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Sail Date: October 2014

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.

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.

Activities:

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.

Service:

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)

Cabin:

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.

Dining:

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:

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.

Entertainment:

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.

Disembarkation:

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!

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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014

This was our 6th cruise and what a difference finding the right cruise line makes. Our previous cruises were 1 Carnival (never again), 3 Royal Caribbean (previous favorite) and 1 NCL (never again). We were looking for an itinerary that ... Read More

This was our 6th cruise and what a difference finding the right cruise line makes. Our previous cruises were 1 Carnival (never again), 3 Royal Caribbean (previous favorite) and 1 NCL (never again). We were looking for an itinerary that marked some destinations off our bucket list, did not cater to children (love them, but wanted a break), an outstanding ship and service as well as fellow cruisers who are able to behave like adults (see Carnival cruise). This trip exceeded all of our expectations on those points.

Destinations: All tours we booked were offline. In addition to all that implies (smaller groups, flexibility, personal attention), we wound up having a core group that we toured with. Thank you Cruise Critic and thanks to our companions! What a difference that made to feel like we were traveling with friends! The destinations were all good. Our thinking was we may never pass this way again, so we felt lucky to experience each one, even if we may not want to pass that way again. If we were going to pick favorites, we especially enjoyed Santorini and Naples, specifically Positano. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Ephesus and the Terrace Houses. We did not have enough time at Pompeii. If that is your interest, then that would take all day, at minimum, to see it all. Would recommend you get a guide at Pompeii as the little recorded gizmos require some divine intervention to operate. Note that this itinerary is very walk intensive. The Acropolis and Pompeii require quite an uphill hike for those of us no longer in peak condition (as if I ever was!). Even Positano was a huff and puff stroll. Lots of opportunity to stop and pretend you are fascinated by shops to catch your wind.

Ship: Our last cruise was on the Norwegian Epic. That ship felt like a floating tomb to me. Very dark and closed in. Was so happy to find that the Reflection was light and bright. It was very clean and, to a person, the crew was always smiling and greeted you. Because our ports were quite strenuous, we didn't really explore the ship like we would ordinarily. Frankly, we were tired! Would have like to have had a few more sea days to really enjoy the ship.

Service: We had an Aqua Suite which meant we had a butler. His name is Samuel Rodney. He did a fantastic job for us. I'm never really sure what all that is supposed to entail, but we never wanted for anything. He got my card key replaced so I didn't have to go to Guest Relations and helped my husband find his belt even after we had given up the search. Service on the rest of the ship was just fine, no complaints.

Dining: While we had access to Blu, we weren't crazy about the menu. TIP: unless you want something to laugh about for the rest of the trip, avoid the lettuce water and yogurt soup. It is as nasty as it sounds. Service was outstanding. That was ok though because there were plenty of other places to eat. We tried Murano and Lawn Club Grill. Would do the Grill again, but would probably choose a different Specialty restaurant next time.

Entertainment: we went to one show early on and didn't stay for the whole thing. It wasn't actually bad, but we were so tired that sleep became a bigger priority. We did appreciate that there were only two smoking areas. That made the casino, for example, a nice place to lose your money. Felt like Sky Lounge was under utilized except the one night the 'professional hockey player' (no idea if that was true, but his buddy kept announcing it loudly) and his friends showed up and took over the dance floor and band instruments since no one else was there. And that show wasn't even included in the price of the cruise! Haha. Kinda felt sorry for them because we heard the median age of traveler on the ship was 71. I guess there really wasn't a good place for them to go with all that youthful exuberance.

Spa: we were Aqua Suite, but because we were so port intensive and basically exhausted, we really didn't get the bang for the buck on this. Lesson learned, but the cabin was awesome.

We've been back almost a week now and we decided that if we could do it all over again, we would in a heartbeat. We are counting the days until our next cruise with Celebrity!

 

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Sail Date: September 2014

My wife and I just returned from our week on the Getaway. We were traveling with another couple we are in our late 40s and have been on several other cruise lines such as Celebrity and Princess. So the basis of our experience is from ... Read More

My wife and I just returned from our week on the Getaway. We were traveling with another couple we are in our late 40s and have been on several other cruise lines such as Celebrity and Princess. So the basis of our experience is from our expectations from other lines. We live in Florida so we are looking at trying different lines and the Getaway being a new ship at the time we booked did not have any real history. We thought the features were interesting and gave it a try.

We read about the Vibe area and decided it would be a good idea based on the reviews stating how crowded the main pool area is. This is beyond a doubt the most ridiculously small area for such a large ship. The pools on other lines carrying only 2800 were bigger. The people were packed in every area possible deck chairs were so close together impossible to have any space. Every walk area had chairs lining them tripped over the legs more than one. I am very thankful I got to the terminal at 9:30 to get boarding group one. I had to race to the customer service as soon as I got aboard. I was maybe 6th in line and before I finished there were more than enough people to sell all passes. For us well worth the 79.00 for quiet location with better chairs, full bar two hot tubs and personal bartender. It is ridiculous that I had to board so early to get them but if you don't like be crammed together with blaring music it will be worth it. In the event you can not get passes the H2o area is also a good choice at no charge located at the rear of the ship. Only thing I noted is on windy sea days smell of exhaust will come down on the deck.

We purchased a spa cabin located on deck 14 excellent location to get to may things such as spa, gym, pool and buffet. The fitness is rather small for a large ship not enough equipment on sea days. The spa with a large relaxation room, heated loungers, large therapy pool with multiple jets, sauna, salt room and steam all excellent. One thing all one large area so if passengers do not follow spa rules for quiet it gets loud. There were several regular attendees who had hour long loud conversations disturbing people at rest. I saw no effort from staff to correct this. Pricing for services are as much as could be charged before passenger would pass. This is typical for cruise lines, but the high pressure pitch for products and additional services can be uncomfortable.

We dined on the Ultimate dining package, we found service in most restaurants to average not exceptional. We only encountered two exceptional servers our entire cruise and we tipped them for there excellent efforts. Food I was just ok. We have had the included food on Celebrity be better. The food included for the illusionarium show is low grade crap I would recommend eating first. The show was narrated as if it was scripted for Disney.

The smell of smoke was present on the 3 decks associated with the casino area. Because the way the ship is laid out all spaces seemed to run together not any real intimate lounges to sit and enjoy conversation or music. The waterfront was unique but failed to draw any real use from passengers that I could see. No comfortable seating areas to enjoy space. This ship is about loud music in every venue, moving large amount of people and no real quality service. I you are a young person or just enjoy noise, this may work for you. But we vacation to relax and we could only find that at the Vibe bar we paid for.

We found most of negative reviews to be fair and honest, we will return to Celebrity or Princess again NCL probably not anytime soon and not with 4000 passenger ships. Good luck to you I hope your experience to be what your expecting. One thing I just remembered because the balconies are only 3 feet by 8 if you can get a room where the bulge of the ship transitions you will have much more space and better views we had cabin 14150 for example.

 

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Sail Date: September 2014

We arrived at the port from Rome into the train station. Train was fantastic and I highly recommend it. At the train station there was a porter to take your luggage and deliver it to your cabin. This was great as we were going to walk ... Read More

We arrived at the port from Rome into the train station. Train was fantastic and I highly recommend it. At the train station there was a porter to take your luggage and deliver it to your cabin. This was great as we were going to walk to the people mover. Embarkation was rough....It took about 2 hours to get on the ship from curbside and I think they need a more efficient way to get people on board. You wait till they call your letter to check in and then you wait again until they call your number to get on board. Why can't you board right after you check in...terminal was hot and uncomfortable however they trip did go uphill from here.

Due to the long wait to get onboard our cabin was ready when we got on board which was nice...didn't have to carry bags with us. Since we had been in Italy for a week already we just got into our bathing suits and go enjoy the pool. We ate at the Garden Café for lunch and just grabbed at table outside to eat at. Food was fine, we just wanted salad anyway. Free Ice Tea and Lemonade included.

We ate most breakfast and lunch at the Garden Café. Food was fine always could find something to eat. We enjoyed the Oompah Band at the German lunch and food was really good although not truly authentic German.

We also had brunch at the Bistro for the Jazz Brunch. It was good fresh food and you could order off menu and enjoy the buffet so its nice to be served as well.

We only tried one specialty restaurant for dinner, Cagney's. It was delicious and service was excellent. There was a lot of choice in the starters and appetizers but don't fill up, steaks are perfectly cooked and the truffle fries were very good. I would definitely do it again.

We ate at the Grand Pacific once, hubby did not like having to wear pants and food was same as Alizar so we didn't go more than once. We were on vacation and just wanted to relax.

I didn't find the service as good as the Alizar although the Grand Pacific Dining Room was supposed to be better, I found service in Alizar to exceed it by far.

Alizar Dining Room - first night was rough, put us (couple with no kids) beside a family with two screaming toddlers. Parents seemed too tired to care and kids were screaming so much we had to get up and leave before our Main Course came. We spoke to Front Desk on our way out and asked not to be seated near small children again which they assured us they would do.

The next night we were seated in an area with all adults around and we had a fantastic waitress, Marilou. She has been on board Norwegian ships from 11 years and it shows. We asked to be seated with her for our whole two weeks and we were. She knew our names and our drink preferences and always took time to chat about our day. She always had our carbonated water and drink of the day brought to us right away. We had no problem eating off the menu each night, we were at the MDR for 12 nights and never had to repeat a choice. The maître d and asst maître d also came by and we got to know them. They were also excellent especially in telling us the drink of the day. On night onboard was my birthday and we got complimentary champagne and a cake courtesy of the maître d.

We only attended three shows out of the 14 nights and I found them to be amateurish and boring, since I was on Oasis of the Seas in April , Jade just couldn't compare. I highly recommend they get rid of the magician. Very boring and transparent.

At night we enjoyed the casino or music at one of the many venues.

There were two pools, one being an adult only, we enjoyed the adult only. We tried to avoid the pool when it was really crowded ( leaving ports) and tried to use it in port or earlier in the day.

We bought the thermal spa package at the Mandara Spa. Highly enjoyed it, thalsotherapy pool, Jacuzzi tub, Sauna, Showers with therapy, steam room and plunge pool. Went every day.

I also used it for showering in the evening.

Our room was fine, everything was comfortable and clean. Our attendant was fine nothing spectacular but room always clean and made up when we wanted it. Once issue with attendant, we asked for distilled water for my hubby's CPAP machine (requested beforehand) and he had no idea what we were talking about. Had to go to guest services next day and they got us some.

We had a balcony room which was great however if you want to see the Grand Canal on the sail out you need a port side room, ours was starboard. We went up on deck, no big deal.

We did not buy a drink package nor did we do any excursions with Norwegian. We are not big drinkers, only one a day so we paid as we went. As far as the excursions, too expensive with Norwegian, I arranged all port excursions myself and we paid at least half price to ship.

Always got back on time.

Getting off the ship was much easier, I picked up luggage tags on Friday for a later time off ship. Our luggage was in terminal when we arrived , got into a cab and off to airport.

I would go on Jade again however I would like to try some other ships such as Epic.

I really like the free style dining and not dressing for dinner, really suits our vacation style.

 

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2014

EXPERIENCE THE BREEZE, SOLO WITHOUT BREAKING THE BUDGET

Hey there cruisers, Grab a seat this may take a while. (I wish I knew how to add photos here)

I returned last week from my first trip on the beautiful CARNIVAL ... Read More

EXPERIENCE THE BREEZE, SOLO WITHOUT BREAKING THE BUDGET

Hey there cruisers, Grab a seat this may take a while. (I wish I knew how to add photos here)

I returned last week from my first trip on the beautiful CARNIVAL BREEZE and took a LOT of notes. This was a last minute solo trip that I snagged via the “Carnival Player’s club” from my VIFP “Special offers”. I’ve wanted to sail on the new BREEZE, and the offer was too good to pass up and managed to get good airfare.

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This was my 15th Carnival cruise since 2006. I grabbed it immediately for the chance to see what the new BREEZE has to offer. I originally booked an interior room on deck two, but managed a better upgrade to a SPA INTERIOR on deck 11….more on that later. I have also cruised NCL and RCL. I do enjoy Carnival and have been looking for great deals on other lines to change it up, but always work out better offers with Carnival for my time frame and interests. I do critique what I see and my overall experience in hopes the cruise line and future passengers may benefit. I tend to cover multiple captions in detail and I hope that my experience is helpful to you and possibly the cruise lines.

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I am not a hard-sell Balcony or specific stateroom type of guy. I try to be flexible and have discovered that it can lead to a whole different experience depending on where your stateroom is located and the ship. My on board itinerary is normally “step out of the box” type of things keeping the trip experience fresh and different as many of us know it starts to become stagnant. Attend different meetings, gatherings, and explore on my own as well as take an unexpected excursion, even if it isn’t in my common interest. Keeping an open mind and doing this, I’ve managed to meet different people and discover places and experiences I probably would never have.

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SHIP: CARNIVAL BREEZE 9/21/14

My plans this trip were “EXPERIENCE THE BREEZE, SOLO WITHOUT BREAKING THE BUDGET”. I am going to focus a LOT on the actual ship this review, and I’m certain it will have many shopping for their next booking when you are finished reading. My last cruises were Imagination & Victory in 2013, and I was last on the DREAM class in 2011. Sailing on this ship was the HIGHLIGHT of my vacation. Any online photos and reports do no justice. I always saw prior sailings as floating amusement parks, so the neon and obscure décor I could overlook. The BREEZE is an entirely new vision for style and comfort. The details involving color, woodwork, trees and foliage really gives it a soothing and calming feel bringing the outside to the interior.

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This is the third ship in the “dream class” with a few additional additives and upgrades. Walking through the back buffet area one of the first things you notice are plants. Built-in trees, potted planters and attention to wall detail almost make you feel like you are walking through a neighborhood mix of café’s, pubs and lounges. Each bar has its own menu of specialties whether you seek the poolside Fun frozen concoctions, Pub-like drafts or the more Classy cocktails. It’s perfect for the bar crawl taste testing explorer.

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The new RED FROG BAR is presented with the street-front entrance of an actual bar with simulated outside seating. The stage like inviting façade leads you into an actual bar setting equipped with hi-top tables and bar seats. It’s a great alternative gathering location for small parties or cocktails over the old conference room setting. The back of the bar utilizes the ship side windows allowing light to open up the space from a dark inside feel to a spacious pub-like social atmosphere. STOP IN and have a drink and you may forget you are onboard a cruise ship finding your nightly hangout for pre and post dinner cocktails.

