Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Review by 2NattyFans
- Sail Date: April 2016
- Destination: Bahamas
- Cabin Type: Family Oceanview Stateroom with Large Picture Window
All kidding aside, prior to our trip, I had read every review I could and I have to admit that I thought the negative ones were a bit over the top and posted by the type of complainers who just are never satisfied. To these reviewers, I sincerely apologize. To give you a little background about us, my friend and I are both in our 30s. This was my eighth cruise and fourth with Norwegian. The two that I took prior to this were with Royal Carribean. We were very excited about leaving from New York as it is a 20 minute drive for us to the pier and we couldn’t wait to see all of the things that the Breakaway had to offer.
We were dropped off at the pier at 9:30. It was extremely busy because passengers were arriving and departing at the same time. We knew that we would have to wait around for a while at the terminal, but wanted to be able to get a low boarding number so we could be one of the first groups to be called. Having read the message boards for our sailing, we knew that the ship was just about full and that there would be a large number of children due to the Massachusetts and Rhode Island school breaks. Most of NJ and NY had already had their spring break which was why we booked this week. We hadn’t anticipated other states school breaks.
Having done our research, we decided to try to get Vibe passes to get away from the crowds. Vibe is the adult only area that you get to pay for the privilege to get into. There is a bar, lots of comfy chairs, and 2 hot tubs. You also get fruit skewers, cool towels, lemonade and iced tea, and a peaceful place to relax away from the crowds. It costs $99 a person for the weekly pass and only 60 or 70 are sold. The only way to get the passes is to get onto the ship early and go directly to the Guest Services desk on the 6th floor in the Atrium. When our boarding number was called, we went directly to Guest Services which already had a huge line. A Norwegian employee asked us if he could help with anything and we asked if we were in the right line for Vibe passes. He told us they were already sold out. We were disappointed, but knew that we had to just shake it off and make the best of things. We couldn’t get into our cabin yet, so we decided to get a drink and head to the dining room for lunch. On our way over to the Atrium bar, we heard a couple ask a different employee about Vibe passes and they were told to follow her to Guest Services. We followed too and were given the last 2 passes available. Not sure what happened here, but if the Vibe passes are important to you, you may want to check with a few people before throwing in the towel. We did enjoy Vibe and the service there was wonderful. It was the only place on the entire ship that was kid free and relaxing. I’m still not thrilled with the fact that I had to pay an additional $99 for the luxury of not listening to children running around or having packs of teenagers take over an area until you are so annoyed that you have to concede and go elsewhere. There is a small free area called Spice H2O that is supposed to be adult only, but it is completely mobbed during the day and the adult only policy did not seem to be enforced.
Having done this itinerary in the past, we opted for the Family Oceanview cabin. It is larger than the standard oceanview, about the same size as a balcony room. There is a couch, two closets, and a larger bathroom with a tub. We didn’t feel that we would use the balcony much, but still wanted the extra space and storage. The cabin was very narrow compared to others that we’ve had. One thing we missed was having drawers to put our things in. The closets and desk had shelves, but drawers would have been nice to keep smaller items in. Also, the only outlets are the two on the desk. The bathroom has no outlets. On the second day, I plugged in my hair dryer and the outlets and our tv stopped working. Maintenance came very quickly and we were told that you can’t use your own blow dryer because they would short out the outlets. There is no sign or warning that says you can’t use your own blow dryer. We were told to use the tiny hair dryer under the desk, which was more like a travel dryer and took forever to use. We also had trouble with our toilet not flushing throughout the week. You had to push the button multiple times before it would flush. Maintenance told us that we weren’t pushing the button correctly and at that point I didn’t feel like arguing over the fact that I do, in fact, know how to push a button and that there shouldn’t really be a special trick to flushing your toilet. We had to push the button sometimes more than 20 times before anything would happen. Our room steward was very nice and provided excellent service throughout our entire trip.
