as something else my girls wanted to do, No biggy there was plenty to do. The Fire and Ice show was great! They work really hard. The casino was very smoky, so we did not use the bowling alley since it was very near by. We did not leave the ship for sunning at Great Stirrup Bay. The water was too choppy for the tenders to take us over. I was disappointed, but what can you say, safety first. We did not the Kennedy Space Center, shop in Orlando, or go to Disney while there. We just didn't feel like all the rushing back and forth and it was very expensive. We did get off the ship for Nassau and snorkeled. Those waters were choppy too. But the girls loved it. We decided to revisit Nassau this year to really check out the Island and Atlantis on our own. We didn't think it was worth limited time and money to visit it for a few hours. Atlantis here we come! It was awesome! We were contacted 1 week before our departure date concerning an upgrade to The Haven. It was worth every cent! We were very blessed to have been upgraded to a 2 bed, 2 bath concierge level family suite. What can I say -- Wow! and Wow! -- It was awesome! With my husband prior hesitancy on cruising, I must say our first cruise isn't our last. BTW: we met the captain -- who looks like a regular old accountant (lol) at a special cocktail party for guests staying in the Haven. All was pleased.

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Mar 16, 2014

port canaveral nassau bahamas

There could not possibly be a better staff anywhere in the world than what is on there until July 3 2014. I cannot put into words how absolutely amazing the entire experience was. We were first time cruisers, and decided that we will do this again and will only go with Norwegian. The initial boarding was a little wonky because they had internet issues, nothing that you can do about that. But once we boarded and found our cabin, our luggage beat us

there. Our steward Alex greeted us shortly thereafter. All of our mail was waiting on the desk, the cabin was very neat and clean. We have a handicapped person in our party, and the facilities were so incredible for ease for anyone traveling with a wheelchair. There are no pictures of the cabin, but I assure anyone who is questioning this, there is more than enough ample space. I was actually surprised at how big the cabin really was. The bedding is quite comfortable. We went back out to watch the city go by as we passed the Statue of Liberty and under the bridge. My suggestion is to go to the front of the ship on deck 16 or 17 you feel like you can touch the bridge! The food in the buffet is just that, its food. Do not have your heart set on bacon...that really needs some improvement. The main dining room Manhattan is like a 30's supper club, so nice and peaceful. There is a three piece band playing music, a nice sized dance floor, and elegant lighting. The food was absolutely incredible. The other restaurant on board that really was wonderful was Cagneys steakhouse which boasts elegant lighting, providing wonderful ambiance. This would be a fine place for a newlywed couple to celebrate their union for the first time alone. We also ate at the Brazilian steakhouse, the salad bar was good as were the meats. As for Taste and Savor, just...dont do it. Breakfast is the same throughout the ship, so if you want to go to OSheehan's or the buffet for breakfast, you are doing quite well. Room service will tell you 45 minutes, but they usually get it to you within 30 minutes. Ice cream, everyone was raving about the ice cream throughout the ship. Catch a movie in the main area on deck 6, there is bound to be one that appeals to your group. We got Spiderman on the last night... which for us was perfect! Handicap accessibility is absolutely perfect. The beds are a little high, so be prepared for that transferring could be a little tricky until you get the hang of it. There are call buttons throughout the cabin should you need assistance. The bathroom is set up to ensure safety and ease of use. Once again, I just feel a need to expound on that bathroom, I took pictures and will be redoing my bathroom to match this. There is always something going on, and yet there re places that you can steal away all by yourself. SO many seating options, hint: deck 8...really comfortable couches outside where you can just enjoy the water and skyline. Most were sitting out there quietly reading or just enjoying the view. There are enough places for smokers to go to, thankfully. ( I smoke, but did not want to have anyone getting irritated with me about it, and it was not an issue) Lots of activities for everyone at all times, the only problem is there re so many to choose from and you don't want to miss anything! They send out a little newspaper each day, read it before you go to bed so you can plan accordingly. SO many pictures taken, but the photographers are honestly very very good, I didnt have my signature closed eye thing going on. READ that little newsletter they send to your cabin, it is filled with information for what to expect the following day. This was my sons Make A Wish trip, and we were absolutely stunned by the incredible level of service. There aren't any words to describe how perfect this staff is. I say this as a Mom, and I say this as a well seasoned traveler, you cannot possibly top this. The service is impeccable. If you are lucky, you will get Alex as your room steward. Tipping is optional on Norwegians Freestyle, but I tipped because the level of service was so impeccable. We are already talking about our next cruise as a family. It will be another Norwegian Cruise.

