We had a great week on the Breakaway. About us: I am a single mom traveling with my 10 yo dd. I should also mention that a month ago, I was on a Breakaway CTN in a Stuido cabin, but this trip we stayed in an S9 Spa Suite (more on that later) so I have experienced both ends of the spectrum on the ship.
Embarkation: We live in Manhattan and arrived at the pier around 11 am. Checked our bags and were through security in no time. We were greeted after the security line by a Haven representative, who directed us to the Haven lounge area at the other end of the terminal. Upon arrival in the Haven area, we were given a number and told to sit until our number was called to check in. The lounge area was small and PACKED with suite guests waiting to check in/board. We were told we could begin boarding around 11:30, and once on the ship were taken up to the Haven lounge, where the concierge gave a brief talk about Haven access and amenities. Rooms were ready early, so we headed to Deck 14 to drop off our carry on bags.
Cabin: We were in S9 cabin, which was beautiful. I had originally booked a B1 aft balcony, but about a month prior, when prices began to drop, I paid to self-upgrade to a suite and surprised my dd on embarkation day. Dd and I shared the enormous king size bed without any problem. She LOVED the in-room hot tub, but we only used it a handful of times since it took a good 40 minutes to fill the tub every time we wanted to use it. There was tons of storage space, and even with my over-packing we didn’t use all of the space provided. I ordered the “bon voyage” party cake, which we enjoyed during sail away.
2:30 was the muster drill. Our station was in the theater. I had the same station (different section) during my CTN, so knew what to expect. Organized, fast, and painless. So much better than the disorganized mess that we had to stand in when we were on HAL in 2011.
First night: We had reservations for the 5:15 Cirque show. We met the concierge in the Haven lounge at 4:30 so that we could enter early and have our pick of seats. While waiting in the lounge, we met KweezyCruiser and her lovely daughter, who we also sat with at the show. We had our pick of seats, but I don’t think it was full and we probably would not have had trouble finding good seats had we arrived at the regular time. The show was truly spectacular – we enjoyed every minute of it and were talking about it for days after. Although the food was only so-so, it was well worth the price of admission. I think a lot of the food that was served went uneaten anyway, since people were so absorbed in the performance that they didn’t miss anything. I took DD to Splash Academy that night. There were over 1600 kids on board, and as a result, her age group met in the Bliss Lounge instead of the Splash Academy space. Check in at Splash Academy was terribly long despite the fact that we had pre-registered earlier in the day. I went down to Headliners to see Howl at the Moon, which seemed a lot of fun, but about 20 minutes in, dd started texting me on the iconcierge app that she was unhappy because there were too many kids, which resulted in her spending time sitting on the sidelines. I eventually went and got her since she was clearly not happy there.
Day 2: we had a leisurely morning and a nice breakfast in the Haven restaurant. We then walked around the ship checking out the various public spaces and taking pictures. We went to the CC Meet and Greet at La Cucina (shout out to whereisthemidnightbuffet? for organizing), which was well attended by CC members and several ship officers. It was wonderful to put faces with names, and a good time was had by all thanks to a fellow-CCer (RickinNYC) who prepared some ice breaker/trivia games. After, DD and I spent some time in the courtyard pool, and had lunch poolside. DD decided it was warm enough for the outdoor pools (I’m guessing it was around 60 degrees?) and had a blast going down the waterslides. At one point, when she was in the big pool, I noticed a crew member stop dd to ask her if there was a grown up watching her, and she pointed to me. The crew member made eye contact with me and wanted to know that she had adult supervision before moving on. That night we had dinner in the MDR (Taste), which was fine. We skipped dessert in the MDR and decided to grab a few Carlo’s cupcakes in the Atrium Café. Big disappointment – the cupcakes were cold and hard and mealy. L We then went to the theater for Burn the Floor. What a great show! We really enjoyed it. After the show we stopped and took some formal pictures with the ship photographer, who was lovely and really took her time to get some great shots (I even bought the prints!).
Day 3: Another breakfast in the Haven restaurant, and then a lazy morning waiting for arrival in Port Canaveral. We had booked an excursion to Kennedy Space Center, and were instructed to meet in the theater to wait for our tour to be called. The theater was packed, and I felt sorry for the poor crew member who was solely responsible for getting everyone settled and organized for the tour. We were ashore and on the tour bus by 1pm. There were several buses from NCL to KSC. I think we got on the third one, and we arrived at KSC by 1:30. We were told to meet back at the IMAX theater at 4:45, so that left us 3 hours to explore the space center. We opted to skip the bus tour out the vehicle assembly building and Saturn V exhibit, and instead went straight to the shuttle Atlantis exhibit, which is not to be missed. We had a cafeteria lunch, and explored the other main areas at KSC. KSC closed at 5pm, but the tour group was given a special showing of the IMAX show along with a brief Q&A with an astronaut. DD loved seeing a real astronaut and was disappointed that there was no opportunity to meet him and take pictures. We left KSC a little after 6pm and were back on the ship by 6:30. We went to dinner at La Cucina, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Dd had no interest in the kids club, so we went up to Spice H20 for the “Happy Family Deck Party” where there was lots of fun, music, dancing, face painting and balloons.
