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Breakaway October Transatlantic - CPH to NYC

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I’m not going to do a daily review of this cruise. I started out taking notes on my itinerary but honestly after 14 days they started to run together, and I know you don’t want to read about sea day number 4, revenge of the cabin cough. So I’ll just summarize the good and the bad. 🙂


What went well:


First off, this was the smoothest embarkation we've ever had. Quick and easy to get on the ship, even after they said that the power was out initially. Although we did have to walk in the rain from our check in building to the gangway - there are two separate buildings at Oceankaj and ours was not the one near the entrance to the ship. Not NCL’s fault. Also, I’m just going to throw this suggestion out to everyone and no one in particular - when you are standing in a line in which something is going to be required from you at the end of the line (passports, forms, credit card, etc.) the line will go much faster for everyone if you use the time in line to have those things ready to go when you reach the head of the line.


Not NCL related but I absolutely fell in love with Copenhagen and Denmark. Beautiful, clean, quiet, great public transportation system. And just different enough that it seemed exotic to this American tourist. I would love to plan a land trip that returns there and spend another 3 days. It was also full of the most splendidly gorgeous people I’ve ever seen. I swear every 5 minutes another supermodel would walk past.


Being able to order appetizers at the bar in Chill! Yay!!!! Excellent idea. Poor execution. Margaritaville is such a dud. If it went back to a la carte it would be fine but the pricing structure right now is terrible. I can’t eat an entire app, entree and dessert there by myself for lunch, so it’s a waste of a dining credit or flat fee or a waste of food. So I loved the idea that you could now order Volcano nachos at the bar and pay the $8 or so. Unfortunately ours took like 2 hours to get to us and then they were mediocre. So great idea, but the execution needs to be improved. I will say that they did not end up charging our account for them, so that was at least nice. The bar in Chill needs to be bigger and there needs to be two bartenders on duty. When it’s busy, it is BUSY.


The staff was amazing. I've never had a bad crew but really there were so many amazing, hard working people on the Breakaway that stood out. I spent more on cash tips than on previous cruises just because there were so many people who deserved it. Our pockets were much lighter upon arriving to NYC. But it was an excellent, caring staff. This was the first time we've had a room steward call us by name and greet us every day. Alifton was great, he kept our room immaculate. Since the weather was less than ideal we probably spent more time at bars than usual (and we generally spend quite a bit). Our bartenders were amazing. We sat at Waves every morning and drank coffee, read and chatted (it was one of the few places you could be outside due to weather). Baileys makes excellent coffee creamer. Gusti and Alan were fantastic. Friendly, helpful and cheerful despite the cold and wind. Regin and Rodel in Spice H2O (when it was open) were amazing, always anticipating our needs. Smiling and greeting us by name. I saw them deal with difficult customers with grace and professionalism on multiple occasions. During one particularly fun afternoon various bottles at the bar were named for regulars, so when we’d sit down at the bar we’d be asked if we wanted a drink from “our bottle” (which was Barcardi 8, by the way) and always making sure our favorite beers were in stock, going so far as to go get a new case of Lagunitas and then ice them down for us so we didn’t have to waitl. On the rare occasions the Chill margarita bar was open Alejandro was very pleasant. The first time we were in there we were his only customers and he spent the time and effort to talk to us about his home and life, which we always enjoy. The next time he was so busy, he was nonstop making drinks, it was complete chaos. When our volcano nachos didn’t show up after an hour he took care of it for us. At Syd’s outdoors we were well taken care of by Paul and Evelio who always seemed genuinely happy to see us and made sure our favorite beers were always in stock while we huddled together in the cold and wind.


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The good, continued.


Beer. Thank you, thank you, thank you NCL for having two different IPAs in the bottle. Frozen drinks and tropical cocktails didn’t appeal as much on a cold weather cruise, so it was especially nice to have the Lagunitas and Goose Island IPAs to drink. We saw lots of other IPA drinkers so I think this was appreciated by many. Keep up the good work, beverage directors. More craft beer, please.


Quality of entertainment: The Cirque show was fabulous, we were highly entertained. One of the later shows was cancelled due to rough sea conditions so we were pleased to get to go. Rock of Ages and Burn the Floor were both very good. Rock of Ages is very clearly advertised as being a bit risque, and even though people were warned ahead of time we still saw people get up and leave. There was an Adele tribute singer who was very talented and very well attended. Comedians were generally very good this cruise, one of them, Frank Townsend, was hilarious. His schtick was kind of poking fun at the passengers and cruise and this rubbed some people the wrong way, but most of the crowd was howling with laughter. I’m always pleased with NCL’s level of entertainment. There seems to always be a good variety to appeal to lots of different tastes. There was only one night that there wasn’t anything going on that my husband and I cared to attend. He’d rather die than have me drag him to another magic show. Or, to be more accurate, he’d rather sit at a bar than have me drag him to another magic show.


Moderno on Breakaway was excellent, better than on Epic where it was much too salty. In fact, I’m regretting not dining in Moderno a second time. The Mexican buffet in Moderno for lunch was also fantastic (I love Mexican food and usually miss it dearly on board), but very crowded.

Shanghai’s noodle bar was also excellent - we ate there twice with the Aussie friends we made on board.


This may sound crazy, but the sensors in the public bathrooms worked quickly and easily for soap and water. Yes, this should be expected but on Escape they were so difficult I would sometimes spend 10 minutes trying to get them to work to wash my hands.  


Straws. Or lack thereof! I know this is controversial on this board but I applaud and appreciate NCL's decision to get rid of disposable straws due to their impact on ocean wildlife. In fact, I wish NCL would go further and get rid of the disposable plastic cups on the pool and sun decks and change to washable/reusable plastic cups the way many resorts have. Cruise demographics will be changing soon and people my age and younger tend to be more cognizant of our environmental impact. In fact, I'd love to see NCL get rid of bottled water and offer water bottle filling stations like many airports and schools are doing. I know selling water bottles is a source of revenue to NCL so I won’t be holding my breath on that one.


Edited by Indykitten

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What could be improved:


The food. My husband and I agreed that the food in general was better on Escape and Epic. We dined mostly at O’Sheehan’s, Shanghai’s, Garden Cafe and the specialties. I just couldn’t be motivated for dining room this cruise. Only half of Garden Cafe was open 95% of the time and it just lacked the variety that we were used to. Which seems odd, because the buffet should be pretty standard between all the ships. For example, the everyday Indian food on Escape was better than the Indian night themed buffet on Breakaway. I will say the fried fish and tartar sauce on pub night was excellent. One of my favorite buffet things on previous cruises was the action salad station, but on Breakaway it was only there a few days and it was always Caesar. I actually think improving and expanding the salad bar in the Garden Cafe would be appreciated by many. I don’t care for croutons but a lot of other people want them. Please, don’t ever get rid of the crepes station. Sushi in Wasabi was good enough, but not fantastic like it was on Epic. Cagneys was very good, as usual, although the wait between app and entree was a bit extended, resulting in me drinking a bit too much wine…..resulting in me going to bed very, very early that night. The next morning the sommelier was working in the juice bar. I said, “You got me into trouble last night, apparently 3 glasses of wine puts me to bed at 9”. She smirked and said, “Maybe wine not for you, no?” And then offered me a bloody mary. Smart girl.


The smell coming from the Raw Bar/Ocean Blue/Wasabi. I had planned on us dining at the raw bar but by the third day there was a distinct “fishy” smell coming from that area that made the very idea of dining there unpalatable. Whatever it was by the end of the cruise they seemed to get it under control and it smelled better, but there was a good solid week that it turned my stomach just to walk through there. And I like fish and seafood!


