Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Review by Guinnivere
- Sail Date: January 2015
- Destination: Nowhere
- Cabin Type: Inside Stateroom
My last cruise on NCL was to Bermuda. I felt then that NCL made the free restaurants mediocre so that you had to go to the upcharge places. I wanted to try the Breakaway to see if the new ship meant a new paradigm and if I could sail NCL again. So I took this cruise to nowhere.
This was the worst cruise I have ever taken. It is really a shame but I am glad I only spent 2 nights rather than 7.
This was a stripped down, bargain basement experience. Period. One would think they would go all out to impress on this mini cruise to entice people to take the longer ones. This did the opposite. I will never go on NCL again.
Paradigm is the same. Serve mediocre food that is not fresh, overly salted, no flavor, no style in presentation so that you are forced to an upcharge restaurant. That is their ploy. But the upcharge restaurants are barely the quality of the free dining on other cruise lines. The best food I ever had was on HAL. The worst was on Carnival. Until now.
Cagney's charged me ten dollars extra to have a rubbery lobster tail with the steak. Other cruise lines ask, how many and one cruise line just put six on the plate. At Cagney's, one steak was all fat and came with frozen fast food onion rings.
Manhattan had a nice dance floor show but the food was inedible. The lasagna was something out of a hospital cafeteria. I couldn’t finish lasagna? Unheard of. My personal trainer said I lost weight when she saw me after this cruise. Wow.
No grab and go, no taco bar, no chicken sandwiches. O'Sheehans was loud, greasy, old cold mozzarella sticks.
Two sabrett hot dog trucks. What was the discussion at the board room: Let's have Sabretts because new Yorkers on this ship don't want to eat anything else? All they want is a hot dog and beer anyway? Trouble is, were they correct?
Cold and stale cupcakes at the cupcake upcharge place. Guy behind the counter did not understand what I was asking for even when I pointed it out.
There was a grill on one of the highest decks outside that seemingly served the best fresh made burgers and salads and gave them to you in a box. We keep reading about it in reviews. Pity we found this out too late because they never posted this place for lunch in the daily Latitudes, and gave only breakfast hours on that sheet. We would have eaten there twice. The only people who knew about it were up in the adjacent game room. Why was this kept a secret?
The buffet was the worst mob scene at all times. I have never seen any cruise buffet that crowded and organized so poorly. The food was not fresh, desserts like a Chinese buffet. Was there a reason there was cauliflower in 3 of the hot dishes one day? In a burrito, really? How about a taco/burrito bar like on other cruise lines? They broke down one side early so that the mob was concentrated on the other side. You are trying to take food and they take the tray out from under the tongs you are holding. Stir fry looked like canned La Choy and Chun King (some will know what I’m talking about.) No cucumbers or onions on the salad bar. But some poor staff had the time consuming chore of squeezing a flowery dab of cream cheese on each cucumber slice at breakfast for people to put on a bagel. Let us put our own cream cheese on it. Are people wasteful or messy? So that there was a pile of wilted and wasted cucumbers and all the cream cheese taken just to get a decent schmear? Because the passengers couldn't behave in a civilized manner? Do you know from experience?
I guess you all do.
The 4000. Now I knew there were a lot and I knew that there would be some drinking. I enjoy a cocktail too. What I did not expect was the overt, excessive drunkenness of most of the passengers. This was a booze cruise, no more, no less. People were lying on the floor in some areas drunk. Groups of men, groups of women drinking all day. I guess from research NCL thinks that is all NYC passengers want because that is all there was to do during the day, more about which later. These people were loud, obnoxious, shoving, catcalling, yelling, fighting, heckling acts in the clubs. Imagine a loud college party atmosphere but with people in their 50s. No wonder security was walking around the decks. This was not just 20-30 year olds in a revival of spring break mode. There is something particularly unattractive about 40-60 year old women roaming in packs, each with a bucket of beer under their arm. Many passengers purchased a bottle of hard liquor in the bucket with sodas and walked around with their own BAR. They also thought the food was wonderful because they actually ate the buffet food with repeated gusto which makes your local buffet seem gourmet. It didn't matter. They were there to drink, scream Journey on the top of their lungs and screech and curse at Cagneys. This was a group, crowd experience that was not nice. In spite of warnings, they brought kids to Rock of Ages, a well done professional show, but clearly not for kids with simulated intercourse and drug use. That and kids had to watch all these drunken adults. No decorum and irresponsible. The majority demographic on this cruise belonged on Springer or Maury. Dressed like hell and wearing pyjamas by day and women ready for 10th avenue by night. Ladies, size 4 to 24, doesn’t matter, those outfits are not becoming. Some people dressed with some taste and class at night but that wasn’t the majority.
Thermal Suite: Sorry we didn't do it. So sorry.
We checked out the Thermal Suite and considered it, but thought there would be enough to do and not enough time to use the Suite. It is my biggest regret. 120 people soon realized it was the only quiet, decent place to relax and bought all the tickets. Again, if you wanted some quiet you had to pay extra. Otherwise, there was really nothing during the day: Acupuncture, bingo, detox seminars. Take your pick.
The best show was the in Fat Cats Blues club with Big Poppa. That band is great, the music fabulous, the jokes bawdy but all fun. Too bad a heckler was loud. We saw this show two nights in a row and it was the best thing on this cruise. Keep Big Poppa and his group. Excellent talent.
The dueling pianos were fun, great players and good atmosphere. There were many things good at the same time. If you did not get advanced tickets you did not get in. Their reservation system does not work. Same with dinners. If you had a reservation you still needed to wait. Could not see Second City. La Cirque was a pay event.
Layout of the Ship and overall design:
This ship was not designed well for NY departures. You lose a few days just getting out of the cold. There is no place to go. The outdoor seating and spice H20 were useless. NCL should make a retractable roof over spice h20 so that people can go in tubs and see films in all weather. There was no place to put 4000 people when it is under 40 degrees. Except in bars. The theatre was useless during the day. no films, nothing but a short bingo game. Every public area is crowded and loud. The entire time I felt I was walking back and forth on 34th Street. Awful. Further more, if you scope out decks 6,7,8, you've seen it all. We saw it all in two hours. You can barely walk. It felt like a bad 1980s indoor mall, not a cruise ship at all. The smell of smoke permeated the public areas because it wasn’t contained somehow in the casino. Other ships don’t have this problem. The smoke went into dining areas and it was old, stale smoke. This was disgusting.
Why would you hold your 10 dollar sale right where people have to walk? Then you have the pushing, shoving women grabbing and standing around waiting to check out? Take a lesson from other cruise lines that use empty, unused restaurants, like Taste and Savor, and hold your sale in there. There would be more room. You wouldn't crowd your only way to walk on that deck. You can also monitor the people at the one door and make sure people pay. Some of your passengers thought paying was optional due to the lack of organization of your sale.
There are only two banks of elevators: Forward and Aft. No elevators in the Centrum or Atrium. Just glass stairs that are not wide enough for two way traffic. It is hard to walk down those stairs sober, much less in the condition that these passengers put themselves in. With only two elevators on the extreme ends of the ship, that means you have to walk the Whole way on 6, 7, 8 to get anywhere, walking through the mob scene, again and again: 34th street, CANAL street or 5th avenue. Not Pleasant.
Finally, the stateroom.
Stripped down, no frills. No towel animals. How can you make towel animals with no towels? There were two towels in the bathroom. No glasses. No chocolates. No Room Service. People were expecting it for breakfast. I heard them Friday saying they looked forward to it. It would have cut down on the mob scene in the garden café. Instead we commiserated upon finding out no one had a room service menu because no one was getting any. Refrigerator locked. Beds pushed together you felt the Seam down the middle.
We are 49 and 50 years old. This wasn't the cruise for us or the line. If you want a 40 hour booze cruise with a “Whatever happens on breakaway stays on breakaway” atmosphere, then maybe this is your spot. Perhaps the cruise to nowhere attracts a different demographic and NCL knows they don't care about food quality or amenities, just the bars. The main issue for us is that it seems their MO is to serve mediocre free food so that you pay the upcharge. But this food still is not as good as the free places on other lines.
So it appears that a lower price gets more people on ship and you can keep it a low quality experience if you want or must pay more for a little better quality experience. If you want to be cloistered away and never see the great unwashed, drunken masses with uncontrollable children you pay for the Haven. But, you still have to get out there eventually and it's not nice. That is what Freestyle really means, and it's not for us. Once again, you get what you pay for. We would rather pay more for the overall experience to be excellent and not feel we got the bait and switch.
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