August 2014 - Norwegian Breakaway to Bermuda
Extremely clean in all aspects, the rooms, the bathrooms, the food service areas even the buffet. The washy-washy crew had us thinking about washing our hands all day long. Rock of Ages and Burn the Floor were excellent shows. We never had to wait to get a seat in one of the main dining rooms and the food is good enough as to not need to go to the specialty restaurants if you don't want to. I was surprised at how good the wings at O'Sheehan's were for lunch, which is a very convenient complimentary "irish" pub midship looking down on the Atrium. They have trivia multiple times per day, both general trivia and theme trivia, which was a lot of fun and the activities staff members Jovan, Kristine, and Ferdie were very lively and humorous. The waterslides are excellent especially the free-fall waterslide. The ropes course was fun... I overcame my fear of heights while my wife discovered hers! We went on Gosling's rum tour and the Rising Son Catamaran Snorkel and Swim which were both very easy to arrange through the cruise and very worthwhile excursions. Also both tours provide lots of rum, if you are into that sort of thing, which we are. When the ship is in port the pool and waterslides are a ghost town so you will have an embarrassment of riches in using the slides and picking any spot you want to sit. Beer buckets and draft beers at O' Sheehan's were good deals.
The adult swimming pool is 6'8" deep with a large shelf around the edge which is great for us because we can swim and float and so there is lots of room in the actual pool itself... but is also odd because an environment is created where a few people are in the pool being watched by 100 people all sitting around the edge of the pool because apparently nobody from New York can swim. There was even a handrail to hold on to in the pool but still very few people went in the pool itself. Nightclub parties at Spice H2O had the potential to be fun but it was weird having on one hand adults drinking and partying with grade-school children running around. They have earlier parties for families who apparently don't leave when it is supposed to be adults only. They are good at enforcing the adults only rule in the Bliss nightclub though. Although we did book Rock of Ages before the cruise, they lost the reservation and we had to complain. We were accommodated but it was a hassle. I recommend confirming any reservations made prior to the cruise with guest services and the box office on your first day. Some members of guest service were not the most proficient at communicating how different reservation and onboard credit programs functioned which was partially a language issue. One would think that guest services, restaurant reservation staff would be the most easy to deal with but this was not the case and was an extremely frustrating aspect of the cruise. My wife however was appeased by the chocolate covered fruits they sent to the room as an apology gesture. Lastly the commemorative flash drive we purchased along with our printed pictures had half the files corrupted on it so that is another issue we have to resolve with Norwegian.
The worst part of the cruise came in the form of what my wife has now termed "the Leathers" usually hailing from a certain port city... you can spot them visually by their over-tanned skin that is the color and texture of a football. A well tuned ear can sense their presence 20 yards away as they will arguing with their husbands, scolding their children, or complaining to cruise staff about trivial issues. Although Norwegian claims that one cannot reserve deck chairs for more than one hour, the Leathers obviously did not get the memo. One Leather will reserve 6 deck chairs for family members who will never arrive, or lay one towel across 3 chairs reserving them for the entire day. Woe to anyone who attempts to sit in one of these obviously unoccupied chairs! Far be it from you to sit in a chair in such a way which "blocks their Sun". These reverse Vampires attempt to suck all the fun and joy from the pool and sun deck experience, and from the cruise experience generally. The cruise staff fail to enforce the no reserving of deck chairs regulations and are afraid to stand up to these Leather hordes leaving other poor saps to wonder aimlessly trying to discover an unclaimed deck chair even though less than 50% of deck chairs actually have a body in them at any one time.
Overall we recommend this cruise (great food, cleanliness, generally fun and courteous staff, memorable excursions, good water park amenities) but be prepared for some glitches with reservations and steer clear of "The Leathers" and if you manage to find an unclaimed deck chair...well done! We loved the free-styling aspect and do plan to "Cruise like a Norwegian" in the future, but perhaps from a different port... sans Jersey Shore immersion experience.