The Norwegian Breakaway: Our Family Cruise Review

Cruise booked, train tickets to the port secured, and bags packed: it’s time to board the Norwegian Breakaway for our family cruise!

The Norwegian Breakaway

The Norwegian Breakaway is a beautiful ship. Built in 2013, it can host up to 3,963 guests. To say that it is impressive is an understatement- especially for a family who is experiencing their first cruise!

 

Navigating NCL.com online

You can easily make reservations and payments for your Norwegian Breakaway cruise both online and by phone. I was doing everything as part of a surprise for the kiddo and therefore decided to handle all aspects of our trip online. The website was intuitive, fast, and informational. Honestly, I never felt like I needed to contact a live human by phone.

After making our payment, I decided to be pro-active and just make any reservations we might need right then and there. I was able to secure our dining reservations and tickets to the two main shows within minutes.

 

Before You Board

As with any family trip, planning is essential. I like to be prepared ahead of time for two key reasons: 1. The sooner I make reservations the higher the likelihood that I will be able to get exactly what I want (i.e. times, locations, etc.) and 2. I like to spend my time on vacation enjoying it, not planning for the next day. Inevitably there is some planning from day to day, but I like to get the big stuff planned out and done ahead of time.

With this logic in mind, there are 10 Things To Do Before You Board Your Norwegian Breakaway Cruise.

 

Getting To The Ship

Ready to board the train to NYC

Unless you live in Florida or New York City, the odds are that you will need to figure out a transportation plan for embarkation day.

One of the reasons why I chose the Norwegian Breakaway was its departure location: New York City. Close to where we find ourselves at the moment, I figured that we could take a cheap bus or train into the city. I didn’t want to fly to Florida and add the expense of plane tickets into the budget.

I was wrong.

Assuming that train or bus tickets to New York City would be significantly cheaper than plane fare to Florida was a personal fail. Lesson learned.

When you are looking at an itinerary, make sure to price out the cost of getting to the embarkation point first. Even if that location is close to you, it might still work out cheaper to fly somewhere else to start your cruise vacation. It would have for us!

All that said, it was fun taking Amtrak to New York City and enjoying the view from the train window along the way. But, for the same price, we could have flown to Florida and taken a cruise ship out of one of its ports too.

What we ended up doing was taking a train to New York City’s Penn Station. Once arriving in NYC, it was easy to catch a cab to the pier- 10 minutes and $9 later we were looking at the enormous Norwegian Breakaway for the first time.

 

Arrival Day

Arriving at the pier with all your luggage in tow is an emotional high. You can see the ship, vacation fun times are within easy reach, and someone is right at the front of the pier terminal taking your luggage!

I’ll admit that I was a bit hesitant to hand over everything I had to wear for the next seven days. We fly on a regular basis but always with small carry-ons (in fact the carry-on we took for the cruise is usually my only luggage for a months trip!). I double checked that our name tags were on correctly and took pictures of our luggage. Silly, I know, but for someone who doesn’t do it often, it was a big step.

After leaving our bags in the hands of strangers, we walked into the pier terminal. Now, I had a lot of expectations for the check-in process. I had done research into what to expect and was ready to stand in line for hours. But, it turns out that the speedy gods were with us! We stood in line for about 20 minutes before checking in, showing our passports, and receiving our ship key cards. And just like that, we were told we could start getting on the ship- at 11:45 am!

Like kids in a candy store, we lit up and happily walked with an extra bounce in our step all the way up to the ship.

Of course, all of this was made possible with a little bit of preparation. We had our passports, eDocs, and all supporting documents in our carry-on bag with everything we would need (minus drinks. You can’t get through security with drinks. If you have drinks you will have to throw them away so, don’t show up with drinks).

 

Boarding the Norwegian Breakaway

Finally stepping foot on the Norwegian Breakaway is like Day 1 of vacation. It’s the moment you walk off the plane into a new country, the moment you walk into your hotel, and the moment you are immersed in a new culture all in one. It’s awesome.

Being the planner that I am, it’s also an action day.

Why action day? Because if you take a few hours to set up your vacation, then the other six and a half days will be smooth and stress-free.

 

With this in mind, I set about doing what must get done on Day 1:

  1. find your room, drop off your bag, and read the Freestyle Daily Newsletter
  2. get your ship map out and familiarize yourself with the relevant locations (food, entertainment, stairways, pool)
  3. start walking: walk around the ship, learn the signs, find your route
  4. pick up theater tickets, make reservations you still need, and sign up for splash academy
  5. eat lunch
  6. enjoy the pool and sports complex while it’s still relatively empty (they both get busier with each passing day)

Our Freestyle Daily Newsletter always arrived with a new towel animal- the kiddo was in heaven!

Every family will have their list of things that have to get done as soon as they arrive. It only took an hour to complete steps 1-4. After taking care of business, we went back to the buffet (located earlier in our walk through) to sit down for a relaxing lunch and then hit the upper sports deck for some fun.

Before we knew it it was 3:30 and we had to report ourselves to our muster drill location. Some people find it annoying, and I’m sure it gets old by the tenth cruise, but I was personally fascinated by the exercise and information. I also made sure the kid paid extra attention should the unthinkable ever happen.

By 4 pm we were cleared, and the ship started to move! We sat in our room and out on the balcony as we saw New York City pass us by and the Statue of Liberty fade into the distance- just one more reason to love the balcony rooms!

What happens if you don’t “take care of business” upon embarkation? Nothing. You can obviously do all these things in any random order or any given day of your cruise. But, more than once, I saw people standing in long lines while waiting to make reservations or while trying to sign up for the kids Splash Academy. I was so happy we took care of those details when there was no one in line instead of with everyone else.

 

Entertainment: What To Do On The Ship

There is no reason ever to get bored on the Norwegian Breakaway. None.

With planned activities, several entertainment venues, the pools, water slides, casino, and so much more, saying “I’m bored” is akin to complaining that you’re thirsty when you have a glass of water in front of you.

What is there to do aboard the cruise ship?

 

Entertainment for the Adults

  • Adult pool and jacuzzi
  • Casino
  • Two theater shows: Burn the Floor and Rock of Ages
  • “Wine Lovers the Musical” show
  • Comedy Club
  • “Howl at the Moon” dueling piano show
  • Jazz Club
  • Vibe Beach Club
  • Ice Bar and other waterholes on the ship
  • Mandara Spa
  • Breakaway fitness room- cardio and weight lifting areas
  • Themed night events: disco night, glow party, 80’s dance
  • and more available daily as printed in the Newsletter!

 

Entertainment for the Kids

  • Kid pool
  • kid water play splash area
  • Spider web crawl space
  • bungee trampoline
  • Entourage teen club
  • Splash Academy Kids Club
  • and much more, including all of the entertainment available for the whole family below!

 

Entertainment for the Whole Family

  • The Aqua Park Water Slides
  • Sky Trails- ropes course, zip line, and the plank
  • Rock Climbing wall
  • 9 hole Mini-Golf
  • Sports Court- basketball court
  • ping pong tables
  • Video arcade
  • “Cirque Dreams” dinner and acrobatic show
  • Nintendo Dance competitions at the Atrium
  • Deal of No Deal games at the Atrium
  • Towel folding, fruit carving, and cooking demonstrations at the Atrium
  • Library and card game room (old standards like trivial pursuit and Yahtzee)
  • Shopping venues: jewelry, cameras and photos, liquor, clothing, and accessories
  • Internet cafe
  • and more available daily as printed in the Newsletter!

 

Food Options

If there is one thing you WILL NOT be it is hungry. There are more than enough dining options to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters (like Andy)!

 

Dining Options Included in the Price of your Cruise

The Garden Cafe Buffet

The primary, nearly always opened, dining option on the cruise is the buffet: The Garden Cafe. With plenty of seating and two large and long hallways to pick your food from, the Garden Cafe is a great place to stop and eat a meal or run in, grab a snack, and head back out. It is especially useful as a “run and grab” since it is so close to the pool and upper deck areas.

While the food won’t be winning any Michelin stars anytime soon, it was perfect for our vacation. Everyone in the family can pick what they want and, more importantly, when they want it.

Hungry for an early dinner but no one else is? That’s ok. Pop in so the hungry family member can eat, and the rest can just join in the conversation. Feel like a late night crepe? No problem, walk on over to the Garden Cafe and enjoy one. The flexibility was a great bonus for us. While most of you might find yourselves hungry and eating at the same time, our regular family life isn’t set up like that, and we loved a cruise food option that allowed us to continue our crazy but perfect family non-routines.

One fun thing I noticed at the Garden Cafe was how families used it during non-traditional eating times (in between meals and late at night). I saw families sitting around in one of the bigger tables playing card games, board games, and sometimes just hanging out and talking. Mental note: bring games to play late at night.

 

The Dining Rooms: Savor, Taste, and The Manhattan Room

These three dining rooms offer a traditional restaurant feel within the cruise ship. While anyone can show up without reservations, I read stories about waiting in line for hours to have a meal. Save yourself the trouble and make reservations ahead of time.

We don’t do well when we’re hungry, and I secured all reservations as soon as I booked our cruise. It turns out that I had nothing to worry about as none of the dining room was ever full. I’m not sure if it’s due to the week we were cruising or if there is another reason, but we could have easily gotten a table within minutes of arrival. That said, I would not risk it.

We did have reservations and enjoyed walking into the restaurant and enjoying dinner promptly. All three dining rooms offer similar options. Andy enjoyed the Lasagna while I was disappointed by the crab cake (too dry).

It was fun to dress up a bit and sit down to dinner, but by day three we were so busy having fun that our reservations kept getting in the way of our activities. I promptly canceled the rest of the week, and we went back to eating at crazy times and in several shifts like we usually do.

 

Other Food Options

They clearly enjoyed having lunch by the entertainment and music!

 

Daddy and the kiddo had a blast at O’Sheehan’s!

 

There are a variety of other food options included in the price of your cruise- depending on the day. The Freestyle Daily newsletter has a food section where you find a list of places where you can eat that day for no additional charge. Throughout our cruise, these included: O’Sheehan’s, Shanghai’s Noodle Bar, Margaritaville (for breakfast), Moderno Buffet, and Uptown Grill. There are also two hot dog carts (one by the pool and one by O’Sheehan’s) available during lunch times and included in your cruise fee. I was not impressed, but we did get a hot dog twice as we moved from one activity to another. Having a quick option available was excellent.

 

Dining Options Available for an Additional Fee

If you like variety or want to try a new restaurant, there are other restaurants on the Norwegian Breakaway. From Italian to Japanese and including everything in between, there is no real reason for your palate to go unsatisfied- minus the additional fee.

I will confess that we never tried any of them. The way I see it, I already paid for the food on my trip. I can go out to dinner at a new location when I get off the ship. But that’s just me.

 

Port of Call: Bermuda

Snorkeling in Tobacco Bay, Bermuda

 

Bermuda: beautiful waters, snorkeling adventures, and pink sands. These were the images I had of Bermuda before our cruise. I admit that as much as we have traveled, I don’t typical search out beach destinations. I’m not a water person. So when we decided on a cruise, and the kiddo made it clear that she wanted an island destination, Bermuda was a logical choice.

Once I started my research, I realized that Bermuda seemed like the perfect destination for a cruise vacation. Our itinerary had us in Bermuda for two and a half days- long enough to explore the island and short enough to make us come back.

Exploring the shipwrecks off of Bermuda!

 

There are two ways you can explore Bermuda: enjoy a ship led excursion or plan your own adventure. In the end, I created an itinerary with a combination of both options: What To Do in Bermuda in Three Days. Suffice it to say; we will be back!

 

Last Full Day Of Your Cruise

On the last full day of our cruise, we woke up much like everyone else: screaming NO!!!

The week flies by and with so much fun you never want to go back to “real life.” But, before you run to the pool and zip lines, there are a few things that you should take care of today to avoid problems tomorrow:

  1. At exactly 1:00 pm, head downstairs to guest services and pick out your luggage tags for disembarkation. To want to get off the ship when YOU want to get off the ship.
  2. Buy your souvenirs. We met several people on the morning of disembarkation who were awed at the closed gift shops. Don’t loose out. Get to your pictures and gifts on the last full day of your cruise, so you don’t miss out.
  3. Stop by Guest Services or use the iConcirege App to double check all your charges. You will have to deal with any inconsistencies on disembarkation day with everyone else, so you might as well deal with it on the last full day of your cruise when the crowd is sure to be much smaller.

 

Lasting Impressions

Should you take the Norwegian Breakaway cruise to Bermuda? YES! And yes, yes, yes again.

We fell in love with cruising, with Norwegian, with Bermuda, with the whole experience. To be honest, I was aiming at “I like to cruise.” I ended up with “I love to cruise and can’t wait to schedule our next trip with Norwegian.”

With plenty of activities, our family was able to keep busy when we wanted to and relax when we needed down time. Splash Academy impressed my child. After bargaining with her to try it out for one hour she ended up going back almost every day. The fact that there were multiple food options and we could all eat and enjoy it on our schedule was marvelous! The kiddo made some new friends, Andy and I got to have some alone time, and everyone walked off the ship ready to board again. I highly recommend a cruise family vacation and the Norwegian Breakaway to Bermuda.

If you want to read up on more of our family cruise recommendations, you can find it here: Our Top 7 Experiences on Our 7 Day Cruise.

 

Note: This post is the fourth of five that we are writing about our family Norwegian Cruise to Bermuda. If you would like to follow along for the whole adventure, follow the links below to the other entries and enjoy.

I. Let’s Go Somewhere: How We Chose Our Norwegian Cruise and Bermuda

II. 10 Things To Do Before You Board Your Norwegian Cruise

III. The Norwegian Breakaway: Our Family Cruise Review

IV. Our Top 7 Experiences On Our 7 Day Norwegian Cruise

V. Bermuda With kids: A 3 Day Itinerary

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If you would like to follow along on our family adventures as we travel around the world, “like” us on our Facebook Page: Border Free Adventures for more stories, pictures, and fun information as we worldschool our daughter.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “The Norwegian Breakaway: Our Family Cruise Review

  1. It looks like you had a great time! We’ve been on several cruises and enjoyed them very much: there really is SO much to do on board. We haven’t tried out Norwegian yet, but I think we need to consider them for our next cruising adventure. 🙂

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