Live Cruise Review: Norwegian Breakaway, New York Inaugural 2013
The new Norwegian Breakaway from Norwegian Cruise Line is truly astounding with her many innovations and long list of features and venues. Popular Cruising had the pleasure of sailing on a two-day inaugural preview cruise which we just disembarked from in New York this morning, and it was just enough of an experience to whet our appetite for much more of this fantastic new cruise ship.
As usual, we will followup with a comprehensive Post Cruise Review in the coming days, but let us first share with you our initial impressions and photos from onboard the Norwegian Breakaway. Thankfully, our short cruise was one to nowhere, granting us more time to take in the ship itself. The question now, with so many great things to say, is just where to begin.
From the very get go, the Norwegian Breakaway was a stunner, boarding the vessel from the forward gangway nearest to her vibrant pop-art-clad bow, designed by famed artist and New Yorker, Peter Max. As a ship intended to feature and cater to New York – apropos to her year-round sailing from the city – hull iconography including Max’s ubiquitous Liberty Head and the city skyline perfectly represents the Big Apple.
Stepping first onto a traditional promenade deck flanked by lifeboats, you get a glimpse of The Waterfront one deck above. This secondary promenade deck is a game changer in the industry that effectively and impressively turns the cruise ship inside out like no vessel before. The restaurants, bars, lounges, clubs and shops on this deck are situated both inside and out with al fresco patios and a surrounding boardwalk with unobstructed views. This was easily our favorite innovation onboard the Norwegian Breakaway.
Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club is one of the many venues found on The Waterfront – itself a component of the larger 678 Ocean Place, the ship’s three-deck entertainment hub. Here, the expert Slam Allen Band performs the blues with funky comedic soul. This group of musicians alone was such a treat that we attended the standing-room-only performances two evenings in a row.
Dining venues at The Waterfront, and ship-wide for that matter, are aplenty: 16 in all, 6 of which are included in the cruise fare. Our first taste onboard was a lunch at O’Sheehan’s – a 24-hour Irish/American pub and one of the complimentary restaurants. Here you’ll find tasty favorites like corned beef sandwiches and a wide selection of beers. Following the New York theme, Brooklyn Lager is even onboard, although I was unable to find it while we were on the ship.
Our first dinner was at Moderno Churrascaria, a specialty Brazilian-style steakhouse that serves 10 varieties of delicious meats right off the skewer continuously until you’re full. The Manhattan Room, one of the main dining rooms, features some of the ship’s best decor – which is truly fantastic everywhere onboard – and hosted our second dinner. The menu was heavy on seafood for the evening, but nonetheless, the dishes were quite well prepared and flavorful. Come dessert the supper club atmosphere came alive with a Burn the Floor performance which was naturally best seen and experienced by those tables closest to the central dance floor.
Entertainment extends to the Breakaway Theater with a full hour and 45 minute Broadway production of Rock of Ages. The show is certainly irreverent and consequently a bit polarizing. For instance, I’ve never seen so many audience members get up and leave during a shipboard performance, but I personally found it quite entertaining. It starts out slow, and some of the vocals were occasionally sloppy. However, the comedy sprinkled throughout and quirky cast of characters draw you in for a truly fun time.
Other shows include a fireworks spectacular that unfortunately had to be cancelled during our sailing due to rainy weather conditions, and expanding the dinner show idea from before even further is Cirque Dreams & Dinner Jungle Fantasy. A spiegel tent houses this very popular dinner show that fills up fast. This along with all dining options must be reserved ahead of time to secure a spot, which can be done conveniently from your stateroom TV, interactive displays throughout the ship or on your smart phone.
Aqua Park and Top Decks
Something I’ll have to save for my next time onboard will be to experience the massive aqua park on the upper deck of the ship that features five water slides including two of a thrilling free-fall variety. This area also features an expansive ropes course with a zipline and plank where you can courageously walk out over the side of the ship, while tethered safely of course.
Water features remain delightfully leaky at the Nickelodeon-themed kiddie splash zone, and all ages have two pools to enjoy as well. There’s even an adults-only section at the back of the ship with a cool water curtain to chill out under. Of course, it was raining when I explored the area, and the water feature at the time was redundant to mother nature. Come tropical conditions, this will be a happening place.
Norwegian Cruise Line has really hit it out of the park with the Norwegian Breakaway, and as it is, we’ve only just touched the surface with these initial impressions and first few photos. To learn more, stay tuned for our Post Cruise Review to follow and visit Norwegian Cruise Line’s website here.
Are you drooling over the prospect of sailing onboard the Norwegian Breakaway? Please feel free to tell us what you think in the comments section below…