We just came back from the first 12 night cruise on the Breakaway that sailed on 1/5/2014. This was the second time that we sailed on this ship, and it will be the last. I don't want to go into a long detailed review, but will give the positives and negatives of the sailing:
- The ship is decorated beautifully.
- Deck 8 has the Waterfront where the specialty restaurants and bars have outdoor seating.
- Vibe was a bonus and worth the up charge, but you will need to be in line immediately following embarkation as the have limited passes available and they go quickly.
- The food was good.
- The cabin was very nice with plenty of storage and the smaller balcony did not bother us, as we had Vibe to enjoy.
- Bar service was always good, and the drinks were good.
- We were able to reconnect with NCL employees from past NCL cruises on other ships. Their recognition of us was a bonus and we enjoyed seeing them again.
- Sinan is THE best cruise director.
- The entertainment is fantastic and high quality.
- NCL has truly "nickled and dimed" their passengers at every pass.
- About half of the public spaces wreak of cigarette smoke.
- The open atrium and casino area makes a lot of noise and a lot of cigarette smoke for both atrium and spills over to other areas.
- There are lots of smaller spaces and no large spaces, which creates many bottlenecks and congestion which is a huge turn off. This means lines, waiting, and difficulty getting around. The ship carries more than 4,000 passengers and should have spaces that accommodate.
- We found ourselves going forward and aft outside on decks 7 and 8 in order to arrive at our destination, avoiding the crowds on the inside. It made for faster movement around the ship.
- Food service was very slow and they always seemed understaffed. No one restaurant wow'd us as it did on the Epic. We have eaten at every specialty restaurant they have to offer. The food quality is slipping in some venues (O'Sheehan's they should abandon and open something else...food is awful).
- You must make reservations for EVERYTHING on the ship, and this was a huge turn-off.
- If we mentioned anything to a supervisor or manager they just shrugged it off and didn't listen.
- The small pool area on deck 15 is pathetic for the size ship it is. They should eliminate the water slide area and use it as a pool deck area where others can sit around the pool, like in other NCL ships.
- Le Bistro (my favorite specialty) was small, noisy and the service was awful. I had to ask an employee to please close the door as the atrium noise made us unable to carry a conversation at normal levels.
- We heard a lot of complaining about the ship and service from other passengers. We did not hear one person state they would come back to this ship.
We did have a nice time but I wanted to give an objective review. My partner and I have been cruising two times per year the past few years and have noticed changes with this cruise line. It's my opinion (remember it's an opinion) that NCL is cutting corners and reducing service levels as they have a lot of projects to finance. Also, we have found that we prefer a ship with a smaller passenger capacity to which we will book going forward. The Breakaway is a beautiful ship, and the Water Front is very nice, but the chopped up floor plan and design makes it a challenge for the passenger. In the end, we spent just as much or more on this sailing as if we would have gone on a Seaborne or Regent cruise, which would be all inclusive. That is an expensive lesson that we have learned. Going forward our decisions will be to avoid the nickle and dime approach NCL has adopted.
I think, overall, I'm disappointed with NCL as I was so happy when we first started sailing with them. We have became acquainted with several NCL employees, and it's sad to say that we will choose something different going forward. People vote with their dollars. While I hope that I'm not being overly negative, I do know that my brief review is objective and honest. Hopefully they read these reviews and do something about them. I only wish the best for NCL and hope they go back to what they were a few years ago.