Just returned from a week aboard the Breakaway's May 11 cruise to Bermuda. This was our 3rd cruise with NCL, our first aboard the Breakaway and our 15th overall. We splurged on this cruise and upgraded to The Haven. On a scale of 1 to 10, the Haven is a 12+. Our overall cruise experience though was more of a 6 (More on that later). I want to extol the features of The Haven.
On our arrival to the Cruise Terminal, we were directed to a special check-in way in the back of the Terminal. A small private room was set up with refreshments and food. Check-in process was speedy and easy. About 11:30 we were escorted aboard ship by walking all the way back up front then up the gangway that zigzagged like a Disney World Que. Aboard we were taken to Deck 16 to The Haven Lounge where we met Adrian, our Concierge. He came us a small welcoming speech while we sipped on non-alcoholic punch and ate delicious snacks and sliders. Around noon time we were advised to put our carry-on baggage in our Suite and return for lunch. After lunch we returned to our Suite where we met our Steward. I pointed out some areas of the room that still needed tidying up, garbage in the bathroom and on the balcony and water stains on the night stands. He seemed a bit put out by it, but cleaned it up. Later we met our Butler, "Kadek". He was the most outstanding person. Standing about 5'3" with a heart and soul 8 feet tall. He showed and explained the amenities to us and inquired of any special needs. Not being the needy type, we were happy with what we had. He never ceased to impress us with snacks, canapes, finger sandwiches, cheese plates and chocolate.
We love the Haven. The wait staff in the Lounge, JelyRose (The Bartender), Richard (Poolside Server) and Dining Room staff (Gina) most mornings for Breakfast and (Jerome) most nights for dinner were outstanding. The Dining Room reminded us of our cruises some 30 years ago, when you sat down and had a leisurely dinner, instead of being rushed out. Menus were limited as they are in the main dining room. There are 7 entree options, one of which is a Prime Filet of Beef that cut with a butter knife. Who need's Cagney's Steakhouse. The Haven has its own private pool and sundeck. My only complaint, there was Children in the Jacuzzi. There were times throughout the week that we just wanted to stay in The Haven area.
Our Suite also included access to the Thermal Spa, which is a really nice perk. We usually purchase this option on our cruises, so this was a big money saver. The Suite itself was spacious with a King-size bed and our own Jacuzzi for 2 by the window looking out our balcony. The bathroom was spacious, We don't get the dual sinks, would have preferred more counter space in there. Plenty of counter space in the cabin along with adequate closet and drawers. The Cabin doors swing outward instead of in, that was unusual. The Balcony was small. There were 2 chairs and a small table out there and not much room for anything else. Too tight to dine out there, you would trip over the table or a chair just trying to get in or out the sliding door. NCL has a walk-off program at the end of the cruise, which we normally use. But we try the Priority disembarkation this time. It wasn't bad, except we had to wait another 30 minutes to leave the ship. Still, overall, a great time in the Haven.
Now for the Breakaway as a whole. If the Haven was Heaven at a 12, the Breakaway was the gateway to Hell at a 6. I understand why people are so disappointed in this ship. Had we stayed in our original cabin, I'm sure we would be upset also.
First, the Breakaway has a lot of Venues, Restaurants, Clubs, Bars, Pools, Shows. The bad part of this is there are too many Venues. You almost always needed to make reservations for shows as the theaters were too small to accommodate too many people. I'm sorry, I'm on vacation, I don't want to have to plan my days in order to see things. The pool area was way too crowded, again, too small public spaces. O'Sheehan's Pub was awful. The wings were disgusting, the spinach and artichoke dip was watery and service was atrocious. We had Martini's at Shakers that were undrinkable. Tasted like castor oil. Never went back to either again. Too bad, because we enjoyed the Martini bar on other NCL ships. Malting's Whiskey Bar was our favorite. Brent made excellent drinks. We always enjoyed the specialty restaurants on the Gem and the Dawn, so we opted to try La Cuncina and The Bistro. La Cucina we went to mid way through the cruise as a break. The hostess could have cared less about us. The Restaurant was relatively empty, we asked for a quiet table in the back. She sat us next to 2 screaming babys. We decided to leave when one of the parents took the children out. We stayed and ordered dinner. The Chicken Parm was dry and bland and the Pasta was mushy and overcooked. Extremely disappointing. On our last night, we went to the Bistro. On the Breakaway, the Bistro is located right in the middle of Deck 6, just across from Headliners and below the Casino. The decibel levels were so loud you cannot have a conversation and the cigarette smoke coming down from the Casino ruined what little ambiance there was. Again, the hostess tried to seat us at a table by the open door, we insisted on sitting inside where we hoped to have something resembling a romantic dinner. The only good thing we can say about the Bistro was the food was extraordinary and consistent with the other NCL ships we dined in. For those of you who may have tried one of their beverage package deals. Be careful and get all the information ahead of time in writing. We purchased the Ultimate Beverage Package from our NCL Cruise Consultant. We were told it included all our beverages except for Premium brands. We were 3 days into the cruise, before one of the bartenders said to us that the drinks we were ordering aren't part of the Ultimate beverage package. Nor was bottled water, espresso and specialty coffees. When we got home, I added up our charges for what we paid versus what we could have. You lose money.
All in all, once you try the Haven you will have a difficult time going back to a regular cabin. As far as the Breakaway is concerned. I think it will be a while before I try another NCL cruise and it definitely will not be on the Breakaway.