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After reading a number of negative reviews we decided to roll the dice and get a sense of the ship with a weekend cruise to nowhere. A number of the complaints are perfectly valid, some a bit overblown, others somewhat questionable. We had a lot of fun and will likely sail on Breakaway again but this ship isn't for everyone. EMBARKATION Get there early and you'll get on board fairly quickly. We arrived at the port at 11:40 and were onboard by 12:30. Not too shabby. BOARDING THE BREAKAWAY Kind of an odd thing to note about a cruise experience but worth pointing out nonetheless. If one of the highlights of your cruise experience is entering the grand atrium and looking around in awe this is not the ship for you. There's no atrium in the traditional sense. You're greeted, you board and you find yourself near the stairs and elevators, not the atrium. Make your way toward the center of the deck and you'll discover an atrium which resembles the hotel lobby of a boutique hotel with a European sensibility. It's very nice but it won't blow you away. The closest thing to an atrium experience can be found at the center of decks 6, 7 and 8 but the space feels a bit confined. SHIP LAYOUT Very easy to navigate since the focal point of the ship is at the center of decks 6, 7 and 8. Entertainment venues, the casino, restaurants, shops, guests services, etc. are spread across these three decks. Oddly enough, despite the size of this ship, many of the spaces seem small. You're left with the overall impression that they tried to squeeze as much as possible into a very defined space. This is most apparent in the atrium which hosts photo ops, dance lessons and other activities. Corridors are noticeably narrower on passenger decks than on other cruise ships. If someone is approaching you'll have to squeeze around them or move aside to let them pass. Elevators are in short supply. While you can typically expect elevators forward, aft and center on most ships, the Breakaway has only two elevator banks. This leads to crowding and long waits. My best guess is that a third elevator was eliminated to allow for additional cabin space (and the ship has a lot of cabins). Speaking of cabins.... CABINS and BALCONIES The cabins are very nicely done with pleasing tones and ample closet space but... They're a bit small. If you've sailed with Disney, Carnival or even on other NCL ships you quickly discover just how much smaller these cabins are. A standard balcony stateroom on the Breakaway comes in at just under 200 square feet -- and that includes the undersized balcony which accommodates two chairs that can be set at a slight angle or facing each other. You can upgrade to a mini-suite but that will cost you a bit more and the size is comparable to that of a standard balcony stateroom on competing Carnival, Disney, NCL and RCL ships. Most travel websites indicate that these rooms are larger but trust NCL's own website for accurate room dimensions. TIP: Cabins require a key card to turn on the lights. All well and good and not uncommon BUT when you remove the keycard ALL power is cut off to the cabin so if you're hoping to charge your camera or phone while at dinner or in the pool you'll return to discover that it hasn't charged. Ask your room steward for a card to keep the power. You can keep it in the slot for the duration of your cruise and you'll be able to charge your devices. THE FOOD NO complaints! We were pleasantly surprised that the food in the MDR's was actually VERY good. Our dinner in the Manhattan Room was fantastic and our meals in Taste and Savor were very good. Yes, all three share the same menu but there's a nice variety on the menu. Also, the 'free' restaurants are as nicely laid out and decorated as the premium restaurants. You won't feel as if you're getting second tier service. Another free option is O'Sheehan's which offers Irish Pub fare and is open 24 hours a day. Just don't eat at the bar. No one ever took our order. If you feel like splurging you can eat at one of the many specialty restaurants but the MDR's will work for most. Oh, and free hot dogs from the hot dog cart! if you're not a fan of Freestyle Cruising when it comes to meals, set times and wait staff are not NCL's thing. You may miss it but you'll adjust (and, really, Freestyle cruising is pretty much just about eating where and when you'd like). Tip: Book all meals before sailing. Also, if the board indicates that a restaurant has no availability drop by anyway to see if they can seat you. People tend to make reservations and then never show up. Tip: Arrive early for a good table to see the dancers from Burn the Floor perform in the Manhattan Room. They perform at 6:00 p.m. on select nights for a half hour and it's a lot of fun. ENTERTAINMENT ROCK of AGES is a lot of fun and the cast is fantastic. A crowd pleaser but definitely not for (most) kids under 14. It really depends on how sophisticated your kids are since language can get a bit colorful and some of the sexual situations are not entirely kid friendly. SECOND CITY is designed around both families and adults. If you enjoy improv you'll enjoy Second City. We did not attend the Cirque show. At $40 per person I just wasn't feeling it for this cruise. Other activities are available throughout the day for everyone in the family. BARS Lots of bars. The Ice Bar is a novelty that gets you two drinks for $20 and some fun pictures but if you opt to pass it by you'll be able to live with yourself. What I did miss, however, was an intimate bar experience. There's usually a lounge of some sort on most ships that's a bit on the low key side but most venues on the Breakaway were fairly