Lack of open outdoor space and smoking. First of all, I completely understand that the weather is outside of NCL’s control and that for safety reasons outside decks needed to be closed at times. But it was often crowded and difficult and HOT being stuck inside. It was a crap shoot to figure out what would be open at any given time. Spice H2O? Occasionally.  Deck 8 waterfront? Maybe later. Deck 7 shuffleboard? Only when I’m trying to nap in my cabin above it. Sun decks? Haha, no. Ropes course? Again, no. Margaritaville? Also no. I understand wanting to open the smoking areas to let the smokers smoke, but sometimes it seemed like the only open outdoor parts of the ship were in the smoking areas - Spice H2O, Syd’s outdoor and the smoker’s cage on the pool deck. Because we like to be outdoors as much as possible this resulted in us hanging out in the smoker’s areas much more than usual - and neither my husband nor I smoke. It was windy enough that the smoke didn’t bother us too much but we probably got exposed to more second hand smoke than I’d prefer.


Poor weather also resulted in the inside of the ship being super crowded as people were forced indoors. Again, I totally understand NCL cannot control the weather. But it was HOT on that ship. I don’t know if it was the number of bodies, or if they turned up the thermostat because the average passenger age was 68, but there were times I thought I was going to pass out it was so damn hot in that ship. It was like visiting my grandma’s house with the furnace cranked up to hell. I knew this was going to be a colder weather cruise so we had packed accordingly. I was constantly having to peel off layers of clothing indoors. The opposite of other cruises where I often have to toss on a light sweater in the dining room or theater because of the air conditioning.  I had brought a pair of cheap stretchy gloves with me and I bet I could have sold them for $100 the first few days. I probably could have gotten more for my raincoat/windbreaker.


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What could be improved, continued:


Gothenburg port. After booking, but prior to final payment date, one of our ports was changed from Amsterdam to Gothenburg, Sweden, which upset a fair number of people. We would have preferred Amsterdam but it was fine, as we’d never been to Sweden, either. Unfortunately the only port large enough to accommodate Breakaway in Gothenburg is the industrial shipping port which is nowhere near the city. There was no communication from NCL after the initial port change about this prior to the cruise. We assumed we’d be able to get a taxi from the port to the city. This turned out not to be the case. Gothenburg was our first port on day 2, with no sea day in which to change travel plans. On embarkation we were given a sheet of paper regarding shuttles for the next day. When we got on board we sat down to lunch at O’Sheehan’s and after we ordered we got a chance to look at the shuttle paper. It explained that there would be a shuttle available at 8 am and 9 am for $15 per person round trip into Gothenburg. Because this was a working port we would not be allowed to leave on foot and we could not get a taxi. Honestly, NCL should have told us this ahead of time and transportation should have been complementary, since it was communicated so late and we had no time in which to adjust excursion plans. We had no idea how much shuttle space there would be so while we were waiting for our food my husband rushed down to Headliners to reserve the 8am shuttle for us. As he got up I said, “Take your beer. You’re on a cruise now, you can take your beer with you everywhere”. So he did. When he eventually got back he said that the line was actually short, but moved SLOWLY. He said right before he got to the front of the line he finished his beer and from behind him he hears a little old Irish lady say, “Oh no, you’re ooouut of beeeeeeeeeer!” This is now one of our new favorite phrases. I will say that the shuttle operation ran smoothly, there was a good system set up for moving people through when meeting in the Manhattan room, at least for the first shuttle.


This was not the case for our excursion in Southampton. We met in the theatre and there was a bit of chaos because when you first got to the theatre you had to fight your way through the line just to figure out what you were supposed to do. Having a person or at least a sign at the entrance to the theatre would have helped the organization immensely. Instead we got halfway through the line until we could get close enough to the MC to figure out we were in line for the wrong excursion and needed to take a seat until our excursion was called. No problem. We sat for a while and the MC was funny and informative. He told us we might want to make a bathroom trip while we waited for busses so I handed our excursion tickets to my husband and did just that. Unfortunately while I was gone an excursion was called and I had to fight my way back into the theater to find my husband. Ooh boy. I can’t tell you how many times I had to explain to people, “I’m sorry. I’m not cutting in line. I just went to the bathroom. I’m just trying to get back to my seat. Look, I don’t even have tickets in my hand”. If looks could have killed I would have never stepped foot on land again.


