Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Review by Cupcakesmmm
- Sail Date: January 2015
- Destination: Nowhere
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Inside Stateroom
My first impressions were that the cruise itself had an entirely different atmosphere from longer Caribbean or Mediterranean as it was (1) during the winter so all of the guests were concentrated inside, (2) sailing out of NYC so most of the passengers were celebrating long weekends (drinks all around), and (3) a holiday weekend so many families were onboard as well. In other words, it was a giant party ship (not necessarily a bad thing). However, as a result of the concentration of people inside, the quality of service, especially in the main dining areas, suffered. At the buffet, we felt rushed as servers cleared our dishes while we were still eating or using them. In some instances, I would drink my coffee and turn to see my breakfast plate halfway off the table before I could call it back. Other times, when asked if I was finished, I replied no, and my plate was still taken. It was as if they were going through the motions of asking but not even waiting for a response and moving on. In the main dining room, service was slow and seemingly confused – as observed on other NCL ships, the freestyle model results in a lack of accountability on the waitstaff’s part, especially on a 2-night sailing. Unlike the traditional model with a main server, assistant server, and bar server for the table, the single server himself has to walk back and forth from the kitchen and bar to retrieve the food and drinks.
Without a doubt, one of the highlights of our cruise was Ocean Blue. One of our favorite parts of cruising is the fine dining so of course, we had to try Ocean Blue (we also love Jeffrey Zakarian – he was so friendly when we ran into him at the airport!). Service was outstanding – welcoming, knowledgeable, and incredibly attentive. The food was also phenomenal; each dish was well balanced, flavorful, and quite unique. At first, we wondered why we were limited to choosing one menu item from each section, but the portions were quite large, and we couldn’t even finish our main entrees (but we finished dessert!). Without a doubt, we would have dined there again if the cruise were longer. O’Sheehan’s was another great dining option. We always go for their buffalo wings (haven’t let us down yet), but service was a hit or miss. At the bar tops, within five minutes of snagging a table, four waiters came to the table to ask if we were helped yet. However, due to the craziness, when our food came, all the plates were missing blue cheese. When asked for some, we were told that blue cheese was a separate order (… huh). Sounds nitpicky, but it was an odd response since it was untrue, and after saying it, our waiter rushed off. It was another 5-10 minutes before we flagged him down to ask for an ‘order’ of blue cheese. Nevertheless, service at the high tops was markedly better than that at the tables, which even though we were some of the only people there, seemed sluggish and inattentive.
Other positives were the activities on board and the show Rock of Ages. I appreciated the fact that the Ropes Course, Mini Golf, and Rock Climbing wall were free since they often have additional charges on other ships. These activities were well-maintained and organized (even if we froze outside in the January weather!). Unfortunately, the zipline on the Ropes Course, which we were most looking forward to, was closed for maintenance when we sailed. The show Rock of Ages was the best we had seen on a cruise ship the past decade or even longer. Too often, entertainment on board turns out to be a mess of songs and cheesy dance numbers that comes off like a cheap Vegas sideshow. In contrast, Rock of Ages featured actual sets and costumes, a catchy song list, and some truly talented performers. It was definitely the other highlight of the weekend.
On the flip side of entertainment and activities, a huge downside was the stateroom service. For such a short sailing, we opted for an interior cabin since we figured we wouldn’t spend much time there. Our first mistake was choosing a cabin on the 5th floor below the Atrium (what were we thinking!?!?) – since it was so cold outside, the party in the Atrium was still booming at 3 AM. Speaking of which, the meeting rooms and library were right next to the Atrium so sounds of the raucous crowd and instruments came right through the walls (horrible design and planning!). The stateroom and more importantly, the bathroom, were quite roomy, especially for a newer ship. There was a noticeable lack of drawers (as my mom noted, where do people keep their undergarments!?), but I didn’t find it to be a problem. For people going on a weekend cruise, it’s worth noting that there is no room service, and since the buffet closes around midnight, the only late night dining option is O’Sheehan’s. I found our room steward on this trip to be much colder than those we’ve met on other ships. Usually, we end up chatting with our room steward, who is generally one of the friendliest and welcoming people on board any cruise ship. However, this time, I definitely didn’t get the same impression (perhaps because it was such a short cruise?). On the first night, there was no towel animal or chocolate on the bed, which I figured must have been omitted for the short sailing. However, our parents received both of these so it was a bit strange. (Since we were kids, it’s become a nightly ritual to eat chocolate before bed as we read the next day’s itinerary – unhealthy and silly but something we’ve always done). The following night, we received an animal (yay! It was a… seal? snake?) but no chocolate. Again, it seems nitpicky, but the lack of attention to details seems like another consequence of the short sailing.
For anyone hitting the gym, it felt horribly cramped compared to the usual cruise fitness centers. The weights are separate from the cardio equipment, and each room extremely narrow and cramped. At 7:30 AM, the cardio room was pretty busy, but luckily, I was only one of three people in the weight room. There were so windows in the room, and the bright amber paint made the room feel smaller than it already was. By 8:30 AM, the 8-10 people in the room made it hard to find somewhere to stand between sets and left us shuffling around each other. When looking for somewhere to stretch, there was a side area that perfectly fit two people, but I couldn't find anywhere else in the gym to lay a mat.
Overall, it was a fun way to spend the weekend with a family, but we definitely won’t be going on another short cruise. It was simply not enough time to get to know the ship or staff, and due to the ridiculously quick turnaround time, the quality of service is markedly lower than that of longer sailings.
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