Just like so many of you, I came to cruise critic to read reviews before I booked my 9 Day Caribbean Cruise on NCL's Breakaway. After reading so many negative comments I still booked on NCL, because I've sailed on NCL several times before without any issues. I believe that some people return home after a cruise and then use Cruise Critic to complain about everything. Some people will complain about anything and you just can't satisfy them.
I read about unfriendly workers on the ship (couldn't be farther from the truth). I read about how the employees seemed overworked (again, although they work long hours), they didn't seem lifeless or tired to me. I read that the food is not good, perhaps other reviewers were eating on-shore or expected 5 Star Dining...hey this is cruise ship serving over 4,000 people, 3+ meals a day....is it 5 Star dining, not likely, but I found the food very good and nothing really to complain about. In fact, my wife is Gluten Free and the ship had many options for her and took big steps to make sure she was happy...and she was. So please beware of "complainers: on this site.
So here's my review: We departed out of New Orleans and unfortunately the ship was late in it's arrival, due to rough seas and a medical emergency that required a helicopter to pick up a sick passenger on the way to port. Because people will leaving the ship as thousands of new passengers were arriving to board, it created quite a large group of people coming and going...thus it took longer than expected to check in and board...all we heard around us is how upset people were to have to wait so long to board...i keep telling everyone to relax, you're now on vacation. It took us 1:45 mins and I heard from others that it took them 3 hours. Things happen, chill out.
When we finally boarded we went to our cabin, dropped off our carry-ons and went to lunch at Taste. We had a nice relaxing meal. Cabin is what we expected, but the balcony was a bit smaller than normal. But enough space to sit and read and enjoy the passing seas. There is a great deal of storage space, but you have to look for it. There are even drawers under the sofa/bed. Keep looking there is more storage space then you think. Only two AC outlets, but we always bring a small 5 plug power bar. Hair dryer is included. Shower a bit larger than on some ships, but still small. I don't know how the large people on board (and there are a lot of them) fit in there???
Let's talk about food. Buffet, pretty standard fare, we dined at Taste, Savour, The Tropicana (main dining room) and for our comp dining package (4 meals), Cagney's (steak was perfect), Teppanyaki (fun and very filling), La Cucina (nothing to write home about) and Moderno (skip the salad bar, you don't want to fill up there) where they come to your table 11 times with different choices of meat, they slice it off for you, and there is an extraordinary array of flavors to enjoy. This was my favorite!
Here's a secret, in a hurry and want to skip the crowds at the buffet...Margaritaville (deck 16) serves breakfast and no one was ever there. We also liked O'Sheenan's for breakfast. No matter where we went, we were seated within minutes for breakfast, lunch or dinner..
A must - book your entertainment & restaurants on line right after you book your trip. things can sell out fast. Especially Cirque Dreams and Steam. And, arrive early for a better seat for this dinner and the incredible show.
Now, let's talk entertainment - The comedians were okay, but I laughed till I cried at the comedy magic show performance of Levent. Arrive early, sit in the 3 or 4th row and get ready to have a great time with lots of laughs. "Burn the Floor" is the most amazing dance show I've ever seen...how can these performers do this twice in one night. This show has world class competitive dancers, who have been competing since they were young kids. OMG!
"Million Dollar Quartet", also not to be missed, for this one there's not a bad seat in the house. There is so much to do, you won't bored for a second.
Casino - Slot are as tight as I've ever seen on a cruise ship. Fortunately I play poker, it's a 2/5 game with an outrageous 10% rake on every hand (max $25.00). Game started every night around 9 pm, Only one table so if you're on the wait list be prepared to wait a while. Same basic players every night. Skip the Poker Tournament, it's a joke with re-buys and add-ons
Cruise ports: My wife and i have been to everyone of these ports before and I have one word of advice, if you're booking an excursion you'll save a ton by simply going ashore and signing up for a excursion from one of the many booths in every port. Cruise ships charge a huge premium to book through them. Use NCL's website to choose what you'd like to do and then just go ashore and you'll find many companies offering the same excursion at a lower rate.
Harvest Cay - NCL's private island. Wonderful, tons of lounge chairs, great big beautiful swimming pool with swim up bar.
No complaints about any of the ports, my wife loves to shop and I love to people watch and take photos...felt safe every where we went.
This was our 13th cruise, 5th on NCL. We love cruising and honestly, you won't be disappointing with the Breakaway. If you have any specific questions, I'm happy to answer.
As I mentioned, Cabin is not huge, but plenty of space and plenty of storage (look hard and open every cabinet to find more. But you suit cases under the bed.
Beautiful private island