Let me start off by saying that this was our 8th cruise. We have four children and find that cruising provides a little something for everyone. The Breakaway was the first time we have cruised with NCL. We have mostly cruised with Royal Caribbean and my husband wanted to try out freestyle cruising on NCL. I will breakdown each area of our cruise and try to give you the best possible information.
We had a family member drop us off at the cruise terminal since we only live 45 minutes away. We arrived at the cruise terminal at 10:30am. The bag attendants are right at the curb and picked up our bags right away. We entered the terminal and walked straight to check-in...no lines at all. We checked in and received our key cards in less than 10 minutes. We were on the ship by 11:30am. This is when I realized how many people were on this ship. It took forever to get an elevator up to the Garden Cafe which is on the 15th floor to get lunch so we decided to eat at O'Sheehan's Irish Pub which was less crowded. We packed a carry on bag with bathing suits so we could change and enjoy the pool before our bags arrived. The pool area was very crowded and it was very hard to find a lounge chair. We had a balcony stateroom so we went back to our room to watch the ship leave Manhattan. The ship passes the Statue of Liberty and this made for some wonderful photos.
We booked three balcony staterooms on the 12th floor forward. The balconies were rather small but we were able to open the dividers between the balconies with our other two rooms so this was not an issue for us. One of our staterooms had the sofa near the sliders for the balcony and the other had the bed near the sliders. I feel that the configuration with the bed near the sliders worked out better for us because this gave us better access to the closet. The room had ample storage space and we were able to store four suitcases under our beds. The bathroom was nice but there are no power outlets in the bathroom. We never had any issues with noise and our beds and pillows were very comfortable. Our room stewards were very helpful and always gave us whatever we needed.
I cant't really give you a review on the main pool because we spent most of our time at the kid pool area. I can tell you that it seemed like the main pool was too small and was often very crowded. The kids pool area and slides are set-up a little awkward. There are no chairs set-up directly facing or near the kid pool area so every time my daughter wanted to play in the kiddie pool I had to stand there and watch her. The slide in the kiddie pool and deck around the floor area was very slippery. I can't tell you how many kids and adults I saw slip and fall. The water slides were awesome and the kids and the adults really enjoyed them. If you want a lounge chair you must get there no later than 7:30am. There are not enough loungers for the amount of passengers on this ship. I saw many passengers reserve chairs with towels or their personal belongings and not come back to use them for hours. There is no one monitoring this situation.
We all enjoyed this area of the ship. We did the ropes course, walked the plank, trampoline and miniature golf. The lines are longer on sea days so if you have some extra time when you are at port, I suggest you go then. My boys enjoyed the basketball court.
We ate at all of the main dining rooms: Savor, Taste, and Manhattan. We found that Savor and Taste are very similar and the food and service is just ok. The Manhattan had a little more variety but the service was still slow. It seems that they do not have enough servers. We had one waiter that would get us our drinks, take our orders and bring us our food. When we cruised on Royal Caribbean we had someone from the bar that would bring our drinks, a waiter and an assistant waiter. We also ate at two of the extra fee restaurants: La Cucina and Moderno. La Cucina is not authentic Italian food and I would not recommend this restaurant. It almost seemed like it was the same food from the buffet. Moderno was amazing!! I would highly recommend this restaurant. The service was great and the food was awesome. Overall, the buffet was the same food everyday but the kids enjoyed it. The Uptown grill is great for breakfast and it's a lot quieter than the Garden Buffet.
Our kids met many friends and really enjoyed the kids club. The process of checking them in an out takes a while. They only have one check-in/check-out counter for all the age groups. I suggest getting there a few minutes early at check-in and check-out to avoid the long line. My kids really liked the counselors and they have many fun activities for them. They especially enjoyed all the Nickelodeon themed games and activities.
We enjoyed most of the shows. Cirque dinner show was awesome and a must see. Rock of Ages was also a great show but definitely not for little kids. Burn the Floor was amazing if you enjoy dancing. The magician was really not that interesting and I would say skip this one. All the tribute shows are entertaining.
We enjoyed going to H2O at night for dancing and drinks. They hold several different themed parties there at night which are very enjoyable. Our older son enjoyed bliss and our 15 year old had an amazing time at entourage.
Bermuda is beautiful and is the main reason we decided to go on this trip. The first day we took a catamaran boat called the Rising Son. This excursion was well worth the money and the guides were very knowledgable. I would highly recommend this excursion. The 2nd day we took the ferry to Hamilton for shopping. We bought many of our souvenirs here. On the 3rd day we went to Horseshoe Bay. This is the most amazing beach ever!! It does get crowded so try not to go on the first day. Also, if you walk down the beach a little further it is less crowded and you will find the prettiest coves. Bermuda is very expensive so you must be prepared for that.
Overall, we had a great vacation. I was a little worried on the first day but then I reminded myself a vacation is what you make of it. If you over analyze every situation you are going to have a miserable time. Anywhere you go during the summer months, whether it's a cruise, Disney, or a resort, most likely it's going to be crowded. The ship would have been ideal if it had about 1000 less passengers. With that said it also provides many opportunities to do things you have never done before. So my suggestion is to plan ahead, let loose and enjoy your time with your family.