My 11 year old daughter and I just completed our first time cruise. We decided on a 7-night cruise on the NCL Breakaway as it offered several positives for us. It departs from Manhattan's Pier 90, which is walking distance from our apartment. The timing of the cruise worked well, as it coincided with Spring Break for NY Public School students, so I knew there would be many other kids on board.
First of all, the Breakaway is a beautiful ship; absolutely spotless, with great attention paid to design and comfort details.
Cabins: Our cabin was on the small side, but perfect for the two of us. The cabin/bathroom is a modern sleek design that is both comfortable and functional. The bathroom was a bit roomier than I expected, as was the shower stall.
Entertainment: We saw 2 of the shows onboard, the 'Jungle Fantasy' and 'Burn the Floor'. Both shows were appropriate for my 11 year old…and she loved them both. They were both cleverly conceived and incredibly well executed. Unfortunately, we were unable to see 'Rock of Ages', as it was inappropriate for young audience members. Our Cruise Director and his team, were great fun—MC’ing the variety of games & entertainment in a smart, witty style…perfect for a primarily New York crowd.
Service: I was very impressed with the Customer Service we received, really in every aspect of our sail. Our cabin steward greeted us each day, by name, and took great care that we had everything we needed. The wait-staff was equally as attentive and pleasant.
Crowds & Lines: Knowing that the Ship holds 4000+ passengers, I was expecting a lot of people, but was unprepared for the extent of crowding/lines that we would have to endure. Our sail, due to Spring Break, was at full capacity. This meant that there was not a lounge chair in sight if you wished to lay by the pool, unless you ‘saved’ your chairs in the wee hours of the morning. We were on the cruise for 7-nights, and had only one opportunity to actually find a vacant lounge. Passengers were lined up side-by-side, like sardines. The four jacuzzi’s were constantly packed over capacity—so, if by chance a spot did open, we decided it was too gross to actually get into them. There were lines at the buffet, there were lines to get onto the elevators and lines to disembark for shore excursions.
Sailing from NY: Unless you are sailing during warm weather, it is a bit dicey to sail from NY to spend two days at sea. If you run into bad weather, which we did both coming and going—this meant that the 4000+ passengers were squished onto even fewer decks of the boat. Neither of the pools (which were both rather small) is covered from the elements—so, when it was cold and rainy, or the high winds became unbearable…we were all forced inside to find something else to do. The climbing wall, which is cool in principle, was rarely open, due to high winds. Of course NCL cannot control the weather, but, I would again, only recommend this cruise in the summer/warmer months.
Great Stirrup Cay: I was disappointed with Great Stirrup Cay. I was expecting a more expansive, inviting beach with warm white sand. What we found were several small beach areas, surrounded by very rocky terrain. The closest/main beach area—was again, big surprise, much too overcrowded. So, we decided to walk to the furthest beach area to find the rare open lounge chair. The walking back and forth was excruciating, as it was mostly over what seemed to be man-made rock or cement. We rented snorkel equipment, and did enjoy seeing a lot of fish and sunken artifacts.
Overall, I would not cruise again on the NCL Breakaway. As this was our first cruise, I asked lots of questions of other more seasoned cruise vacationers—to get their perspective. Many that I spoke with felt the same way as we did…too many crowds, too big…wasted days sailing through cold, windy seas before getting to the warmer weather.