INTRO: I have to say I was a little perplexed when I saw some of these terrible reviews for NCL's newest ship, Breakaway. But, I also knew that unfortunately, some people really do exaggerate and let one thing ruin their entire experience. Also, I’m shocked when people spend all this money on an exciting vacation and don’t research what they’re getting themselves into. NCL doesn’t hide the fact that they charge for extras such as specialty dining or special spa experiences, so how can you be so mad when you get on board? Anyway, I digress, on with the review!
ABOUT ME: I’m 30 and I cruised with my fiancé who is 28. We also had her parents with us (the have always been very loyal to RCCL, so this was new for them). I've cruised twice on RCCL and twice on NCL. To start, I was truly blown away by NCL on this sailing! I think they are taking cruising to a very exciting place. This may not please some of the more traditional cruisers, but it really excites me. I love having choices! And I think if you cruise with an open mind and positive energy, the vacation truly is what you make of it! Not to mention, you get much better service when your not acting like a jerk. ;)
BOOKING: We originally reserved two Balcony Staterooms near the back of the ship. One for my fiancé and I and the other one for her Mother and Father. I called the Monday before we left and asked my Personal Cruise Consultant (David) to see if we could be upgraded. 5 minutes later, we were in a mid-ship Mini Suite with upgraded bathroom at no extra charge! NCL truly impressed my family and I from the moment we booked and until we got off the ship in cold, gray NYC.
THE SHIP: The ship is so beautiful! Her front hull artwork by Peter Max is colorful and fun and sets the tone for the entire ship. She’s tastefully decorated with contemporary themes and color schemes and shines with cleanliness! Breakaway has so many venues and restaurants and things to do that we could barely fit it all in one week. We felt more like we were out and about in an exciting new city versus traipsing around a stale cruise ship. Breakaway truly changes the game in my opinion. The ship has a wonderful energy. And if you need to feel the energy of the big blue sea, go for a walk or a cocktail on the beautiful Waterfront (more on this later)!
THE STATEROOM: A beautifully appointed mid-ship Mini Suite with Balcony on Deck 11. The decor was clean and modern with champagne and plum tones. Sleek contemporary photographs of outdoor landscapes gave a fresh, lush feel and bring life to the walls. The balcony is small as reported by others, however it still fits two people comfortably and serves its purpose. Personally, I'd much rather the extra space in the bathroom, which is the real star of the stateroom. My fiancé’s father noted several times that the bathroom was a "religious experience". The shower is HUGE. Easily fits two people (trust me) and is equipped with a large rain-style shower head and wait for it...SIX water jets that hit different areas from your toes to your waist. The water pressure and temperature was consistently impressive. There is a long sink that has two faucets, which allows two people to brush their teeth and get ready at the same time. We were never in each other’s way! The room was large and clean and always made up delightfully (with towel animals, of course) by our very sweet Stateroom Attendant, Bienjamin. He always called us by name and greeted us with a smile. In fact the whole crew was incredible…
THE CREW: The thing that makes me the saddest about the bad reviews is the people who wrote that the crew was “rude” or “uninterested” or “didn't go the extra mile” for them. This could NOT be farther from our experience. We were amazed that every single person who we passed in the hallway smiled and said "Good Morning". Each and every crewmember genuinely wanted to help or at least try. These people work so hard to provide you with a vacation of a lifetime and they all go the extra mile consistently to accommodate their guests. In fact, if you had any problem what so ever, you could actually call any of the officers on their CELL PHONES. Prem, the Hotel Director gave out his personal phone number at the Welcome Aboard Show and also gave everyone the opportunity to write him a note that he would personally reply to within 24 hours. This came in handy, when on day 2, we were having issues with room keys working. It ended up being some kind of computer glitch. Instead of letting it ruin our vacation we politely, but sternly let him know that there was an issue and not only was the problem quickly remedied, but Prem had a bottle of wine and chocolate covered strawberries with a personal note and phone call delivered to my in-laws. Talk about service! I made sure to write him personally to let him know how much that meant to us. He also responded to this. We were very impressed and felt VERY SPECIAL!
Also, one night we were dining in Moderno, which is a delicious Brazilian steakhouse, the Executive House Keeper came by our table. She asked how we were finding our rooms and our Stateroom Attendants. We told her we were very pleased. The very next day we had a personal note from her with a plate of delicious chocolates, thanking us for our feedback and letting us know that our opinion was important. NCL really does a lot of little things to make you feel special!
The Officers were always present on he ship and always smiling and checking in with you. I felt taken care of from embarkation to debarkation.
VIBE: I almost don’t want to write about this for fear of the secret getting out. VIBE Beach Club is an exclusive outdoor venue with cushioned loungers, day beds, and cabanas. There is a private bar and restrooms, as well as two large hot tubs. They only sell 60 passes for the week and they sell out fast. Get on the boat early and go to Guest Services. They will set you up. It’s $79 a person for the week and worth every penny. Oh, and they come around with fresh fruit skewers and cold towels (although they forgot the towels out every time we were there). We spent a lot of time here. NOTE: Adults only area. This is a great place to sail away from.
SLIDES/ROPES COURSE: We loved all of the water slides! We never waited. Zero Lines! The “FREE FALL” slide is terrifying and exhilarating! It’s over before you know it. NOTE: You are required to take off all jewelry before sliding. The Ropes Course was so much fun, but way scarier than I anticipated. Gather up your courage and walk The Plank. It extends about 8 feet out from the boat and is 18 decks high. SUPER AWESOME! I’ve never experienced anything like this.
CLUBS/BARS: We danced our butts off at the many themed parties under the stars in Spice H20. The GLO party was the best. Tons of people and wonderful energy keeps you dancing into the wee hours in this “Ibiza Style” outdoor club. Let the drinks flow! Bliss was great as well, although sparsely attended some nights.
THE WATERFONT: NCL hit a home run here! It’s the first of its kind at sea. Think of a quarter-mile stretch of waterfront dining, drinking, and shopping…on a boat! Enjoy a drink at one of the many outdoor bars or request ocean view seating at a specialty restaurant. For a quiet romantic or peaceful moment, go to the very aft (back) of the ship and take in the view and soundscape of the wake. Also, during the day, when things are closed, you can sit freely on any of the very comfortable lounge furniture. Most ships have very little options in the way of outdoor entertainment in the evenings. Breakaway does not have this issue!
SPECIALTY DINING: Teppanyaki is our favorite! Amazingly show from the splendidly talented chefs and the food is delicious and plentiful. I couldn’t stop eating the Garlic Fried Rice! GO EAT THERE. It’s worth every penny. We also ate at Moderno as I mentioned before. Bring your appetite and plan on not eating meat for a day or so. Very delicious! My favorite was the Bacon-Wrapped Chicken! We also enjoyed our last meal at Cagney’s. The service was a little slow, but the food more than made up for it! It’s a little pricey at $30 a head, but it’s literally the kind of quality you can expect from a high-end steakhouse in NYC. We ate at Smith and Wollensky about two months earlier and it’s comparable. Seriously.
ALL OF THE MAIN DINING ROOMS ARE GREAT. Don’t listen to the people who say that the food was “inedible”. The selections are plentiful and varied. And if you don’t like your first selection, get a second one! I ordered two appetizers on many occasions. â˜º
ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES: THE BEST AT SEA! Hands down. As a professional actor and NYC theatregoer, I’m pretty picky. Burn The Floor is a fabulous piece with world-class dancers, literally. And Rock of Ages, well, get ready to ROCK! If you don’t have fun at these, you should check your vital signs. There’s always something going on. Do as little or as much as you want! We loved The Second City and Howl at the Moon. And if you get a chance, go listen to at least one night of blues in Fat Cats. Slam Allen really is a top-notch entertainer! NOTE: Rock of Ages is not for the little ones. They make this very clear at all times, but some people have listening issues.
PORTS (BAHMAS AND FLORIDA): We’d already been to all of them, so we didn’t take this cruise for the specific ports, but we did for the weather and THE WEATHER WAS AWESOME! We were in our bathing suits on day 2! If it’s your first time going on this itinerary, here’s my advice: Florida: Go to Universal Islands of Adventure and enjoy The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Nassau: Go to Atlantis at least once. It’s quite a spectacle and the slides are awesome! And at Great Stirrup Cay, go to the beach and enjoy the BBQ. This is the ultimate relaxing beach day. TIP: Wait until 10:30 or 11am and take a tender boat over. The crowds are crazy before that, plus you can enjoy the pool while everyone is fighting to get off the boat.
OH, AND HOW COULD I FORGET…there is a rather impressive fireworks show at sea! You’ll love it. It’s rather quick, but pretty cool considering you are floating around the Atlantic Ocean.
And by the way, my future in-laws, who I mentioned were very loyal RCCL cruisers, enjoyed themselves immensely and are planning on going Freestyle again in the near future!
In the end, I loved our trip on Breakaway and can’t wait to sail her again. Disregard negative reviews. Keep an open mind and stay positive. Keep your expectations reasonable. After all, you’re on VACATION! You’ll have a blast. Happy Sailing!