high energy. This is to be expected on a cruise ship, of course, but every now and then you just want to slow things down a bit. THE SPA Ship spas tend to have a warm vibe about them but lots of blues and whites here with a layout that is perfectly functional but with a flow that seems a bit off. The fairly large pull, however, is a definite plus. SMOKE FROM THE CASINO This comes up frequently in reviews. It's definitely noticeable and one has to wonder why the casino would be placed between two decks in such an open area. That said, it's no worse than other cruise ships we've been on but it's definitely noticeable and at certain times more than others (at one point there was absolutely no smoking at all in the casino). SPLASH ACADEMY We didn't bring our kids on this cruise so I can't weigh in on how much fun it is but the facilities were a bit underwhelming compared to Carnival and (especially) Disney. Our daughter will have to weigh in on the fun factor on our next Breakaway cruise (and from what I've read kids love Splash Academy). STAFF Room stewards were great as were the servers. Very helpful and accommodating. We found the Guest Services staff to be available but not overly helpful. Having just recently been on a Disney cruise the contrast in service was hard not to miss. While the primary goal at guest services on a Disney ship is to find a solution to a problem or have an available answer for any possible inquiry (and always with a smile), the Guest Services staff on the Breakaway seemed a bit preoccupied. OUTDOOR FUN! It was a bit too cold to experience it all (and on day two all outside areas were closed off due to high winds) but what little we did get to see looks like it will be a lot of fun. Large open areas, the Boardwalk, water slides and much more. ABOUT THAT NEW YORK THEME FOR THE SHIP... Well, you definitely get the sense that the interior was not designed by someone with an intimate knowledge of New York. The hull design by Peter Max nails it but the interior of the ship doesn't quite follow through. Yes, there are splashes of art here and there as well as a number of old photos of old New York but it would have been nice if more of the interior spaces reflected the architecture and the sights and sounds of New York. Just an observation. CONCLUSION Was it perfect? No. Are there a few things that could use improvement? Sure. Some major, some minor. Was it a lot of fun? Yes, and because of this we're willing to sail on the Breakaway again  

Not for everyone, a bit quirky, exceeded expectations

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Review by CruiseGuy95

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2015
  • Destination: Nowhere
  • Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom
After reading a number of negative reviews we decided to roll the dice and get a sense of the ship with a weekend cruise to nowhere. A number of the complaints are perfectly valid, some a bit overblown, others somewhat questionable. We had a lot of fun and will likely sail on Breakaway again but this ship isn't for everyone.
EMBARKATION
Get there early and you'll get on board fairly quickly. We arrived at the port at 11:40 and were onboard by 12:30. Not too shabby.
BOARDING THE BREAKAWAY
Kind of an odd thing to note about a cruise experience but worth pointing out nonetheless.
If one of the highlights of your cruise experience is entering the grand atrium and looking around in awe this is not the ship for you. There's no atrium in the traditional sense. You're greeted, you board and you find yourself near the stairs and elevators, not the atrium. Make your way toward the center of the deck and you'll discover an atrium which resembles the hotel lobby of a boutique hotel with a European sensibility. It's very nice but it won't blow you away. The closest thing to an atrium experience can be found at the center of decks 6, 7 and 8 but the space feels a bit confined.
SHIP LAYOUT
Very easy to navigate since the focal point of the ship is at the center of decks 6, 7 and 8. Entertainment venues, the casino, restaurants, shops, guests services, etc. are spread across these three decks.
Oddly enough, despite the size of this ship, many of the spaces seem small. You're left with the overall impression that they tried to squeeze as much as possible into a very defined space. This is most apparent in the atrium which hosts photo ops, dance lessons and other activities.
Corridors are noticeably narrower on passenger decks than on other cruise ships. If someone is approaching you'll have to squeeze around them or move aside to let them pass.
Elevators are in short supply. While you can typically expect elevators forward, aft and center on most ships, the Breakaway has only two elevator banks. This leads to crowding and long waits. My best guess is that a third elevator was eliminated to allow for additional cabin space (and the ship has a lot of cabins).
Speaking of cabins....
CABINS and BALCONIES
The cabins are very nicely done with pleasing tones and ample closet space but...
They're a bit small. If you've sailed with Disney, Carnival or even on other NCL ships you quickly discover just how much smaller these cabins are. A standard balcony stateroom on the Breakaway comes in at just under 200 square feet -- and that includes the undersized balcony which accommodates two chairs that can be set at a slight angle or facing each other. You can upgrade to a mini-suite but that will cost you a bit more and the size is comparable to that of a standard balcony stateroom on competing Carnival, Disney, NCL and RCL ships.
Most travel websites indicate that these rooms are larger but trust NCL's own website for accurate room dimensions.
