We are a family of four (DH & I, DS-14, & DD-9)who have cruised only once before. I booked the Breeze a year ago, before she had her maiden voyage. The idea of being on a new cruise ship was appealing, but after many poor reviews, I started second guessing my choice in ships. Boy are we glad we sailed on her!
We sailed the Breeze March 2-10 to the Eastern Caribbean (St. Thomas, Antigua, Tortola,and Nassau). Weather was great! Rained while on St. Thomas, but the rest of the vacation was sunny and warm.
We arrived in Miami the night before and stayed at the Airport Hilton Hotel. It's in the process of renovation and the rooms were very nice and clean. I booked them online and got a discount so our room with two queen beds and a balcony was only $89. The restaurant was very good too! Very busy place, but we only waited once for a table (10 min)during breakfast as they do a very large buffet that proved to be popular.
Only one hiccup during the morning of sailing...
I booked a limo service to pick us up from the hotel to take us to POM and he never showed. Sorry, can't recall the name of the service but if you speak with a "Cuba Paul", hang up! I confirmed my reservation a week prior and he was all "ya ya ya", but then when I called again that morning (an hour after he was to show up), they had no record of my booking. The guy who answered suggested I had the wrong limo company and when I mentioned "Cuba Paul" he back tracked and seemed flustered "oh, you talked to Cuba Paul??". I told him to forget it and he said "whatever" and hung up on me.
Hubby called the front desk of the hotel and they had a limo pick us up within 15 minutes.
Embarkation was fast! I booked two ocean suite cabins (7358 & 7364)so we had priority embarkation which was wonderful. We stepped inside the terminal at 11:20 AM and were on the ship by 11:46 AM! The crew in the terminal were so friendly and accommodating. As my hubby just stated "they set the mood for a great vacation!"
The Breeze is beautiful! I was a bit surprised how small the atrium felt, but then again, there were oodles of people standing in there trying to decide which direction to head off to first! All guests seemed to be impressed and excited about their vacation starting.
I did notice the carpet showing signs of wear and tear already, on staircases especially. Not only were their stains (spilled drinks mainly) but foot traffic wear was obvious. Carpet that used to be a golden color was looking more like a dirty cream color.
Besides stained and worn carpet on staircases, everything else was spotless. There were always staff cleaning! If they weren't cleaning glass, they were polishing the wood or sanitizing or dusting. I was very impressed!
I highly suggest going with the Cheers program. We never hit the 15 drink limit and yet still got our money's worth. And trust me, those drinks were never weak! We watched them pour and boy do they pour heavy!!
As for the bartenders, we mainly used the Blue Iguana or Red Frog and they remembered us and took very good care of us the entire cruise. We tipped heavily which they were most grateful for. We spent so much of our time just sitting on the main pool decks and never waited long for a server to come around. If they saw us, they were taking care of us!
Music on the ship was great! Many people have commented on forums negatively over the music, but we found it appropriate and fun. And no, it's not rap but more hip-hop/dance music at times. They even played country, reggae, and oldies...all songs fitting for a great vacation. The DJ's take requests too! The guitar players did a great job too. No complaints from us!
Food in MDR was fine. Nothing to write home about. We were in the Blush dining room for the 8:15 seating which fit our schedule perfectly. I don't recall seeing any other kids in there which made dinner a bit more peaceful. Our servers were good. Roku, I Putu, and Tomas were efficient and nice. It seemed to me that all the MDR waiters were tired and worn out by the time we sat down though. Understandably of course, but I got the feeling they were overworked. I Putu mentioned the hardest job on the ship went to the dishwashers. FYI, dishwashers are on salary and do not receive any of the tips.
We only ate in the MDR four times but we still tipped extra on top of our pre-paid tips.
The Italian restaurant was delish! Ate there twice for dinner. Very nice ambiance and nice servers. The apple pie there is a must!
Steakhouse 555 was very good too. Ate here one night and we all enjoyed our dinner of steak and lobster. Worth every penny!
Family loved Guy's burgers and Blue Iguana tacos/burritos. They said the breakfast burritos were delish and made with real eggs... not the liquid/powder ones found in Marketplace (not that we tried the lido eggs, but heard so much about them.)
The comedy brunch was fine. We ate there twice as we don't like buffets. Good bloody mary's there!
Pizza Pirate was very tasty. Loved the thin crust. Sometimes there were lines, other times we were the only ones there.
Most mornings we just ordered room service which was always quick. One thing though... if you are a coffee drinker, it's next to impossible to get two pots of coffee served.
Bonsai Sushi was ok. I was a bit surprised how fishy it tasted. The spicy tuna wasn't very spicy or fresh tasting. Miso soup was good. California rolls are a bit different than what we are used to, but again, fishy tasting. In hopes it was just a fluke, I tried more sushi at the Taste Bar and it was not good. Very nice staff at Bonsai though.
