A Day at Sea aboard the Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway in fondant, courtesy of Carlo's Bakery. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Norwegian Breakaway in fondant, courtesy of Carlo’s Bakery. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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.

A bit of early morning cloud would give way to brilliant sunshine during our all-too-brief full day aboard Norwegian Breakaway! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

A bit of early morning cloud would give way to brilliant sunshine during our all-too-brief full day aboard Norwegian Breakaway! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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.

The bedroom of the forward-facing Haven Suite 10106. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The bedroom of the forward-facing Haven Suite 10106. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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.

The main living area of Haven Suite 10106, port side forward. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The main living area of Haven Suite 10106, port side forward. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The view from the bedroom of Haven Suite 10106, facing the bow of the ship. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The view from the bedroom of Haven Suite 10106, facing the bow of the ship. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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.

Enjoy a casual and fun lunch at the Uptown Grill... Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Enjoy a casual and fun lunch at the Uptown Grill… Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

...or at the always-popular O'Sheehan's Pub. The fish and chips are even better than they were on Cunard! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

…or at the always-popular O’Sheehan’s Pub. The fish and chips are even better than they were on Cunard! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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.

Throughout the ship, numerous surprises - like this cozy elevator lobby - are present. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Throughout the ship, numerous surprises – like this cozy elevator lobby – are present. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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.

Another great stateroom choice: one of the Aft-Facing Haven Suites. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Another great stateroom choice: one of the Aft-Facing Haven Suites. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Check out that balcony! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Check out that balcony! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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.

Two of Norwegian Breakaway's many water slides. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Two of Norwegian Breakaway’s many water slides. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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 Rope's Course on Deck 17 aft. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The Rope’s Course on Deck 17 aft. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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.

THe Sports Court also includes some very innovative mini-golf. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

THe Sports Court also includes some very innovative mini-golf. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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.

Plush seating at Spice H20. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Plush seating at Spice H20. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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!

Sailing the sunny Atlantic Ocean aboard Norwegian Breakaaway. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Sailing the sunny Atlantic Ocean aboard Norwegian Breakaaway. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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.

Norwegian Epic even boasts something of a "secomd"promenae deck, which can be acecssed via Deck 7. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Norwegian Epic even boasts something of a “secomd”promenae deck, which can be acecssed via Deck 7. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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

Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Kevin Sheehan explains the evolution of their product. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Kevin Sheehan explains the evolution of their product. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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!

Fireworks light up the night sky mid-Atlanic. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Fireworks light up the night sky mid-Atlanic. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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.

The Garden Cafe is one of hte best-designed Lido's aboard any ship . Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The Garden Cafe is one of hte best-designed Lido’s aboard any ship . Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

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!

Spice H20 was packed tonight with guests eager to experience the magif of the 80''s. /Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Spice H20 was packed tonight with guests eager to experience the magic of the 80’s. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

 

 

19 Responses to Norwegian Breakaway Christening Live Voyage Report – Day 2

  1. Wansbrough says:

    Great photos as usual, not always easy when on a tight schedule.

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      Thank you – and you’re spot-on regarding the tight schedule! Tough to photograph a ship this size in just under 48 hours…

      • Wansbrough says:

        I did the overnight from Rotterdam to Southampton and was on board for less than 24 hours. 48 is a luxury 😉
        Breakaway is a lovely ship but don’t know if I would want to spend a whole week on it. I take it you didn’t try the drop slides?

        • Aaron Saunders says:

          I wanted to try the drop slides so badly! But I forogot to pack a bathing suit 🙁
          I’d like to try a week to see how she functions on a weeklong basis; some things (like Dolce Gelato and the Cake Shop) were slammed on my two-day sailing, but I suspect that would even out over 7 days. And yes, 48 hours is a luxury compared to your 24 hours. It’s all about perspective 😉

  2. Joanne says:

    My travel agent is there today. Love your reports. Thanks so much.

  3. Nicholas Sabalos says:

    As always, Aaron, your reports are the best of the best! I felt like I was right there for all the festivities aboard Norwegian Breakaway. (And, you just might have expanded my horizons to include considering a cruise aboard her!)

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      Thank you as always Nicholas! You know, the interesting thing about Breakaway – that I’ll touch on next week – is that I’d recommend her to people who I wouldn’t otherwise suggest Norwegian to. They have really done an excellent job of creating their own unique product. It’s still not for everyone, obviously, but they go so many things right with this ship that it could really re-think the way people sail on Norwegian. And this is coming from someone who cruised with them in 2005 on a voyage that was so awful I swore I’d never come back. NCL is dead and gone, but the new Norwegian is firing on all cylinders.

      • Nicholas Sabalos says:

        That is most encouraging, Aaron. I, too, swore I would never get near a NCL ship after many horrible reports from other family members who had cruised NCL. I was sticking with my reliable favorites: HAL, Cunard and Crystal.

        But, as usual, you manage to broaden my horizons with each of your trips. Norwegian is now in my sights for a future cruise!

        • Aaron Saunders says:

          You’d probably like The Haven suites as well. They’re a bit on the pricey side, but worth the investment, I think. I too love HAL and Cunard, which is why I was a little taken aback at just how well the ship worked. It’s a very unique experience!

          Glad I could help give you some more insight, Nicholas!

  4. Kim says:

    As always wonderful, I really want to get on there very soon. It sounds like a lot of fun. Cannot wait to see the recap!

  5. Ann says:

    Hi Aaron….thank you so much. Best pictures I have seen thus far. One question, well actually two. The seats in the Garden Cafe…..are they up in the air and not like regular seats? They looked weird! How does one with a disability sit on them? Also, the sets on the waterfront….do you remember if all of the chairs had arms on them? I question because sometimes people of size have difficulty with chairs that have arms. Thanks for any insight you can give.

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      Hi Anne, thanks for the kind comments!

      To answer your questions – the chairs in the Garden Cafe were normal chairs; they just have an interesting design to them. Very stylish. The area photographed was one of the few sections that has bar-style seating, but other seating options are available, including normal seating and booth seating. No chairs, to the best of my recollection, had arms on them. As for the Waterfront, to be honest I can’t recall if they had arms or not.

      I do hope that helps!

  6. Ann says:

    Aaron, it does and will be useful to a lot of friends and family. Thank you. We are boarding June 30th and can hardly stand the anticipation and excitement we know will follow. Hope you get to get back on yourself.

  7. Ed says:

    Great report and photos Aaron! We will be sailing on Breakaway to Bermuda in a few weeks and are excited about the ship. Did you get to the cigar bar (Humidor Club)? Is it a decent size and layout? Did you eat at Ocean Blue? How was it or any of the other extra cost restaurants? Le Bistro looks to be the most beautiful of them from what I can tell in photos. It was very pretty on the Norwegian Dawn when we dined there. Is there any jazz in the lounges? Does only that blues guitarist perform at Fat Cats Blues and Jazz Bar? Is there a Reggae band on board? We have an aft balcony cabin – was the ships ride smooth relative to the weather you sailed in? Thanks

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      Hi Ed – I’m not a cigar man myself, but I did enjoy a cognac in the Humidor Club. It’s adjacent to Maltings and while it is smaller than those on luxury lines, it’s a decent size for a mainstream ship, and there always seemed to be at least some seating in there.

      Le Bistro is easily the most beautiful dining venue onboard. Sadly, because my time onboard was so short, I only ate at La Cucina. I did, however, sample some of the offerings at Ocean Blue for lunch and found the quality to be superb – but you have to like seafood to really appreciate it.

      There was live pool music up on deck on one day with the traditional Reggae band, and lots of classical music throughout the ship. Blue and Jazz were pretty well confined to their respective clubs, but they’re some of the best shows onboard.

      Breakaway was extremely smooth, but we had smooth seas. Still – no vibration or engine noise, even at the stern. That might change if you were going full speed, but I toured several aft-facing suites when we were doing 14 knots and didn’t notice a thing. You should have good time!

  8. Carol Bain says:

    I Enjoyed your 48 hours on board…looking forward to 12 nights in January 2014….Aft Balcony….Can’t wait.

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