Overall, I really like the Breakaway. There are some small things that could have been done better, but there always are. This is my sixth cruise with NCL, and my 11th cruise overall.
Embarkation/Debarkation: This is the area that needs the most improvement. It started out great. We only waited a few minutes to get to the check-in person, and we were done quickly. They gave us a boarding number, and we were directed to a waiting area. They made several announcements that boarding would begin about 12:00 noon. Just before noon, the crowd all got out of their seats, and started lining up. We never heard any announcement over the P.A. We did overhear another passenger say they had called groups one through six (we were group four). After being in line for about 10 minutes, I hear groups one and two being called on the P.A.
During debarkation, we were in the second color group to leave the ship. While on the ship, I could not hear any announcements about the More
colors, but did find a screen that showed the current color called. As we got to the end of the gangway, there was a huge line that appeared to be everyone that left the ship before us, and it was not moving. I am not sure what caused the hold-up. It could have been customs, or it could have been a delay in unloading the luggage from the ship. Once we get inside, I could see that everyone was being funneled to a single escalator. There were also steps, and we moved around the crowd, and down to the luggage holding area with no problems.
Cabin: We thought there was an issue with the cabin steward on the first day, but it turned out to be our fault. The new Do Not Disturb system was the cause of the confusion. I mistakenly thought turning on the Clean Room Now button would turn off the DND button. It does not. Our cabin was set to DND all day, and the steward respected our wishes, and never came to complete the setup of our cabin. Late that night after a call to guest services, we finally met Uriel, and he explained the issue with the DND button. He turned out to be one of the best stewards we have had on any ship.
The cabins are small, but this is the case on most NCL ships. Since we only use the cabin to sleep, and prepare for dinner, this has never been a big issue. There are no drawers, but there are shelves and nooks all over the cabin. The bathrooms, however, seem bigger than other NCL ships. The water pressure in the shower was low, but the water was always hot. I read a review about the hangars falling, and I did experience this, but only when I mixed up the hangars. If your hangars fall, try them on a different connector on the bar.
Dining: Very few cruise lines have a five star level food. If you are expecting gourmet, you will always be disappointed. The food is good, and in some cases very good. We ate at a mix of complimentary and paid restaurants, and enjoyed everything we ate.
We ate at all three main dining rooms, and enjoyed our experience in all three. I am not sure of the purpose of splitting Taste and Savor. They serve the same specials each night, and the recurring menu is the same in each. I'm not sure if it was a design issue, or just a way to say they have three main dining rooms instead of two. I do think NCL underestimated the demand for the complimentary dining rooms. We waited longer on the Breakaway than on any other NCL ship.
We ate breakfast, lunch, and one dinner at the buffet. There were always many tasty choices, and plenty of places to sit both inside, and outside. I was disappointed that the buffet no longer offered cook to order pasta, but that is a minor issue for me. NCL has added some new beverages to the standard line-up of water, tea and lemonade. They offer two additional juice flavored waters. They also have wine dispensers in the buffet. There are two New York style hot dog carts on board, so keep an eye out for them.
For paid options, we ate a Monderno, Le Bistro, Wasabi, and the Raw Bar. We always enjoy Monderno, and I am glad to see it expanding to more ships. Le Bistro was probably the best meal we had the whole time. The food and service here are both excellent. We sat in Wasabi's Waterfront section, and enjoyed several sushi rolls, and a fair amount of Sake. We both felt the $49.00 per person charge for the new Ocean Blue was too much, but we did discover that some of the menu items are available a la carte at the Raw Bar. We shared a large plate of the same muscles from Ocean Blue, and a plate of oysters. Both were very good.
Entertainment: I tried all the waterslides, and had a great time. I did this on one of the port days, and there was no wait at all, but I think they would be worth the wait if there was a line. I also did the ropes course, and walked the plank. This was also a lot of fun, and a short wait of about 30 minutes on a sea day.
We did not go to any of the theater shows, but we did catch part of Howl at the Moon. Le Bistro is directly across from Headliners, and we were sitting in the outside section for dinner. We could hear the show while eating, and it sounded like everyone there was having a great time. After finishing our meal, we spent about 30 minutes watching the show. There were no more seats available, but we did arrive well after the show started.
Bermuda: The island is beautiful, but the locals border on rude. We were at the Pickled Onion for lunch. While waiting for a table on the terrace, we sat at the bar. My wife ordered a Rum Runner, and the bartender just shook her head no. What bartender refuses to make a drink? We took the local bus to Horseshoe Bay. The driver went past the stop, and someone asked what was going on. The driver replied, in a nasty tone, Who is driving this bus? There was joking, or humor to it at all. We spent some time shopping in Hamilton, and at the dockyard. Most of the people in the stores barely acknowledged we were there.
Miscellaneous: We loved the Waterfront. It seems so obvious now, I can't imagine why it was never done before. The seats are more comfortable outside Shakers, than outside Maltings, so we spent a lot of time there. The sun deck never seemed crowded. I would recommend putting a PUSH sign on the bathroom doors on the sun deck. We spent a lot of time watching people try to pull the door open. Sometimes they would realize they needed to push. Sometimes they would stand and wait thinking the door was locked, and sometimes they would leave in frustration.
The iConcierge app is a great idea, but it needs work. It did not work more often than it did. While it was working, it was great to not only see the current day's schedule, but to see the entire week's schedule. I read several complaining reviews before sailing, and overheard other passengers complaining during the cruise. Most of these complaints took the form that something on the Breakaway was not the same as another cruise line. To them I say, being different is the point. I also say you are on the wrong ship. Go back to the other cruise line, and let me enjoy my vacation. Before picking a ship, do some research. Ask a travel agent, friend, or coworker to help you choose the ship that is right for you.
This is a beautiful new ship with a lot to offer. Remember, you are on vacation, so try to enjoy yourself, and don't get hung up if everything is not perfect. It never will be. Also remember your manners. A please and thank you go a long way. Ask the staff for help, don't demand. I bet they work a lot harder than you do, and for less money. They are there to make your vacation better, not to be your personal servants. Less