Terpsince74 Posted August 3, 2013 #1 Share Posted August 3, 2013 I sailed on the Norwegian Breakaway solo on July 7th, 2013 to Bermuda out of New York. I am sorry it took me so long to put this together but I was so busy at work when I got back that it took me a while to get to this. Warning, this is a long review of not only the Norwegian Breakaway but also the island of Bermuda. I will try to add some pictures and maybe a few videos along the way to help tell the story. I decided to break out my day to day experiences and conclude the review with more in depth information on specific topics. I truly hope this review helps others as much as the reviews I read on Cruise Critic helped me in preparation for my cruise. Enjoy! My Back ground I am a 39 year old bachelor that lives in the Washington DC area. I am also a diehard Maryland sports fan if you can’t already tell by my username J. The first thing that I will throw out there is that this was my first cruise so I don’t have anything to compare it to. I have however travelled all around the world doing various land vacations in Hawaii, many of the Greek islands (including Santorini, Mykonos, and Corfu), Spain (Including Mallorca and Ibiza) England, Germany, Austria, Italy, Venezuela, and many other places. If you can’t tell already I love to travel. All of my previous travels have been with friends and/or family. During this past dreary winter I started thinking about doing a vacation on my own for once. At first it started as a few days at a resort somewhere in the Caribbean. I have always wanted to do a cruise but never had the opportunity to do so. The closest that I came to it was a few summer ago in Greece. A bunch of my friends and I chartered a 60 foot yacht in the Western Greek island of Lefkada (some call it Lefkas). If you have never visited this small island, you HAVE to visit this island one day! Anyways, with the yacht we visited 4-5 small islands over 3 days. Words cannot describe how fun and relaxing it was to be on the water visiting some of the most beautiful remote islands off the Western coast of Greece. With that awesome experience still fresh in my head I started looking into taking a cruise by myself. My first reaction was nobody does that! What kind of loser takes a cruise by himself? After reading numerous threads on the topic here on Cruise Critic I was convinced that this was what I was going to do. Most people wrote reviews of their solo experiences stating that they had incredible experiences, met wonderful people, and would prefer to only cruise solo moving forward. The thought of having no plans, agenda, doing what I want, whenever I wanted to, immediately starting becoming a dream vacation that I could not get out of my head. Choosing a Destination, Cruise line, Ship, and State Room Being a first time cruiser, I was overwhelmed when trying to determine what cruise line and ship to sail. I spent countless hours on Cruise Critic trying to figure it out. God bless this website. It truly made life so much easier. When you are planning a costly trip like this you want to make sure you make the right choices and Cruise Critic did exactly that for me. Destination I guess you can call me an island snob but I was very particular about where this cruise would go. I had heard so many wonderful things about Bermuda. One of my favorite authors (Ted Bell) also referenced Bermuda in many of his action/adventure fictions which also help jade me. He often talks about the amazing pink sand beaches of Bermuda. After looking into the island a bit more I decided that Bermuda was the destination of choice. I like it warm so the swims are refreshing not freezing. I decided July would be the perfect time to go there and it worked well for my work schedule as things are quite slow in early July. Cruise line Since I was a first time cruiser, I read plenty of posts on the topic. I had heard so many good things about Royal Caribbean and also noticed that they had a 5 day cruise to Bermuda going out of Bayonne, NJ. I was worried about taking a longer cruise (in fear of getting bored) so thought this would be the ample trip. After reading more about NCL however, I started thinking that as a Solo cruiser; NCL may be the better cruise line for me. I loved the idea of freestyle dining but what honestly pushed me over the edge to NCL was the fact that they have solo cabins on their newer ships (Epic, Breakaway, and soon to be Getaway). My thought process was that the odds would be higher on one of those ships of meeting other similar solo travelers. Ship and State Room Since I had already narrowed my destination to Bermuda, and cruise line to NCL, my options were more limited regarding ships. I could sail on the Norwegian Dawn out of Boston or the brand new Norwegian Breakaway out of New York. New York is a quick 3 hour train ride for me from DC, so I was favoring that. I also really liked the idea of sailing on a brand new ship. Candidly, the computerized videos NCL put out there of the Breakaway blew me away. That is what sold me on the ship and then some. The Waterfront concept was probably the single coolest thing about the ship. I had no idea that many ships had limited or no promenade decks overlooking the water anymore. I thought that was what cruising was all about. The thought of sitting at a bar or having a nice meal outside overlooking the sunset got me sold on Breakaway. I originally considered booking a Studio cabin