Norwegian Breakaway Review

Overall a good time, but service is slipping

Review for the Eastern Mediterranean Cruise on Norwegian Breakaway
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DCGuy64
10+ Cruises • Age 60s

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Sail Date: Nov 2023
Cabin: Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony

We chose this cruise largely due to the great itinerary (Italy, Greece and Malta) and the price (November is low season and prices were good, but more on that later). We embarked on November 2 and disembarked November 12. The ship is very, very large, and was much more crowded than we expected, given that fewer ships sail the Mediterranean in November than, say, summertime. We did a combination of included restaurants and specialty dining. La Cucina was the best of them: we had outside seating on a lovely evening and the food was delicious, although service was sometimes slow. We felt our server had too many tables. The ship was LOUD, again because of the many passengers. Sadly, we only ate at O'Sheehan's once, because every time we stopped by, it was wall-to-wall people and extremely loud. Worse, there would be a line of people with pagers waiting for their tables because they were at capacity. We usually ate breakfast in the Garden Café. Once we tried a sit-down breakfast at Taste, which was a disaster. Service was extremely slow, it probably took 1/2 an hour to get our food and they forgot several things in the process. Cagney's and Moderno were fine, and Le Bistro was good, but again, the place was jam packed and not quiet. Our steward was great, I enjoyed speaking Portuguese and Dutch with him. The room was nice, but there were no drawers. We did love the bathroom, it had lots of space, two sinks, and a fantastic shower with multiple jets. The bed was very, very comfortable. I had offered to host a Meet & Mingle and, as a result, we kept getting unexpected free perks like special snacks (fruit, wine, canapés, cheese, cookies) and things like tickets to the Captain's reception in The Haven, priority tendering, priority disembarkation, and other things. Thanks go to Mariah and Errol, the Assistant General Manager and General Manager, respectively. The ports we visited were really wonderful. We especially loved seeing Mykonos and Santorini, they are both beautiful islands, with Santorini being the standout due to those lovely whitewashed villas with blue roofs. Going in November meant fewer crowds, but also windy weather, and sometimes stores would be shut for the season. The time of the cruise also meant rougher seas, and we ended up skipping both Athens and Livorno, much to the irritation of our fellow passengers. Fortunately, we were able to get our prepaid excursions (booked independently) refunded. Speaking of excursions, I have to point out the debacle at Santorini. The excursions booked with NCL were due to disembark at the New Port, but seas were choppy that morning so they were cancelled, which meant having to share the tender boats with all of the passengers with cancelled NCL excursions. That also created a huge bottleneck at the Old Port, and the cable car line took us 2 hours to get to the top. These wait times are normal for summertime when 6 ships may dock there simultaneously, but with only 1 other ship calling there the same day as us, we were disappointed, not least because we were late for our own excursion and missed about an hour of it. Naples and Messina were really fun, we went on a tour of the Amalfi coast with mostly sunny weather (there was sporadic rain, too), but again, some shops and restaurants were closed. Messina was the only port we didn’t have an arranged itinerary, so it was nice to walk around on our own. In Malta we did an NCL-arranged tour of paleolithic ruins, which was excellent. We loved the Waterfront concept on Breakaway, and it was nice not only to take walks out there, but stop at a couple of the bars for a drink. We enjoyed the use of the Thermal Spa, but were sad when we got on board and were told it would be closed for the last 4 days. We only received a measly credit of $30 each, which should have been more like $100 since the daily cost breakdown was about $33 per person. Overall, we had a nice time, but service is clearly slipping. Wait times were sometimes unreasonable, bars frequently had only 1 person working them when there were 40 people having drinks. The Shanghai Noodle Bar, which we love because the food is fresh and hot, but also free, was a madhouse. We were turned away one night because we got there at 8:45 and were told they were booked until 9:30, which is closing time. The next night, we got there at 7:30 and got a pager and a promise of an 8:45 dinner time. 1:15 waiting time is crazy for a cruise ship, in my view. I didn’t like the fact that you had to go to certain bars for certain drinks (you can’t get the Lavender Patch anyplace but the Martini Bar, for example), and again, the bars were frequently very full. I will say that the crew was very sweet, hardworking (sometimes the exhaustion on their faces was unmistakable), and the ship was sparking clean. We enjoyed the water slides, but it was cold due to the brisk November wind. I would personally not recommend going in November if you like lounging by the pool all day, it’s just too cold and windy for that. We saw one show called Six, about King Henry VIII's wives, and it was terrific! We did meet some truly wonderful guests on board, and have stayed in touch with some of them. In summary, it was a solid cruise in many ways, but there were disappointments, as well.

Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony

Comfortable bed, outstanding bathroom, nice TV, no drawers for clothes but tons of closet space and super comfy robes.

Port Reviews

Malta (Valletta)

Wonderful port, Valletta is very historic and beautiful. We did an ancient ruins excursion with the delightful Charles as our guide. It isn't a large island, so you can see a lot in a small amount of time. The Paleolithic ruins are amazing.

Mykonos

Gorgeous island, and our tour guide, Andrea, was exceptional. Mykonos is part of the Cyclades, which are volcanic islands with rocky terrain. The views of the Aegean are absolutely spectacular. Mykonos is and was a playground for the wealthy, and a look at the gorgeous villas leaves no doubt why. Excellent restaurants near the port.

Santorini

Simply stunning. Taking pictures in Oia at sunset was unforgettable. We had an excellent guide and saw many, many beautiful houses and churches there. Santorini is one place I want to return to for a land-based vacation. It's just breathtaking.

Taormina (Messina)

We did not do an excursion here, but rather walked around on our own and had delicious food. The Santuario that overlooks the harbor and the straits of Messina is a must-do. Gorgeous Cathedral, and at noon there's a little show involving figures in the clock tower, complete with classical music.

Naples

Here we had an independent excursion to the Amalfi Coast, where we visited Sorrento and Positano, both stunning. Our guide was excellent. We booked this through a company called Italytours.

Rome (Civitavecchia)

What is there to say about Rome that hasn't been said better by others? We stayed near the Spanish Steps, had dinner with friends of ours from Rome, and I attended mass at the Vatican.

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