My boyfriend and I (both in our late 20's) recently sailed on the Oct. 20th cruise out of New York to Florida and the Bahamas. I have cruised previously, whereas he was a first-time cruiser. With perks of the Breakaway being new and its close proximity to home, we were excited to experience everything the ship had to offer. Here are some highlights and tips:
Embarkation: A surprisingly easy process. The NY terminal was very efficient and we got on board with no problem. Norwegian captures your attention from the start with excited cruise staff and music.
Cabin: We had a balcony room on the 13th floor. The balcony is tiny, but I would do it again because it's nice to sit outside and read, listen to the ocean at night, and it opens up the room a bit. The room itself was nicely sized; we had a queen-sized bed, couch, and still had room to move about. The bathroom was bigger than past cruises, so no complaints there.
Staff: In short: top notch. They were friendly, funny, and made themselves available. An additional acknowledgment to the staff of the Vibe Beach Club, who really made our stay special by being constantly welcoming, bringing us fresh fruit every day, and keeping my boyfriend occupied when I went to the spa (on that note, the spa was worth it but $$$$).
Dining: The food at the specialty restaurants was excellent. We went to Cagney's, La Cucina, Teppanyaki, and Moderno Churasscaria. By far our favorite was Cagney's (steakhouse). The cooking show at Teppanyaki (similar to Benihana) was also a lot of fun. The food at the complimentary restaurants such as Taste, Uptown Bar & Grill, O'Sheehan's, The Manhattan Room, and the Garden Cafe was good...not fantastic, not terrible, but it did its job. If you're looking for a late-night snack, you may run into a rough spot, as O'Sheehan's has a limited menu, as does room service. There is also 24-hour pizza, which usually took an hour to deliver.
Entertainment: Rock of Ages was amazing. Although a musical wasn't my boyfriend's thing, he did really enjoy the Cirque Dreams show, where acrobats and jugglers performed while dinner was served. We also played bingo, saw the dueling pianos, and watched the Michael Jackson tribute - performed by a girl (she was also Whitney Houston and Tina Turner)! She did a fantastic job of keeping the crowd going. Whether it be a movie, crowd-involved game-show, or dance lessons, The Atrium constantly had something going on.
Excursions: In Florida we went to SeaWorld. Neither of us had ever been, and it turned out to be a good time. The transportation was organized and we had plenty of time to roam around the park. Great Stirrup Cay was another story...we took a tender to the island, which wasn't anything to brag about (mostly comprised of bars, snack stations, and places to buy knick-knacks. Looking back, we wouldn't do this again unless there was a specific excursion planned there. In the Bahamas, we went to Atlantis. The organization for this excursion's transportation was terrible, however once there it was enjoyable. Atlantis is huge, and it was pretty cool to see the aquarium. We started with a tour group but then later broke away to explore the casino.
Disembarkation: AKA "not-so-easy walk off." My boyfriend and I had elected the walk-off option, which allows you to take your own luggage and leave the boat at your pace instead of wait for a color category to be called. To our fault, we did not pack the night before. If you choose the easy walk-off, leaving the room early is imperative, because the elevators (which there were not enough of) fill up quickly. We ended up carrying our luggage to the 7th floor to leave. Another con of disembarking was the lone cruise member assigned to check out the entire boat. However, once back at the NY terminal, things picked up the pace and customs kept everyone moving.
*Book your restaurants and shows ahead of time. There are touch screens around the ship which enable you to do so once you're on board, however we booked everything we could ahead of time and it was one less thing to worry about.
*If you're looking for relaxation in a semi-VIP setting, buy passes to the Vibe Beach Club. Vibe Beach Club is an adults-only section which was perfect for fun in the sun without the chaos of kids. We got the weekly passes along with a private cabana. The cabana was extra and there are only 5 on board, so if this is up your alley then run to Guest Services and book it asap. If not, Vibe is still a great place to relax, catch some sun, and interact with friendly staff.
*Keep your room card with you at all times. It is also your financial lifeline (the casino is the only place that accepts cash) and key to leave/return onto the ship.
Before sailing, we read a lot of mixed reviews about the Breakaway. After experiencing the ship, we can confidently say that it was a well-worth-it experience. Vacation is what you make of it, and NCL definitely gives you the opportunity to make it great. Happy cruising!