Hopefully this review will give an unbiased opinion of our experience on the August 4-11 sailing on the Breakaway. My wife and I traveled with my daughter (28) and her boyfriend who had their own balcony cabin. We have never sailed with NCL before, had 2 cruises with Carnival and 4 cruises with Royal Caribbean.
PARKING: We parked at pier 88 for $245 ($35/day). It is a little expensive but considering it is NYC not that bad. It does beat paying for 4 airline tickets to Florida.
EMBARKATION: It was quite easy and quick. We arrived at 10:15 and were waiting to board by 10:30.
VIBE BEACH CLUB: I had read how crowded the ship can be especially on sea days so I wanted to purchase the Vibe passes when we arrived on the ship. First, get there early if you want these passes at $79 each per week. We were some of the first people on the ship at 11:20 and we went directly to Guest Services on deck 6 and were in line at 11:25. They were putting names on a list for the Vibe and at that point we were numbers 25-28 and they only sell 75 passes. By 11:45 they were sold out and you could not get a pass. For us it was definitely worth it because as we walked around the ship throughout the week it definitely was an oasis in the chaos of an overcrowded ship.
STATEROOMS: We had a mini-suite and our kids had a balcony stateroom. I will tell you that we paid approximately $600 more for our cabin that our kids and the only difference was we had a larger bathroom. It was not worth the extra money to have a larger shower and a dual sink but others may feel different about it. The cabin itself in both cases was OK but it certainly feels much larger when the bed is nearest the window. It made it difficult to get in the closet when the bed is next to it.
DINING: Manhattan Room we enjoyed the atmosphere and in this dining room. The live music was a plus and the food was good and timely. We also enjoyed watching people dance and enjoy themselves on the dance floor.
Savor standard cruise ship dining room, the food was OK but no atmosphere.
La Cucina we really enjoyed this restaurant. Great Italian food and pizza with a nice atmosphere and great service.
Le Bistro the one restaurant we did not enjoy. It was too small and crowded and the food was not the best. The fish was undercooked and it had the fewest options of any specialty menu.
Moderno we had a wonderful time at this restaurant with the great salad bar and then the servers coming around and offering you a large selection of meats right on the spit.
OSheehans a good place to grab a bite to eat at any time of the day or night. Good burgers and chicken sandwiches. The usual selections of comfort foods.
Garden Cafe had a nice selection of a foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner but varied little from day to day. I really didn't like the way it is set up with the long buffet line of stations. If I wanted something at one end it was a long walk to the other end to for something else. I prefer stations in a central location and seating and drinks close together to one side. One other concern was the line for omelets. The omelets were good but the wait could sometimes be quite long because you had some people ordering two, three or four omelets at one time which made it quite slow.
ENTERTAINMENT: Some of it was great like Slam Allen in the FAT CAT Blues Club and the Cirque show which also had a good with filet mignon and shrimp at our show. The Rock of Ages show was just OK and a little inappropriate for some of the younger audience. We felt the cast did a great job but the creation of the show was not the best. The Second City comedy show and the Magician were also OK but we didn't find either of them that funny. We really liked the start of the Howl at the Moon dueling pianos and some of the jokes but it became more about the money (if you give more money than the person before you they will stop that song and play another) but as one of our group stated I wish they would play at least one song all the way through.
CROWDS: This is where many of the reviews are right on. IT IS CROWDED I don't care what anyone else says. Now that being said we just went with the flow and enjoyed ourselves BUT we were certainly glad we had the Vibe passes when it came to escaping the masses clamoring for space. It also seems that they let anyone smoke anywhere as long as it is outside.
HALLWAYS: They are quite narrow and seemed to always have towel carts in them all the time. I say this because we would have to turn sideways to get by the carts in the hallway an it just seemed quite tight to me.
BERMUDA: We had been recently so we found getting around quite easy. We purchased the 3 day bus/ferry pass and had a great time. They have buses labeled SPECIAL that will take you directly to Horseshoe Bay and pick you up their also. We took the ferry to Hamilton and St.George and had a great time. The only day to go Hamilton at night is Wednesday when they have the streets closed and to a special evening. Any other night after 5 and everything is closed except restaurants. The one negative is the internet card you can purchase from TDI Bermuda for $15 for 3 days. It sounds like a great deal compared to ship prices but it hardly works. I think their biggest problem it they are not equipped for that many people accessing the site at the same time. We could get good signal but it could take 10-15 minutes to load one page. This tells me that their bandwidth is way to small to handle two cruise ships at the same time. (When we were there in April it worked much better but it was one ship and much smaller, so fewer people.)
STAFF: We enjoyed the staff very much. We met many wonderful people from mostly the Philippines and India. They were very friendly and helpful.
DEBARKATION: We carried our luggage off at 7:30 and were in our car by 7:45 for the ride home.
RECOMMENDATION: My daughter (who had never cruised) asked if we would cruise with NCL again. My answer was that if they had an itinerary and a price that I could not find anywhere else I would consider it but I think we have become accustomed to what Royal Caribbean has to offer. We have been on the three largest sizes RCI has to offer and never felt as crowded as this one. It does not mean I wouldn't recommend NCL to others but I would share with them our likes and dislikes in what we experienced.