After 6th cruise with NCL my wife and I are still big fans of the Freestyle cruising but we always feel that we are just a number lost in the thousands of clients NCL have on every single cruise they organise. It seems as well that NCL strategy is to run after upsizing the ships fleet to huge boats looking more like cities on water than relaxing cruise destination... and Breakaway fits that picture!
We never felt upset about the size of the boat up to now but the soundproofing of the staterooms and public areas was much better on ALL other NCL ships. I believe the overuse of steel all around the ship and the lack of curtains and draperies is not helping... The decor inside the ship is quite nice but looks a lot like a page of a famous Swedish furniture maker catalogue.
My wife and I are non smokers but we are not against smokers who have all rights to enjoy their cruise as the rest of the guests, however designated smoking areas are unfortunately not well respected but worst of all the smoke from the Casinos goes everywhere in the middle area of the ship as it is fully opened on 3 floors: AWFUL!
For the 1st time we encountered a poor staff experience in some areas:
From the start (NYC Port check in): The "Welcoming" staff at the pier (not check in but the ones that dispatch you for checkin lines), we' ve been asked if we were return guests, I said "yes 5 times actually" and we were sent to regular 1st time clients line with an apparent disinterest from the woman... I changed from my own initiative when I realised she was wrong.
During the trip I faced several staff who showed they were pissed of at serving or bringing an order (Towel office near the pool almost making face at me...)... The Reception desk staff was barely smiling all cruise long (just two exceptions during 8 days!!!).. I prefer not even to speak of the Credit Officer who semt really to need vacations so tensed He was!
One staff organising a Ping Pong Tournament who REFUSED another client and I to participate because we were not ON TIME (5 minutes later!!!)... INCREDIBLE! in view of the poor (in quantity) Entertainment program during this cruise.
Ship was crowded, clientele was really loud but the worst part was definitively the Atrium, mid ship where (when something was organised) chairs and seats flew around and people almost walked on each other. We have never been really annoyed by the past by children on NCL ships but I have to admit that on this one it was quite a nightmare... running about without supervision, skipping queues in buffet areas (funny sometimes though!).
Good points of this cruise: food overall of very good quality (and I judge myself as difficult), the Housekeeping man taking care of us was outstanding (best of all cruises) and the Equipment of the pool excellent (slides) if you enjoy that type of thing. Also we did an excursion with NCL at Cap Canaveral which was awesome (Gator park and Airboat ride), staff very friendly and informative!
For the first time with NCL we did not use the SPA area as the week access cost TWICE the price almost of other ships (USD400 for 2) because and I quote the SPA STAFF: " the ship is new!" just unthinkable!