We have cruised often on Princess, and this was our first time on Norwegian, as we were joining friends on this cruise. We had a good time because we look to have a good time and don't let problems stop us from that, and we had good friends for company. Having said that, do not sail on Breakaway at this time if you are experienced travelers, you will be very disappointed. You would think after six months they would have ironed out a lot of the problems they have, but that is not the case.
First the good - the entertainment was excellent - Rock of Ages was well done (and we have seen it on Broadway, so we have a basis for that review), Burn the Floor was very good, and the Second City was good (although very short performances). The food in the main dining room was very good, and the food in the specialty restaurants (we went to two, the Italian La Cuchina and the Brazilian) was also good (the food at the buffet never changed, and was average). The Cruise Staff was very More
friendly, and the activities (trivia contests, dance lessons, Newlywed Game, Deal or No Deal, etc.) were good. The cabin was what we expected, and the bathroom was actually a little larger than we have experienced, and the Steward was friendly. Getting on and off the ship, both at beginning and end of trip, and for excursions, was fairly easy. The Segway Tour/Ride in Nassau was a lot of fun.
The bad - the design (narrow hallways) and dark colors just are not attractive. How a new ship could have seats as uncomfortable as the main theater has is almost beyond belief - they are awful, and many people complained about them. This ship (and we were told by experienced Norwegian cruisers that it is not like this on other ships) nickels and dimes you to death. If you want to bowl, five dollars per person per game; if you wanted a bottle of water when getting off the ship, 4.50 (we thought they were going to be free); if you want a desert at Carlo's, another extra cost; etc. We received a coupon for a free embarkation photo if you went the first night between 5-9 - a complete bait and switch - free photo of ship, but if you want the photo they took of you in front of ship, then there is a cost. The Ugly - while the food was very good, the waiting and seating in the main dining rooms was one of the worst experiences we have every had. The first night was like a bad scene in a movie - 500 people trying to get into The Manhattan Room main dining area have to fit in a very small hallway - there was pushing, yelling, people jumping the line - awful is too nice a word. You should not have to make reservations, and then still wait, to sit down for dinner in the main dining room. The Free Style Seating just does not work - and they had only two or three people to seat your group once you got to the head of the line. The hostesses spent all their time punching something into the computer and rarely looking up. We went back to the Manhattan Room on our last night, same experience. The wait staff was generally inexperienced. We were in an overall group of eight, and months before the sailing we had made reservations for the specialty restaurants (and paid). We got bumped out of the first one, because they wanted to accommodate a large group (can understand that), but then they did not want to give us a 5:30 reservation at Moderno on the second night, saying it was busy, but then relented and gave us that. So, when we go - there was no one there!! Two other tables had people the entire time we were there. Clearly customer service does not speak with the boats reservation staff. The design of the buffet area is not good - the food should be in an inside area and not in the hallway where people are going to their tables - very busy and bumped a lot when holding dinner plates.
Lastly, the amount of areas that had strong smoking smells was too much - there is little control of the smoking, even outside the casino area. We will take many future cruises, unfortunately after our first experience with Norwegian, they will be on other cruise lines. Less