My wife and I had done a transatlantic cruise on the Breakaway last April, but our travel companions had to back out due to a late medical problem. So we decided to get together this year and do it again with everyone being healthy ... Read More
My wife and I had done a transatlantic cruise on the Breakaway last April, but our travel companions had to back out due to a late medical problem. So we decided to get together this year and do it again with everyone being healthy again.
The cruise left from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, which is a bit hard to find, and is not really an inviting place to sit and wait for boarding instructions. However, once on board, everything went well. We had lunch in the Main Dining Room (MDR) and proceeded to our cabin (a mid-ship mini suite on Deck 11). We met our cabin steward, and have him a small cash tip to ensure good service. We never saw him again, but I must say that he did his job very efficiently and our cabin was always clean and made up after breakfast and turned down each evening. The cabin was comfortable with lots of storage space and nice verandah.
Food onboard was of very good quality. We ate in the Alizar dining room a few times and found it noisy and cramped. The menu there was always identical to the menu in the MDR. My biggest problem was with the shortage of variety from day to day. Appetizers did not often change and the main entree page, while being different almost every day, often did not appeal to me. Having said that, the food was well prepared and always arrived hot. Servers varied from VERY attentive and friendly, to almost indifferent and slow. One evening in the MDR, we were seated in a corner and almost forgotten. In order to make the 9 PM show, we had to get up and leave before dessert because the server was incompetent and brought the wrong items. But, for the most part, service was good.
We did enjoy the wide variety of buffet items for all three meals. Breakfast was as one would expect, with all the usual offerings. The burgers and pizza at lunch were always well prepared. Lots of great dinner items, with a different cuisine highlighted each evening.
Entertainment and shows were of varying quality. We did NOT like the Cruise Director, Claire Booth. She is British, and had a nasty habit of affecting a snooty accent when making public announcements which drove us nuts! We did not find her outgoing, as has been the case with other CDs we've encountered. She did a daily TV show on the ship's system with here assistant Fabi, which was painful to watch, almost as bad as watching Hoda and Cathie Lee on NBC.
The productions shows were of high quality, but we've seen better on other ships. The compulsory illusionist act was somewhat boring. However, the comedian, Tony Daro, was laugh-out-loud funny. In addition, a vocalist-violinist, Greta Salome, from Iceland was unbelievably talented. Most amazing violing work I've ever seen. We found out later that she is a violinist in the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. They are lucky to have her.
Won a few bucks playing slots in the Casino. Stayed as far away from daytime gambling opps such as "Deal or No Deal," as we learned last year that it is nearly impossible to win at that game. The casino had limited table games of the usual variety.
There was plenty of stuff to do onboard during the sea days and the initial six days at sea during the crossing went by pretty quickly. Having the Unlimited Beverage Package made it a lot more enjoyable as we could have a drink at any time without worrying about the cost. Bartenders were always friendly. Always ordered my Aperol Spritz with a double shot of Aperol and never had a problem asking.
Ports of Call were excellent. Our first call was at Ponta Delgada in the Azores. We were there last year, so we opted to walk around the town on our own. Enjoyed the Farmers Market and an outdoor meal at a sidewalk cafe.
Second call was in Lisbon, Portugal. We had our own private guide and she was great.
Showed us the city, as well as heading out to the town of Sintra. I can't recommend this town enough. It was wonderful! Had lunch i the seaside town of Cascais before returning to the ship. BTW, all of our shore excursions were booked on our own and we never had any problems returning to the ship with plenty of time to spare.
Next port was Cadiz, Spain. We left the ship and immediately headed inland to Sevilla.
Our guide took us through the Alcazar (incredible!) and then we spent some time at the Feria (an annual fair in Sevilla in May). Unbelievable costumes and displays! The drivere who brought us back to the ship was really nice and gave us a short tour of the city of Cadiz before we got back to the pier.
After another day at sea, we arrived in Barcelona. We'd been there a number of times before, so we opted for a private tour of Montserrat. This is an impressive mountain with a monastery and cathedral on top. Very impressive. Excellent British-born driver/guide here and he knew his stuff, which made the day go very quickly.
After Barcelona, we stopped in Cannes, France, and had an all-day tour of Cannes, Nice and Monaco. Our guide was so much fun. She took us to the village of Eze and the Galimard perfumery there. Then on to Monaco and Monte Carlo, where we actually won a few Euros in the beautiful Casino Monte Carlo. This was our favorite port call.
Next, on to Livorno, where our driver met us in town (we took the ship shuttle bus--for 5 Euros per person--and noted that lots of passengers just ignored the ticket salesperson and hopped on the bus without paying and no one stopped them at all). We went to the small towns of Siena and San Gimignano. Lots of medieval stuff to see there and we had a very nice time.
Finally, we arrived at the end of our cruise in Civitavecchia (the port for Rome). Disembarkation went smoothly and our driver/guide met us at the pier. We had booked a port-to-airport transfer with a three-hour included tour of Rome and the tour was wonderful. We had all been to Rome before, but our driver took us to places in Rome that we had never experienced before (along with the usual stops at the Colisseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, etc.). A great way to end our vacation. He took us to the airport and we said "Arrividerci, Roma" to end our 14-day journey. Read Less