Norwegian Breakaway Review

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Norwegian Breakaway Review

My wife and I decided to try something different for the holiday this year. We booked the Christmas cruise on the NCL Breakaway. I am not a fan of the large cruise ships and therefore I was anticipating a “horrible” experience on this ship. This ship has a low space ratio of only 30 and our sailing had over 4,900 passengers including 1,500 kids.

NCL Breakaway ShipWe booked a balcony cabin and I knew going in that the cabins were narrow and the balconies were tight. I also knew that the casino was poorly placed in the middle of the ship and that you could not get to any place without walking past loud clanging slot machines and being overcome by cigarette smoke. I expected long lines at all the restaurants and stressed out staff.

To prepare to make the best of the anticipated “horrible” experience I pre-booked and paid for dining in each of the specialty restaurants. I decided not to book anything on the day we docked in Port Canaveral because most passengers would be off the ship that day and the dining rooms would not be as busy. I also pre-booked all the shows.

We have never sailed out of New York City in December and I expected the worst of weather. But the day we left the temperature in New York was actually close to 70 degrees. This made for a very nice sail away. We arrived at the port around 10:00 a.m. and within 30 minutes we had parked the car, dropped off our luggage, checked in and were ready to board. Being a Platinum member we were among the first to board the ship. I felt that a nice cold beer would be a good way to start the cruise and we headed to O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill for a quick lunch and beer. To our surprise we found the quality of the food and the service in O’Sheehan’s to be very good. We enjoyed it so much that we found ourselves there for breakfast almost every day. Our only complaint is that the breakfast menu doesn’t include fruit or even cereal. However the omelets were very good and everything was always served hot.

NCL Breakaway StateroomAfter our lunch we went to check out our stateroom. The configuration of our stateroom had the bed close to the balcony door and this allowed more room to walk around in the middle of the cabin. Even though the cabin was narrow (only 8.25 feet wide) it was very well designed. I ended up really liking the modern design of the cabin. We had drawer space under the sofa, plenty of space under the bed for storage, and despite the closet being narrow, it had lots of shelves. The bathroom layout was one of the best I have ever seen for a normal stateroom. The bathroom itself was 25 square feet with a shower design that was 3 feet deep with a glass door. The sink area had lots of shelve space, an enclosed cabinet, and glass holders. We had plenty of space for all of our stuff.

The 28 square foot balcony was tight, but very manageable for two people. It included two 22 inch wide chairs and a table that measured 12 inches square. We like to stretch out our legs when on the balcony and we were able to do this by adding a sofa pillow to the top of the table for one of us and bringing out the small dressing area bench for the other to use. It was tight, but we made it work.

On this cruise, the ship offered two main shows in the Theater. The first called “Burn the Floor” and the second a production of the Broadway show “Rock of Ages”. The quality of these shows was outstanding. Perhaps some of the best singers and dancers that we have seen on the various cruise ships that we have sailed. The Rock of Ages, although performed well, is not family friendly and therefore it is puzzling why Norwegian would choose it as one of its main shows. In addition to the main shows, the ship offered some other entertainment options. The Fat Cats jazz and blues club is an excellent place to enjoy some jazzy music performed by the very talented Slam Allen Blues Band.  Headliners comedy club featured a show called Howl at the Moon. This high energy sing along dual piano bar show was extremely fun at times and with the right crowd, the place rocked!

We ate in all the specialty restaurants during the week. Our favorite was the Le Bistro. We have eaten at this restaurant on other NCL ships, but for some reason we found the quality of the food to be exceptional on this ship. The cream of mushroom soup was Lobster Rollsoutstanding. The rack of lamb was very tender and well -seasoned. We had an excellent experience in other restaurants including Moderno, Cagneys, and Teppanyaki. Our least favorite restaurant was Ocean Blue. Honestly we didn’t get it. We both had the signature scallop dish and found it to be a poor combination of food with a few scallops and lots of pork….definitely not worth the $49.00 cover charge. However, Ocean Blue did serve lunch during the day on the Waterfront and we really enjoyed the lobster rolls. Very well prepared and it was fun eating lunch outside in the sun on a moving cruise ship.

Speaking of the Waterfront, this feature made all the difference for us. We were not seeking sun tans on this cruise, so we avoided the crowded pool deck and pools by spending a lot of time on the Waterfront. Norwegian does not offer an adult only pool, therefore if you choose to swim in one of the two main pools, then be prepared for lots of splashing and diving. On our cruise, the four main hot tubs were always full. The ship does offer an area in the back called Spice H20, but the two hot tubs in this area were also busy on sea days.

WaterfrontBack to the Waterfront, NCL did very well here. This very wide deck wraps around half the ship and offers outdoor seating for the restaurants on deck 8 (Promenade deck), plus some other seating options for those looking for a quiet place to read or enjoy the ocean views. NCL Breakaway deck chairsWe spent hours here. It was much quieter than the pool areas and the port side had some very comfortable chairs for relaxing in. Being closer to sea level, the view of the passing waves is more spectacular. We even spotted a group of dolphins swimming near the ship.

The weather allowed us to enjoy the Waterfront and our balcony every day. We found ourselves sitting out on our balcony, sipping wine and enjoying the setting sun on the last sea day. We weren’t expecting that in the middle of the winter and it was exactly what the doctor ordered.

In the end, we actually enjoyed the cruise very much. What we anticipated might be a “horrible” experience- we found it to be one of the best cruises we’ve ever taken. It helped knowing what areas to avoid and also planning the entertainment and meals ahead of time. This plus plenty of entertainment options and the Waterfront with the sunshine made all the difference.  And contrary to what we were expecting, all the NCL Staff we encountered were professional and seem to really be enjoying their job.  

So even though we were on a large crowded cruise ship, at times we found plenty of quiet space and enjoyed the extra quality that NCL was able to offer on this ship.

Steve Millay, ACC

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