This was our second NCL Cruise; first one was on the Dawn to Bermuda. Our previous cruises (all out of NY/NJ) were with Carnival once (never again) and Royal Caribbean three times. We were on the July 14th sailing to Bermuda and our party of 10 (2 couples in our early 50's with adult children aged 17, 19, 20 and 22; and a 40 year old couple) was excited to sail on a new ship out of New York. We had five cabins (2 mini-suites, 2 insides and an ocean view). I kept up with all the reviews before we left so there would be no surprises. For the most part, the reviews were accurate.
Embarkation was AWFUL! We arrived at 11:15 after a two hour drive from CT and waited over an hour. The lines were very long and several check-in stations were actually closed. The person who checked in my family had an unpleasant attitude.
The Breakaway is a beautiful ship and the crew was polite but not overly friendly. I use Royal Caribbean as the model for staff friendliness. The cabins were small as noted in other reviews. Our mini-suite was comfortable with a great bathroom. The bed was by the closet and there was enough space to get to it when needed and lots of places to store things. In my opinion, this configuration made the cabin more open with the couch and balcony area being together. My sons inside cabin was small but fine. In retrospect, I regret upgrading to the mini-suite (MA) from a balcony (BA); its not worth the extra cost. I wont even mention the size of the balcony. Our cabin attendant took good care of the stateroom. We loved the towel animals every night! The beds were comfortable but then again, they had only been in use for 9 weeks. The hallways are narrow but it wasn't an issue.
The slides were fun and H2O was nice during the day. The young adults in our group enjoyed the Sports Court. The Waterfront is lovely but it was too hot and windy to sit out there for extended times. It was better when we were docked in Bermuda. Not sure how this concept will serve NCL in the end. It's a nice idea but not sure how practical. We had great weather but could see the ship becoming crowded very fast in inclement weather. The cruise to Bermuda was so smooth that it did not feel like the ship was even moving at times!
We dont sit by the pool when we cruise and were very glad we dont because it looked stressful. There were people everywhere, not enough chaises and many agitated guests. It was also dangerous because of the slippery conditions on the wet surfaces. There were no small children in our party, so I cant comment on those activities.
We did do the water slides and rope course and they were fun. Some in our party walked the plank too. The lines were short when we were docked and so we took advantage of that time.
The Cruise Director on this cruise, Julie, was out of sight and seemed too corporate for this role. I didnt see her mingling with guests or walking around. She opened up some of the big events but other than that, I did not see her. A good CD can make a cruise and she did not add anything to this one. Our party of 10 had fun because of what we put into it.
The entertainment was good. Fire and Ice was great and Howl at the Moon was entertaining but an uncomfortable place to sit for too long. Burn the Floor was very good, but we didnt care for Rock of Ages. The need for reservations to see a show seemed to take away from the Freestyle theme. There should be a place for adult dancing (without a loud bass in the background. Everywhere we went, the dance music was the same. Note to NCL: perhaps some dance music for the folks who are paying for the 20 year olds vacation could be added please!
678 Ocean Place looked nice but wasnt the open area we thought it would be; certainly not like a Royal Promenade. One floor is the casino which was over- crowded most of the time and smoky. The chandelier is beautiful and the changing colors provide a nice atmosphere. The bars were nice but we found the mixed drinks were watered down. I am not a big drinker and had three different martinis in 90 minutes on the last evening and it was like drinking Kool-Aid. It was hard to find a place to have drinks delivered to you. The places that had barmaid service were often crowded. We sat in the Atrium behind Guest Services a lot and had to get our own watered down drinks and pay a 15% gratuity. The Ice Bar is a tourist trap, $20 for what tasted like punch. The Ice Bar itself was just a very cold room with a not so happy bartender, a frozen chair and a couple of ice sculptures... no music... nothing special, other than the temperature. It was disappointing. We enjoy trying different cocktails when cruising. Shame on NCL for not providing quality cocktails. The NCL U Martini tasting was fun but no one drank the first original martini; hope they change that.
The wait for a table at dinner was fine but the time to eat was too long; usually a couple of hours, which cut into our night activities. Food quality was good but choices were limited. Not enough pasta choices. We didnt pay for a Specialty Restaurant, other than the Noodle Bar and sushi at Wasabi which were both very good and reasonably priced. No lobster night, other than in the Garden Cafe was very disappointing. We never found the hot dog stand operational, maybe it was by the pool. Garden Cafe offered good food and selection, even for my gluten free sister- in-law, so no complaints there. We always found a place to sit. Coffee, however, was awful but I did love the smiling guy who came around with coffee in the morning and so I drank it. The Lavazza coffee at the bakery was bad too and there wasnt enough sugar on board to make it better.
I was very disappointed you couldn't use the sauna without paying a fee. The walking track was in a terrible spot and couldn't be used on sea days because of the crowds. My friends went to the gym everyday and said it was too small for the size of the ship. People were waiting a while for machines.
This was our 3rd time to Bermuda and it was beautiful as usual! We tried Elbow Bay the first day and Horseshoe Bay the next two days. The people are wonderful, very polite and friendly and so it remains are favorite island.
We appreciated crew members meeting us at the pier in Bermuda after a beach day with cool towels, ice water and exchanging our wet and sandy beach towels - that was a very nice touch and made us feel special and appreciated! We also appreciated being greeted when boarding and leaving the ship in New York (someone from NCL must have read the reviews).
The fireworks were a nice treat!
The Muster Drill was a concern. It would seem that the drill should be outside at your lifeboat station and not in the casino.
Pictures are too expensive! There should be a package making it more affordable. However, the binders were a great improvement in locating your pictures.
Disembarkation was quick and easy. It took less than a half hour to get off the ship and through customs.
All in all we had a good time because of the people in our party and because we were on a cruise vacation! It was a very expensive vacation and don't think it was a good value. We have decided that that we are Royal Caribbean cruisers from now on and have already booked for next summer!