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Mar 16, 2014

port canaveral nassau bahamas

There could not possibly be a better staff anywhere in the world than what is on there until July 3 2014. I cannot put into words how absolutely amazing the entire experience was. We were first time cruisers, and decided that we will do this again and will only go with Norwegian. The initial boarding was a little wonky because they had internet issues, nothing that you can do about that. But once we boarded and found our cabin, our luggage beat us

there. Our steward Alex greeted us shortly thereafter. All of our mail was waiting on the desk, the cabin was very neat and clean. We have a handicapped person in our party, and the facilities were so incredible for ease for anyone traveling with a wheelchair. There are no pictures of the cabin, but I assure anyone who is questioning this, there is more than enough ample space. I was actually surprised at how big the cabin really was. The bedding is quite comfortable. We went back out to watch the city go by as we passed the Statue of Liberty and under the bridge. My suggestion is to go to the front of the ship on deck 16 or 17 you feel like you can touch the bridge! The food in the buffet is just that, its food. Do not have your heart set on bacon...that really needs some improvement. The main dining room Manhattan is like a 30's supper club, so nice and peaceful. There is a three piece band playing music, a nice sized dance floor, and elegant lighting. The food was absolutely incredible. The other restaurant on board that really was wonderful was Cagneys steakhouse which boasts elegant lighting, providing wonderful ambiance. This would be a fine place for a newlywed couple to celebrate their union for the first time alone. We also ate at the Brazilian steakhouse, the salad bar was good as were the meats. As for Taste and Savor, just...dont do it. Breakfast is the same throughout the ship, so if you want to go to OSheehan's or the buffet for breakfast, you are doing quite well. Room service will tell you 45 minutes, but they usually get it to you within 30 minutes. Ice cream, everyone was raving about the ice cream throughout the ship. Catch a movie in the main area on deck 6, there is bound to be one that appeals to your group. We got Spiderman on the last night... which for us was perfect! Handicap accessibility is absolutely perfect. The beds are a little high, so be prepared for that transferring could be a little tricky until you get the hang of it. There are call buttons throughout the cabin should you need assistance. The bathroom is set up to ensure safety and ease of use. Once again, I just feel a need to expound on that bathroom, I took pictures and will be redoing my bathroom to match this. There is always something going on, and yet there re places that you can steal away all by yourself. SO many seating options, hint: deck 8...really comfortable couches outside where you can just enjoy the water and skyline. Most were sitting out there quietly reading or just enjoying the view. There are enough places for smokers to go to, thankfully. ( I smoke, but did not want to have anyone getting irritated with me about it, and it was not an issue) Lots of activities for everyone at all times, the only problem is there re so many to choose from and you don't want to miss anything! They send out a little newspaper each day, read it before you go to bed so you can plan accordingly. SO many pictures taken, but the photographers are honestly very very good, I didnt have my signature closed eye thing going on. READ that little newsletter they send to your cabin, it is filled with information for what to expect the following day. This was my sons Make A Wish trip, and we were absolutely stunned by the incredible level of service. There aren't any words to describe how perfect this staff is. I say this as a Mom, and I say this as a well seasoned traveler, you cannot possibly top this. The service is impeccable. If you are lucky, you will get Alex as your room steward. Tipping is optional on Norwegians Freestyle, but I tipped because the level of service was so impeccable. We are already talking about our next cruise as a family. It will be another Norwegian Cruise.

