I was on the May 19, 2013 sailing of the brand new NCL Breakaway to Bermuda. Overall, we had a marvelous time. There were a few hiccups, as you'd expect, but overall, everything went very smoothly and we were quite happy with how everything turned out.
I booked about 10 months out, and the prices for our sailing kept rising steadily within a few weeks. With such a new ship, I'd highly recommend booking early, these prices are not likely to come down.
Embarkation was very easy, but we made sure to arrive early. We got to Pier 88 around 11, and were onboard around noon. Got through all the lines very quickly, and we were able to get seats to wait until we could board. Boarded in one of the first groups let on.
Had fantastic views of sail away from Spice H2O aft, but the weather was pretty yucky. Watched from there, then headed back inside to dry off. The views from here are amazing, but it'll be crowded!
The "lobster night" is really a surf and turf dinner in the main dining rooms on embarkation day. Tasty, and not overcooked. The main dining rooms, especially Manhattan Room, are extremely busy the first couple of nights, then taper off as the cruise goes on. (According to the maitre d'.) They'll give you a pager that works all over the ship if you have to wait. We discovered the Prime Meridian bar, just upstairs from the Manhattan Room and between Cagney's and Moderno was a really nice spot to grab a glass of wine and wait for our table. Practically empty every time we went, and nice views out the windows and down at the dining room. While we waited at Taste/Savor, we usually headed to the Atrium or the casino, or looked at the art gallery. The servers in the MDRs were generally fine, though there were some long waits between courses, especially at Taste. Don't really know why. It didn't bother us too terribly. The noodle bar was completely empty every time we went by, probably because of its awkward positioning in the casino. I tried Wasabi instead, and very much enjoyed it.
We had a BD category balcony room on Deck 10, and there has been a lot of talk about the small balconies. Yep, they're smaller than other ships. Didn't effect our enjoyment of it one bit. If the size really bothers you, go for an M6 or B6, or one of the large aft cabins (B1?), but the regular balconies really aren't as bad as everyone's making them out to be. Our cabin was just around the corner from the aft stairs and elevator, which was absolutely perfect. Such a great location. The bathroom felt so much larger than we expected, it has a good layout. We had a bed by the closet configuration, and while that's not the preferred style here, it worked beautifully for us, and is actually what we prefer. I like sitting on the couch next to the balcony to read if it's too windy to be outside, and we had that issue plenty on our trip. The bed is pretty close to the closet in this configuration, but we didn't find it an issue, it just meant that only one of us could be fumbling in there at a time.
If you get the chance to do the Rockettes Q&A or the dance class with them, do it. They were very nice, the dance class was a lot of fun, and they had some great insight on what it is to be a Rockette. Be aware that the 7:30 AM Rockettes stretch class does not include actual Rockettes most of the time, but it is a workout similar to what they do. They may stop in occasionally, but don't be disappointed if they aren't there.
All the entertainment we saw was top notch. Howl at the Moon was one of our favorites, and we went twice. Rock of Ages, as has been mentioned on this site but bears repeating, is NOT for kids! The show is for grown-ups. Take your little ones to the Nickelodeon stuff, but leave the adult shows for the adults, or don't complain when your kids hear sexual innuendo and see scantily clad women. The Cirque dinner is absolutely worth the price of the premium seats. We were right next to the stage and on an aisle, and saw everything perfectly. I do kind of wish they wouldn't do it as a dinner though, I felt like I couldn't concentrate well on everything I was seeing. I wanted to watch, not have to cut a steak. Second City was quite funny, though I thought the show was too short.
We did the ropes course and mini golf, plus many of the pub games at O'Sheehans. All were a lot of fun, though we thought bowling was a little expensive at $5 a person per game. We played twice and just alternated who was bowling each frame instead of doing each of us having our own 10 frames. Don't skip the ropes course and walking the plank. It's scary at first, but the views just cannot be beat. The zip line is also super fun.
Bermuda could take up it's own multi-page review, but we found the public transportation system easy to use and well worth the 3-day pass. When you use the bus, make sure the bus driver knows where you're going, stops aren't marked well and you may not know where to get off. They're great about telling you when to get off though if you let them know.
We did the Crystal Caves, Somerset Long Bay Park, the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, Fort St. Catherine's, the Bermuda Maritime Museum, and a bunch of other things all on our own. We did a ship sponsored tour on a glass bottom boat to see the shipwreck of the Vixen. It was a nighttime excursion on our first day in Bermuda and was great. Our tour guides were very knowledgeable and friendly, and the wreck was fascinating. I highly recommend the tour.
We did some specialty dining, eating at Ocean Blue and Cagney's. Ocean Blue raised the prices as of our sailing, but I had pre-booked and was given the lower pricing. It was our best meal on the ship, but at $50 a person now, I'm not sure we would have done it at that price. Cagney's was perfectly acceptable, though I had a better filet mignon at Cagney's on NCL Sky in January.
The casino definitely has a cigarette smell to it, but I could handle it ok, and I'm asthmatic. It stinks, but it seemed to me like the actual smoke is being filtered, it's the smell that's left, not the smoke. I do wish they'd go smoke free, but I guess I'll have to switch to X for that right now.
The spa is heavenly, but has some noise issues. The heated loungers are divine, and I adored every minute I was on one. We did a single day pass, the week long was simply not going to fit our budget for both of us. The pool is nice, a good temperature and not crowded, and while the fountain feature is really cool, and feels like a great massage when you're under it, it's quite loud. You can tune it out pretty ok while it's on, but it going on and off can be annoying. The salt room is interesting, and relaxing, but there's really no way to know what it's doing or even if it's doing anything at all. It's pretty quiet though, so it's a nice break from the pool. We didn't try the saunas.
I have food allergies and require a gluten-free diet, and the restaurant staff was stellar about getting me what I needed. They really took fabulous care of me. If you have food allergies, just let NCL know about them, and then meet with the maitre d' when you arrive. They'll take care of you. If you like Chebe bread rolls, they have it in Moderno, and you can ask for it in any restaurant if you tell them that it's the Moderno gluten-free bread. They've also changed brands of the regular GF bread, and this one is leaps and bounds better than what they had on my January cruise. Nice and fluffy, and actually tastes like bread. I think it's one of the Rudi's or Udi's (or similar) multi-grain varieties, but I could never find out for sure.
There were rough seas coming back from Bermuda on Saturday. The M6 balconies (that are so prized) had major damage to the balcony dividers, so I was actually glad I had my little aft BD instead. Things were rocking and rolling, and the waves were really high. My understanding is that this is fairly normal for the Bermuda run, so if you don't do well with that sort of thing, you might not want to do this itinerary. Personally, I was fine with the motion, though I was taking meclizine the entire trip to be safe.
Overall, my trip on the Breakaway was fantastic, a wonderful vacation for my husband and I. Sure there were hiccups- long waits at the MDRs, some crappy weather, rough seas, smoke issues, and oddball operating hours for Carlo's Bakery and the gelato shop- but when all is said and done, we had a lot of fun. That was what we wanted out of this trip, and that's what we got, so I think it was a success.