TIP: Cabins require a key card to turn on the lights. All well and good and not uncommon BUT when you remove the keycard ALL power is cut off to the cabin so if you're hoping to charge your camera or phone while at dinner or in the pool you'll return to discover that it hasn't charged. Ask your room steward for a card to keep the power. You can keep it in the slot for the duration of your cruise and you'll be able to charge your devices.
THE FOOD
NO complaints! We were pleasantly surprised that the food in the MDR's was actually VERY good. Our dinner in the Manhattan Room was fantastic and our meals in Taste and Savor were very good. Yes, all three share the same menu but there's a nice variety on the menu. Also, the 'free' restaurants are as nicely laid out and decorated as the premium restaurants. You won't feel as if you're getting second tier service.
Another free option is O'Sheehan's which offers Irish Pub fare and is open 24 hours a day. Just don't eat at the bar. No one ever took our order.
If you feel like splurging you can eat at one of the many specialty restaurants but the MDR's will work for most.
Oh, and free hot dogs from the hot dog cart!
if you're not a fan of Freestyle Cruising when it comes to meals, set times and wait staff are not NCL's thing. You may miss it but you'll adjust (and, really, Freestyle cruising is pretty much just about eating where and when you'd like).
Tip: Book all meals before sailing. Also, if the board indicates that a restaurant has no availability drop by anyway to see if they can seat you. People tend to make reservations and then never show up.
Tip: Arrive early for a good table to see the dancers from Burn the Floor perform in the Manhattan Room. They perform at 6:00 p.m. on select nights for a half hour and it's a lot of fun.
ENTERTAINMENT
ROCK of AGES is a lot of fun and the cast is fantastic. A crowd pleaser but definitely not for (most) kids under 14. It really depends on how sophisticated your kids are since language can get a bit colorful and some of the sexual situations are not entirely kid friendly.
SECOND CITY is designed around both families and adults. If you enjoy improv you'll enjoy Second City.
We did not attend the Cirque show. At $40 per person I just wasn't feeling it for this cruise.
Other activities are available throughout the day for everyone in the family.
BARS
Lots of bars. The Ice Bar is a novelty that gets you two drinks for $20 and some fun pictures but if you opt to pass it by you'll be able to live with yourself.
What I did miss, however, was an intimate bar experience. There's usually a lounge of some sort on most ships that's a bit on the low key side but most venues on the Breakaway were fairly high energy. This is to be expected on a cruise ship, of course, but every now and then you just want to slow things down a bit.
THE SPA
Ship spas tend to have a warm vibe about them but lots of blues and whites here with a layout that is perfectly functional but with a flow that seems a bit off. The fairly large pull, however, is a definite plus.
SMOKE FROM THE CASINO
This comes up frequently in reviews. It's definitely noticeable and one has to wonder why the casino would be placed between two decks in such an open area. That said, it's no worse than other cruise ships we've been on but it's definitely noticeable and at certain times more than others (at one point there was absolutely no smoking at all in the casino).
SPLASH ACADEMY
We didn't bring our kids on this cruise so I can't weigh in on how much fun it is but the facilities were a bit underwhelming compared to Carnival and (especially) Disney. Our daughter will have to weigh in on the fun factor on our next Breakaway cruise (and from what I've read kids love Splash Academy).
STAFF
Room stewards were great as were the servers. Very helpful and accommodating.
We found the Guest Services staff to be available but not overly helpful. Having just recently been on a Disney cruise the contrast in service was hard not to miss. While the primary goal at guest services on a Disney ship is to find a solution to a problem or have an available answer for any possible inquiry (and always with a smile), the Guest Services staff on the Breakaway seemed a bit preoccupied.
OUTDOOR FUN!
It was a bit too cold to experience it all (and on day two all outside areas were closed off due to high winds) but what little we did get to see looks like it will be a lot of fun. Large open areas, the Boardwalk, water slides and much more.
ABOUT THAT NEW YORK THEME FOR THE SHIP...
Well, you definitely get the sense that the interior was not designed by someone with an intimate knowledge of New York. The hull design by Peter Max nails it but the interior of the ship doesn't quite follow through. Yes, there are splashes of art here and there as well as a number of old photos of old New York but it would have been nice if more of the interior spaces reflected the architecture and the sights and sounds of New York. Just an observation.
CONCLUSION
Was it perfect? No. Are there a few things that could use improvement? Sure. Some major, some minor. Was it a lot of fun? Yes, and because of this we're willing to sail on the Breakaway again
 
CruiseGuy95’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony Stateroom
Cabin BC 13132
Significantly smaller than a similar cabin on NCL's other New York ship, the Gem, by almost 30 square feet. Attractive design, balcony a bit on the small side.
Deck 14 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins