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tripleboom

My Norwegian Breakaway Family Cruise Review - April 7, 2019

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After much hemming and hawing, I decided to give this writing a review thing another try.  I could never hope to produce the high quality live review of some of my CC Heroes, but I hope that having had some time to digest (and there was plenty to digest given just how much we did ingest!), I provide you with a high quality review of the Breakaway from the perspective of a young (I'm going to continue to call myself that in hope that it sticks) family.

 

My wife (Stacy) and I had been on three NCL cruises prior to this one, with 2 on the Sky and most recently on the Escape back in June of 2017.  At the beginning of this year, we booked another cruise on the Breakaway, but not until May 2020.  FAR too long to wait. Now, our boys had been rightfully bugging us for a number of years now, wondering when it would be their turn to go on a cruise with us.  The expense of adding two children's fares, both for flights as well as cruise fare, had always been so prohibitive that we hadn't made a real go of it.  But with a 400+ day wait until our next cruise staring back at us, I began to look around for a cruise that MIGHT work for all of us to go on.  Lo and behold, the Breakaway's last sailing out of New Orleans before re-positioning to Miami for the Summer. With timing that worked well with my wife's variable work schedule (she's in the healthcare field) AND worked well with the boys' (Connor - 9 & Landon - 6) school schedules, it was like this cruise was ordained to happen.

 

After checking and double-checking flight costs, we realized that flying down was going to be too expensive to justify, so we decided that we could make the drive from southwest Iowa, breaking up the trip into two legs each way.  Thanks to travel for work, I had enough points built up to stay at hotels for free along the way.  We subtly measured Landon's height to be sure he could ride the water slides, but managed not to spill the beans as to the reason we were checking his height.  With the all important 48" mark having been surpassed, we knew we were ready to book.  A call to our TA later and the dirty work was done!  Thanks to the 3rd & 4th sail free promotion, we were able to get a heckuva a deal on a "bump" BC class balcony.

 

Now came the fun part.  With having booked the cruise behind the boys' back, we got to break the news to them in a fun and creative way:

 

 

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The next several weeks seemed to drag on and on, with each day starting with the boys writing a new number on our chalkboard anchor as the countdown got nearer and nearer to our sail date! 

 

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With the sail date of April 7th, we made plans to leave early on the morning of Friday the 5th of April. Since we had road days and we had sea days, we packed our road day clothes in smaller suitcases, our cruise clothes in the larger suitcases, and the toiletries, meds, etc. that would be needed daily no matter where we were in some smaller overnight bags.  All in all it made for a VERY full rear hatch in our Chevy Traverse!

 

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With the hatch closed (barely) we set off!  Thanks to widespread flooding in our area, the interstate system to the south of us has been closed and will be for quite some time to come.  So we wound up detouring around it down some backroads before we could get back on the interstate south of Kansas City.  In an effort to appease the minions in the back a lunch stop at Cici's (and its arcade) was in order.

 

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A mere 6 more hours after leaving Kansas City (🤪) we arrived in Conway, Arkansas for a night's rest.  But before heading to bed, we had to try some of the local cuisine. At The Original Burgers, Pies, and Fries Restaurant, we found ourselves some tasty brisket burgers and some fried pies that were incredible! Splitting an Oreo and a Lemon pie between the four of us was MORE than enough. It took some effort to get the kids down for the night thanks to the sugar/cruise buzz!

 

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After a good night's rest in Conway (thanks to the cooperation of a well-behaved group of lacrosse girls staying at the hotel), tomorrow's 7 hour drive would deposit us in New Orleans!!

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Following along - looking forward to hearing about your cruise.

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After another seven hours of driving through Arkansas, Mississippi (including an emergency potty break at a convenience store that apparently proudly holds the title of "Nastiest Bathrooms in Mississippi"), and finally Louisiana, we arrived and found parking near the French Quarter by around 4:00 PM.

 

Honestly, these boys were such troopers throughout the two days of driving.  I wish I could tell you that it was all due to stellar parenting, but it really all was thanks to the wonder that is headrest mounted DVD players.  BUT, for their good behavior, Snoballs were in order! 

 

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Followed by... 

 

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Your standard beignets at Cafe du Mond are pretty hard to beat, but Loretta's got it goin' on.  The praline cream inside of these was soooooo delicious!

 

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Snoballs + beignets made for a pretty sugared up pair of boys!

 

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After weaving our way down Decatur street, dodging the day drinking crowds, bicycle taxis, and your random loudly cursing folks, we managed to deposit ourselves on Jackson Square in front of the St. Louis Cathedral. So beautiful!

 

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One last stop before heading to the hotel to turn in for a good night's rest.  We went back across Decatur, up the stairs to Artillery Park and Moonwalk Riverfront Park, and let the boys dip their toes in the Mississippi, the same water that the Breakaway would carry us out on the next afternoon!

 

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While in New Orleans, we stayed at the County Inn and Suites off of I-10 and Read Blvd in East New Orleans.  This hotel just opened in March after a re-branding and refurbishment.  I wish I had taken more photos of the property as they really did do a terrific job with the update. For an additional $15 for the duration of the cruise, we were allowed to park our vehicle on the premises.  From there, we took a Lyft with the wonderful Dominic from the hotel down to the Julia Street Cruise Terminal.  After considerable effort weaving through the dense traffic (both in terms of the number of cars and the apparent IQs of other drivers), Dominic managed to get us to the luggage drop off.  After unloading Dominic's van, we handed over our luggage to the porters, and headed for check in.  

 

By the time we had arrived, the ship had already begun to board. We zipped through security, checked in, got our travel docs reviewed, were issued our keycards, and were sent up the escalators where the Breakaway awaited us.

 

Because this was our boys' first cruise, I wanted to be sure to capture their reactions and excitement upon seeing and boarding the ship. They did not disappoint. 😀

 

 

 

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Very cool!  Can't wait to rest of the review!  We're going on the Breakaway in August with our two kids (13/15) and they're super excited too!  Took them on the RC Adventure of the Seas last year, so according to them, they're "old pro's!"  

 

Glad to see there's bowling in Bliss, haven't seen that before, gotta get my Big Lebowski on and show the kids who "The Dude" really is!! lol

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The boys are having such fun!  Great to see their excitement and love your way of presenting the cruise to them!!

 

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You've certainly joined the elite master trip report tier with this one.  Thanks and looking forward to the rest!

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Thanks everyone for the encouragement thus far!  Great to have you all along for the review!  Now that we're actually ON the ship, I suppose we should start talking about the cruise, eh? 😁

 

First things first, the boys wanted to get up close and personal with the pool deck. Can't really blame them there, so up we went to the top!

 

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I gave them some pearls of wisdom about the evil of chair hogging, so we only posed for a picture here before making our way to Splash Academy to get them registered for the week.

 

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Knowing all too well the madhouse that is the buffet on embarkation day, we headed to Taste & Savor on Deck 6 to grab a sit down lunch there.  The relaxed pace of the meal here would allow for some extra time for the rooms to be readied, and the thought of trying to weave the boys in and out of the lines of the buffet seemed far too overwhelming this early in the cruise.  It was a good call! The relaxed service pace did make for some impatient moments for our action oriented boys, but they grabbed my camera and passed the time amiably enough.  

 

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The menu appeared to be the same lunch menu we had enjoyed on the Escape just a couple of years ago, so I once again ordered the cajun grouper sandwich while the wife opted for the philly cheesesteak, and we opted for the stuffed potato skins with crab salad (pretty meh), popcorn shrimp, and chicken nachos as appetizers.  The apps were all fairly individually sized as we've come to expect.  Our sandwiches were both delicious.  Interestingly, the waiter did let us know that at the embarkation lunch only, the children's menu would not be available. So the boys each had a cheeseburger and fries from the adult menu.  If this cruise has taught us anything, it's that our oldest is going to drive up our grocery bill astronomically in the near future.  He polished off his adult-sized cheeseburger and fries, then started asking about what his brother hadn't finished.  We cautioned him not to overdo it on his first day, so the boys settled for ONLY some sherbet to finish off the meal.  The wife and I opted for the peanut butter cup cheesecake and orange chocolate mousse respectively.

 

Mmmmmmmmmm...

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2 hours ago, YankeesFan4Life said:

Very cool!  Can't wait to rest of the review!  We're going on the Breakaway in August with our two kids (13/15) and they're super excited too!  Took them on the RC Adventure of the Seas last year, so according to them, they're "old pro's!"  

 

Glad to see there's bowling in Bliss, haven't seen that before, gotta get my Big Lebowski on and show the kids who "The Dude" really is!! lol

Our two boys fancy themselves as pretty expert cruisers now too. By the end, our oldest was telling me about the ships that have Go-Karts and Laser Tag and how that's the one we'll need to go on next.  He hasn't quite filled me in on the details surrounding how he's going to pay for it and get me the time off work needed to go, but details, schmetails. 😁

 

The mini-bowling alley on the Breakaway is kind of tucked away in the corner at O'Sheehan's, but is located just inside the O'Sheehan's doors on the starboard side of the deck 7, forward stairs.  We never got back to try it, but there seemed to be quite a few people enjoying it!

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1 hour ago, Always Cruising said:

The boys are having such fun!  Great to see their excitement and love your way of presenting the cruise to them!!

 

As fun as it was, I think I may still be out of breath. Clearly I didn't think through the placement of each clue very well!  Far too many trips up and down the stairs. 😅

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With the leisurely lunch pace, we had hoped that the rooms might be ready, but no such luck.  That said, we also wanted to be sure to get the registration process for Splash Academy taken care of.  So we headed for Deck 12 forward and found the doors open and a short line of parents awaiting the opportunity to register.

 

In short time we were checked in and sent over to the wonderfully helpful "Rainbow" who completed the registration process via an iPad. We were asked about any allergies or health concerns for the kids, they took all the pertinent demographic info on each kid, and asked us to establish a pick up password.  Each night when we went to retrieve the kids from Splash Academy, we'd have to provide the staff with the correct password before they'd send the kiddos out to us.  An efficient process and one that worked smoothly and without issue throughout the cruise.

 

After the registration, we were sent over to a table where the boys were banded (not branded 🔥😀) with an ID bracelet that they were told they'd be required to wear for the duration of the cruise.  It was a durable material and held up well to days at the beach, showers, horseplay, etc.  Losing the bracelet would require a $5 replacement fee, but the bracelets were secured by a tamper proof button, so you'd really have to cut it off to lose it. No worries there.

 

After the bands were on, we were allowed to explore the space with the boys.  Landon is 6 and Connor is 9, so we were quite pleased to see that they'd be in the same age group together.  Nice to have big brother looking out for little brother on their first cruise together. After climbing the internal staircase to Deck 12, we could see that there was abundant space for play, crafts, video gaming, and I'm sure a bunch more fun that they'd have for the week.  Plus there was a strict ban on adults.  The boys seemed pretty broken up about that. 

 

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Very fun review!  Really love seeing the boys reaction to boarding the ship.  We took our 3 boys on a cruise many years ago so it's bringing back great memories for us.  (Now they buy their own cruises!)

Looking forward to more😊

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Great review so far.  I was on this sailing also and had a wonderful time.

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Tripleboom, you should have written the Mueller report.  Like the detail.  Even has pictures and video.  Please continue.

Rich

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This was entertaining enough to entice me to clock out for lunch just so I could read your review thus far. Well done. Can't wait to see "the rest of the story". 🙂

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Posted (edited)

Just as we were packing up to leave Splash Academy, the announcement came over the PA that the rooms were ready!  Now I mentioned earlier in the thread that I had booked us a Deck 13 bump balcony at a great deal. Within a handful of days after booking, the prices REALLY dropped on this cruise, and I felt a pang of buyer's remorse.  Tough to be too remorseful when you're going on a wonderful vacation anyway, but it still stung a bit.  However, nine days before our sail date I called our TA to see if anything could be done in way of an upgrade.  After waiting on hold for quite a bit our hero, Giovanna, came back to tell me she had gotten us into a B6 Large Balcony, Cabin 9126, for the week.  I was over the moon! With a family of four, that extra real estate out on the balcony was worth every penny that I didn't have to pay extra for. 😉

 

So with that announcement, we scrambled down from Deck 12 to Deck 9 and headed forward (thanks as always to to the guppies on the carpet) until we reached our cabin. Luggage was still going to be a bit of a wait, but I was much more anxious to see the balcony than to unpack the suitcases anyway! Sorry for the sub-par quality picture. I realized after getting back that I never got a great shot of the balcony by itself. There was always someone out on it for some reason. 😀

 

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To be able to fit all four of us comfortably out on the balcony AND extend the selfie stick was quite a pleasant surprise.  This room and its balcony were perfect for us!

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After three cruises with just the Mrs. and me, I think Stacy had gotten used to relaxing out on the balcony. There'd be solo time out there for her yet this cruise, but not on this day! 😄

 

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Earlier in the week the forecast was looking very foreboding for sailaway, but we were fortunate to only have overcast skies at the appointed time.  It's tough to complain about the cloudiness when rain would have been so much worse!  I suppose we can thank this passing Nordic god for holding off the rain for us.

 

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Edited by tripleboom
typo

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5 minutes ago, MelB313 said:

This was entertaining enough to entice me to clock out for lunch just so I could read your review thus far. Well done. Can't wait to see "the rest of the story". 🙂

Thanks for following along!  If you're taking a pay cut just to catch up, then I'll owe you a drink on your next sailing! Or rather UBP will buy it for me. 😁

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1 hour ago, Sand and Seas said:

Very fun review!  Really love seeing the boys reaction to boarding the ship.  We took our 3 boys on a cruise many years ago so it's bringing back great memories for us.  (Now they buy their own cruises!)

Looking forward to more😊

Maybe my 9-year old can get a paper route like I had at his age. Not sure delivering the local paper will quite buy his cruise fare, but it'd be a start. 😉

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3 minutes ago, tripleboom said:

Thanks for following along!  If you're taking a pay cut just to catch up, then I'll owe you a drink on your next sailing! Or rather UBP will buy it for me. 😁

No pay cut taken, but I'll take you up on that drink anyway. Lol. Or a fried pie the next time you're in my neck of the woods (Conway, AR). 

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While we waited for our turn to depart, Carnival Dream who was in port with us got the jump.  They pushed out, did their about face, and passed by us as their cruise director led their passengers in a rousing chorus of 🎶 "Na na na na, Na na na na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye!" 🎶  Cruel really, but I'd have probably done the same had we been the ones to get the jump on them. 🤣

 

That said, I did get a good time lapse of the Dream pushing away and taking off along with a couple of decent pics of her departure.

 

 

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