Myself, my husband and two college-aged sons just returned from the Breakaway's cruise to Bermuda. We have cruised many times on NCL as well as Disney and maybe that is why we were so disappointed with the Breakaway. We chose this cruise because of the "new ship" as well as the destination of Bermuda. However, we were very disappointed.
We had two adjoining inside cabins on deck 12 mid ship. While the cabins were very small, the bathroom was a nice size. There is NO storage/drawer space. Luckily, we brought two large portable shelves that fold up that hang from the closet rod. Without that, there was not enough room for two people's clothes for one week. The room is very poorly designed - there is a table/desk with a mini-bar/refrig underneath which was never cold enough to cool even a water bottle. That space should have been used for a dresser. The shelves in the closet are barely wide enough to hold shirts. Pants had to be folded twice to fit on the shelf.
Upon arriving into our room, there were several unused juice boxes on one of the shelves from a previous guest. The window over the desk area had finger prints and makeup marks on it and the the ice bucket had melted ice in it. The bathroom was not cleaned very well either. I had to make five phone calls to have the mini-bar emptied out so that we could put water bottles in it. Once it was cleaned out, housekeeping re-stocked it the next day. We were provided with only two bath towels every day. I had to leave a note everyday to leave additional towels.
We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants, preferring to use the included main dining rooms (MDR). The MDRs were okay for breakfast, but not much variety. So we ended up using the Garden Cafe for the bfst buffet which was surprisingly very good. O'Sheehans was excellent for lunch. The food was very good at times in the MDRs but not much of a variety - each DR serves the same menu for the most part. The Manhattan Room is the more formal of the three and was usually much better than Taste or Savor.
While you could make reservations for the specialty restaurants, you could not for the MDRs. On the first day, we went to Taste for dinner at 6:30 and was told there was a 60 minute wait. They give you a beeper and you will wait 60 minutes. We had a 9:00 show reserved so was forced to reschedule the show and change around the rest of our evening schedules for the week. The rest of the week, we would go to the restaurant of choice 45 minutes before we wanted to dine, get a pager (because there was always a wait) and then shower to get ready for dinner.
There is very limited options for snacks during the day as the buffet area closes at 3:00 and then doesn't re-open until 5:00, so tough to find something to eat during that time period or get snacks. Only place to get lemonade, iced tea, water is on Deck 15 and 16, not really convenient if you are on decks 6/7/8 where most of the indoor activities take place. In addition, the cups they give you are very small.
Staff is very good for the most part, but with over 4,200 guests on board, it is an impossible job to be able to provide excellent service. The ship is too big with too many guests on board.
The daily activities were okay, but not repeated, other than trivia which was good. For example, there was family dodge ball on the second day. This activity was very well received but it was not available on any other day. In addition, most evening activities (after 10:00 p.m.) were dance parties - loud music with lots of drinking - neither of which we find particularly exciting! It would have been nice to be able to relax after dinner with a movie under the stars etc.
The entertainment was AWFUL - Burn the Floor stage show had some extraordinary dancing but was very loud. Rock of Ages was a rated "R" show and did not find it appropriate for a family cruise. The improv comedy show was AWFUL - vulgar, disgusting, and totally inappropriate. Anyone that jokes about murdering people has some serious issues. In addition, joking about people's bodily functions is gross. The magician was the highlight of the cruise but he only did two shows. They need to give him more show times.
The casino is in the middle of the ship in an open area. However, you have to walk either through it, or above it to get to the major activities/shopping on the inside of the ship. When you are allergic to smoke, this a nearly impossible task. Smoking is permitted in the casino and this make it intolerable. The casino should be at either the front or back of the ship out of the way and in an open area to the outside where the the smoke can go outside the ship. In addition, the biggest threat to a cruise ship is fire, yet they allow smoking in a casino. It was amazing watching the gamblers concentrating on slot machines, deep in thought, yet holding a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Seems like a huge safety concern!
There seemed to be an additional charge for everything - soda package was $6.50 per day - not unreasonable though. Mixed drinks were $8.00 - $9.75 each. There was an additional charge for billiards ($2.50 per player), air hockey $1.50 per), and bowling ($5.00 per player) which wasn't real bowling - two lanes using small pins and small ball. Specialty coffees were $3.00 per cup and up, and gelato was $2.50 and up. The mini golf, rope course, and aqua slides were excellent and there was no additional charge for these.
The weather was very nice on several of the sea days. Thus the pool areas got VERY CROWDED. In fact, they were so crowded that there were not enough chaise loungers, or any other chairs available. Many people voiced dissatisfaction about not being able to "lay out" in the sun. My guesstimate is that they had only enough for 2,000 people, maybe.
On the last day at sea (Saturday), the upper decks were "dirty". Drinks had spilled on the deck, and were very sticky. Yet, nothing was done to clean the spills up. I noticed two very large spills at 9:30 a.m. and by 2:00 p.m. the spills were still there, and even stickier from the sun. Similarly, there were many times when there would be garbage (empty cups, plates) just left around without the staff cleaning it up.
One pet peeve is the entertainment staff kept referring to themselves as "I am ????, part of the cruise director's staff." I thought they should have referred to them as "I am ????, from ????". Aren't all staff on a cruise ship part of a team, why the need to differentiate whose staff?
The walk from the ship to the ferries and buses at the dock at Bermuda is a long one for some people. The ship should provide shuttle/tram service similar to what Celebrity did for their guests which was also docked there.
In summary, the Breakaway was a huge disappointment, and one that will keep me away from NCL in the future. Many people I spoke with had very similar comments as the ship is just too big to be able to provide a great experience for the guests.