This was our first Norwegian cruise and last. Embarking in NYC was a pleasure since we live in New York. It was very easy and very organized; it took us about an hour to get through the embarking process and on the ship. Since this was a new ship we were expecting it to be grand, NOT. We entered the ship right at the elevators, nothing grand..just elevators; and got a strong whiff of cigarette smoke. WARNING: If you are not a smoker, than this ship is NOT for you. We are not smokers and suffered the entire cruise having to smell cigarette smoke in the main atrium areas, the pool decks, the bars, and even our balcony. It did not take long for our bags to arrive in our cabin. The cabin with a balcony was a nice size, especially the bathroom (bigger than RCL bathroom). The room was not spotless, we had to ask the attendant to clean the window on the slider. We discovered that our balcony light was not working while we were still at port in NYC; we called guest services to ask for it to be fixed. Sadly, we had to ask again once we arrived in Bermuda and it was finally fixed on the day we were leaving Bermuda. We were never able to enjoy a light on the balcony because we had rough seas back to NY. The cabin attendant was nice, but we were lucky if we saw him 3 times the entire trip. On RCL our attendant was always at our service 24/7 with a smile! There was no pen or pad in the cabin, no chocolates on our pillows, not even a room service menu or mini-bar price list.
DINING: We were 2 adults and 2 teenagers (15 &13), so we mainly ate in the main dining rooms (Manhattan Club, Taste & Savor - included in fare) or at the Garden Café (buffet). Men must have slacks/pants to dine at the Manhattan Club. All 3 main dining areas had the same menu every night, with different specials each night. The Garden Café had a cafeteria feel to it, unlike RCL's Windjammer Buffet. RCL's buffet area had a nice intimate dining feel to it. The food in the Garden Café was nothing to write home about. Some food was labeled, but others were not. The drinking cups are so small that you should fill up two cups each time just to quench your thirst. And the coffee cups are tiny! Each night in the buffet area they had a carving station of Prime Rib/Roast Beef/Chicken. We all enjoyed the soft ice cream :) We did not try the specialty restaurants because we felt that we spent enough money for the cruise in itself. If it is one thing I did not like about Norwegian was the fact that you had to pay extra for specialty dining, Carlo's bakery and Gelato. On RCL you rarely had to pay extra for anything.
ENTERTAINMENT: Our teenagers enjoyed the Entourage (ages 13-17), curfew was 1:00am. They both met some new friends, which was nice. We paid extra for the Cirque show which was nice, dinner was included. It was nice for children, very colorful. The Rock of Ages show was ok, but NOT FOR CHILDREN! The comedian/magician Michael Finney was a nice man, but his show was like being at a 5 year old birthday party. The Second City improvisation show was not our cup of tea. The team was talented though.
POOL/ACTIVITIES: The main pool was very small and our teenagers were told by a staff member that they were not allowed in that pool. The SpongeBob play/pool area was cute, but my teenagers did not want to swim in that pool. It was crazy that NCL expected teenagers to swim with little ones. IMPORTANT: If you want a beach chair you better set your alarm clock for 6am, no joke. Don't leave just a towel on the chair because they will remove it eventually. People were getting nasty with other cruisers and with NCL staff. We found that the daily activities were lame. It was the same activities every day, with maybe four new things added daily. We feel that Julie, the Cruise Director, needs to do a better job.
SHORE EXCURSIONS: We did not do any shore excursions in Bermuda because we wanted to enjoy the beaches. The public transportation bus/ferry was very easy and convenient to use. Horseshoe Bay is a must see! Gorgeous! We did not like the public area of Elbow Beach. Snorkel Park, which is a short walk from the dock, was a nice beach to rent pedal boats, kayaks, jet skis, etc. There was a $5 fee to enter, free for 12 and under.
DISEMBARKMENT: We chose the 'walk-off' option, carry your own suitcases off the ship. It was very easy. We left the ship at 8:15am, went through customs, caught a cab to parking garage to pick up car, headed home (hour drive)...Door to door a total of two hours, awesome time! TIP: When you are trying to catch an elevator to disembark...take an elevator up, because all the elevators going down will be full!
We enjoyed our vacation to Bermuda, however we did not like the Norwegian Breakaway ship. We don't believe it was worth the amount of money that we paid and the service was not very good. We found that the majority of staff members were not very friendly or knowledgeable. We remain Royal Caribbean fans!
My husband compiled a like/very long dislike list comparing Norwegian Breakaway to Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas. Read at YOUR OWN RISK...lol
-Photos organized by code on card key and can be viewed on the touch screens for easy viewing and purchase.
-Excursions on touch screens in public areas displayed availability of shows during the week and can make reservations on the touch screen.
-Shower was a little larger than Royal.
-Large outdoor video screen, for music videos in adult club Spice H2O
-Very large indoor movie screen for movies and games (but not movie theater seating. Instead it was lobby style seating).
-Calendar for excursions and your booked events show on your TV in your room.
-Can download a phone app for messaging/calling from cell phone to cell phone while on the ship. $7.95 per person for the entire cruise (but it didn't always work).
-Rope course and water slides were fun.
-Cirque de Soleil Jungle Dreams started a little slow, but then got much better. Very small stage, but very personal. We sat right in front and watched the show while eating dinner.
-Paper towel dispenser/sign by exit door of public bathrooms reminded bathroom users to use a paper towel to open the restroom door when exiting.
-8-10 minute firework show one night on the ship.
-No lobster except for in a pasta dish
-Pillowcase odor on first night. Had to have pillows changed.
-Light on balcony of our cabin didn't work. Called first day and one or two other times. It didn't get fixed until Friday afternoon.
-No promenade with open space above. Very closed in feeling inside ship.
-Not fancy - carpeting vs marble on Royal
-Very small balcony. Only 3ft deep x approx 8 ft wide.
-Safe was locked when we first entered our cabin and took hours to get opened.
-Only two electrical outlets in entire room
-Small food places charge for everything. No cafe's like Royal with free food.
-Smell of cigarette smoke throughout ship
-Ice bar costs $20 per person
-Didn't have tables set up when boarded to purchase soda pkgs and get your thermos.
-soda package thermos was smaller than on Royal.
-Rock wall was very short in height and was rarely open. Only saw someone there once.
-Public bathrooms were very plain. Royal's were marble and elaborate.
-They had bathroom-like sinks at one of the cafe entrances which were very tacky looking.
-Not all the food was labeled in the Garden Cafe buffet.
-Staff wasn't there at cafe to greet you and remind you to sanitize your hands.
-Cafe busboys didn't ask to get you anything to drink and didn't strike up any conversations.
-Elevators small and dark vs Royal's window atrium elevators and difficult to hear bell when arrived.
-No towel animals left on bed first and last nights.
-Cabin attendant wasn't there to greet us or give us an intro to the cabin. He was rarely around.
-No chocolates left on our beds at night while other guests received them.
-Cabin attendant took our blanket away on second night.
-Cabin attendant mistakenly took our dummy card which keeps the lights and outlets powered while not in room.
-Cabin attendant (or someone else) left a used cup of punch on our counter in our room and he claimed he didn't do it.
-No paper/pen in cabin
-Room service doesn't allow beverage package sodas - costs extra if you want a soda even though we had a soda package
-Room service wait time was 1 hr at 11pm
-Fingerprints on sliding glass door and closet door on our cabin when we first arrived.
-Every time someone entered/exit cabin the door would SLAM loudly, and can hear voices from neighboring rooms.
-No ice sculptures. While I think royal had them every day.
-Only saw one melon sculpture. Royal had them every day.
-Available deck chairs very difficult to find.
-Had to make reservations for magic show, but it wasn't made clear during public address system announcements by the cruise director.
-Asked two people (guest svcs and someone in uniform) if Friday was the last night for pictures and they said there will be pictures Saturday. We then noticed the freestyle daily brochure they leave in your room nightly indicated that Friday was the last chance for pictures. Turned out they did take pictures on Saturday so there was mixed messages.
-Friends told is their Ultimate Drink Package has a $9 limit on dollar value of drinks. Anything over you pay the full amount, not the difference.
-no speaker switch in cabin to turn on/off the loudspeaker announcements you hear in the hallway.
-mini bar price menu was put in cabin on last day (Saturday) instead of first day.
-Internet service only worked a few days.
-ordered photo prints and flash drive but flash drive was missing one of ten pics. They redid it, but it still was missing. Had to do it a third time to get it right. However, they did credit me for the flash drive and give me a few extra prints for the inconvenience.