Planned this trip for 1 1/2 years. Sailed 9/22. It was a group of 6 adults aged 43-54. My spouse and I have sailed on 5 NCL ships, 3 NCL for second couple and the first timers were diehard RCCL cruisers we convinced to join us. We all live within a bus ride from the port. Yankee Trails offers RT transport from Albany area to port. 3rd couple arrived via bus from PA.
We arrived from Albany to port approx 10:30 am. We were eating lunch at O' Sheehans at 11:40am. So to say the check in process was easy and quick is an understatement.
Our lunch was just ok, my husband enjoyed he Fish and Chips. Other items ordered were chicken sandwich, tuna fish, buffalo wings which were drowned in sauce making them smushy, better to order them well cooked with sauce on the side, which we did the next time. Ordered the soup which never came.
We had 2 aft balcony rooms and one mid ship balcony. There was more then enough room for storage and 2 people in the rooms. The aft balconies are spacious and offer fantastic views. The midship balcony is small. Our room steward was very accommodating. While on board we learned that each week there is only 1.5 hours when there are no passengers on board. These fine folks work under a lot of pressure.
When we arrived in the room just before noon, it was ready and we were greeted immediately by Fery our steward. He showed us how things work in the room. I noted that the countertops had some sticky places and the drawers were dirty inside. That was cleaned right away, our friends noted some things also that we're addressed quickly. I mention this because I feel that given the turn around time from one occupant to the next it is going to happen, give-the Steward a chance to fix it .
The Breakaway is a beautiful ship. The decor in every public area is warm and inviting. We were not at capacity sailing at a little under 4000, and the only time we felt crowed was during events in the Atrium.
We did not go to the pool, but noted more then enough lounge chairs available when we would walk through or in and around the sun areas.
My thoughts on the food, I am going to breakdown into each area of which we ate.
First OSheehan's, not like I remembered on the Epic. Food here was hit or miss.
Cagney's, outstanding, meats were cooked perfectly and so tender, shrimp cocktails were tender and tasty. The Oreo cheesecake and Raspberry Custard left us wanting more. The Apple crisp not so much. Make sure someone orders the Cagney Fries, they are great! $30 per person for meal.
Monday night in the Garden Cafe was seafood night, one of the worst meals we had. Seafood was chewy and tasteless, steaks the same as the seafood. We ate almost all our breakfasts at the buffet and didn't have a problem finding something we liked. Do not understand how a ship with a seafood restuarant and two steak type restaurants could serve something so poor.
Speigal Tent Cirque show: could not eat the meal, that bad. 4 out of 6 of us did not care for it. I suggest they just make it a show. Forget the food. We had the same experience on the Epic.
Le Bistro: wonderful dinner, nice atmosphere. All around good effort. Not one person left anything on their plates it was that good. $20 per person
Le Cucina: from appetizers to dessert, this place was BAD! Undercooked, poor tasting, poor presentation. I ordered Rigatoni and meatballs, it arrived with the sauce drying out and the end of the pasta turning dark and hard. How could that not have been noticed? $15 per person
Teppanyaki: wonderful visit, excellent food and chef. Some at our table thought it was better then Cagney's and that is saying something. This is dinner and a show! $25 per person
Manhattan Room,Taste & Savor: dinner was good, breakfast came cold, lunch also good. Not too much to say just good. We ate in Manhattan one of the nights the Burn the floor dancers were there and it was a nice time. Reminiscent of what you see in the movies when people cruised.
At lunch the ship offers a Sabrett hot dog cart, one is stationed at the pool and another on the Waterfront, on the 8th deck. Just like you would expect, all the toppings. Also on deck 8 Waterfront at lunch is an ala carte Ocean Blue window. You can get lobster rolls, crab points, and Calamari. The Calamari for $4.95 was out of this world, we went twice for it. A must try. The gelato and Carlos bakery are there, with a Carlos bakery and coffee shop also on deck 6 in the Atrium. We did not have Gelato, free hard and soft ice cream are available in the Garden Cafe. We did bring home cannoli and lobster claws that were very yummy.
Entertainment: Burn the Floor: high energy show, great dancers. The men in our group were not as impressed.
Rock of Ages: also very high energy, loud music, lots of sexual reference. This is a rated R show, there is language, innuendo, and off color humor. If this type of show does not appeal to your senses do not attend. If you choose to attend after all the warnings, and there are warnings, on the ship, on all the message boards and reviews I have read. Please don't be rude and get up during the show to walk out. You were warned and your getting up and walking out disturbs those left trying to watch the show. Of course once one person gets up, others follow. PLEASE don't bring your children under 16, why parents choose to expose their children to this is beyond me. Wish NCL would have a no one under... Policy.
Second City comedy/improv, funny, smart comedy. This show and the Howling at the Moon/ Dueling Pianos show are held in Headliners. Nice adult time, with the feel of a hometown bar. Lilly the bartender was great, she got to know us and we got to know her. Now mind you were are not big drinkers, but she treated us like we were her best customers.
Comedian/Magician Micheal Finney was a pleasant suprise, I read a few reviews that panned him. We laughed hysterically.
Fire & Ice is a female singer with a male piano player, back up vocal. She has some voice and energy. Did not get to enjoy her too much as Atrium was always so crowed when they played you couldn't get a good seat
We did not use spa or gym. Enjoyed the Casino, we purchased vouchers from Slotplaycoupons.com. Not big gamblers but gave us something to do between dinners and shows. Yes, people smoke, but it was not such an issue that it kept us away. We are all nonsmokers.
The staff everywhere were fantastic, polite, friendly, helpful. With 2 exceptions, at the Waterfront where we paid extra to eat, my spouse requested a Lemonade, to which the waitress responded, well I would have to go downstairs for that. In other words no. A similar response was given at another restaurant.
We were at 2-3 events were the officers attended. They gave out their contact info for issues, and were visible in the halls and at events.
Port: Bermuda, beautiful, my advice spend time researching the island and how to spend your time. There are books and online information. Bus/Ferry tickets available on dock just off ship.
Do your homework, read reviews and boards, if you are reading this you already are.
Shops on board: no real bargains as far as I can tell. With exception of duty free. They have the same lame sales,$10 watches, scarfs and clutches.
Photographs: They were present but not pushy.
Disembarkation : no problems, luggage pick up and through customs in 15 minutes.
Summary: Did we have a great vacation, yes we did. Did we run into issues, of course, when does everything go perfectly. We liked Breakaway, the staff, the accommodations. Would we sail it again, yes, but I would like to see another itinerary, not the one to the Bahamas. Sail with an open mind, plan on a good time.