We are "Make the Most of It” kind of people. We are going to have a good time wherever we are. However, we really had to work at keeping this philosophy while onboard Norwegian Breakaway. My glass-half-full attitude was tested.
NCL got off to a bad start with us and never fully recovered. First of all, this was a last minute trip. My husband had gotten some bad health news and we were trying to get away from all of the medical testing and stress of a difficult diagnosis. Our family needed some fun (Me, husband, Kids ages 10 & 6). We got to the pier via taxi very easily. We had spent a couple of great days in NYC and we were exhausted. We haven’t explained all the medical details to the kids, but they have felt the stress of the situation.
When we arrived about 1 pm there was a substantial, but dwindling line. My husband has a difficult time standing for long periods. I approached the line monitor and told her that my husband had a nerve disorder and couldn’t stand for long periods (I was trying to not to make a big deal of it since the kids were there). She looked at the handicapped line (we have a handicap car sticker, but I didn’t think to bring it) and then looked at my husband. Rudely and Loudly, she said "Unless he requested a wheelchair we cannot accommodate that.” So, he went and sat down at some chairs with the kids and I waited in the half-hour to 45-minute line. No one ever came behind us in line. We were among the last to board.
As I approached the front a new line monitor asked if I was traveling alone. I told him that my husband couldn’t stand and that I could call him over when we got closer. I said I mentioned it to the lady when we arrived, but she would not accommodate us. He asked which lady I was referring to. After I pointed her out he said, "We don’t like her.” I responded that I thought she was unnecessarily difficult " He said, "No! She’s Rude!” He was right!
So, we are onboard. Rooms ready. This is different from our RC cruises (they lock off rooms until they can be cleaned). So we head straight to see our room, a mini-suite with extra large balcony. Ship is modern décor, very pretty. We walk down a very narrow hallway and open the door. The room is filthy. I have photos. The carpet had not been vacuumed, food, candy and fingernail clippings were all over the floor. The bathroom was in horrible shape. The counters were not wiped down, the toilet had pubic hair on the seat and feces lining the bowl. The shower doors were covered in a thick scummy film.
We call housekeeping. They tell us to attend the muster drill and they will clean the room. We return to the room and there is still hair, food, etc. By this time, I am weary with the process. They ask for us to go have something to eat and they will re-clean the room. After an amazing embarkation out of NY harbor and sailing by the Statue of Liberty we return to a better, but still dirty room. By this time I have gotten out my disinfecting wipes that I brought in case we ran into something yucky on the NYC Subways and started cleaning the room myself. I spent over an hour making the room "feel” clean.
Housekeeping Supervisor did come by while I was cleaning and offered to help. By that time, I just figured I would do it myself. I showed him the dirt-soiled rags and told him I was very unhappy. We have cruised many times and this was the first time I had ever had to clean my own room. This was very disappointing seeing it was a new ship. They did try to make it up to us. They changed our cabin steward (most grateful for this one), and
they gave us dinner at one of the upgraded restaurants, chocolate strawberries and slippers from The Haven. The new steward did a great job the rest of the week. I think the problem is the short turn around time to get the rooms ready. I would rather wait like you do for the RC rooms to be ready than to get to the room, only for it to be such a disappointment. Later that night, exhausted I get into the shower. It won’t drain. Almost runs over. Had to call maintenance. Oh My! What a first day…I think they hate us!
Overall, the room was fine. Much smaller than mini-suites on the other lines we have sailed, RC, Princess and Disney. And, there is no curtain separating the bunks from the other bed(s). However the larger balcony (a small $ upgrade) was great and had two chairs and a lounger. The only negative with the larger balcony is that it protrudes from the ship and you lose the privacy you have on higher decks. Because it extends out anyone with a balcony above yours can look right down onto your balcony. If you’re into privacy, go with a smaller balcony on an upper deck. Mini-suite bathroom on breakaway is very nice, oversize (for a cruiseship) rain shower (no tub), double sink area where two can get ready at once.