The library. We packed light for this trip so I had a Kindle loaded with 5 library books and my husband brought one paperback. When we did our previous transatlantic on Epic we used the library a couple times to supplement the reading material we brought so we thought we could do the same on Breakaway. Since the weather was poor we both burned through books pretty quickly so we went to check out the library. We walk in the door and it’s packed. Every seat is taken, and I swear there is a total of like 50 books on the shelves. I am not under-exaggerating. All of them with a person parked in front of them reading or playing sudoku. I’m walking around, trying to look at books, walking behind people, which appeared to be irritating the crap out of them. I know, the nerve of me wanting to look for a book in the library, when this woman comes in to complain to the library attendant about the conference room next door and says, in the most huffy voice possible, “I AM PLATINUM PLUS!”. Okay lady, but I’m pretty sure your latitudes status doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not the poor guy working in the library can answer your question about your private event being held in an unrelated room. So this led to our next favorite phrase, “I AM PLATINUM PLUS” which my husband and I now whisper jokingly to each other every time something isn’t perfect. It’s loads of fun at the grocery store and other places. Kroger is out of stock on my favorite cashew milk?? “This is unacceptable. I AM PLATINUM PLUS”. Anyway, we gave up pretty quickly on the library. Epic’s was better, at least it had books.


This is the first cruise where we’ve had no interaction with the officers whatsoever. This isn’t a complaint so much as just an observation. The service and crew were excellent on Breakaway and we never felt any incident was worth going to the service desk to gripe about. However on Escape and Epic we were approached several times just to say hello and check on us and a couple times to do a short verbal survey on our experiences. Officers on Breakaway (with the exception of Vuk, the hotel director, who seemed to be everywhere at all times. Either he has a twin or NCL cloned him.) were much less present than on previous cruises. At one point we witnessed Vuk try to mitigate a guest argument between Miss IAMPLATINUMPLUS and some other poor guest in the middle of the atrium. I honestly don’t know what is wrong with some people, I seriously thought those two people were going to come to blows.


The toilet in in our cabin worked intermittently and only when it wanted to, which was sometimes not when I wanted it to. I’m familiar with the oddities of cruise ship plumbing and this has happened before, but not quite as often as in this cabin. Since it was just my husband and I in the cabin it wasn’t that big of a deal.


Entertainment venues are too small. The theater, headliners and atrium were often packed over capacity, crowded, uncomfortable and overly loud. I know this is a common complaint about Breakaway and Breakaway Plus class ships. I don’t really know what the solution is for existing ships but it does detract from the cruise.


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LOL I'm cracking up at the "I'm platinum plus" You even get it here on the boards or I'm a shareholder!! Really???? That and $5 will get you a starbucks.

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36 minutes ago, njkate said:

LOL I'm cracking up at the "I'm platinum plus" You even get it here on the boards or I'm a shareholder!! Really???? That and $5 will get you a starbucks.

I agree so very much. We're still using the phrase at home. I giggle every time.

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I was on the Breakaway's westbound TA.  Things I really liked in the buffet:  The carved Peking duck on Asian Night.  The help-yourself piles of iced, good-sized shrimp and iced mussels on the half shell, all awaiting cocktail sauce, on Seafood Night.  The carved whole roast hog, from snout to tail, one day for lunch.  The help-yourself creamy cheeses--chevre, gorgonzola and stilton--with various breads and fruits for evening snacks.  


Also particularly enjoyed the filet in Cagney's.  In Moderno, the salad bar was far superior to the meats.

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