I'll start this off by saying that ship is absolutely huge, in fact I didn't even go to/find all the little nooks and crannies the ship had to offer until my last couple of days on board, however it is rather crowded, but don't let that stop you from having a good time.
By the way, a quick fyi, I'm a 20 something cruising with my parents, as well as, my brother his wife and their kids (3 year old girl and a 5 year old boy) and his wife's parents.
After dropping your luggage off to the crew outside of the Pier 88 entrance, embarkation becomes a lot less frantic and incredibly smooth. You sign your cruise documents and the other usual hooplah and get assigned a number to board. I think we were number 32 or something up there and when we sat down they were only calling 9's up, however we were only waiting for about 5-10 minutes until our number was called. After being welcomed by the very friendly crew (don't let other reviewers get your keyed up and worried, all but one person I came acrossed didn't greet me with at least a hello) they announced that the rooms were open to drop your stuff off, however when we found our room the door was open and as we came in and started to unpack some of our stuff and freshen up (via our carry on baggage, our suitcases didn't arrive until we started to sail away from the pier) our excellent room steward Bhupesh came in very nicely said that the room wasn't quite ready yet. So with that we went to lunch at the Garden Cafe, which quickly became my mother's favorite spot and my least favorite. My mother liked it because it offered some of the more diet friendly food on the ship and I disliked it because it's one of the most crowded parts of the ship where no one really pays attention as they walk and I almost tripped over some random child sitting in the middle of the buffet line floor while dodging adults as they mindlessly would swing around or stop in front of you with a huge tray of food or hot steaming cup of coffee; it was a mad house 90% of the time. But I digress...
After lunch we explored the ship a bit more before going back to the room to see if our bags arrived yet. They didn't. Just as we started to sail away however, our bags were outside the door and with that we went up to see the city and the Statue of Liberty go by, and so did roughly 4,000 other people. My advice would be to grab a drink go back to your room and enjoy it from the balcony if you have one and just enjoy the one side, because to say it gets crowded on the upper decks would be an understatement.
However you do have the opportunity to get some great shots and going under the Verrazano Bridge is fun and a little scary as it appears the ship just clears it. Another piece of advice, after passing the city by just sit and relax for a bit, because pretty much everyone goes back inside which creates a massive traffic jam to the doors and elevators inside. So sit back and relax, you are after all on vacation.
Here's a tip for dinning, unless you want to have about an hour and a half to two hour dinning experience go to the Uptown Bar and Grill, the Garden Cafe or O'Sheehan's (all complimentary by the way). Don't get me wrong the restaurants we went to like Taste, Savor, the Manhattan Room (those three are complimentary) or La Cucina ($15 per person plus the added gratuity) you're going to have a wonderful meal with great food, however it is some of the slowest service on the entire ship. And that goes without saying that if you decide to go to dinner at peak dinning times you'll have a wait, which kind of dampers your plans for the evening entertainment on board the ship so just plan ahead.
We had a standard balcony cabin room number 11816.
Sharing the room with my parents, I didn't really have complaints as to the size, it was plenty roomy for a cruise ship bedroom for three adults (at night the couch converted into a rather comfy bed that I slept on and there was still plenty of room to be had), not to mention plenty of storage space available. The balcony was also just fine as well, my only complaint of the room was the wee step up to the very spacious bathroom. There were a multitude of times that I, and my parents as well, tripped over that step going in to use the bathroom and thusly stubbed our toes which resulted in shall we say some frustrated words.
Entertainment and Everything Else:
Also I should mention, as a measure to be more eco friendly, Norwegian came up with a system to save energy more efficiently. Between the door and the bathroom (unfortunately I didn't take a photo of it) there's another key slot with a dummy key in it and when the key is inserted all the way into the slot it turns on the lights and air conditioning. So when you get into your cabin room and the lights aren't turning on, just remember to make sure the card is all the way down before calling the front desk.
