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I am an experienced cruiser having sailed on many lines from budget to luxury. I've usually found NCL to be a good mainstream choice. No dress codes, flexible and numerous dining options, and good entertainment. And, usually, friendly service. Most of that remains true. But this cruise was sterile. No warmth from the crew. Everything felt like it was robotic. The smiles you did get were forced. Everyone from the captain to the cruise director seemed to be reading from a script. Bored and burned out would be my general assessment. The burned out aspect could be because there seems to be far fewer staff doing the work. Lines at bars were several deep (for $11 drinks) and trying to get service was frustrating and time consuming. From an entertainment perspective, the shows were high energy and enjoyable. But there is a void of activities during the day. What is available is usually held in the tiny atrium and is either at a price or to get you to buy something. The days of pool games and ice carvings and deck activities are gone. I think this is partly due to the design of the breakaway class ships. The pool (the one) is small with little area for people to gather. There is another pool that is hidden under the water slides but it is claustrophobic and sees little use. The buffet is very crowded. Poor design and just so many people. No smiles from anybody that works there except for the "washy washy" team. They are quick to clear tables which is a good thing since seating can be near impossible to get during peak times. Food in the restaurants doesn't blow you away but doesn't really disappoint either. Feels like it is made by a check list. No passion. I will say the food temperature is an issue. Rarely was anything hot, especially at the buffet. We had to skip Great Stirrup Cay due to rough seas which would have made tendering difficult. This was announced by the captain, and then again by the cruise director. Both reading a script (or so monotone it seemed that way) with the information presented as if they were dispassionate reporters or doctors delivering a diagnosis. No feeling or any real acknowledgement that people might be disappointed. The new facial recognition debarkation was great. Once the line started moving,was from ship to curb in about 10 minutes. So here is the thing. You can't find a real major fault. They check the boxes on the check list. Sadly, that is exactly what it felt like. They were just checking the boxes, following the script, processing the passengers, and getting through another day. I just don't want my vacation to feel that way. I think I will check NCL off my list for future cruises. One other note that firms up my decision to say goodbye to NCL. If you book a cabin at the lead price, which they call Sailaway fares, you will not receive sailing credits in the Latitudes reward program. I didn't see this mentioned anywhere until I received the booking/payment confirmation. Small print says you will receive on board benefits if you had already achieved a certain level but would not receive credits for the current booking. So if you don't want to book the higher fares and be forced to pay the gratuities for the "free" drinks, "free" speciality dining, etc., which you may not really want in the first place, you will now be on the Latitudes treadmill never moving up in the program. NCL has a weak program as it is when compared to other lines and this seems like a really cheap shot.

Cruise by checklist

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise Review by pnsflguy79

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2019
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Large Balcony Stateroom
I am an experienced cruiser having sailed on many lines from budget to luxury. I've usually found NCL to be a good mainstream choice. No dress codes, flexible and numerous dining options, and good entertainment. And, usually, friendly service.

Most of that remains true. But this cruise was sterile. No warmth from the crew. Everything felt like it was robotic. The smiles you did get were forced. Everyone from the captain to the cruise director seemed to be reading from a script. Bored and burned out would be my general assessment.

The burned out aspect could be because there seems to be far fewer staff doing the work. Lines at bars were several deep (for $11 drinks) and trying to get service was frustrating and time consuming. From an entertainment perspective, the shows were high energy and enjoyable. But there is a void of activities during the day. What is available is usually held in the tiny atrium and is either at a price or to get you to buy something. The days of pool games and ice carvings and deck activities are gone. I think this is partly due to the design of the breakaway class ships. The pool (the one) is small with little area for people to gather. There is another pool that is hidden under the water slides but it is claustrophobic and sees little use.

The buffet is very crowded. Poor design and just so many people. No smiles from anybody that works there except for the "washy washy" team. They are quick to clear tables which is a good thing since seating can be near impossible to get during peak times. Food in the restaurants doesn't blow you away but doesn't really disappoint either. Feels like it is made by a check list. No passion. I will say the food temperature is an issue. Rarely was anything hot, especially at the buffet.

We had to skip Great Stirrup Cay due to rough seas which would have made tendering difficult. This was announced by the captain, and then again by the cruise director. Both reading a script (or so monotone it seemed that way) with the information presented as if they were dispassionate reporters or doctors delivering a diagnosis. No feeling or any real acknowledgement that people might be disappointed.

The new facial recognition debarkation was great. Once the line started moving,was from ship to curb in about 10 minutes.

So here is the thing. You can't find a real major fault. They check the boxes on the check list. Sadly, that is exactly what it felt like. They were just checking the boxes, following the script, processing the passengers, and getting through another day. I just don't want my vacation to feel that way. I think I will check NCL off my list for future cruises.

One other note that firms up my decision to say goodbye to NCL. If you book a cabin at the lead price, which they call Sailaway fares, you will not receive sailing credits in the Latitudes reward program. I didn't see this mentioned anywhere until I received the booking/payment confirmation. Small print says you will receive on board benefits if you had already achieved a certain level but would not receive credits for the current booking. So if you don't want to book the higher fares and be forced to pay the gratuities for the "free" drinks, "free" speciality dining, etc., which you may not really want in the first place, you will now be on the Latitudes treadmill never moving up in the program. NCL has a weak program as it is when compared to other lines and this seems like a really cheap shot.
pnsflguy79’s Full Rating Summary
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