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The BONSAI SUSHI bar has been transformed from a small side counter with an overhang only opened at tea time. It has grown up to a full serving area with several hi-top tables adorned with place settings, tea pots and bonsai trees. Overhead stylish lighting gives this setting the feel of a sit-down restaurant. If the taste of the orient is what you like, then you will be pulled into this space for sure.

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There is no more Alchemy Bar in the back allowing the PIANO BAR to be opened up to provide extra seating. It doesn’t feel as enclosed and utilizes the sometimes dead space to give a more open feel. The farthest back still has the LIMELIGHT LOUNGE where the “PUNCHLINER’s” comedy club has been attracting more and more attendees each ship I sail. This was definitely a good investment for alternative entertaining on Carnival’s behalf. If you are searching for the perfect cocktail or martini then the steakhouse bar has a seat for you. Seated just outside is the comedy club is FAHRENHEIT 555 STEAKHOUSE. Reservations & a fee are required. If you want to have a more intimate dinner for a special occasion, or just to splurge this is dinner out for sure. Top cut steaks, double starters, an appetizer and closing up with desert options that look direct from a gourmet pastry chef’s personal menu.

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If all this sounds to formal for your taste don’t worry your options are far from limited. The NEW GUY’s BURGER JOINT at Pool-side Lido deck have pushed aside those frozen hamburger patties for a burger that simply crumbles into your mouth. Claim your burger and slip over to the complete TOPPINGS bar and customize the perfect sandwich. If burgers are not your “safe food” then choose between the BLUE IGUANA CANTINA for a Burrito or taco made to order, or visit the MONGOLIAN WOK in the newly designed LIDO MARKETPLACE. The more Caribbean-style feel has transformed the “buffet” to food stations with comfort. The PIZZA PIRATE around back of the Lido serves 24/7 pizza with a new thin style flaky crust. This is an upgrade to the former tasteless pizza on my prior sailings.

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Tucked away upstairs from the Lido Marketplace is CUCINA DEL CAPITANO, another family style Italian-like setting. This is the 2nd reservation +fee restaurant dinner option aboard the BREEZE. It is less formal than the steakhouse and possible the more popular for the everyday cruiser. They transform to a less formal environment and offer free lunch options as the custom made PASTA BAR. On Sea days you can catch some sun at FAT JIMMY’s C-SIDE BBQ. Also, don’t forget to start the day with sit down breakfast in the elegant BLUSH dining room.

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If there is one thing the BREEZE has accomplished with its new design is how to be more multi-functional. Most spaces onboard offer different atmospheres from day to night making you feel like it is more ship than it really is. I did discover that all FOOD service besides the 24 hour room service and PIZZA is shut down between 4:00-5:00 as menus and space transformation is happening.

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Once you are finished eating…. (If that is even possible) it is time for some entertaining. Many options are available for all ages and families alike. The poolside theatre shows a nightly movie on the JUMBO TV complete with the smell of fresh popped mouthwatering popcorn for everyone. PLAYLIST productions shows are nightly in the LIMELIGHT LOUNGE. I will say thank you to Carnival for tweaking the stage out into the audience and making the upper seating steeper for better viewing. However, I am not a fan of the new Playlist productions. Some of the singers were difficult to hear if their head sets are not positioned correctly during quick costume changes. The cast also is more mediocre performers across the board having to be more multifunctional now as singers, dancers and performers. I personally enjoyed the older two-lead singers and better dancers myself. If you are not into production shows, the LIQUID NIGHTCLUB or WINNER’s CASINO may be more your flare. Junior cruisers will love CLUB 02 or discover what the 2.0 upgrades offer at the ARCADE, FUN HUBS and BRAND NEW THRILL THEATRE. The OCEAN PLAZA puts the old single waterslide to shame on older ships. The upgraded Water Park, Adventure ROPE COURSE is the child’s amusement park from heaven…… that also allows the adult kids to play along.

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The BREEZE is not your daddy’s floating amusement park it’s a fully equipped entertainment city for everyone from the solo cruiser to the family alike. That aside, she also offers an experience for the less active cruiser that seeks a more relaxed vacation as well. The Spa & Sports deck not only offers the usual jogging track, but includes a full size basketball court and miniature golf. There are exercise apparatus all along the track that include (Pull up bars, sit up benches, punching bags, cycle machines, parallel bars, etc.) Once you have worked up a sweat cool off in one of the outside showers around the deck and then head on to the SPA-SIDE end for some pampering.

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The ADULTS only SPA SERENITY deck is just that. Peace, quiet, serenity. Cushioned Hammocks built for two, Cabana covered beds, and Full size opened SUN beds and adult only hot tubs. There are also counter levered hot tubs around the lanai deck what usually have ample space available. If you are finished with the outdoors and had enough sun, head inside and pamper yourself at the fully upgraded CLOUD9 SPA and GYM. Upgraded exercise equipment and several classes to choose are available or experience pampering at its finest at CLOUD9 SPA. I mentioned at the start that I was upgraded to a SPA interior and it was worth every cent.

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INTERIOR SPA STATEROOM 11211

Location for this stateroom is directly under one of the Weightlifting apparatus in the gym. So there were some mornings you got the Thump, Thump Thump of the weights from above. Nothing MAJOR, but if you are a light sleeper and wish to sleep in take this into consideration. I noticed it, but it did not ruin any of my vacation.

Included with the SPA stateroom you will receive: upgraded products offered at the spa such as shampoos, lotions, soaps, slippers, soft-waffle pattern-touch towels, bed linen sprays to help you sleep and private access to the spa & Serenity Deck bypassing the front desk and public areas. You will receive a special access bracelet allowing you entrance to the STEAM ROOM, DRY HEAT Room, HEATED CONTOURED BODY LOUNGERS, ORIENTAL STEAM BATH with “mint & eucalyptus” to help open nasal passages, Special VIP serenity waiting area with lemon water & teas as you wait for your reserved $ treatments. Oh and not to omit the famous THELLOSOTHERAPY pool. A 3 foot deep enlarged hot tub with built in contoured loungers and massaging water spouts for the perfect back massage.

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I know there was about ¼ of the ship I never got to experience which is why I am looking forward to sailing the BREEZE again and discover all the hidden areas I missed the first time around. To say I enjoyed the BREEZE is an understatement. I discovered that a FULL VACATION could be experienced ONBOARD the BREEZE without even setting foot off the ship. However, besides everything there is to do onboard there are still great port of calls to experience which I will continue with in the second half of my review.

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(If you have made it thus far) This second half of my review will be focused on the Ports, some misc. crew comments. Thank you for keeping up with me.

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KEY WEST, FL

I have been to this port many times and always say that Carnival needs to stay longer. The early arrival and departure really cuts down on your time there to get a full experience. Most businesses do not open until 9:00 and just when the island is coming alive for afternoon/evening culture it is time to leave. Other cruise lines do stay longer allowing you to catch an afternoon local musician for dinner at one of the local café’s. This trip we arrived at 8am and departed at 4:00 (back on board by 3:30). Luckily, we were able to dock at the downtown port looking over Duval Street instead of the naval station. When docking at the naval station you lose a good hour or more just for the commute into downtown. Docking down town is VERY convenient to walk off the ship and be in the midst of downtown Mallory Square. Duval, Front & the “square” are all nice to stroll and shop. A little pricey but there are many small tasty venues that can help pass the time and find some nice quality items.

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To get the real flare for what KEY WEST has to offer though, you need to bypass the touristy vacuum and venture out. This is the perfect island to do your homework before visiting. There are many locals that offer private charters around the island and know all the perfect snorkeling areas. There is no one better than the local residents to help guide you to what Key West really has to offer. Pre-Reservations may be required before your arrival, but worth it. Simple online searches for KEY WEST Private Charters visiting is a good place to start. The life on the water around the island offers several great opportunities to satisfy your playful side.

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If land dwelling and self-exploration is your thing there are several options. Directly off the ship (at the end of the downtown pier) you will find a few small wooden sheds to rent bikes. This is normally my option for the island. $20-25/day gets you a BIKE, LOCK and map of the island. This is perfect for cruising on a budget. The island is not that large and biking is a norm everywhere you go. You can also rent scooters or electric carts if you wish. Just keep in mind that all local road laws are in affect while driving on the roads. You are susceptible to ticketing so be sure to adhere to all of your stop signs, traffic lights and road rules. It is not a free for all. My suggestion is slip over one street off the main roads and usually you have an open quiet side road with much less traffic.

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My routine “Budget bike-route” consists of…… departing the portside bike rental and make my way about 2-3 blocks over to the Post Office to mail out a post card or package. This is a perfect stop to box and send directly home those large souvenir purchases that you may have made and don’t feel like lugging through the airport when you get home. If you follow THOMAS STREET (Parallel to Whitehead & Duval) all the way to the end you can bypass all the heavy traffic. At the end scoot over and pick up Duval St right for the final two blocks to the SOUTHERNMOST POINT landmark. The KW Butterfly Conservatory is about a block from the SMP landmark. Admission is $12-Adults $8.50-kids. It is small, self-guided but interesting and fun for the kids. Make your way over a few blocks along the coast to lovely HIGGS BEACH where you can relax and spend the day. There is a small extended pier and places to buy a snack. If you want to get your exercise in, this is also the start of the scenic BIKE PATH that follows the along the perimeter of the island. I personally follow it all the way up to the North side of the island, past the airport and then cut back to follow FLAGER AVE or one of the parallel side streets all the way directly back to center of town. (KW Butterfly house area) One last stop at the “ORIGINAL” KEY LIME PIE FACTORY 412 GREENE ST (not to be mistaken for the KW Pie Company), and a bottle of refreshing imported Coconut-Lime sparkling drink, not found anywhere else. This whole venture can be done in about 5 hours with plenty of time to return the bike, jump back on the ship for a quick shower and return to port for some quick last minute shopping on Duval St. or relax on the ship for lunch and catch the sailboats returning from their daily outing. Namaste!

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GRAND CAYMAN, CAYMAN ISLANDS

This is a tender port as the ships cannot dock portside without damaging the protected coral reefs. Cayman Islands are famous for the Stingrays, Turtles, Colorful diving sites and the Famous beautiful “7 Mile Beach” located just north of Georgetown where your port of call is located. The beach itself is geographically just less than 5 miles in length and is open to the public the entire length. It is one of the most visited destinations on Grand Cayman with its crystal clear Caribbean blue waters & white sand. This beach has been awarded “THE CARRIBEAN’s BEST BEACH in many travel magazines. The tranquility of this island is juxtaposed by its other famous tourist site of “HELL”. HELL is a part of the island made up of Black Limestone rock formations creating a desolate yet intriguing tourist stop. The unexpected location surrounded by some of the most ethereal beach fronts is part of what draws the onlookers to its site. T-shirts, key chains, and many photo background opportunities with catchy sayings are in abundance to purchase as proof of your unique visit to this destination.

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Round up your budget adventure by making your way back to portside and visit the CAYMAN CABANA OCEANSIDE RESTOBAR located next to where you came ashore. In my opinion, there is no visiting Grand Cayman without a stop here for lunch. Pick your fresh “catch of the day fish” on the way on and they will cook it up for you at the outside bar. Pair it up with their famous RUM PUNCH & fries and I promise will leave your mouth watering for the best Caribbean fish meal you will find. Grab a marker and sign your name on one of the wooden joists above for friends to find when you tell them to visit after you return home. If ever there was a “Tour of Paradise”, Grand Cayman would definitely be on one the itinerary.

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COZUMEL, MX...(it rained in the morning.... its the Caribbean)

It is very difficult to cruise the Caribbean and not have a stop at Cozumel, MX. This is the central stop for a majority of all the big cruise lines. It is a small island just off the coast of mainland Mexico. Famous for snorkeling, shopping and Mayan Culture connections is what draws visitors from all over the world to Cozumel. The west side of the island is the more developed area for shopping and fun excursions. I have visited Cozumel several times and have multiple reviews of many excursions offered. Excursions ranging from ATV adventures, JEEP & DUNE BUGGY rides, Snorkeling, Parasailing, Deep sea fishing and many more are located all over the island. Most of the adventure options take you to private beaches located on the more underdeveloped East side and the famous Punta Sur at the lower tip. This side of the island is more wilderness and beach and usually bears the brunt of incoming storms and hurricanes that approach from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic.

Trips via water ferry to the mainland visit Carmen Del Playa for the more historical excursions involving Mayan ruins and Underground River/ tubing tours.

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Continuing on my “Budget Vacation”, I grabbed a taxi for $8 and took a trip 3 miles up the coast to Porte de San Miguel. Shopping at the stores along the main strip is open to bartering. I stopped in at SENIOR FROGS to grab some quesadilla and a Banana smoothie before hopping in another taxi for a quick sightseeing trip around town. When you get back to the Port shopping area you may find that bartering is more flexible in the shops once you hear the ½ hr. ship warning horn blow. Be sure to make haste with your offers as you don’t want to be one of the last minute pier runners chasing the gangway as it is pulled back on-board before departure. Cozumel is one of the highest percentage ports of call for cruiser missing the ship. You do not want to be added to the statistics!!!

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CRUISE DIRECTOR: MATT MITCHUM

Onboard the BREEZE is one of the best cruise directors I have had the pleasure of sailing with, Mr. MATT MITCHUM. Matt has a fun and outgoing personality with a talent for getting passengers motivated. This was one of the more involved groups of passengers I have seen over my many trips sailing cruise lines. Whenever you noticed a large gathering of dancers and people cheering and having fun, chances are there was Matt right in the middle of it all as the ring leader. He made this trip ENJOYABLE, FUN and MEMORABLE. His smile and laughter is contagious, not annoying like other cruise director’s I have met. He draws people in and gets complete strangers to intermingle and let down their guard. Matt is an ASSET to the Carnival brand and it is no wonder he is the face of their beautiful CARNIVAL BREEZE. I look forward to sailing the Breeze again and with Matt as the cruise director.

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ROOM STEWARD: NATALYA was my room steward on the SPA deck. She was training her assistant and told me that he was up for a review to receive his own Steward assignments on another deck. They both were great and I wish all the best to her assistant. Honestly, I did not catch his name, because I barely was interrupted when he was tending to my stateroom. THAT, IMHO is what makes a good room steward; one that knows your name and schedule and can work around it without disturbing your vacation. They both eliminated ANY worries regarding the cleanliness and status of our stateroom. They are also an asset to the Carnival crew.

