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GORDONCHICK

Disappointed in Thanksgiving on the Breakaway (not the actual day or food)

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I've hesitated on posting my thoughts, opinions and experiences on our Breakaway cruise because, well, this board has become quite vicious at time.  But I've got thick skin and just want to inform others.

 

First, a little background on us:  It's me, my husband and our 17yo son.  This was our 16th cruise, 10th on NCL.  We cruise when our son is out of school, so at peak times.  We are used to crowded ships and more kids on board than usual.  Our first 10 or 11 cruises were in inside cabins.  Since then, it's been more balconies than not.  This was our 6th cruise out of New Orleans - we like sailing down the Mighty Mississippi.  We aren't high maintenance people in regular life, nor are we on a cruise.  We are budget people - meaning we have a vacation budget for the year and we stick to it.  We pay our DSC without complaint, and generously tip above for those who've made our cruise special, easier, more enjoyable, etc. 

 

This was our first big ship cruise.  I'm not sure we'll do another.  I can't tell if our problem was with the size, or the service that comes with that size or if NCL has changed that much.

 

Off the bat, my fan was confiscated at the port.  The people at the port (who do not work for NCL) were told by NCL people on the ship that the plugs wouldn't work for it.  I don't know if it was a communication issue or the port people didn't understand, but the "info" they were giving out was not correct.  Anyway, we had them tag it, and said we would pick it up when we left.  Keep in mind, it's a 9" blue plastic box fan, not a floor-drying fan.  A blow dryer pulls more amps than this thing - by a long shot.  Not to mention, this fan has been with us on ALL of our other cruises.  I have a medical condition where I don't sweat, and I over heat easily.  I need it cool to sleep.  Fast forward a few hours and we're on board, have dropped luggage in our cabin, eaten lunch in either Taste or Savor, and now cabins are ready.  I head to guest services and stand in the ridiculously long line.  There are a few NCL people talking with people in line to determine if they are in the right line, directing them to the right place or leaving them in line.  The guest services manager gets to me and I explain about my fan.  She says we can't bring one because it will overload the circuits.  I told her I've brought this one on all 15 of our previous cruises, and she nods and says not NCL.  I show her my keycard that shows I'm platinum and tell her this is our 10th NCL cruise, so yes, it's been on NCL several times.  She tells me that everything confiscated at the port gets loaded onto the ship by 4pm.  She took my cabin number down and said I would need to come back after 4.  I go back after 4, stand in the same line, get a different person, explained the conversation before.  This person took our cabin number down, said they would have someone retrieve the fan, but an engineer would need to check it to see if it was okay, then she sent me on my way.  We did eventually get a call saying our fan was approved by the NCL engineer and it would be delivered to our cabin.  YAY!  So my end take on this event is that NCL should put an approval sticker on my fan so I won't have to go through this again.  This did not happen, but should IMO.

 

Our cabin steward was always friendly and kept our cabin made up, us in towels and ice (important for all 3 of us).  She did miss giving us the card about moving our clocks ahead the first night, but other than that, all was well.  She was tipped well in cash on top of her portion of the DSC.

 

One of the reasons we've enjoyed NCL was because of freestyle - do as you want, when you want theory.  We had friends on the Bliss in Alaska this summer and they've never made a dinner reservation for any cruises including the 3 or 4 previous NCL cruises.  But they found they couldn't get in to a restaurant - even MDRs - before 9.  After they complained at customer service, someone helped them make reservations for a few nights.  So she warned me.  I'm used to having to make them for Teppanyaki's and have always made them for my birthday, but just really kind of winged it for the others.  So I made reservations - for all 7 nights.  This is not the freestyle that we've previously enjoyed, but I guess this is a big ship thing.  If the smaller ships are now like this, someone please let me know.  The restaurants are the almost same size as on other smaller ships but are expected to serve 2500 more people (there were 461 kids on board in just the 13-17 Entourage!). 

 

I was a little concerned our son wouldn't get in to Entourage with 461 teens aboard and it only having a capacity for 59, but most of those teens were roaming the ship.  Mostly in the buffet, by the pool or on the sports deck, but many were playing in the elevators (and not just teens).  This isn't new to us, but there were just hoards more of them doing it.  Our son did get in Entourage all he wanted, so that worked out well for him.  It's his last NCL cruise before he turns 18.

 

Service in the restaurants was really hit or miss.  We went to Cagney's twice.  Once, the service was good, the other not so good.  The food was good both times.  Our first time in O'Sheehan's was really good - food and service.  The second time, the service was abysmal.  I can't speak to the food because after an hour, it never came though people around us were getting their food and they were seated after us.  When we ordered, my son asked for a burger.  He was told it would take 20-30 minutes for a burger so he changed his order to fish & chips.  Burgers were being served all around us - to the people who were seated and ordered after us.  And the iced tea they served, well let's say that's not iced tea.  It tasted like instant tea with half the water required.  Teppanyaki's was the same as it's always been.  Good food, decent pace, good service.  Moderno's salad bar was better than I remembering being.  People have raved about the salad bar before, but I didn't get it.  But this one - the salad bar was really good.  I will say that the lamb we had was overcooked - and when DH says that, it's wayyyy overcooked for me and our son.  The ribs were incredible!  Service was okay, but they were very slow to fill water glasses and DH's iced tea (real stuff this time).  Le Bistro was for my birthday.  I'm sad that they don't serve the complimentary salmon pate that they used to.  At least they still had escargot.  I ordered the lamb, as I've really enjoyed it before.  It used to be lamb chops.  I received what would be 4 bites for my son, so that was disappointing.  DH & DS loved their tenderloin, though DS's was much closer to rare than medium rare.  He ate it & didn't mention it because he was hungry (the teenaged boy thing).  The service was good at times, but lacking in refilling glasses, especially with DH's tea.  He even asked if they wouldn't bring him 2 glasses but they never did.  The service in the MDRs was really pretty good for MDRs.  They even brought DH 2 glasses of tea and were pretty good at keeping us refilled.

 

So all of that is kind of normal-ish kind of stuff.  One thing here or there, no biggie.  But all of this piled up.  This is what really kind of made us thing NCL may not be for us anymore or it's a big ship thing - we are platinum and have been for a while.  We are used to certain perks.  The one that was completely absent was the use of the concierge - which is still a stated perk, but it appears it's not technically honored (at least not this ship at this time).  The only thing we needed from the concierge was the priority disembarkation (especially in Belize City).  On past cruises, the concierge would leave a letter in our cabin of where to meet & what time and we would be escorted to where we "dinged" off the ship and off we went - either on the pier or tender.  When I inquired about this, I was told that the CruiseNext people would help us.  So that meant standing in that line.  I actually found someone to help us for Belize City so it worked out, but I was stressed that it wouldn't (we had an independent tour that we really needed to be on the first tender - and this has never been an issue before).  We were then later told that we should have just jumped in front of the line, showed our cards and been on our way.  We've not ever had to do that before, and I still really don't understand how that works without causing an uproar with the people you're "cutting" in front of.  Someone please enlighten me on this process in case we need to do this in the future.  When it came to disembarkation at the end of the cruise, I had to go stand in the CruiseNext line again for luggage tags instead of them being delivered to our cabin like previous cruises.

 

Our time in the ports was good, except for rain at Harvest Caye, but it did eventually clear.

 

This was a first - I filled out 0 vacation hero cards.  At this point, we are just unsure about booking another NCL cruise, though we have 4 FCCs remaining.  Our next cruise is on MSC so we are looking to see how that goes. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We’ve been in 4 NCL ships, my kids loved the Breakaway, I prefer the Gem (we sail out of NYC). Five minutes into sailaway on the BA, I ran to the spa to get spa passes, hated the crowded broken up pool deck.

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2 minutes ago, mjkacmom said:

We’ve been in 4 NCL ships, my kids loved the Breakaway, I prefer the Gem (we sail out of NYC). Five minutes into sailaway on the BA, I ran to the spa to get spa passes, hated the crowded broken up pool deck.

