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Norwegian Breakaway Review

Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Breakaway

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Norwegian Breakaway
4.5 / 5.0 Cruise Critic Editor Rating
to book


Exceptional variety of restaurants and entertainment


Shore excursions and destination enrichment lacking local flavor

Bottom Line

Great, fun, easy-going vibe onboard for all ages


Passengers 4,028
Crew 1,595
Passenger to Crew 2.53:1
Launched April 2013
Shore Excursions 543
Cruise Critic
Cruise Critic Staff

Norwegian Breakaway Overview

Norwegian Cruise Line long has been a pioneer in creating a contemporary cruising experience, most notably with its Freestyle philosophy, which deconstructs the traditional style of cruising (set dining times, fewer dining options, set schedules and relatively limited entertainment options). Instead, Breakaway offers resort-like, rather than ship-like, entertainment and dining. While other cruise lines have been catching on to this style, Norwegian Breakaway -- the largest ship in Norwegian's fleet, along with nearly identical sister Norwegian Getaway -- outpaces its competitors with sheer number of restaurants, shows and entertainment venues. Our experience onboard a seven-night cruise felt so much like a jam-packed stay at a really good Las Vegas resort that we only remembered we were on a ship when looking out to sea.

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This is a good thing. Our time on Breakaway was a fantastic experience with so much to do that the only downside was we simply didn't have time to try everything.

That said, Norwegian Breakaway is not for everyone, especially those on either extreme of the traditional cruising spectrum. Norwegian claims Freestyle means "what you want when you want it," an appealing concept for those who wish to be spontaneous and in control of their vacation experience. However, to make the most of your time onboard, you really must plan ahead and make reservations before your trip (or early in the cruise), especially when it comes to dining in specialty restaurants or booking spa treatments. While you can take your chances and walk in, you need to give up some flexibility so as not to miss out.

On the flip side, Breakaway is also not a ship for those who prefer cruise traditions. The only old-school elements are singles gatherings, a small library (best to bring your own books) and mainstream ports. There's little true enrichment, and it can be hard to mingle with other passengers.

Anyone who cruises Breakaway should know the cruise fare is a starter price. While many restaurants and activities are included in the cruise fare, it's really the extras that create a special experience. You have the choice to spend extra on exclusive spaces such as the Vibe Beach Club and the spa's thermal suite, on a handful of entertainment offerings or on specialty restaurants. For a more traditional cruise traveler, that approach can seem like nickel and diming, but for those accustomed to resort stays, it's quite similar.

The beauty of Breakaway is you can opt not to pay extra and still enjoy great outdoor spaces like Spice H2O and The Waterfront, all of the ship's marquee entertainment, and dining at the lovely, casual Uptown Grill buffet and O'Sheehans pub, not to mention delicious menus at Taste and Savor, two sit-down restaurants. No matter your cruising style, Breakaway offers a terrific experience.


Included with your cruise fare:

  • Meals taken in three main dining rooms or at O’Sheehan’s, the Garden Cafe and Shanghai Noodle Bar; also Continental room service breakfast
  • Main theater entertainment
  • Most daily activities except those noted below or in the daily program
  • Use of the gym (excluding yoga and most fitness classes)
  • Use of the sports complex, water slides, basketball court and mini-golf
  • Splash Academy Kids Program

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • Daily gratuities ($15 per person, per day for passengers in standard staterooms; $18 per person, per day for The Haven, Concierge cabins and all suites)
  • Automatic 20 percent gratuity added to all beverage, spa and salon purchases, as well as specialty dining reservations
  • Drinks except water, tea (including iced tea), coffee and select juices from the buffet
  • Room service fee of $9.95 per order (waived for suite guests and continental breakfast orders)
  • Most specialty dining
  • Spa and salon services, as well as access to the thermal suite
  • Most fitness classes
  • Daily activities and events including alcohol tastings, select arts and crafts classes, bingo and the Deal or No Deal gameshow
  • the Cirque Dreams and Dinner Jungle Fantasy dinner theater
  • Late-night programs and mealtime supervision at Splash Academy
  • Wi-Fi access and packages
  • Shore Excursions
  • Artwork, retail shop purchases and photos taken by shipboard photographers

Fellow Passengers

The New York-based Norwegian Breakaway attracts passengers from the surrounding metro area. During school holidays, the ship, with excellent kids' facilities and one of cruising's best set of options for teens, is heavily family-oriented. At all times, it is appealing to solo travelers and couples on a romantic holiday.

Norwegian Breakaway Dress Code

Daytime:Casual dress is the norm for Breakaway, as that's what Norwegian's Freestyle Cruising is all about.

Evening:Though passengers are encouraged to "dress up" one night (e.g. suits for men and anything from cocktail dresses to gowns for women) for pictures, maybe 25 percent do. Khakis, linen pants and collared or cabana shirts are common for men at night, while women tend to wear sundresses or skirts or nice pants with blouses most evenings. Shorts also are common throughout the day and sometimes into the evening, depending on the dining venue.

Not permitted: Shoes are required in all dining venues and restaurants such as the Manhattan Room, Cagney's and Le Bistro require a collared shirt and slacks (shorts don't count).Tank tops and baseball caps are also never permitted.

For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Norwegian Cruise Line.

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More about Norwegian Breakaway

Where does Norwegian Breakaway sail from?
Norwegian Breakaway departs from Miami, New Orleans and New York (Manhattan).
How much does it cost to go on Norwegian Breakaway?
Cruises on Norwegian Breakaway start from $269 per person.
Is Norwegian Breakaway a good ship to cruise on?
Norwegian Breakaway won 2 awards over the years.

Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice

  • 2015 Best for Entertainment
  • 2014 Best for Entertainment

Norwegian Breakaway Member Reviews

Norwegian Breakaway
Sail Date: Feb 2020
We just returned from a cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway. It was a very nice ship. I thought the best feature was the steam room in the Thermal Suite....Read More
Norwegian Breakaway
Sail Date: Apr 2019
Chose this cruise on Norwegian Breakaway to try Studio Cabin as this was my first time going solo. Reached port about 12:30 and boarding went smooth and quick....Read More
Norwegian Breakaway
Sail Date: Oct 2019
If this is your very first time cruising you may enjoy the Norwegian Breakaway, but if you've cruised before and were very happy with your experience on another cruise line you may be in for a disappointment...Read More
Norwegian Breakaway
Sail Date: Nov 2019
Okay, with that said this is our report from our recent cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway. The ship is very nice but we didn't like the layout as well as the Carnival ships....Read More

Norwegian Cruise Line Fleet