Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Review by jmonvn: Too many people, poorly managed debarkation, lost baggage, great staff
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Too many people, poorly managed debarkation, lost baggage, great staff
This is a large ship, so it's not surprising that embarkation took a long time.
However, the cabins were not ready on time, and passengers had to crowd into public areas and bars for a couple hours after boarding. Many passengers, like me, who were told by port stevedores that their luggage would be delivered to their cabins by 4 p.m. for a $2 charge had their luggage misplaced or lost entirely. Many passengers had to visit the service desk after 11 p.m. to find their bags, which had their cabin tags torn off!. Several fellow passenger told me that their bags has been permanently lost and that Norwegian Cruise Lines claimed they had no responsibility.
I strongly recommend that you never let your baggage out of your sight. I met a 17-year-old teen who had saved up to buy new clothes for the cruise because he had lost weight and wanted to show off his new body. His bag was permanently lost, so his grandmother had to buy his\m a few things at the ship's store at More exorbitant cost.
Once you have boarded, and if you have your luggage, the ship offers good amenities, including a well-equipped gym, a spa, and a water park recreation area with the largest waterslide attraction at sea.
However, be aware that access to the waterslide attraction is limited to people who weigh less than 300 pounds. That eliminates about half the people on this cruise. If you are squeamish about rolling fat bursting out of bathing suits and about bad skin conditions, don't visit the sun decks on this ship!
Food quality is surprisingly good for a cruise ship, and the specialty restaurants provide excellent service. Ocean Blue by Zakarian is worth the $49 upcharge. The wines offered in the restaurants and bars are OK but obviously not chosen to impress real wine lovers. Still, there are a few excellent values, including a 2009 Priorat red blend chosen by Giannina, the very personable beverage manager.
TIP: never order a single glass of wine unless you plan to have only one for the entire cruise. Order a bottle because it's less expensive per glass and because you can retrieve that bottle with any remaining wine at any bar or restaurant on the ship at any time. So say you have a glass on Tuesday at one of the bars but plan to dine at a restaurant on Wednesday. That bottle will be available to you at any restaurant or bar on the ship. Nice arrangement.
The public restaurants all offer pretty much the same food, although the Manhattan Room has some upscale dishes like poached salmon and even escargots on a couple evenings.
The main public dining area is the Garden Cafe on deck 15, which is open from about 0600 until about 2330. The food is good, but the lines are long at normal meal hours, so you need to be prepared. Still it's not a bad experience if you don't go at peak breakfast, lunch, or dinner times.
The best feature of this ship is the Waterfront deck (deck 8) which is open to the sea and all the restaurants and bars, You can walk around this deck, sit down at outdoor bars (in good weather), or walk inside and make yourself comfortable at the corresponding inside bar. Very convenient.
I won't comment on the casino other than to say that the allow smoking, so I avoided it like the plague.
The entertainment options ranged from rock show (Rock of Ages) to dance (Burn the Floor) to standup comedy, to Cirque du Soleil, to Jazz and even a piano bar with performers taking requests for the pianiist and singer - one of the best entertainment experiences on the cruise IMHO.
For solo travelers, the studio cabins and studio lounge are comfortable and provide an environment to connect with other singles. Rooms are small but very well designed and comfortable.
The shore excursions were interesting, and I particularly enjoyed the catamaran snorkel and diving trips, although we were packed in a bit tight on those boats. However The crew members managed everything very well , especially the St. John Champagne and Snorkel crew.
The shore excursion guides for the bus tours (Vision, Quammie, Winston) were informative and entertaining.
The biggest problem with the shore excursions was the debarkation crush as a couple thousand people tried to leave the ship within a half hour through a single small exit ramp. And then for the bus tours, hundreds of people jostled to get on to the first busses.
I felt exhausted coping with the crowds during the entire cruise. And there were so many movement impaired people (wheelchairs, walkers, canes) who slowed down the already congested exits. Getting off the ship for shore excursions and final debarkation was a stressful experience that will cause me to think twice before considering another cruise. And the lost baggage experience will cause me to think thrice.
On a positive note, the bar staff and restaurant servers were outstanding. .And I met interesting people, including fellow passengers and talented performers in the shows. Less
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