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Feb 10, 2014

Bahamas

I've been writing this review in my head since the moment I stepped on to Norwegian Breakaway on Feb. 2, and, over the last week, I've realized there's no way I can make this review sound like I wasn't paid off by NCL. (I wasn't, I swear.) I know there are some cruisers who like to hear about every minute detail as they plan their trips, and others who just prefer the bottom line. So for the latter, here it is: This was unequivocally the most

incredible, gorgeous, amazing, impressive ship I've ever been on. I could unspool a list of adjectives a mile long and still feel like I didn't do it justice. My only fear is that I'm now so spoiled that no ship will ever be able to match up to the splendor that is the Norwegian Breakaway. For the former: here's plenty of detail, coming at you! BACKGROUND Just for a little background, I'm 33, married, no kids, total cruise junkie. This was cruise #11 for us, #6 on Norwegian. To get an idea of what I'm comparing this cruise to, our previous cruises were on Caribbean Princess, Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas, Carnival Conquest (2x), Carnival Miracle, Norwegian Gem (2x), Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Spirit. NCL is definitely our cruise line of choice. I know some people feel that they're "nickeled and dimed" on NCL, but I see it differently: I regard it as having more options. Yes, there are more restaurants with surcharges, but you don't HAVE to go there. You can have a perfectly delicious meal every night in one of the 2-3 included main dining rooms. Yes, you can pay to have pizza delivered to you wherever you are on the ship … but you can also go get it for free in the buffet. You can pay to attend dinner theater … or you can attend the free shows. You can have just a good of a time by not shelling out an extra penny or you can spend a small fortune. It's up to you. I'm a firm believer that a day on a ship is always better than a day on land, and when I hear people crabbing about little things before we even get on board (as we did this cruise), I really want to just advise them to stay home and crab there instead. ;) Lighten up, people, it's vacation! EMBARKATION What kind of idiots book a cruise out of the area hosting the Super Bowl and don't realize it until about two months before? Yeah, that was us. Oops. We live in Michigan and like to leave out of NYC because (a) we can drive, because I hate flying and (b) the port is so well organized. We usually stay in Secaucus, NJ, leave our car at the hotel for the week and pay for a car to take us from NJ to NYC. Well, with the Super Bowl at the Meadowlands, that plan was clearly not going to work, so we stayed in Mount Laurel, NJ, about two hours away, and had the car take us from there. Despite all of our worries, we hit zero traffic and got to the port very early. Even with the Norwegian Getaway docked alongside of us and rented out by Bud Light as the "Bud Light Hotel" for the Super Bowl which necessitated a few tweaks in the usual embarkation process everything seemed to run very smoothly. We were on board and happily eating lunch at the Garden Cafe by 11:30 a.m. DECOR/LAYOUT The appearance of this ship is beyond comparison. Anyone who's cruised Carnival, NCL, RCCL, etc. is accustomed to the in-your-face style of a lot of cruise ship decor. Sometimes it's fun and whimsical; sometimes it's obnoxious. Breakaway is different. It is, in a word, lovely. Very understated, simple modernity. It's elegant without being stuffy. In general, there's lots of metal, dark wood, clean lines. The main halls and stairs are blue, with seascapes and mirrors on the walls in between decks. The furnishings are comfortable and modern-looking. And, of course, there was plenty of Peter Max, not only on the hull of the ship which was adorned with his signature Statue of Liberty head, planets, birds, musical notes, etc. but also throughout the ship. I love Peter Max, so this was just the cherry on the sundae for me. The layout was extremely efficient on Breakaway. Things were so artfully arranged that there was only one time (when the muster drill let out and everyone went bonkers and rushed into the hallways and elevator lobbies) that I truly felt like I was on a ship with 5,000 other people. The rest of the time, passenger traffic moved well, and there were many times, especially in the mornings, when I felt like I was alone on the ship. If people could just remember that stairways are two-way deals, that would help. STATEROOM We had a spa balcony, 14122 (forward), which had, again, a very understated, calming feel and motif. The room was laid out very efficiently. I'd read a lot of complaints about the size of the balconies, but we found ours sufficient. Does it fit two chairs and a table? Does it face the great outdoors? OK, great, works for me. The bathroom felt like the largest we'd ever