I have just returned from a transatlantic cruise on the new Norwegian Breakaway. Here is a summary of my experience and personal opinion.
First of all I made the mistake of booking direct with NCL which turned out to be a lengthy nightmare (eventually got sorted after numerous long distance phone calls) wont be doing that again , will book with a travel agency in future.
Check in at Southampton was complete chaos with the systems continually breaking down and causing lengthy queues. I would have thought there would have been some kind of welcome reception for us after all it was an inaugural voyage and believing the hype was expecting something special. But nothing , not even the welcome you get when returning to the ship from a visit to a port.
I found the ship to be a letdown as having been on the Epic, I expected this ship to be even better instead I found it to b very badly laid out, i.e.lack of public areas and hardly any open space around the pool which on the epic was a great gathering place for dancing and entertainment during the day. I also was amazed by the Theatre which was just rows of seats with a stage and in no way anything like the beautiful theatres on other ships especially the epic. I believe the ship was not full and yet the theatre was crammed every night. I would definitely not like to be trying to get to see a show if it was full.
It was totally inadequate. The shows also seemed to all be on at the same time so decisions had to be made. Another thing not taken into consideration was the fact that the shows started at 7 pm and the splash academy didn't open for kids til 7 pm. Most of the shows stated that latecomers would not be allowed in which meant that each night one member of our party could not go as it was impossible to get from splash academy at deck 12 down to the theatre at the same time. Ridiculous.
I had an inside stateroom which was very small and not enough closet space and no drawers at all. The fridge under the dressing table made it impossible to sit at the mirror straight on to do hair and make up etc. Also with the key card operating lights and sockets nothing could be left on charge except at night. very inconvenient for cameras , ipods etc., how crazy is that in this modern world.
Food in garden cafe was hit and miss, sometimes good sometimes, cold,and badly cooked, but my main complaint is that lots of dishes had no signs to say what they were, everyone is not familiar with all type of food and this is essential. I found myself constantly enquiring from the staff , What is this dish, and found some of them (not all , I stress) to be quite indifferent to my request. Also at the drinks stations, the cups were up one end causing chaos when trying to cross over from the juices and glasses. There should have been cups both ends and glasses both ends. At the fruit stations it was nearly impossible to open the plastic flap with a plate in your hand as the counter was so narrow that when you lifted the flap it knocked your plate off. a lot of the stuff couldn't be reached for this reason and people were trying to hold plates for each other.
The staff were not what I have become accustomed to from other cruises. Some, (again , I stress, not all) were friendly and helpful, especially Fery my room attendant, but I found a lot to be cold, indifferent, and unknowledgable when asking for help or directions on board.
In the hype I read about this maiden voyage it said there would be fireworks every night on the crossing , but this only happened one night and that was very late when most of us especially the kids had gone to bed. Other than this there was nothing else to mark the occasion. I was also amazed that the ship slunk into harbour in the middle of the night and no one got to see our arrival in New York.
I would have expected more day time entertainment for a transatlantic cruise but it was mostly geared towards selling us stuff and buying tickets for bingo and other games etc. Very very disappointing. Another thing as a Lattitudes member I have always got 10% off my purchases on board but on this ship it was confined to items with the breakaway or NCL logo only, making it a waste of time.
Over all my experience on board this cruise and ship in particular was very disappointing . Instead of progressing, NCL seem to have gone backwards with their ship design, and I firmly believe that this was just a shakedown voyage for the Bermuda cruises from New York as nobody made any fuss of us or about the voyage in any way.
I will definitely not be going on Breakaway again, and would even hesitate to use NCL again if it were not for the magnificent EPIC.
One last thing, there are only two banks of lifts, one at the back and one in the middle, this is completely inadequate.