By Cruise Critic Staff
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Entertainment

Norwegian Breakaway Entertainment & Activities

Theater

The 800-seat Breakaway Theater hosts the ship's most elaborate singing and dancing extravaganzas. It's here you'll find the Broadway musical "Rock of Ages," a boy-meets-girl love story set with an '80s soundtrack and backdrop. (The content is a bit racy, with language to match, so parents of young children might want to consider other options.) The super-popular "Burn the Floor" is a dance revue show that is slickly choreographed and extremely energetic (the sweat literally flies off the male dancers), taking in a variety of different genres and styles that range from Latin and Rock to '50s. The 55-minute show has no storyline or dialogue, but the dancers are backed with a live band and a singer. Note: "Burn the Floor" is also performed, one night, in the Manhattan Room.

While there's no charge for any performance in the Breakaway Theater, it does operate on a ticket system. Shows are offered at varying times -- and on varying dates -- to ensure that anyone who wants to go has a chance. (We liked "Burn the Floor" so much we went twice.) The ticket office is just outside the theater, and operating hours are posted in the Freestyle Daily.

Daily Fun

The ship's three-deck Atrium is abuzz with activity throughout the day. There's morning trivia, a Nintendo U Dance 4 competition, towel animal folding and cooking demonstrations, dance classes and a "Deal or No Deal" game.

Elsewhere, other activities include wine tastings, seminars for detoxing and puffy eyes, bingo, an international crew talent show, art auctions and solo travelers' meet and greets. The once-a-cruise "Wine Lovers The Musical," offers a wine tasting event, with lunch, framed in a Broadway-esque musical-comedy setting (see Dining section).

At Night

Evenings are punctuated by music all over Norwegian Breakaway. Hotspots include the Atrium, where a duet sings pop tunes; Maltings, where you can listen to guitar music; and Shakers, the ship's martini bar, host to yet another duo.

Norwegian Breakaway's comedy club is Headliners. Some nights, Second City takes to the stage for scripted standup and improv sessions. Reservations are recommended for these performances, though we easily got into the improv show as standbys. Some shows are family friendly, while others are strictly for adults; check the daily schedule to know which you'll attend. Other nights feature the fabulous Howl at the Moon, a dueling piano show, where singing along and making requests is encouraged.

Fat Cats Jazz and Blues Club is the best place on the ocean for live jazz. Fat Cats is one of a handful of bars with outdoor seating on The Waterfront.

Gamblers will find all the usual slot machines (303 in total) and table games on Breakaway, though the layout is a bit different than it is on other ships. Rather than just one large square area, the Breakaway casino is centered on the 678 Ocean Place circular staircase and expands out in several directions.

Cirque Dreams and Dinner is an acrobatic dinner theater show (see Dining section), where the show is higher quality than the food.

Post-dinner, Spice H2O, on Deck 16 aft, is transformed from an adults-only pool area to an adults-only entertainment venue with a massive television screen, dance floor and bar. Themed events include a 1970s "disco groove" bash, a "glow" party where everyone is given light sticks to wave around, and a tribute to the 1980s dance party.

Norwegian Breakaway Bars and Lounges

At night, more than a dozen bars and lounges hum with activity. On pleasant evenings, there's nowhere more special to be than outside on The Waterfront on Deck 8, where Maltings Beer and Whiskey Bar and Shaker's Cocktail Bar have alfresco seating. (A heads-up: These are very popular with passengers who wish to smoke.)

During the day, one of the quietest spots to have a drink is at the Uptown Bar and Grill; we also love the Atrium Bar when there is no entertainment going on (fairly rare, alas). It's got a handful of tables and a key location near a bakery stocked with pastries from Carlo's. Another find away from crowds was the bar located within the adult-only Spice H20.

Norwegian Breakaway offers a variety of beverage packages, from sodas to wine to cocktails and these can be a good value. In general, the wine selection was rather utilitarian though bottles were priced fairly.