had. Lots of shelf space and a shower you could actually turn around in without smashing your face into the wall. There were a lot of neat technological touches in the room. In lieu of the wheel you turned to request service, indicate "do not disturb," etc. on the Gem, the Breakaway has actual tiny lights over the door that you switch on from within your room. Red = do not disturb, green = make up the room. Also, the activation of electricity in the room required your room key, so a white light went on above the door when the room was occupied. PUBLIC SPACES So many pretty public spaces, and all with their own flair! A well-organized cluster of shops; the dark wood, leather and plaid-upholstered chairs of Malting's Beer & Whiskey Bar; the pink, yellow and white theme in Shaker's Martini Bar; the wooden chairs and framed portraits of comedians in Headliners; the purple-hued lighting and exposed brick of Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Bar; the warm hues and images of Italy in La Cucina; every room just felt so distinct. I loved it. My husband, an avid cigar smoker, was relieved that there was a cigar bar, a feature that's been eliminated on some ships and relegated to a hole in the wall on others. I'm always perplexed about why cigar smokers are restricted to this one room, when cigarette smokers have far more options (including the casino). But whatever, he was just happy it existed, and even had a little area outside, directly adjacent, where cigar smoking was permitted. Once place we didn't check out was the Ice Bar, where everything's supposedly made of ice and the room is chilled to 17 degrees. There was a surcharge ($20, I think?), which included a couple of drinks. Though I was curious, since I don't like vodka and I had plenty of ice to last me a lifetime in Michigan this winter, thank you very much, I decided it wasn't worth the cost. SPA/GYM/POOLS/SPORTS If you've never been in the Exotic Thermal Suite on an NCL ship … GO. This is always the highlight of our trip, as we're big fans of just kicking back and reading and relaxing, especially in low-traffic areas. NCL sells passes to this area on each ship, and the number is limited, so you usually have to snag them the first day. It is worth the price. Trust me here. Especially on Breakaway, where the suite was twice the size as other ships. There are rows of plush lounge chairs, heated tile chairs, steam rooms, saunas, a hot tub and a thalassotherapy pool. On Breakaway, there was even a sanarium sauna with higher humidity and a salt bath. The cost would have been $199 per person for the trip, but with the spa balcony, admission was included. Did I mention IT'S WORTH IT? I had a reflexology treatment during the cruise, and it was great. Very relaxing, and they didn't try to sell me a bunch of junk. Fun bonus: Being in a spa balcony, they opened up a "secret door" post-treatment that spit me right back out into my hallway. Fun stuff. I also loved being in close proximity to the gym, adjacent to the spa. There's a nice assortment of treadmills, ellipticals and bikes, plus a separate room across the hallway with weight machines and free weights. There were various classes available, though they seemed pricey compared to Carnival's and I didn't partake this time. I'm a morning gym rat, and I've learned that if you don't just open the door yourself at 6 a.m., you may be waiting all day. So I (and other morning gym rats) did just that, and the workers didn't really protest. Morning gym rats tend to be a punctual sort, and ship gyms: not so much. By 8 a.m., the place was full, so I liked to get it all out of the way at 6 a.m. There were two main adult pools, plus multiple watersides that looked fun but I never got around to trying. There also was a Spongebob Squarepants-themed children's pool. Several hot tubs were staggered throughout the ship, including two in Spice H20, an adults-only section on Deck 16 aft that hosted various parties and, as it was equipped with a giant screen, sometimes showed movies. I liked going out there in the morning, when they'd have "Sunrise Earth"-like feeds of waterfalls and sunrises and such on the screen. I was excited to try the ropes course on board, but it turns out I'm a total wuss. I had fully planned to "walk the plank" a balance beam that extends out over the side of the ship but I found myself a little too nervous, even though you're tethered in. I did wander around (precariously) on the obstacles for a bit and did the zipline, which was a rush! The sports staffers were nice and patient and helped us nervous nellies navigate the bridges and beams. After that, I was ready to try the rock climbing wall, something I've been vowing to do on every ship that has one, but never have. It was really fun and a good workout! FOOD I've loved the food on NCL in the past, and this was no exception. I think NCL has the best buffet of any cruise line, hands down. They have a fantastic