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tripleboom

My Norwegian Breakaway Family Cruise Review - April 7, 2019

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11 hours ago, YankeesFan4Life said:

Which sailing?  We're going 8/11, cannot wait!!!! Oh, and check pricing, it dropped again!!!

 

BTW, fantastic review so far, can't wait to see more!!

 

7 hours ago, crusinnole89 said:

 7/21, so just a few weeks before you 🙂 I have been hunting down every Breakaway review I can find, hah!

 

Thanks to both of you for following along!  This has been very fun for me to be able to revisit and recollect all the fun we had on this trip!

 

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After getting of the bus at Playa Mia, we were pointed in the general direction of the beach, and were left to our own devices for the rest of the day.  There's a very nice, resort style pool, a kiddy-style splash park with small slides, a large covered dining area, an abundance of beach chairs, and even a pair of tube slides to enjoy.  Because our boys had never been to an oceanfront beach before, we headed straight to the water.  After getting used to the pretty chilly water (thanks again overcast skies), I decided to give in to my eldest's pesterings and check into the possibility of renting some snorkel gear for the day.  After getting pointed in a few different directions, I landed at the water sports desk where they quoted me $13.00 per set for the day.  Oof.

 

Much to the devastation of Connor, I let him know that we'd try again tomorrow in Costa Maya as it was supposed to be better weather anyway.  That wound up being a GREAT call, but more on the later.  So with snorkeling ruled out, we decided to head out to the inflatable water park that lay about 100 yards out from the beach.  Life jackets were required for anyone who wished to use that water park, so we all snagged one and started the long swim out.  There's a rest buoy halfway out, but with the life jackets we didn't have to work too hard to get out there. 

 

We had a great time out there right until the rain we had been dealing with turned into quite the swell!  Even still, we rolled with the punches, waited out the surge, then headed back to shore to hunt down some seashells and hang out at the resort pool and water slides.  If it hadn't been rainy, it probably would have been a pretty solid day, but the rain certainly put a damper on the boys' first beach day.

 

 

After another storm surge could be seen approaching, we decided to call it a day.  Unfortunately, our NCL-arranged transportation would not be back until 3:30, which meant that we had about an hour to kill. We had hoped we could hitch a ride with the NCL crew that was slated to go back at 2:30, but were shot down.  We were told we could hire our own taxi or wait out the return bus.  Not ideal, but we got dried off, took some goofy photos, and chatted with four sisters from Alabama who were about as sweet as could be.

 

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When the bus finally showed back up, we were grateful to board and get out of the cold rain that had begun to come down pretty steadily.  Once back to the port, and thanks to those four sisters, we had someone to take our photo for the requisite Cozumel family photo.  We shivered and shook our way back to the ship, and prepared for the evening's activities.

 

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Posted (edited)

Once we were back on board, and after a much needed warm shower and a change of clothes, we headed up to the buffet to get some grub.  We had opted for a big breakfast that morning rather than risk paying for sub-par or even soggy food for lunch at the beach.  But even with the big breakfast, we had a hungry crew!  I'm not sure either kid ate as much as they did at this meal. With cheeseburgers, fries, and pizza slices disappearing faster than you could imagine, I was amazed that there was still room for dessert.  But as well all know... there's always room for ice cream!

 

Behold, the perfect cone!

 

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We watched the ship pull out from port from the Garden Buffet (Yes, Landon purposely crossed his eyes here just to thwart my attempt at photography).

 

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After dinner, we still had some time before Splash Academy would kick off for the night.  So we headed down to the Waterfront and decided to wreak havoc there instead.

 

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Actually, the boys showed some genuine interest in learning how to play chess, so I took them through how each of the pieces moved, and then reviewed the rules again for the next 237 consecutive turns.  🤪

 

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The boys eventually got to a stalemate as most all of their non-pawns were captured, and because it was nearly 7 PM. Haha!

Edited by tripleboom

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After getting the kiddos dropped off at Splash Academy, and sneaking in a selfie for good measure...

 

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...we snagged some wings (can't get enough of the Texas BBQ flavor) and assorted grub at O'Sheehan's.  Service was fairly quick on this evening which was great as we wanted to be sure we got to where we were headed to in plenty of time.  It was back to Howl at the Moon! We headed down there at about 8:00 to be sure we could find seats for the 8:30 start. Glad we did!  Apparently by the third night of the cruise the word was starting to get out about Howl at the Moon.  Even arriving 30 minutes early we found a little more difficulty finding a good seat compared to the first evening when we arrived 15 minutes early.  This isn't a small venue like Syd's, so there was ample seating further back, but we were still able to snag some decent seats about 7 or 8 rows back from the front.

 

Let me take a moment to again acknowledge these three musicians and just how much they made our cruise.

 

Whitney Maxwell from Des Moines (not far from my hometown in fact).