Day 4: Since we were scheduled for an early arrival at Great Stirrup Cay, we had breakfast delivered to our room. We met the concierge at 8:20 so that we could get on the first tender to the island. The island is very nice, and we were very happy with our chairs in the main beach area. We rented a floating mat for dd, and she was thrilled when she met another girl her age on the beach, who she played with the rest of our time on board the ship. We had BBQ lunch on the island, got our fill of sun (it was in the low 80s!) and headed back to the ship around 2pm. Later that afternoon, dd met up with her new friend for some time in the ship pool/slides. We had a nice dinner in the Haven restaurant, and met dd’s friend at Spice H20 for an outdoor screening of Pitch Perfect.
Day 5: I woke up early and watched from the balcony as we pulled into port in Nassau. We again ate breakfast in the room before heading out for our shore excursion to Atlantis. Leaving for this tour was very disorganized (tour operator’s fault, not NCL) and it was a mob scene as everyone tried to pile onto shuttle buses to the resort. Once at Atlantis, we had a good time in the pools/water slides. A nice lunch at one of the poolside restaurants. Once we were tired from all the walking (that place is enormous!) and water fun, we spent some time walking through “the Dig” and aquarium areas of the resort. We headed back to the ship around 3:30. Once back on the ship, we spent some time relaxing, and then headed to dinner at Cagney’s. I LOVED my meal at Cagney’s. I had the baked potato soup, the filet mingon – which was one of the best steaks I have ever had – and the oreo cheesecake for dessert. Much to my chagrin, dd refused to eat off of the steakhouse menu, instead opting for chicken tenders and French fries. Oh well, at least I wasn’t charged for that! We headed up to Spice H20 for the fireworks, where dd had planned to meet her new friend, but were turned away because it was already full. Instead we went to deck 16 above the kid’s pool, where we had a fantastic view of the fireworks.
Day 6: We were exhausted from the prior 3 port days, and decided to sleep in and have a late breakfast at the Haven restaurant. Dd made plans to meet her friend at the pool, and with friend’s parents supervising the girls, I had a chance to escape to the spa for about an hour. I had been to the spa during my CTN and was soooo happy to go back. The Thermal Suite was practically empty, and I had no trouble using whichever facilities I wanted, including those incredible heated tile loungers. Had lunch at Uptown Grill, which was ok. During the afternoon we did some shopping in the ship stores for souvenirs to bring back for a few friends. That night we had dinner in the Haven restaurant. Dd and her friend had planned on meeting at Splash Academy that evening, but when we arrived they were turning people away because they were already at capacity. Instead, I brought the girls to our room to watch a DVD.
Day 7: Another late breakfast at the Haven restaurant followed by some final shopping at the ship shops. Lunch was at O’Sheehans, which was serviceable, but nothing special. That afternoon, dd finally made it to the rock climbing wall (she hadn’t want to wait on the long lines earlier in the week) and also had a good time on the spider slide. I’m not sure why, but the bungee trampoline was closed the entire week, much to dd’s disappointment. That night we had dinner at Teppanyaki, which was a wonderful time. The chef made things a lot of fun, and it was one of the few non-kids-menu meals that dd ate the entire week! DD and her friend met up at Splash Academy (they were able to get in this time) for the final night pajama party. I spent some time in the Atrium watching IMPAC and then went to headliners to watch about half of Howl at the Moon, which was a lot of fun.
Disembarkation: I woke up early and watched dismally as the ship made its way back up the Hudson. We had a final breakfast in the room, and headed up to the concierge for our priority disembarkation around 8:30 am. The priorty helped in that it got us quick elevator access, but once we were at the exit, there was not much of a line so I don’t think we saved any other time with our “priority” status. We headed into the terminal and easily found our luggage. We cleared customs and were in a cab pretty quickly. We made it home to our Manhattan apartment by 9:15 am. Easy peasy.
All in all we had a wonderful, relaxing week. I wouldn’t hesitate to sail the Breakaway (or any NCL ship) again. I would be happier to not go during a peak week, but as long as expectations are reasonable, I think there is opportunity for a good time to be had by all.