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, Norwegian Breakaway offers resort-like, rather than ship-like, entertainment and dining. It's a style that other cruise lines have adopted, but Norwegian Breakaway did it first by outpacing 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.
This is a good thing. Our time on the Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship was a fantastic experience with so much to do that the only downside was we simply didn't have time to try everything.
Norwegian Breakaway deck plans are well designed, with separate decks for public spaces and cabins, allowing for quiet nights for a high percentage of guests. That is a major plus, as you’ll be sharing the ship with almost 4,000 other passengers.
Cabins on decks 10, 11 and 12 are great for light sleepers, as they’re not shared with any loud public venues and are located above and beneath other rooms. The Norwegian Breakaway Haven suite complex, located on decks 15 through 17 and featuring its own private pool area and lounge, is also generally quiet despite sharing space with common areas.
Norwegian Breakaway restaurants are spread over multiple decks, allowing for easy access to food from all corners of the ship. And for those who wish to enjoy their meals in the privacy of their cabin, room service is available around the clock for a flat rate.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of fun offerings. The Norwegian Breakaway casino, the spa, Entourage teens’ club, Splash Academy kids’ club, the pools, the sports complex, and the adult-only areas will keep passengers of all ages busy and happy throughout the day. The highlight of evening entertainment on Norwegian Breakaway is “Six”, an acclaimed Broadway show with excellent performers. “Burn the Floor” and “Velvet” don’t disappoint either.
That said, 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, the small Norwegian Breakaway 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 unless you’re staying in the Studio section, which features a private lounge for solo travelers.
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 spa's thermal suite, the Norwegian Breakaway adult-only Vibe Beach Club, 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 Norwegian Breakaway is you can opt not to pay extra and still enjoy great outdoor spaces like Spice H2O, The Waterfront, all of the ship's marquee entertainment, and dining at O'Sheehans pub, not to mention delicious menus at Taste and Savour, two sit-down restaurants. No matter your cruising style, Breakaway offers a terrific experience.
For the most up-to-date testing, masking, and vaccination requirements aboard Norwegian Breakaway, please refer to Norwegian’s Health and Safety protocols. You can also use Cruise Critic's guide to health requirements on the world’s major cruise lines as we know them.
· 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
· Daily gratuities (amounts vary based on stateroom and suite category)
· 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
· 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
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 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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