We are veteran cruisers in our 60's with gold status on Norwegian. We like the itineraries and the convenient home ports. We originally scheduled the Breakaway for Memorial Day, but had to put it off until Christmas week. We were curious to try the new ship. After booking, we started reading the reviews and wondered whether we should have booked the Gem which we have been on before and enjoyed.
We stayed at the Weehauken Sheraton the night before the cruise, only because the City was packed and we couldn't find a room on the West Side at a reasonable price. The transportation to the ship was a snap on the Water Taxi from just outside the hotel. It took us to 40th street and we walked up from there. There was a little delay in boarding, but once they opened the gates, it moved well.
We were most concerned about the food and steward service, but found it comparable to what we experienced on other Norwegian cruises. We take all our meals in the dining rooms, avoiding the buffets. We had no complaints with the two small dining rooms on the 6th deck, Taste and Savor. Service was outstanding and we had several excellent meals, some very ordinary. The Strip Steak was always a good choice, if the daily menu lacked anything interesting. The Manhattan dining room on the 7th deck was huge. If you like music and dancing during dinner and do not mind a relaxing tempo, this is the place for you. We found the pace a little slow and the music a little loud. The only specialty restaurant we generally eat at is the Bistro. We thought about eating there the first night when they gave away a bottle of wine with dinner, but decided not to until later in the cruise, but then got shut out. So, make your reservations for the Bistro early.
The entertainment was spotty. The two theatre shows, Rock of Ages and a group of dancers, were professional. We especially liked the comic-magician, but I think he might have completed his contract. The dance band, Impac, was great. They could do everything and put on a few different theme sets. The lounge entertainment was okay. One night in the martini lounge the piano player did a John Denver-Paul Simon night which attracted a huge crowd. Howl at the Moon was fun one night, but the requests tend to be the same night after night. We had to hear Piano man and Sweet Caroline 7 or 8 times during the week. We don't particularly like Second City, having seen them on several prior cruises.
The day activities left something to be desired for people our age. There were 1500 passengers under the age of 18 so most of the activities targeted at the young. They had two or three trivias a day. The big disappointment was the lack of a bridge director to organize duplicate bridge on sea days. We could always find a place to sit on deck. Our favorite place to sit and read was on the waterfront on the 8th deck I think. Comfortable chairs to relax in and pretty quiet.
We had done the same itinerary on the Gem a few years ago so we didn't go on any excursions. Since the winds were too great to tender at the private beach, the Captain got us into Nassau a day early on Christmas. That allowed us to take in the Junkeroo parade which was a 7 hour Costumed ordeal with magnificently decorated floats not unlike mardi gras beginning at 3 am. We had a balcony on the 13th deck near the forward stair case. Perfect location. The room was large enough and shower a little larger than most cruise ships. The steward did a good job. There was only one day he did not have the room made up when we returned from Breakfast. Since we had to catch a train at Penn Station on the disembarkation day, we elected to walk off ourselves at 7:30 upon arrival. Very smooth and quick. A few observations. Other people are right about the Casino being smoky and unavoidable several times a day. The Theatre is small. You need to make your seating requests early. The constant search for seats after the show has begun is annoying. The raw bar was worth it. The prices for drinks were reasonable.