Background Information: We returned from our Breakaway seven night cruise two weeks ago (June 30, 2013 –July 7, 2013). This is our sixth sailing on NCL. We have sailed on the Spirit, Dawn, Jewel, Gem, Star and now the beautiful Breakaway. My husband and I have loved each of our NCL cruises and this one was no exception!
Embarkation: We arrived at NY Pier 88 early around 10:15 by a car service, gave our luggage to the porters at the pier and proceeded through the screening area without any problems. We like to arrive early to get a low number and to board the ship early. We can’t wait for that first step on the ship. We entered the Gold/Platinum/VIP line and waited only a couple of minutes to be processed by helpful NCL staff. We also could have processed through the CAS line, as we booked with a Harrah’s discount. We boarded the ship at 11:15, the third number to be called. A large wedding party with about 200 or so guests and visitors were before us as well as the suite guests with their concierge. We entered the ship with cheerful staff welcoming us and went to our cabin just to drop off our carryon luggage. We then met our cabin steward, Milton who took great care of our room all week and left the cutest towel animals most nights. As he was still making up his rooms, we left, explored the ship a bit and then went to the Main Dining Room for a relaxing first meal. We were not disappointed in the food, the wait staff or the décor of the room. During the entire cruise, I kept getting Savor and Taste mixed up so I don’t know which one we ate in that day. They serve the same food. The rooms were extremely attractive and we sat by the window at a table for two overlooking the port. As we finished lunch, an announcement was made that the cabins were ready for us.
Cabin: We had a 9th deck mini-suite cabin that was midship and on the portside. According to all the NCL deck plans that I had studied before the cruise and other deck plans published by other sites, the bed was supposed to be situated by the window. Guess what? The deck plans were wrong and the bed in our cabin was by the closet. This was a little disappointing at first, but there still was about 15 inches or more to get into the closet and having the bed by the closet gave the rest of the cabin a more spacious feeling. You might want to make a note that this continued down the line with the cabin bed situation being opposite from the plans. The bathroom was very roomy, the shower was great. There was no problems with the AC, got as cold as we liked. Milton gave us a dummy card to put into the slot to keep the electricity going when we were out of the room. A card must be in the slot for power to be on in the room. The room was over the Shakers Lounge and you could hear the sounds of the piano bar until 12:30am. This really didn’t bother us as most nights we weren’t in our cabin until late. The sound was not too bad anyway, but for you light sleepers or if you have a little one, it is something to make a note of also. The balcony was smaller than the other NCL ships we were on, but we still enjoyed it and especially on the 4th of July evening where we were able to see the fireworks that NCL had for their celebration. What a great view right from our own balcony! We had heard that the upper deck where they were shooting them off was very crowded. We had plenty of storage space in our room. I did bring extra hangers so that I could hang up all I needed. There were shelves in the closet as well as under the TV cabinets and drawers under the sofa. I had emptied out the fridge for our own use and told Milton we wouldn’t be using the items in it. He suggested storage of the items in the cube/seat that was at the desk. We had our muster drill, received our luggage shortly after, unpacked and eventually went to dinner in the Manhattan Room. That night we saw the performance of Burn the Floor. It was excellent. I wish I had half the energy that the dancers had.
Ship Activities: The next day, we had our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet in Cagney’s. Since I was the organizer of this, I was very proud to see such a great turnout for the event. We must have had over 70 come to meet each other. The Senior Officers, at least nine of them, came to welcome us as well as Julie, the Cruise Director. NCL provided a light breakfast of pastries and coffee, juice etc. The officers provided everyone with cards with phone numbers and if anyone had any problems they were there for help in finding a solution. Everyone really should take advantage of this opportunity to attend their M&G. In some of the past reviews that I’ve read, I wonder if some of the problems reported could have been avoided totally by speaking to the right Department Head. After the M&G we had a Slot Pull that was great fun. We won a little back and had a lot of laughs. The ship’s casino is much spread out and divided into sections – some areas were smokier than others. There is a small non-smoking section. The slots were tight, at least for us. As for entertainment, we attended all the shows. Rock of Ages show was very well done, but not for the children and the Cirque dinner show was great, food wasn’t bad either. We saw Fire & Ice – terrific, and Slam Allen in Fat Cats, equally entertaining! Second City was OK – Maybe I’m not too much of a fan of this type of comedy. You could not step more than a few feet without coming into contact with another venue of entertainment. The ship has the best entertainment on any ship we’ve been on. There is always something going on and it is hard to choose what to do. Reservations are a must for the main shows. The pool deck is crowded as can be expected on a summer high season cruise when all the children are out of school. If you book a summer cruise on any ship you will find it crowded at this time – expect this when booking. The “chair hogs” don’t help the situation, but I did see staff removing towels etc., at times. We always found chairs if not on one deck then on another. Spice H20 was our area one day.
Dining: We love the idea of Freestyle Dining, but on this ship for the Specialty Restaurants, I would suggest making your reservations in advance because of the large amount of guests. Even in the Main Dining Rooms, especially The Manhattan Room, if you want to see Burn the Floor when they perform there, make a reservation. All the restaurants we ate at had terrific servers and we had excellent service. We ate in all three MDR’s as well as the Cirque Dinner Show and La Cucina. There wasn’t a meal that disappointed us. I’m Lactose Intolerant and spoke to the Restaurant Manager when we ate our first luncheon, and he assured me that they would take care of my needs and they certainly did – even in the Cirque dinner show. Lactose free milk was available and dairy free deserts were made.
Bermuda: We love Bermuda. This was our fifth time there. Our first day we went by bus to Horseshoe Bay, rented our chairs and umbrellas, explored the cave there, since it was low tide and accessible and just relaxed in the beautiful aqua water and pink sand. Yes, it is pink although some don’t see it as much as I do. When the sunlight hits the receding water, it’s just beautiful. When we left, we shared a taxi with another couple heading to the Dockyard - $7 per person plus tip, of course. The next day we made arrangements to visit the Coco Beach Resort. They sell day passes ($49 each) and this included a lovely lunch and glass of wine, beer or soda and use of their pool and all their facilities including towels, chairs, and umbrellas. We took a ferry to Hamilton and then a cab to the resort. On our third day in Bermuda, we shopped in the Dockyard in the morning and then took the NCL boat excursion of The Famous Homes & Hideaways of Bermuda. This was the perfect ending to our three days in Bermuda and a great excursion, on a just fantastic sunny day.
Disembarkation: After having our last breakfast on board and saying goodbye to our cabin steward Milton, we reluctantly gathered our carryon’s and headed to wait for our time to leave the Breakaway. We waited until 9:15 in O’Sheehans, walked off the ship, went to pick up our luggage, found a porter to bring us through customs and out to the pick-up area on the second floor and waited for our son and family to pick us up at 10:am.
Synopsis: We really enjoyed this cruise on the Breakaway. Yes, the ship as any other ship regardless of the cruise line will be crowded at high peak sailing times. If you book during this time of year expect it. If you don’t want to have crowds book another time of year. There is always a quiet area if you look hard enough. We never felt the crowds to be excessive. We thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment as well as all the meals that we ate. The Staff and crew are tops and will do anything and everything to please the passengers and if they know there’s a concern to remedy, they will do their best to help and correct the situation. Go to your Meet & Greet and you will meet your fellow cruisers on your sailing and the Staff that will be there for you on your cruise. Did I say before that we loved the Breakaway and can’t wait to sail again? We sure do!