Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Review by PhD_2020
- Sail Date: May 2019
- Destination: Caribbean
I love data. Data tells a story. First, I believe NCL should be paying attention to the unfavorable reviews because if they aren't...they simply don't care to improve, nor do they value customer feedback. Second, I took a few minutes to compare three cruise ships owned by different companies that were all similar in tonnage and capacity to see if NCL's Breakaway reviews stood out among their competition in any way.
The Breakaway of NCL has 713 "poor" or "terrible" reviews vs 992 "excellent"
Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Sea has 289 poor/terrible vs 915 excellent
Carnival's Vista (newer) has 150 poor/terrible vs 252 excellent
72% of NCL's Breakaway reviews are POOR or TERRIBLE vs excellent
32% of Navigator's reviews are POOR or TERRIBLE vs excellent
59% of Vista's reviews are POOR or TERRIBLE vs excellent
If NCL isn't listening...they better start because based on reviews on Cruisecritic, they are dead last in bad vs good reviews. It's important to note that other cruise lines like Princess, Celebrity, Costa are in line with Carnival or Royal Caribbean and far below the high percentage of poor or terrible rating make that NCL/Breakaway has.
Ship: It was chaotic, loud, unorganized, dirty, and at times frantic. There are limited pool, dining, or quiet areas on this ship for nearly 4,000 passengers. My family was not able to enjoy anything other than the buffet and room service because the wait for the main dining was 45 minutes plus, and reservations filled up quickly and we were shut-out of all the specialty dining options. When we did try to enjoy the pool with a quiet morning swim, it was filthy and full of hair with a surface glaze of oil, lotion and film. At one point I splashed an entire handful of black/matted hair out of the pool. Most of the time it was packed with people and loud (and I mean really loud) music. The buffet was enjoyable, but the food items repeated and it was often shoulder to shoulder with people so determined to get to their food they would push my children out of the way. This is not an exaggeration as I discussed this with another parent who stated, "...these people act like they be starving or something!"
I appreciate first-come/first-serve with reservations, but some families with children have more important things to do than make reservations right away. How about allotting each cabin at least a few reservations???
Cabin: Our cabin was fine and a highlight was our steward who was a lovely young man from the Philippines who had big and bold dreams for his life. Our toilet was shut-off three times due to area-wide backup and blockage for which our steward was always apologizing. The walls were thin and anytime someone in a room next to us sneezed, flushed their toilet, or had adult time...our entire family could hear.
Dining: Mentioned above. The staff was brilliant. However, we were stuck with the buffet and the area is not designed for more than several people to get around in. I felt very bad for the elderly with walkers, or those in wheel-chairs, or those who moved a bit slower than others, or for children. Common courtesy seems to be lost when people want to eat and the walking area is crammed with people who have restricted movement.
Entertainment: It's fine. It's cruise ship entertainment. These performers are doing the same routine week after week for different faces for very little money. They are talented and energetic, but it is easy to see the passion, creativity, and art is lost.
Services: Room service was excellent. Nice selection and good food. There is an $8 fee per order, plus tips and as most of us know, the cabins are not an ideal place for a family to eat...however, when your family is done with the noise and wall-to-wall people who push and cut in line to get their fill...sometimes room service is a welcome change from the madness.
Ports: This ship was not made for comfortable or efficient disembarking or embarking. We waited hours (no exaggeration and you can find other cruisers complaints of the same nature). I did not leave with confidence in staff because they were often running around not knowing how to handle the growing lines or upset cruisers. On one disembark the staff had a snaked rope line running through the casino and people were smoking (which is allowed in this area) three feet from my children. Disgusting and highly inconsiderate. At one point, our group was called to tender and we still waited almost an hour...sitting in the theater where a smutty show had just taken place the night before. Now, my wife and I are no prudes, but there were unwholesome pictures and signs with big lettering "LIVE NUDES" on the wall. Very, very inconsiderate towards young cruisers and families...but, what could one expect after the entire experience? It was just par for the course. The "private island" was wall to wall people with little room for 'self' and be prepared for more loud music, swearing, trash.
I have listed a lot of negatives. Favorable highlights from our week:
The staff. They are amazing and truly care. Many went out of their way to show kindness and share a conversation about themselves as individuals. I had several opportunities to practice my Spanish and Mandarin and each time the staff were gracious and kind.
Buffet. There was an excellent selection of fruits and veggies. Staff were attentive and kind. They did their best with an area designed for several hundred, yet frequented by thousands.
Port. It's difficult to experience any true culture or get away from hawkers with Chinese-made trinkets in these ports. However, the private island IS truly beautiful...just over-populated. We enjoyed swimming and my children saw lots of fish and other sea life. The swimming area is well-protected by a reef (man made) and there are lifeguards stationed at several places so you do feel safe from jellyfish, other panicked swimmers, or other threats.
This was our second and last NCL cruise. My entire family left underwhelmed and wishing we had stayed in a resort on a nice, quiet beach instead.
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