As discussed in Part One of this review, the pre-cruise experience for this voyage was like running an obstacle course. However, the cruise experience itself was as different from the pre-cruise experience as night and day.
Breakaway looked much the same as the last time I had sailed on her. Her colorful paint scheme was in excellent condition. No signs of the rust that one might expect on a ship that has been essentially sitting idle for more than a year and a half.
She was not perfect, however. There were a few minor glitches owing to her having sat idle for such a long time. For example, the handset of the telephone in my cabin would not work. Consequently, when the phone rang, I could not answer it. The technician that came to fix the problem said that it was due to a build up of corrison on the phone's contacts resulting from a lack of use. He said that he was going around the ship solving this problem by flicking the receiver cradle button, which knocked off the corrosion. The phone worked fine after that. A also had problems with My electrical outlets but that was quickly repaired.
The biggest change to Breakaway's appearance was her new oval shaped funnel. Somewhat larger than her previous rectangular funnel, the additional space was needed to accommodate scrubbers that make the ship's exhaust more environmentally friendly. In addition, new filters had been added to remove viruses and the like from the air that circulates through the ship.
There were two changes to the ship's public areas since my last voyage on Breakaway. The venue that had started out as Fat Cats and which later briefly became the Cavern Club, is now Syd Norman's Pour House. The restaurant that begun life as the complimentary Uptown Grill and which was more recently the extra-tariff Margaritaville, is now the extra-tariff American Diner.
The service throughout the cruise was excellent. From the moment, I came aboard, I could feel that the crew were genuinely happy to be there and happy to see me. This was not the artificial friendliness flowing from some corporate edict but rather a friendliness of people who have spent nearly two years without their chosen employment. They clearly understood that without customers, the cruise industry's attempt to recover will not be successful and their work will disappear once more.
Another factor contributing to the good service was the fact that while Breakaway had a full crew, the number of passengers had been limited to about 1,850. As a result, the passenger to crew ratio was approximately 1.1. Such a ratio is only seen on small, ultra-luxury cruise ships.
Along the same lines, the passenger space ratio was about 77 - - much better than on luxury ships and significantly better than Breakaway's normal 35.7. This explains why there was no crowding and plenty of space.
Of course, as the cruise industry recovery continues and the lines raise their passenger capacity to normal levels, such great statistics will not hold. However, until the ships are at normal capacity, those venturing aboard will derive this benefit.
The crew took Covid precautions very seriously. With the exception of entertainers while they were performing, everyone wore a mask. Indeed, even the captain wore a mask on his daily rounds, declining to take it off even when a guest asked to take a picture with him. Masks were provided in the cabins. Some guests wore masks occasionally but there was no requirement that they do so. Along the same lines, guests were often urged to use the ubiquitous hand-sanitizer dispensers and to wash their hands.
My experience over the years on Norwegian has been that sometimes the dining has been good and sometimes it has been mediocre. On this cruise, Breakaway was at the top of her game. The food was quite good in the main dining rooms, the buffet and in the specialty restaurants. There had been some changes in the specialty restaurant menus but nothing drastic.
The only dining disappointment was breakfast at O'Sheehan's, a complimentary venue offering a variety of comfort foods. In the past, breakfast at O'Sheehan's was something to look forward to with large omelets and a variety of choices. Furthermore, the staff were often willing to obtain items from other dining venues in order to satisfy guest requests. The new breakfast menu is much more limited with an almost institutional feel. Each menu selection arrived on a small plate with a set array of sides as if produced on a production line. If you asked that an item from one menu selection be added to another dish (for example, some scrambled eggs along with your pancakes) you received both the dish of pancakes along with its sides and the dish of scrambled eggs along with its sides. Requests for off-menu items were routinely denied. The once-expansive omelets were tiny. In fact, one of the people in our group overcame this problem by doubling his order. The French Toast was tough. However, the pancakes and the oatmeal were both good.
The entertainment and activities on this cruise were much the same as before the pause. Norwegian is not strong on cultural activities but rather specializes in active mass market entertainment. Breakaway offered a musical show “Six” in the theater, stand-up comedy in Headliners and activities such as a version of “Deal or No Deal” and trivia contests in the Atrium. Because there were no children aboard, active family facilities such as the Ropes Course and the water slides stood empty even on the sunny sea days.
Breakaway spent two days at sea heading to Bermuda. Even with her late departure from New York, the ship essentially drifted along at 12 knots, slightly more than half her top speed. Both days were sunny and beautiful.
The morning that Breakaway arrived in Bermuda, there was a heavy rain. However, the clouds broke soon after the ship tied up and the sun emerged.
Breakaway was the only ship at the Royal Naval Dockyard. In addition, due to the pandemic, people were not out and about as much as usual ashore. Consequently, the Dockyards had something of a ghost town aspect to it for those who ventured off the ship.
Those going ashore were told by the authorities and by NCL to wear masks. Most people complied with this requirement.
The second day in Bermuda was also sunny and warm. Horseshoe Bay and the South Shore National Park with its seaside rock formations, were spectacularly beautiful and there were fewer people than normal. Signs posted along the beaches warned of rip currents caused by the still distant Hurricane Sam. Nonetheless, people still waded into the surf.
Hurricanes are always a risk on a fall Bermuda cruise. Sometimes the presence of a hurricane near Bermuda will cause a ship to change itinerary with the cruise becoming a Canada and New England cruise. Other times, it affects the length of time the ship stays in Bermuda.
This cruise fell into the latter category. During the second day, it was announced that Breakaway would be leaving at 7 a.m. on the morning of what had been scheduled to be her third day in Bermuda. While Hurricane Sam was still fairly far off, it was safer for Breakaway to leave before Sam's winds made it dangerous for Breakaway to negotiate the narrow channel that surrounds Bermuda. In addition, it would be more pleasant for passengers when the ship was at sea if the ship kept well away from Sam .
As a result, Breakaway spent the next two days slowly sailing towards New York. The weather was sunny but there was more wind than on the two sea days heading south. It was early autumn weather rather than summer. The ship handled the seas quite well.
Breakaway arrived in New York on schedule. Disembarkation was efficient.
Despite the pre-cruise problems, I believe that the vast majority of passengers leaving the ship enjoyed the cruise. Most of the guests were experienced cruisers who were pleased to get back to sea. In addition, it was a safe voyage. No line of ambulances stood waiting for the ship's arrival in New York.
Click here for Part I of this review.
Norwegian Breakaway home page
Click here for our Norwegian Breakaway menus page
Click here for Norwegian Breakaway daily programs
Above: Breakaway's new funnel.
Above: The American Diner specialty restaurant.
Below: Syd Norman's Pour House.
Above: Bermuda's South Shore National Park.
Below: A balcoy cabin on Breakaway.
Cruise ship review - - Norwegian Cruise Line - - Norwegian Breakaway - - Restart Bermuda Cruise 2021 - - Part II