We traveled on the NCL Breakaway 6/22-29 to Bermuda from NY. We traveled with our 11 year old daughter. This was our first NCL cruise, having previously traveled on Disney and Royal Caribbean. I’ll start with the good things first.
Bermuda itself is beautiful. The people of Bermuda are the friendliest I’ve ever met – very polite and helpful. We enjoyed John Smith Bay Beach and the Crystal Cave. The buses and ferry are easy to use. I would avoid Somerset Long Bay Beach. We went there on our last day because Horseshoe Beach is so crowded. We thought we’d try something closer, and a local told us Warwick Long Bay had a strong under tow. Although the water was pretty and calm on Somerset, the beach had garbage on it and there were some jellyfish and seaweed.
1) The ship is beautifully decorated and the touch screens make it easy to figure out where you need to go.
2) Easy embarkation. Even with all the people, the lines to get on board went quickly. The cabin was ready as soon as we got on the ship, so we could drop off our carry-on bags and grab a bite. When the first buffet filled up, they directed you to another one (which normally would have been a specialty restaurant). Food was fine, burgers, pasta, fries and salads.
3) Cabin –lots of storage. We over-packed but still had room for 3 large suitcases and 2 small carry-ons under the bed. There was also room under the couch and the closet. There weren’t any drawers but plenty of shelves in closet, near fridge and in bathroom. Bathroom was a nice size and shower was pretty large.
4) Activities – for families with children, this was one of the best ships. Water slides, an adult pool, a family pool, a kiddie pool, rope courses with the zip line and plank, rock wall and a pretty good kids club. My 11 year old met some friends and liked the activities – even though there was so much to do on the ship she didn’t go every day. Rock Wall – it didn’t seem to be open very much. My daughter and I did the Ropes/Zip Line course several times but the Rock Wall was only open at night or while we were in port so she never was able to do it. Not sure why it wasn’t open at the same time the Ropes Course. The Ropes Course was a lot of fun and now at age 47 I can cross off Zip Line from my bucket list – It was fun!
5) Entertainment – Great! Rock of Ages, Second City and the Cirque Jungle Dreams Fantasy, plus the Fat Cats Jazz/Blues Club were all fantastic.
6) Management –we had several issues on board with poor service and management did its best to try to compensate us for our inconvenience. It’s a shame we had issues at all and needed to complain but I’m listing this as a plus, only because customer service is important.
Now, the not so good…..
1) Food. Mediocre at best, tasteless at worst. We’re not picky but the food really didn’t have any flavor. In the main dining rooms, the soups were watery, the main dishes were just average on most nights. Buffets were disorganized and food was not very good. The layout was strange and inconsistent too. One salad bar would have one ingredient but a few feet away there would be a different salad bar with ingredients the first one didn’t have. Bagels would be near the eggs but not near the toaster. The most annoying thing was the first morning, after waiting for 20 minutes under a sign that read “Eggs and Omelets”, the cook was only doing eggs, omelets were upstairs. We tried to avoid buffet after day 3, it just wasn’t very good at all. I also didn’t like how they worked their wine package. Normally, you pick a package and every day choose a wine to go with your meal. Here, they made you pick all your bottles upfront, give you a paper ticket and then try to remember the write up on each wine and pair it with your dinner. The first waiter assured me I could change one bottle for the next, but the next day when I tried, I had to argue with the server to allow me to do so.
2) Service. Part of this ties in with food, since they go together. Service was just awful. Slow and inattentive. One meal, they gave my husband a cold steak and me the wrong order. Another, we waited over 10 minutes for a glass of water, 40 minutes for a bottle of wine, they gave me a salad and my husband the appetizer I ordered and didn’t give him anything. They didn’t offer to give my daughter her meal while we had our salads so she waited over an hour for her dinner – no one checked on us at all. I finally called the manager over to complain. He then took over serving us our dinner and made amends by giving us a complimentary bottle of wine and sent chocolate covered strawberries to the cabin. He also made sure at our next dinner we were given a senior server named Amelia. (She'd been with NCL for 16 years and was wonderful.) He explained that many of the servers are new and they are trying them out in the front of the house and if they don’t do well, they don’t remain there. For the money we pay for a cruise, we shouldn’t have to have trainees serving us. At first we thought the service was bad because they wanted you to dine in their Specialty Restaurants, but friends dined at Ocean Blue and also waited 40 minutes for their food. We ended up eating lunch at O’Sheehans for quick pub food.
3) Extras –Despite the advertising on the touch screens and cruise newsletter, there was no seafood night. The Seafood & Lobster Extravaganza consisted of one pasta dish with lobster sauce. There’s a $20 per person cover charge to get into the Ice Bar. We opted not to do so – it would have been better to require a 1 or 2 drink minimum.
We spoke with several other passengers who all agreed the service and food were not as good as on other ships. Maybe it’s because it’s still new, or maybe in Freestyle dining since you don’t have the same servers every day they aren’t working as hard for their tips. No matter what the reason, if service is important to you - I'd suggest another cruise line. I’m not sure if I’d cruise with NCL again if another line has similar entertainment and activities. If I did, I'd go in with lower expectations, avoid the buffet and make sure I could find a manager if things started going poorly again.