My boyfriend and I like to cruise with our families as it is the best way to accommodate a range of ages and activity levels. Although we live in Miami, we chose this cruise so that his family (late 60's parents, late 30's sister and brother in law, and toddler niece) could join us. We also selected this cruise as we were very interested in the new ship.
Getting to the cruise ship terminal was a breeze. We stayed with friends in midtown, and approximately 30 minutes elapsed between the time we left their apartment and the time we walked into our cabin. This was the first time we were able to go right to the room (we arrived at the ship at around 12:30)
We had a balcony cabin on deck 8. This was the first time we opted for a balcony cabin as we thought it might be useful to have extra space with so many days at sea. The room was large enough, well appointed and the bathroom was relatively spacious.
Ship Decor / Layout:
I have been on the Dawn, the Pearl, 2 different RCCL ships as well as an overnight on a new Celebrity ship and I thought this ship was the most elegant by far. I was very impressed with the finishes through out the ship and I liked the way the public spaces flowed. I also liked having the room on a floor with things to do. We also really liked the outdoor seating at a lot of the bars. It was very nice to be able to sit outside with a drink and enjoy the breeze!
Food / Dining:
I thought the food was very good. We generally had breakfast and lunch at the Garden Cafe, which got crowded. We did have lunch one day in Taste (or Savor) and dinner one night in Taste (or Savor). Most nights, we opted to eat in the Manhattan Room, which we loved! So elegant! The live music and dance floor was a nice touch, also. We did not opt for any of the pay restaurants but my boyfriend's sister and BIL ate at the churrascaria and Cagney's and loved them both. The only complaint I had about the food was that on other ships, there is a very nice array of fresh seafood at the buffet (shrimp, mussels, etc) and those were absent on the Breakaway. We thought it might be so that people would utilize the pay restaurants instead
We loved the Ice Bar! It was worth the cover charge, especially as it came with drinks! I thought drinks at all of the bars were very reasonably priced and upscale. Several times, they were missing ingredients to make some of the more intricate cocktails, which was disappointing. I also liked that they had a bar in the theater
Shows / Entertainment:
We skipped Cirque, but enjoyed Burn the Floor and Rock of Ages. Rock of Ages in particular was extremely high quality and very worthwhile. We tried the ropes course (VERY fun!)and my boyfriend did the water slides (I was chicken). Mini golf was also available.
Gym / Spa:
We used the gym nearly every day. I never had to wait for a treadmill, although I thought the weight area was a bit cramped. We paid extra to have access to the spa (sauna, hot tub/hydrotherapy, steam room, salt bath, heated loungers)and it was HEAVEN! Totally worth the additional $200 per person. For a cruise that has a lot of days at sea, or is sailing in weather that is not hot, it is very much worth it. Situated in the front of the ship, it afforded the very best view as we cruised into port in Bermuda.
I have never experienced such phenomenal service! The room steward remembered our names, kept the ice bucket continually filled, replenished the coffee packets for our coffee maker and of course, had a new towel animal on the bed each evening. The service in the bars, restaurants and spa were top notch as well. In general, no staff member would pass a guest without saying hello. One evening, we were using the touch screen device in a hallway to book a show and the cruise director, Dan "the Man" Olsson passed by. The show we wanted to see was full, so he whipped out his cell phone, gave the box office our room number and asked them to let us in. Top notch service all around
We had to spend an extra day at sea due to Tropical Storm Gabrielle, which was hugely disappointing. Of course, booking a cruise during hurricane season comes with this risk, and the ship's captain was very good about keeping us apprised of the revised plans. We arrived at King's Wharf at 8pm Wednesday evening instead of 8am. We spent some time in the port area, but then gave up and returned to the ship. Thursday we went on our own to Hamilton, Crystal Caverns and St. George as it was not beach weather. Friday we rented bikes from a bike rental place close to the ship and spent the day biking the Railway Trail, including a stop at Fort Scaur. It was absolutely delightful!
Interesting to note that the port area in Bermuda is a destination itself, with bars, restaurants, a maritime museum and a snorkel beach all within walking distance. After so many days at sea, we wanted to get away from the other passengers, but one could conceivably spend the whole day in the port. We did purchase a 2 day travel pass and I would not do that again, as it would have been cheaper to pay for the bus and ferry individually (especially since we didn't use public transport at all the second day).
Bermuda in general is a stunningly beautiful island. It is very safe (in terms of crime; not in terms of vehicular traffic!) and the citizens are ridiculously friendly. Also, we were the only ship in port (not sure if King's Wharf can accommodate more than one) so the island never felt overrun with tourists.
I had read other cruise reviews that stated the ship felt very crowded. We went on an off week (the week after the Labor Day holiday) and the ship was carrying about 1,000 fewer guests than it was designed to hold. Even with the reduced passenger load, the ship did feel crowded. The pool was very small and it was a total madhouse at all times. The adults only hot tub area in the front of the ship seemed a bit quieter. While we never had to wait longer than 10 minutes for a table at any of the complimentary restaurants, I could see it being an issue if the ship was at full capacity, and I cannot imagine the Garden Cafe handling more people. I think the Breakaway is a fantastic ship that goes to the loveliest destination on the planet, so I suggest booking a week during an off time and enjoying all that it has to offer