Just returned from the September 1 sailing on the BREAKAWAY. Had a mini-suite on deck 11 (11832). Our room design was a couch by the slider, bed by the closet. Cant figure out what people's issues are with this setup. We had plenty of storage, and no trouble getting things in and out of the closet. We felt the balcony was more than adequate and didn't find it any smaller than the one we had on the STAR. Bathroom was nice and roomy with a rainhead shower and jets. It was bigger than ours at home.
Negatives (only 4):
VIBE Beach Club. We purposely arrived to the Port at about 8:45 so that we could have a low boarding number as gaining access to this exclusive area (free of children was very important to us). We received boarding group 5, and I thought we'd be good to go as it was my recollection that the low numbers went to folks in the Haven, etc. who most likely wouldn't want VIBE passes since they have their own area. We initially got rejected as they had sold out. More
However, Hansel was kind enough to put us on a waiting list after my husband expressed his displeasure at not receiving passes despite us arriving early to the Port and seeing others who arrived long after us receiving passes. We ultimately got passes and come to find out, they boarded the ship not in order at all - folks with board passes 20+ were on board before us and received VIBE passes. NCL needs to make sure that the ship gets boarded according to who arrives first. Aside from the issues with us getting the passes, the VIBE was worth every penny ($158 for two of us for the week). Had hot tubs, its own bar, and a wonderful bar staff led by Sean. Staff in VIBE knew our names by the end of the first day and were excellent.
Main Dining Rooms. Good food, but as others said, no variety (same menu in all 3). If you eat everything, you can make your own variety, particularly if mixing in some specialty restaurants. If you only eat one thing (i.e., a vegetarian, or you only eat chicken, etc.) then you will probably get bored. The other thing is that on the days the ship is in Port, the MDR's are NOT open for lunch - only the buffet and O'Sheehan's. I personally detest buffets and avoid them when possible. However, the buffet appeared more than adequate if that is your type of dining preference. O'Sheehan's was good but only 3 or 4 entrees. I think one of the smaller MDR's should be open for lunch. Also, the 24 hour places didn't offer 24 hour food (except for pizza delivery) so if you are an early riser and are ready for lunch at 1030/11am, then you have to wait until 12 or 1230 for lunch-type foods.
Fitness Center. As others have said, WAY TOO SMALL for this ship. That said, not much that NCL can do now at this point other than make sure future gyms are larger on the subsequent ships they build. I cant comment on the Spa as we didn't use it.
Casino. Terrible. We gamble a fair amount at Mohegan Sun. The payouts in this Casino were terrible including an odd $6 blackjack table that didn't pay the normal payout (1 and a half) for blackjack.
Michael Finney (Comedian/Magician). Terrible! Good thing he is on at the end of the Cruise otherwise I would have feared that all entertainment was this bad and might have skipped other performances. We gave it the Joe College try and lasted 20 minutes before we finally had to walk out. It was that bad.
Now for all the Positives:
Entertainment. With the exception of the dud mentioned above, the 3 main attractions were terrific. Rock of Ages was so good we went twice (and at both shows we saw IDIOT PARENTS bringing young children, despite signage everywhere). We even talked to one couple at our second viewing, who asked us about the content since they knew we'd seen it once. We told them we'd never bring a 9 year old and that the 13 year old was pushing it. They chose to stay anyway, and of course left halfway through when it got racy. Parents, please heed the warnings. Its not the language that's bad, it's the racy attire (strippers, and a big sign that says "live nudes" on the stage) and some sexual simulations/innuendos. The Cirque Dreams show was excellent, and I felt the meal was good (it is surf and turf, but they can accommodate vegetarians with an eggplant parmesan (or at least that's what the vegger at our table got). You just have to ask. Burn the Floor was also quite good although it was my least favorite of the three. We saw one of the Second City performances (the free improve show, not the paid Dysfunctional Family show), it was good. We had pre-booked everything except the second Rock of Ages which we were able to get into despite it being sold out. Fire and Ice is NOT TO BE MISSED! Rosie and Mac were terrific. They do several free shows including a Michael Jackson and Tina Turner tribute. Rosie's energy and love of entertainment is infectious.
Food. All food was good although the paid restaurants were exceptional. We ate at LeBistro (twice), LaCucina and Teppanyaki. We had pre-booked all of these as well, but made a few changes while on board and had no issues. We managed to dine with very few children as we ate at 8 or 9pm most nights. I also think there were overall less kids on this sailing because school had already started for many. Important note about LeBistro: NCL foolishly made their outside dining for this restaurant on the inside, in the hallway/atrium rather than out on the waterfront. As a result, no one wanted to sit at the "outside" tables meant to resemble a French sidewalk bistro because it was noisy with people walking by. Also, Headliners is right next door and people would line up for the shows there. They also did pro photos on the stairs on one night which also caused noise and crowds. The interior of the restaurant is surprisingly small (15-20 tables maybe?) and it was always full. So if you book this, request an inside table at booking AND arrive early or swing by to make your request noted. Trust me, you wont want the "outside" table. The true "outside" dining at LaCucina was lovely and I imagine the same would hold true for the other "waterfront" restaurants (Cagneys' and Moderno).
Ropes Course. I went up twice, once at sea, once in port, and chickened out both times. The course itself is not high above the deck but it is ridiculously high above the ground! Husband did it 4 times in total including the Plank, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. We never had lines as we always got there 15 minutes before opening and in Port there was hardly anyone on board. Also for the timid, doing it in Port is better because there is no wind. Sea days it could get very windy up there and they never opened the Plank at Sea due to winds/safety.
Pools: Pools are smallish but really no smaller than any other ships ive been on and there are 2 (a 12+ pool and a family pool). They are saltwater pools which I didn't really like. The Waterslides, however, were AMAZING! I must have gone down them 50 times. Lines could be long on Sea Days, but in Port it was ours. I didn't see the deck chair problem that many others have commented on although we also spent a fair amount of time in VIBE where there were always plenty of chairs.
Deck Parties: the 70's show and the 80's show held at Spice H20 were both terrific. The fireworks display was very good given the limited launch area.
Customer Service: Overall it was outstanding. Remy was our Steward and he couldn't have been nicer and more helpful. He arranged something special for husband's birthday (towel cake, a cupcake and a nice card) on the bed waiting for us. He found us conditioner when we forgot ours, and always remembered extra bath towels for us. Our room was always cleaned timely.
We purchased the "Ultimate Beverage" package. This included any glass of wine under $10 (including Prosecco) and any beer under I think $5.50 (we only drink Bud Light so therefore we only inquired about that one beer). Mixed drinks that were included I think $8.50 or less. You have to buy it for you and everyone in your room, so for 2 of us it was $788 for the week. If you do the math, you have to drink about 8 mix drinks per day to pay for itself. We had been to Bermuda before (my 3rd time there, and my husband's 2nd). Therefore, we planned to remain on the ship the majority of the time in port to enjoy some of the features/areas that might have been too crowded on sea days. As such, we were obviously on ship to drink those 3 days too. We booze pretty hard, but didn't think the package would be worth it if we had planned to be off boat those three days. So keep that in mind. Needless to say, we added up our slips at the end and we drank about $1200 worth of booze between us for $788 (we didn't have much beer, mostly $8 frozen drinks, and $9 wines/proseccos). A few oddities tho with this package. You can get as many glasses of wine as you want but you cant get a bottle. You can get as many beers as you want, but not a beer bucket. Also, sodas are included but for some reason you don't get the nice soda mug that you get when you buy the package. I think for $788 we should have gotten 2 soda mugs since soda was included. If everyone in your part likes to drink, highly recommended!!
Kids run wild as with every cruise ive been on, not an NCL problem. I did see enforcement of adult only areas, but it was still annoying to see kids in Bliss (allowed before 11pm) and generally underfoot. I can only imagine what summertime was like, again, we purposely scheduled our cruise during a time when most kids would be back in school. I will never again cruise June/July/August simply because I cant deal with so many kids who aren't watched. September was definitely much more enjoyable.
We felt there was more than enough to do on the ship. Some stuff is "nickel and dime" as some people have talked about on here; however, plenty of freebies too. Be smart - book and plan your shows and dinners ahead or be flexible with dinnertimes. You can make reservations in the MDR's once on board, but not before (specialty you can book ahead). Less