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This is my sixth cruise, and my third Norwegian. THE GOOD We enjoyed this ship for the most part. It was certainly clean, tastefully decorated and spacious. Layout of ship: With 4000 people it surprisingly never felt crowded to me. There were always plenty of loungers; the buffet was not terribly crowded and heaven knows there was always plenty of food. Elevators came reasonable quickly and it was not difficult to get seats to the few shows we saw. There were many fun activities for kids: ropes course, minigolf, climbing wall, sports and pool slides. Our son was shy about the teen club, but it looked cool and the counselor seemed very nice. There were structured activities as well as lots of chill time with pool tables, video games, etc. The video game area was expensive, and that may have accounted for low crowds there. Since the main pools were very crowded we finally found a very pleasant area in the very back of the ship behind the teen club, arcades and sports area with a bar, two hot tubs and a water feature that was allowed you to sit with feet in water and chat with others or cool off under an attractive “rain” feature. There was plenty of seating including chairs, loungers, and more comfy furniture and plenty of people were gathering and able to enjoy conversation. With the exception of some 20 something young men chanting “chug, chug, chug,” while the bar tender poured their drinks, it was very pleasant. I would agree with others who mentioned more bar tenders are needed in pool areas. The staff were usually polite and helpful. The Entertainment: I won’t list this under “the bad” because it is really a matter of taste, but it didn’t interest us much. We went to the opening night show that gives you a little bit from all the shows. We found the cruise ship director corny and not entertaining, bits from the dance show Burn the Floor, Rock of Ages and the Tenors were all fine for a few minutes, but none piqued our desire to see more. We did attend the magic show which was not very amazing or funny. A random volunteer from the audience stole the show and made everyone laugh so much that my son thinks she was a plant. We attended dueling pianos for a while and it was a fun crowd pleaser. There was a lot of singing along to popular songs through the decades. The comedian did not seem very strong opening night, but we did attend one of his shows in Headliners bar and he was much better. I was also surprised that we were told we might not get seats without a reservation. I had just assumed the smaller bar areas did not require pre-booking. Happily we did get in, but we were charged for this, which also surprised me. The Cirque show was a fun environment to dine in and the show was entertaining and just the right length. I attended the “How to run a Floating Hotel” talk which was interesting and the Cruise Director was exceptionally professional in handling complaints veiled as questions. One woman wanted to know why we were not in Honduras today as it said on her schedule? (Our ports are Cozumel, Belize and Costa Maya) I keep thinking of my own questions now. How big is the kitchen? Where is it? How many cooks do they have? When do they clean the carpets and how do they keep them so clean? I did enjoy my own entertainment which included reading 5 novels in lounge chairs or balcony while the ocean waves passed me by. The Thermo Spa: We enjoyed it and used it most days. I am not sure that I would pay the full price for it, but it was worth the extra bid amount. We liked the waterfall that massaged the shoulders, the bubbling jacuzzi and heated loungers the most. There was also a sauna, steam room, salt room with alleged healing powers, showers, a small pool and other, non-heated loungers facing the ocean. The Food: Overall the food was ok to good, rarely excellent. The buffet was uninspired, but okay for breakfast and snacks. In the main dining rooms (Taste and Savor) I enjoyed the New York Strip. Other dishes were okay. In Le Bistro the Lamb chops were delicious, but the Coquille St. Jacque was not traditional and was overpowered by raw garlic. The Crème Brulee was fantastic- much better than any other dessert we had on the ship. The Cirque meal was surprisingly good after the luke-warm reviews I’d read. The Beef Tenderloin, cooked medium, was still very tender and juicy (I prefer medium rare.) The menu in various restaurants feature variations of peppercorn gravy on steaks, from the New York Strip in the main restaurant, to the tenderloin in the Cirque meal, to beef in the Bistro. Even the fabulous Ribeye in Cagney’s came with a small dish of gravy that tasted of peppercorn. It seems odd to repeat this seasoning so often. I did ask for it on the side and they willingly complied. The food in Taste and Savor was also inconsistent. My son ordered what was described as shimp and mushroom fettucine alfredo twice. The first night he ordered it I tasted it and found that while the sauce was not what I consider alfredo (creamy and cheesy) it had a nice seafood flavor. My son ordered it again two nights later and mentioned that it was spicy. I tasted it and again, it was not what I would consider an alfredo sauce and had a strong black pepper flavor. I also thought the pasta was a touch undercooked. The “Baked Ziti with three cheeses and a chunky tomato sauce” was almost devoid of sauce and seemed more like noodles with a very thin sauce with cheese sprinkled on top and put under the broiler. On a more positive note the lamb shank was tender and flavorful. If I were to cruise with NCL again, I’d feel like I should only dine in specialty restaurants. I feel that cruise ships have gone from having excellent food in their main dining rooms to making you pay extra for it in so called specialty restaurants. The Bad We have few real complaints. The two small pools on deck 15 were not big enough for 4000 people. I never felt comfortable trying to squeeze in among the throng as people were always crowded along the edge, and in the hot tubs. I remember really liking the pool set up on the Norwegian Jewel, there was a shallow lounge area in the pool and plenty of loungers surrounding the pool as well as the adult only pool as a quieter option. On this ship I used loungers on the quieter upper levels far from the pool. I realize that very few people use the library, but if you are going to have one it would be nice to make it an actual usable amenity. When I finished the four books I brought with me (yes, I am a fast reader and made use of my lounge time) I sought out the library which is well hidden near the Atrium on the sixth floor. About four people were in the library all using their own electronic gadgets. When I saw the empty shelves and tiny fiction section I considered donating the four I had in my room. I identified a couple books I thought would entertain me for my last sea day and tried to open the glass cabinet. It was locked. Am I crazy to think this is over -the-top-security for a few out of date novels? I looked around and saw a small table/desk with a handwritten sign “The librarian will be back in a few minutes, please sign out books yourself.” I waited a few minutes, then opened the top drawer to the desk to see if there was a key. There was. I tried to use it in the door. Suddenly an employee was at my side barking “That is not the key to that, give me the key.” I gave her the key feeling embarrassed as if I were committing a crime and asked how to get the books to borrow. “The library is not open, only during certain hours.” She scolded without telling me the hours. I was so astonished that there was a person in the library to prevent me from getting a book rather than to help me get one that I left in a huff. Honestly, it could not be more transparent that this ship has no interest in accommodating passengers unless additional revenue can be generated. FYI I checked and found that the library is open from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. so schedule your reading needs accordingly!!! THE DEAL BREAKER I would not sail on this ship again because of the cigarette smoke that freely flows from the casino into the main areas of the 6th, 7th, and 8th floor even into some of the “premium” (extra fee) restaurants and main activity areas such as Atrium, cafes, and art gallery. Would you enjoy sitting at the sushi bar, paying $15.00 ala carte to enjoy a sushi roll while inhaling cigarette fumes? We were fortunate to be seated “inside” the restaurant at Le Bistro, but many were seated in the “outdoor café” area (ie. in the ship corridor) where you could smell cigarette smoke. We opted for the truly outdoor balcony seating in Ocean Blue (which was lovely!), but would have refused to eat in the restaurant that is open to the casino fumes. We were not the only ones bothered by this. THE PORTS: Cozumel: we’ve been here a few times and usually have lunch in the town and then head to a beach club such as the Money Bar by cab to snorkel. This time, since the Belize snorkel trip was full, we decided to take a snorkel trip available at the port for $45.00 cash each for the three of us. This two hour tour, which included bottled water, sodas and beer, was fantastic. Victor was our guide. We saw tons of fish at two stops that were very similar to each other. Victor was good with the many beginning snorkelers, held up a blow fish for all to see, and the equipment was good. From there we took a cab to Paradise Beach club where there was a restaurant, nice large pool, and swimming at a sandy beach. There were lots of jumpy, floaty things for kids which for us was a negative as it obstructed the view and took up swimming space, but it was fun watching the kids play. I overheard some who were on a tour complain that they didn’t get to stay long enough. I really like to create my own itinerary when we have a full day. Belize: I’m not a big fan of being captive on a cruise ship island, but many really enjoyed it. I was on a wait list for the Barrier Reef snorkel tour but it didn’t pan out so we hung out on the NCL beach. There were several shops and opportunities to rent equipment or zip line. We lounged and swam and had Nachos and margaritas in one of the restaurants. The restaurant did not accept our ship card for charges which puzzled me, but fortunately we brought our Visa. It rained on and off and we made it back to the ship ALMOST before the major down pour struck! The crew greeted us with warm dry towels! This was my least favorite port day. I much preferred stopping at Belize City on other cruises where we could have found a snorkel tour and had more interesting lunch options. But it was nicely done for those who like a serve-yourself and pay-as-you-go resort experience. Costa Maya: This was our first time and we only had until 1:30 p.m. We quickly moved through the Disney-like port and took a cab into town where there were a ton of restaurant and hotels offering lounge chairs and food and beach access and wifi. We enjoyed shopping and eating and swimming and lounging and it was over too soon. Back to the port we would have enjoyed exploring more and using the nice swimming pool available, but had to get back onto ship. Conclusion: We had a great time and our complaints were mostly minor, but I think I would try a different ship or even a different line next time. We like the idea of Freestyle dining, but if the only good options are pre-reserved specialty restaurants and pre-reserved shows, that is really not very free-style.

The good, the bad, and the dealbreaker

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Review by littlefish64

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Spa Balcony Stateroom
This is my sixth cruise, and my third Norwegian.

THE GOOD

We enjoyed this ship for the most part. It was certainly clean, tastefully decorated and spacious.

Layout of ship: With 4000 people it surprisingly never felt crowded to me. There were always plenty of loungers; the buffet was not terribly crowded and heaven knows there was always plenty of food. Elevators came reasonable quickly and it was not difficult to get seats to the few shows we saw. There were many fun activities for kids: ropes course, minigolf, climbing wall, sports and pool slides. Our son was shy about the teen club, but it looked cool and the counselor seemed very nice. There were structured activities as well as lots of chill time with pool tables, video games, etc. The video game area was expensive, and that may have accounted for low crowds there. Since the main pools were very crowded we finally found a very pleasant area in the very back of the ship behind the teen club, arcades and sports area with a bar, two hot tubs and a water feature that was allowed you to sit with feet in water and chat with others or cool off under an attractive “rain” feature. There was plenty of seating including chairs, loungers, and more comfy furniture and plenty of people were gathering and able to enjoy conversation. With the exception of some 20 something young men chanting “chug, chug, chug,” while the bar tender poured their drinks, it was very pleasant. I would agree with others who mentioned more bar tenders are needed in pool areas.

The staff were usually polite and helpful.

The Entertainment: I won’t list this under “the bad” because it is really a matter of taste, but it didn’t interest us much. We went to the opening night show that gives you a little bit from all the shows. We found the cruise ship director corny and not entertaining, bits from the dance show Burn the Floor, Rock of Ages and the Tenors were all fine for a few minutes, but none piqued our desire to see more. We did attend the magic show which was not very amazing or funny. A random volunteer from the audience stole the show and made everyone laugh so much that my son thinks she was a plant. We attended dueling pianos for a while and it was a fun crowd pleaser. There was a lot of singing along to popular songs through the decades. The comedian did not seem very strong opening night, but we did attend one of his shows in Headliners bar and he was much better. I was also surprised that we were told we might not get seats without a reservation. I had just assumed the smaller bar areas did not require pre-booking. Happily we did get in, but we were charged for this, which also surprised me. The Cirque show was a fun environment to dine in and the show was entertaining and just the right length. I attended the “How to run a Floating Hotel” talk which was interesting and the Cruise Director was exceptionally professional in handling complaints veiled as questions. One woman wanted to know why we were not in Honduras today as it said on her schedule? (Our ports are Cozumel, Belize and Costa Maya) I keep thinking of my own questions now. How big is the kitchen? Where is it? How many cooks do they have? When do they clean the carpets and how do they keep them so clean? I did enjoy my own entertainment which included reading 5 novels in lounge chairs or balcony while the ocean waves passed me by.

The Thermo Spa:

We enjoyed it and used it most days. I am not sure that I would pay the full price for it, but it was worth the extra bid amount. We liked the waterfall that massaged the shoulders, the bubbling jacuzzi and heated loungers the most. There was also a sauna, steam room, salt room with alleged healing powers, showers, a small pool and other, non-heated loungers facing the ocean.

The Food:

Overall the food was ok to good, rarely excellent.

The buffet was uninspired, but okay for breakfast and snacks. In the main dining rooms (Taste and Savor) I enjoyed the New York Strip. Other dishes were okay. In Le Bistro the Lamb chops were delicious, but the Coquille St. Jacque was not traditional and was overpowered by raw garlic. The Crème Brulee was fantastic- much better than any other dessert we had on the ship. The Cirque meal was surprisingly good after the luke-warm reviews I’d read. The Beef Tenderloin, cooked medium, was still very tender and juicy (I prefer medium rare.) The menu in various restaurants feature variations of peppercorn gravy on steaks, from the New York Strip in the main restaurant, to the tenderloin in the Cirque meal, to beef in the Bistro. Even the fabulous Ribeye in Cagney’s came with a small dish of gravy that tasted of peppercorn. It seems odd to repeat this seasoning so often. I did ask for it on the side and they willingly complied. The food in Taste and Savor was also inconsistent. My son ordered what was described as shimp and mushroom fettucine alfredo twice. The first night he ordered it I tasted it and found that while the sauce was not what I consider alfredo (creamy and cheesy) it had a nice seafood flavor. My son ordered it again two nights later and mentioned that it was spicy. I tasted it and again, it was not what I would consider an alfredo sauce and had a strong black pepper flavor. I also thought the pasta was a touch undercooked. The “Baked Ziti with three cheeses and a chunky tomato sauce” was almost devoid of sauce and seemed more like noodles with a very thin sauce with cheese sprinkled on top and put under the broiler. On a more positive note the lamb shank was tender and flavorful. If I were to cruise with NCL again, I’d feel like I should only dine in specialty restaurants. I feel that cruise ships have gone from having excellent food in their main dining rooms to making you pay extra for it in so called specialty restaurants.

The Bad

We have few real complaints.

The two small pools on deck 15 were not big enough for 4000 people. I never felt comfortable trying to squeeze in among the throng as people were always crowded along the edge, and in the hot tubs. I remember really liking the pool set up on the Norwegian Jewel, there was a shallow lounge area in the pool and plenty of loungers surrounding the pool as well as the adult only pool as a quieter option. On this ship I used loungers on the quieter upper levels far from the pool.

I realize that very few people use the library, but if you are going to have one it would be nice to make it an actual usable amenity. When I finished the four books I brought with me (yes, I am a fast reader and made use of my lounge time) I sought out the library which is well hidden near the Atrium on the sixth floor. About four people were in the library all using their own electronic gadgets. When I saw the empty shelves and tiny fiction section I considered donating the four I had in my room. I identified a couple books I thought would entertain me for my last sea day and tried to open the glass cabinet. It was locked. Am I crazy to think this is over -the-top-security for a few out of date novels? I looked around and saw a small table/desk with a handwritten sign “The librarian will be back in a few minutes, please sign out books yourself.” I waited a few minutes, then opened the top drawer to the desk to see if there was a key. There was. I tried to use it in the door. Suddenly an employee was at my side barking “That is not the key to that, give me the key.” I gave her the key feeling embarrassed as if I were committing a crime and asked how to get the books to borrow. “The library is not open, only during certain hours.” She scolded without telling me the hours. I was so astonished that there was a person in the library to prevent me from getting a book rather than to help me get one that I left in a huff. Honestly, it could not be more transparent that this ship has no interest in accommodating passengers unless additional revenue can be generated. FYI I checked and found that the library is open from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. so schedule your reading needs accordingly!!!

THE DEAL BREAKER

I would not sail on this ship again because of the cigarette smoke that freely flows from the casino into the main areas of the 6th, 7th, and 8th floor even into some of the “premium” (extra fee) restaurants and main activity areas such as Atrium, cafes, and art gallery. Would you enjoy sitting at the sushi bar, paying $15.00 ala carte to enjoy a sushi roll while inhaling cigarette fumes? We were fortunate to be seated “inside” the restaurant at Le Bistro, but many were seated in the “outdoor café” area (ie. in the ship corridor) where you could smell cigarette smoke. We opted for the truly outdoor balcony seating in Ocean Blue (which was lovely!), but would have refused to eat in the restaurant that is open to the casino fumes. We were not the only ones bothered by this.

THE PORTS:

Cozumel: we’ve been here a few times and usually have lunch in the town and then head to a beach club such as the Money Bar by cab to snorkel. This time, since the Belize snorkel trip was full, we decided to take a snorkel trip available at the port for $45.00 cash each for the three of us. This two hour tour, which included bottled water, sodas and beer, was fantastic. Victor was our guide. We saw tons of fish at two stops that were very similar to each other. Victor was good with the many beginning snorkelers, held up a blow fish for all to see, and the equipment was good. From there we took a cab to Paradise Beach club where there was a restaurant, nice large pool, and swimming at a sandy beach. There were lots of jumpy, floaty things for kids which for us was a negative as it obstructed the view and took up swimming space, but it was fun watching the kids play. I overheard some who were on a tour complain that they didn’t get to stay long enough. I really like to create my own itinerary when we have a full day.

Belize:

I’m not a big fan of being captive on a cruise ship island, but many really enjoyed it. I was on a wait list for the Barrier Reef snorkel tour but it didn’t pan out so we hung out on the NCL beach. There were several shops and opportunities to rent equipment or zip line. We lounged and swam and had Nachos and margaritas in one of the restaurants. The restaurant did not accept our ship card for charges which puzzled me, but fortunately we brought our Visa. It rained on and off and we made it back to the ship ALMOST before the major down pour struck! The crew greeted us with warm dry towels! This was my least favorite port day. I much preferred stopping at Belize City on other cruises where we could have found a snorkel tour and had more interesting lunch options. But it was nicely done for those who like a serve-yourself and pay-as-you-go resort experience.

Costa Maya: This was our first time and we only had until 1:30 p.m. We quickly moved through the Disney-like port and took a cab into town where there were a ton of restaurant and hotels offering lounge chairs and food and beach access and wifi. We enjoyed shopping and eating and swimming and lounging and it was over too soon. Back to the port we would have enjoyed exploring more and using the nice swimming pool available, but had to get back onto ship.

Conclusion: We had a great time and our complaints were mostly minor, but I think I would try a different ship or even a different line next time. We like the idea of Freestyle dining, but if the only good options are pre-reserved specialty restaurants and pre-reserved shows, that is really not very free-style.
littlefish64’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Spa Balcony Stateroom
Cabin B9 14164
The room: I had booked a regular balcony room but made a low bid and got a Spa room. The size was fine, though I don’t think it is bigger than others. The bathroom was more spacious than others I’ve been on and the shower was great. They provided a small set of Bulvari shampoo, conditioner and lotion (which was not enough for one person for one week) in addition to the regular shampoo and body wash. We had one firm queen bed for us and our tall 15 year old on the “couch” which is a twin. He said it was not very comfortable, but tolerable. Some have said the balcony is small, but for our purposes it was fine. Enough for two to sit with an end table. I personally think ship balconies should have enough room for, and include, two hammocks. From deck 14 we could always hear the main deck entertainment during the day, but it wasn’t annoying to us.
Deck 14 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews