Line: Norwegian Cruise Line
Built: May 2013
Passengers: 4,028 passengers
Class: Breakaway class (along with Norwegian Getaway)
Routes: Out of New York year-round on seven-day cruises to Bermuda and the Bahamas and 12-day cruises to the Southern Caribbean.
New Yorkers who want to sail out of Manhattan and avoid flying.
Those with a low threshold for seasickness since Norwegian Breakaway sails out of Manhattan all year long, and the Atlantic is notoriously rough during storms.
- The Waterfront, an outdoor area with restaurants, bars, and a gelato shop
- A ropes course with a walk “The Plank” feature
- The Free Fall, one of the fastest waterslides at sea
Norwegian Breakaway is the line’s homage to New York, its year-round home port. So what does the cruise version of the city feel like? In addition to the seafood restaurant Ocean Blue and the bakeshop by Buddy Valastro (whose original is in Hoboken), there’s a Fire Island area with a Sabrett’s hot dog cart. There’s also The Waterfront, an outdoor space that runs along Deck 8. Does it feel like Coney Island? Not really, but it’s a great invitation to spend time outside.
Tip: Looking for grown-up time, away from the Marco Polo games in the main pool? The Vibe Beach Club has a hot tub, bar, and resort-inspired treats, including skewers of fresh fruit and chilled towels. The only catch: They sell a limited number of weekly passes — and they’re $79.
Norwegian Epic was the line’s first ship to debut the single-occupancy cabin concept, and it remains a genius solution to the age-old problem of single supplements.
The Haven, a similar but high-end grouping of cabins with shared space and keycard access, is also not new but remains impressive. These cabins encircle a private restaurant and a glass-enclosed atrium with play pools and curtained cabanas. It feels exclusive, because it is — staterooms start at $2,699 per person per week, and celebrities (Oprah Winfrey and Reba McEntire) have booked them.
Other staterooms worth a second look: Spa cabins have window-view whirlpool tubs tricked out with neon, as well as the right to use the spa facilities during business hours.
Activities and entertainment
While Norwegian Breakaway's three-story sports complex — with its rock climbing wall and basketball court — isn’t new, the nine-hole miniature golf course and ropes course — the largest at sea — are redesigned. The Aqua Park concept also originated on Epic, but now has five slides, including one of the fastest at sea.
Kids’ areas include everything from a teen arcade and club to a space for the under-3 age set: the Guppies room, where visits from SpongeBob are standard. Splash Academy, for 3- to 12-year-olds, is the largest playroom yet for the line.
The ship has lots of nighttime entertainment options — from a Cirque de Soleil dinner theater to a comedy club with entertainers from Chicago’s Second City — but the big news is the production of Broadway’s “Rock of Ages,” an ’80s-themed musical that’s racy by cruising standards, if tame for anyone with cable.
The spa has a large thermal suite — with hot tubs, steam rooms, and heated lounge chairs looking out over the water. It also has a Salt Room, a first at sea, in which salinated air aims to soften skin. The gym is attached, and classes include a workout designed by The Rockettes, the ship’s godmothers.
Tip: Spa treatments usually include access to all facilities, but here you’ll pay an extra $39 per person.
Many of the 27 dining options onboard will be familiar to repeat cruisers on the line, from the impressive Cagney’s Steakhouse (which now serves Certified Angus beef) to Moderno Churrascaria.
The big news for Norwegian Breakaway is Ocean Blue (an upscale seafood restaurant), The Raw Bar, and Ocean Blue on The Waterfront (which serves lobster rolls and fried calamari). Ocean Blue is as good as similar Manhattan-based spots, with impressive cocktails, impeccable service, and carefully prepared dishes.
In addition, Carlo’s Bake Shop is small but offers cakes you can pre-order as well as decorating classes. The shop also provides spectacular cannoli and rugelach. (Skeptical that you can get Italian-American pastries that are as good as those in the city? Don’t be.)
Tip: Specialty restaurants fill up fast, so make reservations on NCL.com 45 days before sailing.