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Norwegian Breakaway Ship Review
Bermuda Itinerary
September 21, 2014

By Keith Henderson

The Ship

Norwegian Breakaway was built in 2013 for Norwegian by the Meyer Werft shipyards in Germany. She was christened by the Rockettes with New York as her home port. Her sister ship is the Getaway that was launched a year later and based out of Miami. Her capacity for passengers is close to 5,000.

Her distinctive hull artwork was designed by Peter Max. The earth tone colors used and minimal artwork gave us the feel of being in a modern hotel more so than a cruise ship.

Fitness and Spa –
The ship has a large fitness center that is located on deck 15 forward. To find the gym area, you need to walk down the hall that leads to the spa area. There are a wide variety of treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and other pieces of equipment available at no extra charge. All of the equipment faced out to windows. The gym was open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.

The weight room is located across the hall, as well as a separate room for a wide range of fitness classes – some with an additional fee ranging from $12-$30 per person. The fitness flasses available to guests for purchase include popular fitness trends like spinning, Pilates, yoga, & body sculpting boot camps. A small number of fitness classes are complimentary, including a special program developed by the ship’s godmothers, The Rockettes.

The Spa is found on deck 15 forward, just past the fitness center. The Spa deck has several treatment rooms along with saunas and steam rooms for each gender. They offered spa treatment specials during port days. You could buy a spa pass for the week or a day. The pass allows you into the spa area with access to the sauna, thermal loungers, steam room, and salt room. The pass does not include spa services such as massages. They sell a limited number of these packages so that the area never gets crowded, so you will want to sign up the first day/night. The spa is open 8:00am – 10:00pm except for the last day when the thermal suites and pool are only open until 8:00pm. The hair salon and barber shop was located by the entrance to the Spa.

Vibe Beach Club–
The Vibe Beach Club is an adults only area found on deck 17 forward. It has lounge chairs, cabanas, a large hot tub, and a full service bar. Access to the area is limited to guests who have purchased passes. A daily pass is $20 and a weekly pass is $79. Within the beach club are cabanas for 2 people that could be rented with the beach club access included. On sea days, the cabana rental was $79 for 2 people with $30 applied as a credit towards drinks. On port days, the cabana fee was $59 for 2 with a $30 credit for drinks. You could get a weekly cabana rental for $299 that came with a $100 credit for drinks. There are a limited number of passes to the Vibe beach area so that area never gets crowded.

Spice H2O–
Spice H2O is an adults only area found on deck 16 aft. It has lounge chairs, hot tubs, waterfalls, and a full service bar. There is a large video screen. It does not have any shady spots though. During the evening, Spice H2O becomes an outdoor nightclub which they use quite often.

Aqua Park–
On deck 15, there are two salt water swimming pools located midship. The larger pool is adults only and is 6 ft 8 inches deep all the way around. The smaller pool next to the kid’s area goes from a depth of 3 ft 3 in to 4 ft 7 in. They also have a Kid’s Aqua Park Splash Pool area. There are four hot tubs next to the larger pool with two having covers to provide some shade. The entrance to the two large water slides were on deck 17. The slides ended up in chutes on deck 16. For the most parts, the pools were open from 08:00 am to 10:00 pm while the hot tubs were open until 11:00 pm.

Sports Complex–
The running track was found on deck 16 going around the water slides. A sign posted stated that it takes 8 laps to complete a mile. In the same deck area was a rock climbing wall. One frustrating thing is that the track is “officially” only open from 5:00 am to 9:00 and 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The rest of the time you had to contend with lounge chairs put out for guests. Really? The climbing wall is located alongside the jogging track and the chutes for the water slides.

On deck 17 aft is the sports complex with a ropes course, mini golf, and a trampoline. You will need closed-toed shoes to tackle the ropes course which includes the plank. For those daring persons, you walk out on a narrow beam that overhangs the side of the ship. As with the rest of the ropes course, you wear a harness to keep you from falling down.

Our Cabin –
We prefer inside cabins when we cruise. With the Breakaway, the inside cabins are about 150 square feet which gave us a little room to move around.

The cabin had only one closet. It came with bar holding 16 hangars along with four shelves. There were no drawers in the cabin, just a few more cubby holes in use for storage. We were able to store our luggage under the beds. That is where they stored our life jackets.

The cabin had a small safe for valuables. To lock/unlock the safe, you punched in a code of your choice. One nice feature is that it had a light that would come on when you opened it. There was a small fridge in the cabin that was filled with an assortment of beers and soft drinks you could purchase. We had the steward empty it so we could use it for our sodas and beers.

The bathroom was fairly large compared to the Jewel class ships. It had a shower with a glass door with dispensers for body wash and shampoo. The shower head was moveable (up and down depending on your height) and could detach to be held by hand.

There was a hair dryer that was located under the desk in the room. But, the cord was not very long. There were two pairs outlets available to plug in electronics by the desk top (2 for U.S. and 2 for European plugs). We brought our small extension cord to allow multiple devices to be charged at the same time. Remember that if you do not have a keycard or the like in the slot, the power is shut off.

To signal the steward that you either did not want to be disturbed or that they could make up the room, they had switches by the door to turned on small lights above your door in the hallway. (red = DND and Green = make up the room)

The location of our inside cabin (11625) was found midship down an interior corridor from the midship elevator lobby on deck 11. We were four decks from the deck 15 pool/buffet areas and four to five decks from the restaurants and bars. With cabin decks above and below, we thought it was a very quiet area as well.

Public areas for entertainment –
The main show room is the Breakaway Theater located forward on decks 6 and 7which holds about 800 passengers. You need to get to the theater at least 30 minutes before show time in order to get a better seat. The Spiegel dinner theater is located on deck 6 forward.

They had events located in the atrium on deck 6 midship as well as the Headliners comedy club.

On deck 7 is the casino and the Bliss Ultra Lounge.

The Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club is found on deck 8 midship.

Music –
As usual, Norwegian offers a variety of live music to entertain people at various locations and times. I am an amateur musician, so I really appreciate listening to and watching musicians.

I felt that the band at Fat Cats, Les Getrex and the Creole Cookin' Band were the best musical act on board this cruise. They were a quartet with guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards.

"Impac" was the pool side band. They are a quintet of Jamaicans that included, guitar, bass, drums, and 2 keys. They were quite good.

William was the singer/pianist who play standards and songs from the Great American Song Book. He had a strong voice.
Arvin & Emily was a singing duo with Arvin playing keys along with music tracks. They had the best voices of all of the musical acts on the ship. Angel was a singer/guitarist who play along to music tracks. He had a good voice.

The trio of pianist/singers at Howl at the Moon were funny and very entertaining. It is amazing how many songs they know as they played request after request from the audiences.

"Fire & Ice" were another singing duo, although the keyboardist seldom sang and you could hardly hear him at all when he did. He spent most of time fiddling with buttons and swapping out mini-discs of pre-recorded music that the singer sang along with. She may have had a good voice, but the music was always louder than her voice so I could not comment on that.

Other general info –
On deck 8, there is an outdoor promenade called the waterfront. There are several dining rooms and bars that have outdoor seating along this promenade. This promenade wraps around the aft part of the ship.

On deck 7, there are promenades on both sides of the ship with no chairs available. The shuffle boards are located there at the front of the hsip. We rarely saw anyone in those areas.

The carpeting on the cabin decks have fish swimming towards the front of the ship.

You can request a ship’s pin at the front desk.

Shore Excursions offers a limited number of one or two day Bermuda bus passes.

All around the ship were touch screens that you could use to locate places around the ship and make reservations for shows and dining. They were very easy to use. In a couple places, they had screens welcoming back Platinum and Gold Latitude members listing their names.

We are not smokers and my wife cannot be around smoke for health reasons. Smoking was a problem for us on this ship. The casino is located on decks 7 and the smell of smoke lingered throughout the Area 678. On deck 15 by the main pool, they had a glassed in room that was for smokers. If you sat outside of the area and down wind, you had to deal with the smoke of cigars and cigarettes.

Dining –
There were several dining options on the Breakaway as is fitting with NCL Freestyle dining.

Deck 6:

Two of the three main dining rooms (no fee) are found on deck 6; Savor and Taste each have room for about 280 passengers. The daily menus offer a variety of meat, fish, and vegetarian options.

Teppanyaki ($25) with about 100 seats offers Japanese style food with the chef cooking/performing in front of you.

Le Bistro French Restaurant ($20) with 90 seats offers French style dishes with some seating in the open atrium area. (Beware of smoke wafting in the atrium from the casino!!!)

The Spiegel Tent dinner theater ($39) has just over 200 seats where they have the Cirque show performed while the dinner is served.

Deck 7:

The largest of the three main dining rooms (no fee) is the Manhattan Restaurant found aft with a capacity of over 600 guests.

O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill (no fee) is found midship with 285 seats offering a limited menu 24 hours a day.

Shanghai’s Noodle Bar (a la carte pricing) is a small place with 50 or so seats offering various Chinese dishes. It is located aft between the Manhattan Restaurant and the casino.

Deck 8:

Cagney’s Steakhouse ($30+) is found aft with about 160 seats. They offer steaks, lamb chops, and a few seafood options. My wife thought it was the best steak she has had on a cruise ship.

Moderno Churrascaria ($20) is located aft opposite Cagney’s with the same capacity of 160 guests. It is a Brazilian Steakhouse.

Ocean Blue ($39+, recently lowered from $49+) is midship offering seafood dishes with about 70 seats inside and has open seating on the waterfront.

Raw Bar (a la carte pricing) has about 20 seats offering seafood dishes such as clams and oysters on the half shell.

Wasabi (a la carte pricing) is a small place with about 40 seats offering Japanese sushi plates.

La Cucina ($15) offers Italian dishes and has a capacity of about 220. It is located midship and has seating on the waterfront.

Dolce Gelato and Carlo’s Bake shop (both a la carte pricing) offer gelato and cakes.

Deck 15:

The Garden Café is the ship’s buffet style (no fee) restaurant with both indoor and outside seating found aft. They had a wide variety of foods each day for breakfast and lunch with stations on both sides of the area. For dinner, they only had about 2/3 of the stations open. For lunch and dinner, we always found choices of fish, meat, and vegetarian.

Deck 16:

Just above the Garden Café, the Uptown Bar & Grill offers a much smaller variety of what is offered in the Garden Café. It was open for breakfast and lunch.

For breakfast, you have the following locations, all with no fees; Garden Café, O’Sheehan’s, Uptown Grill, Savor, Taste, and Moderno.

For lunch, the following are no fee options; Garden Café, O’Sheehan’s, Uptown Grill, Savor, Taste, and Moderno. The following are open with ala carte pricing; Shanghai’s Noodle Bar, Wasabi Sushi, Carlos Bake Shop, Dolce Gelato, and Ocean Blue.

In the Garden Café buffet area, they have fountains with various things to drink. For breakfast they offer OJ, Apple Juice, and unsweetened ice tea along with water, coffee, and assorted tea bags. For the rest of the day, these fountains offer lemonade, iced tea, sweetened waters, and water along with the coffee and hot teas.

They offer 24 hour room service with a limited menu at no fee except between midnight and 5:00 am ($4 per order). They had pizza available for delivery 24/7 for a fee of $5 each.

For those looking for something special in a dining experience, they offered “The Chef’s Table”. For a fee of $89 per person, you would have a personal meal with the executive chef who would provide a private galley tour and a multi-course meal for a small group. You needed to make a reservation for this event which had limited seating.

Before we sailed, we were offered the Ultimate Dining Package. For $99 each, we could go to any specialty restaurant for no additional fee on our cruise. Since we had 3 complimentary meals for this cruise, we did not feel the need to sign up for the UDP.