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Normally, in past reviews I lump together the bar staff and dining staff with some general feedback. I will however take the opportunity to give a special shout out to the TIDES BAR bartender MARIN KNEZEVIC. Usually, I tend to return to the same bartender while on a cruise that I feel comfortable with, but MARIN is definitely “one of a kind”. This kid, (and I say that with utmost respect in relation to my own age) is one hardworking crew member. I’ve been served by many bartenders over my years of sailing and he definitely stood out as one of the best. Over the top friendly, outgoing, great discussion maker and works his butt off while maintaining a CLEAN ORGANIZED BAR. I happened to be a customer at his bar each night before and after he took his nightly break. Each night all of us “regulars” at the bar witnessed his relief tender turn the bar from immaculate to shambles in less than an hour. All while serving wrong drinks, losing customers and needing to call for additional help. When MARIN left he made sure to stock the ice, fill the straws and make sure everything was clean and ready for his break. Upon return, he had to reset and do it all over again while sorting through voided receipts and get his clients back up to vacation mood. You would hear a cheer whenever he returned. Someone like that tucked away at the back of the ship at one of the busiest bars to close the night deserves to have his name mentioned in a review and testimonial. Carnival needs to do what they can to keep more individuals like MARIN working for them.

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DEBARKATION: I chose to par-take in my VIP early morning debarkation as I wanted to get to FLL airport early. This could not have gone any smoother. Port of Miami flexes its experience to unload and load passengers like no other. I was walking out the terminal where my SAS TRANSPORTATION was waiting for me a few feet from the door. www.ridesas.com is a great Fort Lauderdale bases shuttle service between MIA and FLL. $16 one way beats the cruise line cost by half. Also being a VAN-SHUTTLE they do not need to wait until an entire charter bus is filled before departure. Pre-reservations are needed and their smartphone APP is very simple to use. All transport must begin or end in Fort Lauderdale as they do not provide transport from Miami to Miami.

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SUMMARY

LIKES: I LOVE THE BREEZE! Can I say that again? I LOVE THE BREEZE!! The ship should be the minimal blueprint for future overhauls and ship builds. MATT MITCHUM, cruise director- keeps the smiles on the passenger faces all the way home!

DISLIKES: I gave it a try, but the PLAYLIST PRODUCTIONS really need to be re-thought out. I appreciate the attempt to change the old style, but I don’t know anyone that enjoys the Playlist shows. I do understand wanting to cut the stage affects to the more digital less costly style, but too many glitches. Like bad headsets for singers you can barely hear, less talented dancers and vocalists and the same variations of the “Diva shows” are getting old. They are becoming extravagant Karaoke or cover artist shows any longer. Just my opinion.

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Ok, so I will cut off my review here. It has already become a novel and I may have lost many that started it long ago. Thank you if you made it to the end without falling off your chair. If you happen across a deal for ANY TRIP on the BREEZE, do not hesitate to grab it. Get on the ship and work out your upgrades later. Happy sailing and may the upgrades flow frequent!

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I wish that I knew how to figure out how to add photos to my reviews. They are worth a 1,000, memories. wiskt

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Sail Date: September 2014

From the minute we arrived at Heathrow our holiday went as planned. I had booked it on a whim. We were amazed how organised everything was and it was all on schedule, The flight to JFK was pleasant with plenty of leg room and superb ... Read More

From the minute we arrived at Heathrow our holiday went as planned. I had booked it on a whim. We were amazed how organised everything was and it was all on schedule, The flight to JFK was pleasant with plenty of leg room and superb cuisine and great films to choose from to pass the time. Cabin Crew were professional and efficient throughout. Customs and collecting our baggage wasn't half as stressful as I had anticipated. Arrival at San Juan was just as smooth and the transfer to our hotel went as clockwork The hotel was clean and even though we arrived late in the evening we were able to eat and our receptionist also needs a 'pat on the back' as he went the extra mile and upgraded us. His smile was infectious given the long day he had had. :-)

We slept well and in the morning we could see the Jewel of the Seas from the window and our excitement rose. The shared transfer to the port was hassle free and embarking was structured and quick. When we climbed aboard I was amazed by the sheer size of everything and i felt really grateful. We went to find our cabin and were very pleased when we entered it. It was on the 9th deck and had an open balcony. It was very spacious, maybe a little dated decor but clean and tidy. Masses of wardrobe space with hangers and shelving. TV and very comfortable bed. The shower was powerful too. All in all we were really chuffed with our new home for the next week.

During the cruise the food was of a high standard no matter where we ate. The Windjammer served a superb choice at any time of day and the main restaurant was absolutely delicious whenever we dined there.

We attended the gym and used the running track which was a bonus for us as we ate far too much so i believe the exercise we did helped to prevent more weight gain than i did suffer! :-)

The cinema offered a great choice of films and we visited twice together and i went once alone to a chick flick which was a lovely experience.

We attended a very interesting seminar regarding the human body and acid and alkaline levels and we then met with one of the Trainers and purchased the Elemis Detox programme and two pairs of insoles - all of which have proven invaluable since our return home.

The whole experience was awesome and we have now booked our SECOND cruise - we are going to New York and then taking Queen Mary 2 Cunard vessel in the New Year 2015.

Best member if staff on board - THE CRUISE DIRECTOR - sooo funny on the promo videos he filmed at night and amazing at Question Time.

 

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Sail Date: September 2014

Just returned from a 12 day Alaska cruise aboard the Celebrity Century. Having taken over 15 cruises. This one ranks as one of our best. It was also our first Alaskan cruise. The Century was an old but elegant ship and she did show ... Read More

Just returned from a 12 day Alaska cruise aboard the Celebrity Century. Having taken over 15 cruises. This one ranks as one of our best. It was also our first Alaskan cruise. The Century was an old but elegant ship and she did show signs of her age, but it reminded us of ships from our earlier cruises. our stateroom was really nice and spacious (Cabin 1069) compared to the newer ships and our veranda was larger than some staterooms we had on other ships. The overall service was excellent,

Our stateroom attendant was outstanding as well as the wait staff in the Grand Dining Room. Murano's, the only specialty restaurant on board was exceptional and one of our favorites. We were sad to hear that this ship has been sold and this was its last Alaska voyage.

It was not all bed and roses though. The check-in at the Pier in San Francisco was sheer chaos. We had Priority check-in which was completely disorganized. There were 3 couples in the Priority area and it took almost 45 minutes to check us in. Staff seem unprepared for the multitude of passengers and those in the regular lines seem to be serviced faster than us. When we finally got on board, they did not have a record of our beverage package that we pre-purchased, requiring me to take my documentation to the desk to straighten out. Then our keycards would not work causing another trip back to the desk to have another set made. Once inside though, everything turned about for the best.

Met our Stateroom attendant Edy and our Butler, Santorsa. Both were motivated to please us. That night in the Grand Dining Room (we had the late seating), we met our servers Shobith and his assistant Naik. They were also very attentive and friendly. We split our 12 days between the Grand Dining and Maurano's.

I can't say enough for the crew aboard the Century. Everyone was exceptionally friendly and made us feel welcome. As previously stated, Shobith and Naik were always waiting when we came in for dinner and on those rare days when we ate lunch in the Dining Room (which was open seating), Shobith would always check on us even though we weren't his table. As for the food in the Grand Dining Room. It was well above average compared to some of the other cruises. I neglected to mention, the theme of this cruise was 'Top Chef' . The menu featured dishes from the latest season of the show. We enjoy wonderful Gazpachos, Frog's Leg, Seasoned Pork and Macaroons' to name just a bit and these were in the Main Dining Room.

On to Murano's, the Century's only specialty restaurant. We had a number of meals there including The Wine Dinner, Chef's Table and Champagne Tea. Again, the staff was exceptional and gracious and the food superb. Our chef de cuisines, Marco and Tris as well as, Arif and Anessa Our Wine Steward, took excellent care of us. I could go on for pages about the food. The Goat Cheese Soufflé was one of our favorites, The Pork Belly (an appetizer) was a meal in itself, followed by the Chateau Briand and Lobster. I thoroughly enjoyed the Loin of Venison and the Veal Tenderloin. Desserts were also excellent. The Grand Mainer Soufflé and the Banana Crepes were not to be missed .

We couldn't wait most nights to go back to our cabin and see what new towel animal our Cabin Stewart Edy made today. Each day Santosa would leave some delicious treat in our cabin and if we happened to be there he would bring us tea and sandwiches.

We also found the ships Officer's to be friendly and approachable as well. Captain George was more visible then any ship's Captain encountered on any vessel. We saw the Food and Beverage Director Koray Savas several times a day. He always stopped to say hello not just to us, but other passengers as well.

The only thing we found a bit lackluster was the entertainment. The best of the entertainment was in the main dining room, where Shobith and Niak taught me how to entertain the masses. It was a laugh a minute in trying to move a soda can out of a glass and into a container without touching it. You really had to be there, but I certainly was entertained and most of the guests who were near us also were.

For the most part though much of it was geared towards a much older crowd

Doug Cameron and Marc Preston, very talented, but not our taste. 'A touch of Broadway' was upbeat and Reva Rice actually sang while Roller Skating on a moving vessel, kudos to her.

For a 12 day cruise, we wished for a little more time in each port. It seemed we only spent a few hours in each port. Our favorite highlight was the Helicopter ride up to the Mendenhall Glacier, where we were able to walk along the ice beds. Victoria, BC was beautiful, again not enough time to really enjoy, would have preferred staying there rather than stopping in Astoria, Oregon.

 

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014

This is my review. "Cruise Critic" June 2014 and other reviewers have already done pretty thorough reviews which I would recommend reading. I will try to keep my comments in the same format as the Cruise Critic article.

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This is my review. "Cruise Critic" June 2014 and other reviewers have already done pretty thorough reviews which I would recommend reading. I will try to keep my comments in the same format as the Cruise Critic article.

SHIP

Décor was a bit gaudy. When I think of Marie Antoinette I always think of her little hamlet where she played at being a shepherdess, rather than the glitter of Versailles. In any case, the ship named after her was always kept spotless and the brass and the marble gleamed.

ROOMS

We didn’t have a room with butler service, but it was still quite nice, with sliding glass doors to a verandah whose top window could be raised or lowered. There was a TV opposite the bed, and another in the alcove. While there were a variety of electrical outlets you might want to bring an extension cord with multiple outlets for whatever current your appliances use.

SHORE EXCURSIONS

Every stop offered at least one included tour, and sometimes more. There were also tours that cost extra, such as the one to the Black Forest or the one to Heidelberg. We took the tour to Heidelberg and it was good value.

On a typical included tour, when we got off the ship, or out of whatever transport we took from the ship, the passengers would be split between several guides, who would communicate with us through the included VOX box. The guides tried to route their tours so that all the passengers on the ship weren’t in one big mob. If the destination was more than a short walk there were buses, and one time a miniature train, to take you from the ship to the destination. The free excursion in Strasbourg also included a guided tour on a canal boat.

I would like to recommend that you do thorough research on the ports before leaving. Time on shore was severely limited, and there is no way you will be able to see everything in even a very small village, so you will have to decide what is important to you. The tours cover the high points, but you might, for instance, prefer to visit the chocolate factory in Cologne rather than the Cathedral.

AFTER THE CRUISE IS OVER

On the last morning of the cruise, depending on whether you are going to an airport, walking to a train station, taking a taxi, or getting on a bus for a post-tour extension, you are supposed to mark your luggage with a colored tag and label and put it outside your stateroom so that it can be taken off the ship and taken with you to your destination. DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IN YOUR LUGGAGE ANY TIME IT IS OUT OF YOUR CONTROL. I found that out by to my sorrow when another guest apparently picked up my suitcase outside the ship in Amsterdam. The cruise director, Tony, and his assistant Nikolette, searched frantically for it, but it wasn’t found until we had already left for Paris. Since we were only staying two nights in Paris, they forwarded my suitcase to me in London, but I had some very worried moments without some of my prescription medication and no clothing except what I had on my back.

ALCOHOL

The ‘free’ drink choices seemed to be limited to red or white wine, and a pale beer. If you wanted something different there was an "additional charge" wine and mixed drinks list, but no other "additional charge" beers except Becks. At one stop in Germany my husband and I stopped by a supermarket and picked up some beers we hadn’t tried before.

I’m afraid more than one passenger had a problem with “all the wine and beer you can drink.” I was guilty of this myself on the previous river cruise, so I tried to limit my drinking on this one.

HOUSE KEEPING

No problems. Our housekeeper was there when we needed her, but kept out of the way other times.

WIFI

As the cruise critic reviewer has noted, the Wi-Fi worked better in the lounge area of the ship.

IN ROOM ENTERTAINMENT

Lots of options on the TV, including music channels – when I got really lazy I could turn on the camera view from the front of the ship and sit in the alcove with the window open so that I could see in two directions . There was only one glitch here – they stopped offering movies some time after the ship sailed from Cologne.

LAUNDRY

There were only three washers and three dryers for over one hundred passengers. I don’t know what I would have done if everyone had decided to do their laundry at the same time.

EXERCISE ROOM, STORE, LIBRARY, SPA, POOL

The ship store was only open a few hours a day, so I never saw it open. The exercise room was small but well-equipped and the pool looked very nice, I think it is very decadent to sit in a pool in the back of an elegant ship while you cruise down the river. I never used the Spa facilities. The library seemed to consist of a few shelves of books near the pool, and a lot of ‘coffee table’ and reference books scattered around the lounge area. You might want to bring a good book and donate it after you’ve read it.

The ship also offers the loan of Nordic Walking sticks and bicycles for you to borrow in port. If you want to borrow a bicycle you should practice a lot at home first. I saw one tourist cyclist fall head over heels in Hyde Park when we were in London.

ENTERTAINMENT

Although we are not night owls, what we saw of the entertainment was very good. There were also some interesting lectures in the lounge during the day, and once a demonstration of how to make Black Forest cake.

DINING

Every meal offered many options, including a vegetarian choice. I would have to say that the cooking was top-notch here, and I have to applaud the food preparation staff. The wait staff was excellent.

One night when I didn’t see anything on the menu that appealed to me and our waiter said I could have a roasted chicken breast, instead, and it was quite good. I should also note that I had written that I had a shellfish allergy, and one of the staff came and checked with me before meals with lobster or shrimp to make sure I didn’t order anything with shellfish in it by mistake.

The dining room was open seating, so that you are not forced to sit with someone you don’t like. Most of the time the dining room was pretty noisy with all the conversations, but I noticed that it was possible to find a table with few or no other passenger if you weren’t feeling particularly social.

On ocean cruises my husband and I had, after a few episodes of being glared at by people wearing evening dress, chosen to eat outside of the main dining room during “Captain’s Welcome” and other gala occasions. It wasn’t possible to eat somewhere else on the river cruise, so I would recommend bringing something that looks a little bit dressy (not the shorts and the crop top, please) for the formal dinners.

CREW

The crew was busy night and day. I hope they got enough sleep. They took care with everything, from unloading the garbage, to making sure that the ropes on the side of the gangplank were secure and steps were in place before passengers were allowed to cross.

TIPPING

Although tipping is included, I saw another passenger handing out small envelopes in the lounge. I left something for our housekeeper, and you might want to leave praise and/or reward for anyone you found particularly helpful.

WHAT TO TAKE:

Uniworld has provided good information in the “Before you go” brochure they furnish (this is also online).

Other things to consider:

Maps: My husband has a smart phone without a data plan, so he downloaded maps through a “Maps for Me” app. The ship does provide nice paper maps of most shore destinations, but it would be useful to set up your phone or camera so that you could tell where you were in relation to the paper map. If you remember to activate the GPS on your camera, you will also be able to figure out where the shots were taken when you get back home.

Portable Umbrellas: It will probably rain at some time during your trip. We had some scattered rain in August, and I read another review where it was reported that there was heavy rain, wind, and hail in November. While the ship provides umbrellas in the staterooms and near the exits, it is a good idea to have a small portable umbrella with you any time you leave the ship. DO NOT BUY THE CHEAP UMBRELLAS YOU SEE AT SOUVENIR SHOPS. We bought two of them, at different times, and neither survived the trip.

Over the Counter Drugs: My husband has had ‘travellers’ disease’ twice over the years, so I took the advice of my HMO and brought powdered Pedialyte with us, as well as printed instructions on what to avoid and what to do if he got sick again. We live on the West Coast, so I also took and brought melatonin as a possible remedy for jet lag, and it seemed to help a little.

Prescribed medication: I keep my medication in the original bottles, and I also bring at least one week’s more than I think I will need, in case we are delayed.

Taking Pictures: I used my IPhone 5S to take snapshots, but I think I will use my Nikon camera in future, because it gives me more options.

Clothing: If you planning on going directly to the ship, and flying back immediately after the cruise, you can probably fit a week’s worth of clothing in a large suitcase with no problem. Because we still had almost two weeks’ of travelling ahead of us, and would be using public transport, I packed things that could be washed and dried overnight if I couldn’t find a laundry. Before the trip I tried washing and drying everything that way, and some of the ‘no wrinkle, quick drying’ tops I bought from an expensive online store did not fare as well as some of the Foxcroft blouses I bought at a thrift store. ExOficio and sporting goods stores were also places I found clothing that could be washed and dried overnight.

Credit Cards: My credit union does not yet offer the smart card technology used in Europe, so I got a smart card through another bank for the trip. Based on our own and other travellers' experience, it is also a good idea to take more than one credit card with you because it is annoying to have to spend half a day getting your credit card company to fix things so that you have money to spend.

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My cruise experience: I have taken several ocean cruises, including a transatlantic crossing when I was a toddler. My husband and I have taken only one extended river cruise, on the Rhone and Saone,in 2011. This was part of a 12-day Provence to Paris tour with Elderhostel and the ship was Croisi-Europe. Our small group was only part of a group of multi-national passengers.

We chose this current itinerary and cruise line because it was the only one we could find that would fit the week we had available before the rest of our vacation. I’m glad we did, but it was a rare luxury for us.

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Sail Date: August 2014

537 days ago I booked the Norwegian Breakaway, the ship wasn't even in the harbor yet. I have sailed The Gem and The Dawn and both were very nice ships. This time was going to be a little different.. this trip was for my husbands 50th ... Read More

537 days ago I booked the Norwegian Breakaway, the ship wasn't even in the harbor yet. I have sailed The Gem and The Dawn and both were very nice ships. This time was going to be a little different.. this trip was for my husbands 50th and I booked the Haven...well it was everything I had imagined, read about looked up and more. The thing about NCL is the staff they are all amazing ..always ...whether you are in the Haven or not. The food no matter where I ate Speciality, Haven private or the Manhattan room (no fee) The service, the food, the staff excellent. The thing that blows my mind is the negative reviews?? One okay day on an NCL ship is by far better than a good day at home. I will sail again and again with NCL...everything was perfect. I'd like to send a special thanks to the following people who made our vacation so SPECIAL...Alina, Rochell, Anoop, Denzel,DeLaura, Christina, Cecilio,Alvin, Julie, Satees,Lorna ,Michele,Alex Godi, Phy, Elvina and a extra special thanks to Paula in the spa WOW...get the Thermal Spa it is EVERYTHING relaxing.....to all the people who are waiting at the port with cool cloths and ice water.....no stone left unturned. Thank you NCL you made a beautiful memory for my family and friends...can't wait till we meet again.

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Sail Date: August 2014

My cruise on the Norwegian Getaway was the first cruise where I never even left the ship in any of the ports. I treated the ship as a floating oceanfront resort, and it was a fabulous resort!

This last-minute cruise for me was ... Read More

My cruise on the Norwegian Getaway was the first cruise where I never even left the ship in any of the ports. I treated the ship as a floating oceanfront resort, and it was a fabulous resort!

This last-minute cruise for me was all about relaxation as a birthday present to myself. I booked it about 2 weeks out, because Norwegian had NO solo supplements, and I had PTO time to burn! It was too good a deal to pass up. I live in Florida near Ft. Myers so I was able to drive over to Miami the morning of the cruise. I arrived at about 11 and parked in the port garage--it's pricy but oh-so-convenient, and I keep hearing too many bad things about the offsite options in Miami. This was my first chance to use the new tunnel to the port and there was very little traffic in the port area--nice.

Keep in mind as you read this review that my cruise was August 23-30, during the offseason for Miami, and after most kids have started school. They clearly had lots of open cabins close to sailing since they were offering such fantastic prices, especially for solo travelers. So my cruise was likely less crowded, and with fewer kids, than at other times of the year.

Embarkation, as others have reported for the Getaway, was very fast and easy. They hadn't started embarkation yet when I checked in (I think I was in boarding group 7) but I waited only about 20 minutes before I was on board. Painless.

As soon as I got onboard I went up to the spa to buy a weekly spa pass. It was $199, which is a lot, but since I wasn't doing any shore excursions and since it was my birthday I indulged. I took a tour through the spa at that point, but since I was lugging my computer bag and I didn't think it would fit in the lockers at the spa, even though I had my bathing suit I decided I'd come back later. And I did--I spent many hours over the week in the spa. The heated tile loungers (which sound uncomfortable but are fabulous and have little pillowed areas for your head to lay on) overlooked a wall of windows on the front of the ship and were so nice for just laying back and watching where you were going. I spent most sailaways there, including our sail out of Miami. I also read a lot while relaxing on them.