Now regarding the entertainment, as a photographer I was rather saddened that absolutely no photography, flash or otherwise, was allowed during performances. Half the fun for me is capturing some of the amazing moves of the performers to include here on this blog, but I digress. I'll keep this part short and basic though, Rock of Ages was pretty good, it took me a little while to get in to, but walked out enjoying myself, but this is certainly not for children. If you pay for anything on this cruise go see the Cirque Jungle Fantasy performance as it is at times jaw droppingly amazing - the food not the greatest though, but the show more than made up for it. I loved watching the earlier showing of Second City, then stuck around for the late night adult show, which just became an obnoxious experience as it was filled with an inebriated audience who just kept yelling cock and masturbate to everything which the improv actors handled well enough. The comedian magician this cruise was Nick Lewin, which was rather funny as he was the comedian magician on the Celebrity Millennium cruise through the Panama Canal and he had the exact same act, which was still fun to watch. I'd definitely recommend the Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos, absolutely fantastic as was the Slam Allen blues band at Fat Cats.
A good selection of movies were shown both on the in room television from classics like Back to the Future to Sixteen Candles and more popular and relatively newer movies were shown on the main screen by O'Sheehans like The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers.
Trivia was entertaining and challenging, the prizes were usually a deck of cards or a key-chain something small, nothing ever huge and we actually won a round! Hard to believe my nerd knowledge proved useful as my team tied for first place in superheros and villains trivia, winning my team a key-chain, collapsible Frisbee and a blow up beach ball.
The tales of getting a deck chair are true they are nearly impossible to get unless you wake absurdly early to reserve one, however the staff are pretty vigilant in making sure that if a chair sits with a towel on it for more than thirty minutes they will remove the towel and make it available. The pool area was pretty crowded in general and I basically avoided it so I can't quite say too much on the topic. I decided to do the ropes course on the last day at sea, which was probably a mistake as it was very crowded and I had to wait in line for approximately 40 minutes, but it is very much so worth the wait. After getting suited up and watching every once else above you have fun, you make your way up the stairs and then go across the first element and realize you're a lot higher than you thought it would be. It's kind of terrifying at first (especially "walking the plank", but then totally fun exhilarating, especially when you get to the zipline! A quick tip about the zipline though, while waiting in line to go I watched many many wee children get stuck in the middle of it, so if you're a small one be prepared and just kick your legs to gain momentum to get you across the rest of the way.
Libations on the ship were again moderately priced, with a good selection of beer and mixed drinks as well, and don't be afraid to order off the menu. On this cruise a few of us decided to do the beer tasting which was $15 for five different beers, and our wonderful host from Hungary taught us some beer facts and presented challenges for a free bree prize. I wish I did some more tastings (they had martini tastings, mojito and margarita tastings as well), it was definitely a fun time.
Now so far on every cruise I've been on the ship presents a special $10 sale on pashminas, purses, scarves, watches, bracelets and so on and so on. And since the battery of the watch I bought last time died, I figured I'd stopped by and the sale and get a new one. Well, the way they initially put this sale on is almost on par with some of the craziest black friday spectacles you will see. First a raffle is held and the perimeter of the sales desk is surrounded by some of the most vicious grey haired old ladies you will see who are suspiciously eyeing the goods, which are covered until the sale begins. Then the raffle is done and the merchandise uncovered, then the sale rep says the okay, and these little old ladies descend on the counter like a lion on a lame gazelle. I even saw one woman essentially hip check another woman, but I digress, unless you want to see some crazy old lady action, just wait because all around the ship for the rest of the cruise they'll have $10 items for sale.
Usually on the last night at sea, the Breakaway does a fireworks show, unfortunately on our last night at sea, it was awfully windy and raining for a good portion of the night so the fireworks were sadly cancelled and the ensuing dance party was moved to another section of the ship.
We chose the early self disembarkation, where you can walk off with your own bags instead of having to wait for your number or color to be called. I found this to be incredibly smooth and the easiest disembarkation yet, we walked off with her bags, quickly made our way through customs and then walked right across the street to the taxi stand, and hopped right in and were on our way before we knew it.
Bermuda is absolutely fantastic, I have several blog posts about it on my blog if you'd like to check them out here: