The crew - all of them - were friendly, professional, knowledgeable and helpful. The head chef was great; he showed care, consideration and understanding for my vegan companion's dietary needs, and was genuinely interested in our dining experience. He even explained how she could use the signage color coding to determine vegan vs non-vegan food offerings.
Speaking of which - the Breakaway has the best dining experience I've had in over 10 years and 15+ cruises. The variety, taste, quality and presentation was fantastic no matter if we ate in the buffet or any of the specialty restaurants.
We had a 2-person occupancy balcony room that was more than adequate for our needs. The bed, however, was very firm - fine for me but too hard for my Significant Other. Our cabin steward also made our cruising experience excellent. I cannot say enough about how wonderful her service was.
There was plenty of entertainment options on-board the ship, along with activities for adults, young adults and children. [The kids and teens will love deck 16 aft - water slides, obstacle course,
I ran into several of the "unseen staff" - the engineers, maintenance personnel, etc. - thanks to my insomnia. They were all professional, friendly and helpful. They even gave me great tips on shore locations, ship events, etc.
The art auction staff was very helpful and pleasant. They were incredibly helpful with information on appraisals for my existing art purchases. [My only "complaint" - can you please stop pushing the Peter Max artwork? Please???? ;-)]
The ship appeared to be well maintained, clean and organized, with just the right level of lighting throughout.
There were plenty of shore excursions and port shopping. [Unfortunately, I cannot comment with any authority on the shore excursions as I didn't take any this trip - I was taking a "complete rest" vacation cruise for a change.]
There were a couple minor complaints:
1. This is the first ship I've been on where there were no locker rooms/showers available for users of the gym. I was not the only passenger that commented on the lack of shower facilities at the gym.
2. The H2O adult-only deck needs shade - desperately! This deck area is awash in sun - too much sun. [This was area that other passengers commented upon; makes this deck area undesirable.]
3. Jimmy Buffet's seemed like a neglected afterthought by the ship's designers when they discovered they had unused deck space. The lack of activities or events there was palpable. And, IMHO, a waste of a great name, trademark brand and NCL investment. No Happy Hour. No "Kid's Only" non-alcoholic events (a pity since Buffet's is located adjacent to the kids recreation area). No special events/tastings/demonstrations/celebrations. Why is it this venue even there if NCL isn't going to take advantage of the Jimmy Buffet "island/laid back/soft partying" experience that is the Jimmy Buffet experience?
4. Bring your own coffee/cold drink container: I forgot to bring my cold drink bottle, so I broke down and bought one from the ship's stores. Someone at NCL needs to find new suppliers for this merchandise. I bought one cold drink cup and its lid broke within 3 hours. A second was defective. The third - exchanged the evening before disembarkation - broke its lid right after leaving the port building. I wouldn't comment if I did something stupid like dropping them, because they would be my fault and problem, not NCL's. But, they all broke on their own accord after little or no use.
5. Disembarkation: This seemed to take much longer than the entire check-in and embarkation process. I noticed that disembarkation was often held up by long pauses as certain people passed through NCL security; NCL Security personnel often had to take 1-2 minutes typing something into the computerized profiles of the just-exited passenger before resuming disembarkation. US Border and Customs Enforcement was not the source of any delays.
6. The safety drill prior to launch: Seemed a bit disorganized compared to the other ships I've cruised, including prior NCL cruises.
In summary, these "complaints" are minor; no situation or facility is perfect. The overall experience was excellent.
Clean, neat, efficient and very quiet. We rarely heard any noise from adjoining cabins, and what noise we did hear was the occasional "thump" of a heavy object hitting the deck. Bed was very firm - fine for me but not to my Significant Other's liking. Pillows were great, as was the bedding. No bar soap or shampoo bottles; wall-mounted pump stations for hand soap (sink), shampoo and body wash (shower). Towels were soft, absorbent. Lots of mirrors, a generous closet space, several shelving spaces for clothes and such. And, a safe (free use).
The cabin electric service is different from my prior cruise experience - a room key must be inserted into a special slot above the master cabin lighting switch for any of the cabin's electrical services to work - including the duplex outlets that would normally be used for charging Kindles, phones, PCs, tablets, camera batteries, etc. No key, no electricity! So, plan on charging items only when you're physically in the cabin or overnight.
The "cabin key in the slot" does have one upside - you generally do not have to be worried about being interrupted while in your cabin. Once the key is inserted, a light appears outside above your door to let personnel know you're "in residence" in your cabin. There is also a light for "Do Not Disturb" and "Please Make Up Cabin" notifications controlled by switches above the cabin master lighting switch.
It's Miami! Once you get to the cruise terminal, embarkation lines looked long, but moved quickly. Interesting side note for US-based passengers - know that Passport Card that is supposed to be good for cruising? Well, maybe not so much. NCL personnel asked us for our passports as this would expedite embarkation and disembarkation, compared to the Passport ID card. At disembarkation, there were repeated announcements that Americans "without passports" needed to exit by a special exit. Thankfully, I don't know what these US-based passengers experienced because we brought both Passport Card and Passports.
Relax on one of the beaches or at the pool. There are various water-based excursions. Nice facilities, great personnel.
Just a really great experience - very relaxing.
Just a really great experience - very relaxing, but watch out for the gypsie taxi drivers and the famous $5 taxi ride that turns into $79. Stay with the ship's shore excursions to avoid being ripped off on local travel.
There's a local marine park that is non-profit and quite amazing. Go see it, and all merchandise profits at their gift shop go to support the park. If you insist on taking a cab, just tell the driver to "drop me off at the cathedral" and to pick you up there at a certain time. The marine park is a short walk from the cathedral and (now that you've proven to the taxi driver you're no amateur tourist) the cab ride will be $5-$7 per person. One of the more popular beaches is less than a 10 minute walk from the port's taxi stand - just keep walking up the sidewalk and into town - you can't miss it.