Check In/Embarkation: We embarked on October 19 with myself (first time cruiser!), my husband and our 3 and a half year old daughter. One of the reasons we chose this ship was because it embarked/disembarked in NYC (we only live 3 ... Read More
Check In/Embarkation: We embarked on October 19 with myself (first time cruiser!), my husband and our 3 and a half year old daughter. One of the reasons we chose this ship was because it embarked/disembarked in NYC (we only live 3 hours away) so it was very convenient. We drove in and the pier was very easy to get to and the parking ample and conveniently on the same level.
We arrived around 10:30am and despite the massive amount of people there (I didn't realize at the time that they were disembarking people from the ship at the same time as we were checking in), there were plenty of signs and pier workers there to direct us where to go. The initial check in was like airport security- you gave them your itinerary and passports and went through the metal detector.
Then it was the final check in before embarkation to get your room keycards. They should have had more people working the counters to check people in to expedite the process but it went very smoothly. You also got a number that determined when you got to embark as well. It made for a easy process- when they began embarking, you waited until your number was called and everyone with that number could get on the ship.
The Breakaway is, overall, an excellent ship. The size made for very smooth sailing. There were only a couple of times that we felt any movement or swaying from large waves as we were sailing back to NY. Otherwise you didn't even know you were on the water except for the wind or from watching the ocean. Noise-wise, there wasn't much noise from the actual ship~ just a buzz or clank every so often that we normally would hear from hotel plumbing anyways. We heard a lot of running/pounding feet from above (we were on deck 14 so we had the Garden Cafe/pool above us) but it was seldom and passed quickly. You could definitely hear music/voices/shouting/etc. if you were sitting on the balcony or had the balcony doors open. It didn't bother us but for those who want absolute silence on their balcony will be disappointed.
For the most part, there was plenty of space on board. Obviously, indoor seating at the Garden Cafe is hard to find during meal times while at sea when it's windy out, but there are plenty of tables outside or at the Uptown Grill (and not too chilly with a sweater or jacket). On sea days, loungers by the pool filled up quickly (especially around the kiddie pools) but we would come back or sit at the tables by the Garden Cafe instead.
The only places that it was annoyingly hard to find seating was at the Atrium (and the railing right above it outside O'Sheenan's where you could look down into the Atrium) for the game shows and concerts. The programming there was so great and well-run that it's no wonder people camp out to watch it, but it would be nice to either repeat the games so more people can attend or to move them to a larger venue.
Having a preschooler with us, we split up onboard activities based on things we did all together, things she did and things we did while she was at Splash Academy (with more about that later).
Family activities were offered though we didn't do much of those except for the family party at Spice H2O where they had music, balloon hats and face painting. Otherwise we spent a lot of time in the pool- there as a family pool that kids could swim in with parents as well as a Spongebob-themed kiddie pool with a little island and slide that was a bit hit. We also did the mini rope course, mini golf and played a few games in the arcade with her.
By ourselves, we went on the water slides. The free fall ones are definitely a heart stopper. We also did the ropes course with a zip line at the end which was also absolutely terrifying but we would definitely do those again next time.
Things we didn't get a chance to do/didn't want to try was a bouncing bungee/trampoline (where they strap you into harness and you can jump and flip and twist as you bounce on a trampoline) and a spider tower where you squeeze and climb up and slide down a twisty tube slide to get back down. Basketball, shuffle board, ping pong, mini golf and a giant chess set were available as well.
And those are just physical activities. There were also a library, card room and informational panels about ports, shopping, health, etc. as well as the fitness center and spa. There's definitely something for everyone.
We cannot say enough about the superb service that we received. Everyone, from the moment we got on the ship, made us feel so special, welcomed and comfortable. Their professionalism, enthusiasm and all round A+++ service truly made this vacation for us. What really stood out to me was the way everyone made it a point to talk to and engage with our daughter as well. The truly wanted to make sure we were enjoying ourselves and took the time to chat and answer our questions which, now that I think about it, are probably ones they've answered hundreds of thousands of times. But they never gave any indication of any annoyance or feelings that we were bothering them. There was always a smile and "hello" that, while simple things, really added up.