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Marc Van Lue from Kansas City. If he's on your sailing ask for some Eminem because the guy can rap VERY impressively! Rap's not even my thing, but I had to respect the guy as he did a killer job.

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And Vince Orlandi from Cleveland

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On this night, President Lincoln and I requested some Dave Matthews Band. The slips of paper on which you make your requests include a "Special Occasion" section.  When Marc selected my request he seemed rather amused by the "Kids are at Splash Academy" special occasion we were celebrating. 😄  Anyway, here's a quick clip from Marc on piano and Whitney on drums while playing Ants Marching.

 

 

On this night we milked our time at Howl at the Moon for as long as we possibly could. We heard everything from Red Hot Chili Peppers, to The Eagles, to Queen, to Neil Diamond, to the Rolling Stones, to a brief foray into Baby Shark before a chorus of boos silenced that attempt. 🤣

 

Stacy went and picked up the kiddos while I tackled the now nightly routine.  She ran the kids to the room and got them showering while I ran up to the buffet for some late night cookies as a treat before bed.  Trapping the somewhat stale cookies between two piping hot dinner plates would warm and soften up the cookies a bit before I got back to the cabin.  If you're looking for life hacks to make eating sweets more enjoyable, I'm your guy. 

 

When I returned, I found that the room was occupied by a couple of pirates and their elephant friend.  Apparently on this evening the kids had a hidden treasure themed pirate night, complete with a trip to the pool deck where the evil pirate, Stinky Pete, was made to walk the plank into the pool.  Sounded like they had a pretty fantastic night while we were doing the same!

 

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That put a wrap on Day #3, and the best day of the cruise was just ahead of us, though we didn't quite know it yet...

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On 4/20/2019 at 4:32 PM, tripleboom said:

Day 3 - Cozumel

 

For the week leading up to the cruise I had been neurotically checking the weather for our day in Cozumel.  Thanks for the 100 minutes of free WiFi that was included as a perk at booking, I was able to continue neurotically checking while on board as well. 🤪  Unfortunately, we had a pretty high likelihood of thunderstorms during this planned beach day.  We had booked Playa Mia in Cozumel as it seemed to be an affordable option ($45/person) for a beach day plus roundtrip transportation. It would be our boys' first trip to the ocean, so we were hopeful that even if we got rained on some, they would still have a good time.

 

We woke up for a quick breakfast before heading down to the gangway. It was a brisk but mostly sunny start to the day. Someone was kind enough to take our picture as we were heading down the pier, but unfortunately I wasn't bright enough to remember to take my camera out of its bag much earlier.  Because the camera was still acclimated to our nicely air conditioned room, the moment I opened up the lens it completely fogged over.  Oops!

 

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After making it to the end of the pier, we provided our NCL Shore Excursion golden tickets and were pointed in the direction of the livestock pens... errr... the holding area for those awaiting transportation to the excursions offered through NCL. While waiting, we killed some time with some quick photos, and then killed time under a canopy with 100 of our closest friends as the rains began to come!

 

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After we had a little let up in the rain, we were all led up and through the Punta Langosta shopping area, and onto buses for the 15 minute ride to Playa Mia.

What a fun trip we are taking with you. It would make anyone want to book the Breakaway right now. Thanks. 

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Your words explain why we sailed Breakway each of the last 4 years.  Thanks!  Oh, and still chuckling today over the redacted sailaway picture.

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Day 4 - Costa Maya

 

We had departed Cozumel around 5 PM and started booking it for Costa Maya for what would be a shorter day when compared to our day in Cozumel.  We docked right around the estimated 7 AM and were scheduled to leave port by 3 PM.  Knowing that it was going to be an early day, we didn't want to hassle with grabbing breakfast on the ship, so I asked for room service to deliver our breakfast to us by 6 AM.  Once again the larger balcony paid off so we actually had the room to eat our breakfast on the balcony or in the cabin so as to give ourselves a little elbow room.

 

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We knew that the excursion we had chosen for the day would provide us with lunch, but still wanted a little fuel in the tank for the day's activities.  By 7:30 we were getting off the ship and stopping for the customary port photos.

 

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Costa Maya's pier makes for a looooooooong walk to the port shopping area, so we took a break and turned to take a couple photos of the ship.  Glad we did because just as we did so, the Norwegian Jade was coming around the corner to dock next to us.  You can see her coming around the front of the Breakaway in these two photos!

 

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For those familiar with Costa Maya, I'm not telling you anything new, but trying to navigate your way through the port shopping area and out to where the taxis are waiting can be more than a bit of a challenge... You look at this map and tell me where you're supposed to get out!

