Background Information: We returned from our Breakaway seven night cruise on July 13th. This is our seventh sailing on NCL. We have sailed on the Spirit, Dawn, Jewel, Gem, Star and now the beautiful Breakaway, twice. My husband and I have loved each of our NCL cruises and this one was no exception!
Embarkation: We arrived at NY Pier 88 early around 10:15 by a family member, gave our luggage to the porters at the pier and proceeded through the screening area without any problems. We like to arrive early to get a low number and to board the ship early. We can’t wait for that first step on the ship. Instead of entering the Gold/Platinum/VIP line, we entered the Casino check-in line, as we qualified for both check-in lines and waited only a couple of minutes to be processed by helpful NCL staff. We processed through the CAS line, as we booked with a Harrah’s discount, and received #2 as our boarding number. We boarded the ship at 11:15, the second number to be called. A wedding party with guests and visitors were before us as well as the suite guests with their concierge. We entered the ship with cheerful staff welcoming us and went to our cabin just to drop off our carryon luggage. We then met our cabin steward, Mario, who took great care of our room all week. I must say that he was the best cabin steward we ever had and made us the absolute best towel animals we ever had. As he was still making up his rooms, we left, explored the ship a bit and then went to Savor for a relaxing first meal. We were not disappointed in the food, the wait staff or the décor of the room. Savor and Taste are very similar except for the color decor and they serve the same food, in fact now all three MDRs serve the same food. The rooms were extremely attractive and we sat by the window at a table for two overlooking the port. As we finished lunch, an announcement was made that the cabins were ready for us.
Cabin: We had a 13th deck mini-suite cabin that was midship and on the portside. The bathroom was very roomy, the shower was great and the comfortable bed was by the balcony. There was no problems with the AC, got as cold as we liked. A card must be in the slot for power to be on in the room. Our balcony on the Breakaway was a bit smaller than the other NCL ships we were on, but we still enjoyed it and especially on the night of the fireworks. What a great view right from our own balcony! We knew that the upper deck where they were shooting them off would be very crowded. We had plenty of storage space in our room. I did bring extra hangers so that I could hang up all I needed. There were shelves in the closet as well as under the TV cabinets and drawers under the sofa. Also there was storage in a cube seat that was at the desk. We had our muster drill in the Atrium and I must say this was the only congested area we came across during the entire cruise. We received our luggage shortly after, unpacked and eventually went to dinner in Teppanyaki. That night we also saw the performance of Cirque Jungle Fantasy. It was excellent. We had the Ultimate Dining Package and it included our first night to see Cirque Jungle free. It was excellent. We had seen this last year also. The Ultimate Dining Package was free to us when we rebooked during a NCL promo.
Ship Activities: The next day, we had our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet in La Cucina. Since I was the organizer of this, I was very proud to see such a great turnout for the event. We must have had over 70 members gathering to meet each other. The Senior Officers, at least seven of them, came to welcome us. NCL provided a light breakfast of pastries and coffee, juice etc. The officers provided everyone with a card with their phone numbers and if anyone had any problems they were there for help in finding a solution. Everyone really should take advantage of this opportunity to attend their M&G. In some of the past reviews that I’ve read, I wonder if some of the problems reported could have been avoided totally by speaking to the right Department Head. I would like to thank the Cruise Critic members and the attending officers for taking time out of their schedule to attend the meeting. In the evening, my husband and I visited the casino and once again made a “donation.” The ship’s casino is much spread out and divided into sections – some areas were smokier than others, although, there is a small non-smoking section. The slots were tight, at least for us. As for entertainment, we attended all the shows. Rock of Ages show was very well done, but not for the children and the Cirque dinner show was great, food wasn’t bad either. Burn the Floor was excellent! We saw Arvin & Emily and Fire and Ice. Both groups gave a terrific performance! Les Getrix and the Creole Cooking Band in Fat Cats, was equally entertaining! “Big Papa” is really a unique performer! Also, we stopped in to listen to Dueling Piano’s. You could not step more than a few feet without coming into contact with another venue of entertainment. The ship has the best entertainment on any ship we’ve been on. There is always something going on and it is hard to choose what to do. Reservations are a must for the main shows. The pool deck is crowded as can be expected on a summer high season cruise when all the children are out of school. According to the Hotel Director, our cruise had 4600+ passengers. If you book a summer cruise on any ship you will find it crowded at this time – expect this when booking. The “chair hogs” don’t help the situation, but I did see staff removing towels etc., at times. We always found chairs if not on one deck then on another. Spice H20 was our location of choice during peak hours. We were able to find pool side lounges later on in the day.
Dining: We love the idea of Freestyle Dining, but on this ship for the Specialty Restaurants, reservations are a must. We made all our reservations 45 days prior to boarding the ship. This opportunity to pre-book reservations for ALL restaurants and shows has been changed to 90 days in advance. Even in the Main Dining Rooms, especially The Manhattan Room, if you want to see Burn the Floor when they perform there, make a reservation. All the restaurants we ate at had terrific servers and we had excellent service. We ate in Savor or Taste for breakfast or lunch, and the Specialty Restaurants for dinner. Not one was disappointing!
Bermuda: We love Bermuda. This was our sixth time there. Our first day we went by bus to Horseshoe Bay, rented our chairs and umbrella, explored the cave there, since it was low tide and accessible and just relaxed in the beautiful aqua water and pink sand. Yes, it is pink although some don’t see it as much as I do. When the sunlight hits the receding water, it’s just beautiful. When we left, we shared a taxi with another family heading to the Dockyard - $7 per person plus tip, of course. The next day we purchased tokens and went to Hamilton by ferry. We did some shopping and took a taxi to the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, which was just down the road but it was too hot and humid for us to walk. We found the Institute to be very interesting! On our third day in Bermuda, we did more shopping in the Dockyard in the morning and then relaxed by the pool for the rest of the day. This was the perfect ending to our three days in Bermuda. At 5pm we were up on our balcony waiting to see a late comer or 2 running to board the ship. Unfortunately there were none. LOL! We left on time.
Disembarkation: After having our last breakfast on board and saying goodbye to our cabin steward Mario, we reluctantly gathered our carryon’s and headed to wait for our time to leave the Breakaway. We waited until 9:15 in O’Sheehans, walked off the ship, went to pick up our luggage, found a porter to bring us through customs and out to the pick-up area on the second floor and waited for our son and family to pick us up at 10:am.
Synopsis: We really enjoyed this cruise on the Breakaway even more than last year. Yes, the ship as any other ship regardless of the cruise line will be crowded at high peak sailing times. If you book during this time of year expect it. If you don’t want to have crowds book another time of year. There is always a quiet area if you look hard enough. We never felt the crowds to be excessive. We thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment as well as all the meals that we ate. The Staff and crew are tops and will do anything and everything to please the passengers and if they know there’s a concern to remedy, they will do their best to help and correct the situation. Go to your Meet & Greet and you will meet your fellow cruisers on your sailing and the Staff that will be there for you on your cruise. We love the Breakaway and will be sailing her again!