We just got back from our Spring Break trip on the Breakaway. This was our (myself, husband, 8-year-old son and 2 friends) first time sailing NCL. We have cruised Royal and Disney in the past so we were excited to try it! Overall, we were ... Read More
We just got back from our Spring Break trip on the Breakaway. This was our (myself, husband, 8-year-old son and 2 friends) first time sailing NCL. We have cruised Royal and Disney in the past so we were excited to try it! Overall, we were very happy with our trip and would book Norwegian again.
Embarkation and New Orleans: This was a really easy process for us. The key? We arrived around 1:00 and therefore most everyone was already on board. What did that mean for us? It meant no lines, a quick walk onto the ship and our rooms were ready for us immediately. We didn't mind not having the buffet lunch since we left from New Orleans and had a DELICIOUS lunch on land before we left for the port. I would say that New Orleans on a Saturday night (we arrived a day early to make sure we weren't delayed) with an 8-year-old is not ideal. We did go to the Audobon Insectarium and while pricey, that was a lot of fun! We did enjoy all of the food and drinks available in NOLA! We recommend Deanie's Seafood. I think it was some of the best shrimp I have ever eaten!!
Ship: The ship was sold out for this sailing as it was Spring Break. Since we all knew that it would be crowded, we managed our expectations. The ship is large, so there were plenty of places to go to escape the crowd. We avoided the pool deck - as if you didn't get up before the sun and reserve a deck chair, you weren't going to get one - and the pools on the sea days - way too many people on board to only have one pool. We LOVED the waterfront! This was our go-to when wanting to be outside. You could find seats in the sun or shade and all were so comfortable. We usually ended up in the couches by Shaker's Martini bar. It was awesome. This was our favorite part of the ship. I will also note that because the casino is right next to the Atrium, there is a stale cigarette smoke smell that wafts through the Atrium. We just avoided it when we could and dealt with it when we had to, but if you are bothered by smoke, this is something you should know.
Cabin: We had a Family Inside Cabin. I was worried before we sailed that having the bunk over the bed would be awkward for our family of three. I am happy to report that it was more spacious than I thought it would be and it worked out fine! I loved all of the storage in the room. We had tons of closet space and lots of drawers as well. Sadly, there was little to no storage in our bathroom, so thankfully I had brought an over the door organizer that helped with that.
Dining: This was our biggest disappointment on the trip! While I think we are open-minded about food, the food in the main dining room was the worst I have ever had on a cruise. It was almost inedible. We only ate there one night due to this. Thankfully, there were other options. The buffet at breakfast was just fine. Typical cruise breakfast and had everything we needed. We didn't try the lunch buffet. The dinner buffet was lacking. We felt that there were not that many choices and it was very unorganized. We ate a few times at O'Sheehans as well. The food was pretty good, but the service was terrible. One night it took us almost 2 hours to get an order of nachos and a hot dog. We were lucky enough to get reservations twice at Shanghai Noodle Bar. This was my favorite of the included food options. Get the potstickers, they were yummy!! We also had lunch at the bar in Margaritaville one sea day. We didn't use a meal plan, we just ordered the nachos ala cart ($8.99). The portions were huge and it was worth the money. We had a three meal dining plan that we purchased before sailing. We used it to eat at Le Bistro, Teppanyaki and Cagneys. We really enjoyed our meal at Le Bistro. Everything was very good and the service was good as well. Teppanyaki was our favorite specialty dining. It was such a fun experience, plus the food was great and there was TONS of food. We were stuffed! Cagney's was also good, but I have to admit I still like Chops on Royal Caribbean better.
Entertainment and Activites: We spent a lot of time at O'Sheehans playing pool,darts, ski-ball, and mini-bowling. I didn't love that everything was an extra cost, but I felt like the cost to play wasn't too terrible (1.00 for darts and pool, 1.20 for ski ball and 6.00 for bowling) and it kept the crowds down. We were disappointed at the lack of trivia options on board. This is one of our favorite activities and we found that there weren't many happening and when they were they were really strange topics like "birds of the world" or "cat breeds."
We made sure to book before we left so that we had reservations to both Burn the Floor and Rock of Ages. Burn the Floor was good. They dance to live music and the singers were excellent. The dancers were amazing, but since no one in our party is that excited about dance shows, it was a little boring for us. I would say go if you like dance and skip if you aren't interested in it. Rock of Ages is another story. We laughed all week about the fact that NCL warns you about the adult content in this show at least twice a day. Well, they aren't wrong. There is adult content, so be advised - I was very glad I didn't bring my 8-year-old to the show. We absolutely LOVED this show. It is funny, doesn't take itself too serious and the music makes you want to sing along. The cast was great! If we didn't attend the last showing, I would have gone again! I highly recommend going!
Kids Club: Our son doesn't typically enjoy going to kid's programs on cruise ships as he doesn't love organized activities. He did enjoy the kid's club on this ship. He went two times and had fun each time. They had theme nights, but he liked that he wasn't forced to participate. He could just watch if he didn't want to play. We were able to get a pager so that if he needed us or wanted to leave, they could contact us quickly.
Cozumel: We booked an excursion with an outside company (resort for a day) and spent the day at El Cozumeleno. The only trouble we found was trying to get a cab. There is not a clear taxi stand, so we had to wander around the port a bit and ask a lot of people for help. It was a great resort for snorkeling and the service was top notch. I never wanted for anything and my cup was never empty. There was also beach combing available so I had a great time finding sea glass while my son played on the beach. It was a great day!
Belize City: We used Jose Tours Belize for an excursion to Altun Ha Mayan ruins and Cave Tubing. Jose himself picked us up and was our guide for the day. He was so kind, informative and awesome. I highly recommend using him! Altun Ha was so beautiful and peaceful. It was impressive to see something built so long ago. Be aware that climbing to the top requires effort- the stairs are very steep! Make sure to wear tennis shoes if you go. Afterward, we drove to the cave tubing portion of the trip. We were given lunch - a delicious grilled BBQ chicken, rice and coleslaw - and then walked about a mile through the Rain Forrest to the river. The tubing experience was incredible. This was my favorite day of our trip!! I will warn you that if you do this excursion, it does take ALL DAY as the two locations are not close to each other at all and not close to the port. I think we probably drove for at least 3 hours that day. It was nice to see a lot of Belize though!
Harvest Caye: This was a nice day. We enjoyed the nice beach where there were plenty of chairs and the great pool. We didn't love having to pay for food and drinks on a private island, but we knew this before we arrived so we made sure to eat a big breakfast before leaving the ship and paced ourselves. Make sure to check out the animal encounter exhibit. They have a butterfly room and tropical birds to view and it is free to see. We really liked it and it was nice to be in the shade for a bit.
Costa Maya: We made a great choice to leave the port (which is not easy as it is set up as a giant maze to keep you there) and took a taxi to Mahuahal beach. We spent our time at Tropicante and enjoyed the beautiful beach, free chairs and wifi and well priced buckets of beer. They were also offering massages for 20 for an hour, but we ran out of time. Our only disappointment with Costa Maya was that we were only there from 7-1, and we wish we could have had more time since we were having such a great time.
Disembarkation: This was so great! NCL has a program that will take your bags straight to the airport and check them into your flight for you. There was no charge for this and it allowed us to not only get off the boat easier, but hang out in New Orleans a little more before going to the airport. Customs was so easy! We just showed them our passports and we were on our way. I think it might have taken us 15 minutes to get from our room to the other side of customs. Read Less