Just off Breakaway (7/2-7/9 sailing)

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#1
Boston, DC, and Scottsdale
199 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
So let me start off by saying none of the 24 cruises we've been on have been bad cruises, including this one. We've been on some fantastic ones, some really good ones, a few average ones … and, frankly, this very disappointing one. We've been on almost all the mainstream lines at this point, plus Cunard and Azamara, but Celebrity and Royal Caribbean are our favorite and most frequent choices.

We had only been on NCL once previously - the Dawn from Boston to Bermuda a few years ago. That was a pleasant surprise and we enjoyed our NCL experience enough to try the Breakaway last minute. Although we managed to find a way to enjoy ourselves on this ship, it requires effort… and that in itself was a first for us and says a lot about our experience.

The ship is indeed far too crowded. Although we've been on bigger ships, Oasis and Allure, this ship is not designed or staffed to handled the number of passengers. The pool deck is a madhouse … even when compared to the 2 early Carnival cruises we did long ago. No deck chair availability, pools and hot tubs so crowded you would be lucky to step into one.

So to deal with that, we paid $400 for a spa package for 2 for the week. That was really nice. Plenty of chairs, including those heated tiled chairs, along with nice sauna, steam room, salt room, and most importantly, a great indoor thelossatherapy pool with awesome massaging jets and other nice features, including a lack of crowds.

We had a balcony guarantee and were very happy with our cabin mid ship on 13 (so between passenger decks). Comfy bed, and nice relatively roomy bathroom. Balconies are indeed tiny on this ship but fine for sitting for a few minutes in the morning and evenings with coffee or whatever.

Other pluses, the soft serve ice cream was the best we've ever had on a ship. Not icy or flavorless like many we've experienced, but DQ quality creamy and delicious. Actually all the desserts were notably good. The rest of the food was average … with no real improvements in quality from buffet to dining room to specialty restaurants (we tried 3 and would only recommend Teppanyaki).

The most frustrating aspect of the cruise was the freestyle dining concept. It really only works for the specialty restaurants where u can make reservations, but most of those were completely booked up almost immediately after boarding. They have 3 regular dining rooms where the drill is u show up, wait in a line for 5-10 minutes to give them your cabin number. They give u a beeper and you wait another 15 minutes of so for a table. Then once you are finally seated, everything takes forever because the restaurants are so understaffed. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we waited 5-10 minutes to be welcomed or to get water. Then the friendly wait staff (its not their fault NCL under staffs so badly) tell you they will be with you as soon as possible. So you wait another 10 minutes or so before you can order a drink or your meal. It's just the way NCL runs it, and for us, it's just a really unpleasant experience, which is too bad because the dining experiences on other cruise lines are regularly among the best parts of the cruise.

The other thing I'd caution folks on that may be considering this cruise. Almost everyone seemed to have the "all you can drink" package - either as a TA perk or because they purchased it. It's also common on Celebrity and Royal, but I've never seen it used to the embarrassingly drunken degree so many folks on this cruise used it. It's just not fun being around a ship full of folks drinking around the clock and to see and smell the consequences of those who had one (or 10) too many.

So as I said, we found ways to enjoy this cruise, too, but we are agreed that NCL's freestyle dining, problems with understaffing, too many drunken passengers, and way too crowded conditions, mean this was our last NCL experience.




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#2
Philadelphia
292 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
I understand exactly what you're saying. I was on the Breakaway in Nov '15 to Bahamas and was disappointed for the second time cruising. The first time was a NCL cruise to Alaska on the Star. Call me stupid but I am again booked on the Breakaway this October only because there is a group of 8 and none of them wanted to fly, so a quick bus trip to Manhattan was a solution. The many problems with this ship seems to be caused by the fact that it was built for 1/2 of the passengers that it carries. There are only 2 sets of elevator/stairs which is crazy. There is one pool unless you want to pay an additional $200 for the spa area which I did the last time. The atrium area where there are great shows has enough seats to accommodate maybe 10% of the passengers so the rest of us can stand, sit on the floor or get there 1 hour ahead of time to get a seat. Whoever designed this ship should quit. Oh and about the too small balcony that has 2 plastic tacky chairs. If you're over 5 foot 6, then you need to sit sideways so your knees don't hit.
I know the NCL fans are going to slam me but after 13 cruises on Celebrity, Holland America. Princess & Carnival, this upcoming Breakaway will definitely be my last on NCL.
#3
667 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
Totally agree with the previous two posters about the Breakaway experience.
DH and I sailed on the Breakaway this past September.
Our experience with the crowding in the public areas, the over use(IMHO) of the drink package by numerous passengers, lack of decent entertainment and a difficult disembarkation process has made us realize that the Breakaway is not our kind of ship.
This is unfortunate as leaving from NYC (our home port ) and sailing to Bermuda ( one of our favorite vacation destinations) would be ideal for us.
When we took a Princess cruise on the Regal several weeks after our Breakaway experience, we were relieved to return to a more " civilized " type of cruise.
For now, we will continue to book cruises on either Princess or Celebrity or enjoy resort stays in Bermuda and beautiful places in the US.
#4
PA
202 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
I think summer sailings are more packed with kids being on vacation from school. I always book when school is back. Way less crowding. We will be back on Breakaway in Sept. also in suite and that helps. Anyone cruising in summer months should expect crowds.


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#5
South Jersey
2,187 Posts
Joined Apr 2002
Yikes! I sure hope our 14 day winter cruise will not have this many issues. We've sailed with NCL 2 other times on the Dawn and the Gem...and never had any complaints. 14days is a long cruise to be this annoyed. I want to buy a spa package but for 14days I am thinking it will be very costly. ugh! I hope they let you book just one week....but I'm not not holding out hope for that.
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#6
New york
32 Posts
Joined Feb 2016
I was on this cruise as well. We have done many carnival cruises and this was my second Norwegian cruise (first was on the Gem). Too many people and when you get on the ship you have to fight to get any perks like Vibe or even some shows. They don't make it easy to just relax and have something to eat or drink.

The problem with the all you can drink packages is you cannot get a drink without waiting or fighting to get into a line and there is way TOO much under age drinking. The kids got their hands on alcohol everywhere. I spoke to a staff members from the beverage team and he told me they confiscate many cards from parents who let their kids drink. This bothered me more than anything. Kids are a part of any summer cruise - the underage drinking has to be dealt with better.

As for the anytime dinning - if you are nice to them they make you wait and screw up your orders in the main dinning room. Only if you get nasty - which I won't do on vacation - will you get everything you want.


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#7
South Jersey
150 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
Thanks everyone for sharing your Breakway experiences. DH and I are booked on her Sept 3rd, Labor Day week. We booked that week in part because it's DH's birthday week and because we thought most school-age kids and college students would be back in school at that point, and we hoped the ship would be a little less crazy. Does that make sense? Or will we be retreating to the sanctity of our cabin or the Thermal Spa all week?
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#8
572 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
this is exactly why, we cruise in October, when schools in and most people return to work, etc!!! I am looking forward to our 3rd trip on the Breakaway and next year the Escape! We don't hang out @ the pool, which always seems to be over-crowded and as far as the atrium goes, in limited amounts of time, cause it too gets crowded. I think some folk never seem to leave there, as they're are constant activites!? To each his or her own
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#10
South Jersey
2,187 Posts
Joined Apr 2002
Originally posted by riclop
That is why we stay away from NCL.
Hmm....aren't ALL cruise lines pretty crowded in the summer vacation months? Why would NCL be any different from other lines in that sense?
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#12
667 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
Concerning the crowding issue-we sailed in late September,well after school started in the greater NYC area. The difficulty for us was not the amount of children and teens onboard,but the feeling of too many people put into too small areas on the ship.
The ship does not accommodate the 3,000 passengers very nicely.
As previously noted,the Atruim is not a very large interior space,. Seating is limited for the many shows and activities that are held there.
I seem to remember one pool with very crowded seating.
Of course,Vibe is an option if you get on the ship early enough to race to the area where passes could be obtained.
Racing for anything on vacation is not very relaxing-IMHO.
A neighbor sailed on the Breakaway in mid-May. Again,not a time during school vacations.
She did not like the ship at all, Her main reason- too many passengers and too much drinking onboard.
Our housekeeper's son and his fiance arranged for a wedding on the Breakaway on Mother's Day weekend.
They were disappointed in the wedding for several reasons.
The main reason was the food ran out at the reception- lack of food on a cruise ship ????
These are some reactions from people we know that have sailed on the Breakaway recently.
Obviously,many people enjoy the ship ,hence the crowds.
Many posters on CC are repeat customers on the Breakaway.
Different things appeal to different people.
My DH and I realize that this ship and NCL is not for us.
#13
Connecticut
31 Posts
Joined May 2016
DH and I leave next Sunday on the Breakaway and have also had cruise experiences (all summer, because I am an educator--not retired yet!) on Princess, RCL and Holland America. Having been on CC almost daily since we booked in early June I think I am glad that we bid and received our upgrade to the Haven, for the pool and deck experience alone. I had booked dinner reservations prior to receiving our bid to the Manhattan MDR, Taste, Teppanyaki, Cagney's and La Cucina. I am definitely going to change a couple to the Haven Dining Room once aboard. We are looking forward to the trip particularly since we are from CT and don't have to fly, and having the sea days and three days in port. I will post once we return, but I appreciate the feedback so that I can continue to plan!
#14
Boston, DC, and Scottsdale
199 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
I agree that almost all mass market cruises will be more crowded (closer to, or over, peak capacity) in the summer. And certainly there will be more kids on lines that cater to families more (so NCL, Royal, and Carnival) with fewer kids on lines that have fewer or no programs for kids (Celebrity and HAL). But as to crowded ships generally, I think they become problematic based on three things - (1) passenger space ratio; (2) ship design; and (3) inadequate staffing and/or staff training. As I said, it's certainly possible to make it a good cruise on the Breakaway, and we did … we just prefer not to have to do so much work to get around cruise line created chaos to do so.