The coffee at the coffee bar was good. The little gal working was super nice and cheerful. She asks if you preferred "Starbucks" style as she wants to make your coffee drink taste similar to what you are accustomed to.
Our cabins were lovely. Again, we had two ocean suites next door to each other so we had our room stewardess open the balcony door for us. The balconies are a touch larger than a regular balcony as we had enough room for two chairs, table, and a lounger, and to open them up was like having our own deck!
I felt the rooms were a bit smaller in reality than the virtual video online. Still, we had more than enough room and enjoyed the extra closet space. No worries on bringing hangers if staying in a suite as there were plenty!
The bathrooms provided more than enough space too. The tub/shower is also a jet tub which I didn't use, but nice to know it's there if you want it.
The hair dryer likes to eat hair! Very low powered, but got the job done (if you have fine hair that is).
I cussed the lighting set up (room card in slot)but fixed that by having a few extra cards made up by guest service.
Our room stewardess was amazing! Meheila (sp?? Sounds like Mee Hi La)was so personable and always greeted us with smiles and by name. We always had fresh towels and ice bucket always filled. We tipped her extra as well as she deserved every penny she earned. I just wish I could have given her more!! We told her we would cruise again, but only if she came with us!! Such a doll. :-)
Loved the bedding! I never slept so good in all my life!
The menu on the TV was awesome! One can check their on board accounts and order room service with a few clicks! We even ordered a shore excursion this way. Super nice feature!
We did not partake in any shows so I cannot tell you how they were. We were too busy enjoying the view of the ocean with a bottle of wine at night!
DD enjoyed Camp Carnival, the water slides, and main pool. DS spent quite a bit of time at Circle C and the arcade with his new found friend. Both kids met new friends and were busier than Mom and Dad! We gave them the freedom to come and go as they please, but were to check in with us from time to time. We ate our meals together, but other than that, they had places to go and people to see!
Even though we sailed at the beginning of spring break, we did not find that the kids on the ship were obvious. We hardly saw any except for ours! Seems like most were well behaved and watched after by their parents. The staff mentioned that there were 140 9-11 year old's on the ship, but we never noticed it!
The 20-somethings were apparent during sea days (at the bars) but they provided great entertainment! Hey, to be 20-something again! ;)
As for the ship feeling "crowded", we never got that impression. The Breeze was overbooked by a lot so Carnival actually left some of the maids back in Miami so customers could have the rooms. We noticed the crowds when the jewelry stores were having sales and that's about it.
Can't say that I noticed many chair hogs, but on sea days it was next to impossible to find lounge chairs on decks by main pool. Most chairs were being used by actual bodies, not just towels.
For those who detest smokers, we were very courteous and stayed in our domain. I only saw one woman walking around the pool with a ciggie and that was the first day before we sailed. Casino area has smoking section and the staff is good about keeping the smokers on their side. No one seemed annoyed by the smoke as the place was always busy.
I do have a theory regarding those who have written poor reviews of "rude" staff... the places where I felt the staff were less than personable was where the masses are dealt with all day,every day. The Marketplace is a good example of this theory. If you had to deal with thousands of people wanting more bacon, custom ordered eggs, and dishes left at every table, not to mention spilled drinks and garbage on the floor, then I too would be less likely to put on a happy face all day long! I found that if I was smiling, I was greeted with a smile. Making eye contact with someone and saying "good morning" goes a long ways!
Ports were good. We weren't impressed with St. Thomas. It seemed dirty and lacked a "fun" feel. We booked the Kon Tiki boat excursion but it was cancelled due to being broke down. No biggie. It rained that day so we were happy to sit back on the ship and enjoy drinks on a very quiet ship.
Antigua and Tortola were our favorites. The Jost Van Dyk excursion was great and we loved our Beach Escape (Dickenson Beach) excursion on Antigua. Lots of peddlers there though and most were under the impression the beach was closed off to those pushing their goods. Not an issue for me as I had fun buying stuff and haggling prices!
Nassau was fun even though we've been there before. We took a bus to Mackenzie's for yummy food and had a driver take us all over the island for a private tour. Worst part of Nassau was me losing my camera! No one to blame but myself. :(
Debarkation was not as smooth. Everyone is given a category number to disembark, but this was not followed and security had to shut down the process for quite some time just to get the congestion cleared. (We were set back a good hour by the time we got off the ship.)
We waited in the Ovation Theater as we booked a Miami excursion due to our later flight home. Unfortunately, the excursion was cutting it too close to our flight time so we didn't get to visit the Miami Aquarium, but the bus driver took pity on us and got us on the Everglades excursion which was great! We saw so many alligators and birds, not to mention the awesome ride in an air boat! Bring cash as they push tipping hard, and the restaurant is not cheap ($50 for 4 sodas and 4 sandwiches).
Worst part of our cruise was having to go home! I would book the Breeze again in a heartbeat! A vacation is what you make of it and boy did we make the best of it!