Let me start off by saying that I have been on at least 20 cruises on several different cruise lines. The last time I traveled on NCL was about 11 years ago and I was not happy with the service and dining. Fast forward to the present. I decided to give NCL another try after seeing the commercials for the new Breakaway. We sailed on the Breakaway the week of July 28. 2013. Unfortunately several issues still remain.
Service is still lacking on NCL. Our cabin (13286) steward Shelton never introduced himself to us and was rarely if ever seen. Toilet paper and tissues ran out one morning and were not replaced by the time we got back to the cabin to get ready for dinner. He also did not pay attention to the make-up room light. One day he did not clean the room completely because we interrupted him to change into bathing suits. The cabin steward should have instructed us that to turn on the lights/AC/electricity you must insert your room card into the slot on the wall. We had to find this out from other guests. A good cabin steward should pay attention to the habits of the guests and would know approximately what time you leave for breakfast and dinner (most people do not change their schedule that much). Also, PAY ATTENTION TO THE MAKE UP ROOM LIGHT!
The dining room experience (Manhattan, Savor, Taste) was mediocre. The first night, the waiter forgot to bring the appetizer that my husband ordered then brought the wrong dinner. The food quality was better than the last time we traveled on NCL. Service at breakfast was hit or miss. Some days good other days service was slow and the staff inattentive. The lunch menu did not change in the dining rooms. A lot of the time the dining staff was indifferent. This is one area where service should be exceptional but on this ship it definitely was not.
The buffet closed at 11:30 pm. It should remain open until at least midnight so that guests coming from evening shows can get a quick bite. OSheehans pub (a seated restaurant) was open after midnight but service was very slow and the menu limited. Although you could get a hamburger or wings, this is a poor choice for guests who just want a quick bite such as fruit or cheese and crackers. The ship advertised pizza available 24 hours, but after the buffet closed it was only available by room service for which there was a fee.
This brings me to my next point of contention - all the additional fees. Of course there are the fees for the specialty restaurants. I already mentioned the fee for room delivery pizza and any room delivery after midnight. After paying $30 per person for Cagneys restaurant, there was an additional fee for cappuccino and Lavazza brand coffee. At least the brand coffee should have been included with the $30 fee. There were also additional fees for some shows. The Cirque Dreams show cost an additional $79 for 2 people and the Second City Dysfunctional Family Reunion was an additional $10 per person. There were fees for some exercise classes. You could bring on your own wine for a fee of $15 per bottle or $30 per double bottle.
The ship allows smoking in the indoor casino and in open areas on deck. The smell of stale smoke is evident the minute you get close to the casino. The smell of smoke makes the ship seem worn and older than it is.
The ship has water slides, an elevated rope obstacle course, rock climbing wall, a bowling alley (only 2 lanes for 4,000 people), and a martini ice bar (for which there was a fee). The rock climbing wall and elevated rope course were open for limited times during the cruise, which created unorganized long lines when open. The rock climbing wall only had 1 out of
4 ropes open (all should be open). These attractions should have been open longer especially during the days at sea. During days at sea it was nearly impossible to get a lounge chair even on the decks without the pools. Most times there werent even people in the chairs just towels to hold them.
The stateroom hallways were narrow and the balconies were every small (we had a balcony room on deck 13). The balcony was the smallest one I ever had.
We traveled with a group of 14 guests. The kids in our group enjoyed the teen center and the pool/slide. However, dining was always an issue since NCL has free style dining. I would recommend a cruise with assigned seating for a large group.
This cruise was not horrible as we were in the company of good friends. We love Bermuda and the fact that we did not have to fly to get to the port.
Unfortunately I cannot recommend this cruise to anyone who has sailed on Celebrity, RCL, or Princess as I think those lines provided much better service. For those who have never cruised before you might think it is great.