Norwegian Breakaway Review

My Norwegian Breakaway Review

The Disintegration of Mass Market Cruising

My Summary

This is my review of the Norwegian Breakaway; is this New York City based cruise experience right for your vacation? Norwegian Cruise Line’s vision is to recreate the feel of a land resort at sea with the Norwegian Breakaway.  They were on their way with the Jewel class.  The introduction of the Breakaway class (Breakaway, Getaway, and Breakaway+) now complete the disintegration of the model of what a mass-market cruise experience offers (main dining room followed by main theater for a show).  The layout of the Breakaway makes main/late dining and one big show impossible and this is not by chance but by design.

The Vision

I was honored with an invitation to attend a two-day inaugural of the Norwegian Breakaway on May 10th.  The next day featured multiple presentation and cabin tours.  I especially enjoyed hearing the vision of Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Lines’ CEO who has appeared on Undercover Boss.  Breakaway is vision for Norwegian Cruise Line by working with management team and ship based team members to develop this new experience.  Norwegian is recreating the true feel and flow of a land resort at sea.

While the Epic was the start of the “new” Norwegian; the Epic experienced numerous shipyard delays but is now an award-winning vessel with great dining and entertainment options. The Breakaway had a much smoother delivery from the shipyard.  Norwegian wants to be more like Oceania Cruises (same private Equity stakeholder.)  To maintain a high level of service to keep YOU HAPPY the Norwegian Breakaway has 2 captains and 2 hotel directors.


Our room cards were swiped at the terminal on DRY land for expedited boarding.  I hope they do this at port stop, taking a cue from Royal, to speed up all boarding.

Staterooms and Haven Suites

Our cabin was a balcony: 8140

  • 26” TV
  • Tea/Coffee maker
  • Decent balcony
  • Directly over theater
  • Modest but functional bathroom

Room steward

My room steward Leo was very friendly.  I remember his name because of his high level of service.  As this was an inaugural cruise, there were product-training seminars.  After one, I went rushing back to my room with a muffin in one hand and cup of coffee in the other; Leo saw me approaching the door and came right over unlock and open the door for me. That is service.

Mini Suites

  • Most do NOT have a tub, you must get Family mini suite to have bathtub
  • One enlarged sink with TWO faucets
  • Larger shower than in regular balcony
  • Mini suite is an elongated balcony cabin by pulling cabin further out in the hall
  • NO room divider curtain – Jewel class mini’s have these and are great for letting kids sleep while adults catch some TV.

Studio Cabins

  • Following the lead of the Epic, the Breakaway offers solo cabins
  •  Minimal space at 100 square feet but maximum design with a full bed and efficient layouts
  • Studio cabins have private access to the Studio lounge to offer a place to spread out and relax and perhaps mingle with other solo guest
  • Oh, and there is NO single supplement for these cabins…great job Norwegian!

Spa Suite

  • NEW category with laminate floor
  • Spa access privileges
  • Soaking tub in room
  • Haven access

Haven Suites

The Haven Suites are some of most luxurious at sea.  Haven Courtyard now has its own private restaurant (Jewel class ships used Cagney’s steakhouse for lunch and dinner) along with its own bar and concierge desk.

If you’ve got a good sized family or group and have a five-figure budget for a luxury cruise but want to keep the kids happy and look for entertainment after 9pm, then the Haven suite complex is for you.  Norwegian is the innovator of this concept.  Royal and MSC are coming up with their own ship within a ship concept.


Bars featured numerous draft beers including Newcastle Nut Brown Ale. What other big ship cruise lines have such a great selection?

The pours in the mixed drinks were generous…hoping it will stay that way!

Norwegian has one of the best Casinos at Sea programs.

1 of 4 deejay systems in the world with a virtual double sided mixing board on a huge flat panel display

  • 27 dining options
  • 11 included complimentary
  • the Waterfront is new al fresco/waterfront dining with WIND BREAKS
  • While you will be presented with a barrage of paid dining options, it is important to understand that you do not have to pay to enjoy your meals and snacks with the included options
Wine Dispenser in Garden Buffet Norwegian Breakaway Review

Does your buffet have a wine dispenser?

Garden Buffet is for lunch and breakfast or casual dinner.  This   buffet has an Elegant-dining area more like Princess/Celebrity

NO Great outdoors, but uptown bar instead with a bar and another serving line

Complimentary Main dining – “Taste”…good food and service except for overcooked chicken

Julio Cadix from Honduras, Best bartender ever


Main Theater – Rock of Ages

Norwegian Breakaway Review Rock of Ages cast members

Norwegian Breakaway Rock of Ages cast members

Theater is only two decks high and incredibly small.  Further, there are no balconies or tiered

sections.  Jewel class ships feature a separate tiered off section for Haven Suite guest access with an attendant.  The Breakaway just has the mid section on the left side attended for the use of the Haven guests.


Rock of Ages is nearly 2 hours long with great music and singers and a set that really takes you back to the 80s!

Music is live but the drummer is behind a dark scrim the whole time.  As a drummer I’m really bummed out that it was decided it was not worth seeing the drums and drummer…how sad!

The show is adult oriented and a little risque and not at all appropriate for pre-teens, but if you like 80s music, you will love the show!



Norwegian Breakaway review fish navigation

Norwegian Breakaway fish navigation

The hallways in the passenger cabin areas are long long long! How do you navigate them?  Another steward told us that the fish on the carpet point forward.  You may figure that out faster than I, but now you know.






Norwegian cruise Line competes against Carnival and Royal Caribbean in mass market cruising.  Carnival has the entry-level price and Royal stands firm with the highest price in this market.  Norwegian does not have the capital resources available to Carnival and Royal, so they compete by not competing,.  I truly see Norwegian as the innovator and here’s why:

Norwegian was the first to offer flexible dining with “Freestyle” dining and the other lines were forced to offer flexible dining but their version is just not the same.  Each of  Norwegian’s Restaurants have either own kitchen. It is not a matter of a main dining room or multiple main dining rooms with a section available for flexible dining.

Norwegian wanted to recreate a land resort feel at see.  They were on their way with the Jewel class.  The introduction of the Breakaway class (Breakaway, Getaway, and Breakaway+) now complete the disintegration of the model of what a mass make cruise experiences offers.  The layout of the Breakaway eliminates the center elevators and stairs. Decks 6, 7, and 8 are the hub of the ship and foster lots of movement between the dining and entertainment venues.  YES, there is a lot of back and forth and mid-ship cabins may be the right call.

Sneak Peek of the Norwegian Getaway

  • Illusionarium (Magic) vs. Cirque Dreams as the main show
  • Grammy Experience vs. Fat Cats
  • Legally Blonde vs. Rock of Ages

Did you like reading this review?  Please share and provide your comments!