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#15
Frozen Tundra
7,987 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Crazy. We did this same cruise a few weeks ago. Never waited in line for a drink, and we didn't notice any issues with drunk people (except a 60-something lady who always had a glass of wine in hand, and always stumbled in her heels and sparkly gowns looking ridiculous). Only once did we wait for a table in an MDR, despite always eating at prime times. Our service was impeccable. So I guess you just never know.

Originally posted by Stick93
The problem with the all you can drink packages is you cannot get a drink without waiting or fighting to get into a line
I've sailed with the UBP 5 times now and I've never waited more than maybe one minute for a drink. Fighting to get into a line? Give me a big break. You are clearly doing something wrong here, because that is not reality.
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#16
South East. PA
3,837 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
Originally posted by uneamie
Yikes! I sure hope our 14 day winter cruise will not have this many issues. We've sailed with NCL 2 other times on the Dawn and the Gem...and never had any complaints. 14days is a long cruise to be this annoyed. I want to buy a spa package but for 14days I am thinking it will be very costly. ugh! I hope they let you book just one week....but I'm not not holding out hope for that.

That why you books a "Spa Balcony"
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#17
New york
32 Posts
Joined Feb 2016
Originally posted by LrgPizza
Crazy. We did this same cruise a few weeks ago. Never waited in line for a drink, and we didn't notice any issues with drunk people (except a 60-something lady who always had a glass of wine in hand, and always stumbled in her heels and sparkly gowns looking ridiculous). Only once did we wait for a table in an MDR, despite always eating at prime times. Our service was impeccable. So I guess you just never know.

I've sailed with the UBP 5 times now and I've never waited more than maybe one minute for a drink. Fighting to get into a line? Give me a big break. You are clearly doing something wrong here, because that is not reality.


Doing something wrong?? I learned from my first cruise with NCL that green get served. I had money ready to make sure I got what I needed. But everyone at the bar was jostling for space and service as the bar tenders don't have any indenture to work faster. They even pre-make all their signature drinks and DID refuse to change it up for me until they saw I was willing to help my$elf with a couple of bucks a round.

The bars in all the conman areas were understaffed and it took time to get a server if you were sitting down. It did pick up later in the cruise.

Hey I love mayday I am on a cruise ship. Some are better than others but with NCL I have learned that you need to upbuy and be in the know to get to the shows you want and seat or a chair in a common area and even sometimes food.

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#18
near Philly
2,656 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
Originally posted by LrgPizza
Crazy. We did this same cruise a few weeks ago. Never waited in line for a drink, and we didn't notice any issues with drunk people (except a 60-something lady who always had a glass of wine in hand, and always stumbled in her heels and sparkly gowns looking ridiculous). Only once did we wait for a table in an MDR, despite always eating at prime times. Our service was impeccable. So I guess you just never know.

I've sailed with the UBP 5 times now and I've never waited more than maybe one minute for a drink. Fighting to get into a line? Give me a big break. You are clearly doing something wrong here, because that is not reality.
Since you weren't on the same trip, you have no idea what the lines were like or the clientele was on this particular sailing. You could even have been on the same trip but at a different bar and would have no idea if people were fighting for drinks somewhere else.
When we sailed at the end of May there were plenty of people jostling or pushing in to get service at certain bars, Maltings was especially bad. The Atrium bar wasn't as bad, unless during a show when the whole area was crowded.
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#19
near Philly
2,656 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
Originally posted by brightonguys
I agree that almost all mass market cruises will be more crowded (closer to, or over, peak capacity) in the summer. And certainly there will be more kids on lines that cater to families more (so NCL, Royal, and Carnival) with fewer kids on lines that have fewer or no programs for kids (Celebrity and HAL). But as to crowded ships generally, I think they become problematic based on three things - (1) passenger space ratio; (2) ship design; and (3) inadequate staffing and/or staff training. As I said, it's certainly possible to make it a good cruise on the Breakaway, and we did … we just prefer not to have to do so much work to get around cruise line created chaos to do so.


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Totally agree, the design of the ship is poor for flow. On Breakaway everywhere you go feels crowded. I've never really felt that way on any other ship I've been on.
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#20
Philadelphia area
196 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like you made the best of it.
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