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A Day at Sea aboard the Norwegian Breakaway
This morning, I wanted to badly to sleep in – but I can’t. It’s not because the bed in my stateroom isn’t comfortable; it is because there’s a whole lot of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Breakaway left for me to document in just a day!
I started off with breakfast in the Garden Café, at a table for two overlooking the ship’s wake.
Rather than having large tables, Norwegian Breakaway’s Garden Café seating is mainly tables of two or four that can be pulled together to create larger seating arrangement. As someone who travels solo a lot, I can’t tell you how fantastic that is; a table for two to have a quick breakfast can be as rare as dinosaur sightings.
After, I set out to explore a few of the other stateroom types available here. I have to admit I couldn’t make it to as many as I would have liked to.
Out of all the ones I saw, my favorite were the Category S6 Haven Aft-Facing Penthouse With Balcony. These gorgeous rooms have a bedroom with a marble and glass-clad bathroom, a full-size soaker tub, a full-size shower that features a window overlooking your balcony, a bedroom with beautiful cyan blue accent lighting, and a living room that combines all the comforts of home.
Outside, a beautiful balcony curves with the stern on the port and starboard sides of the ship, providing great views of the room below.
Busiest place on the ship: Shakers is blazingly popular, along with the Atrium Café on Deck 6. My favorite lounging and writing spot – as it has been on several Norwegian Cruise Line ships going as far back as the Norwegian Pearl – is Maltings Beer and Whiskey Bar. With its dark woods, richly upholstered chairs and innovative chandeliers made of inverted wine and whiskey glasses, it hits all the right notes for me.
Another great area: the new Uptown Bar and Grill on Deck 16 starboard is awesome! Here, you can indulge in a variety of specialties, most of which include meatballs. I tried it – and it was phenomenal.
One thing I do miss: the Moulin Rouge-esque Bliss Ultra Lounge has been substantially scaled back aboard the Norwegian Breakaway, and now more closely resembles a modern European discothèque But it makes sense: aboard Norwegian Epic, it often sat empty when not in use.
A reader wrote in to ask if there were any choke points on the ship, and so far, there’s just one: Carlo’s Bakery and Dolce Gelato, which both share the same space all the way aft on Deck 8. To say they’re busy is like saying traffic in New York is busy: it’s an understatement. However, I’d expect this to ease on a proper weeklong voyage as the novelty wears off and guests don’t feel quite so pressured to cram everything into two days. Note to self: book the transatlantic crossing next year for Norwegian Getaway!
Speaking of, the launch of Norwegian Breakaway also means it’s time to start getting excited about her sister-ship, Norwegian Getaway, which will set sail from Miami beginning in February of next year.
Currently under construction at Meyer Werft shipyards in Papenburg, Germany, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Kevin Sheehan briefed the media – including yours truly – on some new and exciting features that will be coming to Miami’s ship.
Like Blue Man Group aboard Norwegian Epic and The Rockettes aboard Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway will have its own distinctive headlining act: the seven-time Tony Award nominated musical Legally Blonde.
In announcing this new entertainment, Sheehan noted that the success of the Blue Man Group aboard Norwegian Epic had been instrumental in securing legitimate Broadway performances, many of whom would have been unlikely to consider such a partnership with a cruise line prior for fear it might damage their brand. Now, he said, Broadway is coming to him and not the other way around.
Another noteworthy addition is the inclusion of Levity Entertainment Group, which will replace The Second City aboard Norwegian Getaway. With Levity, 12 comedy shows will be offered per week. While no details were given on exactly who would participate, the company’s client roster is loaded with notable performers like Daniel Tosh, Amy Schumer and puppeteer Jeff Dunham.
The line also revealed that Burn the Floor will have an expanded role aboard Norwegian Getaway, with a decidedly Latin American flair in a nod to the ship’s future homeport of Miami. We had the chance to see a bit of what Burn the Floor can do with their re-invented ballroom dancing, and it is quite spectacular. In fact, a couple in front of me remarked on how much it would have cost them to see something similar on Broadway in Manhattan.
What I like most about this announcement is that it is yet another example of how the line is looking to innovate. It would have been simple to just sign the same sort of entertainment on to each ship – which is how nearly every cruise line operates – but instead, Norwegian took the step (and the potential hassles) of negotiating for new shows and partnerships that further differentiate these two sister-ships.
Incidentally, that’s one of the key reasons I was so enthusiastic about my time aboard Norwegian Epic: for the first time in all of my cruises, I didn’t have to sit through another boring tribute to Motown or Abba or the like! Incidentally, Norwegian Epic may finally be receiving the accolades she’s rightly due: Travel Weekly readers have named her the “Best Overall Cruise Ship” two years in the running.
When she enters service in February 2014, Norwegian Getaway will offer voyages to the Eastern Caribbean sailing roundtrip from Miami. But if you want to be the first to get in on the action – like me – you may want to consider the 10-day Transatlantic Crossing from Southampton to Miami that departs in January 2014!
The biggest surprise of the press conference: Kevin Sheehan wants to make Norwegian Cruise Line one of the world’s best Premium cruise lines. They can do it, too: the exclusive enclave known as The Haven is stunning; a luxury ship within a mainstream ship. And you know what: there’s a market for that. The well-off traveller who wants and loves the variety that big ships have to offer, but with the exclusivity and service of an upscale line.
Even more revealing: nobody else is doing it. The current players in the Premium category (which has some astounding elasticity as it is) all target older couples, or those looking for a non-family vacation. Only time will tell if Norwegian’s plan is successful, of course, but I can foresee a head-smacking-moment of realization coming up from Norwegian’s competitors.
Tonight, we ended the evening with an 80’s-themed party at Spice H20 all the way aft on Deck 15. I have to admit that I liked this space better aboard Norwegian Epic, with its crossover bridge and raised seating partitions. But it’s still plenty good here, and tonight, we got a peek at one of Norwegian Breakaway’s key attractions: Fireworks
Unlike the fireworks yesterday – which were launched from a barge – Norwegian Breakaway has the ability to put on her own fireworks spectacular, and she’ll do so once on every voyage to Bermuda. Now, fireworks at sea aren’t new – Disney Cruise Line has been doing them for years – but Norwegian is the first mainstream line to adopt them as part of a regular entertainment program.
It’s also worth noting that during the daytime, there’s an honest-to-God hot dog car here!
Afterwards, I had to stroll one last time around The Waterfront. I am convinced that this is Norwegian Breakaway’s greatest feature; it’s certainly the one I enjoy the most, and an amazing new lease on life for the classic promenade deck. It’s frankly amazing no one has ever thought about doing this before, and I will miss it on every ship that doesn’t have one.
Finally, as our time aboard Norwegian Breakaway comes to a close, I want to impart this on all of you: the old NCL is dead, gone and buried. But like a great fighter emerging from a knockdown, the new Norwegian Cruise Line is as bright and optimistic as I have ever seen it after 15 years of sailing with the line.
Two days aren’t enough to do and see it all. Heck, a week wouldn’t be enough. But the past 48 hours have been a tantalising glimpse into a ship that really hits all the right notes for me.
Norwegian Breakaway? Decidedly accurate!
Our Live Voyage Report from onboard Norwegian Breakaway has sadly come to a close, but stay tuned next week: we’ll have a complete recap and deck-by-deck photo tour of this exciting new ship!
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