Mixx Bar (Deck 6): A great place to meet-up before dinner, Mixx Bar is located in the center of the hallway between the Savor and Taste dining rooms.

Atrium Bar (Deck 6): Open from morning to night, the circular Atrium Bar is a fabulous spot for participating in Atrium-oriented activities or simply just people-watching.

O'Sheehans Bar (Deck 7): O'Sheehans Bar, adjacent to the casual eatery of the same name, serves up casual bites and the ship's best selection of beers. The most fun bar at sea, it's the place for games, from a pared-down pair of bowling lanes to carnival games and darts. (Note, though, that most charge a fee to play.) O'Sheehans also offers fantastic atrium viewing; its circular bar and stools face directly onto the atrium's two-deck-high flat screen.

Bliss Ultra Lounge (Deck 7): Located in a dark, inside room illuminated only by crazy, colorful light installations, Bliss Ultra Lounge serves as the ship's late night disco.

Prime Meridian (Deck 8): Located in between Moderno Churascarria and Cagney's Steakhouse, Prime Meridian offers a clubby ambience and a quiet respite at its circular bar. We particularly love the comfy armchairs scattered around.

Maltings Beer and Whiskey Bar (Deck 8): A convivial spot along the Waterfront, Maltings offers indoor and outdoor seating. Inside, the bar features dark leather chairs and two large-screen TVs. The theme continues outside, with wooden barstools and a black marble bar. One downside to Maltings -- for those sensitive to smoke, anyway -- is that its outdoor bar is a smoker-friendly spot and inside, where smoking is not permitted, passengers might still catch a whiff from the adjacent Humidor Cigar Lounge.

Shakers Cocktail Bar (Deck 8): It's no secret that Shaker's is the ship's best martini spot. It's also an indoor-outdoor venue.

Svedka Ice Bar (Deck 8): Inside the Svedka Ice Bar, the temperature's a frosty 17 degrees Fahrenheit. The bar features New York-inspired drinks made of vodka and/or Inniskillen ice wine; nonalcoholic beverages are offered as well. The cover charge ($20 per person) includes two drinks -- and the use of a warm parka.

Waves Pool Bar and Waves Bar (Deck 15): These bars serve passengers in the pool area and also those who patronize the ship's Garden Cafe buffet venue.

Uptown Bar & Grill (Deck 16): The grill is a terrific casual alternative to the Garden Cafe, while the bar itself is under cover -- and thus offers a place to get out of the sun.

Vibe Beach Club Bar (Deck 16): At this fee-extra beach club bar, tucked away forward, the bar serves a full range of cocktails and specializes in festive beach drinks.

Spice H20 (Deck 16): This corner bar is part of the adults-only Spice H20 pool area and is open day and night.

The Haven Lounge (Deck 16): Open only for residents of Breakaway's exclusive Haven area, the lounge has a full bar and a particularly good selection of wine and Champagne.

Outside Recreation

Pools

Breakaway's main pool is on Deck 15, midship, and it's flanked by four hot tubs. On a ship packed with families, we found the pool -- and the deck space around it -- to be cramped and insufficient for the capacity. Deckchair saving was rampant.

The Haven, the ship's luxury area, has its own pool on Deck 16, and two decks of lounge seating. It's available only to residents of the Haven.

Kids must be potty trained to use onboard pools.

Recreation

Adjacent to the main pool, the Aqua Park offers Norwegian's largest variety of waterslides, including two that send you into a 360-degree spin before spitting you into the pool and two side-by-side Free Fall slides in which daredevils are plunged 250 feet (when a trapdoor beneath their feet opens) into a looping tunnel.

A splash area for kids is located next door to the main water park. Kids may wear swim diapers here.

The ship packs a lot of outdoor action into decks 15 through 18. One of the ship's absolute highlights is its fabulous Sky Trail, a vertigo-inducing ropes course that includes a bungee trampoline, zip-line and an 8-foot-long "plank" that extends over the side of the ship -- with nothing between you and the lifeboats 10 decks below. Kids must be at least 48 inches tall to climb Sky Trail.

A rock-climbing wall, also with height restrictions, and nine-hole miniature golf course are located next to the Sky Trail. Climb a set of stairs to Deck 18, and the Sports Court provides a spot for basketball and soccer. Tucked away in a corner is the Spider Web, a six-story crawl space that requires a slide ride down. Little ones will love it.

Sun Decks

As noted, prime pool-adjacent sun deck areas are cramped and crowded, and a lawless spirit of deck chair hogs pervades. But there are numerous areas, especially on decks 16 and 17, where chaise lounges are often available. They're still packed in like sardines, but you can usually find one, even during prime time on sea days. One nice touch: Crewmembers offer cool towels on hot days.

SpiceH2O on Deck 16 is a lovely space with a two-deck-high flat screen that during sunbathing hours is fairly tame. It's off-limits for kids, and crew enforced the policy. It's free to use at all hours of the day. At night, it heats up; this is where most of the ship's theme parties take place.

Vibe Beach Club, on Deck 16, is another adults-only space with a pair of whirlpools, cozy wicker chair/sofa set-ups, and a handful of extra-fee cabanas. It sells only a limited number of daily and weekly passes, so deck chairs are always available for all. The fee ($79 for the week; $20 per day) to use Vibe includes water spritzers, chilled towels and fruit skewers.

Norwegian Breakaway Services

Passenger service areas such as the shore excursion desk and the purser's desk are located on Deck 6, adjacent to the atrium. Also here is a restaurant reservation desk, open throughout the day. Menus are available to help you make your choice.

The library and card room are tucked away behind the atrium on Deck 6. In the card room, you'll find old standards like Yahtzee, Trivial Pursuit and other games, while the library offers a very small selection of books and e-books for borrowing. Both rooms also host the Rockettes mini-museum as a nod to Breakaway's godmothers; in the card room, you'll find photo timelines, and in the library is a display of costumes.

A small Internet cafe with 12 workstations is nestled into a corner of the atrium, also on Deck 6. You'll pay 59 cents a megabyte for pay-as-you-go, but you can purchase data plans -- the only ship in the fleet that offers them -- which will reduce the cost (300 mb for $59 or 1000 mb for $125).

Click Photo Gallery and shopping are on Deck 8. Breakaway features traditional cruise-ship shopping, including fine jewelry, duty-free alcohol and cigarettes, various sundries, clothing and accessories, and lots of Breakaway-branded items.

There are no self-service laundry facilities on Breakaway.

Norwegian Breakaway Spa & Fitness

Spa

The spa on Norwegian Breakaway, operated by Mandara, is about 40 percent larger than the spas on the line's other ships (excluding Epic and Getaway). Offerings include treatments such as massages, body wraps and facials. A barber shop for men offers shaves, grooming treatments, facials, manicures and pedicures, and, yes, haircuts.

The women's salon, across the hall, offers a full range of nail and hair services.  A Medi-Spa offers treatments such as acupuncture, cosmetic services like Botox and teeth whitening.

A full range of couples-themed experiences is offered, including a couples massage and bathing ritual, and steam Rasul therapy. The Teen and Kid Spa, for the under-18 crowd, features "fabulous fruity facials," a "father/son chill out massage," a "mother/daughter paradise massage" and styling sessions.

Also in the spa is the ship's thermal suite, which costs $199 per person for a weeklong sailing and is capacity-controlled. It's a lovely, serene space with steam rooms, a dry sauna, a Vitality pool, hot tubs, waterfalls and heated tile loungers. Two small salt rooms encrusted with layers of salt crystals, said to improve respiratory problems and skin ailments, are also located in the thermal suite.

Fitness

Breakaway's fitness area on Deck 15 is extensive, and the cardio area is smartly separated from the weight-lifting area. Each offers a solid variety of equipment: exercise bikes, ellipticals, treadmills and a rowing machine in the cardio area, as well as dumbbells up to 100 pounds, barbells, Smith machines, weight racks and resistance machines in the weight area. The layout is a bit odd, though, in that rooms are especially long, so there's a bit of tripping over other exercisers, especially in the weight area.

Breakaway also offers classes, including the wildly popular TRX suspension training, Flywheel indoor cycling, Pilates, bootcamp, Fight Klub and yoga. While most classes incur additional fees, ranging from $12 to $30, it does offer a number of free options, such as abs and stretching classes. Rockettes exercise classes, taught by Rockettes-trained instructors, are also complimentary.

The jogging track on Deck 16 is one lane, so it will get a little tight when crowded, though it wasn't a problem when we were onboard. You'll have to run eight laps to get a mile. We didn't see walkers on the track; perhaps they preferred to walk The Waterfront on Deck 8.

Norwegian Breakaway For Kids

Children have nearly as many options as adults on Breakaway. For teens, there isn't a better place to be than at Entourage, the teen club for 13- to 17-year-olds, located on Deck 16 aft. The supervisors at this hip daytime lounge/nighttime disco are young and hip themselves, and they provide team-building activities on the first two days to get kids together. They swear kids line up at the door for the club to open at 11 a.m. each day. Special events include Mardi Gras, Casino Night, and Suit and Tie Night, where kids participate in a photo shoot, attend the Second City comedy show and then have dinner out together. One of the most popular events is the Glow Party, where black lights turn the club into a teen-friendly rave. The club features four gaming stations, air hockey, Foosball and a two-sided D.J. emulator -- one of four in the world -- where kids can learn to D.J. D.J.'s also are on hand during special events to teach kids, with pros from big nightclubs and festivals like Coachella providing instruction.

The club is open from 11 a.m. until 1 a.m. in a "come and go as you please" environment. Food and drink are not regularly offered in the club, but at 10:30 p.m., finger foods, including pizza, are brought into the club. Teens can enjoy the ship and the club unaccompanied until 1 a.m., when the ship closes for the evening, and all kids must return to their staterooms.

The Splash Academy, offered to children ages 3 to 12, is a two-deck, supervised kids club. Kids are divided by age groups -- Turtles (3 to 5), Seals (6 to 9) and Dolphins (10 to 12) -- and daily activities for each are typically themed. Hollywood at Sea, for example, includes a red carpet, dress-up event after dinner and "celebrity" appearances by Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob. Other themes include Tribes at Sea, the Big Top at Sea and Rumble in the Jungle. During the programs, kids enjoy arts and crafts, games, movies and video games.

Parents check in children on tablets at the main desk on Deck 12 Forward, but the younger kids hang out downstairs and the older kids upstairs. The program does not provide any sort of pager for parents, unless children are still in diapers, in which case parents receive a spy-style wristband that can be used to call them. (Kids club counselors are unable to change diapers, but non-toilet-trained kids can still participate in activities.)

Splash Academy closes for lunch from noon to 2 p.m., and dinner from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Parents must return to pick up their children during these hours. Late-night hours are provided from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at an additional fee ($6 per hour for the first child, and $4 per hour for each additional child). The club remains open all day on port days.

While infants 6 to 35 months are welcome onboard and have their own Guppies program, the program requires parents to participate, and the ship does not provide a childcare service. The Under 2 Zoo play area is quite small. However, the Guppies program does provide some fun for parents with babies, including the Wee Can Too program that lets infants be artists with special edible paints (made with vegetables).

A video arcade, located on Deck 16, is better suited for older kids, as most of the video games are geared for the PG crowd. Games are $1.50 to $2 per play, so be careful when sending kids with their cards to freely swipe.

 

Norwegian Breakaway Ship Stats

  • Crew: 1,595
  • Launched: April 2013
  • Decks: 18
  • Passengers: 4,028
  • Registry: Nassau, Bahamas
  • CDC Score: 92

Find a Norwegian Breakaway Cruise