Just got home from a 7 day on the Breakaway. I took my 18 year old son and his friend who are both graduating from high school along with a mid 20's nephew to celebrate. This was my 4th NCL cruise. I'm not going to do a day to day trip report (mainly because I am boring and spent most of my time at the craps table) but I wanted to give some honest feedback on the trip.
My point of view: I'm a 53 year old male that was on vacation. I don't look for things to upset me. I am a "just the facts" type of guy so this review will not be funny/flowery/touchy feely but hopefully will help you make decisions on what you may or may not like about the ship.
Overall Impression: We had fun! We are glad we took the trip and we are glad we went on this ship. The trip was not perfect but the imperfections were mainly minor in my opinion. Nothing that would stop you from enjoying yourself while on vacation with one of your sons.
Food: We ate at Manhattan, Savor, Taste, O'Sheehans, Wasabi, Cagneys, Teppanyaki and La Cuccina
Manhattan, Savor and Taste: The food was very good at all of these. Actually way better than I was expecting and way better service than I was expecting. We did mainly lunch and a few dinners here
O'Sheehans - I would put this in the slightly disappointed category. Wings were good but not great. Fish and chips were fine. Nachos were pretty pathetic as compared to a chain like Chillis or somewhere similar. Service was extremely slow always (even at breakfast with about 10 people seated). Many nights had a 30 minute wait to be seated while there were 10-15 empty tables that you could see from the host stand. Strange. Good place for breakfast. Rating: 6/10
Cagneys - I saw a post a few weeks back that tried to slot the specialty restaurants in a list of well known commercial restaurants. Following that lead, I would put Cagneys on par with Longhorn. The steak was good, the truffle fries were amazing, the lobster bisque was average, the service was slow and it took forever for the food to come out. All that being said, it was a very good meal but I have eaten at enough really nice steak places that this does not make the grade. If I did not have the package, I would not think it justified the upcharge. With the package I was happy that we ate there as one of our options. 7.5/10
Teppanyaki - By far, the best meal of the entire trip. We have eaten at a lot of these in Atlanta and Nashville area and this one is pretty near the top of the list. I had the filet and scallops and it was amazingly good. Plus, they cook more than you can eat and keep adding more to your plate. If you walk out of there hungry, it is your fault. The cook was entertaining and the service was pretty good. I would gladly pay the upcharge for this again if I did not have the package. 9.5/10 (I'm like the Russian judge...I don't give 10's)
La Cuccina - This was a very good meal. Unfortunately, it was the 2nd to last night and the ship was rocking pretty good. The boys were all feeling off and lost their appetite. The lobster and shrimp ravioli were very good. The filet was better than Cagneys because of the sauce they put on it. The Antipasta was exceptional. I would probably eat here if I didn't have the package but would definitely eat here again as one of the package options. Rating: 8.5/10 (Service was so slow)
Wasabi - We ate here as a pre-meal snack one night. It was good and worth the charge. Fairly easy to get a seat if you go early. Rating 8/10
We tried repeatedly to get into Noodles but didn't have reservations. Of course, 50% of the restaurant was empty but that didn't seem to matter to them
Casino- I will do this next so that you understand why I don't touch on a lot of the other entertainment options. I like to play craps....as in 6-8 hours a day if I can. (Sue me!) Because of that, I forfeit a lot of what the ship has to offer but I am perfectly ok with that trade off. Here is my biggest complaint of the entire trip. The area around the craps table was hot. I don't mean slightly warmer than the area around it, I mean 90 degrees sauna hot at one end. I would walk to O'sheehans (about 200 feet away) and wish I had one of the ice bar parkas and then walk back to the craps table and feel like I stepped into a sauna. The dealers were wiping sweat between rolls. I talked to the Casino manager and it had no affect. It must just be a poorly designed ventilation system right in that exact spot. Of course they had another table a little ways a way that was noticeably cooler, but they only opened that at night....there, you survived my soapbox.
Dealers - Almost all of the dealers were awesome and very good. Craps is a hard game to deal and it was always a packed table so I cut them a lot of slack. There were 2 or 3 that were just bad and made a lot of mistakes which slows the game down. All of the pit boss types were especially nice and friendly. My son was amazed that they all knew my name after the first day. He is 18 so one of the things he (and I) were looking forward to was me teaching him how to play craps. This was a highlight of the trip for me and will be a special memory. He love the game and left up a few hundred so I consider that a huge win.
All in all, the casino is well run and fun. It is a sauna which is not normal for casinos and smoky which is normal for casinos but the craps table was rocking all week and the slots paid pretty well as well.
Entertainment - (see paragraph above :) ) - I personally made it to Rock the Ages which was fun. The music is great, the cast was pleasing to the eye (wink wink, nudge nudge) and the voices were amazing. I am not a huge play type of person so it was a little cheesy in places but from a talent viewpoint, it is well worth seeing. Note: Do not ignore the disclaimers of it being adult oriented.
The boys played 883 rounds of Putt Putt and said that was the best part of the ship :) (oh, I did play one session of Shuffle Board...you have to on a cruise ship) They did the ropes course and the climbing wall...The all agreed that they were glad they did it but would not have missed it. They loved Syds Pour House. My son is a huge Classic Rock person (thank you, I tried very hard to make sure he knew what quality music is) and they loved Bliss. (I'm not sure that they loved Bliss the place as much as they loved the girls that they met in Bliss. I have purposely left that a grey area)
Ports - Probably my last Western trip as I am bored with the same ports each time
Cozumel - We did the Fury Catamaran excursion. I personally loved it as I love to sail. The boys were mixed but had fun at the Beach Party area. They do not monitor the drinking age very well so if you are concerned about that, be warned. I would do this type of excursion again. We ended the day in Cozumel at Senor Frogs (The not only don't monitor but they actively encourage it here so be doubly warned if you don't want your underage to drink (btw, drinking age is 18 but no ID was ever asked for))
Harvest Cay - To me, this was a waste of a day. We got off the boat and walked around. Sat by the pool for an hour or so and then went and ate at the very American restaurant on this Belizian island. It was all very plastic and sanitized. I'm sure some people love going there but all of the boys said that they wished we had skipped the entire port.
Costa Maya - Favorite day of the trip according to the boys. 2nd soap box moment coming....Why is the Harvest Cay artificial port a full day while the real Mexican port with real Mexican flavor only a 1/2 day. This is bad planning and probably just an attempt to protect there investment in Harvest Cay!!!!! Even so, we got off the boat at 7am and took a taxi to Nohoch Kay on the beach. The all inclusive was $50 and included all you can eat and drink. If you were there for a full day this would be a great deal. Being there only until Noon, it was only a good deal but well worth it. If you go, get the shrimp fingers....amazing! All 4 of us got hour long massages. We paid $50pp with tip....It was a very good $50 massage....I would have been disappointed with it if it had been onboard at ship prices but it wasn't, so we were happy!
New Orleans - We drove and spent the night at Harrahs the night before. Getting from the hotel to the Port parking is CRAZY!!!!!!. They have construction going on which has everything messed up plus they had a big convention going on. Right now, give yourself 1.5 hours to drive and park from the french quarter area. Once we walked in (about 11am), it took 15 minutes to board the ship. We hardly waited in any line. Most efficient check in ever. Disembarkation was the same. We carried our own bags off. We got in line about 7:30am and it took roughly 25 minutes from that point to our car. Very easy and quick. We were on the interstate headed north around 8am.
I did a lot of reading leading up to this cruise and do very little posting so I want to try to give back a little. Please, if you have questions, ask and I will be happy to answer if I have any insight.