I'm 28 years old. I sailed on the 12/8/2013 to 12/15 cruise out of NYC to the Bahamas. I was cruising solo and this was my first cruise. My goals going in were adventure, relaxation, and meeting new people around my age.
Type of cabin:
The Breakaway is about 8 months old. The amenities and restaurants provided were satisfying. The activities that I remember were all fun: rock climbing, ropes course, mini golf, 4 hot tubs on the main deck, kids pool, main pool, ping pong, bowling, darts, pool, casino, theater, shuffleboard, movie screen. I did want to get a massage, but the pricing was a bit ridiculous… something along the lines of $150 for 50 minutes.
The layout is pretty easy to navigate, and the elevators are adequate for the capacity. One complaint I read before sailing is the location of the casino. You can avoid it if you want, but yes, sometimes you will have to walk through a little smoke smell to get to where you are going. The ship never felt crowded and I was always able to find a little quiet space for reading.
The ship was smooth but sometimes there would be vibrations for a while, and there was some rocking as well, mostly on the last night coming home. I get sea sick on occasion and I had no problems this cruise.
One thing they need to address… the hot tubs could have been hotter, or at least have provided a temperature control for people who prefer shorter but higher temperature stays in the hot tubs.
I chose the ship partly because of the studio cabins, which let me save money and gave me the hope that I would bump into other solo cruisers. There are about 60 studio cabins, all of which are in a separate area behind a key-carded door... so there wasn't as much traffic as other parts of the ship, which was nice if you wanted quiet around your room. I did notice the cabin wasn't totally sound proof, as I could hear mumbled conversations in the morning - that being said, I am a light sleeper and these never bothered me. The only thing that slightly bothered me was the cruise announcements can still be slightly heard from the hallway speakers, but they first one was usually around 10AM.
The cabin itself was nice and clean... modern looking. It's on the small side but that didn't really bother me. The important thing for me was a good size bed that was comfortable, which I had. The one comment is that the bathroom is a bit small, and that the sink is not in the bathroom which is a bit odd. They included a hairdryer, shampoo and body wash. There is plenty of room to store clothes.
I kept the window which looks onto the corridor closed (with the blinds) most of the time. It's heavily frosted so you can't really see anything anyway... it just lets some light in.
The studio lounge was not as "lounge"-ish as I had imagined... I was envisioning sofas where I could relax. It's a two floor room with some seating and a small bar (only staffed for one hour a day). Realistically, we used it to sync up with other travelers on plans for the evening. I didn't spend much time in there.
The nightlife was adequate... we had a lot of fun with dancing, drinking, karaoke, and mingling over drinks. It would be nice if more than one main bar or club (other than Bliss) stayed open late so you have more options. Also, the music was mostly good songs but it got very repetitive. The DJ also seemed to have a thing for Latin music, which I love, but sometimes 20-30 minutes of that at a time is too much for a regular crowd to be having fun.
Being in the solo cabin, I had access to the solo lounge, although I think people who are determined can get in without much hassle to attend the nightly solo cabin meet-up, run by a crew member. Out of the 60 or so studio cabins, I would say 80% were filled with a crowd that was 40+. I was hoping for more of a younger mix... note that there were even much older people staying in these rooms. I believe some families with odd numbers put extra travelers in a studio rooms. That being said, I met a few fun people around my age and even some great people who were outside of my typical age range. I spent the cruise eating, drinking, lounging and dancing with these 5-7 people and it was a blast.
Overall, the ship leaned toward families and the older crowd. Amongst the rest of the ship, I would say 70-80% were 50+. Kids were present but weren’t too bad of a nuisance for a solo traveler like me… you just have to remind them that they can’t come into the 2 adult only hot tubs on the top deck!
I am not a picky eater. The buffet food was fine although the omelet line should not take 15 minutes every morning... they need more stations. I ate at some of the restaurants, all of which the food was pretty good. The best dining experience was at Tepanyaki... great hibachi show and great food.
I booked my cruise late and didn't book any excursions until a day or two before they were set to happen. I did this onboard the ship via the phone app. I was happy that there was still room, although some times were sold out. It was nice not to have to stress and book it all ahead of time. I did the Sailboat Snorkeling in Nassau and Kayaking on Stirrup Cay, both of which were fun and went well.
The crew was all very friendly, and our cruise director, Sinan, was fantastic. We bumped into him a few times and he was very friendly. Our studio cabin director was also great and facilitated meeting the other travelers. The wait-staff was hit or miss, mostly good in the paid places and not as good in the free places.
I really like the freestyle cruising aspect. I liked being able to eat when I wanted, and especially having the option to eat alone for some quiet time. I usually had breakfast alone and then lunch and dinner with cruise mates. Not having to worry about a set time was really stress relieving.
I also liked the fact that we had sea days. The beginning sea days gave me time to prepare my excursions and the ending sea days gave me time to unwind and relax without missing anything.
The shows I saw, Burn the Floor and Rock of Ages, were both good.
The boarding and un-boarding experience was good. Boarding took me about 30-40 minutes in NYC. Leaving the cruise, I did the solo walk off where you take your own bags. The totally process took about 15 minutes or less.
One awful part of the experience was the website and the cruise app. I had multiple problems when trying to use the website before sailing. The onboard app is $7 for unlimited text and phone between other people with the app. This is a great bargain, but they app is very flakey. Sometimes messages are missed or late to be delivered, and you can't send a text to a person that is disconnected from the ship's WiFi.
For full internet access, expect to pay .50-.75 cents a minute depending on the package you select. You do not need the full internet access to book excursions or use the WiFi messaging (just pay the $7 once).
Overall a great experience. I would definitely sail this ship again, but I would try to find a week where it’s more likely to be a younger crowd. I still met a great group of people who I will stay in touch with. I really like the freestyle cruising and think I will stick with Norwegian just because of this.