Overall the cruise was very nice. My wife and I sailed the week after Thanksgiving, hoping that there would be less children on board as well as at the Universal Island excursion in Florida. We travel quite a bit and have taken about 6 cruises so we feel that we are experienced.
This was both of ours first time out of NYC. Upon arrival there was no signage that we say directing us to where baggage drop off was, but as before, we went with the idea that the line was where to follow. The embarkation went fairly smoothly with no undue length of time getting through the process. We were both only Bronze Latitudes members.
We went first to our cabin, where we had gotten an upgrade to a mini suite, Cabin 10834. We both liked the décor of the decks in the cabin areas and overall not over the top like we have seen in other lines. I returned back to our cabin a little before 3 prior to the muster safety briefing and our bags were already at the room.
The cabin was nice, but overall nothing that great as far as the size. The bathroom however was very, very nice as to size. The shower was almost 5 feet in length and a great size. The dual sinks were also nice and worked well that we could both be in there getting ready instead of having to wait for the other. The balcony was small but enough for us to sit together and have coffee. I didn't really notice how small they were until we got to the Bahamas and saw the Breakaway against the three Carnival ships that were there and it was pretty obvious then, just how small the balconies really are.
All of the extra footage in the mini suite seemed to be taken up by the bathroom. There was a couch/pull out bed, but no coffee table or table in the cabin area except for the shelve with coffee pot and such. There was ample storage for the both of us. One thing that we found that I hadn't seen in the other reviews was that upon entry into the cabin, you must insert one of the room keys into a slot to make the lights and outlets work in the cabin and the key must remain there the entire time you need to be in the cabin.
The buffet was nice and nothing particularly excellent or awful based upon our experiences. We did go to the Manhattan room which was the standard "big dining room" experience. Neither of us really like the singer and band playing, because it only added to the increased noise level that was already bad enough in a room that size, so you almost feel like you have to yell for your table partner to hear you. The other two rooms, Savor and Taste were broken up into smaller areas, so you didn't have that loud noise experience. I would recommend these two over the larger Manhattan room.
We also did the Moderno pay restaurant, which we both thought was a pretty good value at $20.00. The food items were very good, but the service was very, very poor. We had a show after the meal, and thought that almost 2 hours would have been enough time. We didn't even have time for dessert before we had to dash out to make the show.
The casino was HUGE. And as a smoker, even I will join others as to the smoke problem in the Casino. NCL missed COMPLETELY as to how to ventilate or went way on the cheap side with it. Note about the casino. If you play slots do it on the first night, because after that...good luck. However I do appreciate NCL making the table games minimum of 10.00 because that kept me away from them.
Now to the CONS of the cruise or NCL or Breakaway.
My wife does not agree with me on all of these but I'll make my points.
I noticed a distinctive lack of "give a damn" by the staff. They were friendly enough and when you pointed something out, it would get done, but you felt like you had to work at it. I felt that there were several of the staff that they had no desire to give their employer a decent days work for a days wage. I sat there a couple of times just to watch the staff and I never felt like any of them LOOKED for ways to make things better, only what they might have felt was required.
For instance I sat there and watched one guy who was supposed to keep the buffet tables cleared make 4 trips to clear one table instead of just grabbing a tray and make one trip. Or the coffee that got spilled on the floor in the smoking area on deck 15. It never got cleaned up and was still there that evening. On our balcony cabin the dried salt from the sea spray wasn't even wiped off of the bannister around the balcony or the glass around the balcony.
That was what it felt like the entire time on ship. Like they would do it, but you had to beg first.
My wife and I had made a deposit on our last NCL cruise about 3 years ago and so needed to use it this year. It just so happened that we were going to New Jersey for Thanksgiving with her family and so that was what worked for us to take this cruise. We did not leave another deposit this time, because we are very unsure of our making use of NCL again.