Embarkation: The New York passenger terminals can be overwhelming due to tight curbside spaces and passengers attempting to board such a large ship as the Breakaway. We are Platinum Latitudes members and we found the expedited line easily and quickly, we were on the ship curb to deck 15 poolside in under 30 minutes.
Fellow Cruisers: In Florida the kids went back to school the second week of August; obviously not the case in NY and NJ. I was told that there were approximately 1900 children and young adults under the age of 18 onboard and this bore out throughout the trip. The Crew did a good job of enforcing 'Adult Only' areas and 'Curfews' but there were a lot of kinds and I think the ship's facilities and crew were overwhelmed by the sheer number. My companion and I will forever refer to this cruise as our 'Jersey Shore at Sea experience'. While most people were quite nice the passenger load was LOUD ( bellowing across public rooms, dining rooms), Colorful in language and wardrobe, Boisterous, and did I mention LOUD!!! Beware if you find New Yorkers or New Jerseyites hard to handle en masse this may not be the ship for you. This cruise saw very large families and groups mostly from NJ and NY.
Ship Overall: A really beautiful ship, the d'cor is very rich and warm. We were surprised for a mass market ship and having been on 65 ships, the Breakaway had some of the loveliest public areas we have seen. In many ways the ship looked like it should have been part of the Celebrity Fleet. Of special notice is the Manhattan Dining Room, really gorgeous. The outdoor areas of the ship are crowded and the pools are woefully undersized for the passenger load, the outside 'Uptown Grill' was a great place to escape to the shade and a good place to have breakfast and avoid the maddening crowd one deck down at the Garden Caf'. Oceanside areas on Deck 8 were ok, the space was compact and if you ate outside you were subject to passerbys and those who smoked. Better execution of this concept was on the Carnival Breeze. The SPA is gorgeous (but the EPIC's is better) with forward facing windows over the bridge and a wonderful series of steam and salt rooms as well as a large therapy pool. The men's changing room was very nice and actually had a place to sit and cool down! The treatment rooms were nice and located one floor below the SPA. No kids allowed and it was enforced. I was amazed at what an incredible job the crew did with keeping the ship spotless! Even packed as it was and with all the kids! I have a real thing about dirty dishes in hallways or public areas ' never saw it. Witnessed crew members constantly cleaning, the ship was maintained to a spotless standard. Casino reeks of cigarette smoke, they try to move the air and to deodorize but the smell is omnipresent and the non-smoking areas are invaded either by smokers directly or indirectly through wafting clouds of smoke. Favorite outdoor area was deck 7 forward where the shuffleboard courts are located ' big expansive deck at the rail and very much under utilized.
Food: Ate Breakfast and lunch in Taste and Savor restaurants and it was generally very good. The rooms are smaller than the Manhattan and have a more intimate feel. Zakarian Seafood was ok but not worth the $50.00 cover charge ' although one of the best servings of Dover Sole I have ever had ' but still not worth the high tariff. Brazilian Charuscaria and the Steakhouse were very good and worth the up-charge as the food was excellent and service good. Italian was just good and service was spotty because the night we ate there it was very busy. We ate at the Bistro twice and the service was excellent and the food was very good and definitely worth the cover charge. We enjoyed the food in the Manhattan Dining room but the service was stretched too thin and the ambiance was loud and chaotic (remember lots of kids). The ambiance was more a function of our loud fellow passengers and their extended family/group members extended throughout the dining room. The entire time we were in the dining room people were milling about and shouting from table to table ' not the fault of the cruise line except that the maitre'd could have done a better job seating these groups. Garden Court is a beautiful room and the options are plentiful and good; however, the crowd makes the experience less than pleasurable we gave up after two failed attempts to have lunch here. Uptown Grill ' loved it and grab a cinnamon roll at breakfast they are yummy. The Pub is great but the menu limited and this was the only place that we ran into poor service. We don't drink so cannot comment on the bars. Overall the food quality was very good ' believe it or not the chilled melon plate became or morning favorite along with the muesli and sweet roll. The Watermelon served onboard was amazing ' I am going through watermelon withdrawal. Suggestion , buy the restaurant package before you go.
Cabin: Occupied a Spa mini Suite on Deck 14 Cabin 14770. Lovely and nice cabin with large bathroom ' tiny balcony but the overhang of deck 15 provided shade and shelter from rain. Lots of storage but the room still felt tight. The Bathroom was big and the shower was pleasant with the different spray heads; however would have preferred a tub/Shower combo at this price point. Utilized the spa pass everyday and enjoyed it. Nothing else very special ' really liked the NCL EPIC's Spa mini-suite much better.
Shows: Book in advance!!!! If you don't, you will miss out. Loved the entertainment. Rock of Ages was good fun and well presented but don't take your kids under 16 as it is too suggestive and the language. We were shocked to see 5 ' 10 year olds in the audience, the cruise line provides ample 'warnings' about the show's content. Burn the Floor was amazing what a talented group of dancers and singers. The Comedian Magician was just ok. The lounge act Fire and Ice was incredible, this duet was wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed their shows in various venues ' we became something of groupies.
Service: For the most part very good. Few service failures and some rough spots but this was due to the overwhelming number of passengers on a completely booked ship with 1900 kids. Room steward was good though he seemed to have too many rooms and we were always last. Dining staff was universally very good, Cruise staff were excellent ' visible, friendly, and high spirited. Officers were approachable and interactive and exhibited a good sense of humor especially when a South Jersey boy stood up during the Q&A to ask the captain , 'who onboard cuts the cheese'. My only complaint is with the guest services staff ' the folks behind the counter could do very little without a supervisor's approval ' these people are not enabled and it must be frustrating which leads to a generally bad attitude. An item was posted incorrectly to my bill and was not applied until the night before disembarkation. I discovered this error when the final bill was delivered and I went down to the Guest Services desk where I was greeted by a greeter, told him of the issue and he asked why I waited until the final morning to check my bill, I was not amused. I was then assigned to a line of 5 people to wait my turn (the Lattitudes Concierge was nowhere to be seen). When I finally was called to the counter I started to explain my issue when a maitre'd and waiter barged to the counter, demanding the agent helping me help them. When he got back to my issue he indicated that a credit was due but he could not do so without a supervisors approval and there were no supervisors available. He asked if I would stand aside while he waited on others, I borrowed the persona of my fellow passengers from NJ and refused. 45 minutes later he was surprised to see that the credit had been 'magically' adjusted elsewhere and my bill was correct. Not really a good final service impression.
Dis-embarkation: Did walk off and it was very easy. Again the Cruise Passenger terminal in NY leaves a lot to be desired. One needs to cross the very busy west side highway to hail a cab.
Destination: Bermuda is beautiful, quiet and low key. Golf and beaches. Eat onboard food is better and you'll save a bundle. Nothing special about the shopping. But all in all relaxing.
Overall: Would I go on the ship again, yes. Is it my favorite mega ship? No, I prefer the Allure of the Seas and the EPIC. The concentration of passengers from the 5 boroughs and New Jersey can be overwhelming and a culture shock to the uninitiated. Did I have a good time, Yes. However, I was glad to end my 'Jersey Shore at Sea' experience and get home.