I was aboard the Norwegian Breakaway 12/15/13-12/22/13. This was my 4th cruise; second with NCL and I've cruised with RCCL twice. I cruised on the Dawn before, and didn't have the best experience but I decided to give NCL another try. I am now regretting my decision of choosing NCL over RCCL and will probably never do it again.
Since the moment we boarded the ship, nothing went smooth or as planned.
• Food Service
oThere were only 2 times that the whole buffet was actually utilized, the day we embarked and the day
we disembarked. I'm sure you can imagine that 4,000+ guests and 1,000+ crew members trying to get food off of one small section of the buffet was hectic. There were lines for every section of the buffet.
I'm not sure why the whole buffet wasn't utilized, but it needed to be
o There was never anywhere to sit. There were multiple times that I got so frustrated and tired of walking in circles looking for a seat, that I carried my food all the way back to my cabin on deck 8 forward, just so I had a place to sit and enjoy my meal.
o It closed way too early. On RCCL, the entire buffet is open 22 hours out of the day, however this is not the case on NCL. When I learned this, I was slightly disappointed thinking that there would be no where to eat at late hours. I then later found out that O'Sheehan's was open 24 hours. This was great news until I found out that they only serve about 1/4 of their menu after 11pm.
o The ice cream machines were always either broken, or out of mix. One of them had both mixes in it twice during the whole week
• The ship was extremely rocky compared to past cruises that I've been on. I never remember feeling the other ships move, except for when we went through a storm. However, when aboard the breakaway, it was almost unbearably rocky. It was it very difficult to walk sometimes, and I felt seasick for the first time ever on a cruise. This should not happen on a brand new "luxury" cruise ship.
• We skipped great stirrup cay due to "bad weather" (the main port I wanted to visit considering I’ve been to Nassau twice and port Canaveral 3 times), although we saw RCCL was at their private island that day which is about 700 meters = 0.435 miles away according to google maps. When we passed by, I happened to be sitting outside and spotted a ship that looked like a RCCL ship out in the distance. I then looked into the binoculars, which confirmed that this was in fact a RCCL ship that I could see had its anchor down and it was tendering. To further confirm my thoughts, I went inside to look at the navigation information on the TV and saw that we were, infact, passing Great Stirrup Cay/CoCo Cay at that time. A few other guests saw this also. Someone then mentioned that NCL had not stopped at GSC for several weeks, and that the captain always blamed it on weather. This infuriated me, along with several other guests. We paid to stop at 3 ports and were not able to, with no clear reason at this point. We were "compensated" by arriving at Nassau at 8pm that night and starting disembarkation at 9:30. This however was pointless, as everything was closed, and quite honestly, most of the guests did not feel safe exploring Nassau at night.
• The zip line, which is advertised almost everywhere you look for this ship, was closed the ENTIRE time we were onboard. I checked multiple times and asked crew members when it would open, only to find out that it would not be opening and I was given no reason as to why.
• All of the bars close too early, I quickly found out that unless you were gambling, there was not much for you to do after 10pm.
• This may just be opinion but the ship’s band was extremely boring. Every cruise I’ve ever been on in the past has an entertaining band that plays carribean style music and spends a lot of time on the pool deck so they can be heard by people enjoying the sunshine. This however, never happened. The band was in the small atrium (with no where to sit) any time they were playing. I just could not believe that the band would not be outside, making the pool deck a more enjoyable place to be.
• The public areas were far too small for the number of guests on the NCL Breakaway. The theatre was almost filled to capacity every time, with people still waiting outside to see the show. Unless reservations were made, AND you arrived at least 30 minutes prior to the show, there was no where to sit. NCL prides itself on free style cruising, yet the process you must go through to see a show was far from free style! The atrium (where many activities were held) was also far too small to accommodated guests. There were many times that I walked through and saw people sitting on the floor watching an activity that was taking place on the atrium center stage. With the money that was paid for this cruise, guests should never have to sit on the floor.
• Disembarkation…..oh this was ridiculous to say the least. We found out late the night before, only because another guest told us, that we had to go to the atrium and pick our luggage tags that would determine what time we got off the ship in the morning. First of all, there was NEVER an announcement made about this, so we would have never known about it if this other guest, who had knowledge of it, didn’t tell us. We picked to disembark at 9:30. That was a mistake. We didn’t end up getting off of the ship until 11:00 and we finally got through customs at 12:30. This was unacceptable. There were people who missed flights, trains, buses, etc. because NCL was so unorganized in the way they disembarked.
With all of this being said, I will probably never pick NCL to cruise with again unless there are extenuating circumstances. This cruise was not a good time for me, or any of the other people in my party.