Having been on the Epic and being disappointed with the ship, I booked Breakaway with a lot of reservations. But the price was fantastic. There was no single supplement and when the rates dropped again I upgraded from inside view to outside view (gty) and was assigned a balcony. How sweet was that? A balcony upgrade for $80.! Plus, I explained to NCL that I suffer from osteoarthritis in my knees and they graciously moved me to a cabin near the elevators and on this ship that is a big plus.
I arrived at the passenger terminal in Manhattan at around 11:00 a.m. I am a Latitudes member and used the special check-in and received a boarding number 2 so I was on the ship around 11:30 a.m. when boarding commenced. I immediately proceeded to O'Sheehan's pub for lunch, since I don't really enjoy buffets, especially on boarding day when they are extremely crowded and everyone is finding their way around. Unforunately, unlike Epic when I sailed her, this O'Sheehan's does not serve breakfast 24 hrs. Don't know if that's been discontinued on Epic but since I will never sail that tub again, I'll probably never know. I settled for a tuna sandwich. Too much mayo so I left it and headed to my cabin as it turned out they were ready for occupation, unlike a lot of ships that don't allow passengers cabin access until after 1:00 pm. Loved my cabin. Very comfortable. I unpacked my carry-on and then proceeded to Savor Restaurant for a sit-down luncheon. Very good food and excellent service. I would take most of my meals there.
Now this cruise was all about r 'n r for me since I was recovering from a heart procedure and also dealing with the knee problem. On top of that I had a cough which I thought was a cold but now suspect is from seasonal allergies. So relaxing and taking it easy were my main ambitions. I brought along my Kindle and iPod with dock so I could listen without headphones in my cabin. So I wasn't much interested in the ship activities and didn't attend any. Besides my wonderful balcony, as small as it was, I can't praise NCL enough for introducing the Waterfront outdoor promenade with lots of places to sit and relax (even lie down and relax). This area is away from the bustle of the Lido Deck and was a great place to stroll (yes, I did manage to get off my fanny and walk about as much as possible). The outdoor dining options on Breakaway are nice too and I even had dinner one night at La Cucina's Waterfront area.
I never made it to Spice H20 and didn't care for the pool deck. The pool area is way too small for a ship this size. However, it really wasn't swimming weather and due to my heart issue wasn't about to use any thermal pools. That's why I also stayed away from the spa. The pool would have been an issue during a summer cruise but for this one not using a pool was a given.
Another place I found myself at quite often is the Breakaway Theatre where the major shows are performed (Burn the Floor and Rock of Ages). It's also used forsuch events as the port and shopping lectures. But it also is used as a 3D movie cinema with a gigantic screen and SurroundSound. The experience was better than in most cinemas. There was a film shown on both sea days heading to Bermuda. The stadium seating allows for excellent views. Only problem is the seats are extremely uncomfortable. You can feel the metal frame which holds the seat padding and it starts to hurt after a while. I spoke with one of the assistant cruise directors and of course, they get a lot of complaints and know they need to do something about it. So for God's sake, NCL, do somthing about it!
I was very happy with the cuisine. I made Savor my place to dine for dinner and lucked out with a fantastic waiter on the first night, so I always requested his section of the dining room. They onlys served luncheon there on sea days. The three port days you could either dine at O'Sheehan's or at the Garden Cafe buffet. Since a lot of people were off the ship the Garden Cafe wasn't so much of a zoo. I mainly had the Indian selections at the Asian counter and found them to be excellent. Also the soups were quite good there and also in the dining room. The selection of fresh fruit was nice and there was a hard packed ice cream counter with delicious no sugar added vanilla ice cream. There was also a no sugar added dessert which were very good. When I asked for one at Savor since none were listed on the luncheon menu, the ass't maitre d' tracked some down for me. That's the kind of service I received on the ship.
