Would I go on another cruise with NCL Breakaway? Yes, in a minute.
Let me first start, I am a frequent cruiser and have cruised most of the lines. This was a first for NCL. I did it for two good reasons: price and the NYC port. I wanted a relaxing trip where I did not have to fly. I would have gone with RCL, but the itineraries and ships are old and boring. I read all the reviews here at CC and although mixed, I went in with an open mind.
The embarkation was relaxed and smooth. I was dropped off at the port and was on the ship in about a half hour. Remember there are 4,500 people that have to get on. With that in mind a half hour is not unreasonable. Once on the ship, I was able to go right to the stateroom. level 5, inside. This is a huge plus, as you are able to divest of all those carry on items and stow them away quickly and safely.
The ship is beautiful and huge. In appearance and wow factor, I would rate it right behind the Celebrity Silhouette (my favorite ship by far). The spaces are broken up well (except for the Atrium. I will go into that in a minute). Many decks with well done layouts, meet you as you walk around.
The inside cabins are nice but very small. I have to say that it is a bit daunting at first on how everything in a few suitcases can be put away, but there is really enough space for two people in an inside cabin. The cabin steward was outstanding. I swear they live under your bed somewhere or secretly place a tracker on you so they know when you leave the cabin…lol. He was on the ball and did a great job.
The crews were very welcoming and spot on the entire cruise. You immediately get it that the vibe of the ship is “casual and relaxed” and that is exactly what you get. This is a big departure from the semi-formality of the other lines. People showing up for dinner in shorts and flip flops are kind of a shocker, but you get used to it fast. The crew was a big plus on the ship. They were excellent. The Cruise Director is an American, named Dan. He likes to be called Dan “The Man” which is a bit sophomoric after the first day. Just Dan is fine with most.
FOOD: Here is the Achilles’ heel of the trip. The food standard is not that of other lines. It’s not bad, mind you, just not up to par most of the time. I am basing this on main dinner services and desserts. The food is ok with nothing spectacular. Yes, you can pay bucks for specialty dining, but that would not be an accurate comparison. What do the majority of the passengers eat, is what I am using as a standard. After 7 days the repetition is noticeable and boring. I understand the Cruise lines make the money with specialty fare, but that should not take away from the complimentary side. The desserts are really the issue. NCL, I know you are reading this! Please take note that having tasteless desserts is not acceptable. I am not a food junkie, just a common person who knows what food should taste like. Key Lime pie should be bursting with lime flavor, not just a hint. The cookies should be palatable, not cardboard. And let’s not go with the cheap ice cream. O’ my! Come on NCL, there should be cream in “ice cream”. If not, call it what it is…. a frozen milk dessert. Mind you that didn’t stop people from lining up to eat it in droves. I really liked the attention to sanitation and hand washing. There were actually sinks entering the buffet. Yes, sinks! What a great idea. That was supplemented with crew holding hand sanitizers. Great design thinking and I am sure that keeps the sickness down. They even sing to you as you enter “washy, washy” is fun and to the point. Another good point is that the silverware is already rolled up in a cloth napkin and places on every table. No need to try to carry a huge plate of food and silverware at the same time. Smart thinking NCL and a nice touch.
The Atrium. This is a big design problem as NCL holds many events in this small area. Small by other ship standards and is constantly packed during any event. This restricts ordinary passage through that space as well as making a logjam most of the time. When not in use, the area is nice but it is used many times during the cruise. Most people get it to get there early and stake out a seat.
Pools/sun areas: Another big problem for NCL. If you are looking to sit poolside, forget it. It is very limited and almost non-existent. You have to stake-out a chair on the deck above the pool and even that is limited, as compared to the other lines. If you don’t get a chair before 10am on sea days, forget it!
Rope lines and water slides: Really cool and fun. If you are afraid of heights, don’t even think of trying it as you are at least 18 stories above the water line and it’s breezy. Not a place for the phobic. I tried all and they were fun to do at sea, miles from land.
PORTS: It rained and I did not get off the ship at Port Canaveral. I had planned on a kayak trip through a private company but the weather was bad. Lots of people went to the Space center and Disney. I didn’t hear any good or bad about it. Next up was the private island. Well, …almost. The seas were choppy and the Captain said it would be unsafe to tender. So, off we went right to Nassau and got there early. Arrived at night and got off the ship. Spent $4.00 pp for a taxi right to the Atlantis Hotel. I am not a gambler as I just wanted to see the place. It is one beautiful hotel and the grounds (even at night) are memorable. Go and see it if you can. The next day we went to the public beach on the recommendation of a trusted Atlantis employee. He said the public beach is nice. So, another $4.00 pp to the Atlantis. Walked through the lobby and out to the neighboring public beach. A great value.
Yes, people want to sell you beads and wraps. Just say no and they leave you alone. I never felt bothered or felt uneasy. Just use common sense and don’t leave anything unattended. Or make a friend from the ship on the beach and trade duties watching your items while the others go in the water or for a beach stroll. I spent $10. and got a pair of beach loungers from the vendors on the beach. No issue at all. Downtown Nassau is a big waste. The ship touts huge bargains with jewelry and watches but it’s only about 10% off list. Not a bargain at all. You get better value from trusted internet sites. Hey vendors and shopkeepers in Nassau! Go on the net and do your research. We are not dumb.
Good: Casual atmosphere, beautiful spaces and ship, clean areas with special attention to keeping sickness free, friendly crew, good activities. Good value for the money.
Not So Good: Food and areas to sit outside.