The spa also contains a hot tub, a thalassotherapy pool (a large pool of heated water with various types of jets around it that you could turn on as you liked, and a section where you could lay out in the water on a row of metal pipes and the bubbles came through the spaces between the pipes...aahhh!) and a salt therapy room (room temp with very salty air and mid-high humidity level, supposed to be good for your sinuses but it didn't do much for me) and a steam room and a sauna, and regular padded loungers, and men's and women's locker rooms with showers, lockers, etc. Also some flavored waters and a selection of teas, robes, and lots and lots of clean fluffy towels. You hand in your room key at the main desk of the spa and get a locker key--though I never really used the lockers. I think the spa pass is a great option for folks like me who really want to relax, and have little interest in the ports. It was never crowded in there, and was generally very quiet, and I avoided sunburn as well as the crowds and noise and heat by the outdoor pools.

I chose to go to the dining room for lunch that first day (it was either Savor or Taste that was open) and service was rather slow with my nachos coming out way before my soup but it was uncrowded and comfortable so I didn't mind. The food was quite good--not fancy, but tasty. I found that to be the case throughout the week--the food wasn't imaginative or unusual in any way, just good solid decent meals. I gained enough weight that it was obvious I enjoyed it!

Before I had finished my lunch, cabins were ready. I had a minisuite on deck 11 (11784) that was very close to the front elevators. The minisuites are just a bit bigger than balcony cabins, with most of the extra space in the bathroom. The bathroom has a large sink with 2 bowls, lots of shelf storage space and a large shower with a rain head as well as body jets. I tried the jets a couple of times but they didn't really appeal to me. The balcony was VERY narrow front-to-back. You couldn't even really sit in the chair facing straight out to the ocean because it was so narrow. But for one person, it was perfectly fine. I sat on one (straight-back) chair and put my feet up on the other, or on the small table. There was plenty of hanging storage space, and shelf space, and the couch was comfy. I think it would be uncomfortable to sit at the desk on the little stool they provided...but I never tried it. I thought the decor was very attractive, though subdued--not all bright and crazy like earlier NCL ships-and it still had that "shine" from being new. It was very clean throughout the week, and my steward ("Captain Morgan" he said to call him though his name was spelled more like Morughan) was fantastic--friendly, efficient, made great towel animals, etc. I liked the cabin, but next time I'll just get a regular balcony cabin unless the price differential is VERY small. For two people the extra space in the bathroom would be nice, but for one it isn't needed.

I was a little worried about noise in that location, but there really was none. There was no noise at all from the elevator lobby. It isn't a connecting cabin, but there was a group of 3 older women in the cabin on one side who made enough noise for me to notice from time to time--I don't think the walls are very well soundproofed! I think there must have been kids in the cabin above mine because a few times I heard stomping around and a lot of play-yelling but otherwise things were pretty quiet. I also experienced very little cigarette smoke smell on my balcony which really surprised me--probably the least I've experienced even on my Celebrity and Azamara cruises where balcony smoking is supposed to be against the rules. Maybe I was just lucky this time!

During the week I ate in the Garden Cafe for all 3 meals, the Savor and Taste dining rooms for lunch and dinner (never made it to Tropicana though the musical entertainment there during dinner is a fantastic idea,) the Flamingo Grill for both breakfast and lunch, O'Sheehan's for breakfast on the last day, and a dinner in Cagney's on my birthday. I was happy with all of the options I tried. I especially liked the Flamingo Grill--different foods than you see on most cruise ship buffets! Other than that first lunch, service was fine in all the venues. I think at least half the weight I gained was from the soft ice cream machines in the buffet. So many of them that there was almost never a line, which made overeating it WAY too easy! As I mentioned before, the food was tasty, at the proper temperature, but just not especially imaginative. Maybe I'm just jaded after so many cruises! And of course there were many for-fee options that I didn't try--there was lots of variety available, for sure. In summary, I'd say that this isn't a cruise for true foodies, but most people will be very happy with the food and the options available.

I didn't go to a lot of the entertainment. I really enjoyed Legally Blonde--yes, it's over-the-top kitschy but I thought it was very well done and lots of fun. I loved Burn the Floor as well--didn't expect to. I think I was expecting a Riverdance kind of show but it incorporated lots of different dance styles as well as vocal music. The evening shows in general are a nice change from the typical Broadway-style hokey song-and-dance spectacles that cruise lines have traditionally offered. I wanted to go to the comedy show but couldn't get a reservation after I missed mine the second night--my own fault for wimping out because I was too full from my Cagney's meal! I need to come on another Getaway cruise to go to all the shows I missed!

I didn' t do any of the organized "passenger participation" activities, or use the casino, or bowl in O'Sheehan's, so I can't comment on them, but the activity options seemed quite plentiful based on the daily schedule. I also didn't hang out in any of the bars--I had a bottle of wine in my room from my travel agent and I'm not much of a drinker--would rather spend my calories on food!

Internet was the typical glacial speed of most cruise ships, and the pricing was similar as well. I was surprised that with a brand new ship, in this day and age, they couldn't do better.

Why did I not take advantage of more of the entertainment? I think partly it's just that I don't like crowds very much, and so by the time evening came a lot of times I was just at the point where I couldn't take more crowds that day. Make no mistake, even though I think the ship was not close to full capacity the week I was on, it was still quite crowded in the public areas. The pool areas in particular were a madhouse. (I never saw huge crowds around the climbing wall or ropes course though, although I didn't check them out that often so there may have been some big lines there at other times.) The entertainment zone on 6-7-8 was also extremely crowded on sea day afternoons and every evening. It's a tradeoff though--smaller, less-crowded ships are more comfortable but have nowhere near the food and entertainment options of the Getaway. And in spite of the crowds the staff were always friendly, passengers as well, and the ship was always clean and tidy, dirty dishes/glasses were picked up and tables cleaned right away, and so on. BUT...I don't think I'd enjoy throwing a whole lot of active kids into the mix on top of what I experienced, so I'll probably avoid school vacations on any future Getaway cruises. That's just me though--for most people--who aren't verging on crowd-phobia like I am--the crowds are probably not such a big deal.

Disembarkation the last morning was as painless as embarkation. Except, of course, for the pain of having the cruise end! I chose a later time and had a leisurely "express breakfast" in O'Sheehans, then left the ship at my convenience. I loved the staff lineup just before the gangplank to see you off with a smile! Waited about 10 minutes to go through Customs and then I was out the door and on my way across the street to the parking garage.

I love new ships and hope to be back on Getaway while she's still young. The most comparable cruise I've been on previously was my Oasis of the Seas cruise last year at about the same time--and when I think back to both cruises I'd say I prefer the Getaway, although the fact that it is a brand new ship is probably what tips the balance in its favor. The entertainment variety is similar, and I think the Getaway has more varied food options and feels more like a ship--in a lot of the Oasis you really don't feel like you're at sea but the Getaway is designed so you are always close to ocean views. The Oasis food seems slightly higher quality to me--except in the buffet which is way too small for the ship's size and serves some unpleasant cafeteria-quality food, and where Getaway is the clear winner. The balconies on Oasis cabins are bigger (which is a plus) but the cost of cruises is higher on Oasis.

In summary, it was a great cruise and an excellent way to relax for the week with a lovely room, fantastic spa, good (and very plentiful) food, fun entertainment and no worries...for an all-in price (including the $140 parking fee and the gas to drive to Miami and back) as a solo traveler in a mini-suite cabin of about $1200. Not bad at all!

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