I just sailed the Breakaway October 20-27. I was worried about getting on the ship because of so many negative reviews of the ship. I thought I'd experience it for myself.
Having said that, here goes. I arrived to the pier at 11:30 am. I expected that there would be a very long line. They told me to go to the back and sign in there. The process as smooth. I was on the ship at 12:00 noon without any problems whatsoever. I was completely shocked. I then went to try and find my cabin since I was carrying a backpack. I was in a studio cabin, but found it difficult to find it. Initially there was no sign where the studio cabins were. After walking up and down the hallway for what felt like an hour, I finally found it. For those who are in the studios, they are actually more mid-ship than forward. There is a private entry into the area where the studios are, and there also is a studio lounge where singles can meet and mingle. They usually have deserts, coffee, juice, and wine (for fee). A bartender usually is there from 5pm to 7pm each day. The meet & greet is usually from 5pm to 6pm each night. You may meet a young man by the name of Zack. He is great!!! He is full of energy and is so much fun. You'll love him. The singles were much older, but that didn't bother me at all. They were so much fun and had lots of energy.
Once I found my room, I was quite surprised. I thought there really wouldn't be enough room for my things, but it was just fine. The only thing I really missed was the refrigerator. The studios have a shower, two closets (that you slide open), and a toilet with a door. The bed is a full size bed and is extremely comfortable. It was very hard getting out of it each night because of the comfort level.
I finally decided to go get something to eat. I went to Savor to meet some of my friends from Cruise Critic. Our first meal was very good. We got good service, and I started to believe all the negative reviews were really false. After the ship set sail, it appeared the level of service went down hill. Sometimes the servers would forget that we were there. Other times, they were so busy, they didn't really have the time to talk with you. They would just come and get your order, and off they went. They were not very personable at times. This was something I just wasn't used to. There were a couple of times where the service got better, but most of the time, it seemed it just seemed to be lacking in areas. I mostly experienced the poor service in the main dining rooms (Savor, Tast, and the Manhattan Room). The menus are the exact same for each of these venues.
I did book some specialty restaurants so I can say that I had the experience. I booked Le Bistro, which is a French restaurant. The food was okay for me. The server was much better than the ones in the main dining rooms. She was a bit more attentive, and that was the service I was used to on other cruise lines. I ordered two entrees....Salmon and the grilled pork chop (not very French, right?). Both were good, but should have been served in the main dining room. It wasn't as fantastic as i thought it would be.
I booked the Cirque Dreams show and dinner, and that was awesome!!! I LOVED the show. You are served dinner while the show is going on. Honestly, I could have done without the dinner only because while you're eating, you might miss something. You'll not want to take your eyes off the show. I encourage anyone that can, please go see this show. You will not be disappointed. It has a cover charge of $39.99, but it is completely worth it.
I also did Cagney's as well. I encourage you to go here as well. They give you so much food. It has a cover charge of $30, and will also charge an additional $10 for another entrée. Don't worry about getting another entrée though. The food there is plentiful and you'll feel like you had more than enough. I was no disappointed at all.
Here's where my disappointment really comes in. PLEASE BEWARE OF GUEST SERVICES. Many times they are not friendly. I understand that many people come from different countries, but that isn't an excuse to be rude to any of the guests. Many people on our sailing had difficulties with Guest Services. My problem was that I had prepaid my gratuities and noticed that I was still being charged each day for them. I went down to speak with them about it, and they were adamant that I hadn't prepaid them. Her tone was very harsh, and she didn't seem to care about the situation. I remained calm and told her I would go and get my receipt and show her. When I had come back, I got another representative that was a little nicer than the first one. She took a copy of my receipt and told me to give it a couple of days to see the charges reversed. A couple of days later, I got a letter from the manager telling me that they checked with NCL, and that the gratuities had not been paid at all, and the charges will reappear on my account. I was a bit upset about this, so I went back down to guest services. After 10 minutes of arguing, they allowed me to call my travel agent who resolved the problem very quickly. PLEASE, PLEASE keep all of your receipts and documents. You may need them onboard.
Another problem was that they had a lot of shows in the Atrium. The Atrium is the area where guest services is, and it's pretty populated there. It's an area where people walk through to get to the elevators and stairs. Whenever there was a popular show, it would get crowded immediately. People had a hard time getting through. If it was an act that people enjoyed, Many people couldn't see it very well. Fire & Ice was one of the popular shows. They need to have their own dedicated place so that people can enjoy them freely.
The shows I thought were pretty good. My favorite show was Burn the Floor. It's ballroom dancing, but not like you've seen it before. It's very high energy and almost nonstop. I also enjoyed Rock of Ages. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It's still not appropriate for young children though. Second City (Improv comedy) was good depending on the crowd you had. If you had a fun crowd, you had a great show. If you had a boring crowd...well.....you get the idea.
All in all, it wasn't bad. It just wasn't as good as I would have liked it to be. Let me give some final thoughts if you are considering the Breakaway.
First, Remember that you are on vacation. Don't let anything ruin that. When you have some good times, embrace those moments. Don't lose our cool when something goes wrong. Kindness goes a long way. Remain patient even though you'll want to snap someone's neck when you feel they've been rude. Try to remember that each culture is very different, and in their minds, they may believe they are being polite.
The ship is really understaffed in housekeeping and the dining rooms. The dining experience may be a bit long, so be prepared to wait. It is important that you book shows before dinner, or at least two hours afterwards.
The dining staff can sometimes appear to be rude. They don't mean any harm (I don't believe). They are really trying very hard to make sure they serve everyone and are short staffed.
When the ship docks in Port Canaveral, they will allow some of the staff to go home, and will also get new staff. In other words, don't be too surprised if you get a new room attendant on that Tuesday.
The room stewards have many, many rooms to attend to. I was lucky to get one that smiles and speaks to everyone. They are really overworked so please be patient with them. If you are not satisfied with their work, simply let their supervisor know. The number can be found on the phone in your room.
Please, please watch your onboard account. Make sure that you are not being charged for anything you didn't purchase, or for anything you have already pre-paid. Take all of your documents with you that shows what you've paid for already. If there's a problem, guest services may not have the proof that you've paid.
Finally, no matter what, have fun!!! Again.....you are on vacation, and there is something you will enjoy for sure.