but really wanted a balcony. From everyone I spoke with about cruising they all said once you sail with a balcony you will never want to sail without one again. Booking any room other than a studio as a solo traveler kind of stinks as you have to pay for 2 people but I quickly got over this. I liked the idea of booking a Spa Balcony as I love using the steam room, whirlpools etc. The Spa balcony includes access to the Thermal Spa but it is also more expensive than a normal balcony cabin. I quickly learned you could buy weekly or day passes and decided to just book a standard balcony. I found a room (13288) towards the aft of the ship on the port side that seemed to fit what I was looking for. I created a separate review of the room here that includes photos and videos… http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1887046 The room was on the bump out section offering incredible views. Floor number 14 scared me as I did not want to be below restaurants or the pool deck. The noise was minimal on 13 and I slept like a baby every night on that comfortable bed! I truly loved this room and would sail it again. I also think that the balcony in the room that was just next to me would be a cool one too as it is angled towards the back of the ship and offers a slightly larger balcony. The next time I sail the Breakaway (and yes there will be a next time) I may also consider having a room on the bump out section towards the front side of the ship as I found myself spending a lot of time at Vibe (which I will get more into later in my review) as well as the Spa. The Waiting Game Once I reserved my room, time seemed to move so slowly as I counted down the days to my first cruise. I could not stop following the “Everything Breakaway thread” which you can find here… http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1691618&page=3 I became fascinated at following the ship as it was built. It was fun to follow the sail out, sea trials, and first reviews of the ship from the Transatlantic and first sailings to Bermuda. I read Gambee’s review which was awesome. You can view that here… http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1851007 He gave me some good pointers that I am grateful for. Thanks Gambee! Packing I read reviews on what to bring and what not to bring. I had been thinking about bringing some wine but ultimately decided it would just be a pain to lug all the way up to New York. I figured buying bottles of wine in NYC would not be much cheaper than buying them onboard either. Ultimately I bought the unlimited drink package anyways (I will get more into this later in my review). Everyone talked about bringing an extra power cord so I packed my handy travel power strip. I ended up not even needing that but again it was just me travelling. I brought hand sanitizer but quickly realized the ship has hand sanitizing stations all over the ship as well. I brought a back pack as my second bag and this served me well while getting to and from NY, as well as getting around Bermuda. I printed my luggage tags while at home. I used packing tape to waterproof them, and then stapled them to my bags. Another awesome suggestion from numerous people on Cruise Critic! Next time I will just bring a small stapler with me and wait to staple them onto my bags the morning I head to the ship. It was a bit embarrassing travelling by train with those gaudy luggage tags stapled to my bags. As usual I packed too many clothes but I did use a few space saver bags which helped for easy packing. I got a few of these at the Container Store a few years ago and they have come in handy on several long trips. They also came in handy on the way back (as I had some wet clothes from my last day at the pool/spa). I wanted to make sure that I brought enough clothing that would pass for all of the dining venues but also did not want to over pack as I was sweating the weight limit of 50 pounds per suitcase. By the way if you don’t have a luggage scale I highly recommend getting one for peace of mind. I decided to just bring jeans for going out at night and a mixture of short and long sleeve collared dress shirts. This is the norm in DC. I seemed to fit in just fine with everyone and sometimes was a bit overdressed throughout the week on the ship. Many people were out and about with shorts, loafers, and tee shirts/polo shirts. Many people suggested packing a bathing suit in the bag you carry onto the ship so I shoved this, some sun screen, etc into my backpack. This was good advice as the bags you check in, get to your rooms a bit later in the day after embarkation. Travelling to New York I did not want to stress out about being late for embarkation so decided to travel up to NYC the day before. I took a morning train ride up which was super relaxing and quick. I stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites near Times Square on West 40th St for free the thanks to the Marriott rewards I get from doing so much work travel. I made it to NYC in time for a late lunch at my favorite Carnegie Deli. Thankfully it was not too crowded (for a Saturday) as it was a bit later in the day. I ate half of a hot pastrami sandwich and then headed up to Central Park to walk some of that monster sandwich off LOL! It was pretty hot so after a good hour of walking around the park and the city, I headed over to a sports bar to watch my Washington Nationals wrap their game up. Headed back to the hotel to freshen up after that and then went out for dinner. There are 2 restaurants I swear by in NYC. Keens Steakhouse and Kellari Taverna (Greek). I know there are a million choices but I absolutely love both of these places. Since I had pre-booked Cagneys for dinner my first night on the ship, I decided to go the seafood route and headed over to Kellari Taverna. They have some of the freshest seafood, amazing Greek wines (that are quite affordable) and an awesome ambience. I sat at the bar and decided to go the tapas route, ordering grilled octopus, a Greek salad, another fish dish along with a nice glass of wine. After that I headed back to get an early night sleep as I wanted to get to the NCL port by 11 am at the latest the next morning. Day 1- Sunday July 7th, 2013- New York, NY Embarkation It was a short cab ride over to the pier. I left the hotel at 10:40 and got to the pier 5 minutes later. This was my first glance at this beautiful ship... The cab dropped me off and I was asked to hand my check in bag over to a group of folks loading those up on large carts. It operated just like an airport. I tipped the fellow a few bucks and headed into the terminal. Things were very organized and moved quickly. I was routed over to a check in counter, got a picture taken of me, signed some forms stating I was not sick, was issued a room key, and then directed to sit down and wait for my number to be called. My number was called 15-20 minutes later and I headed up the ramp to board this beautiful ship. I was shocked how fast I was on the ship. My advice is show up early and maximize as much time on the ship as possible. Spa Pass My first priority was to head straight to the Spa as I wanted to purchase the week long pass to the Thermal Spa. I found my way up to the spa and was greeted by a sweet young lady who talked to me about all of the services they had. She gave me a tour of the thermal spa and signed me up for the week long pass for $199. I got a special sticker on my room key. She also suggested the 10/20/30 plan which offered you a 10% discount on first spa service, 20% on the second, and 30% on the third. I decided to hold off on that. I knew I wanted a massage at some point during the trip, but did not yet want to commit to a specific day or time. Vibe Pass My second priority was to head down to Guest Services to purchase the week long pass to Vibe. I am guessing I was there by Noon to 12:15-ish. The line was about 10 deep. After a few people cycled through, a gentleman walked up to let everybody know that the Vibe Cabanas had sold out for the week. I was surprised those went that fast but was only concerned about the week-long Vibe pass. Soon enough I got the week long pass for $79 along with another sticker on my room key. They activated my room key so that I could open the private doors to Vibe and also issued me an arm band. Unlimited Beverage Package My final priority of the day was to look into the Unlimited Beverage Package which was $49 per day (plus 15% gratuity). I was told to purchase this from the main bar on floor 6 next to Guest Services. I had done some number crunching and figured it was most likely going to be worth buying. I was worried that some of the frozen drinks might not be covered like dirty bananas, pina colodas, etc. I figured as long as those were also part of the plan, I would buy it. They confirmed they were also included so I did go ahead and purchase the Unlimited Beverage Plan (UBP). (I will provide a bit more information on the UBP later in the review) When I was done purchasing the UBP, I took a quick stroll around the Waterfront and decided I had to have a celebratory cocktail. Being that it was so hot I went for a Gin & tonic. The first of many of those refreshing drinks for the week! LOL! Lunch- Taste Restaurant I then headed over to the “Taste Restaurant” and ordered calamari and a club sandwich. The service was excellent and the food was good. Towards the end of lunch an announcement was made that our rooms were now available. The timing could not have been more perfect. As soon as lunch was over I headed up to my room to check out my accommodations for the next 7 days. The room was awesome. It was just how I had pictured it. The balcony was larger than I had expected. I knew right away that I had made the right choice. I decided it was time to check out Vibe along with the top decks of the ship so threw on my bathing suit and away I went. Vibe was pretty empty when I arrived. I quickly made friends with the bartender named Marcial. Marcial was big into soccer, which I follow a bit of, so we talked about some of the great international players and teams that we both follow. Marcial mentioned that they play soccer games every Wednesday in Bermuda against the crew of the Celebrity ship. I thought that was the coolest thing and was glad that they got a chance to unwind and get some exercise. One thing I quickly learned was that these folks work their tails off and rarely get time to relax. I told Marcial, that I would tip him very well throughout the week (even though I had the UBP) as long as he gave me good service. I could tell he was super friendly and hard working regardless, but he flat out gave me the best service out of anybody on the ship throughout the week. (I will provide a bit more information on Vibe bit later in the review) Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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