 

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I over-research our cruise plans, but even still I had a bit of a hard time navigating our way to the exit from this area.  As best as I can remember, I think this is the route we took, Family Circus style. The "X" marks the spot where the non-port affiliated taxis could be found, just outside the port entrance gate.  There were plenty of people offering me rides and alternate excursions as we weaved our way through the shopping area, but I just kept politely telling them I knew where I was going (which was probably 72% true), and trying to find my way out of the rat maze.

 

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If you find these flamingos, then you should be able to look right behind you and see the small exit tunnel that leads outside the walls of the shopping complex. From there you should be golden!

 

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I was a man on a mission, so I wasn't paying too much attention to what was going on around me.  Stacy told me afterward that we had about six other groups trailing behind us.  Apparently a couple of them said they were following us because I seemed to know where I was going.  I was a cruise ship Moses and didn't even know it apparently!  At any rate, just outside the gated area, we found a bevy of taxis waiting for passengers, we stuffed ourselves and our bags into the taxi, and asked him to take us to Yaya Beach in Mahahual.  $8 + tip and the four of us were deposited right outside the beach club about ten minutes later.

 

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Absolutely loving your review!!!  I have been on the Getaway but am booked on the Breakaway early 2021.  Your boys are adorable and you have a lovely family!!!

 

Leah

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14 minutes ago, browniegirl said:

Absolutely loving your review!!!  I have been on the Getaway but am booked on the Breakaway early 2021.  Your boys are adorable and you have a lovely family!!!

 

Leah

 

Thanks, Leah!  This has been a lot of fun for me as I recount our trip, so I'm glad you're enjoying it too!

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I am enjoying your review!  Are your kids already bugging you to schedule another cruise that includes them??

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, BigNance said:

I am enjoying your review!  Are your kids already bugging you to schedule another cruise that includes them??

 

Are you kidding?  My oldest was planning our next cruise before we even disembarked.  Apparently we need to do the Bliss or Encore next as he wants to do Laser Tag and Go Karts.  Not too clear on where he's getting that money and time from. 😁 

Edited by tripleboom

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I had originally been looking at Maya Chan for this trip, but they were sold out. Instead, I started looking for some of the other beach clubs in the area to which we could go. I looked at Tropicante, Barefoot, and a handful of others, but the Trip Advisor ratings and other online resources helped me settle on Yaya Beach.  

 

At a cost of $45/adult and $25/child (ages 6-12), we were guaranteed a beach bed lounger, a combo platter lunch (quesadillas for the kids), and open bar during our visit. We paid an extra $10 at the time of booking to choose the lounger we wanted in advance.  We opted for bed #3 right at the water line for the beach.  Well worth the extra $10 as we had a knockout view throughout the day!

 

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The beach umbrella over our chairs was perfect, and it included a call button to call for Luca, our awesome server. The only time we used it was to let him know we were ready for our lunch. Otherwise Luca seemed to magically show up every time our drinks got low.  What a guy!

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That place looks great!  We were fortunate enough to have booked Maya Chan well in advance.  They seem like amazing people, and have heard NOTHING but FANTASTIC reviews of the place.  Glad you were able to find an alternative!  (priced similarly as well).  Keep it going, I'm leaving in 111 days, and chomping at the bit to get on that plane down to MIA!!

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Thank you so much for your review! Watching your boys reaction reminds of my own boys and their 1st cruise many years ago :)

We are long time cruisers but July will be our 1st NCL cruise and we'll be on the BA too.

 

Curious to hear more about your day at Yaya... I like the ability to choose my sunbed.

Food, drinks good?

 

Thanks!

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I had to justify purchasing another electronics toy, so I used my Zhiyun Smooth Q 3-axis stabilizer rig to record a walkthrough of the Yaya Beach property. 

 

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Enjoy, and if you enjoyed the smooth video, let me know. I still need to convince Stacy that was worth it, and I'm certain that the opinions of those on the internet will be what does it. 😄

 

 

At about the 0:50 mark of the video, you can see that massage cabana area.  While the boys and I were out in the water, Stacy was approached by one of the masseurs, and was offered a one-hour massage for $50.  Now Stacy and I had read other reviews that said $20 for a half hour or $35 for an hour. I was in the water, and I knew where the wallet was, so Stacy declined for the time being.  But they offered a 3-minute teaser massage for free right there at the chairs.  Aaaaaaaaand, Stacy was sold.  That teaser rate will get you every time. 😂  When I got back we agreed to offer $40 knowing that they'd do a great job and it seemed like a reasonable rate. They accepted and Stacy came back to the chair an hour later looking like the happiest, most relaxed version of her that she could be.  Perfect! 🙂

 

While Stacy was busy going comatose, I ran to Yaya's next door neighbor, Doctor Dive.  This dive shop rented us four sets of snorkels and masks for the full day for $5 each.  When compared to the $13/set that was quoted at Playa Mia the day before, this seemed like a steal!  They took my driver's license and the $20 as collateral, and I returned them at the end of the day without issue.  This wound up being a fantastic deal.  More on that to come...

 

The boys had never snorkeled before, so I was more than a little worried that they'd struggle with it.  I helped them start to acclimate to the feeling in the shallower waters of the beach, and to my delight they took to it wonderfully!  They began looking for shells and the few small fish swimming in the shallower waters. 

 

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While they were practicing, I took a few more photos of the area.  Couldn't get enough of these crystal blue waters!

 

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After Stacy was roused from her massage induced coma, we took some family pictures. Again, just can't get enough of the natural beauty of this place!

 

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After so long in the sun and water, the boys wanted to take a little rest under the shade. We decided that then would be as good a time as any to order our food.  We called for Luca who arrived promptly, agreed to put our order in, and returned not long after with fresh drinks.  The boys enjoyed their virgin Piña coladas while Mom and I enjoyed some slightly more promiscuous options.  I have to admit, I didn't imbibe as much as I would have liked, but making sure the kids didn't drown was higher than a good buzz on my priority list. Stacy did enjoy a little more time on the beach chair than I did though, and thanks to Luca's omnipresence, she had a few more Bahama Mamas than I did.  We're both children of police officers, and have learned the tricks of the trade.  Let's just say she did fail the ol' "follow my finger" check later in the day. 🤣

 

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Landon did milk the "I'm cold, will you give me a drink" thing more than once.

 

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Not long before our food arrived, we had a visitor pop by our beach chair!

 

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He made himself right at home!

 

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I'm smart enough to know that this collared cat must be one of Yaya's unofficial mascots, and that he knew very well that he timed his arrival just right.  The food arrived not long after the cat, whom the boys would come to name "Snatch."

 

The cat would come right up close to your plate, reach a dainty paw up, and snag an onion or pepper off the plate!  He was quite well mannered for a thief!

 

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I was so distracted by our unexpected guest that I didn't do a great job of capturing the lunch that had been served to us.  The boys were provided with cheese quesadillas with pico de gallo in the middle of their plate.

 

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And the adults were provided with chicken, onion, and green pepper fajitas (which weren't terribly warm I must admit), cheese quesadillas, a portion of tortilla chips, pico de gallo, and excellent guacamole. Sorry for the half eaten picture!

 

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To answer your question, @gotscrapz, the meal wasn't really anything too special.  The lukewarm presentation of the food didn't do it any favors, but the lunch cost the adults an extra $10 each versus the beach and open bar package only, so to have something to tide us over until we got back to the ship, I didn't think $10 for lunch was too bad of a deal.  Again, during lunch, Luca kept our drink glasses full, so there was no concern there.  The drinks weren't up to snuff compared to what's available on the ship, but they didn't seem watered down to me at all.  Good enough to get a good buzz going, but you'd probably have to be aggressive with your consumption if you wanted to go back to the ship stumbling all the way. 

 

With our plates cleaned and cleared, Snatch left us to go beg from others on the beach, and we prepared to head back into the water to do some snorkeling as a family.

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Thank you @tripleboom! It really looks like you had a wonderful family day. love the family photos!

Tell Stacy the equipment was worth it 😁

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Thank you for your wonderful  fun review, loving it over here in Australia. 

We don't  cruise until next year on Getaway  & Escape in Europe,  but I'm  excited  already. 

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I am loving this review! 

I hope you and the family will be cruising regularly AND making good use of that great camera equipment😎

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I'm really enjoying your review.  We sail on the Breakaway on Sunday!

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10 hours ago, gotscrapz said:

Thank you @tripleboom! It really looks like you had a wonderful family day. love the family photos!

Tell Stacy the equipment was worth it 😁

 

I'll be sure to let her know! 😉 

 

9 hours ago, joejoe 59 said:

Thank you for your wonderful  fun review, loving it over here in Australia. 

We don't  cruise until next year on Getaway  & Escape in Europe,  but I'm  excited  already. 

 

The Getaway is of course a direct sister ship of the Brekaway, and I've been on the Escape before. Those will be two wonderful ships on which to cruise Europe! I hope you have a wonderful time!

 

9 hours ago, Sand and Seas said:

I am loving this review! 

I hope you and the family will be cruising regularly AND making good use of that great camera equipment😎

 

Being in the middle of the country like we are, cruising doesn't happen as often as we'd like. As if cruise fare hasn't gotten pricey enough, we have to worry about airfare too. I often find myself very jealous of those that live within reasonable driving distance of a port!

 

21 minutes ago, 30palms said:

I'm really enjoying your review.  We sail on the Breakaway on Sunday!

 

Short timer!  I'm plenty jealous!  Enjoy your cruise!  No better feeling than a single-digit countdown!

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Wow your pictures are gorgeous! And that video 😍 really gives us a GOOD look of the area. Another vote here for the equipment being well worth it 👍

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