I had two meals in Specialty (pay) restaurants. I received a coupon as part of my Platinum onboard perks good for dinner for 2 at Le Bistro. I asked the restaurant manager if I could go to 2 different restaurants since I was traveling alone. This was no problem. So I had one meal at Le Bistro which was excellent, both food and service. The other was the aforesaid mentioned outdoor dining at La Cucina which was the only bad dinner I had during the entire cruise. The minestrone soup was cold. The ribeye steak was practically raw and the waiter rushed the meal. He brought the soup and appetizer out together. Fortunately the appetizer was caprese mozzarella and tomato which is served chilled, so I didn't have to say anything, except courses should always be served separately unless specifically requested to be served in this manner. And since this dinner was on the house, I took it in stride and just know I probably won't go back to La Cucina or if I do I will be very clear when I order how my meal needs to be served (one course at a time, soup very hot, and meat properly cooked).
My cabin was extremely comfortable and I had a very good cabin steward who I got to know very well. I did spend a lot of time in the cabin. If I wasn't on the balcony, I would open the balcony door and stay inside. There was a very large sofa so I had a place to sit. The bed was king size and almost too big for my liking. There is a decent sized bathroom and stall shower (glass door). The water pressure wasn't the best but I managed. There was also plenty of shelf space but no trash can. Only the one in the cabin. The cabin had a double closet with hangers on one side and shelves on the other (including the safe). There was enough room for me but don't know how it would be for more than one guest. There were also 2 storage cupboards below the vanity. I noticed that there were no drawers at all in the cabin. Perhaps it makes it easier to clean since I have been on other ships where you find drawers with a lot of dirt and hair.
The public spaces on the ship, in addition to ones already mentioned were nicely layed out and passenger flow is excellent. No dead ends. The shopping area is quite nice and the merchandise displayed with a lot of flair. However, I had no interest in buying anything so I just strolled through there once. There were plenty of public rest rooms and they placed a towel dispenser and trash can next to the door, so you could dry your hands and use your towel to open the door. I also noticed that the lights would go on when you entered, an energy saving device. The other big energy saver is the slot you must place a key card in to get your electricity to work in the cabin. I knew about this in advance so I brought along a deactivated card from another cruise and left it there for the entire cruise. This way I could recharge electronics and such. What got me is that NCL is so concerned with saving energy and yet there were places where the a/c was entirely too cold which to me is a major waste not to mention a discomfort to the passengers and crew. Lastly, there is a system of lights above the outside of the cabin to indicated "please make up cabin" and "do not disturb". There are switches by inside of the cabin door to activate them. And in another clever mood, the switches cannot be on together (that would be stupid, n'est-ce pas?). Now the next topic might be considered by most as a minor issue but the in-cabin tv really sucks on NCL. Most of the channels are devoted to pushing NCL. They do have MSNBC and Fox News but very little real time tv. They could use another channel like TBS. One channel showed tv programs but they were the same every day. Same thing for the film channel. I know most people aren't in their cabins long enough to need a tv on but I happen to like to turn in at night with some tv. Minor point, I admit, but it's my thing.
I attended the Meet & Greet for Cruise Critic members on the first sea day. Nice turn out and the department heads plus the captain made an appearance, which is always appreciated and nice to know Cruise Critic means something to NCL. They also had cards for everyone with the extension numbers of all of the department heads. This came in handy as I had a few requests, such as the Specialty dining one, and I was always accommodated and with a friendly attitude. I also saw the hotel manager make his rounds on the ship. NCL hotel managers do this as opposed to other cruise lines where they are totally unavailable and hide in their offices.
Disembarkation was slightly delayed. I was with the first group called after the self-disembarkation passengers left. But I was off the ship a little after 8:30 a.m. I found my luggage very quickly and hired a porter so I didn't have to drag my suitcases with my bad knee and you walk pretty much the entire length of the dock. The porters also bring you to the head of the customs line so there was no wait. And they also know which taxi queue to take you to without a wait. So I was home in Queens by 9:20 a.m.!
So, to sum it up, I hade a nice, relaxing cruise on a lovely ship. Offer me another bargain like this NCL, and I'll be back in a hearbeat.