Cruising isn’t for everyone, but I love it. Why? First of all, I hate planes. I have a managed phobia of heights and I nearly always get sick on planes. Besides, I swear, I am uniquely talented and no matter what seat I pick, it is ALWAYS the one right in front of the only baby on the flight. +10pts me.
Another reason to love cruises is that they are convenient. You get room, transportation, and food all in one, plus most entertainment. You don’t have to spend anything above cruise fare to have a good time. I’ll talk a little more about what we did on our ship next week, but I love the Norwegian Breakaway. I love the lazy sea days and not worrying about what to make for dinner and I LOVE the ocean.
Not trying to convert y’all to cruise lovers here. Downsides of a cruise? Depending on your expectations, the food, or boarding, or activities may not be up to snuff for you. The ports may be boring. You may feel nickeled and dimed by the cruise line. If you do decide to take a cruise someday, make sure to read a lot of reviews of the cruise line and the specific ship so you’re going in with realistic expectations. There’s nothing worse than heading on your vacation expecting the Ritz and getting an Econolodge. I was perfectly happy on the cruise, but we managed to find all the grumpy people who were mad about the weather/lack of lobster dinners/crew members with accents.
Without further ado, let me tell you about the Breakaway!
My husband and I choose our cruises based on location and destination. Norwegian is one of the few cruise lines that sails out of NYC or Boston and does not travel exclusively around Canada and New England. We were on the Breakaway in September 2015 in our honeymoon, and by pure chance that was the ship heading to Europe this spring. It’s the only ship on the only cruise line we’ve traveled so far (we’re expanding our horizons and have trips booked through Royal Caribbean and Carnival in 2019).
The Breakaway is a huge ship. This particular crossing, she housed 5260 people. She’s dry docked in the UK right now for repairs, then she’ll be cruising the Baltic Sea this summer and is repositioning down to New Orleans in the fall. I’m sure she’ll be properly bright and shiny when she’s back at sea! The Breakaway has 16 decks, and we stayed in balconies both times. Tip #1: If you like to hang outside, but you aren’t a poolside person, balconies are *worth it*. Even crossing in the spring when it was cold and drizzling and gross, we were on our balcony daily. Besides, there’s nothing like being on the balcony when you dock to wave hello and goodbye! This trip, we were on deck 14. We got some amazing photos – I can’t wait to show you a particular one from Cobh.
Tip #2: The higher you are on the ship, the better views you’ll have. However, if the seas are rough, the higher you are on the ship means you’ll feel *every* wave. I was seasick for two days because I’m brilliant and always figure “I’ll be fine and if I’m not, there is always the bed and copious amounts of bread! It’ll be great!” … I am my own worst enemy, y’all.
The Norwegian Breakaway has only one main dining room, but there are four complimentary restaurants, a large buffet, and eight extra charge restaurants. If you don’t mind the extra charge, the specialty restaurants are amazing. We’ve eaten at Le Bistro (French), Moderno, and Cagney’s. I’d go back to any of them, but *especially* Cagney’s. That said, we really enjoy the main dining rooms are well. Norwegian has a “freestyle dining” policy, which means you don’t have to sit with anyone and as long as the restaurants are open, you can eat anytime you want. It’s not the most exquisite food, but it’s chain restaurant quality and you get three courses. I am a huge fan if the chocolate chip gelato and my husband really enjoyed a green onion and Swiss cheese croissant egg sandwich thing they had for breakfast. There’s also a noodle bar that’s always packed, and really delicious. Complimentary, too!
As far as entertainment goes… you’ve got the main theatre, various clubs, the spa, the gym, the pools and hot tubs (of course!) and any number of other small, fun things. There are three or four separate night clubs, each age appropriate. The Breakaway has four water slides, a mini golf course, a ropes course, and a climbing wall. Depending on the weather, the top deck activities may be unavailable for the passengers’ own safety. For those of age, there’s always the bars! There are so many bars, y’all.
I’m not a big drinker, but I discovered the lemon drop martini, which is lovely if I *have* to order a drink. Norwegian always has offers running, and for this particular cruise, we selected the “Unlimited Drink Package” for free for one of ours. You do still have to pay gratuities and tax when you’re in port, but if you like mixed drinks and this is offered for free, definitely take advantage. I don’t think I’d buy it normally, but drinks run $3 for a soda, $6 for a beer, and up to $13 for a fancy mixed drink, so depending on how much you drink, it’s a good deal. Mattie drinks White Russians, and he said they made them strong, which is a good thing I suppose? I dunno y’all. I’m a milkshake girl.
If you get exhausted by large crowds and aren’t into booze or dancing, there’s always entertainers aboard with shows scattered throughout the day. On this particular cruise, there was a hypnotist, three comedians, a dance troupe, a magicians, an Irish folk singer, a crooner, and another singer. This is actually less than usual on the headliners – this ship usually has a Second City improv theatre troupe, and their off-broadway cast show contract for Rock of Ages *just* expired. Outside of the headliners, there’s everything from dancing classes (we got to watch a Thriller dance class; it was delightful and hilarious) to Tai Chi and trivia… BINGO. There’s a library and board games and an arcade and seriously, if you’re bored on a cruise, it’s your own fault. They showed Ragnarok in 3D one rainy afternoon in the theatre. So much to do. We watched probably six different movies in our room.
They also do art auctions? I personally don’t have $1000 to spend on exquisite artwork, but I love walking through the gallery. I hope some of my favorites went to good homes.
The crew on the Breakaway has always been extraordinary. Sure, you’ll get those people who have clearly had a long day, but we had some exemplary service in the restaurants… big smiles and lovely people. And, trust me, they have to deal with VERY unhappy people all day long.
Extra props to our housekeeper, Margarita, who worked with us around our insistence on living in our suite, and Queen of Towel Animals.
I am such a child – I love these things. The little mouse was my favorite.
For its size, the Breakaway is a great ship as long as you keep your expectations realistic. I think sometimes it’s difficult for people on vacation to remember that everyone serving them is a real person, and they will have good days and bad days. Our crossing was completely off Norwegian’s normal itinerary, and we had terrible weather every day but two. I was very impressed with how well they handled everything (there were a LOT of bumps), and all the smiles the crew had, despite the pure rage of many passengers.
A small thing to know – as a 28 y/o, I was horrifically outnumbered. Most people on cruises range from 50-80 years old. They walk slow. They complain about prices. There’s a lot of Frank Sinatra and Elvis. You feel like a fish out of water sometimes. I expect to see this, since it’s not easy at my age to get two weeks in a row off work (#blessed), but if you’ve never cruised before and you’re under 30, it can be a bit jarring.
Alrighty! Now that I’ve set the scene, next week I’ll share a compilation post of our sea days… and after that, the *good* stuff. 😉