Food throughout the ship was very good. We had dinner at Taste and Savor a few times and service was excellent. Dinner in the dining rooms does take a bit long though. If you are trying to get to an activity or show, be sure to tell your server. The buffet was also very nice with a good selection. The staff here was excellent and always provided wonderful service, even with the large crowds. We had one dinner at Shanghai Noodle towards the end of our trip and wished that we had gone here sooner. The portions were very generous and we had quite a bit that we couldn’t finish. We asked if we could take the leftovers to finish later and were told that we couldn’t take the food with us. Very odd and a total waste, considering that we weren’t asking for a to-go order, we only wanted to take the food that was already made and in front of us.
The main reason that I wanted to return to Norwegian after going with Royal Caribbean for the past two years was the entertainment. The shows on Norwegian are always a step above the typical cruise entertainment options and I always felt like there were more activities throughout the day with Norwegian. We saw Rock of Ages, Burn the Floor, and two of the Second City shows. We had reservations for all of these. If you are planning to see Second City, there are not many seats available because the room they perform in is so ridiculously small for a ship this size. Try to make reservations on the first day. You can’t reserve your seats for Second City prior to sailing. We would have seen more of their shows, but they booked up very quickly. Rock of Ages and Burn the Floor can be booked prior to sailing. Just about anything you do on the Breakaway requires a reservation. They call it Free Style, but the amount of planning you have to do to get a seat for anything is complete nonsense. If you plan on playing trivia, seeing the game shows, or any of the other activities in the Atrium, be sure to schedule an extra half hour or more to find a seat. The Atrium is, by far, the worst venue that I have ever experienced on a cruise. People having to fight for the very few seats available for just about every activity offered and then having to drag large, cumbersome pieces of furniture so that families could sit together and then having to watch the poor staff try to put the furniture back after each show is absolute insanity. Who’s idea was this, because you should 100% be fired. This is a stupid, stupid, stupid place for any activity to take place.
If you enjoy the casino, I hope you enjoy smoke. And hallways. And smoky hallways. I am not a smoker, but am not a person who is bothered by smoke usually. I have lived with smokers. But this is a lot of smoke. As soon as you walk through the casino, the smell is overpowering. It’s also a really small casino that you have to walk through constantly to get to where you want to go, even if the casino is not your ultimate destination because it really is mostly a hallway. So if you enjoy sitting at a slot machine, be prepared for crowds to be walking through the entire time.
I had read the reviews that talked about how small the pool was on the Breakaway, but you really have to see it to believe it. The size of the pool is ridiculous and would be insufficient even for a smaller ship. If relaxing by the pool is a big part of cruising for you, I would strongly suggest you look elsewhere. There are a few hot tubs that were monopolized the entire time, even well into the night, by the bands of roving boat urchins (a/k/a free-roaming teenagers).
The biggest problem with the Breakaway is that the public areas simply cannot accommodate the amount of passengers that they have crammed onto this ship. I am not a person who sits around the pool all day when I cruise. I do like to check out the daily activities and see the shows. It’s what I paid for! If I was just looking for transport to the Bahamas, I would have gotten a plane ticket. I like to be able to look at the Freestyle Daily and see that there is a show starting in 15 minutes and go check it out if I want to. This was never possible on the Breakaway. Your day has to be carefully mapped out from beginning to end. If you don’t make a reservation, you will not get in to see a show. If you don’t show up for an activity 30 to 40 minutes early to claim one of the very few seats, you will not be able to participate or even stand to the side and watch. I would never sail on the Breakaway again, which is a shame because (a) I love cruises and (b) its 20 minutes away from my house. So disappointed. The first Norwegian cruise I took was one of my favorites and the reason I kept giving them another chance. Sadly, I think this is going to be the last with them. At first glance, the Breakaway is really overwhelming when you see how insanely big it is. After you’ve been on board for a few days and you look at it from outside again, you realize that the size is made up of mostly cabins and the awe has been replaced with the reality that you are not getting more, you are getting so much less.
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