This was my 11th cruise, 4th with NCL and 3rd Transatlantic crossing.
After sailing NCL Epic 3 times and being a solo traveller wishing to visit New York as soon as the itinerary details were released I booked this cruise before most of the ship was even revealed.
I can't help comparing with the Epic as that's my most recent and nearest match to Norwegian Breakaway. I'd selected a Studio Cabin after having enjoyed the "perks" of the studios on Epic.
Check-in and boarding was simple, uneventful and well co-ordinated. I'd dropped my bags off before 11 and was onboard before 12.
Finding the studios proved a tad more difficult than expected as the doors are not correctly marked and it appears like you are entering a crew restricted area. A small sign on the wall next to the door is not easily spotted when walking down the corridor and the lounge is "hidden" away.
First impressions were how small the lounge was, a lot of the Epic features like a fridge, vending machine, events flipchart etc.. were absent and the lounge is a 1/4 to 1/3 of that onboard Epic. During the weeks meetings the lounge was packed and so noisy you could barely move or hear yourself speak. The cruise staff solo co-ordinator tried her best with sign up sheets brought to meetings but without any notice board you had to be there every night to hear any updates/amendments.
Unlike Epic no breakfast cereals etc were brought to the lounge each morning.
Also in the evening after returning from Bliss etc there was no cookies/snacks and the drinks machine for hot chocolate or any other drink seemed to be permanently on clean mode from midnight!! :(
The studio cabins have changed a little:
For those who have stayed in an Epic Studio Cabin the differences are:
1) The stool that fitted under the small table under the TV now doesn't fit as it's a square one. This meant I couldn't open the sliding door to the right!!
2) The above mentioned phone is no longer touchscreen with that dimmer light to remove the screen but a standard button phone (saving money?)
3) The mood lighting has gone!
4) the shower door now opens like a normal door rather than on Epic where it slides inside the cubical. This has the awkward affect of when you open the door not being able to reach the towels hanging on the inter-cabin wall mirrored door without getting fully out the shower and closing the door!!
5) Life jacket is now under the bed in one of the clothes bins rather than at the bottom of the wardrobe.
6) new switches in the cabin (in all cabins I think) for make up and do-not disturb.
you can't press both at the same time (I did try to see ). the affect is that above the cabin doors there are three little LEDs. One lights when in theory someone is in the cabin (a card in the light/power slot), thats a yellow/white one, a green one for when make-up switch is pressed, red one for do not disturb.
7) For the ladies (and some guys) in the shower is a new foot rail!!
8) The card slot that used to just control lights now controls all the power as well. If a card is not in there the plugs dont work and anything left on charge wont charge! Not sure how that works if people have health equipment or other stuff in there but it was a pain if you wanted to charge phones/cameras say in the evening when at dinner. Some people put their own card/store type card in the slot to fool it. I heard of at least one person who's steward removed this said card!
The new features like the Waterfront were great and I enjoyed the greater sea views from all the open decks. The food as ever was great, I'm not a big fussy eater but some people will find comments on food fit for a king but not for them.. It's food..
I enjoyed the beer package and this will save some money for future cruises.
Even with 6 sea days the cruise went very quickly, breakfast was served until late each morning at O'Sheehan's so no need to get up early.
When the Sun was out is when the ship comes alive and that is the main issue with this ship, it's highly focused on the new outdoor area and activities and so a cold spring transatlantic crossing is not the best of weathers to fully appreciate all it has available.
So I guess a summary of the ship is:
Waterfront (if hot weather)
Plenty of open decks and improved upper decks above Haven
Increased size of O'Sheehan's
Better venue for cirque dreams
Better venue for Fat Cats
First cruise with beverage package saved me money
Fireworks were good
Pleasant staff as always
Spice H2O smaller and hidden away
Bliss nowhere near as good as Epic
Solo Lounge and facilities far less than on Epic
Needs warm weather!
The likes of the mini golf and ropes are good if gimmicky as once you've done them any repeat cruises you probably wouldn't do again.
If I sail on Breakaway again it would have to be in warmer weather to see how it leverages the upper decks and waterfront, also I wouldn't pay the extra over an inside for a Studio.
I was planning to do Getaway to Miami next Jan but probably won't now due to the studio and high costs for so many cold winter sea days.
Full review with pics is available at http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1842587