This is post #2 of the three part Mother-Daughter vacation series. Let me give a little background to stress the importance of this NCL Breakaway Cruise.
My Mom missed a family cruise a few years ago when she had major back surgery. She and my Dad rescheduled for a Christmas (her birthday) cruise the following year. She missed that boat when she forgot her passport. If those weren’t reasons enough, the need to update this 1992 bedazzled photo from a Bahamian cruise would decide our fate.
So, here we are. Passports secured in safe locations with constant reminders. Everything planed out to a T to make sure this trip went off without a hitch!
The NCL Breakaway has a capacity of 4,000 passengers and 1,600 crew. Our itinerary included 3 days to cruise to the tip of the Bermuda Triangle, 3 days docked at the Royal Naval Dockyard, and a day and a half to sail back to New York.
We shared an inside cabin, and we both agreed that next time Mom would do better with a balcony because she retreated to the room to break from the sun. Despite the Breakaway being the largest of the NCL fleet, it does not offer a lot of lounge areas. In fact, the layout is poorly designed and this was a disappointment echoed by many people.
I explored every nook and cranny of this ship so I would not miss anything.
Here is the breakdown:
Deck 4: Tender Lobby, Gangway. It was an easy process to come and go while in port. The area was open 24/7. I liked how they had wash clothes, sanitizers, and cold drinks to welcome passengers aboard. It helps to keep the germs down and refreshes you after a long day.
Deck 5: This is the medical area and all inside cabins. The hallways are much wider than decks 9-14 stateroom hallways. Unfortunately, we had to make a trip to medical. My Mom had the worse sunburn I have ever seen on a person’s lip.
Deck 6: This is the Atrium level which extends to deck 7. Guest services, the Park West Art Gallery, internet café, library, Taste and Savor restaurants, and comedy club are all on this level. There are no staterooms.
Deck 7: The Manhattan dining room, O’Sheehans, bowling, casino and theatre are what you will find. Outside, is a shuffleboard area. You can only walk the length of the ship on this level.
Deck 8: This is the level for all the specialty restaurants. There is a Jazz & Blues club, photo shop, trade winds duty free, Svedka Ice Bar and gift shop. The outside area is the lowest deck where you can walk the entire perimeter of the ship. There is a jumbo chess game and a few lounge chairs for relaxing if you can find one unoccupied. I wish they had some seats at the aft.
Decks 9-14: These are all staterooms with the exception of deck 12 which has a Splash Academy kids club.
Deck 15: You will find the adult only pool, towel exchange, Mandara Spa & Thermal Suite, Garden Café Buffet, Marketplace (small sample of items from the gift shop on the pool deck), 4 hot tubs, kids aqua park and the Haven which extends to decks 16 & 17.
Deck 16: The Uptown Grill, Spice H20 (18+ area from 6am-5pm), 3 hot tubs, splash bar, Entourage teen club, arcade, jogging track, rock climbing wall, and 4 water slides draw the crowds.
Deck 17: Minature golf, Vibe Beach Club, Round daybeds at the front of the ship just opposite of the Haven sundeck.
Deck 18: Sundeck, basketball court and ropes course.
Food: I read reviews about the food being poor quality, and I thought the reviewers were being extra picky. Sadly, they were correct. The Golden Corral would put the Breakaway’s Garden Buffet to shame.
The items were never steaming hot. By the time you made your plate and sat down, the food was room temperature at best. Taste and Savor have the exact same menus. The service in Manhattan was slow. The desserts were down right terrible! Your best bet is an ice cream cone (from the machine, not the watery hand dipped) or the pound cakes. The pot pie from O’Sheehan’s was my best meal because it was served hot.
Service: We did not meet our stateroom attendant until Wednesday. So unacceptable, or is this Norwegian’s concept of freestyle cruising? I did not like the lack of formality. There was nothing on the Breakaway to make me feel like I had the luxury of being a cruiser.
Atmosphere: The entertainment was awful. Rock of Ages was a waste of time. Burn the Floor put me to sleep. The ship’s lounge singers were horrible.
The majority of passengers were from NY and NJ. They were some of the most filthy mouthed people with unruly children I have ever seen. They allowed their children in the adult shows, kids in the casino, and they lacked table manners.
The Haven: On the other side of Vibe is the Haven. I gained access by meeting someone who gave me a tour. They have 24 hour butlers and it was very fancy compared to the regular areas of the ship.
I was up at 6 a.m. to reserve a lounge chair. I ran into this guy who sectioned off a corner. We talked for a while and he told me his son was proposing to his girlfriend. This was the nicest family I met. Congratulations to the newly engaged couple!
Mandara Spa Thermal Suite: We bought a day pass for $49. It was perfect after a 7 hour excursion. The day pass was definitely worth it with therapeutic pool, hot tub, salt bath, 2 saunas, rain shower heads, and the steam room with 100% humidity. They had lounges that were tiled and heated along with tea and orange infused water.
All in all, the NCL Breakaway will get you to your destination. You may get an animal towel on your bed, but dont expect anything more unless you want to be nickle and dimed for food and service upgrades.
Most important, I finally got my cruise with my Mom and the updated photo: