My husband, adult daughter and I just got off the Breakaway this past Sunday (June 30th), and thought we would share some of the highlights of our wonderful cruise vacation.
This actually was our first NCL cruise (we are RCI Diamond members, who have also sailed on Princess, Celebrity and Disney cruise line in the past). If we were to compare RCI with NCL, all I would say is that (personally) we missed the beautiful, multi-tiered main dining rooms that can be found on RCI's ships. Having said this, however, I will also point out there is really nothing to find fault with the way the Breakaways’ dining areas are set up. This ship is GORGEOUS! Tastefully decorated and staffed with wonderfully friendly personnel, our cruise was magnificent from start to finish.
We arrived at the NCL check-in counter around 11:00 AM, and the boarding process was smooth and efficient. We were handed a number (30) and told to wait until our number was called to board. It happened very quickly, and we were on the ship by around 11:45 AM. Since the staterooms were not ready, we went to the buffet with our carry on luggage, and found a table very easily. The choices were plentiful and we found the food excellent, so we thoroughly enjoyed our first lunch onboard. We then headed to the spa for a visit; we had debated treating ourselves to Thermal Suite passes for this cruise, but the cost of $199 per person for the week (coupled with the fact that we'd read comments about heated lounge chair hogs) made us change our minds. The area, however, is beautiful and left us longing for a bit of self pampering.
About our accommodations: we were in balcony stateroom 10822, starboard and mid- ship on deck 10. This was an excellent choice. The bed (extremely comfortable) was by the patio door, and the sleep sofa by the cupboard. The bathroom was lovely and roomy, and the shower the largest we have had on a cruise ship. There was soap, body wash and shampoo available in dispensers on the walls, and a hair dryer under the desk in the room. We brought some extra hangers from home, as we were 3 in the stateroom, and found the storage space adequate for our needs. No drawers, but lots of shelves in the room and in the bathroom. Suitcases fit under the bed, so were out of our way once emptied. There was also a clever light system in place above each stateroom door, allowing one to indicate with a simple flip of a switch whether privacy was needed or if the stateroom attendant could come in and make up the room, as well as a safe in which to store our valuables (but not big enough for a laptop or tablet).
We mainly had breakfast and lunch at the Garden Café (buffet), which was always very good. For dinner, we ate in the Manhattan Room a couple of times (we enjoyed having a live band playing during our meal), and in Savour once (the menu in all three main dining rooms, The Manhattan Room, Savour and Taste, is the same). We found the food at dinner to be good, but not terrific and often a bit heavy on the salt. For the most part, the wait staff was efficient and friendly everywhere we ate. We also sampled the food at O'sheehan's (fabulous 'bangers and mash' and yummy desserts), had one dinner at the buffet (we went there for lobster tails, as they are no longer served in the main dining rooms, but didn't find them very good as they were smothered in cheese), and one dinner in the Breakaway's Italian restaurant, La Cucina. The food there was good, but we didn't find it worth the up-sale ($15 per person cover charge) as it was, in our opinion, a bit ordinary. The setting, however, was truly lovely and the service excellent. We also enjoyed a Sabrett hot dog one afternoon, as well as a lobster tail pastry from Carlo's Bakery (yum!)
The Waterfront dining/bar areas are fabulous... what a novel idea!
One of the real highlights of our cruise was the Jungle Fantasy dinner show, not to be missed in our opinion. The artists were stupendous, the costumes gorgeous, the decor lovely, and the food excellent. Pure fantasy at its best!
Other show offerings: We thoroughly enjoyed "Burn the Floor", a high energy ballroom dance show featuring a cast of extremely talented and charismatic dancers, and the show by guest artist Michael Finney (magician/comedian) was great fun. Although the cast of Rock of Ages was undeniably talented, we found the show to be a rather poor fit for a cruise ship. Many people walked out during the performance, which was rather sad to see. We also found the Second City comedy show just so so when we went, as the comedians were doing improv at that particular performance and the subject matter was rather weak (not the comedians' fault, as said subject matter was made up mainly of audience suggestions). The 'Deal or no Deal' and 'Dancing with the Breakaway Stars' game shows were both a lot of fun and extremely popular, and there were lots of different entertainment options and parties to keep one busy the whole week long.
We found the pools to be on the small side for the size of the ship, and they would get really packed on sea days (think sardines in a can). The children's water play area is wonderful, as are the water park with its awesome slides (those free-fall slides! Yikes! My husband and daughter really enjoyed those), the mini golf, and the ropes course (quite the workout!). Note: You absolutely need to bring 'closed' shoes to do the ropes (like running shoes), or they won't let you on. No open back or open toe shoes were allowed, no matter how well they fit.
Chair hogs were rampant, and by 7:00 AM it was already impossible to find a lounge chair by the pools. A deck patrol would be of great help in solving this kind of problem, as the 'no reserving of chairs' for more than 60 minutes really needs to be enforced. We even saw people double booking chairs for themselves, some in the sun and some in the shade... in other words, we saw parties of 4 hogging 8 chairs for themselves. Unreal.
The beauty of Breakaway's itinerary is that it's like 2 vacations in one: a wonderful cruise, plus a mini stay in gorgeous Bermuda. With its friendly people, soft pink sand beaches, turquoise waters and pastel houses, what is there not to love? We purchased unlimited transportation passes (you can buy 1 or 2 days passes right on the ship, or 3 day passes or transportation tokens when you arrive in port), as Bermuda is very easy to visit on one's own. The passes gave us unlimited access to both buses and ferries. There is even a 'special' bus that leaves right from the port and goes directly to Horseshoe Bay. It just couldn't be more easy or convenient!
All in all, we enjoyed an absolutely wonderful week on the Breakaway and would recommend this cruise and this beautiful ship with its top notch staff in a heartbeat! Great job NCL, and thanks for the wonderful memories!