We don't really do the pool on the ship except when DS was younger.  I can see where the layout would have both pluses and minuses though.

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Thank you for your review.  I think (hope) it's a big ship thing and not an NCL thing. 

 

I am not a fan of the big ships at all.  The Jewel class is perfect IMO.  I have a special diet and have always been very well taken care of except for my cruise on the breakaway where no one seemed to be in charge of special diets and I got very sick after my first meal.  Since then it's been back to the jewel class.  

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Thanks for your review.  Next week I'll be on the Breakaway and it will also be my first time on one of the big ship, as I prefer the jewel class.

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57 minutes ago, GORDONCHICK said:

So I made reservations - for all 7 nights.  This is not the freestyle that we've previously enjoyed, but I guess this is a big ship thing.  If the smaller ships are now like this, someone please let me know.

yes, we were on Jade last week, and reservations in MDR would really-really make your life easier.

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There are now thousands of Platinum's,  add to the mix  Platinum +  and Ambassadors.   I'm sure hundreds on your cruise.   

 

With tendering-   you do NOT jump any lines,  officially.   But you do NOT need any tender tickets,  when you do join the lines.   Its up to YOU to be in line early for first tenders.    I have always done this routinely.   It's more expedited that going via the concierge,   which I don't do.  I've used a lot of tenders in the past year and have success with this strategy (sailing at least every month).   

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1 minute ago, Budget Queen said:

There are now thousands of Platinum's,  add to the mix  Platinum +  and Ambassadors.   I'm sure hundreds on your cruise.   

 

With tendering-   you do NOT jump any lines,  officially.   But you do NOT need any tender tickets,  when you do join the lines.   Its up to YOU to be in line early for first tenders.    I have always done this routinely.   It's more expedited that going via the concierge,   which I don't do.  I've used a lot of tenders in the past year and have success with this strategy (sailing at least every month).   

What I ended up doing worked very well since we were on the first tender, with the ship photogs, HD, people setting up the NCL tender back areas, etc.  There were NO tender tickets at all on this cruise for anyone.  Kind of confusing compared to previous years and ships.

 

And while I get what you're saying about platinums and others, it is still a stated "perk".  If they aren't going to provide it, remove it from the perks lists on everything.

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You let the fan thing get on your nerves...that’s my take...other than that, seems like a crowded cruise, as I would expect over Thanksgiving...

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8 minutes ago, GORDONCHICK said:

What I ended up doing worked very well since we were on the first tender, with the ship photogs, HD, people setting up the NCL tender back areas, etc.  There were NO tender tickets at all on this cruise for anyone.  Kind of confusing compared to previous years and ships.

 

And while I get what you're saying about platinums and others, it is still a stated "perk".  If they aren't going to provide it, remove it from the perks lists on everything.

 

No tender tickets?   Are you certain?   How did they manage this without tickets and 4000++ people plus wanting off the ship   in tenders that take a lot of time in Belize???  

 

If the case, I'd imagine uproars of complaints with high frustration levels.  

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7 minutes ago, Budget Queen said:

 

No tender tickets?   Are you certain?   How did they manage this without tickets and 4000++ people plus wanting off the ship   in tenders that take a lot of time in Belize???  

 

If the case, I'd imagine uproars of complaints with high frustration levels.  

There were no tickets - I asked 4 times!  There was something about booking on the tv?

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15 minutes ago, PTC DAWG said:

You let the fan thing get on your nerves...that’s my take...other than that, seems like a crowded cruise, as I would expect over Thanksgiving...

It really wasn't a matter of getting on my nerves - it's actually a medical condition combined with the fact that this fan had been on 15 previous cruises (9 NCL) already.  And the fan thing got settled before bedtime.  And I stated that we have always cruised at peak times (except for the first 3), so we are used to crowded.  And while I didn't mention this before, this was our 6th Thanksgiving cruise - so we are not new to cruising this week either.

