We had a wonderful experience on the Norwegian Breakaway.Besides enjoying the experience with longtime friends that now live halfwayacross the country, we had the pleasure of experiencing some of the most delicious food and friendly service at sea.
Overview of the ship
Originally built in 2013 and recently refurbished in 2018,this is the first ship in the Breakaway class for Norwegian. Weighing in at 145,655 gross tonnage, it measures 1068.3 feet in length with a beam of 169.7 feet. It can accommodate 3,963 passengers at double occupancy and has 1,657 crew members.
Standing at 18 decks tall, with only decks 5-18 available for passengers, there is so much to do aboard. The ship is great for families,couples, and thanks to their innovative “Studio Cabin,” they are perfect for singles as well.
The whole concept that sets Norwegian apart from other cruise lines, is their “Freestyle Cruising” philosophy. If you are not a big fan of structured cruising, this will work great for you. The are no assigned dining times, locations or formal nights. As will all other ships, the specialty dining is based on reservations you make at any time that is available. However, unlike most other cruise ships, they do not even offer a set seating time and table. Dress is usually casual to “Smart Casual” for all the dining rooms. However, for dinner shorts are not allowed in the sit-down dining rooms. They do also a “Dress up or not” night in professional photos can be taken with the captain. So, if you are inclined to wear formal wear, that would be night to do it.
But, “Freestyle Cruising” extends to more than merely eating. Norwegian feels you deserve to be able to have choices throughout your cruise, even up until actually getting off the ship. Instead of having passengers disembark based on which deck they are on, the passengers can choose luggage tags to decide. The disembarkation time is based on which color tag you choose.So, for those that want to get off the ship and rush back to the insanity of real life, they can choose an earlier time. But, those of us that would rather savor every last second on the ship, we can choose a later time. One word of warning, if you feel strongly about WHEN you get off the ship, don’t wait until the last minute to get your luggage tags from guest services or you they might run out of the one you wanted.
As with most ships, the cabins can range from small and simple to massive and over-the-top. The Breakaway is no exception.
Studio: These cabins are approximately 99 sq. ft. in size and have a full-size bed and separate bath area. They are exclusively for solo passengers. They also have exclusive access to the Studio Lounge.
Inside: These cabins are approximately 135 sq. ft. in size and can accommodate 2-4 passengers. They come with 2 twin beds that can be converted to a queen and some have pull down bed(s) that can accommodate additional passengers.
Oceanview: These cabins are approximately 161 sq. ft. (218 sq. ft. for the Family Oceanview) and can accommodate 2-4 passengers (up to 5 on the Family Oceanview). They come with 2 twin beds that can be converted to aqueen and some have pull down bed(s) that can accommodate additional passengers. Some of the Family Oceanview cabins also have a bathtub, all others only have a stand up shower.
Balcony: There are several sizes of Balcony cabins that are from approximately 208-332 sq. ft with balconies that are approximately 32-310 sq. ft. They come with 2 twin beds that can be converted to a queen and some have pull down bed(s) and/or sofa beds that can accommodate additional passengers. They also have a Spa Balcony cabin that has easy access to the adjacent Mandara Spa experience and fitness center, as well as complimentary access to the Thermal Spa Suites during regular Spa hours.
Mini Suite: There are several sizes of Balcony cabins that are from approximately 239-513 sq. ft with balconies that are approximately 32-157 sq. ft. They come with 2 twin beds that can be converted to a queen and some have one or two sofa beds that can accommodate additional passengers. The Family Mini Suite is located near the kids’ area and a bathtub. They also have a Spa Mini Suite cabin that has an oversize waterfall shower and multiple body spray jets, easy access to the adjacent Mandara Spa experience and fitness center, as well as complimentary access to the Thermal Spa Suites during regular Spa hours.
The Haven Suites: There are several cabin types in this category. The Haven Spa Suite, which is 309 sq. ft. with a54 sq. ft. balcony, accommodates 2 people and has a king-size bed, in-suite whirlpool tub, oversize waterfall shower and multiple body spray jets, spa décor, easy access to the adjacent Mandara Spa and fitness center, as well as complimentary access to the Thermal Spa Suites during regular Spa hours.They go up in size all the way to the Haven Deluxe Owners’ Suite that is 932 sq. ft. with a 204 sq. ft. balcony. These cabins offer amazing ocean views, a living and dining area with wet bar and an extra-spacious wraparound balcony.They include a king-size bed that faces floor-to-ceiling windows, luxury bath with whirlpool tub, separate shower and two modern vanity sinks. Large wardrobe and dressing area with full closet, double sofa and guest half bathroom.But, no matter which of the Haven Suites that you choose, you receive the Haven amenities that include a butler, concierge, special boarding area which gets you get on the ship super quick. You are escorted to the Haven lounge through aspecial back way, avoiding all the lines waiting to board, and also escorted through the same way getting off the ship too.
O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill: An Irish Pub themed restaurant open 24-hours a day. Serves great food and has daily specials like prime rib and all-you-can-eat ribs. (cost: complimentary)
Garden Café: An English garden themed buffet that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have meat carving stations and made to order pasta, omelets and waffles. Are and a sweet treat any time, they have a soft-serve ice cream machine. (cost: complimentary)
Main Dining rooms (Manhattan Room, Savor and Taste):Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner in a sit-down environment. Menus change ona daily basis and will be posted at the front of each venue so you can decide what you would like to eat. (cost: complimentary)
Shanghai's Noodle Bar: Offering fresh noodle dishes prepared to order. (cost: complimentary)
The Haven Restaurant: Available exclusively for the guests of the Haven Suites, the Haven Restaurant offers fine cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have special signature dishes and offer impeccable service in a quieter and more comfortable environment. (cost: complimentary)
Ocean Blue: This restaurant is a must for seafood lovers.They offer a variety of dishes that are sure to please the discerning seafood lovers.(cost: a la carte)
Moderno Churrascaria: This Brazilian steakhouse is an absolute treat for those that love meat. It was one of my favorite experiences on board. If you are not familiar with the concept of a Brazilian steakhouse, you start out with a salad bar with a huge variety of items available for you to choose from. Then as you are enjoying your dinner, Pasadores come by with slow roasted meats on long skewers. They will slice off a piece of meat for you as the go from table to table, then come back around again with another type of meat. This continues as long as you want them to keep on coming. They have selections including chicken, beef, lamb and pork and they are all prepared in several different ways and styles. (cost: $39 per person)
Wasabi: This is a traditional Sushi bar that serves up fresh and delicious sushi, sashimi and yakitoi. This makes for a great choice for lunch on a sea day. (cost: a la carte)
Cagney's Steakhouse: Cagney’s is by far one of the most popular restaurants on the ship. I attempted, but did not succeed, to eat the 32oz porterhouse steak for dinner. It was tender and delicious and with all of the delicious sides that were available, it was an extremely satisfying meal. (cost: a la carte)
Dolce Gelato: Located on the Waterfront, you can enjoy a rich and creamy scoop of gelato for a snack, desert or just a treat. (cost: a lacarte)
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Sea: Enjoy this island-inspired restaurant while listening to some laid-back music. Who needs an excuse to enjoy a Cheeseburger in Paradise? (cost: $14.95 per person)
La Cucina: This charming Italian eatery has seating options including inside, atrium alfresco or oceanside. Enjoy fine pasta and other fresh Italian entrees made with the finest ingredients. (cost: a la carte)
Le Bistro: This French restaurant featuring Mediterranean, nouveau and classic French cuisine was a wonderful dining experience. Fortunately,there were six of us dining together so I was able to taste all of the wonderful dishes that were available. (cost: a la carte)
Teppanyaki: A combination of delicious steak, chicken and seafood were available to be cooked up in this authentic Japanese Hibachi restaurant.As usual the preparing of the meal on the large steel grills was as entertaining as the food was delicious. (cost: $39 per person)
The Bake Shop: If you have a sweet tooth, this little shop will take care of that urge. A huge variety of baked treats are here for your pleasure. (cost: a la carte)
The Raw Bar: This casual bar is a great place to enjoy oysters, shellfish, crudos and signature wines by the glass. Perfect for meeting up with friends before or after a show. (cost: a la carte)
Relax, or not…
I personally enjoy relaxing on my vacations, but let’s face it, Freestyle Cruising is all about enjoying things the way you want to.
The most relaxing activity was going to the Mandera Spa. Since we booked the Haven Spa Suite, we were given access to the Thermal Suite for the entire cruise. The whirlpools, steam rooms and other treatment areas were great for rejuvenating and just chilling out. Speaking of chilling, my absolute favorite bar on the ship was so exclusive we needed to make a reservation just to get in. It was the Skyy® Vodka Ice Bar. The bar, the seating, the decorations and even the glasses were all made of ice. Each person was given a parka type poncho to wear in the bar, which you entered by going through the special door and protective curtain to keep in the cold. It was not a large space and didn’t have a band, but since it is kept at a nippy 17 degrees, it was not a place people wanted to stay in for long periods of time. However, it was something that should not be missed.
Other relaxing activities include listening in music at some of the 15 bars onboard, watching a show like Rock of Ages, Burn the Floor, Howl at the Moon or Escape the Big Top, which are all complimentary. If you don’t mind spending a modest fee, under $25 per person, you can see Velvet – Dinner &Show, which is a disco era themed musical or take in Wine Lovers the Musical,where you can enjoy six different wines and a delicious lunch.
However, if you want some excitement, there is no lack of that available either. For a physical rush you can enjoy the three-story Sports Complex. Challenge yourself with the largest-at-sea ropes course where you conquer over 40 elements as you masterfully maneuver through this multi-level structure. For the ultimate thrill, confront The Plank that extends 8 feet over the side of the ship. Cameras capture your conquering moment. For some wet fun, try out the Aqua Park. Among other water play,you can trill to the five multi-story water slides. For more healthy activity you always have the option of doing cardio or lifting weights in the Pulse Fitness Center.
Personally, my favorite adrenaline pumping activity is in the casino. They offer all the popular games of chance and skill. In addition to the usual table games like blackjack,roulette and craps they also have Texas Hold ‘Em tables for you to match your wits against other passengers. What would a casino be without the ever popular noise making poker machines and slots, which are mine favorites. I might be a little biased though, since I did hit a big jackpot on my first night out.