Bar Service –
There are plenty of locations on the ship offering alcoholic drinks.

On deck 6, you could find the Atrium Café, Mixx Bar, and Headliners.

On the deck7, they have Bar 21, Bliss Ultra Lounge, and O’Sheehan’s.

On deck 8, you could go to Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club, Maltings Bar (indoor/outdoor), Ice Bar, Prime Meridian Bar, and Shakers (indoor/outdoor).

The Ice Bar is a small bar where the temperature is 17 degrees F. The cost is $20 person which comes with 2 specialty drinks. They have parkas and gloves for you to wear and you are limited to 45 minutes inside the bar which holds 25 guests. They rotate the bartenders every 30 minutes.

On deck 15 is the Waves Pool Bar.

On deck 16 they have Spice H2O and the Uptown Bar & Grill.

We are beer drinkers and Norwegian offered beer bucket specials where you would get 6 beers (mix and match) and only pay for 5. Also, one day at the Waves pool bar, they were offering a bar manager's special with 2 for 1 cans of beer.

They had daily drink specials as well. There were some martini tastings on a few occasions.

They did offer the Ultimate Beverage Service which would have cost $378 plus taxes for each of us on a 7 day cruise. We do not consume anywhere near the amount of drinks that would justify buying the package though.

Past Guest Program –
We are rated as Platinum Latitudes members with Norwegian. We received a welcome aboard package with Godiva Chocolates and a bottle of Champagne. They also brought a plate of chocolate covered strawberries. We were invited to one Latitudes party which I mentioned was disappointing.

As platinum members, we received some additional perks. The guided tour of the ship was free. We received two invitations to either Le Bistro, La Cucina, or Moderno for a free meal and bottle of wine. We were given VIP luggage tags which allowed us to disembark at any time we wanted and have our luggage waiting in a designated area away from the other color luggage tags. They also offered laundry service that was free of charge (it was normally $25 to fill the small bag).

Activities –
There were plenty of other things to do on aboard for all interests. They had the usual plethora of bingo games and art auctions as well as poolside games.

We like trivia and we took advantage of the several trivia games they offered during the cruise. For any activity you attended, you would get a point. winners would get 2 points. At the end of the cruise, you could redeem yours points for small items like mugs, cards, etc..

The casino was open during times at sea. While in Bermuda, it was closed during the day and opened after 9:00 pm. We do not gamble, so we cannot comment on the slots and gaming tables.

Crew –

Julie Valeriotte (Canada), the cruise director was always visible and approachable. She evened appeared in one scene of "Rock of Ages". We thought that she and her cruise staff did a terrific job. We met up with several during the cruise including Alvin (Philippines) the assistant CD and Rickey (Philippines).

Our room steward Ranson was assigned 13 cabins to service during our cruise. We thought he did a great job. He always met us with a smile and took care of any requests we made.

Overall –
We had a good to a very good cruise on the Breakaway. But, we are not sure if we would ever want to sail on her again. For both of us, we felt that while it was a bigger ship, the venues were smaller and there was less of a freestyle feel to her. Everything seemed to require an advanced reservation and we had to attend an event much earlier than the start time in order to get a decent seat or a seat at all. Bigger is not better in this case for us.

Pros:
-- The musicians on board and having live music by the pool.
-- Fat Cats Bar - great venue for watching a live band
-- Cagney's steak house - best steak on a cruise ship
-- Modern look to everything.
-- Touch screens around the ship, easy to navigate

Cons:
-- Lack of production type shows. They only had "Rock of Ages", "Burn the Floor", and a magician. The Cirque dinner show does not count in my mind as a production show.
-- Moderno churrascaria – while service was top notch, we were disappointed in their meat quality
-- Second City - After so many years of cruising with NCL, they are old hat to us. Bring in stand up comedians.
-- Small pool area considering the number of passengers.

Itinerary:
Bermuda is a great port since the ship is docked for several days in a row. With their easy to use public transportation system, getting around is efficient and relatively inexpensive.

Norwegian Breakaway, Part 1: The Cruise Review


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