My wife and I just got back from a 7-day cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway. We sailed during Spring Break because my wife works in the school district. It was our seventh cruise and our third on Norwegian. Due to Spring Break, there were over 4800 passengers on board (1/3 of them kids) along with over 1300 crew. I thought that the cruise went well, despite the overcrowding.
I have read many reviews about the ship and I will try not to repeat what other people have said, but truthfully, I had a hard time finding any negatives about this trip.
We were looking forward to this trip for quite a while and we weren’t disappointed. We were interested more in the ship than where it was going. We had been to all three stops previously, more than once, so we didn’t bother getting off at the ports and stayed on the ship the whole week. You might think that’s strange, but it worked out great for us. We booked the Breakaway about a year ago and were able to choose a cabin with a balcony in the middle of the ship. We didn’t know at the time that you have a long walk to the elevators from the middle of the ship, but it wasn’t a big deal. The elevators and staircases are located about ¼ of the way from the front and rear of the ship with no access in between.
EMBARKATION: We arrived at the pier early…about 10:15 for a 3:00 sailing. I’ll explain why we did that a little later. We got boarding #5. I’d say each number has about 200 people boarding with that number so I was a little surprised that so many people had gotten there that early. We waited about an hour before they started boarding, which is what I had figured. The overall boarding process was a breeze, from luggage to key cards to actually boarding.
STATEROOM: Our cabin was clean and ready. I was surprised that there was more storage space than on the other ships we’ve been on. Both pieces of luggage fit easily under the bed and there was room for one more. There was a large closet with shelves and there were drawers for other items in different parts of the room, with some storage next to each side of the bed. The ship is only a year old so everything in the room should be clean and working and they were. The bathroom was a normal size for a ship, but somehow the shower seemed bigger than others. I read many reviews about the balconies being small but even though that was true, there was still room for two chairs and a small table. You just had to turn the chair a little sideways instead of facing the railing of the balcony. If you’re gonna complain about something like that, you might as well stay home. All the doors open outward into the hall which gives you a little more room inside. An interesting side note about the room is that the electricity doesn’t work unless there is a ‘key card’ inserted in a slot behind the door. Many ships and office buildings have started doing this to save electricity and costs. Sometimes you forget to put your key in the slot when you come in at night, but you get used to it.
DINING: The Breakaway has many more places to eat than most other ships. Complimentary Dining; They have a ‘main dining room’ (long pants only for guys) called the Manhattan Room and they have two ‘satellite dining rooms’ called Taste and Savor. All three have the same menu. All have some of the same items all week long but they change some of the entrees and appetizers each night. We did not eat in the Main dining room at all but we had dinner in one of the others twice and breakfast in the others six times. The food and the service were fine with no complaints. The buffet is called the Garden Café and it has the usual buffet items that you would find on any ship and at any buffet. One night they had a fish concentration and served lobster tails, mussels and calamari with fra diavolo sauce and some other fish items. We had dinner there that night and one other night when they had an asain concentration. We had lunch there several times eating burgers with fries or chicken salad sandwiches or ham and cheese or whatever. They had somebody serving ice cream in bowls or cones (a little better quality) where as on other ships they had an ice cream machine. We never had a problem getting a seat or waiting on a long line for food. The ship has an Irish pub style restaurant called O’Sheehan’s which I think is named after the president or CEO or the owner of Norwegian or something like that. (not sure). They have pub food here (burgers, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, chicken pot pie, and so on.) The food is OK, nothing spectacular. We had dinner here once and I had breakfast there once. This place is the only one on the ship that is open 24 hours and there were plenty of people in there at 2:30 in the morning a couple of times. There is also another restaurant on Deck 16 called the Uptown Grill. This place is open for all meals and serves burgers and beef patties and has somebody cooking eggs for breakfast.
Paid Dining; My wife and I decided not to eat in any of the specialty restaurants except for one because the food in the free restaurants are good enough so why bother. . We had dinner in Tepanyaki (specialty restaurant 25..00pp) on the last night and it was probably the best meal that we had. They cook on the table and the cook puts on a good show for you. The restaurant has eight tables which fit about eight people each and they have 5, 7 and 9:00 seatings. We did eat one dinner in the Shanghai noodle bar which was excellent. We had fried dumplings (potstickers), lo mein (which had many add ins) and fried rice. You have to pay a la carte in this place but it was inexpensive. We had dinner one night at the Cirque Du Soleil show. This was dinner and a show for 29.00pp/ Again, although I’d heard people complain about the food, I had no problem with the service or the taste. They served mozzarella and tomato appetizer and steak and shrimp for dinner. Meanwhile, the Cirque show is going on with the usual acrobatics that they create. The other specialty restaurants are Moderno (a Texas De Brasil type restaurant that serves meat off a stick right at your table), Cagney’s (steakhouse), La Cucina (Italian), Le Bistro (French), and Ocean Blue. All are 20 – 25 pp with Ocean Blue at a hefty 49.00 pp.
They also have a la carte restaurants such as the Shanghai Noodle Bar (see above), The Raw Bar (oysters, clams, shellfish) and Wasabi (sushi).
One of my favorites was Carlo’s Bake Shop, copied after the main bake shop in Hoboken, NJ from the “Cake Boss” TV show. This place had Cannoli’s (regular and chocolate), lobster tails (the pastry, not the fish), and other assorted cupcakes and desserts. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, and believe me, this place is great. It’s located in the Atrium which is in the center of the ship on Deck 6. There is also a 24 hour pizza delivery service which is 5.00. And Carlo’s has a Gelato ice cream place outside on the deck. Most of the specialty restaurants have indoor and outdoor seating which is a feature only on the Breakaway. It is called the ‘Waterfront’. The outdoor seating is situated on a promenade type walkway on each side of the ship and is as if you’re walking down a street past the different restaurants.
PORT AND SHORE EXCURSIONS: As I said previously, we didn’t get off at any of the ports. They were Port Canaveral in Florida (The only thing I would have been interested in would have been the Kennedy Space Center but we decided not to go. The excursions for Orlando-Disney were at least an hour away and were outrageously priced), Norwegian’s private island (been there before and the tendering process in seas that are not calm is usually a pain in the rear), and Nassau, Bahamas (I’ve been there about 8 times and most recently in October).
ENTERTAINMENT: The Breakaway has more entertainment to choose from than other ships I have been on. Even though most of the shows are free, you do need reservations so the ship’s crew knows how many people will be at each show. It helps with overcrowding and space. Rock of Ages, a replica of the Broadway show, was in the theatre a few times during the week, with 7:00 shows and 10:00 shows. I wasn’t impressed but my wife enjoyed it. I heard from some other people that the Broadway version was much better. A dance show called ‘Burn the Floor’ was the other main show in the theatre, also at multiple times. This show was energetic and kept moving with excellent dancing and singing. A must-see if you like dancing. My wife and I also had reservations for a dinner show from Cirque Du Soleil called Jungle Fantasy which took place in the Spiegel Tent, which is just another venue on the ship. As I said above, it was the usual acrobatics that you would expect from Cirque and the food was good. We saw a comedian/magician in the theatre and he was entertaining, nothing spectacular. I had read in reviews to try out the Jazz place but the ship changed entertainers in there the week that we sailed so since we didn’t know anything about the new act, we didn’t go. They had the usual ‘Newlywed Game’ in the Spiegel Tent which was OK. The people that were picked for the game weren’t particularly funny and the Cruise Director had a hard time making them funny. Most of the other games/participation events (Deal or No Deal, Karaoke, Dancing with the Stars) took place in the Atrium. The Atrium is in the center of the ship and is open on the 6th and 7th floor. Unfortunately, the area was always crowded for these shows and didn’t have enough seats. The Bake Shop and a bar are also in this area, and all of the seats for them were taken by the people watching the show. Guest Services, Dinner reservations, Excursion reservations, Cruise Credit and the Internet stations are also in this area.. They really should have these events in an enclosed area with seating for everyone. I realize that they wanted to take advantage of the two floors of people watching an event (O’Sheehan’s was directly upstairs along with a bar and stools overlooking the Atrium) but it didn’t work for me and I’m sure other people felt the same. It was just too crowded. The Atrium did have a large movie screen which showed pretty good recent movies from about 8 – 11 on some nights. There were usually seats available for that.
Far and away, the best entertainment on the ship came from the Dueling Pianos show called ‘Howl at the Moon’ which took place four times during the week in the Headliners club. Three amazing piano players (only two play at one time) entertain for three hours each time with requests that they take from the audience. It seemed that whatever was requested, they were able to play it in a sing-along fashion. They constantly kept the audience clapping and singing in a way that was energetic and contagious and amusing. I couldn’t get enough of it. Great idea and a great show. The place was packed every night and with the doors open, you could hear the music down the hall.
We did not take advantage of the Second city comedy sketches. We saw them on another ship and didn’t think it was funny, so we skipped it. They had some themed dances such as 70’s Disco and 50’s & 60’s Night outside at night in an area called Spice H2O. They usually started at about 10:30 and like I said, it was way too windy to enjoy it. Also I wasn’t impressed with the DJ’s for these shows. For instance, during the 70’s Disco show, he played four songs in a row from the 80’s and none of them were disco. Not a big deal but…….we left after that. This Spice H2O area is an adults only area during the day, with hot tubs and spray showers and nice lounge chairs. It’s open at night though to the kids and, on this particular cruise, due to Spring Break, there were 1650 of them under the age of 18. They also had a fireworks show on the left side of the ship (they shot them off from the ship) on the fourth evening. It only lasted about 7 minutes but it was a nice touch.
The ship had a special Nickolodeon program going on all week. I didn’t have any kids with me so I didn’t take advantage of it and didn’t hear anything, good or bad, about it from others.
WEATHER: We lost the first two days outside due to cold weather and wind, but we figured that might happen leaving New York in the middle of April. Even though it was a nice 65 degrees when we left, it quickly turned windy and cold when you get out in the ocean. We ended up with four really nice sunny days in a row. Then it was cold on the last day as expected.
LAYOUT OF THE SHIP: I complained briefly in the previous section about the problem with the Atrium and the shows that were taking place there. Another problem with the layout is that the casino is in the center of ship on the 7th floor with an open staircase going down to the 6th floor, and its situated where everyone, everyone, everyone has to walk through it to get from the front to the back of the ship on that 7th floor. O’Sheehan’s pub is right next to the casino and is often crowded so everyone has to walk through to get there. The Shanghai Noodle Bar is on the other side of the casino and both of these places are open areas and not separated by doors, nor is the casino. Now it didn’t bother me, but I can definitely see how it would bother people with children who are walking through to get where they’re going and don’t want their children associated with that environment. Children normally are not even allowed to walk through a casino. Also the smell of smoke from the casino is not contained in that area so you can definitely smell it when you’re in the area or passing through.
The Waterfront is a nice area to walk through and maybe to eat at, but it was a little too cold and windy for most people to take advantage of that. I imagine that it would be great in the summer months but that’s only three or four months out of the year. Even though we were in Florida and the Bahamas, it was still April and it was still pretty windy and cold out there when the sun went down.
We arrived early at the pier early because we wanted to get on the ship first so we could sign up for this special ‘Vibe Beach’ area, which is up on Deck 17. This area is for adults only and has space for only 50 people. They have nice lounge chairs, lounge beds, cabanas, 2 hot tubs, a bar, and a glass enclosed shower area to cool off. There is no pool up here. It costs 79.00 pp and it was worth it to us to not have somebody else’s kids running around our feet and to have hot tubs where there aren’t 10 kids sitting in it at all times. We got four good days of sun, so it worked out well. We were able to relax and met a nice group of people that we hung out with all week.
The Breakaway also has a private area called the Haven. The suites in this area are extremely expensive and they have their own restaurant, their own pool and, believe it or not, butler service. There is a concierge there to make your arrangement for dinners and shows. There are full families allowed here with children. They also have special reserved seating at the shows and special pre-boarding.
The ship, overall, is very pretty (it’s only a year old) and everything works right in the cabins and in the public areas (it’s only a year old).
ACTIVITIES: There were counselors doing things with the enormous amount of kids all the time and the kids seemed to be enjoying it. They had the usual bingo games a few times during the week although I didn’t take part in them. The casino had Texas Hold-Em Tournaments, Blackjack Tournaments and Slot Tournaments. The Slot Tournament was a little disorganized and we had to sit around and wait for a long time. There were some games being played at the pool but we didn’t take part in nor watch them. The pool area was small due to the large water slides and ropes course and rock climbing wall and zip line and basketball court that they have in that area. There is a small bowling alley along with air hockey and pool for the kids. There is also an arcade which is on Deck 16. You can really have a good time with all of the extras they have on board, especially kids.
SERVICE: There were 4850 passengers on board (1650 kids due to Spring Break) and the crew had their hands full but from what I saw, they did a great job keeping everybody happy and satisfied. I always got a ‘hello’ and a smile from each and every crew member I came across. Our steward Sherry, was very friendly and always called us by our first names, which means something. Everything in the cabin was kept clean and organized and I had no complaints about her. The Cruise Director (Dan “The Man” Ollson) was very good at his job. He made himself visible and always seemed to be working hard and yet he did stop and talk once with my wife and I for 15 minutes. Very nice gentleman and I wish the best for him. His crew of 123 members all seemed to be doing their jobs. None of them were particularly funny or entertaining although they did try but I didn’t hear about any complaints when it came to the staff. The waiters, waitresses. busboys, bartenders (a big hello to Courtney in the Vibe), buffet servers, and everyone who kept the ship clean at all times, did a great job.
DISEMBARKATION: We carried our luggage off the ship so we didn’t have to go through the annoyance of putting our luggage out the night before, then waiting around to here your color called, then looking for your luggage in a sea of luggage. If you carry (wheel) your luggage yourself, you can leave whenever you want, whether it be 8:00 in the morning or 10:30 in the morning. The ship was docked by 4:30 AM. Overall, no problems at all getting off the ship.
SUMMARY: Overall, we had a great time enjoying the ship and all that it has to offer. Even though we only had four days of sunshine, it was still worth it to cruise out of New York. It’s very exciting and I live here. If you can’t have a good time on this ship, than you’re doing something wrong. If you have any questions that I haven’t covered, you can e-mail me at email@example.com. I’ll be happy to answer your questions