By Cruise Critic and Family Vacation Critic Staff
Norwegian Breakaway Overview
Norwegian Breakaway, which debuted in April 2013, is a New York City-inspired ship that sails year-round from the Big Apple. You'll notice touches of NYC throughout: the hull painting (complete with an image of the Statue of Liberty) was designed by famed New York artist Peter Max, and NYC murals are painted across the ship, including on the pool deck and in the fitness area. Pastry fans can eat cannolis at an onboard Carlo's Bakery -- well known among New Yorkers and New Jerseyans (and fans of TLC's "Cake Boss"). Heck, the famous Rockettes served as godmothers to the ship and have created a workout class that will endure even when they're not high-kicking it onboard. The Waterfront on Deck 8 is a brilliant idea and picturesque when it's empty. It wasn't warm enough on our sailing for anyone to give outdoor dining a try, so it's hard to tell how crowded it will be. We suspect that if you want outdoor seating, you're going to need to reserve a table pretty early in your cruise.
Breakaway is beautiful, with modern touches. Shades of blue are the predominant colors onboard, and while the color palette is more subdued than that found on other Norwegian ships, Breakaway has an air of refinement and sophistication that is still comfortable.
The high-energy ship is chock full of eateries, entertainment venues, lounges and outdoor activities. Chances are you'll never get to try everything in one sailing. Between three Broadway shows, 27 restaurants, an 80's-themed dance party with fireworks, a full schedule of day and night activities and the half-deck Aqua Park and Ropes Course, you might have a hard time deciding which activity to tackle first.
But while the ship is a lot of fun, it's also a little too packed. Wanting to take the best of everything the Norwegian fleet offers, plus include a handful of new attractions, Norwegian's design team had to downsize most everything on Breakaway from its previous ship, Norwegian Epic. Two of the main dining rooms are smaller, Bliss nightclub is smaller and the corridors between venues are more cramped. Even the cabins are smaller. Our mini-suite on Breakaway felt about the same size as our standard balcony cabin on Norwegian Jewel. Most notably, the balconies are much smaller. Taller people might need to splurge for a Large Balcony Cabin to sit comfortably outside.
The one thing that isn't smaller is the cabin bathrooms. Taking the criticism of the bathrooms on Norwegian Epic seriously, Norwegian dedicated more space to Breakaway's loos. Our mini-suite bathroom featured a long his-and-hers sink and a lovely, large shower.
A few other items worth mentioning:
Another bull's eye is the Aqua Park and Ropes Course. Members of the Cruise Critic editorial team were brave enough to give the ropes course (and The Plank) a go. All but one (who was pushing his fear of heights) loved it. It was too cold for the water slides, but we all agreed they would be hard to resist on a hot day.
Service on Breakaway was fantastic. With some of the best crew pulled off Norwegian Epic, Jewel, Gem and a handful of other ships, we couldn't have asked for better.
Norwegian Breakaway Fellow Passengers
Norwegian Cruise Line tends to attract adult couples and groups of friends of all ages, as well as families; Norwegian Breakaway is no different. With Nickelodeon activities on offer, comprehensive kids and teens programs, and an onboard Aqua Park complete with plunge slides, Breakaway is a natural fit for families. The facilities, particularly for teens, are impressive. But venues like the Ice Bar, Spice H20, Cirque Dreams and Dinner Jungle Fantasy and Fat Cats Jazz and Blues Club lend an air of New York sophistication to the ship. The production of Rock of Ages is geared toward adults and maybe older teens, as well.
Norwegian Breakaway Dress Code
Casual dress is the norm for Breakaway, as that's what Norwegian's Freestyle cruising is all about. Though passengers are encouraged to "dress up" one night (e.g. suits for men and anything from cocktail dresses to gowns for women) for pictures, maybe 25 percent do. Khakis, linen pants and collared or cabana shirts are common for men at night, while women tend to wear sundresses or skirts or nice pants with blouses most evenings. Shorts also are common, but keep in mind some of the nicer restaurants, such as Le Bistro and Cagney's, require men to wear slacks.
Norwegian Breakaway Gratuity
Each passenger is automatically billed $12 per day. If a passenger is unsatisfied with service, and the line can't resolve the issue, the service fee can be adjusted. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar drinks, and 18 percent is added to spa and salon services. For passengers using concierge and butler service, Norwegian recommends a gratuity "commensurate with the services rendered." The bill can be paid in cash or with credit/debit cards.
Public Areas: There is a beautiful large modern color changing chandelier through three floors of the main atrium. Beautiful! The usual jewelry store/art auction pushing. The Atrium has a great enormous screen used for group activities. EVERYONE ...continue
We were on the Breakaway from Aug 31-Sept 7.
Our small family included myself and my husband (DH) and our 7 year old daughter (DD7). This was our 6th cruise and our 3rd time with Norwegian. I am not an expert cruiser by any means, but I ...continue
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This was my 1st time on the Breakaway, 6th time on NCL, and 9th cruise overall. When I read the bad reviews of the Breakaway, I have no earthly idea of what people are talking about when it comes to the bad food or the unhelpful staff. I was a ...continue