Ship has more of a small ship feel. Doesn’t have a main promenade or grand atrium. Also it only has two elevator banks. Seems like other ships we sailed also had a bank of elevators in the middle. One plus was the two-story indoor screen where they showed sports events live at night (great since we were on during the World Series) However, during the day they show regular movies. We were walking through with the kids one day and the movie had quite a bit of swearing (seemed unnecessary). The entertainment is basically NOT kid friendly, unless you upgrade to the Cirque show at $40 pp (everyone said it was excellent, I just had a hard time paying for an onboard show since it is included on most other ships). I must say we did not go to the Welcome Aboard Magic Show, the first night, so I can’t say whether it was okay/entertaining for kids. They also had a Broadway show onboard. Great idea! Would have loved to take my daughter, a 10-year old musical theater buff. But, the show, Rock of Ages, is definitely for a mature audience. It was interesting that during an onboard Q & A, the star of the RofA talked about how the show is definitely not for everyone. He mentioned that for one scene he stands in the back of the audience for an entrance (into a strip club) and he often has to watch people walking out complaining about the vulgarity of the show. My question to NCL is why choose something so polarizing. I understand not all art will appeal to everyone, but there are so many shows out there that are better suited to a broader audience. Why make people upset?
Ok…Glass half full stuff!
Waterpark onboard! Great. FYI - You do have to be 100 lbs for the free fall slide. The ropes course, rockwall, bungee jump thingy, big slide, made for some great fun time!!! Definitely exciting.
Uh oh! Back to Half-Empty.
Plan to upgrade on food. The My-Time dining concept with different restaurants to choose from is great, but the 3 main dining rooms included in your fare are all the same menu and the food is complicated and not-so-good. Complicated and good is one thing, complicated, cold and lousy is another. The food at the buffet was very good. Probably one of the best ship buffets. There were great breads, plenty of fruit, etc. But, the layout is confusing and everything seems disorganized, and there is only clear away service in the buffet. They will not bring you a drink, etc. You must stand in line at a bar, even if you have a soda pass. RC has people who walk around and help you even at the buffet.
We upgraded several nights. It seemed like the only way to get a decent meal. So be prepared, unless you enjoy the buffet. Tepanyaki and the steakhouse were our favorites. (The cover charge does not cover extras, my husband wanted surf & turf at the steakhouse and was charged an additional $10 for his meal). The service in all the restaurants was just average -- and we were tipping on top of the cover charge. The one exception was Ocean Blue. The waiter did an excellent job and allowed us to try an extra starter and an extra dessert. On Princess and RC they would bring you two of everything if you liked, especially at the upgraded restaurants.
Overall, it just seemed that on this cruise we were nickel and dimed a bit more. Perhaps it was just our perception, but we have never had to do as much "upgrading” before. We have always enjoyed our main dining room experiences, etc.
One final warning.
Be cautious of the Kids’ Club. My daughter, 10, had sign-in, sign-out privileges. She is responsible and if she wanted to check in before we were quite finished with dinner we let her go. But, we always followed up a few minutes later to make sure she arrived, etc. And she was not allowed to check herself out without telling us first. One night my husband stopped by to sign both the kids up for the late night party and put a pick up time on the sheet of 12:30 (an "upgrade” at approx $5 an hour). The regular club ends at 10:30 and after that you pay by the hour to stay. We went to dinner and walked around the ship and stopped by the room about 11:30. My daughter had been "kicked-out” of the club at 10:30 and told to return to her room, but if she didn’t’ she wasn’t their responsibility. They had not checked the late-night sheet. She had been alone in the room for an hour. I was not a HAPPY MOMMA! They apologized, but only questioning her and asking my daughter why she didn’t just say she was supposed to go to late night (like it was her fault, my husband had stopped by, signed them in, asked if there was anything else he needed to do). I took my son then and they did not charge me the $5 fee for that night.
We did have a good time, but we did have to work through quite a few negatives.
Loved going out of New York. I would not recommend this for first time cruisers.
I will definitely be back to Royal Caribbean or Princess. NCL " I really wanted to love you, you just made it so hard.