Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 391 out of 500
Accommodation: 149 out of 200
Food: 248 out of 400
Service: 275 out of 400
Entertainment: 86 out of 100
Cruise: 285 out of 400
Overall Score: 1434 out of 2000
Norwegian Breakaway Statistics
Size: Large Resort Ship
Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9606912
Builder: Meyer Werft (Germany)
Original Cost: €600 million
Entered Service: Apr 2013
Registry: The Bahamas
Length (ft/m): 1,066.2/325.0
Beam (ft/m): 133.0/40.5
Draft (ft/m): 27.8/8.5
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (79,800kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 15
Total Crew: 1,651
Passengers (lower beds): 4.028
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 35.7
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.4
Cabins (total): 1,994
Size Range (sq ft/m): 96.8-1,022.6/9.0-95.0
Cabins (for one person): 59
Cabins (with private balcony): 1,252
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 40
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 5
Hot Tubs (on deck): 9
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
Über-casual, multi-choice floating playground for the family
Overview. Norwegian Breakaway really is a ship for young, trendy, and edgy urbanites. It provides families with children, single parents, couples, and solo travelers with a mountain of entertainment choices, in an environment that is a pure playground for an active, entertaining cruise vacation.
The Ship. Norwegian Breakaway has a more streamlined and a better, more balanced profile than its slightly larger sister, Norwegian Epic, with a less boxy look to its front upper forward section. The colorful, signature artwork on the lower front section of the hull depicting the city of New York was created by Peter Max, the popular American illustrator and graphic artist.
Families with children really enjoy the pool deck facilities like the Aqua Park, with five huge water slides, a large rock-climbing wall and rappelling wall, and a rope and scaffold-like walking course - with a small section that extends over the side of the ship. Aft is a large movie screen with amphitheater-style seating in an adults-only area called Spice H20.
Despite the ship’s size, however, the open deck space for sunbathing is rather tight, and made smaller by the ‘exclusive’ ‘Haven’ area in the forward section, whose suites-only occupants (pay more, get more) are given enough sunbathing space, bar, pool, hot tubs, all in a beach-club-like setting. The rest of the ship shares multiple pools and water-fun exterior decks, designed for families and children.
Lower down, on an outdoor promenade deck, a ‘Waterfront’ boardwalk-style outdoor area with bar and eateries brings you more in contact with the sea. It forms part of the outdoor experience, and away from the hubbub of the family-friendly sun/sports action deck atop the ship.
Inside, the decor is decidedly more traditional and provides a more restful, relaxed feel and ambience - although this is all relative and it’s still rather upbeat and jazzy.
Careful planning and time management will be needed to make the most of this large resort ship and all it has to offer. So it’s really worth spending time to decide what you want to get out of your cruise vacation before you board the ship - which sort of negates the ‘freestyle’ aspect of a large resort ship cruise - still, it’s all about choice.
Most of the public rooms, shops, entertainment spots, the large casino (gaming tables and slots), and a number of the 12 bars and 17 themed dining venues are located on Decks 6, 7 and 8 - a three-deck area complex called 678 Ocean Place.
A venue that proved popular aboard other Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ships is Bliss Ultra Lounge, a decadent venue (think late-night SoHo, minus the muggers and deadbeats).
The ship’s home port is New York. Indeed, Norwegian Breakaway is the largest cruise ship ever to homeport in the Big Apple. Gratuities (called a ‘service charge’) are charged to your onboard account, or you can pre-pay online. Bar purchases incur a 15 percent gratuity; spa treatments are an eye-popping 18 percent.
Families. Facilities for kids and teens are pretty large and varied, and are spread over two decks; there’s Splash Academy for kids and a separate Entourage space for teens. Nickelodeon is the family entertainment brand on all cruises, as part of NCL’s children’s programming.
Splash Academy is close to the family-friendly accommodation and provides areas for three age groups. Babies and toddlers have their own play space and parent-involving activities. At the Splash Academy reception area, tablet-based electronic registration allows parents to swipe their keycard and input a password to sign in their children.
Just past the reception area, the 3-5-year-olds (Guppies) have their own brightly decorated space, complete with child-sized furniture. In a separate zone, 6-9-year-olds (Turtles) have building block activity centers, an interactive dance mat with corresponding large video screen, video game stations and a video viewing lounge.
Upstairs, 10-12-year-olds (Seals) get a multipurpose dance space with a touch-screen jukebox, moveable tables for activities, and bean bags for lounging; an activity zone includes arts and crafts items, and a ‘hang out’ area stocked with the latest video games.
Entourage, for ages 13-17 (Dolphins) has air hockey, foosball, and an arcade with five separate large-screen areas to play the latest video games while lounging on sofas. It becomes a teen nightclub with a dance floor and video jukebox in the evenings.
Accommodation. Having learned a lot from its innovative big sister Norwegian Epic, NCL has made some sensible changes that should please many of its regulars. The ‘wavy’ cabin design has been modified, and the former separated bathroom has been reworked into a more traditional design, which is much more practical.
The Haven. The more exclusive accommodation is located in a two-deck-high section called The Haven - really a ‘ship within a ship.’ It consists of 42 suites on Decks 15 and 16 forward, and includes a private restaurant, a cocktail bar, and a concierge desk where you can relax, have a drink, and make dining, entertainment, and spa reservations through the concierge. There is a private pool, changing areas, two hot tubs, gym, saunas, two private massage rooms, and sun deck with bar. The Haven occupants get 24-hour butler service, and in-suite, white-tablecloth dining service. Suite occupants get a platinum key card and priority reservations for all the restaurants, spa, and entertainment venues.
The top suites within The Haven are two Deluxe Owner’s Suites, with their contemporary skyscraper apartment look - including an elegant living room and dining area with wet bar. The bedroom has a king-size bed with pillow-top mattress that faces floor-to-ceiling windows and an extra-spacious wraparound private balcony. The bathroom has an oversize tub, two washbasins, and a luxury shower. Deluxe Owner’s Suites can be joined to Owner’s Suites to create a grand suite that can sleep up to eight.
The 21 two-bedroom Family Villas have two bathrooms and two bedrooms. The separate living room and dining area includes a single sofa bed, writing desk, and bar. The master bedroom has a king-size bed, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a private balcony. The master bath includes an oversize oval tub that looks out to the sea. The second bedroom includes a double sofa bed and bathroom.
Also in The Haven are 17 Courtyard Penthouses, with a king-size bed, living and dining area, a single sofa bed, writing desk, and ample storage spaces. On other (non-Haven) decks throughout the ship are eight aft-facing penthouses and 10 forward-facing penthouses.
Other accommodation. There are 15 Spa mini-suite rooms and 28 Spa balcony cabins, all with easy access to the adjacent spa and its facilities. While most outside-view cabins have a balcony, some have only windows, but all have flat-screen televisions, satellite-linked telephone, and private bathroom. There are also 42 Family ‘suites’ with ocean views.
Balcony suites/cabins have rich wood-look paneling with warm tones and accent colors. Each balcony cabin has a king-size bed that can be made into twins, with a pillow-top mattress set against a chestnut leather headboard cushioned and tufted to make reading and sitting up in bed more comfortable. There’s a lighted recess above the bed for books, magazines, tablet computers, or electronic reading devices. Each room has a sofa bed with additional storage. A built-in 26in flat-screen television is mounted on the wall and tilts so it can be seen from the sofa or the bed. Underneath the television is another recessed nook to hold cruise information, books, and magazines. A vanity area has shelving and abundant storage space. LED lighting surrounds the perimeter of the ceiling to give the room warmth. There is also a full-size closet that is easily accessible with sliding doors. The cabins are energy-efficient, and key card access controls the lighting.
The balcony bathroom features a contemporary, clean design, ensuring more generous and comfortable space. There are several rich-wood shelves to help reduce clutter and keep everything within easy reach. There’s an enclosed vanity unit underneath the washbasin that hides the trash bin, along with more storage. The built-in washbasin is size-generous and has an easy-to-use faucet. A private shower with a shaving bar for ladies completes the picture. Mini-suite bathrooms get a rain shower plus a hand-held shower hose.
There are 59 studio (single-occupancy) cabins. They are colorful, hip, trendy, and capsule-hotel small, with minimalist design - especially for closet space. Still this is a neat way to cruise solo - just don’t bring many clothes
The many interior cabins also have one or two additional upper berths, while the lower beds are twins that convert to a queen-size bed - good for families with young children.
Dining. There are many food-themed restaurants (the largest of which, Savor and Taste, are like main dining rooms), dining venues, and casual eateries to choose from. This means that you’ll need to make reservations in whichever venue you want to eat, so you’ll need to be prepared for a bit of planning and waiting - just like you would ashore. However, if you want to see a show in the evening, then your dining time will really be dictated by the time of the show, which rather limits your choice. The good news is that the wall-based touch-screen reservations systems work well, so you see instantly how long you may have to wait if your chosen restaurant is fully booked.
Other dining options. The Manhattan Room is the equivalent of a main restaurant, and is included in the fare; it is large, with an integral dance floor and large ocean-view windows aft. Other dining venues (Cagney’s Steakhouse and Moderno Churrascaria) are located one deck above, and have a view into the Manhattan Room.
Because the lifeboats hang over the side of the ship’s hull, and not inboard (as is normal), a whole promenade deck has become an oceanfront extension of the eateries on the inside, thus creating a New York sidewalk-style experience, called The Waterfront.
Inside, 678 Ocean Place (meaning Decks 6, 7, and 8) connects with several interior extra-cost dining venues as well as the extensive Breakaway Casino, cigar smoking room, and several entertainment venues. These include Moderno Churrascaria, a Brazilian-style steakhouse with table-side carved meat service by ‘passadores,’ and a salad bar; Cagney’s Steakhouse, a classic American steakhouse, with open kitchen; La Cucina, for Italian family food with a focus on Tuscany, with inside seating; or for alfresco eating on The Waterfront, Maltings (bar) and Ocean Blu by Geoffrey Zakarian - NCL’s first à-la-carte all-seafood and raw bar eatery - designed and overseen by the popular Food Network chef. The ingredients and techniques that he employs in his land-based establishments are featured here.
Other venues include Le Bistro, for classic French-style cuisine; a 96-seat Teppanyaki restaurant with 12 flat-top grills and a lot of show (yes, food can be entertaining), complete with Japanese rock garden with bamboo plants and bonsai trees; and Cirque Dreams and Dinner, a big-top, circus-like dining spot with a Cirque Dreams and Dinner show (it’s a lively, action-filled supper club). All are extra-cost, and reservations are required.
Casual eateries, at no extra cost, include O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill, a sports bar and popular fast-food joint, with a big screen for sporting events, miniature bowling alley, pool and air hockey tables, and interactive games; the Atrium Café and Bar, for coffees and pastries; and Shanghai’s Noodle Bar, for Chinese-style noodle dishes. The Ice Cream Bar signature item is a ship-specific sundae (Breakaway Sundae or Getaway Sundae), with nine scoops of ice cream in up to three flavors topped with ‘everything under the sun.’
The Garden Café is an extremely large, self-serve buffet, with indoor and outdoor seating. It’s open round the clock. Many different counters provide themed and ethnic food varieties, and there’s a special section for kids, too.
Entertainment. The two-deck-high Breakaway Theater, located at the front of the ship, is a fine large showlounge, where all the major production shows and mainline cabaret acts are presented.
Spiegel Tent is a two-deck-high domed Cirque-like space, combining a show with dinner, similar to the Teatro ZinZanni dinner theater in Seattle. It’s a mix of in-your-face street theatre, acrobatics, and Berlin-style ‘foodertainment,’ with lots of clowning and satire during a two-hour show. There’s a cover charge.
Meanwhile, the popular Blue Man group, first introduced aboard Norwegian Epic to great acclaim and very entertaining for the whole family, forms part of the offering here, too.
Celebrity look-alike shows are presented in the Manhattan Room. These conjure up the likes of Elvis, Janet Jackson, Madonna, Neil Diamond, Tina Turner, and others, and are also part of the entertainment line-up. They are produced by Legends in Concert, a Las Vegas company that has provided shows for The Strip for over 25 years.
Jazz and blues devotees should enjoy the Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club - an intimate room that’s often standing room only - when the live jazzers are jammin’ away in a really cool place.
Spa/Fitness. The spa and fitness center is spread over two decks and houses a warehouse-size gymnasium. The complex includes an extra-cost thermal suite (herbal rainshowers, saunas and steam rooms, relaxation area with hot-tile beds), a salt room, a beauty salon, and multiple body treatment rooms, including massage rooms for couples.