Sailed on the Breakaway with my husband April 6 to 13th in balcony cabin 13752. The price was right. I have been fortunate to sail on many different cruise lines - this was my 16th cruise and I would say that the Norwegian Breakaway exceeded my expectations. You get what you pay for. One needs to remember that. It is an entry level cruise line but they do have "The Haven" which is an exclusive area for those who want to pay top dollar.
Loved the cabin - among the best I have experienced. The bed was very comfortable, plenty of storage and great shower. We had two different cabin stewards during our stay. Neither one was fantastic but they were adequate. The soap, shower gel and shampoo are in dispensers. No body lotion was provided.
Norwegian seemed to like to boast about how great their staff was and how friendly they are and always wore a smile. Some of the staff clearly missed this memo. But again they were adequate. The great ones were far and few between. "Dan the Man" is a great cruise director and does his job well. Makes his way around the ship and does his best to interact with the passengers. When I was on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas - also a mega ship - I didn't even know who the cruise director was!
There are 3 complimentary dinning restaurants. The Manhattan Room is a traditional big dining room and Savor and Taste are I believe meant to mimic the atmosphere of their specialty restaurants. The menu is the same in all 3 restaurants but the experience is a bit different. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants as the food was so good in the complimentary restaurants. We went to dinner after 7pm on most nights and usually did not have to wait.
We did attend "wine tasting" the musical - which included a full meal of steak and shrimp with all the fixins and 7 samples of different wines. $25 per person charge. We enjoyed it.
The entertainment was also great - Rock of Ages; Second City & Burn the Floor - liked Burn the Floor so much we saw it twice!!!!
We also participated in art seminars and the art auctions. Enjoyed Barry the auctioneer and his assistants, especially Maggie! There seems to be many different activities to choose from. We were never bored. We did not do any of the "physical" things such as the water slides; ropes course or climbing wall.
We were not travelling with children but they seem to have very good programs for children of all ages including infants. We spoke to many parents who's children enjoyed the programs so much they wanted to be in the programs rather than with their parents. The kids' pool area and play area also looked great. Sponge Bob and Dora the Explorer and other characters - a ton of activities for the kiddies.
We purchased transfers with Norwegian because I had been told the port is just crazy. We paid $80 (too much) round trip per person for a SHARED shuttle van and I mean shared with the public. On the return to the airport we had a lovely big bus but despite being instructed to be on the bus by 9am those of us on the bus were subject to wait close to 2 hours for 4 people who had left the ship at 8:20am. At one point a rep from Norwegian entered the bus to give those of us on the bus heck for our "fellow" passengers holding us up, as if we had some control over these unknown people. Not sure why they didn't just leave without them. I think I would try an alternate transportation service next time. When you come off the ship there are many taxis waiting across the street from the port. It is Sunday morning traffic is reasonable in the early morning.
No trouble with our checked baggage, coming or going. Embarkation was a little show - longest I have ever waited to check in. We were sailing at 3 pm boarding started at noon and we arrived at 1:30 pm and still had to wait 45 minutes in line. Oh and I want to mention the staff in the terminal, herded us like cattle and barked demands at the people in line. I was quite surprised at this.
Disembarkation off the ship was smooth. We quickly found our bags but again the staff barked orders to the passengers as we made our way through the terminal.
What I didn't like was the design of the ship. There seems to be bottle necks every where - there are so many people coming and going and you can't get around them. It took a few days for people to all settle and the crowds to dissipate. Also not a good cruise if you can not tolerate smoke. The Casino is in the center of the ship and the smoke can be smelled through out the ship. There is a lovely specialty restaurant on the floor below the Casino that has some tables set up outside but the smell of smoke would make it unpleasant to eat there. Smoking seems to be allowed on balconies. There seemed to be so many areas where you could not get by people causing traffic jams.
The elevators seemed to always be jammed and oh so slow no matter where you were on the ship. Decks 6, 7 and 8 were restaurants, shops, customer service decks, theaters and shows etc. Fortunately we have the ability and we walked up and down those stairs 3 to 4 times a day. The 13th floor was a short walk up to the 15th and 16th floors. The good part of this was that we didn't gain any weight :-)
Which reminds me that if you are an exercise person - we tried twice at different times to use the "machines" without luck. They do offer some exercise classes complementary and some for a small fee. We decided the stair walking was enough.
In the Garden Cafe (buffet) for the amount of people you could actually avoid crowds if you went at off times. Food was good. Have ice cream machines as well as ice cream being dished out. Loved that!
The waters were too rough for the tender boats at their private island in the Bahamas. We did however go scuba diving - booked through Norwegian. It was great!
There seemed to be a bit of a communication disconnect for some things. There was a paid adult area which looked like something I would have opted for but didn't see it until the second last day.
Also before I end a note on the alcohol. A corkage fee is charged $15 even on embarkation day. NCL allows NO alcohol to be brought on board. We bought a wine package - which worked out to $25 a bottle there is one $10 cheaper but liked the wine selection in the second package. The prices of beverages are high - $6 + for beer and $7 to $10 for mixed drinks. Had a beer bucket special - buy 5 get one free. They do offer all inclusive packages now but not during reading weeks - March 15 to April 15 and it does NOT include bottled water.
All in all we enjoyed our cruise and managed to get some rest and relaxation and a little sunshine and warmth from our winter that seems to not want to quit!
Booked with the cruise line because of the tight time lines but there were people on our bus who had booked directly with Stuart's Cove. Not sure how much of a price difference. Only complaint is that description of rental equipment according to NCL included a wetsuit which was not - $12 extra
Enjoyed the dive. 15 on our boat - but still good.