In particular, the following staff members went above and beyond: Renson (our steward), JC & Alvin (the cruise/assistant cruise director), Zappy, Ivy, BBQ, Mily, Lady Bug (Splash Academy staff)
We had a mini-suite with a balcony so for us there was plenty of room. The room, furniture, sheets/bedding and towels were very clean. There was plenty of closet space and little shelves/cubbies to store things. There was also plenty of space underneath the bed to put our suitcases so that was really handy as well.
We loved the double sink in the bathroom. Plenty of space there for toiletries though we did bring a hanging organizer with pockets to store them since weren't sure about the space. The shower is surprisingly spacious with 6 spray jets in you choose to use them.
The water gets incredibly hot which is nice, but just as a warning to set the handle to the colder side and turning it up slowly.
The balcony was really nice~ the walls give a semblance of privacy but you can easily look around them to your neighbors on either side. Since we were directly below the pool & Garden Cafe, we could definitely hear everything that was happening if we were outside or had the balcony door open.
Taste: Not on purpose, but we only went to Taste instead of Savor or the Manhattan dining rooms though the menus were the same at all 3 restaurants whenever I checked. We're not picky eaters so we found the menu to have plenty of options and everything was super tasty. Portions were very nice- not too much so that you could eat all three courses without feeling like you'll explode.
La Cucina: We had the osso buco and shrimp risotto which were outstanding. The portions here were huge so unfortunately, I couldn't finish my risotto. I asked if the leftovers could be sent up to the room and our server said they'll send a new one up. We protested that there was nothing wrong with the one I had, which still had plenty left so he agreed. When we got it, they had replaced the shrimp we had eaten so it was complete again.
Garden Cafe: Knowing that this is a buffet, we didn't go in with high expectations so we were pleasantly surprised by the selection and taste. It's a huge buffet so if there's something you want and there's a big crowd, go around the corner and chances are it will be there with less people.
Le Cirque: The dinner show was awesome. It was hard to tell what was better- the entertainment or the meal. Both were wonderful and worth the price. It is a pretty long show so it might now be a good fit for those with little, little ones.
Splash Academy is the name of the children's club Norwegian offers. It's essentially a day care where the staff will arrange activities for the kids based on their age group. We highly, highly recommend it if you have children cruising with you. A. It's free, B. They have great hours and C. The staff members are great with the kids. They'll be taken care of and given lots of fun things to do and participate in.
They started off the week with a parade through the Atrium, after painting the kids' faces, heading through the Art Gallery to the aft elevators and then up to the Garden Cafe where they walked around buffet, outside past the pools and then back down to Splash Academy. The kids felt so special and they got such applause from the crowd.
There was also a special party at Spice H2O for the kids with balloon hats, face painting and dancing midweek.
At the end of the week, they had a big circus-themed show where the kids from each age group would perform a routine for the parents. It was super adorable and impressive that they managed to throw such a show together in a few hours.
Second City was hilarious, and we only saw 2 family improv shows. We definitely want to see them again and catch the later night shows.
Dueling Pianos was a lot of fun too.
The live bands and performers who performed at the Atrium and various lounges were amazing as well. There was a lot of talent on board and the music they played (ranging from easy listening, classic rock, 70s, 80s) was very nice.
JC Sanchez & Alvin Oliva (the cruise director and assistant) had amazing energy at all the events they ran or reported at. They really kept a great vibe going the whole week.
The actual disembarkation from the ship was easy. You choose different colored tags that correspond to the time that you can disembark (Starting from 7:30am if you can carry off all your luggage to 10am). When your colored is called, everyone with that color leaves and goes to the section of the warehouse/port that has your luggage. Since we didn't have too far to go, we chose the 10am time slot. There was a long line to get into the port since there was backlog starting around 9am. The luggage was also just all lumped together but it was pretty easy to navigate and find your luggage.
The most painful part was getting through customs, which has nothing to do with Norwegian but with the government employees. After getting your luggage, you were directed to get into one of two lines. There was no explanation on why there were two lines and no one asked about whether you were citizens or coming from abroad until you were at the front and THEN they split up the people based on that. There were also only 5 stations opened with 4,000+ people trying to exit until right around 10:30 when they finally opened up another 2 stations. I guess the 20 other employees they had there had to watch the line.
So aside from a few things here and there, this trip was overwhelmingly great. We cannot wait to cruise again and look forward to seeing some familiar faces in a few months!Read Less