Below is a detailed description of our cruise. This was the maiden voyage, and I suspect that many of these items will be fixed. The cruise was wonderful. The staff absolutely amazing. We will cruise on the Breakaway again.
Saturday, May 4, 2013 -- Breakaway Maiden Voyage
MR. Kevin Sheehan (CEO of NCL) played Undercover Boss, so I played Undercover Passenger. Overall, I loved the cruise....and I will sail with NCL and on the Breakaway again!
1. Spa needs better ventilation--the air is too chlorinated when the pools are operating. It is painful to the eyes, lungs, etc. and not a pleasant experience. Also, you have magnificent windows in there that are always "fogged" due to the lack of ventilation.
2. Gym needs better ventilation-- the air is nauseating at times, similar to having your head held in someone's armpit (it's okay to laugh at this)....but seriously, the gym needs better ventilation.
3. The doors to the men's and women's locker rooms need better signage. The current signs are similar in color to the wall and are located in the hallway. Signs must be placed on each door. On Day 5 of the cruise, I have experienced a man walking into the women's locker room 4 times....imagine how often this happens if I am one passenger. My husband experienced a woman walking into the men's locker room twice. Either make a "exhibition excursion" and make money or put signs on the doors. Temporary signs were placed on the doors prior to our leaving the ship. I suspect they will quickly become permanent signs. The crew was great about fixing things quickly.
4. Lots of things weren't working properly in the spa area: hot tub wasn't working at all and the one time it was on, it was only warm; hot seats never got hot like on the Jewel; sauna and saunarium weren't always hot enough either; salt room seems to be not working--or if it is, then a sign should be placed IN THE ROOM explaining how it works and what to expect. Steam was wonderful. I was also VERY impressed that when a complaint was made about the steps into the pool being slippery, they were fixed very quickly. Sea days may be a problem....our sea days weren't so bad, and the pool was closed for over one day due to water coming out. Addendum: everything was basically working by the time we left the ship....the spa was amazing and is a GREAT deal for the cruise....book it when you get on before space runs out.
5. Spa package is great....under $150 for 7 day use....area is clean and well-maintained.
6. Spin class is $30. I didn't take it because I normally take 4-5 spin classes a week and it would end up costing more than one month of gym membership. Maybe offer a package or lower the price? I would be amazed if the classes were filled at that price.
7. The Breakaway is a NY ship, but the signs next to the sauna etc do not reflect Fahrenheit. Americans don't do Celsius...and we have trouble even understanding Celsius....it's our fault. We should have switched back in the 70s but we gave up too quickly....so, Fahrenheit should be added to the signs.
8. High pressure sales in the spa and gym area are a turn off. I expect to be informed and offered, but not pressured.
9. People were entering and using the spa area who didn't pay. Staff either has to be diligent in checking cards or a new system needs to be implemented. This also changed by the end of the cruise.
10. We spent a lot of time relaxing in the spa area. It is really great. We liked the chairs closer to the salt room at the far end of the spa as they are in a less chlorinated and humid area (away from the pool)
1. It is sometimes difficult to sign out....a message should always come up verifying you have signed out....it doesn't. When logging out, be sure to enter 188.8.131.52
2. Wonderful having Internet access from everywhere on ship.
1. Breakfast in restaurants is only available until 9am. This should be a little later for those who sleep later but still would like a full-service breakfast.
2. Menus and foods should be marked with symbols for vegetarian. Royal Caribbean does this by putting a V next to vegetarian items on the menus. It is very convenient for passengers and saves the wait staff time by not having to check when asked.
3. There are not enough vegetarian foods offered. The options which are available are basically the same every day....it gets boring. There was no vegetarian option at the Cirque show. There should be a vegetarian soup offered in the Garden Cafe.
4. There was no place to get ice cream or a very late night dessert or snack. O'Sheehan's (cute name by the way, Mr. Kevin Sheehan) does not have desserts.
5. There is no bar staff in the dining room. This has to be showing up as less income for NCL. The wait staff is too busy to be offering drinks and/or wine. We were never offered bar service in the dining room until once on Day 5. Nobody offered a wine package which I usually purchase. We had to wait 40+ minutes for a sommelier. It also takes too long to get the wine once it is ordered. I very much miss the bar staff in the dining areas.
6. There was no obvious place when we boarded to order soda or bar packages. We have always seen this on prior cruises. Usually there is a table upon boarding to order these. Our friends, who normally get a soda package, didn't because they were never asked.
7. Ice bar is a cute novelty and is very reasonable considering it includes two drinks.....however that isn't clear and we repeatedly heard people talking about how expensive it is to just get in...perhaps this should be better advertised. The ice bar also wasn't finished yet on our cruise. There was only one bar seat.
8. The wait staff and maitre d's were superb!!! We had many many special orders and everything was accommodated gladly. I can't say enough about the dining staff.
1. TV channels are lacking. The movie channel is nice. What I missed the most on this cruise was the cruise director's channel. On Royal Carib, the cruise director has a morning show from his/her desk updating about the day's events, giving shout-outs that people requested, giving weather updates, etc...this was great and made us feel more a part of things. Also, this channel showed prior shows and events, usually from the day before, that we missed or wanted to see again. We really really missed this. We were told that this is being implemented on the next cruise.
2. The phone in the room didn't reflect the time in the beginning of the cruise. It did by Day 5, but it is very small and hard to read.
3. Loved that the entrance to inside rooms are not directly across from outside cabins. Makes the rooms quieter and more private. However, for a family like ours (4 teens), it makes it a challenge to be on the Breakaway. There isn't a big enough or a reasonably priced suite to hold all of us (like RCCLs family suite) and we used to get a suite or balcony with an inside cabin for 4 across from us....can't do that on the Breakaway. This is a conundrum for larger families.
4. Outlets are missing next to both sides of beds. In this day of iPads,Pods, etc, there should be more outlets in convenient locations.
5. The handicap inside room was great....lots of space EXCEPT shelf space is lacking in the bathroom.
6. Toilet flushes only after multiple pushes....we heard this complaint from many people as well. I am sure this will be fixed.
1. Water is always coming out onto the walkway from where the water slides end. This is a safety issue as you have people with wet shoes entering the Garden Cafe. The poor employee with the squeegee trying to hold back the water is like Noah using a squeegee to prevent the flood. It doesn't work. A small retaining wall or more drains would be useful here.
2. The biggest design flaw of the ship is an outdoor walking area that goes completely around the ship. You have the waterfront, but nothing goes completely around. This has always been a popular feature for runners and walkers. We missed this very very much.
3. Outdoor beach club is very nice. (Vibe) I believe this will be a pay area....DO IT! It is private, quiet and very relaxing.
4. Shopping area is smaller. Perfume is completely hidden behind jewelry...it isn't easy to find and doesn't seem to attract many because it isn't open to the hallway. Souvenirs are in hallway....feels more like a display than a shop. It's a nice idea but takes some getting used to.
5. Souvenirs are very expensive....I would think you would encourage people to buy Breakaway items as it is free advertising. For example, we usually purchase the model ship, but at $50 for a smaller lighter version than what RCCL offers, we passed. This is a shame, because we display the model for every cruise we take in our home and people always look at them, but there won't be a Breakaway this time.
6. Premium seats are the Circque show are a real rip-off unless you are on stage or in the very first row. We were in the middle of the "premium" area, and were blocked by people in front of us. We would have done better with the general admission booths which were raised.
7. Rock of Ages, Circque, and Burn the Floor were amazing shows. WE LOVED LOVED LOVED Rock of Ages and Cirque. Cirque is worth paying for BUT don't get premium seats.
8. The registration system for shows doesn't work well if you want to sign up for multiple shows with friends in other cabins. We spent about a half hour signing up as we had to keep going in and out of the system for each cabin....and the guests behind us weren't happy either. Also, it is impossible to sign up prior to the cruise if you have a special order meal. Makes no sense, I know. We should also be able to reserve seats together as a group. I am sure they are working on this.
9. The jogging track is too small (1/8th of a mile) and is interrupted too frequently by people crossing. However, we discovered that most loops on decks 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 are each about .3 miles each.
10. Basketball hoops are about 6 inches too short. I know this may not seem like much, but it makes a difference when you play ball....a big difference. It would be great if they could be raised to regular height.
11. Check in was easy.
12. The outdoor activities are amazing, especially the water slides and ropes course!
13. The casino is located in the middle of a major thoroughfare and by the stairs in the center of the ship. It is smoky, smells, and is very difficult to be around for non-smokers. This was a huge turn-off.
14. Staff is amazing and very very accommodating. I don't think we have seen a nicer staff on any ship.
15. We loved meeting Mr. Kevin Sheehan...we even created a new game: instead of "Where's Waldo?", we played "Where's Mr. Kevin Sheehan?" One day, we had four sightings...clearly Mr. Kevin Sheehan cares. He was involved, polite, and when we asked various staff, they spoke very highly of him. He was also very down-to-earth when we met him. We were Mr. Kevin Sheehan fans since Undercover Boss,and now we are even bigger fans!
16. The outdoor area is amazing with mini golf, ropes, basketball, water slides, etc. I think it will all be a bit overcrowded on a full family cruise, but we will see.
17. The ship is not designed to be as grandiose as other cruises. There are many spaces that are smaller. For example, the Manhattan main dining is one level (not multiple other cruises). The theater is also one level. Rooms also seem to be smaller....but we spent little time there anyway.
18. The entertainment by the dining staff on most cruises was lacking or missing (like the Italian night where they "sing" and wave napkins and the final farewell. We missed this. It is always a cruise classic.
19. We came on the Breakaway crossing cruise because it was billed as the inaugural cruise. When we booked, we were told that the Rockettes would be there, that Buddy from Cake Boss would be giving lessons, that there were huge parties etc. NCL made lots of promises which, in the end, were for the following cruise, not ours. This was deceptive and was one major thing that disappointed us in NCL. We loved the cruise but didn't like being deceived.
Overall, we loved the cruise, and I believe it is going to be a HUGE success. It was very relaxing and we would probably try the Breakaway again, especially since we live just outside NY. We paid a special rate of $999 for the week including airfare from NY to London. I know the inaugural season tends to be pricey.
We were most impressed with the crew and NCL corporate employees present to make it all work. They were truly spectacular!!!!!!