Having sailed once before on Norwegian, 3 times on Carnival, and once on Royal, we had already established that we did not favor Norwegian. However, we were enticed to sail on this brand new super ship the Breakaway when we noticed that it was offering the Kids Sail Free Program again. After all, it was a new ship???
Embarkation: All parking lots at the Manhattan Terminal were blocked off, and thus many cars, including ourselves had to circle the port many times, and inquire many workers, prior to being told just to go through the cones! This search for parking took over an hour, and many people were frustrated. We stood in a line for approximately 1 1/2 hours, but to our surprise, we were allowed to immediately board without any further waiting. There was no welcoming from the staff, although we sort of liked not being badgered to buy things the moment we got onto the ship.
Food: There are many complimentary restaurants as well as the garden buffet. The garden buffet is always loud, and there is difficulty finding seating every sea day. On Monday they serve Lobster only on the buffet. You would think that you were setting sail for your last meal on the TITANIC! It is absurd, and people are pushing and shoving, trying to demand many lobsters on their plates. The food in general is typical as far as cruise ship buffet style food. I felt as though the lunch and dinner choices were primarily ethnic, and would have liked to see more American traditional choices especially for the kids. The lines for the Manhattan rooms/taste/savor always had at least a 30 minute wait, even when you arrived early. this was not conducive to feeding children, as even once you were seated, you can expect very slow service with the meals in general taking over 2 hours. The food is of large portions, but never hot, and not nearly as tasty as our local chain restaurants. The rooms in general are very crowded, loud, with only a few staff running around like crazy. i feel that they were trying their best, but very understaffed. We had issues getting water glasses filled, and bread on the table. DO NOT wait in the hour plus line at Great Stirrup Cay for the cold/tasteless food. Just take a couple snacks off the ship, and get back on for lunch. It was the biggest waste of my time, and I regret standing in that line for food that was fed to the sea gulls.
Sports Decks: This ship has amazing amenities like the plank, ropes, spider mountain, and slides. If you plan to use these areas, wait until everyone gets off at port, and there were little to no lines. The staff in these areas were also attentive and our kids had a lovely time! Lock your wedding bands in the safe if you plan to use the slides, as you cannot wear as much as a hair clip or studs...just an FYI.
Pools: Plenty of nice pool space, and no issues finding loungers while ported....a little crowded while at sea.
Rooms: We had a balcony mini suite, which in our opinion was the equivalent of a balcony room on most other ships. In general, the rooms appear very small. The balcony has room for 2 chairs and that's about it....literally. The bathroom on the other hand is huge, with a real shower, and double sink! We had enough space to unload our 2 large suit cases for the 4 of us and fit the cases into the closet. Our room steward was attentive and kept the room tidy.
Shows: Definitely reserve your show times ahead via the website, otherwise you may not get to see the shows. Although, even though we booked in advance, we were bumped to a 11130 show, which was not possible for us with a 3 year old. I didn't think that was fair. Burn the floors is a great. The rock of ages iis totally inappropriate for children, but my husband found the humor in it. You would have to be a comedy central fan appreciate it. The second city was the stupidest show I have ever had to sit through. Stand up improv at a high school level....NCL....you can do much better....again....this only appeals to a certain group of people. The comedy magic show was okay, but did not amaze anyone. In general, I've seem much better.
Kids camp: Our experience with the kids program was very poor, as it was in the past with Norwegian. We arrived to be bum rushed by dozens of parents cutting line to dump their kids off at the zoo. First of all, the line usually took about 30 minutes because all kids were dropped at one main desk. By the time parents got to the front of the line with their kids, about 30% were melting down, and crying on the floor, as they could see into the sea of unhappy kids within. The NCL policy as I was informed is that the children must voluntarily hold a workers hand and enter at will. Then me (the parent) must stand in front of the zoo gates, for 10 minutes to make sure the child doesn't cry. If he cries, the child is quickly handed back to you, and you are expected to come back and try waiting in the line all over again. I've never seen such a poor service provided by a cruise line. We eventually got our 9 year old into the program. He experienced Parachute play with a grown man dressed as a shark under the parachute. He was inappropriately placed with 6 year olds. We never took the kids back, as every time we passed the area, the line was just soooo long. There was a time, when all of your kids will be placed together, but this is only for an hour, so that by the time you get through the line, your kids have just a few minutes together. This was a big complaint by many parents, as the younger ones would not enter at will without the older siblings. Oh yes, and if they ask you if your child has ANY medical condition and you answer yes (even if it will not affect your child until adult hood) and has no affect on your child right now, you will be issued a pager, and thus you cannot leave the ship while your child is in camp. Just an FYI. Don't volunteer anything that is not pertinent to them caring for your child. The staff are not allowed to assist a child with buttoning pants, etc. in the bathroom. They will not help in anyway. Again, a pager is issued, and they will call you as I am told.
Shame on you NCL for providing such a pathetic children's service.
Casino: full of smoke, but huge!
Guest Services: NCL by far has many issues with accounts/and guest services. There are always huge lines of disgruntled passengers who are told that one line is closing, and moved to the end of another long line to wait another 30 minutes. I had to wait in line 3 times over the course of 4 hours to get my credit card correctly linked to my sail card in order to purchase anything or use any amenities. 4 small free strawberries for my hardship. Although the staff was polite and friendly. Thanks.
Staff: In general the staff is friendly, helpful, and polite. I think that much of our service issues were due to the fact that the ship was overbooked, and they were short staffed. The staff in general appeared to be working very hard and never stopped moving.
Taking into consideration, that we sailed during the kids sail free program and that the ship was sold out with >5500 people on board, I would say that the value of our vacation was good. Would I recommend this ship to people who won't use the sports deck amenities and just want to relax and have nice complimentary dinners, probably not. I did hear that the specialty restaurants and Circe show were amazing, although on other cruise lines, you do not have to pay to watch a nice show, or eat a nice meal. If you can score this trip cheap, and have kids that will enjoy the sports decks, then this ship might just be for you. Would we do it again, probably not.
Disembarkation: we waited until last. Typical...delays...congestion....and long customs lines. The typical.