I bet NCL has a full-time staffer putting those in rolls.
Let me start off by saying that I had a great cruise. We did a 7 Day Bermuda sailing from New York City with 43 family members on our biennial family reunion. My family is amazing and we could sail a shipping barge and have a blast.
If I were a first-time cruiser, I'd probably rate the trip as 4 or 5 stars. But, I've been on over a dozen sailings and have a baseline for comparison. Our past five family cruises were all on Royal Caribbean.
Most of the family lives in New England, so we figured Boston or NYC would be the most convenient ports. We've done the Caribbean a bunch and decided on Bermuda. With the combo, our options were limited. The Breakaway is a fairly new, larger ship so it was an easy choice.
We all got balcony cabins and paid roughly $1,700 each.
The consensus among the family was: Royal Caribbean > NCL
I'll get into detail in the specific sections below, but as a summary, here's our reasoning.
- not a fan of the "freestyle dining"
- we felt constantly "nickle-and-dimed"
- it feels like half of the ship is specialty dining restaurants
- felt too crowded
- staff wasn't as personable or friendly
- leaving and returning to NYC was pretty terrible
Also - when you get home, prepare to have your email inbox flooded with more than an email a day from NCL.
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
We'll never do "freestyle dining" again as a big family. Main dining room seating is much easier for us to all meet for dinner.
The main dining rooms had decent food - we were far from impressed. Make sure to leave plenty of time if you have a post-dinner show, because service can take a while.
With a large group, we didn't get a chance to do any of the specialty restaurants other than Wasabi, which was great.
It was frustrating that the majority of the common areas felt as if they were off-limits (specialty dining we couldn't access)
It felt the entire ship was taken over by specialty dining restaurants.
3 out of 5
Burn the Floor was amazing... best dance show we've seen on a cruise. Truly world class talent.
Rock of Ages... we ended up missing most of it, but made it for a taste. Multiple people described it as "corny."
There didn't seem like enough shows. On most cruises, we'd catch 3 or 4 shows... on the Breakaway, we were only able to see one.
Service and Staff
1 out of 5
I very much respect their hard work, but compared to other ships, they weren't very friendly and didn't provide the best quality of service.
A few incidents come to mind in which we were disappointed with the staff.
- we were having a great time on the shuffleboard court and managed to get most of the 43 family members there. A staff member came and kicked us off at 10pm and wasn't very nice about it. Rules are rules, but c'mon.
- we bought the overpriced family pics. The stated rate was $100 for 10 pics (already a ripoff). When we went to check out, the guy tried charging double because "there are a lot of people in the picture."
- the casino pit boss was overseeing a blackjack tournament. She "promised" four times that it was the last buy-in round. The winners obviously wanted the final table to start asap. She went back on her word four times, bringing in an extra few hundred dollars in tournament that already brought in tens of thousands of dollars with a total payout of $500
3 out of 5
Everything was very clean.
Most common areas were packed with specialty dining restaurants, which was very frustrating.
It constantly felt crowded... like way more crowded than any other ships I've sailed.
If you can afford it, get The Haven for some peace, quiet and elbow room.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
The cabin was great.... spacious and clean.
The bathroom was bigger than on other ships.
Our balcony was great.
On one night while "at sea," the cast of Burn the Floor put on a show in one of the Main Dining Rooms.
If you can get a table by the dancefloor on this night at this time, you'll get the best show of the week.
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