Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship since 2010 (along with a twin ship, Getaway, launching in late 2013 and sailing out of Miami), Breakaway is a New York City-based ship offering a plethora of family fun, all with a Manhattan flair. Even upon first impression, Breakaway announces its New York allegiance with a colorful painting on its hull, designed by New York’s famed Peter Max.
The ship launched in May 2013 with the a performance by the Radio City Rockettes, the ship’s official godmothers, who literally kicked off the christening ceremonies. The Rockettes will sail on the first sailing of every month to provide special fitness classes, photo ops, performances and meet-and-greets. The energy has yet to stop in weekly sailings from Manhattan to Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean, evident in all the ship has to offer: Broadway performances, more than two dozen restaurants, and more daily activities than you can imagine.
The ship has partnered with Nickelodeon in its kid’s offerings, which are just okay (with the exception of the teen club, Entourage, which does a great job attracting hard-to-win-over teens). It feels as if the kid’s programs and decorations were a bit of an afterthought after all the splendor of the adult fun, which includes several bars, a gorgeous spa, and the SkyTrail.
Overall, families won’t be disappointed on the Breakaway — just as long as they book a Family Suite for the extra room!
Norwegian Breakaway Staterooms
As the cheapest rooms, these units do not provide ocean views and are smaller than other accommodations. For families, interior family rooms consist of two connecting rooms, each outfitted with two twin beds, a shower and a small TV. There isn’t much room to move in these units, so if you can splurge on a larger room, do!
These rooms include the new Family Stateroom that offers a window and a bathtub. There are privacy curtains in larger rooms, with a king bed for parents and a daybed and drop-down bed for kids. While the ship claims these rooms accommodate five, it may mean kids doubling up on a bed or one child sleeping in the king with mom and dad.
Balcony Staterooms have private balconies with two chairs and a small table, as well as sitting areas with a daybed and drop-down bed. These rooms come with showers; if you would prefer a bathtub, be sure to request a Family Stateroom.
Haven Family Suite
If you can splurge, select a Haven Family Suite. The Haven is the Breakaway’s intimate and inclusive forward area of the ship, with private guest services, a lounge and deck. Two-Bedroom Family Haven Suites provide a four-person dining table, a sofa bed and a large flat-screen TV in the sitting area. The kid’s room features another sofa bed and drop-down bed, as well as a bathroom with a shower, one sink and a small TV. Parents receive a king master bed, flat-screen TV and large bathroom, which features views of the ocean and has a garden tub, separate shower and a separate toilet.
Norwegian Breakaway Dining
The heart of the Breakaway is 678 Ocean Place, the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-floor mid-ship center, connected by a visually inspiring spiral staircase. Most restaurants are located on the eighth floor, as well as on deck and the ship’s aft upper floors. With more than two-dozen freestyle dining options to choose from, families could try every restaurant during a weeklong cruise without becoming bored.
Included in the price of the cruise are eight restaurants and room service. The Haven has its own restaurant and lounge, as well. The most popular casual dining is located at O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill, located at 678 Ocean Place. Fish and chips and traditional pub fare are on deck, with a number of TV’s showcasing worldwide sports.
On Deck 6, Taste and Savor are two more dining rooms, opposite each other and providing floor-to-ceiling views and contemporary dining.
Our favorite is The Manhattan Room, located aft. The restaurant is meant to be inspired by the ship’s New York home, with fine dining and a dance floor for the ship’s dance troop, Burn the Floor, to perform during dinner hours. Columns framing the floor become obstructions during the show, however, and the best views are from the specialty-dining restaurant, Cagney’s Steakhouse, located just above, with tables framing a glass wall horse-shoeing around the Manhattan Room’s dance floor.
The Garden Caf? is the place to go for buffet-style breakfast, lunch and dinner, with made-to-order omelets, meat carving stations and typical buffet options. Outdoors, the Uptown Bar & Grill is located next door and provides quick-service burgers and hot dogs while on deck. Swimsuits are welcome.
For an additional fee per person (kids are only $6 if they order off of the kid’s menus), select from a number of specialty dining options. With a number of cuisine types, families will love the selection, from French at Le Bistro French Restaurant to hibachi-style at Teppanyaki; from Italian at La Cucina to dim sum at Shanghai’s Noodle Bar, and from a Brazilian-style steakhouse, Moderno Churrascaria, to an American steakhouse at Cagney’s.
For a special event, the Spiegel Tent houses the Cirque Dreams & Dinner Jungle Fantasy, as well as a lighter lunch offering with the Cirque entertainers performing during the meals.
Norwegian Breakaway Activities
For younger kids, the Splash Academy is Norwegian’s attempt at becoming more kid-friendly. The supervised club, spread out on two decks connected by a set of stairs, is offered to children ages 3 to 12 in various age groups: Turtles, 3 to 5; Seals, 6 to 9; and Dolphins, 10 to 12. On the first day at sea, kids will enjoy Hollywood at Sea, which includes a red carpet, dress-up event after dinner. And who knows… a special celebrity like Dora the Explorer or SpongeBob may make an appearance! The Nickelodeon characters randomly pop up throughout the cruise! Other themes include the Big Top at Sea, Tribes at Sea and Rumble in the Jungle. During the program, kids enjoy arts and crafts, games, movies and video games, with plenty to go around for everyone.
Parents check in on children using a flat-screen tablet at the main desk on Deck 12 Forward, and kids are divided by age group, with the younger kids downstairs and the older kids upstairs. Parents need to provide information on where they will be in case of emergencies, as the program does not provide them any sort of pager, unless children are still in diapers, in which case parents receive a spy-style wristband that can be used to call them back. Kid’s club counselors are unable to change diapers.
Due to allergy issues, Splash Academy closes for lunch, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., and dinner, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Parents must return to pick up their children during these hours. Late night hours are provided from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at an additional fee ($6 per hour first child, and $4 per hour for each additional child). The club remains open all day on port days.
Infants 6 to 35 months are also welcome and have their own Guppies program, which I didn’t find to be too exciting. The program requires parents to participate and the ship does not provide a childcare service. I found the Under 2 Zoo to be quite small and disappointing, and if I had been traveling with my kids as infants, I wouldn’t want to spend time there. It seemed smaller than our stateroom. However, the Guppies program does provide some fun for parents to do with babies, including the Wee Can Too program that lets infants be artists, with special paints made out of vegetables, in case baby would rather suck on his/her fist instead of paint!
The place your teens will be during your cruise is Entourage, the teen club for 13-to 17-year-olds, located on Deck 16, Aft. The hip, young supervisors at this daytime lounge/nighttime disco provide team-building activities to help kids make friends on the first two days of the cruise, and promise kids will love it so much, they will line up at the door for the club to open at 11 a.m. each day. The club offers some of the typical activities: gaming stations, air hockey, Foosball, etc., but it also is one of four places in the world to carry a two-sided DJ Emulator, where kids can learn to DJ on their own and with big-time DJ’s from around the world. Special events include a Glow Party, where black lights and white, paint-splashed clothing turn the lounge into the most popular disco on board, and Suit and Tie Night, where kids participate in a photo shoot, attend a comedy show and then have dinner out together.
Kids can come and go as they please — no signing in and out for these big kids — but that also means they have to get their own food, as it’s not provided in the club, except on special occasions when some finger foods may be brought in.
The real action for passengers of all ages is on the Open Decks 15 through 17. One of the most popular attractions on deck is Sky Trail, where the brave can enjoy a rope course, complete with a zip line and a special “walk the plank” program. Kids must be at least 48 inches tall in order to climb. A rock climbing wall, also with height restrictions matching the Sky Tail and a nine-hole miniature golf course, are located next to the Sky Trail. Climb a set of stairs to Deck 18, and the Sports Court provides a spot for basketball and soccer. Tucked away in a corner is the Spider Web, a six-story crawl space little ones will love – it requires a slide ride down!
Near the main pool is the incredible Aqua Park, located on Deck 15. Here, a kid’s wading/splash pool is decked out in a Nickelodeon theme. Kids may wear swim diapers, but must be potty trained to use the pool. Older kids will avoid this area and head straight for the water slides, which stand as a colorful beacon from the ship’s deck. Two twisting tunnels, appropriately named The Whip, and two free-fall water coasters, each with an initial quick drop, are guaranteed to entice screams.
A video arcade, located on Deck 16, is better suited for older kids, as most of the video games are geared for the PG crowd. Games are $1.50 to $2 per play, so be careful when sending kids with their cards to freely swipe!
Partnering with Nickelodeon, kid’s favorite characters can be found throughout the ship. A special Pajama Jam, with everyone dressed in PJs playing with Nick performers like Dora the Explorer, is available on each cruise at $20, which is followed with a character-filled buffet breakfast.
Families can also order a special Nickelodeon Bedtime Kit pre-cruise or aboard the ship ($45) that includes a character blanket and pillowcase, toothbrush, nightlight and bedtime activities.
As a New York-based ship, Breakaway presents the Broadway musical “Rock of Ages.” The show takes place in the Breakaway Theater three nights a week, offering big hair and even bigger guitar riffs. In the Spiegel Tent, families will “ooh” and “aah” over the Cirque Dreams & Dinner Jungle Fantasy with mesmerizing acrobatics.
The Breakaway will dock in Manhattan Cruise Terminal, Pier 88. Daily parking is available for a fee.
Find touchscreens near the stairwells to book restaurant reservations and show times, and to locate where you are and where you’d like to be on the interactive screens. Guest services are located on Deck 6 to book reservations and provide assistance as well.
For Mom and Dad
The Breakaway features a number of bars and lounges, including the not-to-be-missed Ice Bar, literally outfitted with ice tables, ice chairs, ice walls and ice sculptures. Fat Cats Jazz and Blues Club brings New York’s jazz clubs to sea with New York’s own Slam Allen performing. Parents will also have a ball at the dueling piano show, Howl at the Moon, and enjoy side-splitting comedy at Second City’s improv show.
The ship’s spa is a relaxing forward setting with saunas, a heated water therapy pool, salt room, and more that is available to enjoy daily with a day pass ($39). Oddly, booking a treatment does not gain you access into the area, as the treatment rooms are located on a lower level and you change in the treatment room.
Breakaway offers seven-day cruises from New York to Bermuda and the Bahamas and Orlando, as well as a 12-day Southern Caribbean cruise to Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and Barbados.
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