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Been on the Getaway twice.  Beautiful ship, nice crew...but way too big for us.  We stick with the Jewel class.  That's a very good size.  

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1 minute ago, Oakman58 said:

For the most part it is a big ship thing.  I prefer Jewel class and Dawn class ships.

This is what I'm thinking/hoping.

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7 minutes ago, GORDONCHICK said:

There were no tickets - I asked 4 times!  There was something about booking on the tv?

 

So,  YES there were "tender tickets".    The tv had the set up, of selecting your time and it gets posted right to your card-   paperless.    Just like your show and dinner reservations.    

 

There is no, way, they wouldn't have some process in place to disperse the crowds and wait times.   

 

As I mentioned you do not need to to this with Platinum and above status.   Your card is already printed,  with this information.   

 

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3 minutes ago, GORDONCHICK said:

This is what I'm thinking/hoping.

 

It certainly sounds like avoiding these large ships may be better for your preferences.    Sorry, it wasn't the best fit for you.   But certainly great information for your future holiday sailings.   

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15 minutes ago, GORDONCHICK said:

It really wasn't a matter of getting on my nerves - it's actually a medical condition combined with the fact that this fan had been on 15 previous cruises (9 NCL) already.  

 

If I was in your shoes, I'd contact the access desk and have them send you an approval for your fan. If it's ever an issue in the future, just show whomever is at the port that NCL has approved your "device" for medical reasons. 

 

Telling them that it has been on before won't mean anything to them but showing approval from NCL would probably work. 

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49 minutes ago, Budget Queen said:

 

No tender tickets?   Are you certain?   How did they manage this without tickets and 4000++ people plus wanting off the ship   in tenders that take a lot of time in Belize???  

 

If the case, I'd imagine uproars of complaints with high frustration levels.  

 

I haven't been on the Breakaway, but I have experienced tendering on the Epic. We reserved tender groups (not times) on the TV or one of the electronic boards near the elevators, and the groups were called in order, generally two at a time. When your group was called you went to the Manhattan Dining Room where a crew member swiped your card (just as you said in a subsequent post),  you took a seat in a long double row of chairs. When the next tenders were ready, everyone in the two rows walked down to them.

 

That was for passengers not using NCL shore excursions. Those on NCL excursions assembled in the theater and boarded tenders with the others on the same excursion.

Edited by kochleffel

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When ordering drinks at meals I will typically order 2 Arnold Palmers at a time (specifically I tell the waiter one for me and one for my dining companion) but both are for me and I request a refill when one is empty but perfectly time the 2nd glass to also be empty when they come to refill the 1st glass so they also refill the 2nd glass. I do this in the MDR as well as SDR. Actually all dining places.

 

At breakfast I will order 4 juices at once: Orange, Cranberry, Grapefruit (2).

I think the waiter appreciate this too as they don't have to keep refilling of getting me juices when one runs out.

Edited by Cwipes

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You are a very experienced cruiser and very loyal to NCL.  You should not have any issues with posting your thoughts about your cruise.  Inconsistency is an understatement when it comes to restaurants and service in general.  Thanks for sharing and sorry this was not up to your expectations.

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2 hours ago, Two Wheels Only said:

 

If I was in your shoes, I'd contact the access desk and have them send you an approval for your fan. If it's ever an issue in the future, just show whomever is at the port that NCL has approved your "device" for medical reasons. 

 

Telling them that it has been on before won't mean anything to them but showing approval from NCL would probably work. 

It's at least worth checking on.  I might as well check on MSC, too.

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I am booked on my 42nd cruise in January. (I’m a travel agent so toured and sailed so many ) All ships are different and I liked something about all. But certainly have my favorites and least favorites. 

    Oddly enough my advice to you is try Rccl Oasis class ships. I know they are huge ships as well, But unlike NCL big ships, it is set up much better for crowds. More pools, more activities and they win in the organization department. 

      MSC is not my favorite. Do your research. But some love it. I hope you have a better experience next time around !! 

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