salad bar and tons of ethnic and American choices, from pizza and burgers to stir fry and Indian cuisine to fresh carving stations and ice cream you name it. The main dining rooms also are consistently good, with a wide range of choices. On Breakaway, there's the larger, more elaborate dining room, The Manhattan Room, and then two smaller dining rooms, Taste and Savor, which have a slightly different menu than Manhattan Room each night. That was always fun: to pass by in the morning and check out the menus at the different restaurants to see which ones sounded best for that evening. There also is a slew of other options. We went to Moderno Chiarrascurria, the Brazilian steakhouse, on the first night. The servers pass by with different meats, and you place a card green side up or red side up to alert them on whether they should stop at your table or not. They would shave off meat right onto your plate, including chicken, pork, beef, lamb and sausage. I'm not much of a meat person, but I was in heaven because there was an enormous salad bar. Besides traditional assemble-your-own staples like dressing, lettuce, croutons, tomatoes, etc., there was a huge assortment of cheeses and pre-made salads: mushroom salads and ceviche and asparagus with relish and bean salads and it was paradise for a salad pig like me! We also went to Cagney's Steakhouse, where I had awesome lamb chops, mac and cheese and a tasty brownie for dessert, and La Cucina, where I pretty much ate myself sick on bread with various infused olive oils, chicken parmigiana, pizza and tiramisu. In the atrium was Carlo's Bake Shop, an a la carte specialty coffee bar and pastry place that had the most amazing chocolate cannoli I'd ever had, plus really good Americano that was worth the up charge. You could also buy bread, cookies, cupcakes, miniature cheesecakes and tiramisu, and also purchase made-to-order full-sized cakes. O'Sheehan's is the free anytime restaurant that took the place of Blue Lagoon from other NCL ships. It had an Irish pub vibe and rolled in not only dining, but two bowling lanes (tucked away... I don't think some people even knew they were there), air hockey, etc., plus a bar-rimmed overlook to the main atrium a deck below, from which you could watch movies on the big screen. Other food options, which we didn't try, included Ocean Blue, an upscale seafood restaurant (which sounded delicious, but I just couldn't get myself to fork over the $49/person surcharge); Le Bistro, the French restaurant; and Teppanyaki, where Japanese food meets performance art. (We've been on Le Bistro and Teppanyaki on other NCL ships and enjoyed them both.) There were also several smaller a la carte places: the Raw Bar (smaller seafood dishes), Shanghai (noodle bar), Wasabi (sushi bar) and Dolce Gelato (outdoor gelato). One of the cool things about Breakaway was that many of the specialty restaurants had outdoor seating available via "The Waterfront," an area that wrapped around Deck 8 on both sides. Le Bistro also had seating in a smaller atrium that had the feel of a city street but was done, in my opinion, much more efficiently than the promenade concept on RCCL's Explorer of the Seas. You could also order pizza around the clock and have it delivered anywhere on the ship for a $5 fee. Room service was free, as usual except for a $3.95 fee between midnight and 5 a.m., which was something that I'd never seen before but which probably makes sense. We purchased the eight-bottle Viva Vino wine package that got us 20% off the usual bottle prices. It was a limited list, but we were able to find some very good selections, our favorite being the North & South red blend under Norwegian's own label. Upon ordering the package at the beginning of the cruise, we were given tickets with the names of the wines, and the servers would go get them for us when we wanted one in a bar, restaurant, etc. If we didn't finish it, we could take it to our room, carry it with us elsewhere on the ship or leave it at that restaurant/bar, where it would be tagged for later retrieval. It was a very efficient system, and we were very pleased with it. ENTERTAINMENT I have to admit that I have a very short attention span, so I'm not a big "show" person. We didn't do the Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, a dinner show offered in a special room, the Spiegel Tent, that resembled a circus tent. Heard it was very neat, though. We went to "Rock of Ages," NCL's version of the Broadway musical, in the Breakaway Theater. It's set in the 80s and has some rough language and some slinky costumes, so it's not for children or the easily offended. Of which apparently there were many, as we saw many older folks fleeing the theater mid-show, grumbling about the questionable content. Again "lighten up!" We didn't go to "Burn the Floor." a ballroom dancing show, but we heard that was quite good, too. We checked out the dueling pianos in Headliners, which was OK, and one of The Second City performances, which was hands-down the funniest Second City show I've ever seen on a ship (it all hinges on how well the crowd plays along with the improv). The best entertainment, though, was the Slam Allen Blues Band in Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Lounge. Slam was so incredible that I would have paid good money to see him in a regular venue onshore! There were movies shown on the big screen in the atrium and on the outdoor screen in Spice H20, which was pretty neat. There were the obligatory art auctions (which I usually enjoy, too) and various dance parties, and on one night, fireworks! Because of the size of the ship, most entertainment required tickets, most of which were free but which helped to distribute the crowds. I thought it worked very well. I booked most of our tickets on iConcierge, the iPhone app for Breakaway and Epic. Which leads me to... iCONCIERGE iConcierge was pretty cool. You could download it for free on your phone prior to boarding the ship, then connect to it using Breakaway's wi-fi. I had been warned that it was $7.95 to use it during the cruise, but it turned out that was only if you wanted to activate a feature that allowed you to message and call other passengers on the ship. I couldn't care less about that, so I just used it to book entertainment tickets and make specialty restaurant reservations. One small complaint: There was a feature that was supposed to allow you to review all of the activities on the different days, but it never seemed to sync with what was actually going on, so you had to double check everything in the written Freestyle Daily. SERVICE I had read countless reviews on Breakaway before departure in which people bemoaned the service. These people must have encountered a completely different staff than we did. This was, by far, the best service we've ever had on an NCL ship. Service is one area in which we've found NCL lacking a bit in the past, especially in the main dining rooms. We've generally written it up to the fact that since you don't dine at the same table with the same server every night like on many other cruise lines, there's not a whole lot of incentive for the servers to bend over backwards for you. But it was different on Breakaway. Without fail, the servers, stewards, crew members etc. were friendly, welcoming, accommodating and helpful. Our stateroom steward, Aron, was an energetic, funny guy who always greeted us by name all the way down the hallway. We loved him. And what's awesome is that even the other stewards on our deck who had nothing to gain from being pleasant to us were always going out of their way to greet us and smile and chat with us. It was such a nice feeling to walk down the hall every morning and say hi to all of the friendly stewards. If there's one critique, it would be that I wish I'd felt more of a connection with the cruise director and his staff. Dan seemed very nice on announcements and when you'd see him around the ship, but without nightly shows or a morning show on TV, like some ships have, I didn't feel any connection to him. There have been some cruises where I felt like the cruise director was a major part of the appeal. ITINERARY I'm not going to be of much help here, because I definitely booked this cruise for the ship, not the itinerary. I've already been to the Bahamas and I don't even bother getting off at Port Canaveral. I'm just happy when I can see a palm tree and get some sun. Great Stirrup Cay, the private island, was under construction last time we visited in 2011, and it's definitely changed a lot. There seems to be a lot of options for water sports, etc., but it felt kind of fake, like a summer camp. We took the tender over just to sit in the sun for a bit and walk in the water, but then we headed back. We're ship dwellers, for the most part. In Nassau, we walked to Graycliff, a hidden gem not far from the pier. It's a resort with a sprawling, gorgeous garden, a chocolate factory, a cigar factory, pools and more, but you would never know from the street. It's very nondescript. My husband wanted to check out the cigar factory, and it was very neat. They have seven employees who sit in a room and roll all of their cigars. They were very friendly and let us watch them for a bit. The gardens were quite impressive and made for a lot of beautiful pictures. DISEMBARKATION Easy, breezy I love the Port of Manhattan! We were docked before 8 and we were off the ship by 9:30. The porters are fast and no-nonsense in NYC, and customs moves quickly. Love it. SO, TO WRAP IT UP NCL already had me, but now they -really- have me. I am an over-the-moon NCL cheerleader after this wonderful voyage. If Breakaway is the direction NCL is going … I can't wait to see what's next! Just remember: (1) You're on vacation (2) you're on vacation and (3) please, for the love of god, maintain two-way traffic on the stairs! Happy cruising!

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Jan 18, 2014

Bermuda

This was the second week of this ship in service - it was an awesome experience. Great food, great shows, great ship. Great food - enjoyed 3 specialty restaurants too. excellent cabin. fine activities - didn't do many though. Shows were Rock of Ages - great and Cirque dinner show - great

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May 21, 2013

Bermuda - Inagural Cruise

My previous cruise experience has been with Royal Caribbean, but when the opportunity came to participate in this hyped-up inaugural cruise, I could not pass up the opportunity. Not only were fairly disappointed, but were we frequently reassured by other Norwegian frequent cruises not to judge Norwegian cruise lines on this poorly designed and managed ship. Although there were few problems, the crew was robotic, the itinerary void of anything actual

doable (yes it had a lot of words, but you felt like having TV cable with many channels and nothing to watch). Unlike other cruises, there were no real on-board activities. There was NO celebration of the fact that this was the inaugural cruise. Like the crew and itinerary, the food lacked any luster and often any flavor in the restaurants. I would recommend only eating at the Garden Cafe if you want flavor. The 24 hour OSHehan's food tasted old and stale, the Manhattan, Flavor and Taste, were good, nothing to complain about, but nothing to rave about. As good as your corner family steak and fish restaurant back home. I could not bring myself to try to cover charge restaurants. In a word. Tiny. This was very surprising since I was always told that RC cabins were smaller than other cruise lines. But my junior suite on the Breakaway with balcony was a fraction of the size of the junior suite that I accustom to on the RC Explorer of the Seas Poor. On board activities highlighted art exhibits to buy. RC has many free health activities (ballroom dance classes each day on the Explorer, dancing on the deck (during the day). Most of the Breakaway's active activities began at 10:45pm. There were a lot of technical glitches. One serious problem for this ship and crew: Although they have an appearance of catering to disabled people, they really showed great disregard and placed myself (I walk with a cane) and may other in danger. At the end of a Saturday (May 11) showing of Burn the Floor, with the Lights off, they allowed a large group of next seating people to file in through the handicap section. The handicap section, fearing being trapped in a chaos tried to leave early, only encountering another line of people being let in early. When confronted, the staff was confrontational themselves. Bermuda is always wonderful, and any all excursions are well worth it. Glass bottom boat with the snorkel trip is great, and the bus tour of the entire island gives a personal itinerary of what to do next. All in all, every cruise is a great cruise. But for the money, I would choose the RC Explorer of the Seas leaving out of Bayone NJ or the Celebrity Summit also leaving out NYC

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